gross distortion of anarchism and events in spain

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Cardinal Tourettes
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Jun 19 2007 22:24
gross distortion of anarchism and events in spain

"Preliminaries on councils and councilist organization" by René Riesel is introduced in the libcom library by daniel as
"A useful analysis, despite gross distortion of anarchism and the events in Spain during the 1936 Revolution."

Whats the distortion supposed to be?

Cardinal Tourettes
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Jun 19 2007 22:29

Heres the paragraph on anarchism and spain by the way -
"If only to make them cry, let us remind the retarded devotees of the anarchist-Marxist feud that the CNT-FAI — with its dead weight of anarchist ideology, but also with its greater practice of liberatory imagination — was akin to the Marxist KAPD-AAUD in its organizational arrangements. In the same way as the German Communist Workers Party, the Iberian Anarchist Federation saw itself as the political organization of the conscious Spanish workers, while its AAUD, the CNT, was supposed to take charge of the management of the future society. The FAI militants, the elite of the proletariat, propagated the anarchist idea among the masses; the CNT did the practical work of organizing the workers in its unions. There were two essential differences, however, the ideological one of which was to bear the fruit one could have expected of it. The first was that the FAI did not strive to take power, but contented itself with influencing the overall policies of the CNT. The second was that the CNT really represented the Spanish working class. Adopted on 1 May 1936 at the CNT congress at Saragossa, two months before the revolutionary explosion, one of the most beautiful programs ever proclaimed by a revolutionary organization was partially put into practice by the anarchosyndicalist masses, while their leaders foundered in ministerialism and class-collaboration. With the pimps of the masses, García Oliver, Secundo Blanco, etc., and the brothel-madam Montseny, the antistate libertarian movement, which had already tolerated the anarcho-trenchist Prince Kropotkin, finally attained the historical consummation of its ideological absolutism: government anarchists.(2) In the last historical battle it was to wage, anarchism was to see all the ideological sauce that comprised its being into its face: State, Freedom, Individual, and other musty ingredients with capital letters; while the libertarian militians, workers and peasants were saving its honor, making the greatest practical contribution ever to the international proletarian movement, burning churches, fighting on all fronts against the bourgeoisie, fascism and Stalinism, and beginning to create a truly communist society."

Cardinal Tourettes
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Jun 20 2007 18:14

Sorry, meant to post this in history.

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daniel
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Jun 21 2007 19:40

Well, you quoted it - left-commie bollox.

Anarcho
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Jun 29 2007 10:36

The usual marxist bollocks.

When anarchists do something they approve of, they become "the masses" or the workers. When they do something they oppose, then they become "anarchists" and, as such, express all that is wrong with anarchism!

And it is always fun to see Marxists criticise Kropotkin for supporting the First World War when Marx and Engels supported their fair share of wars as well as imperialist conquests.

But it has always been one rule for Marx and Engels, another for mere mortals...

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Communist League
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Jun 29 2007 16:47

It always seems like you people take such things out of context and as if they were dogmas. Things need to be seen in the context of the era they were written in, not as a Bible. But I suppose I couldn't expect more from here.

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Jun 29 2007 17:10
Communist League wrote:
I ... like ... dogmas

what do you mean out of context?

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Jun 29 2007 17:29

Wow that marx on slavery bit is amazing.

He's right, but one problem I've long had with Marx is that he ignores the fact that capitalism is built on slavery. So called primitive accumulation depended on slavery. Its strange that he hardly mentions slavery (if at all) in the section on So called primitive accumulation of Capital considering from this quote he knew the importancve of it.

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Jun 29 2007 18:52

Well depends on when he was writing. Pre-civil war the South was economically stronger than the north so he's not actually wrong in that abolition completely fucked up the souths economy and N.A.'s economy in general.

Of course other things happened in this period such as expansion of grain producing agriculture in the mid-west and the transport revolution enabling that grain to be transported to the eastern seaboard and then to europe. Also this expansion was important in enabling northern industrialists to finance (through capital accumlated partially on railroad expansion) and protect (the ending of free trade was arguably a larger concern for the northern ruling classes than abolition) the manufacturing industry in the north east. The combined industrial development of the north east and the agricultural industry of the mid west were the basis for the establishment of US hegemoney post WW1.

