Suggested reading on Lenin and the 1917 revolutions?

103 posts / 0 new
Last post
Red Marriott's picture
Red Marriott
Offline
Joined: 7-05-06
Jan 9 2010 23:45

Voices of sanity - thanks, Jason and Samotnaf.

Not sure if you're addressing me, mikail; but I wasn't making a comparison, except incidentally - I just provided additional info to give a broader picture and then answered a question about 'other political groups'. Much of what you say is may be correct - though some anarchist intellectuals did come from elsewhere to join the Makhnovists.

mikail firtinaci's picture
mikail firtinaci
Offline
Joined: 16-12-06
Jan 10 2010 00:05

Mine was a general comment about the arguement that bolshevik leaders being middle class and Makhnovists being rooted in peasantry.

Cleishbotham
Offline
Joined: 28-08-08
Jan 10 2010 14:19

Jason Cortez wrote

Quote:
Despite Cleishbotham continuing to claim that his quoting of only two sentences is an innocent mistake

,

I am not claiming that quoting the two sentences is "an innocent mistake". I am claiming that they are the source of my original comment. This is my evidence. I am not embarassed about it nor am I trying to save face. You can contest the quality of this evidence but that then is a discussion. It is not grounds for abuse. Ret Marut has therefore no basis for calling me a liar. He himself seemed to be conceding this when he commented above that he had only pressed on with his accusation because I refused to "back off". What he has exposed is own devious way of arguing. As Alf informs us it seems to be a pattern.

Just to recap. I originally stated only that there were "many anti-semites in Makhno's ranks". No more than that. The quotes from Malet (a pro-Makhno source) were my only source. Ret asked me for this and I gave it. He then suggested that the Bolsheviks would also suffer fofrm anti-semitism and I agreed and speculated that there was lot of anti-semitism in Orthodox Russia therefore this was likely. I then added later that "probably" Makhno would have had a bigger problem given the class nature of his Army and the record of Ukrainian peasants. Ret is now trying to maintain that this was my original comment. This was not a statement of fact (although I notice that Ret thinks that putting "probably" in a sentence is a statement of fact (viz his comments on the Reichswehr issue). I realise I must have touched a sensitive nerve here but I still do not know what Ret's actual position on this is. I have not been arguing that Makhnovism itself was anti-semitic (in fact rather the opposite since Makhno's own actions "prove" (if I may be so bold again) my original point that class origins are not guarantors of political rectitude) nor have I been repeating Bolshevik slanders since the only hints I have of them are from Malet. I can say no more.

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Jan 10 2010 16:30

Cleishbotham:

Quote:
Makhno's own actions "prove" (if I may be so bold again) my original point that class origins are not guarantors of political rectitude

This is getting very silly and pompous - it's obvious that Ret never said anything to imply that class origins are guarantors of political rectitude - he merely pointed out that the leadership of the Bosheviks was overwhemingly middle class, whereas the base was overwhemingly working class. The comments that launched this furious dialogue between counter-revolutionary Leninism in the form of Clenchedbottom and Ret Marut's minimum critique of the politically motivated distortions that Leninism has spawned, went as following:

Marsella wrote:
"the vast majority of Bolshevik members were ordinary workers."
Ret wrote:
"Yet most of the leadership were not - but were from the upper classes; http://libcom.org/history/social-origin-educational-level-chief-bolshevik-leaders-1917 "

cleishbotham wrote:
"I don't know what point Ret Marut is trying to make. "
Ret wrote:
"That if one is to talk of the class composition of the Bolsheviks one gets a more balanced picture from both the statements above than from only one of them; that political parties and groups often tend to internally reproduce the class relationships of the wider society; that this fact may be relevant when assessing the relationship (and its theoretical justification) between party rank'n'file and leadership and between party and class."
Quote cleishbotham:
"Which political group was, or could be, sociologically much different at the time?"
Ret:
"According to Battlescarred, who has put biographies of many Makhnovists in the History section of the Library, the class background of the Makhnovists was predominantly poor peasant and worker."

Nowhere does Ret say that class origins are "guarantors of political rectitude" or even imply it: he was merely pointing out the hierarchical relation between the middle class (and sometimes upper middle class, if not aristocratic, origins of the intellectual leadership of the Bolshevik Party) and the mass rank and file of the Party. And it's obvious that there were many political groups who were different at the time - the Makhnovists included.

This is typical of the distortions many Left so-called "Communists" like to make in order to justify:

1. their adoration for the obnoxious Lenin (or at least their adoration for the pre-Kronstadt, or maybe slightly earlier, Lenin);
2. the miserable hierarchical relations produced internally and externally by the Bolshevik Party;
3. and the reproduction, fortunately on a far smaller level than those of the Bolsheviks, of stupid POLITICAL attitudes and roles whose demoralising effect on anything life-loving is obvious to all those apart from the Left "Communists" themselves.

