gross distortion of anarchism and events in spain

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Devrim
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Jul 9 2007 09:19
alibadani wrote:
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.

The problem I have with this line of argument is that while it is correct in its analysis of the facts; there was indeed an overturning of the previous mode of production. It draws what in my opinion are the wrong conclusions from it.

Even in the period of the ascendency of capital, the interests of the working class were not in developing the capitalist mode of production, but in defending its own interests within society, and those interests were certainly not served by marching of to die in order to make a King an emperor.

Devrim

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Jul 9 2007 09:26
Anarcho wrote:
What rubbish! So Afghanistan is a fully developed capitalist nation?

Afghanistan has a capitalist mode of production The fact that remenants of the feudal economy persit there does not change this.

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And US oil companies are not seeking to impose corporate capitalism on Iraq's oil?

Iraq's oil industry was fully capitalised before the recent wars.

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US imperialism was not seeking to turn Vietnam's peasants into wage slaves?

As if the Vietnam Workers' Party wasn't capable of doing it itself.

Devrim

slothjabber
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Jul 9 2007 14:39

Capitalism is a system, Anarcho; and that system didn't dominate the whole world in 1870 (though it was bloody close to doing so). But it did by 1970 (and a long time before that) so yes Iraq and Afghanistan and Vietnam were all capitalist countries. Just very inefficient ones.

Whether there really was a 'progressive' side in the Franco-Prussian war (even, whether capitalism was decadent by 1870) is something I've disagreed with the ICC about before, but I do think that they're right that the unification of German capitalism helped the working class in Germany to develop.

As to 'marxists' going over to the bourgeoisie during the first world war, yes the majority of the Socialist International did - but then again, most weren't marxists. They were demagogic social democrats, with revolutionary phraseology but bureaucratic, reformist practice, ready to enter bourgeois governments in the name of 'the workers'.

Albadini is completely right that applying the way Marx and Engels saw the wars of 'devloping capitalism' to the situation now would mean 'marxists' generally supporting the bigger, more devoped, more industrialised nations against the less efficient nations. However, since Luxemburg, there have been revisions and updatings of marxism, not least in the complete rejection of nationalism as a tactic for the wotking class.

Devrim, it certainly wasn't in the interest of individual German workers to die for the turning of the King of Prussia into the German Emperor, but I believe it was in the interests of workers, across the world, for Germany to be united. What is the relationship between personal interest and class interest? Is one the accumulation of the other? Or are there times that 'history' demands suffering so that something better can result?

It wasn't in the interests of individual French workers to be massacred by the Thiers government, but the Commune was a huge advance for the working class. It wasn't in the interest of individual workers in Russia to be shot by the Whites (or the Cheka for that matter) but I still think that winning the Civil War was better than not, even given what happened 3 months later.

I believe that there were, in the 19th century, aspects of capitalist development that can be called 'progressive' or 'historically useful' for the working class, and also that the majority of these were carried out in the name of capitalist efficiency in the most dynamic capitalist states - and this includes the integration of German national capitalism.

ernie
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Jul 9 2007 22:05

Anarcho, you are correct that a large majority of the 2nd International supported the war, and many workers became caught up in the nationalist hysteria. However, it should not be forgotten that this betrayal was opposed by an important part of that same International. In Russia the Bolshevik's and I think the Mensheviks -or an important part of them- opposed the war. In Sebia the Party opposed the war. It was also the Marxists that carried out the most intransigent defense of internationalism, above all the Bolsheviks. Even before the war Luxemburg and others were warning about the growing penetration into the International of nationalism.
Anarcho, my knowledge of the organised anarchist response to the war is limited but were there any anarchist groups of the size of the Bolsheviks, the Spartacus League, the Serbian party or the Socialist Labour Party in Britain that carried out a systematic and organised work against the war?
It was not only Kropotkin and the 15 who supported the war, in the CNT there was a minority who supported the war (see our article the CNT faced with war and revolution, http://en.internationalism.org/ir/129/CNT-1914-1919) but they were opposed by the majority. What about the CGT in France? Do you condemn syndicalism because of the CGT?

ernie
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Jul 9 2007 22:09

Devrim, I think slothjabber makes the main points about the interests of the class. It was this that was the foundation of Marx and Engels position. As slothjabber shows for Marxists it was important that the proletariat did not stand back from trying to throw its weight into historical development when these served its interests, this is not only for the German working class but the French and the rest of the international working class.

