Was Lenin a "monster"?

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pannekoek-bakunin
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Oct 25 2009 21:17
Was Lenin a "monster"?

red star Hello everybody who read this.

In the beginning of the 1980ies I called myself left communist. But the group I made a good relationship with, was, when I try to remember, not left communist. I guess we were council communist. And after a period I became more and more an anarchist.

red star Nowadays I have developed a great respect for the IBRP.
I think it is right to see Lenin as a comrade, and not some kind of "monster". red star
That (saying that Lenin was no monster) was the message to me many years ago, when a computer made it possible to have contact with the ICC.

I must admit that it is very much confusion when it comes to what really happened the first years of Socialist Russia. But I still think that most of what Lenin did and said was right.

I have a feeling that many here on the Forum have information that could be useful when trying to answer these questions. But no one can convince me that Lenin was a "monster".

http://www.ibrp.org

Pannekoek-Bakunin

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 20 2009 16:40

Of course he wasn't a 'monster'. He was just a bloody-fisted despot who led a crushing counter-revolution against the Russian workers and dealt the death blow to the greatest revolutionary effort in human history.

~J.

Boris Badenov
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Oct 20 2009 18:31

not so much a monster as a super-villain

But seriously, how the fuck can you call yourself "Pannekoek-Bakunin" and "still think that most of what Lenin did and said was right"?

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flaneur
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Oct 20 2009 18:57

Anarchism + councilism = Lenin wasn't too bad. Poor maths.

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Alf
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Oct 20 2009 22:27

Of course he wasn't a 'monster'. He was just a bloody-fisted despot who led a crushing counter-revolution against the Russian workers and dealt the death blow to the greatest revolutionary effort in human history.

~J.

In short, a monster

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Alf
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Oct 20 2009 22:31

On the name Pannekoek-Bakunin, I agree it's a bit contradictory. i am not sure that Pannekeok, who always saw himself as a comrade of Marx, would have felt the same thing about Bakunin.
Can anyone point to any statements by Pannekoek himself on this subject?

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mikail firtinaci
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Oct 21 2009 07:33

that is it;

http://libcom.org/library/anarchism-not-suitable-anton-pannekoek

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flaneur
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Oct 21 2009 08:41

Calling that vague would be an understatement.

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 21 2009 09:35

Personally I think he has a point that anarchists, maybe more so now than ever, have a tendency to put abstract freedom before concrete self-organisation. This is perhaps an inherent weakness in the anarchist tradition - it's certainly cropped up several times through the ages.

~J.

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Bisc
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Oct 21 2009 19:48
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Personally I think he has a point that anarchists, maybe more so now than ever, have a tendency to put abstract freedom before concrete self-organisation.

What freedom isn't abstracted? Freedom doesn't actually have any tangible, physical properties. It's a complete reification; it's an idea (an abstraction) treated as something tangible and 'real'. If you keep on that line of thought, you'll start sounding like Zerzan (nothing is real but the sensual, self-determined experience! down with the symbolic!).

Or maybe I misunderstood you? Regardless, what we do in concrete terms is mostly born from abstractions (excepting, perhaps, what our biology demands of us). Let's not pretend like they're mutually exclusive. Further more -- I don't know if you've ever read anything by Renzo Novatore, but he had a pretty damn good point when he said revolution cannot be just about the belly (or something like that...). If all you're concerned with is generalizing material comfort, then you'd probably be better off sticking with capitalism. It's doing a pretty good job at producing material abundance. All you need to do is get past your ethical aversion to the fact that slave labor produces that wealth; seeing as how all human values are fictitious abstractions produced in order to give some semblance of meaning and purpose to the (meaningless and purposeless) material universe.

Know what I mean, bro?

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 22 2009 14:35
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What freedom isn't abstracted? Freedom doesn't actually have any tangible, physical properties. It's a complete reification; it's an idea (an abstraction) treated as something tangible and 'real'.

Except that freedom obviously isn't an idea - if it was, then all a prisoner would have to do to escape from his prison would be to think himself free. That, or I've misunderstood you.

