Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution

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ernie
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Nov 7 2008 17:36

ajjohnston

It was I not demo who posed the quote and I cannot see that the quotes you post contradict what we say about the passivity of the SPGB faced with the war. In Germany many of the Spartacists were imprisoned but that did not stop their work of organizing an i legal press and organization, whereas the SPGB appears just to have accepted the constraints of the time, I may be wrong but it did not set up an legal party structure or actively intervene in the military?

Dave B
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Nov 7 2008 18:07
Demogorgon303 wrote:
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But even here, the response of the Bolsheviks wasn't entirely one-sided. For all the growing oppressive weight of the state, as Ernie has pointed out, Lenin was constantly concerned to involve the working class in the administration of the Soviet state.

"Why have a Party (state capitalist class), if industrial management is to be appointed
("mandatory nomination") by the trade unions nine-tenths of whose
members are non-Party workers? Bukharin has talked himself into a
logical, theoretical and practical implication of a split in the
Party, or, rather, a breakaway of the syndicalists from the Party."

V. I. Lenin The Party Crisis; Pravda No. 13, January 21, 1921

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/jan/19.htm

yoshomon
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Nov 8 2008 20:02
ernie wrote:
This intransigent defense of internationalism by the Bolsheviks in theory and practice played a very important role in the end of the war, in fact it was the Bolshevik scoundrels that withdraw Russia from the war.

The Treaty of Brest Litvosk was another example of this sterling intransigence!!! wall

ernie
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Nov 12 2008 23:26

Brest Litvosk was all that they could do, Lenin's assessment of the state of the military potential of the workers bastion was that it could not face another onslaught and needed time to prepare and strengthen itself for another day i.e, the civil war.

mikus
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Nov 13 2008 03:06

Then it wasn't intransigent, was it?

Anarcho
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Nov 14 2008 14:42
ernie wrote:
Brest Litvosk was all that they could do, Lenin's assessment of the state of the military potential of the workers bastion was that it could not face another onslaught and needed time to prepare and strengthen itself for another day i.e, the civil war.

Lenin's assessment? I thought it was meant to be "All Power to the Soviets" not "All Power to Lenin"?

And, yes, Lenin did argue that the revolution required time. As discussed section H.6 Why did the Russian Revolution fail?, this was utilised to build state capitalism under the Bolsheviks.

In industry, for example, Lenin started to champion one-man management armed with "dictatorial" powers in April, 1918 as the task "now coming to the fore" was that of "organising [the] administration of Russia." It "has become the main and central task" precisely because of "the peace which has been achieved - despite its extremely onerous character and extreme instability" and so "the Russian Soviet Republic has gained an opportunity to concentrate its efforts for a while on the most important and most difficult aspect of the socialist revolution, namely, the task of organisation." This would involve imposing one-man management, that is "individual executives" with "dictatorial powers (or 'unlimited' powers)" as there was "absolutely no contradiction in principle between Soviet (that is, socialist) democracy and the exercise of dictatorial powers by individuals."

This assault on workplace democracy was combined with assaults on soviet democracy, armed forces democracy and so on. In other words, a counter-revolution. What kind of "workers bastion" undermines working class self-management? And represses strikes and other forms of working class protest?

yoshomon
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Nov 14 2008 15:06
ernie wrote:
Brest Litvosk was all that they could do, Lenin's assessment of the state of the military potential of the workers bastion was that it could not face another onslaught and needed time to prepare and strengthen itself for another day i.e, the civil war.

Do you know what intransigent means?

Anarcho
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Nov 14 2008 15:09
ernie wrote:
We would agree with you in your criticism of Trotsky's position on the party taking power, and we have done so for over 30 years as the ICC, and for 60 years in the various historical groups we came from. For us one of the main lessons of the revolution is that the party does not take power, it is the task of the proletariat to emancipate itself.

Ah, right, one of the main lessons of the revolution is to agree with what anarchists had been arguing since the 1860s? To quote one source:

Quote:
Bakunin always stressed that his organisation "rules out any idea of dictatorship and custodial control." . . . The "main purpose and task of the organisation," he argued, would be to "help the people to achieve self-determination." It would "not threaten the liberty of the people because it is free from all official character" and "not placed above the people like state power." Its programme "consists of the fullest realisation of the liberty of the people" and its influence is "not contrary to the free development and self-determination of the people, or its organisation from below according to its own customs and instincts because it acts on the people only by the natural personal influence of its members who are not invested with any power." Thus the revolutionary group would be the "helper" of the masses, with an "organisation within the people itself."

