Anarchists fighting in the imperialist Second World War

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maxcrosby
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Aug 10 2007 16:43
Anarchists fighting in the imperialist Second World War

One extremely dubious aspect of the materials posted on libcom are a series of uncritical and often celebratory accounts of anarchists, often veterans of the Spanish Civil War, who fought on the side of the western democracies in World War Two. One recent one, "1943-1944: The CNT and the Liberation of Paris," (http://libcom.org/history/1943-1944-cnt-liberation-of-paris) extolls the figurative and literal role of anti-authoritarian militants being willing to walk through the minefields ahead of the tanks, in this case the tanks of the Gaullist French forces.

A desire to do violence to the Third Reich and its minions was understandible. But as the past sixty years have shown, anything in Fascism and National Socialism that was useful to the private sector elite has subsequently been incorporated into the political and propaganda arsenal of democratic regimes. And anarchists who hoped that serving on the side of anti-fascist capitalist forces would be a first step to resuming their failed war against Franco were to be sadly disappointed. Having failed to carry out a social revolution in Spain, under what were probably the best possible conditions for it, many of the best fighters in the anarchist movement carried out one more final, historically disastrous judgement call on their way out the door and off the historical stage, and offered themselves up as cannon fodder for Western capitalism and its resistance movements in France and Italy. In doing this, these anarchists fought on behalf of forces who have proven to be just as destructive to human life as the Nazis, fascists and Francoists were.

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 10 2007 17:12

wasn't it that or stay in the (de facto) concentration camps? maybe they were under the illusion that once out and armed they could put the guns to better use, but 'first the war, then the revolution' had already fucked them over once so who knows.

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Aug 10 2007 17:18
Joseph K. wrote:
wasn't it that or stay in the (de facto) concentration camps?

Sounds like you've never heard of a little thing called "principles."

I mean it doesn't get more fundamental than Node One: http://libcom.org/node/1

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Steven.
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Aug 10 2007 18:19

I think the rolleyes used above are pretty stupid, max makes a very good point

maxcrosby wrote:
One extremely dubious aspect of the materials posted on libcom are a series of uncritical and often celebratory accounts of anarchists, often veterans of the Spanish Civil War, who fought on the side of the western democracies in World War Two. One recent one, "1943-1944: The CNT and the Liberation of Paris," (http://libcom.org/history/1943-1944-cnt-liberation-of-paris) extolls the figurative and literal role of anti-authoritarian militants being willing to walk through the minefields ahead of the tanks, in this case the tanks of the Gaullist French forces.

Yes I'm aware of this, there are a few things like that on libcom, which are pretty uncritical. I mean it's quite hard to be critical because on one level these people were anarchists and were incredibly brave, and risked everything to fight Nazism and fascism. But yes they were quite naive in many ways. I think we should re-write the introductions to those kinds of texts to say that we don't completely support what they did.

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Aug 10 2007 18:30

Excellent post max. We (ICC) recently wrote an article on the resistance in Greece which was partly a response to one of the uncritical pieces you refer to:

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2006/october/greek-resistance

rata
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Aug 10 2007 18:32
maxcrosby wrote:
In doing this, these anarchists fought on behalf of forces who have proven to be just as destructive to human life as the Nazis, fascists and Francoists were.

This sentence alone deserves several rolleyes. That is just a pile of liberal crap, which only political currents unable of doing anything outside of their imaginary world would try to justify ideologically.

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Steven.
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Aug 10 2007 18:40
rata wrote:
maxcrosby wrote:
In doing this, these anarchists fought on behalf of forces who have proven to be just as destructive to human life as the Nazis, fascists and Francoists were.

This sentence alone deserves several rolleyes. That is just a pile of liberal crap, which only political currents unable of doing anything outside of their imaginary world would try to justify ideologically.

Well, not really, the number of people killed by the USSR is higher than the 3rd reich, not that it's a bodycount competition

maxcrosby
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Aug 10 2007 18:57

I wrote;

"In doing this, these anarchists fought on behalf of forces who have proven to be just as destructive to human life as the Nazis, fascists and Francoists were."

rata responds:

"This sentence alone deserves several rolleyes. That is just a pile of liberal crap, which only political currents unable of doing anything outside of their imaginary world would try to justify ideologically."

As far as the body count goes:

1. What regime actually waged a (short) nuclear war? And did it against the primarily civilian targets of an already defeated foe?

2. What type of regime has invaded more countries and backed/planned/financed more right-wing and/or military coups and thus hepled bring about the accompaning mass murders that have resulted since 1945?