I think that real freedom is tangible, to some extent. So, a person who is locked up in a concentration camp is tangibly less free than a person who isn't. Likewise, a person who can make use of the means of production whenever she wishes is tangibly more free than a person who will be imprisoned for doing so without the consent of her boss. I mean, maybe I'm missing the philosophical complexities here, but I really don't think that you can glibly say 'oh freedom is just an idea' like that.

Of course, that doesn't mean that there isn't such a thing as totally or largely ideal freedom, which doesn't have much existence except in the abstract.

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Regardless, what we do in concrete terms is mostly born from abstractions (excepting, perhaps, what our biology demands of us).

Yeah, I've heard this before, except where do those abstractions come from? Answer: from our own concrete reality

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If all you're concerned with is generalizing material comfort

I'm not.

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then you'd probably be better off sticking with capitalism. It's doing a pretty good job at producing material abundance.

It isn't.

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All you need to do is get past your ethical aversion to the fact that slave labor produces that wealth;

I have.

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seeing as how all human values are fictitious abstractions produced in order to give some semblance of meaning and purpose to the (meaningless and purposeless) material universe.

I think material things can have meaning and purpose. A hammer is a material thing, but clearly has a purpose. I really don't get what you're trying to say here. Sorry if I'm just being dense, I obviously haven't read as many books as you (e.g. I've never heard of Zerzan or Novatore) but honestly, what are you on about here?

~J.

Boris Badenov
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Oct 22 2009 14:52

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dABGVnHWuyc

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Oct 22 2009 20:19

Yeah, sorry about the ramble. You're a Brit, so it makes sense that you've never heard of Zerzan (or Novatore, since you may not have a lot of experience with classical anarchism beyond just the boring figureheads). And no, I'm not much of a bookworm; I just don't constrain myself to one area of anarchist literature.

Anyways -- I was questioning your arbitrary division of 'abstract freedom' and 'concrete self-organization'. You clearly define freedom as nothing more than the vacuous absence of something antagonistic to oneself. That's really nihilistic, but it does make sense; if only in a sort of, 'you're half way there!!', kind of way.

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Yeah, I've heard this before, except where do those abstractions come from? Answer: from our own concrete reality

Bah! That's materialist wank. So human valuations and thoughts are derived from an a priori source? Matter is meaningless. We give it meaning -- we have to, as we couldn't handle living in a void. This is why I am asserting this point -- to argue against your reduction of freedom to merely the absence of something. On the theoretical side, anarchists probably are not as strong in that as marxists, but marxists will always be held back by materialism and the structural dogma of Marx himself.

Why don't you just quit your job, hop on a cheap boat, and go live in the pacific islands? If all you need to do is make some empty space and time in your existence, then you really don't need to worry about being a communist in order to be free. That woman isn't going to go up to the means of production in the sudden absence of capitalism and say, "oh! well, now I'm not a wage slave anymore so I guess I can produce whatever I want". Again, meaning and purpose are not given a priori. If capitalism suddenly *poofed!* into nothingness, would people just magically relate to the means of production in a communist manner? No, of course not. They'd largely still relate to their labor and it's ends in a capitalistic way -- it's all they know. That is; all they know is bare survival (as far as relating to the means of production goes...).

Many ex-prisoners end up back in prison. Why? Because when they get out they're totally ostracized from the majority of society, and most likely, they're dirt poor. Does getting out of prison really make you any freer? Is choosing between alternative situations of impoverishment and misery freedom? Of course not. Don't be silly.

Concrete self-organization may secure the means to produce the absence of something repressive, but it does not produce freedom itself. Matter does not produce human relations, values, and ideas. That hammer is totally useless without humans, or really any primate like mammal that can utilize it. It doesn't have some magical aura of purpose radiating from it. We created it in order to produce -- it doesn't produce itself (in both the material and immaterial - abstract - sense). This is what I'm going on about. You cannot just arbitrarily separate human ideas from 'concrete freedom'. That's a ridiculously glib assertion.