If I've come to the defence of Ret it's not because the immediate content of these debates have much significance for the vast majority of people nowadays - ( I doubt very much if people involved in the class struggle today think very much about Lenin or the Makhnovists), but because the manipulative political form of it makes me sick and because, until Jason Cortez, everyone who normally contributes to these threads has remained silent in the face of the Leninoid distortions of Clenchedarsehole and his allies, a tolerance for a pseudo-dialogue with Leninism with a "reformed" (ie anti- State capitalist) content which takes up too much wasted space and time on libcom (the "Parasitism" thread was only the most ridiculous of these soul-destroying debates), and which for a supposedly "libertarian communist" site should have been a minimum "NO!" - a decision about where to draw the line about who participates usefully in these forums (but then a 'debate' with a guy from EDL, who just wanted a debate with anarchists in order to sharpen his ideology, also went ahead). How can one have a dialogue with someone who persistently lies and defends their lies?

Spikymike
Offline
Joined: 6-01-07
Jan 10 2010 18:02

Samotnaf - I think it is you who needs to calm down here.

For the most part on most threads I have found myself in agreement with Ret Marut and don't intend to fall out with them over this rather tiresome debate. (where it seems there have been misunderstanding on all sides).

I am also in disagreement with the CWO over their critical defense of Lenin and the Bolsheviks 9amongst other things), but this isn't to write them off completely and certainly not everyone who comes from a 'left' or 'council' communist background.

For starters on the Makhnovists see my link on the other thread to the pro makhnovist anti- bolshevist left communist GCI !!

It is also very unfair to lump the CWO in with some of the more bizarre theories of the ICC which they have consistently opposed.

This is a 'communist' site, not just an 'anarchist' one. The important red line is pretty thin these days so let's not make it any thinner because of one unfortunate tacky thread.

I might add as well that I thought the debate with the EDL supporter was a useful and lively honing of some of the basic arguments we all have to deal with from time to time. It was given the right running time of course and such shouldn't be allowed to dominate the threads here.

Red Marriott's picture
Red Marriott
Offline
Joined: 7-05-06
Jan 10 2010 20:59
Quote:
I am not claiming that quoting the two sentences is "an innocent mistake". I am claiming that they are the source of my original comment. This is my evidence. I am not embarassed about it nor am I trying to save face. You can contest the quality of this evidence but that then is a discussion. It is not grounds for abuse. Ret Marut has therefore no basis for calling me a liar. [...] As Alf informs us it seems to be a pattern.

It seems to be a pattern that some left communists on libcom have a real problem distinguishing between reality and fantasy, and a sloppy attitude to historical accuracy; as illustrated many times on these forums.

You really are a distorter; you refused to admit, even address or admit the existence of the total contradiction between what Malet's book actually says and what you claimed it said. You repeatedly tried to distract from that contradiction with the non-issue of whether there could be some anti-semitism among Makhnovists. I repeatedly said it was a non-issue, you repeatedly used it as an attempted distraction - while completely avoiding the real contradiction between your claims and the actual content of the Malet book. As I already said, you could've just acknowledged you were wrong and that I'd corrected your error - but no, the great Cleishbotham will admit no errors and keeps chasing red herrings. From somehow citing as 'evidence' a book that contradicts your claims; to the fact that you refused to acknowledge any contradiction concerning the actual content of the book; and your attempted smokescreen (smoked red herring?) with the non-issue of whether any Makhnovists were anti-semitic - has all been thoroughly dishonest. And stop trying to make out (with this patronising "sensitive nerve" bullshit) that I'm some Makhnovist fetishist - the point is your continued dishonesty and your know-it-all arrogance that imploded on you.

Quote:
Just to recap. I originally stated only that there were "many anti-semites in Makhno's ranks"....

It would be more accurate if you only used "quotation marks" when you are actually quoting what was said. You actually said;
"... many r and f peasant Makhnovists were anti-semitic..."

Quote:
...No more than that. The quotes from Malet (a pro-Makhno source) were my only source. Ret asked me for this and I gave it. He then suggested that the Bolsheviks would also suffer fofrm anti-semitism and I agreed and speculated that there was lot of anti-semitism in Orthodox Russia therefore this was likely. I then added later that "probably" Makhno would have had a bigger problem given the class nature of his Army and the record of Ukrainian peasants.

No, you didn't say "probably" (despite your use of quote marks) - that's one more of your inventions/historical rewrites to try and bolster your argument (you'd think that anyone with a bit of sense would - at this point in such a thread - bother to quote their earlier comments accurately if they wanted to be taken seriously). The same Malet book source you quoted contradicts absolutely - in the very pages you cited - your claims of Makhno having a bigger problem with anti-semitism; just because you didn't directly quote it to prove that claim doesn't lessen the fundamental contradiction/inaccuracy of what you said.

The book does give instances of anti-Semitism and how it was dealt with within the Makhnovists. But nor does the Malet book even back up Cleishbotham's original claim that there were "many" anti-semites in the Makhnovists or say anything remotely like that - the book actually says;

Quote:
If further proof were needed of the low level of anti-Semitism within the Makhnovschyna, and not just Makhno's personal record in the matter, then the continued participation in the movement of both intellectual Jews from outside, and Jews from the local peasant colonies, would provide it. One of the Jewish anarchists who left him in 1919 has stated that she did so because of his distortions of anarchism, not his anti-Semitism or that of his followers. (Malet, p. 172)[My emphasis].