My point being that yeah he was wrong America could and did develop without slavery, but it couldn't have done so if abolition had happened in the 1830s or if the transport revolution hadn't happened in the 1860s and 1870s. And he was right that the american ecnomy as it then existed (i.e. the southern economy) couldn't survive without slavery.

Quote:
it also seems at odds with his almost whiggish belief in capitalisms dynamism and breaking of all prior social relations.

Also just on this. I don't want to get into a world systems theory type understanding of capitalism, but...slavery as it existed in america is specific to capitalism as it existed (if it existed) in the era of mercantile capital.

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Jun 29 2007 18:58
revol68 wrote:
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The French need a thrashing. If the Prussians win, the centralisation of the state power will be useful for the centralisation of the German working class. German predominance would also transfer the centre of gravity of the workers' movement in Western Europe from France to Germany, and one has only to compare the movement in the two countries from 1866 till now to see that the German working class is superior to the French both theoretically and organisationally. Their predominance over the French on the world stage would also mean the predominance of our theory over Proudhon's, etc.

Mind you this was before 1914 so the ICC won't have a problem with it.

I presume that it is 1870. This is the language of 'Jingoism'. It may be dressed up with talk about the workers' movement, but 'The French need a thrashing' speaks for itself.

Marx was very wrong on many questions.

Devrim

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Jun 29 2007 19:37

Yeah but mercantilism (as a social system) was within a bourgeois framework insofar as that it was defined by the ascendent bourgeousie. And Industrial capitalism as described in Capital only existed to its full extent in the 1860s in Britain. Slavery as it existed in the mercantile era was specific to the mercatile era. It was not a hangover from a previous mode of production but rather an integeral part of capitalism.

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Jun 29 2007 20:42
revol68 wrote:
of course but it is something of a 'vanishing mediator', that is something intregal to the development of capitalism, it was something beyond feudalism and intregal/essential to the early bourgeois and it's ascendency and yet a form that must ultimately disappear in the development of capitalism.

I wouldn't say 'must', its a bit determinist, but yeah that is what happened.

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I don't know how you can hold that slavery was something specific to the mercantile era as if mercantilism was fully bourgeois, I mean the mercantile era itself has its roots within feudalism, it came into being in a time where a mercantile class operated within a politically feudal system, infact the slavery of mercantilism became extremely unstable by the bourgeois revolution in France (most notably articulated by the first sucessfurl slave revolt in Haiti) and from the pronouncement of the rights of man it became something of the elephant in the room.

Well obviously no social system is fully bourgeois or fully any class. If a social system has classes, it is necessarily divided and contested. But the 'merchants' of mercantilism were bourgeois. Capital emerged as a dominant social relation under mercantilism, capitalism (i.e. the generalised condition of wage labour) emerged in Britain in the 19th century. Also the mercantile class did not operated within a politically feudal system, they operated under absolute monarchy, which is different to feudalism, or at least how I understand feudalism. Of course the French revolution, or more specifically the slave revolt in haiti, made the slavery of mercantilism became extremely unstable. But this is not due to its bourgeois nature.

I think you are being a bit objectivist with all its resulting determinism.

ernie
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Jul 1 2007 00:02

Anarcho, the difference between Kropotkin support of the First World War and Marx and Engels support for such as the defeat of Bonaparte in the Franco-Prussian war (which revol appears to object to) is that WW1 was an imperialist war. Kropotkin, along with the Right-wing of Social Democracy defended the war by saying it was a war of progressive Germany against reactionary Russia. Many used quotes from Marx's to back this up. Indeed Marx and Engels had supported was against the spreading influence of Czarism, but that was in the context of Czarism being a reactionary feudal system, by 1914 Russia was the 4th largest capitalist country in the world. It is this that marked the change in attitude. Once all countries became capitalist and the world market was formed wars became imperialist ones for the redivision of the world market. Kropotkin, along with others, did not understand that change.
As for the Marx's position on the Franco-Prussian war, his support for the defeat of Louis Bonaparte's war of aggression against Prussia, was also shared by the workers' movement in France and Germany. The politised German workers supported the war as long as it was defensive and with the understanding wars could only be stopped by the workers taking charge:

Quote:
we are enemies of all wars, but above all of dynastic wars...With deep sorrow and grief we are forced to undergo a defensive war as an unavoidable evil; but we call, at the same time, upon the whole German working class to render the recurrance of such an immense social misfortune impossible by vindicating for the peoples themselves the power to decide peace and war, and making them masters of their own destinies

(A resolution passed by a mass meeting of workers in Brunswick, quoted by Marx in The First Address of the General Council (of the 1st) on the Franco-Prussian war)
.And both movements expressed their fraternal solidarity with each other.
In order that comrades can gain a fuller understand of Marx's position, they should read his addresses of the General Council of the 1st international (which can be found on Marxists.org), which they will find very interesting.
As for his comments on the growth of the German workers movement and its important, this was shown in reality, the German Party was the biggest workers' party and was looked to as being at the vanguard of the workers' socialist movement. The lessons learnt and to be learnt from the experience of the Germany party have been and will be invaluable to the development of the future revolutionary movement. It was no accident that the victors after WW1 did all they could to help the German ruling class crush the revolutionary movement in Germany. And today the bourgeoisie still do all they can to hid and distort the history of the workers' movement and revolutionary struggles in Germany. And in the coming struggles the proletariat in Germany will again play a pivotal role, due to their history and geographical position
As for Engels comment on Lafargue, it was wrong and reflected that he was no god but a human being with weaknesses -this is not to excuse it but to understand it-.. Not knowing when it was written, it is also hard to judge it in context. Engel's was hostile to Lafargue initially -if I remember correctly-, but warmed to him, especially after he married one of Marx's daughters and played a very active role in the French workers' movement.

ernie
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Jul 1 2007 00:39

To try and broaden out the discussion of the attitude of Marx and Engel's to the Franco-Prussian war, here is a quote from a letter by Engel's to Marx in August 1970, laying out the advise they should give to the socialist that agreed with them in Germany

Quote:
I think our people can:

(1) Join the national movement – you can see from Kugelmann’s letter how strong it is – in so far as and for so long as it is limited to the defence of Germany (which does not exclude an offensive, in certain circumstances, before peace is arrived at).

(2) At the same time emphasise the difference between German-national and dynastic-Prussian interests.

(3) Work against any annexation of Alsace and Lorraine – Bismarck is now revealing the intention of annexing them to Bavaria and Baden.

(4) As soon as a non-chauvinistic republican government is at the helm in Paris, work for an honourable peace with it.

(5) Constantly stress the unity of interest between the German and French workers, who did not approve of the war and are also not making war on each other.

(6) Russia, as in the International Address.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1870/letters/70_08_15.htm

A lot more sophisticated than Revol's presentation would suggest. For an interesting analysis of Marx and Engel's position on the war see Nicolaievsky and Maenchen-Helfen's: Karl Marx: man and figher.

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Jul 1 2007 02:43

I am sorry Ernie, but you don't seem to know what you are talking about:

Ernie wrote:
Kropotkin, along with the Right-wing of Social Democracy defended the war by saying it was a war of progressive Germany against reactionary Russia.

Kropotkin supported the allies, not the Germans.

Ernie wrote:
As for the Marx's position on the Franco-Prussian war, his support for the defeat of Louis Bonaparte's war of aggression against Prussia, was also shared by the workers' movement in France and Germany. The politised German workers supported the war as long as it was defensive and with the understanding wars could only be stopped by the workers taking charge:

How on Earth was it a defensive war? It is as much a war of Prussia aggression as of French. The Ems dispatch...?

And this is Jingoism:

Marx wrote:
The French need a thrashing.