ernie
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Jul 9 2007 22:14

This is an extremely stimulating and enlightening discussion, I would like to propose that it is turned into a thread of its own. At the moment most people do not know it exists, and given the importance of the national question (every time it cones up there a lot of discussion) it would be good if people could see what it is from the beginning. It would be good to keep it at the theoretical and historical level, because the will help to deepen the understanding of the whole question and how it is presented today. It would also allow this thread to go back to its original topic. What do people think and how can we best do this?

slothjabber
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Jul 11 2007 19:58

I agree that this topic seems to mostly be something like "nationalism and history" now (I must claim some responsibility for that, soz to the OP), and it may be better to move it to a new thread. How? No idea mate (comrade mate?), sorry.

Anarcho
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Jul 27 2007 08:09
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Anarcho, you are correct that a large majority of the 2nd International supported the war, and many workers became caught up in the nationalist hysteria. However, it should not be forgotten that this betrayal was opposed by an important part of that same International. In Russia the Bolshevik's and I think the Mensheviks -or an important part of them- opposed the war. In Sebia the Party opposed the war.

In reality, it was a few small parties which opposed the war. The large Marxist parties all supported the war. As such, "important" is simply false. All the important parts of the international movement supported the war. Unlike, I must add, the anarchist movement in which small minorities supported the war.

So, please, acknowledge reality -- Marxism failed the test of WWI while anarchism did not. That explains why Marxists go on about Kropotkin so much while remaining silent on Malatesta, Goldman, Berkman, Rocker, etc., etc., etc.

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It was also the Marxists that carried out the most intransigent defense of internationalism, above all the Bolsheviks. Even before the war Luxemburg and others were warning about the growing penetration into the International of nationalism.

So I'm assuming you have not read Malatesta's arguments against the war? Or the international anarchist statement against it which he and others signed? In other words, anarchists also carried out an intransigent defense of internationalism -- whether you can say it was the "most" is subjective and hard to qualify (I'll leave that to Marxists trying to defend their ideology from its failures).

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Anarcho, my knowledge of the organised anarchist response to the war is limited but were there any anarchist groups of the size of the Bolsheviks, the Spartacus League, the Serbian party or the Socialist Labour Party in Britain that carried out a systematic and organised work against the war?

Have a look at the Italian anarchist movement, for example. Or the activities of the American movement (Goldman and Berkman were arrested and deported for their activities against the war). Then there was the anti-war propaganda in Britain (including Freedom and numerous anarchist groups across the country). The same can be said of all countries -- anarchists did all they could.

And, btw, the Bolsheviks were not that big an organisation.

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It was not only Kropotkin and the 15 who supported the war, in the CNT there was a minority who supported the war . . . but they were opposed by the majority. What about the CGT in France? Do you condemn syndicalism because of the CGT?

So we are moving from anarchists to mass syndicalist unions now? Talk about changing the subject! A small minority of anarchists supported the war. A slightly bigger minority of members of syndicalist unions supported the war. In both cases, the numbers are small in comparison to the numbers in Marxist parties who supported the war.

As for the CGT, there was a strong minority which opposed the official policy. And, to be honest, even this example supports my argument as it was the only syndicalist union which betrayed its politics (the pro-war Marxist-syndicalists in the USI were expelled, for example). Unlike the example of Marxist parties, where the majority did so.

Do i condemn syndicalism for the actions of one organisation? No, I not a syndicalist for many reasons and that is not one of them (it was a sympton of deeper problems with syndicalism). However, I try to learn the lessons of history rather than deny them. Therefore I would generalise from the fact that most Marxist parties supported the war while a minority of anarchists and one syndicalist union did so to conclude that Marxism failed a major test while anarchism/syndicalism did not.

As such, the response to WWI as well as the rise in reformism in the Marxist parties presents strong evidence to say that Bakunin, rather than Marx, was right. Combine this with the fate of the Bolshevik state in Russia (which quickly became a dictatorship over the proletariat), and I would say that empirical evidence supports Bakunin's critique of Marxism and his vision of revolution.