You can argue that the book is wrong on that assessment, but - regardless of that - it's certainly not a valid citation of evidence for Cleishbotham's claim that "... many r and f peasant Makhnovists were anti-semitic...". So wrong again - your use of the Malet book is completely wrong on all counts, a total distortion of its actual contents.

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Jan 10 2010 21:19

Spikeymike wrote

Quote:
Samotnaf - I think it is you who needs to calm down here.
For the most part on most threads I have found myself in agreement with Ret Marut and don't intend to fall out with them over this rather tiresome debate. (where it seems there have been misunderstanding on all sides).
I am also in disagreement with the CWO over their critical defense of Lenin and the Bolsheviks 9amongst other things), but this isn't to write them off completely and certainly not everyone who comes from a 'left' or 'council' communist background.
For starters on the Makhnovists see my link on the other thread to the pro makhnovist anti- bolshevist left communist GCI !!
It is also very unfair to lump the CWO in with some of the more bizarre theories of the ICC which they have consistently opposed.
This is a 'communist' site, not just an 'anarchist' one. The important red line is pretty thin these days so let's not make it any thinner because of one unfortunate tacky thread.
I might add as well that I thought the debate with the EDL supporter was a useful and lively honing of some of the basic arguments we all have to deal with from time to time. It was given the right running time of course and such shouldn't be allowed to dominate the threads here.

1. Why should I calm down? I wasn't criticising the fury of the debate between Ret and the others - anger is essential in the struggle against petrified ideological bullshitters. Revolt and significant critique is rarely calm. Besides, I often feel calmest (most in harmony with myself) when I'm articulately angry.

2. This is no "misunderstanding" - it is part of a deliberate deceitful political (and often very self-righteously hypocritical) superior role on the part of Cleisbotham.

3. I do not write off "everyone who comes from a 'left' or 'council' communist background" - I referred to "many Left so-called Communists" . If we're going to take the definition of Cleisbotham (supported by the ICC boss, Alf) of the word "many" this means, iirc (can't be bothered to trawl back through this crap), just "5%" (Cleisbotham in relation to the amount of Makhnovists who were anti-semitic). Also I said "so-called" Communist.

4. If I lump the CWO in with the ICC it's only because on this thread, C. and Alf have been in arse-licking agreement. And C. has been every bit as dishonest as anything Alf has ever said in his usual detached "objective" boring way. The rest of the CWO I don't know about.

5. I am not an anarchist - I think there's as much to be got from Marx as Bakunin, for instance.Some of my best friends are 'communists'. But I'm an "anti-ist"ist. I find boxes restrictive - they never quite fit - at least at first; after a while you become box-shaped, and boxed in, with your "ism". All "isms" are "wasms", as someone said in the 70s. Situationist/anarchist/marxist/communist/whateverist - all restrictions on your own struggle to develop your own understanding of the fight. You have to take from all radical theories and mix them in with your own practical experience and insights. The assertion of a label can have a very off-putting effect on people you don't want to push away (though probably there's no contradiction here with what you said).

6. Not quite sure what you mean by the "thin red line" - do you mean that everyone who calls themselves "revolutionary" should get on? The contradictions existing between revolutionaries are no different from those of people who don't define themselves in this way; just because you say you're 'radical' doesn't mean you are any better at combatting the alienation of this world. And often worse, because of the self and collectively-deluded pretension of being 'radically' different. Just because someone calls him/herself a 'revolutionary' does that mean you should tolerate their manipulations and crap? Rosa Luxemburg wrote shortly before she was murderedon the orders of her previous 'comrades': “ In the present revolution, the troops protecting the old order do not intervene under the insignia of the ruling class, but under the flag of a ‘social-democratic party.’ " Just substitute the phrase "Left Communist" for 'social democratic" and you might get my meaning (not that most of these organisations have a snowball's chance in hell of ever being as devastatingly influential as social democracy or Leninism).

7. I'm sure the EDL guy also felt that the thread "was a useful and lively honing of some of the basic arguments we all have to deal with from time to time". As far as I could see (though I read the thread fairly superficially) , the guy had no desire to be influenced to subvert his nationalist crap - on the contrary, he wanted to integrate the posters' insights into his nationalism .

Jason Cortez
Offline
Joined: 14-11-04
Jan 11 2010 01:17
Cleishbotham wrote:
I am not claiming that quoting the two sentences is "an innocent mistake". I am claiming that they are the source of my original comment. This is my evidence. I am not embarassed about it nor am I trying to save face

Either back up your claim that the Bolsheviks were less anti-semitic than the Maknovists or shut up!

Cleishbotham
Offline
Joined: 28-08-08
Jan 13 2010 17:34

Jason

I posted you a long message yesterday but when I tried to submit it the site went down and I was told that it was having an emergency repair (curiously saying that it was Jan 13 when it was Jan 12). I thought you had seriously tried to sort out this so I thought you deserved a full reply. I write in haste.

