Anarchist position on WW2

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mikail firtinaci's picture
mikail firtinaci
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Jan 3 2010 14:58

One final point;

I think US and USSR came out as real victors from the WW2 because they were "clever" enough not carry on massacres themselves... they simply led people to kill each other in proxy wars. Obviously this was not a smooth and non-contradictory strategy as it was seen in Afganisthan (both in 80ies and today), vietnam, middle east etc... That is the only "achievement" I see in democracy and humanitarian international law

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Jan 4 2010 14:02

Most of the anarchist comrades on this thread have adopted an internationalist view of the second world war, but I don't think there has ever been a really honest appraisal of the degree to which anarchist organisations participated in the war under the heading of 'anti-fascism' and the 'resistance'.
The article linked here, which deals with this question, is part of a longer series on anarchism and imperialist war which can be found in successive issues of World Revolution

http://en.internationalism.org/wr/2009/326/anarchism-war2

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Jan 4 2010 15:36

I agree with the original poster that the only decent position on World War II would be, as with other wars, an internationalist position - of supporting wherever possible all workers struggles in all countries.

As Django has pointed out, some anarchists trying to claim that World War II was "different" is completely false, as the result of the war was not that the world had liberal democracy instead of fascism, but that a huge chunk of the world was controlled by the dictatorship of the USSR, which butchered millions, and that most of the rest of it was dominated by the equally brutal imperialism of the US and UK.

I seem to remember this chapter on World War II from Howard Zinn's People's history of the United States was good:
http://libcom.org/history/world-war-ii-peoples-war-howard-zinn

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Jan 4 2010 17:22

For people who think nazism and stalinism or bourgeois democracy are comparable in terms of goals and methodology.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Order_(political_system)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalplan_Ost
Nazi ideology wasn;t about crude imperialism, it wasn't about economically dominating client states. Its basically applying the idea of manifest destiny to countries that are already heavily populated. The whole concept was one of long term race war in which other ''races'' would be exterminated or enslaved and then over several generations exterminated.

Quote:
The article linked here, which deals with this question

Good god that article is actually almost as idiotic and mental as your parasitism theory.
Also no, It quite clearly doesn;t deal with the question. Since it offers no practical program whatsoever, thus provides no answer.
While for example the CNT took the wrong road in joining the popular front as large numbers of the CNT and IWA at the time realised, its not as if an easy alternative solution presents itself in a country where they were a political minority facing extermination and/or repression on all sides. Likewise for a polish anarchist or syndiclaist in WW2, in order to survive it was liekly that you would have had to co-ordinate with polish nationalists in terms of arms procurement etc, in the same way that today when you're on strike you find yourself working with people of diverse political opinions in order not to get sacked.. No doubt had you been jewish at the time you would have sat waiting to be deported to auschwitz refusing to talk to the jewish nationalist combat organisations to co-ordinate escape or armed resistance, perhaps you could have followed devrims advice and ''kept your head down''. roll eyes

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Jan 4 2010 17:24
cantdocartwheels wrote:
No doubt had you been jewish at the time you would have sat waiting to be deported to auschwitz refusing to talk to the jewish nationalist combat organisations to co-ordinate escape or armed resistance, perhaps you could have followed devrims advice and ''kept your head down''. roll eyes

Or he could have actively pursued a course of evacuation, as many Jews did, first to get themselves and their families out, then to get as many others out as possible, officially, unofficially, using the same clandestine means which would be used to wage guerrilla warfare.

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Jan 4 2010 17:51
tojiah wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
No doubt had you been jewish at the time you would have sat waiting to be deported to auschwitz refusing to talk to the jewish nationalist combat organisations to co-ordinate escape or armed resistance, perhaps you could have followed devrims advice and ''kept your head down''. roll eyes

Or he could have actively pursued a course of evacuation, as many Jews did, first to get themselves and their families out, then to get as many others out as possible, officially, unofficially, using the same clandestine means which would be used to wage guerrilla warfare.

Yes hence why i said escape, that still takes networks and organisation and means working with people who aren't libertarian communists including sympathetic members of nationalist or leftist resistance groups.
In the long term ''escape'' means either hiding, where the procurement of food, arms and other necessities becomes essential which generally involves working with other people, or fleeing to allied nations. Either way your going to find yourself working with people you disagree with this is life. Trying to pretend most people in nazi occupied europe/asia would have been able to maintain some sort of purist internationalism and not worked with anyone who wasn;t a libertarian communist is just plain bonkers.

Not to mention the fact that while a perectly vald individual response its only a solution that worked for some individuals, i mean hitler also wanted to ''deport'' 80-85% of the polish nation by 1950, as outlined in general plan ost, and lets be honest, the entire polish population weren;t simply going to ''escape'' were they, any more than they were going to be ''resettled''.