What took you so long?

ernie wrote:
The party is part of the emancipation, its political weapon, but that does not mean it should replace the class. The history of the degeneration of the Bolsheviks shows that.

As prediced by Bakunin: "every state, even the pseudo-People's State concocted by Mr. Marx, is in essence only a machine ruling the masses from below, through a privileged minority of conceited intellectuals who imagine that they know what the people need and want better than do the people themselves."

ernie wrote:
You say about the rigging of the election to the Soviet, I do not know enough about this to answer you, but what about the anarchist blowing up the headquaters of the CP, the party which the class had elected. This was a rather authoritarian disregard for the workers' will.

I would suggest reading this review, plus section H.6.1 of An Anarchist FAQ on the Bolshevik assault on soviet democracy.

As for the attack on the CPGB, that took place in September 1919, over a year after the gerrymandering of the Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets; months after the notion that the dictatorship of the party was the dictatorship of the proletariat had become mainstream Bolshevik policy; over a year since state repression had been inflicted on the anarchists and other opposition parties; over a year of systematic Bolshevik repression of strikes.

To quote Victor Serge from 1919, the party, "is in a sense the nervous system of the class. Simultaneously the consciousness and the active, physical organisation of the dispersed forces of the proletariat, which are often ignorant of themselves and often remain latent or express themselves contradictorily." And what of the masses? What was their role? Serge is equally blunt. While the party is "supported by the entire working population," strangely enough, "it maintains its unique situation in dictatorial fashion." The workers are "[b]ehind" the communists, "sympathising instinctively with the party and carrying out the menial tasks required by the revolution."

Menial Tasks! A fine liberation...

The militants, Serge argued, "leading the masses . . . cannot rely on the consciousness, the goodwill or the determination of those they have to deal with; for the masses who will follow them or surround them will be warped by the old regime, relatively uncultivated, often aware, torn by feelings and instincts inherited from the past." And so "revolutionaries will have to take on the dictatorship without delay." The experience of Russia "reveals an energetic and innovative minority which is compelled to make up for the deficiencies in the education of the backward masses by the use of compulsion."

In other words, the notion that the Bolshevik dictatorship expressed "the workers' will" is a joke. In September 1919, "a rather authoritarian disregard for the workers' will" had been Bolshevik policy for some time!

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miles
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Nov 14 2008 17:16
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Ah, right, one of the main lessons of the revolution is to agree with what anarchists had been arguing since the 1860s? To quote one source:
Quote:

Bakunin always stressed that his organisation "rules out any idea of dictatorship and custodial control." . . . The "main purpose and task of the organisation," he argued, would be to "help the people to achieve self-determination." It would "not threaten the liberty of the people because it is free from all official character" and "not placed above the people like state power." Its programme "consists of the fullest realisation of the liberty of the people" and its influence is "not contrary to the free development and self-determination of the people, or its organisation from below according to its own customs and instincts because it acts on the people only by the natural personal influence of its members who are not invested with any power." Thus the revolutionary group would be the "helper" of the masses, with an "organisation within the people itself."

What took you so long?

Sorry, is this the same Bakunin who spent most of his time manouevering to form secret alliances particularly with the aim of discrediting Marx, who he perceived to be his 'main rival' for 'control' over the 1st International? We have no lessons to learn from him, other than how to counteract a future Bakunin.

ajjohnstone
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Nov 15 2008 00:10

By some fortuitous coincidence i just posted these quotes by Joseph Dietzgen on another discussion list

Quote:
"The terms anarchist, socialist, communist should be so "mixed" together, that no muddlehead could tell which is which. Language serves not only the purpose of distinguishing things but also of uniting them- for it is dialectic."

"For my part, I lay little stress on the distinction, whether a man is an anarchist or a socialist, because it seems to me that too much weight is attributed to this difference."

"While the anarchists may have mad and brainless individuals in their ranks, the socialists have an abundance of cowards. For this reason I care as much for one as the other."

"The majority in both camps are still in great need of education, and this will bring about a reconciliation in time."

Anarcho
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Nov 17 2008 14:22
miles wrote:
Sorry, is this the same Bakunin who spent most of his time manouevering to form secret alliances particularly with the aim of discrediting Marx, who he perceived to be his 'main rival' for 'control' over the 1st International? We have no lessons to learn from him, other than how to counteract a future Bakunin.

ROTFL! Sure, nothing to learn from Bakunin other than, say, the importance of workers councils in a social revolution; the need to expropriate capital at the same time as smashing the state; the need for anti-parliamentarian politics; the importance of workplace organisation, strikes (including the general strike), solidarity and so on to change the world; that a revolutionary state is a countradiction in terms; that revolutionaries should not seek political power; and so on....