Given all this, I can understand why Marxists go on about Kropotkin so much -- it means they can avoid the awkward facts that Marxism came up short and that anarchism was confirmed.

Anarcho
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Jul 27 2007 08:33
slothjabber wrote:
Capitalism is a system, Anarcho; and that system didn't dominate the whole world in 1870 (though it was bloody close to doing so). But it did by 1970 (and a long time before that) so yes Iraq and Afghanistan and Vietnam were all capitalist countries. Just very inefficient ones.

Ah, yes, so nearly dominating the world explains everything! Yet Marx talked about the world market and France and Germany were both capitalist nations. As such, the conflict of 1870 was between two capitalist classes and yet Marx took sides and wanted German workers to kill French ones. That is the real issue -- like Kropotkin, he took sides in an inter-capitalist war. Yet marxists comdemn Kropotkin and not Marx.

As for the state capitalist regime in Vietnam, replacing an inefficient capitalist system with an efficient one would have accelerated the transformation of peasants into wage slaves and so aided the development of the proletariat...

Quote:
Whether there really was a 'progressive' side in the Franco-Prussian war (even, whether capitalism was decadent by 1870) is something I've disagreed with the ICC about before, but I do think that they're right that the unification of German capitalism helped the working class in Germany to develop.

So that, in 1914, their socialist party could support an imperialist war? Ultimately, though, this whole perspective views the working class as a tool, something which can be used by elites to further the course of history. Anarchists, however, stress working class autonomy and do not consider supporting ruling elites as helping anyone other than those elites.

Quote:
As to 'marxists' going over to the bourgeoisie during the first world war, yes the majority of the Socialist International did - but then again, most weren't marxists. They were demagogic social democrats, with revolutionary phraseology but bureaucratic, reformist practice, ready to enter bourgeois governments in the name of 'the workers'.

In other words, Bakunin's critique of Marx was right. He predicted that Marx's strategy of political parties and stating for elections would result in reformism and domination by party hacks. Thanks for admitting it!

Quote:
Albadini is completely right that applying the way Marx and Engels saw the wars of 'devloping capitalism' to the situation now would mean 'marxists' generally supporting the bigger, more devoped, more industrialised nations against the less efficient nations. However, since Luxemburg, there have been revisions and updatings of marxism, not least in the complete rejection of nationalism as a tactic for the wotking class.

Fine, admit Marx and Engels were wrong and we can end this discussion. However, I do get sick of Marxists trying to defend the mistakes of their founding fathers by saying that objective circumstances have changed when, fundamentally, they have not.

Quote:
Devrim, it certainly wasn't in the interest of individual German workers to die for the turning of the King of Prussia into the German Emperor, but I believe it was in the interests of workers, across the world, for Germany to be united. What is the relationship between personal interest and class interest? Is one the accumulation of the other? Or are there times that 'history' demands suffering so that something better can result?

So, in other words, it was in the interests of German workers to die for the King of Prussia. That was the only way which the "interests of workers" across of the world could have been achieved.

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It wasn't in the interests of individual French workers to be massacred by the Thiers government, but the Commune was a huge advance for the working class.

The key difference was that the French workers were fighting for themselves, for their freedom. The German workers were fighting for their masters. That I have to point this out says it all!

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It wasn't in the interest of individual workers in Russia to be shot by the Whites (or the Cheka for that matter) but I still think that winning the Civil War was better than not, even given what happened 3 months later.

So it is sometimes in the interests of workers to side with members of a ruling class? Is that what you are saying? So much for class autonomy!

Just out of interest, does that mean you support the Allies in WWII? After all, the allies winning the war was better than Hitler doing so.

Quote:
I believe that there were, in the 19th century, aspects of capitalist development that can be called 'progressive' or 'historically useful' for the working class, and also that the majority of these were carried out in the name of capitalist efficiency in the most dynamic capitalist states - and this includes the integration of German national capitalism.

And so the working class is to the used by those who correctly see the overall picture -- as Marx and Engels noted in the Communist Manifesto when they talked about a section of the bourgeoisie becoming socialists. Yet as Bakunin noted, this in practice means that these intellectuals will rule the working class based on their claims to knowing socialist ideology and the correct path of historical development. A fine liberation indeed!

We have, i think, evidence here that Bakunin was (as usual) right.

