gross distortion of anarchism and events in spain

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Alf
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Jul 3 2007 07:44

Agree completely with that.
Revol: yes, Marx and Engels talked shite somethimes, especially in private letters. But stupid remarks like calling Lafargue a nigger and 'giving the French a thrashing' were much less consequential historically than the erroneous, publically stated political positions we have referred to here - such as Engels on war in the 1880s and Marx on democracy after the Commune.

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Joseph Kay
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Jul 3 2007 07:44
alibadani wrote:
Why won't anarchists just admit that Marx possessed the greatest mind in history since Aristotle?

eh? he's up there for sure, i don't know how he'd compare to various physicists or politicians (wasn't goebels meant to be a genius?), but i can't think of a smarter anarchist for sure. though i don't think even the most dichotomous bakunin v marx anarcho picks their side on who was the greater intellect, but on what they said (i.e. bakunins warnings of a red bureaucracy/a peoples' stick proved prescient, even though he was a bit of a dick)

and 'the french need a thrashing' is jingoism pure and simple whether capital's ascendent, decadent or deodorant.

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Jul 3 2007 18:11
alibadani wrote:
What were the "internationalists" of 1860 and 1871 saying? What were their arguments?

I don't know. Does the fact that a tendency is unarticulated mean it is not there?
Devrim

nastyned
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Jul 3 2007 18:52
darren poynton wrote:
This discussion has taken a real tangent, skirting round the issue with people justifing there positions as "Marxists" or "Anarchists".

Riesel was neither!

He's not dead either! And I think he's in the CNT-AIT now.

ernie
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Jul 3 2007 18:54

Well I have to say that I agree that my post was somewhat clumsy. So to avoid any more detours, Devrim, I was wrong about who Kroptkin support and I honest thought I had said that he supported the allies -I was rather knackered after a hard day at the coal face-, that will teach me not to re-read my posts. So that is that cleared up.
On the question of jingoism, Marx's position was not jingoistic -unless one believes Marx was a nationalist- it could have been expressed better may be but Marx had been engaged in a struggle with the Proudhonists and their weight on the development of the workers' movement in france, for some time. It is also important to not forget the nature of the French regime at the time, which was based on the coup of 1851 and the grandiose ambitions of
Louis Bonaparte. Marx's central and sole concern was the development of the proletarian movement, and he saw the proletariat in Germany as being at the vanguard: as history provide him correct.
Also comrades appear to have forgotten that I did recommend reading the chapter of Marx: man and fighter for a more detailed analysis of Marx's position. This shows that he also was bitterly opposed to Bismark, but as alf points out, at the time the German state was still under formation and Marx and much of the German workers' movement were opposed to the crushing of this movement due to the ambitions of Bonaparte. This was no black or white, simple situation, but a complex one
As for criticism of Marx -without reducing it to whether he talked shit or not- this is very interesting. Having posted my post I was not happy with it and felt it was too crude and black and white (something Devrim correctly points out). Thus, I went back to the great Marxist source on the National question Rosa Luxemburg. I remembered reading her introduction to the national question and Autonomy (it is in the book The national question, selected writings of Rosa Luxemburg). In this work, Rosa demonstrates why she was such a great defender of marxism. In the Introduction she makes a vigorous critique of the way international social up until the 1890's had defend the call for the setting up of an independent Polish state. In this critique she does not spare Marx or Engels from criticism for their support of polish independence into the 1880's. She points out that it is fundamental to marxism that it has to constantly look at its positions within the context of the development of history. She shows that in 1848 the defence and support of the call of an independent Poland marked a revolutionary demand because it would mark a blow against Russian reaction and allow the development of capitalism etc. However, she then shows that with the development of capitalism in Russia and thus a proletariat (and a proletariat whose most advanced political expression the Proletarian Party from its inception in the 1870's denounced and struggles against the idea of polish independence) the demand of polish independence was no longer progressive but marked a blockage for the development of the proletariat revolutionary struggle. Not only does Rosa rigorously criticise Marx and Engels, but she also made an powerful critique of Karl Kaustky's effort to defend the idea of Polish independence in the 1890's..
Rosa also shows in her article The proletariat and the nation state that the way that marxism looks at the proletariat attitude towards the development of the bourgeoisie state is not the crude simply being for the development of the progress national state -which is what is implied in my post-. I apologise for the long quote but I think it is important for gaining a good understanding of the importance of the development of marxism's understanding of the national question produced by Luxemburg -without reducing it to a question of talking shit or whether marx was a jingoist or not-:

Quote:
The contemporary proletariat, as a social class, is the offspring of the capitalist economy and the bourgeois state. The capitalist society and bourgeois state - taking them not as an abstract idea, but in tangible form as history has created them in each country - were already, from the very beginning, a frame of activity for the proletariat. A bourgeois state - national or not national - is just that foundation, together with capitalistic production as the ruling form of social economy, on which the working class grows and thrives. In this respect, there is a basic historical difference between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie develops and is carried in the womb of the feudal class system. Aspiring to assure triumph for capitalism as the form of production, and for itself as the ruling class, the bourgeoisie creates the modern state on the ruins of the feudal system. Within the bounds of the development of capitalism and the rule of the bourgeoisie, the proletariat is next to make itself heard politically - still as part of the bourgeois state. But the state was already from the beginning its natural womb, just as the shell of an egg is for the chicken. Therefore, historically speaking, the idea that the modern proletariat could do nothing as a separate and conscious class without first creating a new nation-state, is the same as saying that the bourgeoisie in any country should first of all establish a feudal system, if by some chance it did not come about normally by itself, or had taken on particular forms, as for instance in Russia. The historical mission of the bourgeoisie is the creation of a modern "national" state; but the historical task of the proletariat is the abolition of this state as a political form of capitalism, in which they themselves, as a conscious class, come into existence to establish the socialist system. The proletariat, as part of the whole society, can take part in national movements of the bourgeoisie, where the bourgeois development demands the creation of a "nation-state," as was the case, for example, in Germany. But then it follows the lead of the bourgeoisie, and does not act as an independent class with a separate political program. The national program of the German socialists in the forties advanced two ideas, directly opposing the national program of the bourgeoisie: unification with borders which would be based strictly on divisions of nationalities, and a republican form of government.

The interests of the proletariat on the nationality question are just the opposite of those of the bourgeoisie. The concern about guaranteeing an internal market for the industrialists of the "fatherland," and of acquiring new markets by means of conquest, by colonial or military policies-all these, which are the intentions of the bourgeoisie in creating a "national" state, cannot be the aims of a conscious proletariat.

The proletariat, as a legitimate child of capitalistic development, takes this development into account as a necessary historical background of its own growth and political maturation. Social Democracy itself reflects only the evolutionary side of capitalist development, whereas the ruling bourgeoisie looks after this development on behalf of reaction. Social Democracy nowhere considers its task to be the active support of industry or trade; rather it struggles against military, colonial, and customs protection, just as it combats the whole basic apparatus of the existing class state—its administration, legislature, school systems, etc. [7]

The national policy of the proletariat, therefore, basically clashes with the bourgeois policy to the extent that in its essence it is only defensive, never offensive; it depends on the harmony of interests of all nationalities, not on conquest and subjugation of one by another. The conscious proletariat of every country needs for its proper development peaceful existence and cultural development of its own nationality, but by no means does it need the dominance of its nationality over others. Therefore, considering the matter from this point of view, the "nation"-state, as an apparatus of the domination and conquest of foreign nationalities, while it is indispensable for the bourgeoisie, has no meaning for the class interests of the proletariat.

Therefore, of these "three roots of the modern national idea," which Kautsky enumerated, for the proletariat as a class only the last two are important: democratic organization, and education of the populace. Vital for the working class as conditions of its political and spiritual maturity, are the freedom of using its own native language, and the unchecked and unwarped development of national culture (learning, literature, the arts) and normal education of the masses, unimpaired by the pressures of the nationalists - so far as these can be "normal" in the bourgeois system. It is indispensable for the working class to have the same equal national rights as other nationalities in the state enjoy. [8] Political discrimination against a particular nationality is the strongest tool in the hands of the bourgeoisie, which is eager to mask class conflicts and mystify its own proletariat.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1909/national-question/ch02.htm

To conclude a too long post, it is also important to say that I agree that the process of the development of the nation states in Europe finished in the 1870's and that it was then increasingly difficult to see the process of the emergence of national states throughout the world. By the 1890's Engel's for all his errors what pointing out that the European great powers were heading for a world war.
I stand guilty of getting my facts wrong and being far too crude, and have to say that the discussion has really help to clarify my own understanding of the marxist method for addressing this question: and such clarification is the aim of discussion after all. Even a member of the ICC can talk shit sometimes

ernie
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Jul 3 2007 20:18

Sorry everyone about mucking up the quote, but this modern technology still defeats me sometimes. catch - fixed it

