It's Kropotkin's birthday!

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Anarcho
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Jan 11 2008 10:48
fnbrill wrote:
Again, i would assert that you are correct concerning Leninists, which I would seperate from marxists. Most of the folks I know who are council-communists, libertarian socialists, SPGBers, Situs, etc. are generally well read in regards to the anarchists and tend to try and be honest/sincere in their criticism/acceptance of anarchist ideas.

As I said, there are exceptions -- and these are usually found in the groups you listed (e.g., Harry Cleaver). Obviously libertarian Marxists are different from mainstream Marxism.

I used the term "Marxist" to include Leninists as these, sadly, seem to be the majority of Marxists these days. And they produce some of the worse articles on anarchism as well! But Marx and Engels did their fair share in distorting anarchist ideas as well.

Anarcho
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Jan 11 2008 10:54
Devrim wrote:
The fact that most 'Marxists' supported the war is not in doubt. The words that you use to talk about the anarchist support for it here suggest that it is at least unclear if it was a majority, or not

Actually, it is very clear that a majority of anarchists opposed the war. Any one who knows even the most basic information about this period knows that is the case.

Let me repeat the facts. The vast majority of anarchists and syndicalists opposed the war. The vast majority of Marxists supported it (including the marxist-syndicalists in Italy, who later became fascists with Mussolini).

As a so-called scientific socialist, try and generalise something from those facts.

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Jan 11 2008 12:39
Battlescarred wrote:
No it was a clear majority of anarchists who opposed the war which I will detail if you wish as you don't seem to believe me.
Battlescarred wrote:
Whilst a minority of anarchists supported the War, I would say that it was a majority that was opposed to it .

I don't disbelieve you. It was the way that you said it that made it sound as if it wasn't certain.

Battlescarred wrote:
"Marxists" in inverted commas, hmmm . Two can play at. that . Some "anarchists" supported the war.

Well yes they can. I don't think that it is really the point though. To me it is quite clear that some "Marxists", and some "anarchists" supported the war. Some Marxists, and some anarchists opposed it. I don't think that the point is to justify historical currents. The point is that there are 'class positions'. Those who opposed them opposed the interests of the working class, both immediate, and historic. Kropotkin was one of them.

Devrim

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Jan 11 2008 12:42
Anarcho wrote:
If they were not personal failings then they must have come from his politics. He was a communist-anarchist. Given that the vast majority of communist-anarchists were surprised by Kropotkin's decision and attacked it, we can safely say that his politics played no role in it.

Of course, it just came out of thin air. The FAIists joining the Government was just a mistake.

Devrim

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Jan 11 2008 13:08

As far as the Social Democracy was concerned (the main expression of "Marxism" in the period concerned) there was quite clearly a division between the revolutionary and reformist wings. The former waged a struggle against the latter for many years before the final betrayal and once the betrayal had taken place, denounced them without mercy. Even the centrists such as Kautsky and Bernstein who first supported the war but then changed their minds, received no succour in the revolutionary camp and the split between "communists" and "socialists" was a permanent rupture.

I also think it's worth remembering that the official position of the 2nd International was to denounce any war. All the social democratic parties split and in some cases the majority of the party went with the internationalists. The Bolsheviks were themselves a majority split from the RSDLP which was finally formalised just before the war. I'm fairly certain that the revolutionaries in the Italian Socialist Party were also a majority.

The enormous pressure on the working class in this period was expressed in the fracturing of both the "Marxist" and "Anarchist" movements in this period, but the resillience of the working class was demonstrated by the fact that revolutionary currents were able to emerge from both milieus, survive and go on to play a role in the world revolution. Far more serious was the counter-revolution that followed, which made the Bolshevik party its own creature while the Anarchist movement degenerated into sectarian confusion, culminating in the disastrous results in Spain 36. Hardly any revolutionary currents survived this trend. The Left Communists, the Councillists, a few strands of anarchism, but certainly none that had any weight on the class struggle for decades to come.

Battlescarred
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Jan 11 2008 15:37

With some councilists re-entering the Social Democratic Parties ( as for example Weiland and co.)!!!!
Even if the excuse was a form of entrism to recruit to their current

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Jan 11 2008 15:53

Even those trends that survived faced incredible pressure. Many degenerated or disappeared, or made appalling tactical choices such as the one you mention Battlescarred. I don't think this is unique to either "Marxism" or "Anarchism". It's a product of the isolation of genuine revolutionary currents and the overwhelming weight of bourgeois ideology.

syndicalist
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Jan 12 2008 15:55

I think it is a failure of the moment. A failure to adhere to what one has advocated and a subjective reaction to the momentary event.