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Devrim
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Jul 27 2007 13:54
Anarcho wrote:
Given all this, I can understand why Marxists go on about Kropotkin so much -- it means they can avoid the awkward facts that Marxism came up short and that anarchism was confirmed.

Kropotkin lined up with the imperialists. The fact that lots of those who called themselves Marxists did also does not excuse it. Nor does the fact that some anarchists supported the war condem anarchism as a whole. I do think though that anarchists are reluctant to analyise the 'mistakes' of certain anarchists, and in fact believe that they were just mistakes. In my opinion that is a weakness within anarchism.
Devrim

Anarcho
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Jul 27 2007 16:02
Devrim wrote:
Kropotkin lined up with the imperialists. The fact that lots of those who called themselves Marxists did also does not excuse it.

I think you will discover that no anarchist here is excusing Kropotkin. Nor did they do so at the time (Malatesta, etc., were all critical of him). Numerous Marxists, however, are trying to excuse Marx lining up with the imperialists in 1870. Which is an important difference.

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Nor does the fact that some anarchists supported the war condem anarchism as a whole.

Particularly as the vast majority of anarchists opposed the war. Unlike the situation within the Marxist movement of the time. Which is an important difference.

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I do think though that anarchists are reluctant to analyise the 'mistakes' of certain anarchists, and in fact believe that they were just mistakes. In my opinion that is a weakness within anarchism.

Let me see. Kropotkin supported the Allies. Malatesta, Berkman, Goldman, Rocker, etc, etc., etc., all opposed the war. All were communist-anarchists. If Kropotkin's position reflected a weakness within anarchism, then why did so few anarchists support his position?

Let us generalise from the facts. Most communist-anarchists opposed the war while a very small minority (which included Kropotkin) did not. Logically, therefore, this would suggest that opposing the war was the anarchist position, which Kropotkin did not follow. Now, surely that is a personal mistake rather than showing some deep flaw in anarchism?

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Devrim
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Jul 27 2007 16:22
Anarcho wrote:
I think you will discover that no anarchist here is excusing Kropotkin. Nor did they do so at the time (Malatesta, etc., were all critical of him). Numerous Marxists, however, are trying to excuse Marx lining up with the imperialists in 1870. Which is an important difference.

This is true. You may have notice, however, that I didn't. In fact I argued quite clearly against it on this thread.

Anarcho wrote:
Particularly as the vast majority of anarchists opposed the war. Unlike the situation within the Marxist movement of the time. Which is an important difference.

I don't care too much whether an organisation refered to itself as anarchist, or Marxist. You are certainly right that the majority of the social democracy supported the war, and therefore sided against the working class. I don't know many details about the anarchists, but certainly significant anarchists (e.g.Kropotkin), and significant numbers of anarchists did (e.g.CGT).

Anarcho wrote:
Let me see. Kropotkin supported the Allies. Malatesta, Berkman, Goldman, Rocker, etc, etc., etc., all opposed the war. All were communist-anarchists. If Kropotkin's position reflected a weakness within anarchism, then why did so few anarchists support his position?

Let us generalise from the facts. Most communist-anarchists opposed the war while a very small minority (which included Kropotkin) did not. Logically, therefore, this would suggest that opposing the war was the anarchist position, which Kropotkin did not follow. Now, surely that is a personal mistake rather than showing some deep flaw in anarchism?

In may opinion one of the 'deep flaws' in anarchism is its refusal to analyise why these 'mistakes' happened. I don't know much about Kropotkin. Maybe it was a personal 'mistake', but the same attitude is taken to the betrayal in Spain. Marxists analyised Kautsky, and the SPD's betrayal. The clearest ones saw it comming before the war. One who made less of a break with Social Democracy (e.g. Lenin) were shocked by it, but still realised that the class line was internationalism, and opposition to the war.