In the excitement of relying Rosa analysis to everyone, I forgot a couple of important points;
- If fully agree with Devrim, alf and Demo that decadence did not start in August 1914 but was process that emerged progressively as Capitalism engulfed the world. WW1 was the explosion of this process openly onto the surface surface of society. Sometimes it is difficult not to be too black and white when posting
- Demo is correct no one has really develop on the root of Kroptkin's error in supporting the Entente during the war. Unless it was a personal weakness there had to be a political reason. And as I tried to show that political error was the same as that that lead my Social Democrats to supporting war. In Germany those who betrayed did so in the name of defending German democratic freedoms against the reactionary Russia, or amongst the Entente defending their democratic freedom's against the Hun. It is very interesting that they have a similar root. The same root that lead many former revolutionaries to support the Allies against Germany in WW2.
- just to come back to the question of Rosa development of the Marxist method (it is truly exciting to read Rosa due to the boldness of her defence of dialectical materialism:

Quote:
One hears a great deal of talk about Marxist "dogmatism". But the revision of the views on the Polish question (Rosa is referring to the London Congress of the Second International which reject it former call for an independent Poland) provides forceful demonstration of how superficial such objections are. True, Polish social patriotism did try hard for some time to transform a particular view of Marx's on a current issue into a genuine dogma, timeless, unchangeable, unaffected by historical contingencies, and subject to neither doubt nor criticism -after all, "Marx himself" once said it. However, such an abuse of Marx's name to sanction a tendency that in its entire spirit was in jarring contradiction to the teaching and theory of Marxism could only be defended as a temporary delusion suited primarily to the intellectual demoralisation of the nationalist Polish intelligentsia.
Indeed, the essence of "Marxism" lies not in this or that opinion on current questions, but in two basic principles: the dialectical materialist method of historical analysis -with the theory of class struggle as one of its corollaries- and Marx's basic analysis of the principles of capitalist development. The latter theory, which explains the nature and origin of value, surplus value, money and capital, of the concentration of capital and capitalist crises, is, strictly speaking, simply the application -albeit a brilliant one - of dialectics and historical materialism to the period of bourgeoisie economy. Thus, the vital core, the quintessence, of the entire Marxist doctrine is the dialectical materialist method of social inquiry , a method for which no phenomena, or principles, are fixed and unchanging, for which there is no dogma, for which Mephistopheles' comment, "reason turns to madness, kindness to torment", stands as a motto over the affairs of human society; and for which every historical "truth" is subject to a perpetual and remorseless criticism by actual historical development

(Foreword to the Anthology: The national question and autonomy)
It is easy to forget this at times.

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Jul 3 2007 20:28
ernie wrote:
Demo is correct no one has really develop on the root of Kroptkin's error in supporting the Entente during the war. Unless it was a personal weakness there had to be a political reason. And as I tried to show that political error was the same as that that lead my Social Democrats to supporting war. In Germany those who betrayed did so in the name of defending German democratic freedoms against the reactionary Russia, or amongst the Entente defending their democratic freedom's against the Hun. It is very interesting that they have a similar root. The same root that lead many former revolutionaries to support the Allies against Germany in WW2.

Actually we had an interesting discusion with anarchists on RevLeft where we compared Kropotkin to Kautsky:
http://www.revleft.com/index.php?showtopic=62577&st=0

I don't know much about Kropotkin, but I am not sure you can say it is the same mistake. Did he support the ACW? Did he base this support on a theory of capital being in an ascendent period. If not it is a different mistake.

Devrim

Mike Harman
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Jul 3 2007 21:41
Alf wrote:
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.

I have to say this excuse is worse than some of the others on recent nationalism threads.

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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.

Well I think Marx's method is worth something, and clearly it's very important to recognise his errors (and not make excuses for them). This is carried over from another thread, but Engels and later Marxists took many of those errors and made them into virtues which caused all kinds of terrible issues.

I think the problem with your argument - which (over-simplified) boils down to "right at the time, it was different then, capital not yet decadent" has a number of problems - the main one being as Devrim outlined - if someone doesn't accept decadence, or thinks it started in 1871, then your premises are false and that's it.

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Jul 3 2007 22:25

Catch:
"I have to say this excuse is worse than some of the others on recent nationalism threads".

By this argument, not just the ICC, but Marx in the circular from the central committee of the Communist League in 1852, where he tries to draw out the lessons of the 1848 revolutions for the proletariat, is on the same plane as the WSM. Come on, Catch, think about it.