Devrim

bastarx
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Jul 1 2007 05:14

Sorry to try and get this back on topic but what's the gross distortion Riesel's guilty of?

Anarcho
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Jul 2 2007 10:45
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"Anarcho, the difference between Kropotkin support of the First World War and Marx and Engels support for such as the defeat of Bonaparte in the Franco-Prussian war (which revol appears to object to) is that WW1 was an imperialist war."

Except, of course, Marx and Engels supported openly imperialist wars and took sides in imperialist conflicts (like supporting Germany in 1870 and wishing the French were thrashed). Engels comments on the yankies taking California and New Mexico from the lazy Mexicians says it all.

Significantly, Bakunin argued the French working class to turn the imperialist war of 1870 into a class war. Like almost all anarchists in 1914.

Quote:
"Kropotkin, along with the Right-wing of Social Democracy defended the war by saying it was a war of progressive Germany against reactionary Russia."

Except, as pointed out above, Kropotkin supported France against Germany... And he was really in the minority in doing this, unlike the Marxist movement were the majority supported their state in the conflict.

Quote:
"Once all countries became capitalist and the world market was formed wars became imperialist ones for the redivision of the world market. Kropotkin, along with others, did not understand that change."

So, are you saying when Marx and Engels supported imperialist wars then this was because imperialism was progressive? Do you also support Engels belief in progressive imperialism and colonalisation?

And just to summarise, is it really the case that when Marx and Engels support imperialist wars and imperialism then that is okay because imperialism was progressive back then? Or is it just a case it is different when Marx and Engels do something silly and stupid?

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Jul 2 2007 11:52

This discussion has taken a real tangent, skirting round the issue with people justifing there positions as "Marxists" or "Anarchists".

Riesel was neither!

I can see no "gross distortion" in Riesel article, though his choice of words may offend anarchist ideologues!

It is not a matter of choosing from one of the pre-existing ideologies of the old workers movement and basing our world view around it. But a matter of finding the “moment of truth” in all the theories of the past and synthesising this with our experience of the present.

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Jul 2 2007 11:59
darren poynton wrote:
I can see no "gross distortion" in Riesel article, though his choice of words may offend anarchist ideologues!

No, I can't either. Infact noone has argued that it does since the original post apart from Anarcho, whose argument failed to convince me:

Anarcho wrote:
The usual marxist bollocks.
darren poynton wrote:
This discussion has taken a real tangent, skirting round the issue with people justifing there positions as "Marxists" or "Anarchists".

Discussions wonder on these type of baorde. It isn't neccesarily a bad thing.

darren poynton wrote:
Riesel was neither!

He was a member of the SI.

Devrim

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Jul 2 2007 12:14

i've edited it, i don't think gross distortion is an appropriate description.

http://libcom.org/library/preliminaries-councils-and-councilist-organization-rene-riesel

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Jul 2 2007 12:55

The French declared war on Prussia and France, at the time, was considered the super-power of Europe. The War was an effort by France to contain Germany's process of unification and advance at both the economic and imperialist level.

The point about the French needing a thrashing seems to be related to his view of French chauvinism:

Marx wrote:
If Germany wins, French Bonapartism will at any rate be smashed, the endless row about the establishment of German unity will at last be got rid of, the German workers will be able to organise themselves on a national scale quite different from that hitherto, and the French workers, whatever sort of government may succeed this one, are certain to have a freer field than under Bonapartism ...

Added to this is the fact that Badinguet would never have been able to conduct this war without the chauvinism of the mass of the French population: the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie, the peasants and the imperialistic, Haussmannist building workers’ proletariat derived from the peasants, which Bonaparte created in the big towns. Until this chauvinism is knocked on the head, and that properly, peace between Germany and France is impossible. One might have expected that a proletarian revolution would have undertaken this work, but since the war is already there, nothing remains for the Germans but to do it themselves and quickly.

The war did indeed spark the rise of the Paris Commune which for all its beginnings in nationalism, quickly overcame them and became a beacon for the working class across Europe and ernie has also pointed out that Marx's prediction about the German workers' movement was also accurate.