Devrim

Feighnt
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Jul 27 2007 21:14
Devrim wrote:

In may opinion one of the 'deep flaws' in anarchism is its refusal to analyise why these 'mistakes' happened. I don't know much about Kropotkin. Maybe it was a personal 'mistake', but the same attitude is taken to the betrayal in Spain.

respectfully said, i'm not sure i totally agree. but people certainly make this same claim quite often, and many Anarchists seem to make this claim, too.

perhaps it's the result of me coming to Anarchism in fairly recent years, but the Anarchist movement seems to me to be offering analysis about a fair bit of issues, though i'm uncertain if these analyses are well known (and, might i ask, are the analyses you mentioned made by Marxists against the SPD/etc extremely well known too? i would find it difficult to believe, considering how many Marxists have nonetheless continued towards the Social-Democratic vision, or, for that matter, how the even more awful Leninist/Stalinist/etc line carried down with only a *relatively* small number of Marxist detractors for a good many decades. there were the Council Communists, of course, but they were never all that large in number)

in the case of Kropotkin supporting the war, this does seem fairly negligable to me. i think it difficult to claim that he, as one individual, supporting the war, was a problem institutionalized within Anarchism itself. what i would, however, consider to be a much greater issue is what happened to the CGT at the time. i admit that i havent heard a huge amount of actual analysis on what went wrong with the CGT, but i have seen at least some (someone on this board actually wrote up a historical explanation of it a while back, unfortunately i dont recall who it was).

however, the case of the CNT has been analysed, i'm just not sure if these are extremely well known. Stuart Christie, for example, tried to give an explanation as to what went wrong in his history of the FAI. but, further than this, there have been critics of *syndicalism* all the way to the start of it, who pointed out the tendency of all unions towards reformism rather than revolution, and this line of thought has hardly died out - there are many on this board, i'm sure, who adhere to it whole-heartedly. now... i can think of three major failures of the Anarchist movement, where it not only just failed to succeed in coming out on top, but actually went counter to the socialist goal. these cases were, of course, the CGT in WWI, the CNT in the Spanish Civil War, and the mexican syndicalists (always forget what their organization was called) during the Mexican Revolution (which i view as one of the most startling turn of events, of the three - not only did they stand down from pushing forward the Revolution, or side with the authorities, they actually sent militians *against* the revolutionaries!). anyway... given that these three great failures were all done by Anarchist-Syndicates, it gives a lot of weight to the Anarchist critique of syndicalism.

that said, you could be right in that there might need be *more* analysis of why this happens. personally, i'm not altogether convinced that it's just the fault of syndicalism that this happened, and i might point to a lesser-known fact: That many Anarchists have involved themselves in "national liberation" or "republican revolution" struggles in the past. this happened in a good number of countries, such as Cuba, Portugal, Spain (cant recall if they actually fought, but they conspired with republican revolutionaries), think it happened in the Phillipines (would love to learn more about that, nobody talks about the Phillipines, but i gather that some Anarchists are actually viewed as "national heroes" in the country to this day!), etc. one could also claim that the Anarchist involvement in WWII, on the side of the allies, is in a similar vein, and that the things mentioned above (those three syndicalist movements, and *perhaps* Kropotkin) are also part of the same problem - either an inclination towards "lesser evilism" or attempting to justify the means with the ends, yet losing yourself in the process. or something more elaborate than what my poor mental faculties can develop tongue

i'm afraid i've been rambling a bit, with many half formed thoughts. hopefully i've come across not too poorly, though, and perhaps someone more impressive can put these ideas together better and more completely than i.

(edit) but, as a last note, i have to ask: Does anyone have a real alternative, a *solution*? to analyse things properly demands that one offer an alternate course of action, one which will, hopefully, nullify the problem (or at least dampen it). it's all well and good to rail against the things i mentioned above, and offer an analysis as to *why* it came about - but saying why it happened is only half of the analysis. the other half is to provide an alternative, and i certainly find few people coming forward with anything very well, on that front. but, as far as things go, i'm not sure if Marxists are contributing much towards making a proper solution, either - most Marxists are *still* struggling with pounding out the authoritarian dendencies in their movements/organizations, and the common line to Anarchists from them has been "accept the dictatorship of the proletariat," which hardly helps anything. of course, i'd hope the Council Communists, or other Marxists who are more libertarian-minded make more substantial arguments as to what actually should be *done*, but my knowledge of their side of things is quite limited.

slothjabber
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Aug 1 2007 00:21

This reply has beeb edited from the version I wrote in the middle of the night while tired and grumpy, and is I hope more reasonable.

Anarcho wrote:
Ah, yes, so nearly dominating the world explains everything!