"I think the problem with your argument - which (over-simplified) boils down to "right at the time, it was different then, capital not yet decadent" has a number of problems - the main one being as Devrim outlined - if someone doesn't accept decadence, or thinks it started in 1871, then your premises are false and that's it".

Don't argue with us, Catch, argue with Rosa. As Ernie shows very clearly, it is quintessential to the marxist method to recognise that what was valid in one epoch is no longer valid in another.

Mike Harman
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Jul 3 2007 22:51
Alf wrote:
Catch:
"I have to say this excuse is worse than some of the others on recent nationalism threads".

By this argument, not just the ICC, but Marx in the circular from the central committee of the Communist League in 1852, where he tries to draw out the lessons of the 1848 revolutions for the proletariat, is on the same plane as the WSM. Come on, Catch, think about it.

No, I think Marx said some stupid shit sometimes, this doesn't mean that some of his work and ideas weren't great. However, I think to defend or excuse the stupid shit he said because he said some good stuff, is to go down the same route as those who took those shit errors and turned them into principles, especially when there's no basis to the excuse other than the decadence of capitalism (and timing of such).

Quote:
Don't argue with us, Catch, argue with Rosa.

Not tonight, but I'll try to come back to that.

Quote:
As Ernie shows very clearly, it is quintessential to the marxist method to recognise that what was valid in one epoch is no longer valid in another.

Yeah, and that some things were never valid.

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Jul 3 2007 23:20

good night Catch, and may the dialectic watch over you.

alibadani
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Jul 4 2007 00:13

So who were the internationalists in 1860 and 1871?

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Demogorgon303
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Jul 4 2007 07:21

I think there are two main elements in this discussion.

Firstly there is the question of the evolution of capitalism and the workers struggle itself. As social develops, so do the requirements of struggle. I think we'd all agree the semi-masonic sects of the early workers struggle are now a relic of the past and supporting their use today would be reactionary. This doesn't change the fact that they represented a genuine step forward at the time. Often in these discussions about the 19th century movement we fail to situate them in context.

The second, although related, is the question of the class line. The nationalists of today are in the camp of the bourgeoisie and I think most of us agree on that. Did Marx's support of certain national wars mean he had also crossed the class line in the 19th century? What are the distinctions between genuine error (and Marxist tendency made a number) and crossing the class line to serve the enemy?

In both of these questions there's a strong tendency to look for a "pure" movement and to dismiss anything that fails to live up to these standards. This is idealist and ahistorical. The communist left of the 20s and 30s, which for left communists, preserved the Marxist core of the dying communist movement was far from pure. Different groups had different insights, but both made many errors. The same could be said of the Bolsheviks and Spartacists coming from Social Democracy. It is the task of revolutionaries to synthesise the advances of their ancestors, while stripping out and criticising their errors.

ernie
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Jul 4 2007 10:29

alibadani, I agree it would be useful to know who were the 'internationalists' if Marx and Engels were not.

It would also be helpful if comrades could comment upon the quote I gave from Engel's about the tactics to be followed by socialists in Germany, which shows very clearly that Engel's and Marx's were not defending a nationalist position. Here is a reminder

Quote:
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.

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Jul 4 2007 10:37
What if Wayne Price wrote:
I think anarchists can:

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

(2) At the same time emphasise the difference between Lebanese-national and imperial-Iranian interests.

(3) Work against any annexation of northern Israel – Nasrallah is now revealing the intention of annexing them to Nabatiye Governorate and Southern Governorate.

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

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

?

ernie
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Jul 4 2007 10:46

Devrim a good point

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I don't know much about Kropotkin, but I am not sure you can say it is the same mistake. Did he support the ACW? Did he base this support on a theory of capital being in an ascendent period. If not it is a different mistake.

I too do not know much about Kroptkin, and I do not know if he defend the idea of the ascendency of capitalism. His defence of the Entente was based more on the idea of opposing Prussian militarism. So it was not exactly the same as that of the rightwing of social democracy but coming from the same root though.

ernie
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Jul 4 2007 11:22

Joseph K, we would call it nationalism because of the historical difference, which is the central point we are trying to get at, i.e., the question of ascendency and decadence. Also as alf points out, this was the last war of national defence in Europe, because with the Franco_Prussian war the German national state became established. As alf also shows Marx and Engels position on the war changed as it became clear that this was a war of aggression on the part of Bismark (something they suspected from the beginning)
In the Second Address of the International on the War the change from war of national liberation to one of imperialist conquest is made clear from the beginning:

Quote:
If we were not mistaken as to the vitality of the Second Empire, we were not wrong in our apprehension lest the German war should "lose its strictly defensive character and degenerate into a war against the French people". The war of defense ended, in point of fact, with the surrender of Louis Bonaparte, the Sedan capitulation, and the proclamation of the republic at Paris. But long before these events, the very moment that the utter rottenness of the imperialist arms became evident, the Prussian military camarilla had resolved upon conquest.