I could go on, but I'll just suggest this link on what Bakunin has to offer revolutionaries: The Revolutionary Ideas of Bakunin

And, of course, An Anarchist FAQ has lots of material on why Bakunin is important, particularly in on the section on Marxism (for example, section H.1.1).

Sure, Bakunin was not perfect and anarchists reject some of his ideas (that is why we are not "Bakuninists"!) but to dismiss his contribution to revolutionary ideas is like dismissing all of Marx's contribution because he was confused about state, suggested "political action", and so on. Particularly given that most "Marxists" hold positions closer to Bakunin than Marx on many key issues (such as smashing the state and replacing it with a federation of workers' councils, rejecting electioneering and so on).

ajjohnstone
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Nov 17 2008 16:51
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nothing to learn from Bakunin other than...the importance of workplace organisation, strikes (including the general strike)

"Anarcho" , having no wish to engage in a dispute to diminish Bakunin's importance to the workers' movement ,but surely we should not inflate his influence by assuming that he contributed to the worker's arsenal with the revolutionary ideas of strikes and the general strike .( i maybe reading wrong but it is what your post implies).
Certainly Marx would have ascribed to and shared similar convictions concerning the working class weapons of the class war ( hence the membership of the IWMA by both men ) .
Combinations and strikes were already , (and i'm teaching my granny to suck eggs here , aren't i ) a widespread and growing reality long before either Bakunin and Marx . And as for the General Strike , this too had already been originally advocated by many in the Chartist Movement , in what they termed "the Grand National Holiday"

Credit where credit is due and it is to the unknown men and women who come up with practical solutions ( and often new and novel applications and adaptations due to ever changing circumatances ) to the problems of everyday life , rather than us bestowing bearded men with too much overblown importance . ( again i feel you would ditto that sentiment, "Anarcho" )

Dave B
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Nov 17 2008 20:24

Hi Anarcho I went to your FAQ link and landed on the following first;

H.4.6 Why does Engels' "On Authority" harm Marxism?

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secH4.html#sech46

I am not pretending to be critical out of some kind of anti anarchist sectarianism, but I thought it was terrible.

Apart from being garbled in my opinion, taking snippets of quotes from Engels out of any kind of context, it left Lenin to interpret Engels.

So here we go again, the Anarchists accept the Leninists interpretation of Marx and Engels and cheer in agreement. An Anarchist quoting Lenin quoting Engels.

I don’t have the full quote of the Engels thing, that Lenin gave, and thus context, originating from;

Lenin’s the State and Revolution. ‘Engels on the Overcoming of Democracy’, which I obviously can only give in part below;
;

Quote:
"... For Marx and myself," continued Engels, "it was therefore absolutely impossible to use such a loose term to characterize our special point of view. Today things are different, and the word ["Social-Democrat"] may perhaps pass muster [mag passieren], inexact [unpassend, unsuitable] though it still is for a party whose economic programme is not merely socialist in general, but downright communist, and whose ultimate political aim is to overcome the whole state and, consequently, democracy as well. The names of real political parties, however, are never wholly appropriate; the party develops while the name stays."

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/ch04.htm

In fact that passage on its own doesn’t make much sense to me and is dangerously meaningless out of context, given Lenin’s genius for that kind of thing

But is nice to know that the Anarchist continue to have faith in him, Lenin that is.

It wouldn’t have hurt or cost that much to cut and paste complete the two sections by Engels referred to, and allowed the reader to make their own judgement rather than be lead by the nose by an anarchist intellectual.

Engels starts off by in no way endorsing the idea of ‘authority’ but just surmising what it means. Not covering up its negative or pejorative aspect but in fact focussing on it.

So;

Quote:
Authority, in the sense in which the word is used here, means: the imposition of the will of another upon ours; on the other hand, authority presupposes subordination. Now, since these two words sound bad, and the relationship which they represent is disagreeable to the subordinated party, the question is to ascertain whether there is any way of dispensing with it, whether — given the conditions of present-day society — we could not create another social system, in which this authority would be given no scope any longer, and would consequently have to disappear.

So is it or is it not a necessary evil that we can never completely escape?

And to attempt to answer it he goes on to a discussion on how the co-operative work of a factory would be organised in socialism by focussing on where it might be an issue, the micro management of factory production.