>>>If you say so. On the other hand, I really can't believe your assertion that capitalism WAS a world system in 1870, but Vietnam Iraq and Afghanistan weren't caapitalist a hundred years later. It seems fairly obvious to me that history only goes in one direction. As a result, IF the world market was completed by 1870 as you suggest, a hundred years of world-wide capitalism must surely have produced capitalism in those countries (or it's hardly world-wide, is it?); on the other hand, I believe that the world market wasn't complete in 1870, but was soon after; and Iraq, Afghanistan and Veitnam have been existing in a world capitalist system for about a century (making them capitalist).

Anarcho wrote:
Yet Marx talked about the world market and France and Germany were both capitalist nations. As such, the conflict of 1870 was between two capitalist classes and yet Marx took sides and wanted German workers to kill French ones. That is the real issue -- like Kropotkin, he took sides in an inter-capitalist war. Yet marxists comdemn Kropotkin and not Marx.

>>>Indeed, Marx and Engels talked about the world market, in the Manifesto they talk about capitalism 'increasingly' subbordinating the world, and later they seem to have decided that the process was complete. If they did, I think they were wrong.

>>>I don't think anyone has ever said that France and Prussia (not Germany) were not capitalist states in 1870 - and yes Marx took sides. Was he right? I don't know if he was. I can see the argument that the unification of Germany (as a result of the French attack) was a benefit to the working class internationally (on the other hand I've also heard marxists argue that Marx was just plain wrong on this); but I can't see any argument that the victory of France in 1918 was a benefit to the working class. Therefore, it seems to me that the cases are different - one is definately not to the advantage of the working class, the other arguably at least is. I'm aware you disagree, but the difference that seems impossible to get over to me is that it is self-evident that WWI was a disaster for humanity, while the unification of Germany in the 1870s is not self evidently a disaster for humanity.

Anarcho wrote:
As for the state capitalist regime in Vietnam, replacing an inefficient capitalist system with an efficient one would have accelerated the transformation of peasants into wage slaves and so aided the development of the proletariat...

>>>But as I argued earlier, marxists do not support America as the biggest and most efficient power and therefore the best developer of the proletariat, though they 'should' if we were still in the 19th century.

Quote:
... I do think that ... that the unification of German capitalism helped the working class in Germany to develop.
Anarcho wrote:
So that, in 1914, their socialist party could support an imperialist war?

>>>I'm sorry, "their" socialist party? This seems to mean that you agree with the social democrats that they represented the working class in Germany, and rather implies you regard WWI as being at least partly the fault of the German working class.

>>> the German social-democratic party (indeed the majority of the socialist international) was rotten, riddled with nationalism, reformism, careerism, and many more ills that many revolutionaries - whether marxist or anarchist - criticised. This wasn't because they were marxists, but because they were not. It was the marxists, Bordiga, Gorter, Lenin, Luxemburg, Pannekoek and others, who were the inernationalists in the socialist international, while the others like the Labour Party betrayed the working class and sided with their (and I mean 'their') respective states.

Anarcho wrote:
...Ultimately, though, this whole perspective views the working class as a tool, something which can be used by elites to further the course of history. Anarchists, however, stress working class autonomy and do not consider supporting ruling elites as helping anyone other than those elites.

>>>Of course elites use the working classes they control. I think to suggest otherwise is bizarre. Just because I say it happens doesn't mean I think that the working class has to be happy about it, however. Stressing 'working class autonomy' doesn't mean millions didn't die in WWI. If indeed 'anarchists' as a whole homogenous mass (I don't think 'anarchists' is a useful label here, as there are many different kinds of anarchists) didn't support ruling elites at all, that would be great. In practice however, many anarchists did and do. I mean, apart from Kropotkin and the 15, Spain 1936 is the obvious case in point.

Anarcho wrote:
... Bakunin's critique of Marx was right. He predicted that Marx's strategy of political parties and stating for elections would result in reformism and domination by party hacks. Thanks for admitting it!

>>>If you say so. I never got very far reading Bakunin. Whatever Bakunin said, I don't know what value there is for you in me 'admitting' that the socialist international was largely made up bureaucrats and chauvinists, I don't think there are many (actually, I doubt that anybody) on these forums would disagree. Was is very odd is that you seem to be attacking the social democrats (which I obviously think you're quite right to do) while seeking to defend Kropotkin for holding exactly the same positions.