As for ernie not knowing what he was talking about, no-one has really answered his fundamental point about Kropotkin i.e. that it was his inability to understand the period that led him into supporting an clearly imperialist war. Marxists in the 19th century would support wars and national struggles because they saw them as speeding the development of capitalism and overturning the remaining structures of feudalism. They saw this development as essential to the development of the proletariat and thus, ultimately, the communist revolution.
They may have been mistaken about this or that war and, upon occasion, supported the wrong side but until the working class was ready to truly take up the struggle on its own behalf it was incumbent upon it to support the progressive fractions of the bourgeoisie against the more reactionary ones.

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Jul 2 2007 13:09
Demogorgon303 wrote:
As for ernie not knowing what he was talking about

He didn't Demogorgon. He said Kropotkin supported the Germans:

Ernie wrote:
Kropotkin, along with the Right-wing of Social Democracy defended the war by saying it was a war of progressive Germany against reactionary Russia.

You write:[quote=Demogorgon303
]The French declared war on Prussia and France, at the time, was considered the super-power of Europe. The War was an effort by France to contain Germany's process of unification and advance at both the economic and imperialist level.

In fact there were factions on both sides that wanted war:

Wiki wrote:
Crisis and the outbreak of war

Napoleon III and Bismarck independently sought a suitable crisis to foment, and in 1870 one arose. The Spanish throne had been vacant since the revolution of September 1868. The Spanish offered the throne to the German prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, a Catholic as well as a distant cousin of King Wilhelm of Prussia.

Fearing that a Hohenzollern king in Prussia and another one in Spain would put France into a two-front situation, Napoleon III was determined this time to stand up to the expansion of Prussian influence. He successfully forced King Wilhelm to urge the prince's withdrawal from his Spanish candidacy— ironically, Prince Leopold was a relative of Napoleon III, also. Disappointed that the Prussians had backed down so easily, the French government tried to prolong the crisis. In a newspaper interview, Napoleon III announced that a renewal of the Hohenzollern candidature would result in France going to war, and the secretary of foreign affairs, Duc de Gramont, did the same in a speech in front of the Chambre législative. The French ambassador in Prussia Vincent Benedetti was then ordered to require Wilhelm I to guarantee that no Hohenzollern would ever again be a candidate for the Spanish throne. When the French ambassador bypassed diplomatic channels and directly confronted the king at his holiday resort, King Wilhelm was "very polite but cooly categorical". His message to Berlin (the Ems Dispatch) reporting this event with the French ambassador reached the desk of Bismarck. Bismarck edited the telegram in such a way as to arouse French indignation, and then released it for publication.

France officially declared war on July 19, 1870.

There is a political question here, but it isn't hepled by distorting the facts.

Devrim

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Jul 2 2007 14:00

What have I distorted? France did declare war, and did want to maintain the fragmented nature of the Germanic states. Your own quote shows that France tried to prolong the crisis after Willhelm initially backed down! It's true factions within Germany also wanted war because they thought (rightly) that they were at last able to take on a weakened France, but it doesn't change the fact that it was France that initially engineered the conflict because it wanted to smash Germany before it became too powerful.

In that sense, it was a case of an established capitalist power trying to deliberately curtail the growth of a semi-feudal rival. Marx thought the workers movement should support national defence on this basis, but for the movement in both countries to work for peace and to resist any attempt by their own states to carry out any annexations.

As for ernie, so he was wrong about the detail of Kropotkin. This could be a genuine mistake concerning Kropotkin or simply a typo, but while slightly embarrassing it wasn't essential to the underlying point he was actually making - i.e. the inability of Kropotkin and others to understand that there no longer any progressive factions of capital by the time WW1 exploded.

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Jul 2 2007 19:02
Quote:
What have I distorted?

Never mind. It is just the way you leapt to the defence of an ICC member when he was clearly wrong, "it is not relevant...what about...?" I am sure if Ernie were here himself, he would just admit he made a mistake, and get on with.