This address also takes up the implications of this for the working class.
in Germany:

Quote:
The German working class have resolutely supported the war, which it was not in their power to prevent, as a war for German independence and the liberation of France and Europe from that pestilential incubus, the Second Empire. It was the German workmen who, together with the rural laborers, furnished the sinews and muscles of heroic hosts, leaving behind their half-starved families. Decimated by the battles abroad, they will be once more decimated by misery at home. In their turn, they are now coming forward to ask for "guarantees" — guarantees that their immense sacrifices have not been bought in vain, that they have conquered liberty, that the victory over the imperialist armies will not, as in 1815, be turned into the defeat of the German people[E]; and, as the first of these guarantees, they claim an honorable peace for France, and the recognition of the French republic.

The Central Committee of the German Social-Democratic Workmen's Party issued, on September 5, a manifesto, energetically insisting upon these guarantees.

"We," they say, "protest against the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine. And we are conscious of speaking in the name of the German working class. In the common interest of France and Germany, in the interest of western civilization against eastern barbarism, the German workmen will not patiently tolerate the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine.... We shall faithfully stand by our fellow workmen in all countries for the common international cause of the proletariat!"
Unfortunately, we cannot feel sanguine of their immediate success. If the French workmen amidst peace failed to stop the aggressor, are the German workmen more likely to stop the victor amidst the clamour of arms? The German workmen's manifesto demands the extradition of Louis Bonaparte as a common felon to the French republic. Their rulers are, on the contrary, already trying hard to restore him to the Tuileries[F] as the best man to ruin France. However that may be, history will prove that the german working class are not made of the same malleable stuff as the German middle class. They will do their duty.

As for the French working class

Quote:
The French working class moves, therefore, under circumstances of extreme difficulty. Any attempt at upsetting the new government in the present crisis, when the enemy is almost knocking at the doors of Paris, would be a desperate folly. The French workmen must perform their duties as citizens; but, at the same time, they must not allow themselves to be swayed by the national souvenirs of 1792, as the French peasant allowed themselves to be deluded by the national souvenirs of the First Empire. They have not to recapitulate the past, but to build up the future. Let them calmly and resolutely improve the opportunities of republican liberty, for the work of their own class organization. It will gift them with fresh herculean powers for the regeneration of France, and our common task — the emancipation of labor. Upon their energies and wisdom hinges the fate of the republic.

As for the International

Quote:
Let the sections of the International Working Men's Association in every country stir the working classes to action. If they forsake their duty, if they remain passive, the present tremendous war will be but the harbinger of still deadlier international feuds, and lead in every nation to a renewed triumph over the workman by the lords of the sword, of the soil, and of capital.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/ch02.htm
Today, the situation in the Middle East is totally different. And the hypothetical position you put forwards is the same line as that used by those who betrayed the workers movement in 1914, who took parts of Marx's analysis of the role of Russia in 1848 and applied it to 1914

ernie
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Jul 4 2007 11:28

Part of the quotes from the Second Address were used by Otto Ruhle in his Karl Marx, when dealing with the Franco-Prussian war and in a way that affirms this position. Ruhle does not hesitate to criticise Marx on many questions, but Ruhle -an intransigent Internationalist to the end, he opposed both WW1 and WW2- found no grounds for calling Marx or Engels nationalists. Why? Because he based his analysis of Marx on a firm understanding of dialectical historical materialism.