Anarcho wrote:
... admit Marx and Engels were wrong and we can end this discussion. However, I do get sick of Marxists trying to defend the mistakes of their founding fathers by saying that objective circumstances have changed when, fundamentally, they have not.

>>>I've said I don't know if they were wrong or not - they may have been. I'm even prepared to admit that I may be wrong, and that's much more important to me than Marx and Engels. But obviously, I don't think I'm wrong. Why would I hold opinions I believe to be false? That would be really stupid. I am absolutely certain that Kropotkin was wrong however.

>>>OK, back to history: you say capitalism was complete by 1870: you may be right, I don't think you are: you also suggest Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam weren't capitalist in the late 20th, and at this point it doesn't really matter what I say, these can't both be true (at least, as far I understand history, time, logic, social development etc). Either the world market was completed, or it wasn't (hasn't happened yet?). If it was, it happened at at a fairly definite time: maybe there isn't a second you can point to, but at least there should be a decade or a half-century or something where one can say 'this is when the world market was completed' (if you think it has been). I would ague that, though it was a process, it was completed between 1870 and 1914, perhaps by 1905.

Anarcho wrote:
...

So, in other words, it was in the interests of German workers to die for the King of Prussia. That was the only way which the "interests of workers" across of the world could have been achieved.

>>>Your understanding of historical processes is better than mine if you can see that the 'only' way that the interests of the world working class could have been advanced was by German workers dying for the King of Prussia. My point was to do with the relationship between individual interest and class interest. Do the two always co-incide? I suspect not. It's never in any individual's interest to die, no matter what the cause. Does that mean that no worker should risk his or her life for their comrades, for the revolution, for the prospect (which may not be even realised) of a better future? Of course it doesn't. Even if that better future was due to the integration of the German state as a direct corollory of involvement in a war with France, the outcome - the integration of the German working class - was a positive benefit for the working class worldwide. The alternative was for Germany to remain a collection of small and medium-sized states with fluctuating political, economic and military alliances, with some industrialised and some semi-feudal states. Instead it became a major producer, an economic power in its right, and as a result, the working class in Germany developed to a size and combativity impossible under a patchwork of semi-feudal states. There may have been other ways for that to happen. History didn't present them to the working class as a multiple-choice questionnaire, unfortunately.

Anarcho wrote:
The key difference [between the Commune and the Prussian invasion of France] was that the French workers were fighting for themselves, for their freedom. The German workers were fighting for their masters. That I have to point this out says it all!

>>>The French (and other) workers were indeed fighting for the working class, worldwide (though the revolt began as a nationalist-inspired attempt to get rid of a government unable to prosecute the war successfully, ie kill enough German workers), because the Commune was part of the forward march of history, of the ever-developing struggle of the world working class; the integration of German capitalism that followed the war was also to the advantage of the world working class for the reason outlined above - that is one connection between the two events. Another is that no matter what the cause, it is never in the interests of any individual to be killed, even if the killing is a result of a process beneficial to their class, which is the point I was making, and no amount of 'saying it all' can alter this.

Anarcho wrote:
...
(ref Russia 1917-20)
So it is sometimes in the interests of workers to side with members of a ruling class? Is that what you are saying? So much for class autonomy!

>>>No I'm not saying that. I'm saying that historically there have been 'progressive' factions of the ruling class, and it has been in the interests of the working class to support them. I don't regard there as having been any progressive factions for the last century or so, however. As regards Russia, I don't think the Bolsheviks in 1920 can properly be called a 'ruling class', though they soon became one. I also don't think the 'working class in Russia helped the Bolsheviks win the Civil War', which I think is what you believe. I think the working class in Russia won the Civil War, but lost to the Bolsheviks who increasingly by 1921 had enmeshed themselves in the 'Soviet State'. Again you may disagree with me on this, but we must be aware that we are not using terms in exactly the same way and some of this argument is actually semantic in nature.

Anarcho wrote:
Just out of interest, does that mean you support the Allies in WWII? After all, the allies winning the war was better than Hitler doing so.

>>>No, I don't support the allies winning WWII. I completely disagree with you, I don't regard the allies winning as better at all. I find it odd that you support the allies in WWII, and apparently believe the German working class was responsible for WWI; you also say you do not defend Kropotkin, though you seem very keen to point fingers at his 'accusers'. The common thread here is supporting the allied line in both WWI and WWII. I certainly believe this is no position for a revolutionary whether they consider themselves marxist or anarchist.