If all freedom is just the absence of something then I guess I'll join Crimethinc, stay unemployed, and go eat out of dumpsters and hop trains. Better to just clear the attic of my life and make more space for fun in the sun, eh?

Don't be so quick to dismiss the anarchists. We're not as theoretically lopsided as others may say.

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 23 2009 01:03
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Anyways -- I was questioning your arbitrary division of 'abstract freedom' and 'concrete self-organization'.

The point I was trying to make was that anarchists often do separate freedom from concrete self-organization, and that it is therefore an abstract freedom with no actual existence. I thought I made this clear.

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You clearly define freedom as nothing more than the vacuous absence of something antagonistic to oneself. That's really nihilistic, but it does make sense; if only in a sort of, 'you're half way there!!', kind of way.

Well, look, I clearly gave a positive definition of freedom above - specifically, having access to the means of production, as opposed to not having it. I don't see how that can be construed as nihilistic. Certainly the examples I gave do not describe freedom perfectly, but they do prove that it isn't just an idea. Is freedom just an idea, yes or no?

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Bah! That's materialist wank.

Philosophical name-calling. Nice.

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So human valuations and thoughts are derived from an a priori source? Matter is meaningless. We give it meaning -- we have to, as we couldn't handle living in a void.

So you're saying matter doesn't exist? What is this computer I'm typing on made of then? Do I just 'give meaning' to this computer through imagining it? If so, please tell me how I can give meaning to a fucking mansion and a swimming pool on a caribean island, so I can go and live there and move out of this shithole.

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Does getting out of prison really make you any freer?

Yes. Fucksake.

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Matter does not produce human relations, values, and ideas.

So, let me get this straight, if I came up to your house, with a scalpel and a bonesaw, and cut open your head and scooped out all the matter inside, your relations, values and ideas would carry on just as before, since the matter involved had nothing to do with their production?

Seriously, like?

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Don't be so quick to dismiss the anarchists. We're not as theoretically lopsided as others may say.

You've pretty much proved the worst of anarchist thought in your little session here. You've been irrationally idealistic, completely abstract, obsessive about freedom but inconsistent about it's properties, - in short, everything that's wrong with the anarchist tradition in revolutionary thought.

~J.

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Bisc
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Oct 23 2009 03:48
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So you're saying matter doesn't exist? What is this computer I'm typing on made of then? Do I just 'give meaning' to this computer through imagining it? If so, please tell me how I can give meaning to a fucking mansion and a swimming pool on a caribean island, so I can go and live there and move out of this shithole.

Haha, when did I ever say that? I'm saying the meaning given to freedom is not something given a priori. I'm not going to descend into crazy solipsism to make my point. Although, perhaps I did misunderstand you...

Just because matter physically exists doesn't mean it's meaningful. It's just blobs of crap surrounded by empty voids.

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Yes. Fucksake.

I'm going to assume you've never been to prison then. I haven't either, but I have the intelligence to recognize that what most prisoners experience on the outside certainly doesn't amount to shit. Don't go dicking around, making idiotic assumptions because you don't have the patience to engage someone who questions you. Why do you even come on to a damn anarchist forum if all you can offer up is, "Yes. Fucksake", if someone tries to engage you in discourse? Chill the fuck out, man. This isn't the playground -- I'm not pushing you and making fun of you (my statement against materialism wasn't meant to earnestly offend you -- I was just being an ass).

Don't get your panties in a bunch. If every lame anarchist like me disappeared, you'd still be at square one. Don't blame me for your fuck ups. The history of pro-revolutionaries since the dawn of the socialist movement has been one of repeated fuck ups. Get used to it, bro. Teh revolutionz ain't comin' any faster or slower than they were 250 years ago.

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So, let me get this straight, if I came up to your house, with a scalpel and a bonesaw, and cut open your head and scooped out all the matter inside, your relations, values and ideas would carry on just as before, since the matter involved had nothing to do with their production?

If I cut out all the wood from a tree, would the paper carry on without it? Of course not. Wood provides the source for paper, but it doesn't produce it. If I laid down in my living room and willed myself into a catatonic state, I probably wouldn't produce much of anything, would I? Human valuations, ideas, and relations go beyond just utilitarian values -- and even then, we still produce that; it is not provided for us.