All I am going to do now is just reply to your last post to say that I have not called either the Bolsheviks or the Makhnovists anti-semitic as organisations. In fact both seem to have fought anti-semtism (which was part of my original point) . What I originally said was that there were anti-semitic member of the Makhno movement. Ret then said that there were anti-semitic supporters of Bolshevism and I agreed. I then speculated that Makhno would have a harder time with this given he was recruiting solely from the peasantry in the Ukraine. This was not to say that the Makhnovists were better or worse than anyone else but that he must have had to work hard to deal with it. I was not stating it as a fact. Ret has misinterpreted (in my view deliberately) what I was trying to say to turn it into a the Makhnovists were better than the Bolsheviks (And if he wants to say that I don't care as the issue does not define either organisations real worth) issue . This was not what I meant. More later if this gets loaded.

Cleishbotham
Offline
Joined: 28-08-08
Jan 13 2010 18:07

Ret must be right if he says I did not include "a probably" but I just ask that the post be looked at again and understood as I intended. I was not stating a fact nor was I even advancing an opinion but merely speculating on the sociological basis of the class on which Makhno had to draw. Given that Jews were forbidden to live in the countryside outside of the shtetl, and the peasantry had been under the influence of the Orthodox Church right up until 1917 (and after, it would have been harder for Makhno to combat it. Malet says he had problems but argues that he was outstandingly successful at dealing with them. On the other hand given that the Bolshevik side was more numerous then you would expect them to have more anti-semites in their ranks as a gross figure. With a Red Army of 3 millions by 1920 and no longer based solely on the urban working class this is not unlikely. However what do we mean here by "Bolshevik"? We are not talking about actual party members (although the quality of these was also in decline) but those adhering to the Bolshevik side in the civil war (and we know that many did so for opportunist reasons). The important thing though (and this is the only point I was trying to make) is that both organisations combatted anti-semitism. Who was better at it is not really a significant question.

I still await Ret to explain his first post after the one in which he accused me of lying. In that post he stated I was defending (but rather crudely I believe he said) the counter-revolution which at least gives me his motive for his accusation. But what was it I had done to deserve this political criticism? What pains me about what has followed is that people have just lined up on either side to the point where Samotnaf is calling for all left communists to be banned from posting on libcom. Fine by me but I think we have more common ground than this attitude allows for. Both our political traditions were persecuted by the counter-revolutionary state power that emerged triumphant in the USSR. The weakness of teh leftcom position is that we have to explain why it is that the party which led the revolution became the chief instrument of the counter-revolution. The weakness of the libcom position is that by saying the Bolsheviks were counter-revolutionary before the start they also wipe out any understanding of a proletarian revolution in the first place. These stances are not a million miles apart. None us are calling for a re-run of 1917 (which won't happen anyway) but we would be worse than stupid if we did not keep discussing the process of degeneration in order to understand it better. We carry our history around in our heads even if we do not always articulate it. The more we discuss it the more conscious we become of what that history means The clash of our viewpoints is important to sharpen all our understandings and new work is adding to it all the time (which is why I mentioned the Pirani book). The last RP reviewed it and ended with this passage. You can rerad the whole thing onthe leftcom.org website but I submit to demonstrate my counter-revolutionary credentials

Quote:
Pirani’s research ... shows that the proletariat has the capacity to develop its own instruments for freedom. Pirani asks the question “could things have been different?” and wisely concludes that the material conditions (including the defeat of the workers’ revolutions outside Russia) meant that the outcome would have been little different in terms of the demise of the revolution. However, he does suggest that a different choice by the communists in 1921 as regards working class democracy would have at least have left a better legacy than the monolith of the “workers’ state” which remains today “a burdensome shibboleth for the workers’ movement”. Pirani’s last quote is the 1920 exhortation of Victor Serge

The pitiless logic of history seems hitherto to have left very little scope for the libertarian spirit in revolutions. That is because human freedom, which is the product of culture and of the raising of the level of consciousness, cannot be established by violence; [and yet] precisely the revolution is necessary to win — by force of arms — from the old world … the possibility of an evolution … to spontaneous order, to the free association of free workers, to anarchy. So it is all the more important throughout all these struggles to preserve the libertarian spirit.

Revolutionaries can only agree and Pirani’s work is another important piece of the jigsaw allowing us to understand the kind of society we want, and the dangers that we must face up to in order to obtain it.

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Jan 13 2010 23:51

The Makhnovists and anti-semitism
The Makhnovists on the national and Jewish questions
Shalom Schwartzbard

AIW's picture
AIW
Offline
Joined: 12-10-09
Jan 14 2010 10:53

Alexandre Skirda
Nestor Makhno : Anarchy's Cossack: The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine,
AK Press, 2004

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Jan 14 2010 13:52

Cleishbotham said:

Quote:
Samotnaf is calling for all left communists to be banned from posting on libcom.