Anarcho wrote:
...And so the working class is to the used by those who correctly see the overall picture -- as Marx and Engels noted in the Communist Manifesto when they talked about a section of the bourgeoisie becoming socialists. Yet as Bakunin noted, this in practice means that these intellectuals will rule the working class based on their claims to knowing socialist ideology and the correct path of historical development. A fine liberation indeed!

We have, i think, evidence here that Bakunin was (as usual) right.

>>>I really don't see how this follows from what I said, and think it bizarre that you have such a low opinion of the working class. Only the bourgeoisie can understand history? The workers are a tool to be manipulated? I'm sorry, I completely disagree. I think that the working class is the ultimate creative force in this stage of human history, and it really needs to understand its role in the dynamics of social development - as it learns this through its own struggle, we will begin to see the possibilities in destroying capitalism and nations forever.

(And that's a good thing, in my opinion)

Anarcho
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Aug 1 2007 21:43
Quote:
I really don't see how this follows from what I said, and think it bizarre that you have such a low opinion of the working class. Only the bourgeoisie can understand history? The workers are a tool to be manipulated? I'm sorry, I completely disagree.

That is it. I'm not going to bother debating someone who obviously cannot understand English when it suits them. What a total distortion of my arguments! And, btw, I am a worker and I know damn well that we understand our needs far better than Marxists and that we can manage our own affairs and struggles without their so-called help (or that of any other elite). That is why I am an anarchist.

And just for the record, I was presenting a critique of Marxism based on the logical conclusions of the positions argued by marxists here. It should be obvious that, for example, I do not think that workers are a tool to be manipulated -- in fact, the whole post I made was explicitly arguing that the Marxist arguments presented here implied that.

Still, I suppose I should be used to Marxists misrepresenting anarchist opinions -- they have always done so and always will (a few notable exceptions do spring to mind, like Harry Cleaver). Sad, really -- but not surprising given my experience of arguing with them. No matter what the sect or the party, they will generally distort and misrepresent anarchism -- the few exceptions prove the rule.

So I'm off to do something more constructive that slowly and painfully explain the meaning of my comments -- particularly when they are clear enough in the first place!

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cantdocartwheels
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Aug 3 2007 05:48
Anarcho wrote:
Quote:
I really don't see how this follows from what I said, and think it bizarre that you have such a low opinion of the working class. Only the bourgeoisie can understand history? The workers are a tool to be manipulated? I'm sorry, I completely disagree.

That is it. I'm not going to bother debating someone who obviously cannot understand English when it suits them. What a total distortion of my arguments! And, btw, I am a worker and I know damn well that we understand our needs far better than Marxists and that we can manage our own affairs and struggles without their so-called help (or that of any other elite). That is why I am an anarchist.

And just for the record, I was presenting a critique of Marxism based on the logical conclusions of the positions argued by marxists here. It should be obvious that, for example, I do not think that workers are a tool to be manipulated -- in fact, the whole post I made was explicitly arguing that the Marxist arguments presented here implied that.

Still, I suppose I should be used to Marxists misrepresenting anarchist opinions -- they have always done so and always will (a few notable exceptions do spring to mind, like Harry Cleaver). Sad, really -- but not surprising given my experience of arguing with them. No matter what the sect or the party, they will generally distort and misrepresent anarchism -- the few exceptions prove the rule.

So I'm off to do something more constructive that slowly and painfully explain the meaning of my comments -- particularly when they are clear enough in the first place!

Do you atually make these absurdly sweeping generalisation for all ''marxists' then? Surely this is unnecesarily sectarian, especially on this site where the vast majority of marxists are council or left communists.

Personally I count myself an anarchist to the extent that i'm a member of an anarchist organisaton and so on, but I wouldn't hesitate to say that what you can broadly define as autonomous marxism has a lot more to offer the contemporary working class than the ideas of bigoted individualists like proudhon for example or large chunks of the contemporary activistoid ''anarchist'' millieu. When, to use a historial example, marxist organisations like the KAPD in germany were involved in mass uprisings across the country, surely you wouldn't apply this sort of rhetoric?