Quote:
Thereafter particular questions arise in each room and at every moment concerning the mode of production, distribution of material, etc., which must be settled by decision of a delegate placed at the head of each branch of labour or, if possible, by a majority vote, the will of the single individual will always have to subordinate itself, which means that questions are settled in an authoritarian way.

So what does this mean. If a group of people are working together they take decisions by majority vote ‘if possible’. Otherwise where quick decision making ‘by committee’ is inefficient and an elected delegate, or individual, makes a decision.

I do not know what kind of lives people must live if they can’t understand that when working in a factory for instance many decisions, perhaps involving others, have to be taken quickly, ie by an individual or delegate.

If they screw up then they are recalled.

So Engels continues;

Quote:
The automatic machinery of the big factory is much more despotic than the small capitalists who employ workers ever have been. At least with regard to the hours of work one may write upon the portals of these factories: Lasciate ogni autonomia, voi che entrate! [Leave, ye that enter in, all autonomy behind!]

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/10/authority.htm

Quite true. You work in a factory with machines and they don’t behave exactly the way you want them to. The jam up at awkward times, need refilling and generally don’t follow the mere wishful thinking of their operators. Just like trying to figure out how to use microsoft word or something, they are tyrannical and despotic.

So there is no contradiction, as stated in the FAQ article.

Subduing yourself to a machine is the price you pay for the labour saving effort and benefits of using that machine. You can take it or leave it and we did this before I think. You can be a primitive if you like and not subdue yourself to a machine or machines or the factory system and spend 10 hours making something that could take one hour to make. Or you can recognise that the realm of freedom is to be mostly found outside of work and seek to maximise that.

In order to find the balance it is probably helpful to understand that to some extent one exists.

I appreciate that not all Anarchists are Bakuninists, but what exactly is the difference between Engel’s ‘On Authority’ and Bakunin’s ‘Collective Dictatorship’?

Quote:
‘where their delegations will collectively work out the necessary arrangements’

http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/bakunin/works/1870/albert-richard.htm

Anarcho
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Nov 18 2008 09:29
ajjohnstone wrote:
"Anarcho" , having no wish to engage in a dispute to diminish Bakunin's importance to the workers' movement ,but surely we should not inflate his influence by assuming that he contributed to the worker's arsenal with the revolutionary ideas of strikes and the general strike .( i maybe reading wrong but it is what your post implies).

Obviously not, what I was trying to suggest was that Bakunin put those ideas at the heart of his politics and revolutionary strategy. For example, while Marx and Engels both dismissed the idea of a general strike while Bakunin supported it. Most Marxists do not call the idea of a general strike nonsense any more...

ajjohnstone wrote:
Combinations and strikes were already , (and i'm teaching my granny to suck eggs here , aren't i ) a widespread and growing reality long before either Bakunin and Marx . And as for the General Strike , this too had already been originally advocated by many in the Chartist Movement , in what they termed "the Grand National Holiday"

Again, yes, obviously -- although Bakunin's idea of the general strike was far more dynamic than the Chartist, regardless of what Engels asserted!

ajjohnstone wrote:
Credit where credit is due and it is to the unknown men and women who come up with practical solutions ( and often new and novel applications and adaptations due to ever changing circumatances ) to the problems of everyday life , rather than us bestowing bearded men with too much overblown importance . ( again i feel you would ditto that sentiment, "Anarcho" )

Yes, I would agree. I guess I was over-reacting to a complete dismissal of Bakunin and his contribution to revolutionary ideas! I would suggest that Bakunin laid the framework for much of what revolutionaries who call themselves anarchists and, sometimes, Marxists think. I hate to see Bakunin dismissed so, particularly when I would not dismiss Marx's many contributions to socialism.

Anarcho
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Nov 18 2008 09:42
Dave B wrote:
I am not pretending to be critical out of some kind of anti anarchist sectarianism, but I thought it was terrible.

Well, we can disagree. Most of your points are already answered in the section in question

Dave B wrote:
Quite true. You work in a factory with machines and they don’t behave exactly the way you want them to. The jam up at awkward times, need refilling and generally don’t follow the mere wishful thinking of their operators. Just like trying to figure out how to use microsoft word or something, they are tyrannical and despotic.

Authority is a social relationship, not one between people and things. Machines do not give orders, they are not despotic as a boss is.

Dave B wrote:
So there is no contradiction, as stated in the FAQ article.

There is, as Engels explicitly states that socialism "puts an end to the former subjection of men to their own means of production" and that "productive labour, instead of being a means of subjugating men, will become a means of their emancipation." Except, apparently, machines are tyrannical and despotic....