More lies - where have I ever said any such thing? What I said was:

Quote:
This is typical of the distortions many Left so-called "Communists" use to justify...Lenin... everyone who normally contributes to these threads has remained silent in the face of the Leninoid distortions of Clenchedarsehole and his allies, a tolerance for a pseudo-dialogue with Leninism with a "reformed" (ie anti- State capitalist) content which takes up too much wasted space and time on libcom (the "Parasitism" thread was only the most ridiculous of these soul-destroying debates), and which for a supposedly "libertarian communist" site should have been a minimum "NO!" - a decision about where to draw the line about who participates usefully in these forums .... How can one have a dialogue with someone who persistently lies and defends their lies?

To change this into "calling for all left communists to be banned" is a calumny which he is probably too caught up in his role to withdraw ( almost invariably those with a political/intellectual role to defend associate this role so much with their dignity that admitting a 'mistake', particularly one so deliberate as this, feels like a masochistic self-destruction of their ego). As I said in response to spikeymike:

Quote:
I do not write off "everyone who comes from a 'left' or 'council' communist background" - I referred to "many Left so-called Communists" . If we're going to take the definition of Cleisbotham (supported by the ICC boss, Alf) of the word "many" this means, iirc ...just "5%" (Cleisbotham in relation to the amount of Makhnovists who were anti-semitic). Also I said "so-called" Communist.

Pinnochio and his allies ( on this thread, just two - Ernie and Alf), are not "all left-communists" as he claimed I'd said. However much these 3, in their pompous pretensions, would like to represent all left-communists (mikail firtinaci on this thread has remained impartial so far, though I can well imagine the pressure that might be put on him to "take sides"), there are plenty of Left Communists who would feel sickened to find themselves being represented by these strodgy politicos.

What's amazing is that C. relentlessly and shamelessly pursues these distortions, even adding to them, without pause for serious self-reflection: I would have thought he could have been a little more prudent by maintaining some appearance of "dignified" silence. But no - he goes on and on, piling up the bullshit. Perhaps, given the theoretical bruises he's been given on this thread, there's more at steak here than meats the eye. Maybe he has a certain theoretical prestige in his little sect, with the Great Lenin as his role model, that is being undermined a bit by the various attacks on him on this thread...?

C.'s falsification of my words is another example of a classic distortion of someone's point of view put forward to manipulate in a political manner, which Pannekoek pointed out about Lenin in his Lenin as Philosopher, which once again, I recommend people read. This quote from him, in particular, seems applicable to this thread:

Quote:
"...but it implies... a certain standard of argument in propaganda and political strife. When the views of the opponent are rendered in a distorted way because the willingness or the capacity to understand them is lacking, then in the eyes of the believing adherents you may score a success; but the only result - intended indeed in party strife - is to bind them with closer fanaticism to the party. For the workers, however, what is of importance is not the increase of power of a party but the increase of their capacity to seize power and to establish mastery over society. Only when, in arguing and discussing, the opponent is given his full pound, when in weighing arguments against one another each solid opinion is understood out of social class relations, will the participant hearers gain such well-founded insight as is necessary for a working class to assure its freedom"

If I emphasise a critique of politics it's because only a revolution in social relations seriously challenges hierarchical power. This involves making decisions against those who, with a 'revolutionary' language, wish to represent an opposition to this society as a boost to their political organisations in lieu of acting for themselves against this society, a representation which almost a hundred years ago contributed as much as the bourgeoisie to the confusion and misery of the proletariat.

C. again:

Quote:
The weakness of the libcom position is that by saying the Bolsheviks were counter-revolutionary before the start they also wipe out any understanding of a proletarian revolution in the first place.

Cleishbotham, as a representative of critique, can only (mis)represent libcom - which doesn't at all have a collective "position" as far as I can see (anyway, positions are for missionaries - you always get fucked by them). But this repeated unthinking conjunction of proletarian revolution and the counter-revolutionary nature of Bolshevism, which implies that the proletariat can't make a revolution without the self-styled 'avant-garde', has to be yet again contested ( it's like trying to speak to a brick wall: you have to blow up brick walls before they fall - which is why I get so explosive over what he says).

as for the quote from a review of Pirani's book (which I haven't read):

Quote:
[It]wisely concludes that the material conditions (including the defeat of the workers’ revolutions outside Russia) meant that the outcome would have been little different in terms of the demise of the revolution.

iirc Pirani spent years and years of his wasted youth in the WRP, the most idiotic, semi-Stalinist and reactionary of the Trot groups, before he got out. Though people can change (and he did to a certain extent), this is an education hardly conducive to a clear analysis of the Russian Revolution
His comment, approved of by Pinnochio, is classic determinism-after-the event, which Lenin himself, in his 19th century days, already hinted at a criticism of -

Quote:
"The objectivist speaks of the necessity of the given historical process..... The objectivist, in proving the necessity of a given series of facts, always runs the risk of getting into the position of an apologist for those facts...The objectivist speaks of 'insurmountable historical tendencies'..."