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Jul 4 2007 11:33
ernie wrote:
Joseph K, we would call it nationalism because of the historical difference, which is the central point we are trying to get at, i.e., the question of ascendency and decadence.

surely that wouldn't stop it being nationalism, it would just mean nationalism wasn't as always bad during 'ascendancy' as during 'decadence'

ernie
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Jul 6 2007 18:09

Joseph K, I am not ignoring this question but due to work and wanting to make the clearest possible reply i have not produced a reply yet. Sorry about that.
A couple of broad points can be make;
1. The concern for the formation of a unified Germany and the need to oppose Louis Bonaparte's invasion were not based upon defence of the German fatherland, the German state or the national flag, but upon the overall needs of the international working class. Marx and Engel's saw the unification of Germany providing the best framework for the development of a German wide workers' movement, and that this movement would be in the vanguard of the international development of the proletariat: just as Britain and France had been earlier. Thus it was the objective needs of the international working class that were the foundations of Marx and Engel's position not the specific defence of the German state which would have been nationalism.
2. Whilst seeing the formation of a united national Germany, Marx and Engel's were the bitterest enemies of the German ruling class. They saw the formation of a united Germany as a necessary precondition for the proletariat in Germany's ability to take on the German ruling class. This did not mean defending the German state or the bourgeoisie, but within the context of the France bourgeoisie's attack on Germany Marx and Engel's saw the defence of this developing unity as meaning in this specific circumstance the taking up of arms against the invasion. Whilst doing this they warned of the danger of the war becoming one of aggression on the part of Bismark and warned the proletariat not to trust the bourgeoisie.
Rosa Luxemburg makes the point in The National State and the proletariat, that there is a difference between the bourgeoisie's desire to form an independent national capitalist state and the proletariat's desire to unite itself within a territory in order to allow its political and cultural development; which is a material condition for its international unity. She makes it clear that once the bourgeoisie has achieved its aim of uniting itself around an independent national state the progressive nature of its struggle to unit itself is transformed into a situation where the new state is marked by a tendency towards aggressive wars of expansion and also its united ability to confront the proletariat. Thus, in this circumstances it is essential that the proletariat itself is united within out any national division within the national territory in order to be able to face up to the state.
Joseph K this probably does not answer your question, but does it provide an understandable answer to why Marxism saw that the national question was important for the developing proletariat, without this being nationalist.
This does not deny that defending this understanding demanded constant political struggle to stop it become a false means for allowing the penetration of nationalist ideology into the proletariat. It also does not mean denying that the national question was very circumspect in its historical framework.
I think this is probably this developed answer I thought I was not ready to give.

David in Atlanta
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Jul 7 2007 14:37
Devrim wrote:
alibadani wrote:
What were the "internationalists" of 1860 and 1871 saying? What were their arguments?

I don't know. Does the fact that a tendency is unarticulated mean it is not there?
Devrim

To their credit, Liebknecht and Bebel opposed the war, or at least the annexing of Alsace-Lorraine, on the German side and went to jail for it. Blanqui and his followers would, i think, have to be included on the French side. Whatever their failures they were not nationalists.

Comparing Marx's support for Prussia in 1871 with Kropotkin's support for the Allies in 1914 is somewhat disingenuous. Kropotkins position was roundly denounced at the time by many of his closest friends including Malatesta and Goldman, and is considered a shabby lapse of principals by his modern admirers while Marxs position is still being defended.

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Jul 7 2007 15:25
David in Atlanta wrote:
To their credit, Liebknecht and Bebel opposed the war, or at least the annexing of Alsace-Lorraine, on the German side and went to jail for it. Blanqui and his followers would, i think, have to be included on the French side. Whatever their failures they were not nationalists.

Thanks for the information, David.

David in Atlanta wrote:
Comparing Marx's support for Prussia in 1871 with Kropotkin's support for the Allies in 1914 is somewhat disingenuous. Kropotkins position was roundly denounced at the time by many of his closest friends including Malatesta and Goldman, and is considered a shabby lapse of principals by his modern admirers while Marxs position is still being defended.

I see your point, and I wouldn't use Kropotkin's position to condem anarchists in general. The fact does remain though that he was deeply wrong on this, and in my opinion betrayed the working class. I think that Marx was deeply wrong too though.

Devrim

ernie
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Jul 7 2007 18:14

David in Atlanta and Devrim, Marx and Engel's also opposed the annexing of Alsace-Lorraine: see for example Marx's blistering attack on this in the Second Address by the General Council, also Engel's warning about this quoted above. So why are they wrong?
Devrim, I have tried to lay out a reasonably developed explanation of Marx, Engel's and Rosa's position on the national question, it would be helpful if you could explain why you think that was wrong, or is it only Marx's private comment that you object to?

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daniel
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Jul 7 2007 19:32

I don't think Marx was the brightest spark since Aristotle, no. He had a few bright ideas. Stole loads of other ideas (like, ahem, the entirety of the Communist Manifesto). I think Kropotkin was probably pretty equivalent. Not Bakunin. I've never been particularly impressed with Marx, personally. The fact that he'd never done a stroke of work in his life shone thru a bit! His stuff on communism was vague and when he said something concrete (eg "under communism we'll do something different every day!" or the like) he looked stupid.