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Jan 4 2010 18:28
Jack wrote:
cantdo wrote:
No doubt had you been jewish at the time you would have sat waiting to be deported to auschwitz refusing to talk to the jewish nationalist combat organisations to co-ordinate escape or armed resistance, perhaps you could have followed devrims advice and ''kept your head down''.

While I agree the idea of a Jew being able to just keep their head down during WW2 is slightly absurd (altho being generous he could have meant flee or go into hiding), I don't think the tone is helpful, and the "you'd just have waited to be deported" is a fairly standard smear from dickheads who attack internationalism, and is pretty weak.

True, my tone is a bit unnecesarily hostile and uncomradely here. That said I did wrte that after reading the article alf posted, which riled me up a bit and is pretty awful especially in its conclusions.

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Jan 4 2010 18:30
Jack wrote:
cantdo wrote:
No doubt had you been jewish at the time you would have sat waiting to be deported to auschwitz refusing to talk to the jewish nationalist combat organisations to co-ordinate escape or armed resistance, perhaps you could have followed devrims advice and ''kept your head down''.

While I agree the idea of a Jew being able to just keep their head down during WW2 is slightly absurd (altho being generous he could have meant flee or go into hiding), I don't think the tone is helpful, and the "you'd just have waited to be deported" is a fairly standard smear from dickheads who attack internationalism, and is pretty weak.

I think the point is though that I didn't offer it as advice at all. was comparing it to was your point that:

Jack wrote:
In some places, being part of 'the resistance' would have actually just been a matter of survival.

I just said that:

Devrim wrote:
I would imagine that in most places keeping your head down and not being a part of the resistance would have given you a much better chance of survival.

I merely state that joining the resistance for most people probably wasn't their best chance of survival.

I didn't like the line of argument though. It reminded me of the typical leftist argument in the last Lebanese War "What do you do if your home is being attacked by the Israelis* Of course you defend it". Actually about 1,000,000 Lebanese chose rather to flee. Different situations obviously have different options, but fighting is not necessarily the only one.

Devrim

Mark.
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Jan 4 2010 21:43
Alf wrote:
Most of the anarchist comrades on this thread have adopted an internationalist view of the second world war, but I don't think there has ever been a really honest appraisal of the degree to which anarchist organisations participated in the war under the heading of 'anti-fascism' and the 'resistance'.
The article linked here, which deals with this question, is part of a longer series on anarchism and imperialist war which can be found in successive issues of World Revolution

http://en.internationalism.org/wr/2009/326/anarchism-war2

It's maybe worth qualifying this by pointing out that the Spanish anarchists in France who participated in the war weren't necessarily given much of a choice.

http://libcom.org/history/articles/spanish-resistance-in-france-1939/

Quote:
Fascist victories in Spain led to several waves of refugees crossing the French border [...] Whilst the refugees were now safe from Franco's army, they were by no means to be allowed their liberty. Instead they were confined in concentration camps on the beaches at Argeles-sur-mer, St.Cyprien and Barcares, penned in by stakes and barbed wire. French police hunted for those who escaped confinement. [...] Moreover, those identified as "criminals" or "radicals" were taken to separate prison camps, such as the fortress of Collioure and the camp at Le Vernet. Here, Communists and Anarchists were held as prisoners under a regime of hard labour. Those who experienced these camps later recalled that, although they were not places of mass extermination, in many other respects they were every bit as bad as the German concentration camps.

The French government tried to encourage repatriation, both voluntarily and by threats. But by December 1939 there were still at least 250,000 Spaniards in the camps. [...] With a general European war looming and recognising the vast pool of industrial and agricultural skills confined on the beaches, the Spanish exiles were given the option to leave the camps from April 1939. But this was on the condition that they either obtained an individual work contract with local farmers/ employers or enlisted in "workers companies" (labour battalions), the Foreign Legion or the regular French Army. Although the first option was the most desirable, around 15,000 joined the Foreign Legion, including elements of the 26th Division (Durruti Column) who were offered a choice between this and forced repatriation.

akai
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Jan 4 2010 23:34

I don't know if you know this story.

During the war, the anarchosyndicalists and syndicalists played quite an important role in diversion and sabotage. They had a complicated relationship with the AK though. The AK at one time was trying to take them over, some of them eventually had some dealings or even went into the AK. At the same time, they were fighting to create a revolutionary program for Poland after the war.

Even though the AK was quite politically opposed to the AL (which by the time of the Uprising was already the Soviet controlled LWP), it was waiting for help from the Soviets and LWP and had waited to start the uprising until the Soviets were near Warsaw. But after it was to take this Soviet help in fighting off the Germans, the AK wanted to fight of the Soviets. The Soviets were not too stupid and instead stayed over here on the Praga side of Warsaw and waited two months for the AK to wear itself out fighting the nazis.