What is it to be?

Dave B wrote:
Or you can recognise that the realm of freedom is to be mostly found outside of work and seek to maximise that.

So whatever happened to labour becoming the prime aim of humanity? Of the joy of creating something new? Or productive activity? No need, we have machines to do that for us!

As AFAQ states:

Quote:
The only possible solution is reducing the working day to a minimum and so the time spent as a slave to the machine (and plan) is reduced. The idea that work should be transformed into creative, empowering and liberating experience is automatically destroyed by Engels' argument. Like capitalism, Marxist-Socialism is based on "work is hell" and the domination of the producer. Hardly an inspiring vision of the future.

So, I would suggest that the persective that we need to minimise work is flawed, as it assumes that productive activity will always be hell. Yes, machines can and should be used to minimise boring work but freedom should not stop at the workplace door under socialism as it does under capitalism.

Angelus Novus
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Nov 18 2008 13:27
Anarcho wrote:
I would suggest that Bakunin laid the framework for much of what revolutionaries who call themselves anarchists and, sometimes, Marxists think.

Bakunin's contribution to the critique of political economy = 0.

Bakunin's contribution to form-critical theories of social mediation = 0.

Bakunin's contribution to the understanding of discursive practices and their role in subject-formation = 0.

Bakunin's contribution to an understanding of binary gender identities = 0.

Bakunin's contribution to the social construction of race = 0.

Seriously, in the Post-Autonomist milieu I swim in, nobody talks about Bakunin, not even as an interesting historical curiosity. No disrespect to anarchism as a historical movement, which indeed is impressive and worthy of admiration, but Anarchism is just not influential as a theoretical tradition. If I had to name five names off the top of my head that would most crop up if people in the anti-parliamentary milieu were asked about theoretical influence, those names would probably be Marx, Foucault, Butler, Adorno, Poulantzas. In the second tier, probably Deleuze, Lukacs, Agamben, Althusser, and for contemporary theorists, maybe Holloway and *ugh* Negri,.

Your passionate wingnuttery in defense of what you regard as the prominent place that should be accorded to anarchism in the pantheon of revolutionary idols is amusing in a "crazy cousin" sort of way, but it just doesn't correspond to the reality many of us travel in. Time to leave the 19th century.

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Alf
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Nov 18 2008 21:53

I agree with you Angelus that Bakunin has no theoretical framework, although he could have insights; and that this is necessarily true of anarchism as a whole, although the task of assimilating and criticising some key anarchist contributions, like Kropotkin's Mutual Aid, has not really been done. What I find less convincing is your intellectual pantheon for the 'anti-parliamentary' milieu - the ones that follow Marx. I can't speak about all of them, because in some cases I haven't read anything by them, and if you'll pardon my ignorance theres a couple I haven't even heard of (Butler and Agamben). I am best acquainted with Lukacs (mainly the early work) and I was impressed (and a bit depressed) by some of Adorno's essays. Althusser, on the other hand, is clearly in the camp of the counter-revolution. But the main question is: how many of the rest are revolutionaries?

Angelus Novus
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Nov 18 2008 22:20
Alf wrote:
What I find less convincing is your intellectual pantheon for the 'anti-parliamentary' milieu - the ones that follow Marx.

That's not my personal pantheon. I was responding to Anarcho's claim that Bakunin "laid the groundwork for what most revolutionaries blahblahblah".

The truth is, the influence of Bakunin and most classical anarchists in the milieu I travel in is pretty much zero. I'm talking about the broad, anti-parliamentary milieu (what I call "Post-Autonomist" for the sake of convenience, even though the term doesn't say much).

So I don't really feel compelled to either defend or criticize the figures I listed. Some I couldn't really care less about (I think, despite some flashes of insight, Judith Butler is an extremely superficial thinker, for example).

That's not to say that everyone in the "scene" is a theoretical heavy-lifter. Some people don't read anything but leaflets and communiques.

Anarcho has this irritating way of popping up on every conceivable thread to basically argue for the pure, untainted continuity of everything good in the world stretching back to one or another "father of anarchism". It's just dopey. I was deflating his claim about the centrality of Bakunin.

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Alf
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Nov 18 2008 22:26

I agree entirely with your last point, and see your point about the pantheon not necessarily being your personal one. But it still seems a problem that these figures are so popular in a scene which I assumed you saw as in some sense revolutionary. But perhaps you could explain more about what you mean by the 'anti-parliamentary ' scene.

By the way I noticed your text on the crisis and will try to comment on it on the other thread.