3. What type of regime is overseeing the capitalist mode of production's world-wide ecological cataclysm?

As far as numbers go, if the 21st century's ecological disaster brings about the deaths of most of homo sapiens, or worse, then democracy will have proven to have actually been worse that now-obsolete totalitarianisms like fascism and Stalinist. And no, that's not an apologetic for fascism or Stalinism, either. I'd rather have lived in Roosevelt's US than in Nazi Germany, but that's not the same as fighting for it, or encouraging others to fight for it -- and I'll qualify that by saying that I'm not an African American or Native American, either. Slavery and genocide over here took place over a much longer period of time than what happened in the early 1940's, or with the Rape of Nanking.

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MJ
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Aug 10 2007 19:02

Wait a minute, do you really think we'd be doing better ecologically now if Fascism had won out?

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MJ
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Aug 10 2007 19:03

Oh, you're the one who thinks we should fight against Christmas. Nevermind.

petey
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Aug 10 2007 19:10
John. wrote:
rata wrote:
maxcrosby wrote:
In doing this, these anarchists fought on behalf of forces who have proven to be just as destructive to human life as the Nazis, fascists and Francoists were.

This sentence alone deserves several rolleyes. That is just a pile of liberal crap, which only political currents unable of doing anything outside of their imaginary world would try to justify ideologically.

Well, not really, the number of people killed by the USSR is higher than the 3rd reich, not that it's a bodycount competition

but max spoke of "western democracies", not the USSR.

Mark.
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Aug 10 2007 19:35
Alf wrote:
Excellent post max. We (ICC) recently wrote an article on the resistance in Greece which was partly a response to one of the uncritical pieces you refer to:

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2006/october/greek-resistance

Part of Stinas' memoirs, referred to in the ICC article, has been translated at http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/3909/stinas/index.html and is worth reading for a point of view opposed to supporting the Greek resistance. Whether you can generalise from Greece to the situation in other countries during the war is another question.

rata
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Aug 10 2007 20:04

Only a liberal can say that living under a system in which union or any other revolutionary political work is illegalised by definition, and in which only armed resistance is an option, is the same as liberal capitalism. Those positions are coming from people that are adhered to the politics "the worse, the better". Emile Pouget answered that position long time ago in "Overwhelming evil is not the seed of rebellion!" segment of his Direct action text.

Liberal capitalism didn't fall from the sky, working class made ruling class give us the liberties we have. Saying that a system in which non of the achievements of the struggle of the repressed are allowed is the same as the one in which they exist can come only from the position made outside of the real life, in an ivory tower.

The issue of state communism and fascism being the same is another topic, that being a theoretically very week position, which also ends up in liberal abstract humanism. Anyhow I don't think max was talking about USSR.

When talking about counting of bodies, the thing with USSR vs Nazi's number of killed people, it always reminds me of a talk that was held some time ago in Belgrade with that retarded ex-RAF woman Silke Maier-Witt. She is now a open liberal, working in some NGO in Kosovo. She gave us this sad story of herself being "caught by the ideology" and thus ending up killing people. Her father also, she said, was a "victim of an ideology" - he was SS officer. Both of them were killing because of the ideologies, she weeped. She and her father, poor victims of "ideologies". So, when a comrade from the union asked her if she thinks that a SS Nazi killing somebody because he/she is a Slav or a Jew, and partisan killing a Nazi because he is killing people for being Slavs or Jews, she said: "Well, after all killing is killing". In fact, it is not. And only liberal can claim otherwise.

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 10 2007 20:05
MJ wrote:
Joseph K. wrote:
wasn't it that or stay in the (de facto) concentration camps?

Sounds like you've never heard of a little thing called "principles."

I mean it doesn't get more fundamental than Node One: http://libcom.org/node/1

did i approve somewhere in that sentence? you can still be critical of something whilst understanding the shitty circumstances which led to it (as revol says, and i said in that very post it follows from the 'war first, revolution second' fuck-up in spain).

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Aug 10 2007 20:52

So according to rata, a bourgeois liberal is not someone who supports bourgeois liberal democracy against bourgeois fascism, but someone who opposes both from a working class standpoint?

rata
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Aug 10 2007 21:00
Alf wrote:
So according to rata, a bourgeois liberal is not someone who supports bourgeois liberal democracy against bourgeois fascism, but someone who opposes both from a working class standpoint?