In the middle of this all, in Sept. 44, the anarchosyndicalists signed a deal with the communists, figuring that the Uprising would be defeated and the communists would come into power. According to the deal, trade unions were supposed to control all industry after the war and the trade union council was to play the most important part in the government. This was a far cry from what the syndicalists were espousing during the war, when they had active underground presses, but they thought it would at least be something to put the unions in control. Of course, this agreement was never realized.

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Jan 5 2010 00:17

what do the acronyms in that post stand for?

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Jan 5 2010 00:47

Here is an extract from the article we wrote in honour of our comrade Clara, who died in 2006 at the age of 88. She was married to Marc Chirik who was a prominent member of the left communist group in France during the war. I think it shows that the left communists did not take up the 'purist' and passive attitude that Cant' Do implies in an earlier post. They did what they could at the individual level - Clara worked in an organisation trying to hide Jewish children from the Gestapo. At the level of the group's activities, they put out leaflets and stickers warning the population of impending mass arrests of Jews and others. But because they were internationalists they rejected the methods of the Resistance; and because they tried to put out propaganda to the German soldiers they were very close to being shot by the Stalinist 'Maquis':

"In 1938 Clara, now 21, no longer needed her father’s consent and she and Marc got married.

At this point, Marc was a member of the Italian Fraction, and although Clara was not a member, she was a sympathiser of the group. During the war, Marc was mobilised into the French army (although he wasn’t French and for many years his only identity paper was an expulsion order whose deadline was prolonged every two weeks). He was based in Angouleme at the time the French army collapsed. With a comrade of the Italian Fraction in Belgium (who had fled the advance of the German troops because he was Jewish), Clara left Paris by bike to join up with Marc in Angouleme. When she arrived, Marc, along with other soldiers, had been imprisoned by the German army who, fortunately, had not yet found out that he was a Jew. By bringing him civilian clothes, Clara helped Marc, and another Jewish comrade, escape from the barracks where he was a prisoner. Marc and Clara reached the ‘free’ zone and got to Marseille by bike in September 1940. It was in Marseille that Marc played a leading role in reorganising the Italian Fraction, which had been dislocated at the beginning of the war.

Without formally being a member, Clara participated in the work and discussions which made it possible to reconstitute the Italian Fraction. Despite the dangers posed by the German occupation, she succeeded in transporting from one town to another political documents addressed to other comrades of the Italian Fraction.

During this period, Clara also participated in the activities of the Organisation de Secours des Enfants, which looked after and hid Jewish children in order to protect them from the Gestapo.

But it was at the moment of the ‘Liberation’ that Marc and Clara had their closest encounter with death. The Stalinist ‘Resistors’ of the Parti Communiste Francais arrested them in Marseille. They were accused of being traitors and of collaborating with the ‘Boches’, since when they raided their home the Stalinists found notebooks written in German. In fact these notebooks were inscribed during the German lessons that Marc and Clara had been receiving from Voline (a Russian anarchist who had participated in the 1917 revolution). Voline, despite the terrible poverty in which he lived, did not want to receive any material help. So Marc and Clara asked him to give them German lessons, after which he would agree to share a meal with them.

During this raid, the Stalinists also found internationalist leaflets written in French and German and addressed to the soldiers of both camps.

It was thanks to a Gaullist officer who was in charge of the prison (and whose wife knew Clara, having worked with her in the OSE), that Marc and Clara were able to escape the justice of the PCF killers. This officer had initially prevented the Stalinists from shooting Marc and Clara (they had said to Marc, “Stalin hasn’t got you but we will have your skin”). Surprised that Jews were accused of being ‘collaborators’, he wanted to ‘understand’ the political standpoint which had led Marc and Clara to put out propaganda in favour of fraternisation between French and German troops. The officer recognised that their attitude had nothing to do with some kind of ‘treason’ in favour of the Nazi regime. He thus helped them to escape from prison in his own car, advising them to leave Marseille as quickly as possible before the Stalinists could find them.

Marc and Clara went to Paris where they joined up with other comrades and sympathisers of the Italian Fraction and the French Fraction of the Communist Left. Up until 1952, Clara continued to support the work of the Communist Left of France (GCF – the new name taken by the French Fraction)". http://en.internationalism.org/wr/294_clara

akai
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Jan 5 2010 10:38
Quote:
what do the acronyms in that post stand for?

Oops, sorry.

AK - Armia Krajowa or "Home Army" - ostensibly "loyal" to the Polish government in exile (except anarchosyndicalists)
This was not the regular Polish army - as I mentioned in a previous post, they ran to Romania which all the military hardware when the nazis invaded. The "Home Army" was formed in 1942. It reached 500,000 - 600,000 people which was quite huge for the circumstances. Where people did not have weapons, they participated in sabotage and other operations.

AL - Armia Ludow or "People's Army" - loyal to the Soviets. This was about 30,000 members, but armed by the Soviets. It was founded on Jan.1, 1944. In July 1944, AL became LWP - Ludowe Wojsko Polskie or the "Polish People's Army", under direction command of the Soviets.