This is quoted by Karl Korsch in "A Non-Dogmatic Marxism", from Politics magazine, May 1948, where he says that Lenin was in agreement

Quote:
"with Mikhailovski's opinion that there are "no unsurmountable historical tendencies which serve as starting points as well as obligatory limits to the purposive activity of the individual and the social groups."

Ironically, this objectivism, criticised by the Great Leader himself, has become a justification for sub-Leninists' "objectively inevitable" failure of the revolution in Russia, and ignores how the old workers' movement (of which the 20th century Lenin was a more debilitating part) contributed to

Quote:
"the defeat of the workers’ revolutions outside Russia"

(Cleishbotham). No superior condemnation here: history is something we have to learn from - if we repeat it, it ends "as farce" ( a reference to Cleishbotham, not to the anarcho-cynicalist Anarchist Federation member, who also posts here on libcom). Though it should be said that some didn't need the benefit of hindsight - e.g. Bakunin criticised some aspects of the political attitudes already - particularly in relation to Marx and the First International - well before Lenin's coup d'état or the Second International's collaboration with the German ruling class.
.

The radical critique of Marx (over 40 years ago particularly, by Debord and the SI and later by those influenced by them) has always presented the two dominant ideological tendencies of his activity as separate. On the one hand, he is attacked for his determinism, for presenting proletarian revolution as the inevitable product of economic decay; on the other hand he is seen as a hierarch because of his machievellian practices within the international revolutionary movement.The practice of many of the politically organised Left Communists illustrates the unitary basis of these two tendencies: those who have created their own "good reasons" to see revolution as inevitable invariably create a hierarchy in which the partisans who recognise their explanation are placed at the top, the as yet neutral masses are in the middle, and their opponents, who may have competing reasons or no reason at all, are at the bottom. Determinism, in turn, is a natural outcome of the separation created by revolutionaries between themselves and the proletariat. If one cannot conceive of the masses as individuals like yourself, capable of determining the conditions of their existence through conscious choice, as capable of choosing to make a revolution, then it is necessary for a special enlightened group to supply them with an external motivation they can't resist. The crisis is now seen as this external motivation.

On many of the threads on libcom, many of the politically organised representatives, of Left Communism in particular, have - with hardly suppressed enthusiasm - expressed their glee at the current economic crisis as the chance they've been waiting for (iirc Cleishbotham himself enthused over the opportunity the crisis gives to Left Communist organisations and he called for a 'regroupment'). After the failure of the 'inevitable' revolution of the 70s and 80s (many said that workers "have no choice" about making a revolution, despite the fact that many chose not to), determinism is nowadays reduced to a more nuanced "socialism or barbarism", but essentially there's still a positive determinism around ("I've got faith in the working class", as an Icy Sea member said at a No War But The Class War meeting about 10 years ago or so) as opposed to the negative determinism of, say, the idea that the Russian revolution would, inevitably, turn into another form of capital accumulation, given the fact that it happened in a semi-feudal undeveloped form of capitalism.

The issue that this thread has turned into is little to do with the Makhnovists and Lenin specifically (which has little relevance to the working class today, and whose subject matter must, I guess, seem a bit like arguing over angels on a pin to many lurkers), but of the conflict between radical critique and Bolshevism in general. And that's fine by me: unlike Ret, in a brief understandably irritable post in response to the Icy Sea hack Ernie just over a week ago, I obviously feel it's ok that this thread has gone 'off-topic' - way beyond talking about the original subject on texts about Lenin and the Russian revolution. It was inevitable if the thread was to have some present-day use.

It must seem strange to many of the few lurkers here who haven't given up on reading this seemingly interminable thread that I've written so much in response to essentially one unoriginal politician, but the calumnies he's spewed out are indicative of something more general, which is why I've spent so much (perhaps too much) time on him. Maybe, when I have time I should start a thread on 'revolutionary organisations v. organising revolt' and incorporate some of this post...?

waslax's picture
waslax
Offline
Joined: 6-12-07
Jan 15 2010 09:48
Samotnaf wrote:
Pinnochio and his allies ( on this thread, just two - Ernie and Alf), are not "all left-communists" as he claimed I'd said. However much these 3, in their pompous pretensions, would like to represent all left-communists (mikail firtinaci on this thread has remained impartial so far, though I can well imagine the pressure that might be put on him to "take sides"), there are plenty of Left Communists who would feel sickened to find themselves being represented by these strodgy politicos.

Count me as one such. I'm not very interested in the focus of this thread (so why have I followed it?), but I am continually amazed at, and appalled by, the extent of identification with Lenin and the Bolsheviks by these Left so-called "Communists". Of course, they would label me a "councilist" or, in the case of the ICCers, one who is "centrist towards councilism". I have no interest in engaging with them.

"Icy sea": nice one, Samotnaf.

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Jan 15 2010 09:52
waslax wrote:
in the case of the ICCers, one who is "centrist towards councilism".

Do we use terms like that? Oh dear...