Beltov
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Nov 19 2008 10:11
Alf wrote:
...criticising some key anarchist contributions, like Kropotkin's Mutual Aid, has not really been done.

Mattick wrote a review of Kropotkin's Mutual Aid in 1956, which is online here:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/mattick-paul/1956/kropotkin.htm

Apologies for minor derail...

B.

yoshomon
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Nov 19 2008 14:11
yoshomon wrote:
ernie wrote:
Brest Litvosk was all that they could do, Lenin's assessment of the state of the military potential of the workers bastion was that it could not face another onslaught and needed time to prepare and strengthen itself for another day i.e, the civil war.

Do you know what intransigent means?

ajjohnstone
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Nov 19 2008 21:45

Beltov pointed out that:

Quote:
Mattick wrote a review of Kropotkin's Mutual Aid in 1956, which is online here

Lo and behold who was the original publisher ? Why , no other than the Western Socialist , the magazine of the SPGB's companion party The World Socialist Party of United States . And didn't they also publish Anton Pannekoek , too .
tsk tsk tut tut ... those sectarians of the World Socialist Movement ...

ernie
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Nov 20 2008 13:00

Even more shocking we defended the SPGB at a Exeter Socialist Group meeting against by someone who ridiculed it. We pointed out that whilst the majority of the Trotskyists defended WW2 the SPGB did not.

Anarcho
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Nov 21 2008 14:18
Angelus Novus wrote:
Your passionate wingnuttery in defense of what you regard as the prominent place that should be accorded to anarchism in the pantheon of revolutionary idols is amusing in a "crazy cousin" sort of way, but it just doesn't correspond to the reality many of us travel in. Time to leave the 19th century.

I know, it must be hard to admit that Marx was wrong about somethings while Bakunin was right. Perhaps, with time, you can overcome this problem...

Anarcho
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Nov 21 2008 14:26
Angelus Novus wrote:
That's not my personal pantheon. I was responding to Anarcho's claim that Bakunin "laid the groundwork for what most revolutionaries blahblahblah".

So, in terms of, say, anti-parliamentary socialism and workers councils Bakunin's ideas are NOT closer to modern libertarian positions than Marx's? Really? I know few libertarian "Marxists" who think, like Marx and Engels, that the democratic republic can be seized by means of a workers party utilising universal suffrage.

Most would agree with Bakunin's position on this, but obviously being right is somewhat irrelevant when discussing anarchism...

Angelus Novus wrote:
The truth is, the influence of Bakunin and most classical anarchists in the milieu I travel in is pretty much zero. I'm talking about the broad, anti-parliamentary milieu (what I call "Post-Autonomist" for the sake of convenience, even though the term doesn't say much).

The very fact they are anti-parliamentary would suggest that Bakunin was right. Perhaps they would gain from reading the classical anarchists? But I guess if they did that then they would become aware of how close they are to anarchism rather than Marxism...

Angelus Novus wrote:
Anarcho has this irritating way of popping up on every conceivable thread to basically argue for the pure, untainted continuity of everything good in the world stretching back to one or another "father of anarchism". It's just dopey. I was deflating his claim about the centrality of Bakunin.

ROTFL! I "popped" up in this thread to discuss Trotsky's account of the Russian Revolution, expanding on the counter-revolutionary role of Bolshevism. As far praising Bakunin, that was in response to an attempt to dismiss his contribution to revolutionary movements and theory.

But I suppose it must be "dopey" to express the opinion that anarchism has been confirmed by revolutionary practice. I mean, how "dopey" do you have to be to support anarchism on an anarchist website?

Anarcho
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Nov 21 2008 14:31
Beltov wrote:
Mattick wrote a review of Kropotkin's Mutual Aid in 1956, which is online here:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/mattick-paul/1956/kropotkin.htm

Apologies for minor derail...

B.

It is actually a very poor review, one which totally misses the point of Kropotkin's argument and aim. As I note in my introduction and evaluation of Kropotkin's Mutual Aid:

Quote:
Given this, libertarian Marxist Paul Mattick was simply wrong to assert that the “whole controversy between Huxley and Kropotkin is somewhat beside the point — it does not touch upon the relevant issues of society, namely that ‘mutual aid’ in human society presupposes the abolition of class relations.” He failed to understand that institutions of “mutual aid” were created as part of the struggle against class systems and were the means to their abolition.

In reply to Mattick's complaint that Kropotkin does not refute Malthus, I should note he did so in his Fields, Factories and Workshops.

Anarcho
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Joined: 22-10-06
Nov 21 2008 14:35
Angelus Novus wrote:
Bakunin's contribution to the critique of political economy = 0.