See, isn't this fun? Unless you'd rather go back to schooling some n00b left communist on the finer points of Lenin's counter-revolutionary role (how many fucken times has that been done?)...

Quote:
You've pretty much proved the worst of anarchist thought in your little session here. You've been irrationally idealistic, completely abstract, obsessive about freedom but inconsistent about it's properties, - in short, everything that's wrong with the anarchist tradition in revolutionary thought.

Like I said -- you're still fucked. Welcome to the political milieu! smile

I never meant to dispute that the absence of repression gives the chance for freedom. Like your early statements, mine were unclear. I perceived an arbitrary separation in your comment, and I refuted it. It's better than talking about some dead reactionary. Am i rite?

DebordIsPissed
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Oct 23 2009 10:10

It may be of some interest to look into Emma Goldman's interaction with Lenin in 1919, I think it was. It seems that Goldman's experience with Lenin was that he talked down on her, almost as if she were a child, and had somewhat of an intense debate in regards to free speech. Lenin strongly supported the suppression of free speech and would even have anarchists and activists thrown in jail if they weren't members of the Bolsheviks.

It's hard to say that Lenin was a monster - that's giving him to much credit.

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 23 2009 13:28
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I'm going to assume you've never been to prison then. I haven't either, but I have the intelligence to recognize that what most prisoners experience on the outside certainly doesn't amount to shit.

Dude, really - being in prison is a lot worse than not being in prison. Seriously. smile. Of course, prisoners are treated like shit when they're released into the outside world, but that doesn't mean you can equate being an ex-con (to use an Americanism) with actually being locked up. There's obviously a world of difference. Sorry if I was glib, but you can't expect to just spout nonsense like that and have people take you seriously.

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I never meant to dispute that the absence of repression gives the chance for freedom. Like your early statements, mine were unclear. I perceived an arbitrary separation in your comment, and I refuted it. It's better than talking about some dead reactionary. Am i rite?

I don't think my early statements were that unclear, although I'm still not sure what you're trying to say. Maybe we're just talking past each other a bit here.

My original post simply stated that there exists such a thing as abstract freedom - i.e. freedom that only exists ideally, because we lack the positive ability to act on it, which would require real, concrete organisation - and that the anarchist tradition in revolutionary thought has often raised up this ideal freedom while neglecting the concrete side of things, which is its prerequisite. This parallels the views of Panekoek in his brief piece on anarchism, linked to above.

Setting aside the philosophical niceties for a minute, what is your actual objection here? Do you deny that there can be such a thing as abstract freedom? Or that freedom requires concrete, social organisation? Or that anarchism historically (though not always, of course) has often espoused the former and neglected the latter? Let's sort this out; what, really, is your problem here?

~J.

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Oct 23 2009 18:59

We are talking past each other. When you said 'abstract freedom', you probably meant idealism or utopianism. I'm sure when prisoners step out of prison they feel free; I would. I'm positive that radical Islamists who blow themselves to bits would, in some cases, express their sacrifice as a gateway to freedom.

No matter how grounded you think you are in a realist, pragmatic perspective, discussing what freedom means, it's consequences (what would be the consequences of a revolution? surely they couldn't all be warm and fuzzy), and it's origins is not over thinking, 'abstracted', or perplexing intellectual messiness. It doesn't hurt to question everything and anything. I am not an idealist - in fact, I haven't the faintest clue what post-revolution society would look like and I know it; so I refrain from discussing the subject as much as possible. I don't answer the question, "what would anarchy look like?". I don't want to bullshit people. I understand what idealism is, and I try to reject it as much as I can.