Respectfully Dev., perhaps I've missed it somewhere, but can you briefly decribe what you are for? I have a sense I know what you are against, but not sure if I've ever seen you articulate your vision and strategies. Thanks.

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Jan 13 2008 08:44

I am not sure what you are really asking for here. I think that both I and other members of the communist ledft have written frequently on here about what we are 'for'. I will answer if you care to be a little more specific.

Devrim

Anarcho
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Jan 14 2008 14:32
Devrim wrote:
Anarcho wrote:
If they were not personal failings then they must have come from his politics. He was a communist-anarchist. Given that the vast majority of communist-anarchists were surprised by Kropotkin's decision and attacked it, we can safely say that his politics played no role in it.

Of course, it just came out of thin air. The FAIists joining the Government was just a mistake.

Okay, changing the discussion to something else. Fine, I can assume that you are unable to produce any evidence to support the claim that Kropotkin's decision flowed from his politics. Given that you have admitted never reading any of them, I'm not too surprised.

As for the FAI, yes joining the government was a mistake. It flowed from the decisions made on the 20th of July, the decisions not to start implementing libertarian communism (a decision the CNT and FAI membership rightly ignored).

Why did they make that decision? Could it be because of the situation they found themselves in? The fear of being isolated and having to fight both fascism AND the republic?

No, of course not. It was their politics! Heaven forbid that objective circumstances could play any part in decision making by revolutionaries. Or, for that matter, in Marxists attacking anarchism.

My opinion on the Spanish Revolution is that leading members of the CNT-FAI misunderstood the situation they found themselves in, somewhat understandably given the chaotic events of the early days. Instead of doing what anarchism recommends, their fear of being isolated and crushed made them compromise. The net effect of that mistaken decision was to result in the FAIists joining the government.

I suppose I have to state clearly that I opposed the decisions to postpone the revolution and to join the government. The creation of the collectives, militias and so forth are the decisions in-line with anarchist theory.

Now, please provide evidence that it was anarchist politics which drove that decision. I would prefer quotes from before 1936 -- the CNT-FAI did its own fair share of extremely silly arguments to justify their decision and they are usually illogical and in direct contradiction to their previous ideas and activities.

Hopefully you will be more successful than your attempts to do that with Kropotkin....

Anarcho
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Jan 14 2008 14:38
Devrim wrote:
Well yes they can. I don't think that it is really the point though. To me it is quite clear that some "Marxists", and some "anarchists" supported the war.

Actually, it was most "Marxists" and some "anarchists." Try and get it right, eh?

Devrim wrote:
Some Marxists, and some anarchists opposed it.

No, it was some Marxists and most anarchists opposed it.

Devrim wrote:
I don't think that the point is to justify historical currents.

Just as well, as the Marxists are not looking too good here...

Devrim wrote:
The point is that there are 'class positions'. Those who opposed them opposed the interests of the working class, both immediate, and historic. Kropotkin was one of them.

Now I know why you are banging on about Kropotkin so much. Given that the vast majority of Marxists opposed the interests of the working class and a few anarchists did so, you are concentrating on Kropotkin to hide this awkward fact.

There are "class positions" -- and Marxists have repeatedly failed them. Not to mention producing a dictatorship over the proletariat...

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Jan 14 2008 14:39

I'M just kinda disappointed there's no picture of Kropotkin wearing a party hat in this thread, myself.

Mike Harman
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Jan 14 2008 14:40

Anarcho, what about the CNT's (albeit limited) support for the Republican government in 1931. It's not as if there were zero precedents.

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Jan 14 2008 16:08
Anarcho wrote:
Devrim wrote:
Anarcho wrote:
If they were not personal failings then they must have come from his politics. He was a communist-anarchist. Given that the vast majority of communist-anarchists were surprised by Kropotkin's decision and attacked it, we can safely say that his politics played no role in it.

Of course, it just came out of thin air. The FAIists joining the Government was just a mistake.

Okay, changing the discussion to something else.

It is not changing the discussion. It is just another example of the same thing. Anarchists dismissing blatantly anti-working class actions by other anarchists as a mistake.

Quote:
As for the FAI, yes joining the government was a mistake. It flowed from the decisions made on the 20th of July, the decisions not to start implementing libertarian communism (a decision the CNT and FAI membership rightly ignored).

Why did they make that decision? Could it be because of the situation they found themselves in? The fear of being isolated and having to fight both fascism AND the republic?

No, of course not. It was their politics! Heaven forbid that objective circumstances could play any part in decision making by revolutionaries.