Bakunin's contribution to form-critical theories of social mediation = 0.

Bakunin's contribution to the understanding of discursive practices and their role in subject-formation = 0.

Bakunin's contribution to an understanding of binary gender identities = 0.

Bakunin's contribution to the social construction of race = 0.

Seriously, but this is gibberish -- beyond the first point which is actually in English! Well done.

And let us not forget that while Marx was in the British Library writting Capital, Bakunin was in a Tsarist prison. That kind of makes it hard to produce something like Capital.... but still, at least Bakunin did not lay the groundwork for Social Democracy by his support for parliamentary politics and suggesting that the universal suffrage equaled the political power of the working class...

Angelus Novus
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Joined: 27-07-06
Nov 21 2008 16:21
Wingy McNut wrote:
I know, it must be hard to admit that Marx was wrong about somethings while Bakunin was right. Perhaps, with time, you can overcome this problem...

What the hell have you been smoking? I've only stated two dozen times on this BBS that Marx's entire political orientation is of no particular interest to me whatsoever, since it is his critique of political economy that is his lasting contribution. In fact, I've even told you directly in another thread that I'm not even a Marxist. Do you even follow any of the threads on this BBS except for the ones you pounce on with your Bakunin idolatry?

Quote:
So, in terms of, say, anti-parliamentary socialism and workers councils Bakunin's ideas are NOT closer to modern libertarian positions than Marx's?

Kill the straw man in your head. I don't recall ever giving two shits about Bakunin's respective positions vs. Marx's within the First International. Go find yourself an actual Marxist if you want to have those sorts of irrelevant discussions. I'm talking about theoretical influence upon today's extra-parliamentary milieu. Stale debates about the organizational structures of a dead International are of interest only to sectarian wingnuts like yourself.

The extra-parliamentary milieu I am familiar with have debates about whether "ideology" should probably be understood in the sense of a "false consciousness" necessarily generated by the commodity form, or whether ideology is a trans-historical phenomenon that always mediates between subjects and society. They have discussions about possible affinities between Poulantzas' conception of the state as a condensation of the balance of forces in society, and Agnoli's observation that the state is not "superstructure" but rather first constitutes the relationship between social classes. They discuss Foucault and Butler on the social construction of binary gender identities and sexualities and criticize the latter for what they perceive as an affirmative turn away from the thought of the former.

When it's about practical issues, they talk about occupying airport runways to prevent deportations, or the appropriate way to deal with rapists within the scene. Or about how to conduct agitation among dole recipients and "1-Euro jobbers". Or how to deal with Nazis cropping up in previously "left" city neighborhoods..

The "anarchism versus marxism" game plays pretty much no role whatsoever, because it's completely irrelevant to both theoretical discussions and practical struggles. It's just that in terms of theoretical discussion, Marx's name is extremely prominent, whereas anarchism has not left behind a single lasting theoretical contribution whatsoever.

Dave B
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Joined: 3-08-08
Nov 21 2008 18:14

Hi Anarcho

Where exactly did Karl or Fred suggest;

Anarcho wrote:
that the universal suffrage equaled the political power of the working class...

The position was that universal suffrage had the potential or could be used as a tool by a class conscious working class to obtain ‘political power’.

In fact they actually warned against the Social-Democratic Workers’ Party in Germany becoming adulterated and a tool of the bourgeoisie and thus a '.a Social-Democratic Petty-Bourgeois Party'.

Marx and Engels to

August Bebel, Wilhelm Liebknecht, Wilhelm Bracke and others

Mid September, 1879

Quote:
In such a petty-bourgeois country as Germany these ideas certainly have their own justification. But only outside the Social-Democratic Workers’ Party. if these gentlemen form themselves into a Social-Democratic Petty-Bourgeois Party they have a perfect right to do so; one could then negotiate with them, form a bloc according to circumstances, etc. But in a workers’ party they are an adulterating element. If reasons exist for tolerating them there for the moment, it is also a duty only to tolerate them, to allow them no influence in the Party leadership and to remain aware that a break with them is only a matter of time. The time, moreover, seems to have come. How the Party can tolerate the authors of this article in its midst any longer is to us incomprehensible. But if the leadership of the Party should fall more or less into the hands of such people then the Party will simply be castrated and proletarian energy will be at an end.

As for ourselves, in view of our whole past there is only one path open to us. For almost forty years we have stressed the class struggle as the immediate driving force of history, and in particular the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat as the great lever of the modern social revolution; it is therefore impossible for us to co-operate with people who wish to expunge this class struggle from the movement.