No. Liberal is someone who opposes democracy and fascism from the working class standpoint which exists only in their head.

maxcrosby
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Aug 10 2007 21:13

I just read the International Communist Current Alf refered to. It's quite good. I don't think people like Stinas were just "liberals" (!?)

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MJ
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Aug 10 2007 21:16
Alf wrote:
So according to rata, a bourgeois liberal is not someone who supports bourgeois liberal democracy against bourgeois fascism, but someone who opposes both from a working class standpoint?

I don't see where Rata said this error is bourgeois liberalism.

rata
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Aug 10 2007 21:21
MJ wrote:
I don't see where Rata said this error is bourgeois liberalism.

When I talk about liberalism, I think of bourgeois liberalism.

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Aug 10 2007 21:27
rata wrote:
When I talk about liberalism, I think of bourgeois liberalism.

OK just making sure. Hmm.

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cantdocartwheels
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Aug 10 2007 21:29
maxcrosby wrote:
One extremely dubious aspect of the materials posted on libcom are a series of uncritical and often celebratory accounts of anarchists, often veterans of the Spanish Civil War, who fought on the side of the western democracies in World War Two. One recent one, "1943-1944: The CNT and the Liberation of Paris," (http://libcom.org/history/1943-1944-cnt-liberation-of-paris) extolls the figurative and literal role of anti-authoritarian militants being willing to walk through the minefields ahead of the tanks, in this case the tanks of the Gaullist French forces.

A desire to do violence to the Third Reich and its minions was understandible. But as the past sixty years have shown, anything in Fascism and National Socialism that was useful to the private sector elite has subsequently been incorporated into the political and propaganda arsenal of democratic regimes. And anarchists who hoped that serving on the side of anti-fascist capitalist forces would be a first step to resuming their failed war against Franco were to be sadly disappointed. Having failed to carry out a social revolution in Spain, under what were probably the best possible conditions for it, many of the best fighters in the anarchist movement carried out one more final, historically disastrous judgement call on their way out the door and off the historical stage, and offered themselves up as cannon fodder for Western capitalism and its resistance movements in France and Italy. In doing this, these anarchists fought on behalf of forces who have proven to be just as destructive to human life as the Nazis, fascists and Francoists were.

Oh jesus christ just fuck off seriously, this is almost as bad as that fucking christmas thread.

Mark.
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Aug 10 2007 21:35
rata wrote:
So, when a comrade from the union asked her if she thinks that a SS Nazi killing somebody because he/she is a Slav or a Jew, and partisan killing a Nazi because he is killing people for being Slavs or Jews, she said: "Well, after all killing is killing". In fact, it is not. And only liberal can claim otherwise.

In practice how often did partisans kill German soldiers because they were Nazis killing Slavs and Jews, rather than just conscripts in an occupying army who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? This is one of the objections that Stinas had to the Greek resistance.
In Greece the resistance routinely killed any German soldiers they came across. The Germans generally responded with reprisals against civilians in the villages, which in turn led to people fleeing the villages, heading for the mountains and joining the resistance. Killing German soldiers had no real effect on the war but brought disaster for the civilian population while increasing the influence of the resistance. I don't know enough about the resistance in other countries to judge whether the situation was comparable.

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MJ
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Aug 10 2007 21:39
JH wrote:
In Greece the resistance routinely killed any German soldiers they came across. The Germans generally responded with reprisals against civilians in the villages, which in turn led to people fleeing the villages, heading for the mountains and joining the resistance.

Hmm. Would this indicate the villagers did, or didn't, blame the resistance for provoking the German reprisals?

rata
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Aug 10 2007 21:48
JH wrote:
In practice how often did partisans kill German soldiers because they were Nazis killing Slavs and Jews, rather than just conscripts in an occupying army who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? This is one of the objections that Stinas had to the Greek resistance.

Very often, especially when you take in consideration that partisans were majority Slavs themselves. Partisan movement was based around the idea of anti-fascism, meaning, apart from other things, around the idea that killing people for their origin is not acceptable.

JH wrote:
In Greece the resistance routinely killed any German soldiers they came across. The Germans generally responded with reprisals against civilians in the villages, which in turn led to people fleeing the villages, heading for the mountains and joining the resistance. Killing German soldiers had no real effect on the war but brought disaster for the civilian population while increasing the influence of the resistance. I don't know enough about the resistance in other countries to judge whether the situation was comparable.

So, now it's the fault of the partisans that Germans killed civilians? That's totally mental. That is the position that every liberal in ex-Yugoslavia is taking. That is the position which is effectively defending quisling regimes which were "only trying to save it's people".