Overall he had the odd bright idea but I'm not convinced by his great historical narratives. Marxism is straight-up bollocks because of that. Historical "necessity" comes before, ahem, people. Hence Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. etc. Hence left communists saying before x-date such and such wars were "progressive". I'm sure the people who got killed will be happy to hear from their graves that they died in a "progressive" war. wink

Anarcho
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Jul 7 2007 21:24
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the inability of Kropotkin and others to understand that there no longer any progressive factions of capital by the time WW1 exploded.

"and others" would mean the majority of the Marxist movement? or the 15 other anarchists who suported Kropotkin rather than the vast majority who opposed the war, like malatesta, rocker, berkman, goldman, etc.?

Given that awkward fact, it is unsurprising that Marxists tend to go on about Kropotkin...

That Marx and Engels thought that imperialism or sections of capital could be progressive says it all, I think. It is a shame that Marxists, like the name suggestions, cannot bring themselves to admit that the founding fathers of their ideology talked rubbish at times.

Anarcho
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Jul 7 2007 21:38
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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.

So when did that change? The US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq can be seen as an attempt to speed the development of capitalism and overturning the remaining structures of previous modes of production. So could the Vietnam war. Sucess in all three wars would increase the development of the proletariat and so "communist" revolution. How is America invading Iraq today different from it taking over California and New Mexico from the "lazy" Mexicans (to quote Engels)?

And is it an imperialist war only when two or more imperialist powers clash? Surely the Franco-Prussian war was a war between imperialist powers?

So why did Kropotkin support the war? Was it due to his anarchist politics? Doubtful, as the vast majority of anarchists opposed the war and attacked Kroporkin for supporting France. I would say it was his love of France and his fear and hatred of German militarism. That is, a personal failing. Unlike the majority of Marxist parties who sided with their ruling clases because following Marx's notion of "political action" had lead them to become reformist and bureaucratic. As predicted, by the way, by Bakunin -- who in 1870 urged the working class to turn the war into a revolution.

But why are we even having this discussion? Because marxists cannot admit that their heroes could be so obviously stupid.

Anarcho
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Jul 7 2007 21:39
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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.

So when did that change? The US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq can be seen as an attempt to speed the development of capitalism and overturning the remaining structures of previous modes of production. So could the Vietnam war. Sucess in all three wars would increase the development of the proletariat and so "communist" revolution. How is America invading Iraq today different from it taking over California and New Mexico from the "lazy" Mexicans (to quote Engels)?

And is it an imperialist war only when two or more imperialist powers clash? Surely the Franco-Prussian war was a war between imperialist powers?

So why did Kropotkin support the war? Was it due to his anarchist politics? Doubtful, as the vast majority of anarchists opposed the war and attacked Kroporkin for supporting France. I would say it was his love of France and his fear and hatred of German militarism. That is, a personal failing. Unlike the majority of Marxist parties who sided with their ruling clases because following Marx's notion of "political action" had lead them to become reformist and bureaucratic. As predicted, by the way, by Bakunin -- who in 1870 urged the working class to turn the war into a revolution.

But why are we even having this discussion? Because marxists cannot admit that their heroes could be so obviously stupid.

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daniel
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Jul 8 2007 22:55

damn good points Anarcho.

alibadani
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Jul 9 2007 05:29
Anarcho wrote:
Quote:
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.

So when did that change? The US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq can be seen as an attempt to speed the development of capitalism and overturning the remaining structures of previous modes of production. So could the Vietnam war. Sucess in all three wars would increase the development of the proletariat and so "communist" revolution. How is America invading Iraq today different from it taking over California and New Mexico from the "lazy" Mexicans (to quote Engels)?

What changed is that the US wars you mentioned have nothing to do with overturning the structures of a previous mode of production. The entire globe is part of a global capitalist system. This wasn't the case in 1870. That's what changed. Nor would U.S successes have increased the development of the proletariat. Anyway, the analogy is completely off. A contemporary "marxist" would support the smaller states against the U.S anyway, unlike Marx's support for the U.S. against weaker Mexico. "Marxists" like the Trotskyists saw the various resistance groups as progressive, not the other way around.

Anarcho wrote:
And is it an imperialist war only when two or more imperialist powers clash? Surely the Franco-Prussian war was a war between imperialist powers?