When the International was formed we expressly formulated the battle-cry: the emancipation of the working class must be achieved by the working class itself. We cannot therefore co-operate with people who say that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must first be freed from above by philanthropic bourgeois and petty bourgeois. If the new Party organ adopts a line corresponding to the views of these gentlemen, and is bourgeois and not proletarian, then nothing remains for us, much though we should regret it, but publicly to declare our opposition to it and to dissolve the solidarity with which we have hitherto represented the German Party abroad. But it is to be hoped that things will not come to that.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1879/letters/79_09_15.htm

Anarcho
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Joined: 22-10-06
Nov 28 2008 15:42
Dave B wrote:
Where exactly did Karl or Fred suggest;
Anarcho wrote:
that the universal suffrage equaled the political power of the working class...

The position was that universal suffrage had the potential or could be used as a tool by a class conscious working class to obtain ‘political power’.

How about Marx argued that the "fundamental contradiction" of a democracy under capitalism is that the classes "whose social slavery the constitution is to perpetuate" it "puts in possession of political power through universal suffrage." [Collected Works, vol. 10, p. 79] For Engels in 1847, "democracy has as its necessary consequence the political rule of the proletariat." Universal suffrage would "make political power pass from the middle class to the working class" and so "the democratic movement" is "striving for the political domination of the proletariat." [Op. Cit., vol. 7, p. 299, p. 440 and p. 368]

Then there is Engels:

Quote:
"In every struggle of class against class, the next end fought for is political power; the ruling class defends its political supremacy, that is to say its safe majority in the Legislature; the inferior class fights for, first a share, then the whole of that power, in order to become enabled to change existing laws in conformity with their own interests and requirements. Thus the working class of Great Britain for years fought ardently and even violently for the People's Charter [which demanded universal suffrage and yearly general elections], which was to give it that political power." [Collected Works, vol. 24, p. 386]

Engels also argued that universal suffrage "in an England two-thirds of whose inhabitants are industrial proletarians means the exclusive political rule of the working class with all the revolutionary changes in social conditions which are inseparable from it." [Collected Works, vol. 10, p. 298] Marx, likewise, repeatedly argued along identical lines. For example, in 1855, he stated that "universal suffrage . . . implies the assumption of political power as means of satisfying [the workers'] social means" and, in Britain, "revolution is the direct content of universal suffrage." [Op. Cit., vol. 11, pp. 335-6] Elsewhere, Marx argued that as universal suffrage was "the equivalent of political power for the working class . . . where the proletariat forms the large majority of the population." Its "inevitable result would be "the political supremacy of the working class." [Collected Works, vol. 11, pp. 335-6]

Then there is Engels comments from 1891:

Quote:
"If one thing is certain it is that our Party and the working class can only come to power under the form of a democratic republic. This is even the specific form for the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the Great French Revolution has already shown." [Collected Works, vol. 27, p. 227]

He goes on to argue that "[f]rom 1792 to 1799 each French department, each commune, enjoyed complete self-government on the American model, and this is what we too must have. How self-government is to be organised and how we can manage without a bureaucracy has been shown to us by America and the first French Republic." Significantly, Engels was explicitly discussing the need for a "republican party programme", commenting that it would be impossible for "our best people to become ministers" under an Emperor and arguing that, in Germany at the time, they could not call for a republic and had to raise the "demand for the concentration of all political power in the hands of the people's representatives." Engels stressed that "the proletariat can only use the form of the one and indivisible republic" with "self-government" meaning "officials elected by universal suffrage". [Op. Cit., pp. 227-9]

Also, when asked what Marx meant by smashing the ready-made state machinery Engels had replied:

Quote:
"It is simply a question of showing that the victorious proletariat must first refashion the old bureaucratic, administrative centralised state power before it can use it for its own purposes: whereas all bourgeois republicans since 1848 inveighed against this machinery so long as they were in the opposition, but once they were in the government they took it over without altering it and used it partly against the reaction but still more against the proletariat." [Collected Works, vol. 47, p. 74]

Then there is Marx's 1880 comment in his contribution to the "Program of the French Workers Party", which said that the "collective appropriation" of the means of production "can only proceed from a revolutionary action of the class of producers -- the proletariat -- organised in an independent political party." This would be "pursued by all the means the proletariat has at its disposal including universal suffrage which will thus be transformed from the instrument of deception that it has been until now into an instrument of emancipation." [Collected Works, vol. 24, p. 340]

To mention a few examples...