Quote:
Of course, they would label me a "councilist"

Don't you think that is a fair description?

waslax wrote:
I'm not very interested in the focus of this thread (so why have I followed it?)

I have skimmed through it and followed it but not that closely. I personally know people who are on both sides (not Samotnaff, but Ret). It is sort of like watching what old friends are up to. That is my excuse anyway. What's yours?

Devrim

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Jan 15 2010 09:54
Samotnaf wrote:
3. I do not write off "everyone who comes from a 'left' or 'council' communist background" - I referred to "many Left so-called Communists" . If we're going to take the definition of Cleisbotham (supported by the ICC boss, Alf) of the word "many" this means, iirc (can't be bothered to trawl back through this crap), just "5%" (Cleisbotham in relation to the amount of Makhnovists who were anti-semitic). Also I said "so-called" Communist.

Really I don't think Alf is the ICC 'boss'. I wonder where people have picked up this impression.

Devrim

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Jan 15 2010 09:57
waslax wrote:
"Icy sea": nice one, Samotnaf.

Old joke: http://libcom.org/forums/libcommunity/kronstadt-not-enough-left-communists-kill-more-workers

Devrim

ernie
Offline
Joined: 19-04-06
Jan 15 2010 12:06

Alf is the Boss and I am his enforcer, don't you know! Don, king and Shaman, he's got it stitched up on all fronts. Anyone who knows Alf must be having a good laugh at the image of him as the Don Carolone of the ICC. But I better watch my step, don't want to wake up with a horse's head in my bed do I!

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Jan 15 2010 12:44

Devrim:

Quote:
waslax wrote:
Quote:
"Icy sea": nice one, Samotnaf.

Well - great minds think alike, since I'd thought that one up independently of Jeff Costello, never having seen this old (2007) joke. Though his is cleverer, given he was talking about Kronstadt.

Devrim again:

Quote:
Really I don't think Alf is the ICC 'boss'. I wonder where people have picked up this impression.

My impression came from over a year ago, when an ICC oldtimer condemned rioting in Greece (Dec.2008) as having nothing to do with genuine struggle or somesuch rubbish - an anti-riot line that the ICC has held since at least the mid-80s; the next thing was that Alf came on and said the riots were an expression of the young proletariat or something like that, and a bit later, the guy who'd been rubbishing the riots suddenly changed his line, without in any way giving any reasons for this sudden conversion ( Athens isn't really on the road to Damascus: you have to jump in the icy sea to swim there).

I know, Devrim, you like to keep your distance from some of the more obviously ideological wierdness of Your Leader, and living in different countries helps, but it's obvious that Alf, as Elder Statesman, is the head of your body politic - the major "theoretician". For him, over 35 years of marriage to the ideology tends towards petrification into a paternalistic role and sometimes rabid defender of the ICC family, whereas you, as a relative newcomer, still have some margin of scepticism and mild questioning, despite your attempts to conceal these doubts.

But let's get back a little bit on topic, or end the thread.

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Jan 15 2010 13:07

Please clarify my role: am I boss of the whole ICC or just the section in the UK?

Leo
Offline
Joined: 16-07-06
Jan 15 2010 13:38
Quote:
My impression came from over a year ago, when an ICC oldtimer condemned rioting in Greece (Dec.2008) as having nothing to do with genuine struggle or somesuch rubbish - an anti-riot line that the ICC has held since at least the mid-80s; the next thing was that Alf came on and said the riots were an expression of the young proletariat or something like that, and a bit later, the guy who'd been rubbishing the riots suddenly changed his line, without in any way giving any reasons for this sudden conversion ( Athens isn't really on the road to Damascus: you have to jump in the icy sea to swim there).

I know, Devrim, you like to keep your distance from some of the more obviously ideological wierdness of Your Leader, and living in different countries helps, but it's obvious that Alf, as Elder Statesman, is the head of your body politic - the major "theoretician". For him, over 35 years of marriage to the ideology tends towards petrification into a paternalistic role and sometimes rabid defender of the ICC family, whereas you, as a relative newcomer, still have some margin of scepticism and mild questioning, despite your attempts to conceal these doubts.

You are joking, right?

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Jan 15 2010 14:42

I know the ICC is the greatest threat to class power since Spartacus, but could you occasionally please try to show a little false modesty and refrain from turning yet another thread into a discussion of your undoubtedly red-in-tooth-and-claw organisation: I know the - admittedly far less interesting - points I have made about Cleishbotham's lies, deceitful arguments, Leninism, political organisations, vanguardism etc. - are a trivial distraction from the essential discussion of the 4 words "the ICC boss Alf", but just this once, indulge me please - I'm feeling a litle insecure and need to be pampered.

waslax's picture
waslax
Offline
Joined: 6-12-07
Jan 15 2010 21:46
Devrim wrote:
waslax wrote:
in the case of the ICCers, one who is "centrist towards councilism".

Do we use terms like that? Oh dear...

It is the term that the ICC used to characterize the minority tendency that went on to become IP in the mid-eighties. I'm not sure if the ICC would still use that term today in reference to IP.