Anyway back to the subject, here are my points;

1)While understanding that capitalism has both ascendant, and decadent phases, the idea that capitalism became decadent on 4th of August 1914 is clearly wrong. The first World War merely demonstrates the fact. Obviously capitalism was decadent before then. The war is merely a symptom of this, not the cause.
Was capitalism decadent in 1870. Certainly, it was oncoming then. In fact one could argue equally well that the Franco-Prussian war was an imperialist war, and showed that the decadent period was opening. In that case even by the ICC's own analysis, Marx would have been wrong.

2)Even during the ascendant period was it the task of the working class to sacrifice itself in order to hasten the development of capitalism. I think not. Even then the interests of the workers were in defending there own living conditions, not in being butchered on the alter of capitalist expansion.

3)Despite all this the quote from Marx 'The French need at thrashing' is the language of 'Jingoism', and can not be defended.

Devrim

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Jul 2 2007 23:12

For Marx, the Franco-Prussian war and the Paris Commune clearly marked a turning point. When it began, Marx and Engels were still preoccupied by the problem of national defence. This didn't mean the workers blindly sacrificing themselves for the bourgeoisie, but taking a conscious decision to support the most progressive part of the bourgeoisie against more reactionary forces, while preserving their own political autonomy.

However, by the time the war had ended, Marx concluded in the Civil War in France: "The highest heroic effort of which old society is still capable is national war, and this now proved to be mere governmental humbug, intended to defer the struggle of classes, and to be thrown aside as soon as that class struggle bursts out into civil war. Class rule is no longer able to disguise itself in a national uniform; the national governments are one as against the proletariat".

Essentialy, that meant that in old Europe at least the period of national wars was over (although some of Engels' later pronouncements still seem to be stuck in the old problematic) . But the problem of national wars in ther periphery of capitalism, where imperialist expansion was in many cases just beginning, could not have been solved at that point, and so it was not possible to definitively reject all national wars from then on.

It's also true that from then on we can see signs of decadence in the bourgeoisie, especially at the cultural level, but it would not be true to say that the system had exhausted its historic mission. There was an extraordinary phase of external expansion in the next thirty or forty years which definitively established capitalism as a world economy and created the conditions for the world wide communist revolution, conditions which did not yet exist in 1871.

What we get from Marx and Engels above all is a method - by no means infallible, because they themselves often made errors, sometimes very major ones. The point is precisely that we can use that method to make a coherent criticism of these errors.

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Jul 2 2007 23:21
Marx wrote:
The highest heroic effort of which old society is still capable is national war, and this now proved to be mere governmental humbug, intended to defer the struggle of classes, and to be thrown aside as soon as that class struggle bursts out into civil war. Class rule is no longer able to disguise itself in a national uniform; the national governments are one as against the proletariat

Yes, it is a shame that he couldn't have realised this a few months earlier before they encouraged workers to die for the 'old society'.

Quote:
What we get from Marx and Engels above all is a method - by no means infallible, because they themselves often made errors, sometimes very major ones. The point is precisely that we can use that method to make a coherent criticism of these errors.

Yes, I think there were major errors, supporting wars stands out as a major one, both this war and the ACW.

Honestly Alf, don't you think the quote about 'thrashing the French' reeks of jingoism.

I am not suggesting we discard all of Marx. I just say that he is not immune to criticism.

Devrim

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Jul 2 2007 23:40

"Yes, it is a shame that he couldn't have realised this a few months earlier before they encouraged workers to die for the 'old society'".

The marxist method bases its conclusions on fundamental historical events - the collaboration between the French and Prussian bourgeoisies against the proletarian revolution in 1871 was the first time such an event had happened, although it was to re-occur on a much bigger scale in 1918. Prior to that it would have been premature to abandon the tactic of support for national wars, even in Europe. However, the quote that Revol found from Engels arguing for war in defence of Germany against France/Russia is I believe from a later period and there is far less justification for it. Not only that but it would be used by the social democrats directly against the proletariat in 1914. But you will find numerous examples of the difficulty of definitively drawing historical lessons. Even after the Commune Marx thought it might be possible for there to be a peaceful, 'democratic' accession to power in some countries. And these errors would again be used for anti-working class ends later on.