Capitalism is an entire historical epoch, not just an economic system. Imperialism is the modus operandi of all states in a certain stage of capitalism, not some government policy. The creation of a world market changed everything. This apparently the anarchists don't get. The Franco-Prussian war took place before this stage arrived, so it was not an imperialist war.

Anarcho wrote:
So why did Kropotkin support the war? Was it due to his anarchist politics? Doubtful, as the vast majority of anarchists opposed the war and attacked Kroporkin for supporting France. I would say it was his love of France and his fear and hatred of German militarism. That is, a personal failing. Unlike the majority of Marxist parties who sided with their ruling clases because following Marx's notion of "political action" had lead them to become reformist and bureaucratic. As predicted, by the way, by Bakunin -- who in 1870 urged the working class to turn the war into a revolution.

Did Bakunin realize that the revolution wasn't the product of pure will? Do you realize this? Since revolution isn't possible until the objective conditions are present, it was a good thing that workers sided with progressive bourgeois factions. The fact that it led to reformism was unfortunate. But again this was the result of the incredible growth of capitalism, which made it possible for the living standards of workers in the core countries to improve. I think it would have been tragic if workers had abstained form bourgeois politics.

Anarcho
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Jul 9 2007 08:26
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What changed is that the US wars you mentioned have nothing to do with overturning the structures of a previous mode of production. The entire globe is part of a global capitalist system.

What rubbish! So Afghanistan is a fully developed capitalist nation? And US oil companies are not seeking to impose corporate capitalism on Iraq's oil? US imperialism was not seeking to turn Vietnam's peasants into wage slaves?

Quote:
This wasn't the case in 1870. That's what changed. Nor would U.S successes have increased the development of the proletariat.

So there was no global capitalist market in 1870? France and Germany were not advanced capitalist nations? Okay, fine -- deny reality if you like.

Quote:
Anyway, the analogy is completely off. A contemporary "marxist" would support the smaller states against the U.S anyway, unlike Marx's support for the U.S. against weaker Mexico. "Marxists" like the Trotskyists saw the various resistance groups as progressive, not the other way around.

Not at all.They both took sides in imperialist wars, supporting one ruling class over another. That you are defending Marx's support for imperialist wars while you criticise other Marxists for doing the same is simply contradictory.

Quote:
Capitalism is an entire historical epoch, not just an economic system.. . . The creation of a world market changed everything. This apparently the anarchists don't get. The Franco-Prussian war took place before this stage arrived, so it was not an imperialist war.

ROFL! There was no world market in 1870? What were all those imperialist invasions about, if they were not about getting an edge on it?

Now I understand. For Marxists, there was some change (which is hard to pin down) which made Marx and Engels support for imperialist war okay but subsequent Marxist support for it wrong. Apparently, there was no global capitalist market when Marx and Engels were supporting imperialist wars and progressive imperialism. So that makes it okay...

Quote:
Did Bakunin realize that the revolution wasn't the product of pure will? Do you realize this?

Well, Marx said that Bakunin ignored objective conditions so I guess if Marx said it, it must be true!

Quote:
Since revolution isn't possible until the objective conditions are present, it was a good thing that workers sided with progressive bourgeois factions. The fact that it led to reformism was unfortunate.

"unfortunate" -- that says it all! And who determines when "the objecyobe conditions" are right? I'm guessing that would have been Marx -- and his self-proclaimed followers today. Nice to know that the fate of the working class rests in the hands of experts like those! Aside from all those "unfortunate" developments (so often predicted by anarchists!), Marxism has been proven right time and time again!

I do love the assumption -- that workers cannot develop their own revolutionary politics and have to tie their aspirations to those of their economic masters. Bakunin had many good words to say about that -- I would suggest you read them.

Quote:
But again this was the result of the incredible growth of capitalism, which made it possible for the living standards of workers in the core countries to improve. I think it would have been tragic if workers had abstained form bourgeois politics.

So, let me get this right. In spite of the dire (or "unfortunate") consequences of such actions, you still support workers taking part in bourgeois politics? What was more "tragic" than the rise of reformism in the socialist movement and the subsequent betrayal of international solidarity in 1914 and the active betrayal and defeat of the post-war revolutions?

Okay, I can forgive lack of foresight in Marxists, but I have to draw the line at lack of hindsight! This is ideology at its most disheartening!

I know can see why they go on about Kropotkin! It draws attention away from the ideological and bancrupt nature of so much of Marxist politics!