Quote:
Of course, they would label me a "councilist"
Devrim wrote:
Don't you think that is a fair description?

No, since I do believe in the necessity for a political organization of communists, and I do think that the Russian revolution of October 1917 was a proletarian revolution.

waslax wrote:
I'm not very interested in the focus of this thread (so why have I followed it?)
Devrim wrote:
I have skimmed through it and followed it but not that closely. I personally know people who are on both sides (not Samotnaff, but Ret). It is sort of like watching what old friends are up to. That is my excuse anyway. What's yours?

I actually haven't followed all of it, just the most recent part. Mostly out of curiosity (libertarians vs. orthodox left com's on the Russian revolution), and for lack of anything else of interest in this section of the Forums.

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Jan 16 2010 09:17
Samotnaf wrote:
I know the ICC is the greatest threat to class power since Spartacus, but could you occasionally please try to show a little false modesty and refrain from turning yet another thread into a discussion of your undoubtedly red-in-tooth-and-claw organisation:

So you slag people off, make personal insults about them, and when they ask about it and comment on it, they are responsible for turning it into another discussion of their organisation.

Devrim

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Jan 16 2010 09:18
waslax wrote:
No, since I do believe in the necessity for a political organization of communists, and I do think that the Russian revolution of October 1917 was a proletarian revolution.

Fair enough. That sounds reasonable.

Devrim

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Jan 16 2010 13:08

Devrim:

Quote:
So you slag people off, make personal insults about them, and when they ask about it and comment on it, they are responsible for turning it into another discussion of their organisation.

So sorry - I take it all back:
Cleishbotham is a wonderful honest truth telling guy, as was Lenin. And the Cheka, Kronstadt, one-man management and Taylorism in the factories were just sad errors and not at all a logical result of the political pretension of representing the working class, and Alf is no more a head of the ICC body politic than Cinderella was boss of her ugly sisters. And everything I've ever said about vanguardism, political manipulation, representation, etc. was really just slagging people off and making personal insults about them.
Having confessed my sins, can I now join your organisation if I promise to do 200 hours of demonstration-leaflet-handing-out as ICC community service to cleanse my horribly wretched soul?

In the spectacle, as in political organisations in general, everything is upside down.

waslax's picture
waslax
Offline
Joined: 6-12-07
Jan 17 2010 05:47
waslax wrote:
I have no interest in engaging with them [ICCers].

I should have added, except for Devrim, for obvious reasons.

Jason Cortez
Offline
Joined: 14-11-04
Jan 18 2010 09:33
Jason wrote:
Either back up your claim that the Bolsheviks were less anti-semitic than the Maknovists or shut up!
Cleishbotham wrote:
Jason

I posted you a long message yesterday but when I tried to submit it the site went down and I was told that it was having an emergency repair (curiously saying that it was Jan 13 when it was Jan 12). I thought you had seriously tried to sort out this so I thought you deserved a full reply. I write in haste.

All I am going to do now is just reply to your last post to say that I have not called either the Bolsheviks or the Makhnovists anti-semitic as organisations. In fact both seem to have fought anti-semtism (which was part of my original point) . What I originally said was that there were anti-semitic member of the Makhno movement. Ret then said that there were anti-semitic supporters of Bolshevism and I agreed. I then speculated that Makhno would have a harder time with this given he was recruiting solely from the peasantry in the Ukraine. This was not to say that the Makhnovists were better or worse than anyone else but that he must have had to work hard to deal with it. I was not stating it as a fact. Ret has misinterpreted (in my view deliberately) what I was trying to say to turn it into a the Makhnovists were better than the Bolsheviks (And if he wants to say that I don't care as the issue does not define either organisations real worth) issue . This was not what I meant. More later if this gets loaded.

So that will be a 'no' then. But I do note your conciliatory tone, so we will leave it at that.

Demogorgon303's picture
Demogorgon303
Offline
Joined: 5-07-05
Jan 18 2010 21:35

Very briefly on the anti-semitism point, I quote from The Russian Anarchists by Paul Avrich:

Quote:
"A considerable number of Jews held important positions in the Makhnovite movement. Some were intellectuals ... but the great majority fought in the ranks of the Insurgent Army ... Makhno personally condemned discrimination of any sort, and strove to bridle the virulent anti-Semitic feeling of his peasant followers ... Punishment for anti-semitic acts were swift and severe: one troop commander was summarily shot after raiding a Jewish town; a soldier met the same fate mere for displaying a poster with the stock anti-Semitic formula, "Beat the Jews, Save Russia!".

Clearly there was a weight of reactionary prejudice within the Makhnovist movement, which is to be expected given the general climate in Russia and its satelites. It's also clear that there was a dynamic within the movement which attempted to overcome it.

I would write more but I need to complete my evening devotional to the Great Leader, His Sublime Gloriousness, Alf.

Red Marriott's picture
Red Marriott
Offline
Joined: 7-05-06
Jan 18 2010 23:09

As has been pointed out several times already; no one on this thread has ever tried to deny that there was some anti-Semitism among the Makhnovists.