So who's saying Marx is immune to criticism?

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Jul 3 2007 00:07
Alf wrote:
So who's saying Marx is immune to criticism?

So Alf, a direct question: is talk about 'thrashing the French' the language of Jingoism?

Devrim

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Jul 3 2007 00:36
revol68 wrote:
it;s ridiculous, why the fuck can;t the ICC just accept that sometimes Engels and Marx talked shite?

As polite as ever, but actually quite to the point.

Devrim

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Jul 3 2007 04:24
revol68 wrote:
it;s ridiculous, why the fuck can;t the ICC just accept that sometimes Engels and Marx talked shite?

Why won't anarchists just admit that Marx possessed the greatest mind in history since Aristotle?

I think Alf and em' have said that Marx and Engels made some mistakes. Nuff said.

Dev,

What were the "internationalists" of 1860 and 1871 saying? What were their arguments?

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Jul 3 2007 07:35
Devrim wrote:
Never mind. It is just the way you leapt to the defence of an ICC member when he was clearly wrong, "it is not relevant...what about...?" I am sure if Ernie were here himself, he would just admit he made a mistake, and get on with.

I didn't deny he made a mistake. But I was correct when I said it wasn't crucial to his actual argument. Unfortunately, everyone was focusing on the error rather than the argument itself. If you want to interpret this as a kind of mindless defence of the ICC, fair enough, but I was actually interested in the discussion and wanted to get it back on track. I was also surprised by the apparent hostility displayed towards on the basis of this error.

Devrim wrote:
While understanding that capitalism has both ascendant, and decadent phases, the idea that capitalism became decadent on 4th of August 1914 is clearly wrong. The first World War merely demonstrates the fact. Obviously capitalism was decadent before then. The war is merely a symptom of this, not the cause.
Was capitalism decadent in 1870. Certainly, it was oncoming then. In fact one could argue equally well that the Franco-Prussian war was an imperialist war, and showed that the decadent period was opening. In that case even by the ICC's own analysis, Marx would have been wrong.

Who is actually arguing this? Neither myself or the ICC has said decadence "began" in 1914. In many previous posts I have pointed to the Paris Commune and the Long Depression that followed soon after as indicators that capitalism was beginning to run out of steam. What 1914 did was remove any lingering doubts that capitalism might still have a progressive role to play. It's also true to say that the war, while obviously an effect springing from pre-existing causes became a cause in its own right. It accelerated and confirmed the integration of working class organs into the state, as well as the general expansion of the latter.

Devrim wrote:
Even during the ascendant period was it the task of the working class to sacrifice itself in order to hasten the development of capitalism. I think not. Even then the interests of the workers were in defending there own living conditions, not in being butchered on the alter of capitalist expansion.

So how does the Paris Commune fit into this? The Paris Commune began swamped in nationalism. Workers brought down the Napoleonic government when they revolted because Napoleon surrendered at Sedan. They forced the formation of a "Government of National Defence". When this government then tried to negotiate with the Germans, the workers rose up again in their first effort to form the Commune. This initial effort was deflected by promises from the GND and subsequent repression. The Commune was finally formed, not simply in response to workers defending their living conditions but by workers' anger against German troops entering the city!

The question of national defence was a very real one for workers in the period. The fact that their own struggle pushed the commune beyond these simple nationalist beginnings was one of the first signs that workers were beginning to reach a point of development where they could push beyond the national framework of the bourgeoisie. But the question still wasn't completely closed in 1870. Forty years later at the onset of WW1, the situation was somewhat different.

The class struggle cannot be approached in the manner of a series of dogmas, valid for all time in all circumstances. The Commune shows both the mass of the workers and their political organs being forced to go on beyond previous frameworks in order to push both the struggle and their consciousness forward. Marx's contribution lies not in that he was free of all errors with some inerrant programme established in 1848, but in his capacity to constantly learn from the workers' own struggles.