Freedom doesn't have any properties beyond what we give it. I mean, yeah sure, if all the bad stuff (bad stuff being relative; not objective) went away and we were left to find our own way that would be a chance for freedom, but then we'd have to decide what to do with our time. The same goes for that prisoner; and what most of them end up doing with their time does not amount to anything I would describe as freedom. I mean, would you rather be set on fire or have your head cut off? I would pick the latter. I think most people would. Hence, most people would rather be proletarians than veritable chattel slaves in a penitentiary. This doesn't mean I think prisoners don't know what they're talking about when they describe their time on the outside as 'freedom'. I just question the environment and relations outside of penitentiary walls (and the striking similarities between the 'inside' and the 'outside').

I still stand by my description of freedom as a reification - because there's always something waiting for you in 'freedom' that makes you not free; that makes you unhappy, obedient, depressed, suicidal, bored, lonely, paranoid, ill, etc; not to say 'freedom' eliminates those things, because it doesn't; this is why freedom is often just a positive reification -- a term to describe a release from things that are antagonistic to our bodies (i.e., a positive idea reified in order to give some semblance of hope, happiness, and good possibilities). This has nothing to do with being too abstract. It has to do with questioning ourselves as pro-revolutionaries, our intentions, the consequences of our actions and ideas, as well as the popular concepts of contemporary society (like freedom, democracy, tolerance, equality, productivity, etc, etc). Not everything you do as a communist adds up to a sum total of 'freedom' or 'concrete self-organization'. It can add up to despair, death, moralist conformism, dogma, jadedness, injury, subculturalism, etc. Just as the material circumstance and social life of ex-prisoners on the outside often leads them back in. Those who escape that fate usually do so by subjecting themselves to long hours at minimum wage jobs and night school. Or maybe they just end up dead. Which only further proves my point that freedom is what we make of it -- it is not something you can reach out and touch.

I'm an anarchist. I question things. It's just what I do. neutral

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 23 2009 19:49

Christ, I've wasted more than enough time on this. If you're not even going to pretend like you're trying to respond to my points then I guess I'll not bother.

~J.

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Oct 23 2009 20:40

What points? You just asked me questions and I responded. And further more -- as far as I know -- the councilist dogma of Pannekoek has been ripped a new asshole several times over by contemporary ultra-left communists (starting from around the time of the Situs up 'till now). I'm certainly not an expert on the critique of councilism, but I do absolutely agree that it totally disregards the subjective content of relations between people and people, and people and things. That's basically what you're doing right now. You're saying, "oh, well freedom is freedom, so there's no need to acknowledge the fact that it's a product of human subjectivity and therefore couldn't possibly be more complex than simply being, uh, not oppressed by something bad". Don't let your realism get so ridiculous as to the point where it becomes almost cartoonish. This 'concrete' bullshit is just a silly little buzzword. Is freedom concrete and tangible? NO! Can you fucken touch the color the yellow? Can you touch love?

You keep repetitively asking me what I'm on about, but you're not even making any sense yourself. You haven't attempted to provide your own definition of freedom. What is freedom to you? You're a communist, so I would suspect being a proletarian is not freedom to you.

Freedom can be sinister and it can be positive. My definition of freedom is certainly different than an American nationalist's.

Who's to say introducing democratic organization into the workplace won't just make commodity labor more efficient and tolerable? Well, it does -- as is evident with worker coops. Pannekoek had some good critiques of left-wing politics, unions, and such, but his pragmatism got the best of him. There's nothing revolutionary about workers councils (of which worker coops are basically just an organizational offshoot). That's like saying there's something inherently revolutionary about anarchist thought. Which clearly isn't true because communists/anarchists have failed to produce the negation of capitalism's hegemony for over 150 years. 'Concrete self-organization' hasn't gotten us any closer to freedom. Do you think all the failed insurrections of the past were successes? With all the bourgeois militarist bullshit of the Spanish civil war? With all the reactionary idiocy of Germany 1918 and the conflict between silly political parties vying for power? With all the unions and CP's busting up the working class and making everyone go back to work in May, '68 (not to mention all the Maoists on the ground who pretended to be down with communism)? Etc, etc. Concrete self-organization doesn't have any fucken superiority over 'abstract freedom' (whatever that means...). Why don't you go do some concrete self-organization with the working class, and leave it at that. No? Of course you don't. Communists don't just organize proletarians, they try to popularize their values and ideas. Your realism is a joke. You're just debasing everything down to a 1, 2, 3 simplicity in order to pussyfoot around going beyond just pragmatism. Yeah, concrete self-organization really gets the goods. This is why communist and anarchist organizations are totally fucken useless beyond settling labor disputes and getting workers some material and economic leeway.