Mark.
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Aug 10 2007 21:53
MJ wrote:
JH wrote:
In Greece the resistance routinely killed any German soldiers they came across. The Germans generally responded with reprisals against civilians in the villages, which in turn led to people fleeing the villages, heading for the mountains and joining the resistance.

Hmm. Would this indicate the villagers did, or didn't, blame the resistance for provoking the German reprisals?

I'm not sure about this but I think the reaction was probably mixed. Often people had to escape to resistance controlled areas to escape repression provoked by resistance activity. Who they blamed for their villages being burned or their families being massacred may have been academic as they didn't have anywhere else to go besides joining the resistance.

maxcrosby
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Aug 10 2007 21:54

MJ:

"Oh, you're the one who thinks we should fight against Christmas. Nevermind."

"cantdocartwheels:"

"Oh jesus christ just fuck off seriously, this is almost as bad as that fucking christmas thread."

Everyone who has something to say can just skate past unintelligent and inarticulate "contributions" of this sort.

Mark.
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Aug 10 2007 22:10
rata wrote:
JH wrote:
In practice how often did partisans kill German soldiers because they were Nazis killing Slavs and Jews, rather than just conscripts in an occupying army who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? This is one of the objections that Stinas had to the Greek resistance.

Very often, especially when you take in consideration that partisans were majority Slavs themselves. Partisan movement was based around the idea of anti-fascism, meaning, apart from other things, around the idea that killing people for their origin is not acceptable.

JH wrote:
In Greece the resistance routinely killed any German soldiers they came across. The Germans generally responded with reprisals against civilians in the villages, which in turn led to people fleeing the villages, heading for the mountains and joining the resistance. Killing German soldiers had no real effect on the war but brought disaster for the civilian population while increasing the influence of the resistance. I don't know enough about the resistance in other countries to judge whether the situation was comparable.

So, now it's the fault of the partisans that Germans killed civilians? That's totally mental. That is the position that every liberal in ex-Yugoslavia is taking. That is the position which is effectively defending quisling regimes which were "only trying to save it's people".

I don't know much about the resistance in Yugoslavia. If the Yugoslav partisans didn't kill German soldiers simply for being on the opposing side then the situation would have been different to that in Greece. In Greece much of the killing of civilians was in direct reprisals for resistance activity that ignored the predictable effects on the local population. The resistance had their share of responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

rata
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Aug 10 2007 22:11
JH wrote:
Who they blamed for their villages being burned or their families being massacred may have been academic as they didn't have anywhere else to go besides joining the resistance.

I'm really not sure if you are joking writing this. You want to say that you don't know who people blamed for things that Nazis did - Nazis or partisans? How crazy is that??

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Aug 10 2007 22:12

I would say in response to can'tdo that there is a huge gulf between max's post on the resistance in world war two and the anti-Christmas leaflet. The question of internationalism is a life and death one for the working class, and the second world war is still the acid test for whether or not you maintain a consistently internationalist position - a test which numerous anarchists failed at the time and continue to fail. The Christmas leaflet seems to come from a totally different approach to politics, one devoid of a class standpoint and practice. Unfortunately the result of this contradiction is likely to be that the approach of the Christmas leaflet serves to discredit the effort to defend internationalism contained in the original post or similar contributions.

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cantdocartwheels
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Aug 10 2007 22:16
maxcrosby wrote:
MJ:

"Oh, you're the one who thinks we should fight against Christmas. Nevermind."

"cantdocartwheels:"

"Oh jesus christ just fuck off seriously, this is almost as bad as that fucking christmas thread."

Everyone who has something to say can just skate past unintelligent and inarticulate "contributions" of this sort.

you are saying anarchists who were already fugtives joing the resistance were ''wrong'', and that people shouldn't have organised militarily against ethnic cleansing, you therefore don't really deserve a serious response do you.

anyway, how about a lighter topic, how many shopping days is it to christmas? got any early presents yet to avoid the rush?

rata
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Aug 10 2007 22:20
JH wrote:
If the Yugoslav partisans didn't kill German soldiers simply for being on the opposing side

Helloooou. Reality check. What does it mean "simply being on the opposing side"??? Nobody was "simply on the opposite side". You were either involved in a collective crime of killing people for their origin and destroying all aspects of working class achievements, or you were not. If you were a German soldier you were involved in a collective crime, and thus a legitimate target for any resistance movement.