As I said before, you're fucked. You're fucked because there's no possible way for you to reproduce communist relations and ideas at a rate that can even minimally ingeminate the exponentially more productive capacity of capital's ability to reproduce itself.

Have fun organizing, cuz you ain't gonna get shit. The past century and a half is testament to that. You are not close to freedom. It's not even on the horizon for you, bud.

dave c
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Oct 24 2009 00:37
Quote:
There's nothing revolutionary about workers councils (of which worker coops are basically just an organizational offshoot).

Worker coops existed well before workers' councils. They are in no way an "offshoot."

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 24 2009 01:20

Yeah, that's it - just ignore everything I've said and pontificate to yourself in a self-congratulatory way. Keep it up man, it's definitely a productive and worthwhile use of your time. I mean, fuck it, why don't you just find some real porn and jack off to that, it's not that hard to find, this is the internet after all.

~J.

Boris Badenov
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Oct 24 2009 01:26

Q: Why did Lenin only drink herbal tea?
A: Because he was a monster.

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jef costello
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Oct 24 2009 08:26

Yes.

http://www.vbox7.com/play:76c72309

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jesuithitsquad
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Oct 24 2009 12:19
BigLittleJ wrote:
Yeah, that's it - just ignore everything I've said and pontificate to yourself in a self-congratulatory way. Keep it up man, it's definitely a productive and worthwhile use of your time. I mean, fuck it, why don't you just find some real porn and jack off to that, it's not that hard to find, this is the internet after all.

~J.

Welcome to the world of political debates with Bisc. However, to Bisc's credit he/she is much, much more friendly and resonable this go around and less inclined to ad hominem arguments so progress (though relative; like freedom?) is being made.

TragicTravisty
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Nov 24 2009 00:48

@ J/Bisc: obviously freedom is an abstraction, it has no material existence. but for that matter, human beings don't actually exist in any meaningful way either. a human being is a misperception, an abstraction, an arbitrary division of matter. you with your futile distorted perception see a bunch of matter and make arbitrary judgements, giving false meaning to hammers, human beings, and everything else when all there is is a bunch of useless matter and space. of course, reality is meaningless, and for ALL intents and purposes does not exist; there is only perception. the only thing which truly exists is consciousness.

however, it's much more convenient and comfortable to put meaning into things like human beings, freedom, etc. Besides, certain things (freedom, empathy, etc.) are engrained in our DNA, (of course this ignores everything said above, but it makes perfect sense if you don't think about it.) and while there can be no truly logical basis for any of them, it makes us more comfortable to place arbitrary value in them, and if it's all meaningless, than the only truly logical thing to do is to try to improve one's own consciousness, since it's all there is. I wish that I could be a stupid capitalist, or maybe a despot, or anything similar, one who could transcend petty things like morality, etc, but unfortunately I have ostensibly "great" dreams for the world, which will either be crushed out of me, or I will die before they ever materialize.

Point is, when people start making distinctions between abstract and tangible (particularly about two abstract objects), they rarely fail to contradict themselves.

Anyway, how do you know that this isn't all a thought originating within your own brain? Or that you are dreaming this whole thread? You don't. The ostensible world exists only within your brain, regardless of whatever "reality" is taking place outside of it.

What Bisc said was well worded and perfectly logical, he wasn't avoiding anything and he certainly wasn't being irrational.

Anyway, I'm also extremely interested in the views of people on this forum on Lenin, if we can get any posts to that effect...

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 24 2009 00:54
Quote:
@ J/Bisc: obviously freedom is an abstraction, it has no material existence. but for that matter, human beings don't actually exist in any meaningful way either. a human being is a misperception, an abstraction, an arbitrary division of matter. you with your futile distorted perception see a bunch of matter and make arbitrary judgements, giving false meaning to hammers, human beings, and everything else when all there is is a bunch of useless matter and space. of course, reality is meaningless, and for ALL intents and purposes does not exist; there is only perception. the only thing which truly exists is consciousness.

Christ this is such twaddle. May I suggest you give up eating and breathing if you have such low esteem for material things. I'm sure you're "consciousness", whatever that is, will do just fine. roll eyes

~J.

Samotnaf
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Nov 24 2009 17:58

I assume that Tragic Travisty is making a tragic travesty of Bisc's philosophical twaddle - pushing it to it's solipsistic extreme. If only Lenin had kept to such irrelevant meanderings...

pannekoek-bakunin originally said:

Quote:
what Lenin did and said was right.

This, from someone who'd been through anarchist and council communist organisations indicates some of the monstrous influences of the Leninist model even on those politicos opposed to Lenin.

But to see Lenin as outside his historical precedents is to conveniently see him as a fairly unique abberation and not a result of the weaknesses of the revolutionary movement before him, which is also reproduced today and in the last 30 years or more, amongst many anarchists , ultra-leftists and even situs.

Revolutionaries in the First International helped create the political monstrosity of Leninism when they, despite Marx's "the emancipation of the working class is the task of the working class itself", decided that the workers by themselves couldn't destroy capitalism without leaders and without concentrated centres of class consciousness. What was important was to organise the organisation ( a bureaucratic practice, in some ways imitative of the political organisations of the bourgeoisie in form at least, though obviously not in content). One of the main aims of the First International was to win over/seduce/entice/recruit the masses with openly reformist ideas separated from a critique of capitalism as a whole; only once inside the party would the workers learn the whole of the truth as revolutionaries saw it. Typical politics: a mediated and hierarchical view of revolution where political consciousness separates means and ends and becomes an end in itself. Battles over the organisation between Marx and Bakunin (Marx being the greater manipulator as far as I can see) became battles over the possession of the revolutionary movement (which at that time was primarily considered in terms of those who explicitly considered themselves 'revolutionaries').

In this perspective the idea is not to subvert one's own complicity with hierarchical power and the commodity form but first of all to win others to the cause. This manifests itself today and in Lenin's time with a more crude politico mentality: 'ordinary' workers fight for themselves - for their own self-interest, but 'revolutionaries' are other-directed, caught up in political roles, fighting to gain adherents to their ideas, partisans who can spout the correct line, rather than developing their own autonomous initiatives, rather than organising activities directly without mediating them with an Organisation (obviously it's more complex than that but that's essentially the problem with 'revolutionary organisations'; see, for example: http://libcom.org/history/view-class-war-former-member-julian-1986). In Lenin's case the 'hierarchically correct line' led to the State and to State capitalism and to Stalin's brutal primitive capital accumulation. But , although the content of anarchists' and other revolutionaries' critique rightly condemns the monster created from that part of Marx's ideas which believed in the State as a neutral tool (he wasn't consistent in this), they still have an other-directed role which is often a pain in the arse, a role which thinks that they have rebelled but now it's up to others to revolt. Marx said "the educators must be educated", a radical idea that led in the late 60s to "the revolutionaries must be revolutionised". That's still the problme today, and Lenin's influence is in part to blame (but let's not go overboard on this blaming: it's first of all the political mentality that's to blame)

All this is undoubtedly over-general, and I've certainly missed out loads of specifics and nuances and doubtless I'll be pulled up for being simplistic, but it's a basic point of view I've rarely seen on libcom, so let's hear the reaction (if any).

TragicTravisty
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Nov 25 2009 02:09

solipsism is the only logical conclusion of any discussion about abstractions, and possibly about anything.

TragicTravisty
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Nov 25 2009 02:14

double post

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waslax
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Nov 25 2009 09:54

Solipsism is not the only really logical conclusion to anything. This is what studying too much philosophy gets you. wink And if you are studying philosophy and are convinced by solipsistic arguments, you need to read the later Wittgenstein, especially his arguments against the possibility of a 'private language'.