It is funny how some anarchists are quite happy to excuse the CNT-FAI on these grounds, but won't cut the Bolsheviks an inch of slack when it comes to exactly the same argument.

It is not the point though. All revolutions will be made in difficult circumstances. Indeed it is these circumstances that test the politics of revolutionaries, and revolutionary organisations. Tests that both Kropotkin and the CNT-FAI failed.

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Now, please provide evidence that it was anarchist politics which drove that decision.

What poitics was it then? Or was it just circumstance, just like Kropotkin's supporting the war, just an aberration.

Actually, there participation in elections previously showed a sign of where they were going.

Quote:
Fine, I can assume that you are unable to produce any evidence to support the claim that Kropotkin's decision flowed from his politics. Given that you have admitted never reading any of them, I'm not too surprised.
...
Hopefully you will be more successful than your attempts to do that with Kropotkin....

I didn't attempt to do it with Kropotkin. I just rejected the idea that it is all merely about individual decisions, the idea that you seem to be putting forward that there is no relation between the politics, and the betrayal.

Quote:
Now I know why you are banging on about Kropotkin so much. Given that the vast majority of Marxists opposed the interests of the working class and a few anarchists did so, you are concentrating on Kropotkin to hide this awkward fact.

There are "class positions" -- and Marxists have repeatedly failed them.

I am not as obsessed with the numbers as you are, but certainly the vast majority of those who called themselves Marxists have, historically, and do, today oppose the interests of the working class. Why on Earth would I try to hide that? I have no interest in whitewashing history.

Devrim

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Jan 14 2008 22:30

Thig is Devrim I'm not sure your argument here is any more powerful for coming from a left-communist perspective. what you'\re saying is that an individual (Kropotkin) and a military grouping (the FAI) cracked under the intense pressures of war and deviated from the anarchist line to become counter-revolutionary.

but how can any individual or group be completely insulated from such a risk? In times of intense pressure and high stress, where principle may clash with the defence of something much loved (be it family, close friends, your home etc), the temptation is always going to be there to renounce radicalism in the hope of saving them.

All your argument shows is that come war and come death, people must hold true to their ideology or lose everything. But that's not an argument against anarchism, its an argument that we should all learn the lessons of history and stick to our guns when it counts.

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Jan 14 2008 23:42

Well put Saii.

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Devrim
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Jan 15 2008 06:04
Saii wrote:
Thig is Devrim I'm not sure your argument here is any more powerful for coming from a left-communist perspective.

Fair point, but then I wasn't claiming that it was. The communist left did though analyse the betrayals of Marxism, and why they happened. I feel that anarchists don't do that and instead just put things down to mistakes.

Saii wrote:
what you'\re saying is that an individual (Kropotkin) and a military grouping (the FAI) cracked under the intense pressures of war and deviated from the anarchist line to become counter-revolutionary.

My question is about the reasons that they cracked. Is there something in anarchist politics that says that some factions of the bourgeoisie are more progressive than others? Because that is all it needs. As soon as there is that the road to supporting war is open.
Devrim

nastyned
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Jan 15 2008 12:24
Devrim wrote:
The communist left did though analyse the betrayals of Marxism

... and came up with decadence theory so they could say there was an unbroken revolutionary stand running from marx and engles through social democracy to left communism and all the counter-revolutionary failiures were by people who weren't really Marxists.

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Jan 15 2008 12:48
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My question is about the reasons that they cracked. Is there something in anarchist politics that says that some factions of the bourgeoisie are more progressive than others? Because that is all it needs. As soon as there is that the road to supporting war is open.

Not specifically in anarchist politcs, no. But I'd imagine a lot of anarchists would agree that there are some setups under capitalism which are better than others (eg. Dave Douglass' example of mortality rates in mines before and after nationalisation in 'All power to the imagination').

I don't see this recognition as necessarily opening the doors to compromise though unless it becomes integrated into an individual/group/federation's agreed political responses and activity - ie. defending the lesser of two evils because you don't think you can win on your own terms.

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Devrim
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Jan 15 2008 13:09

Please note all of the 'anarchists' on here who advocate running off to the ballot box as soon as the BNP raises its head.

Devrim

Mike Harman
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Jan 15 2008 13:22
nastyned wrote:
Devrim wrote:
The communist left did though analyse the betrayals of Marxism

... and came up with decadence theory so they could say there was an unbroken revolutionary stand running from marx and engles through social democracy to left communism and all the counter-revolutionary failiures were by people who weren't really Marxists.

What, all of them? The entire KAPD? Miasnikov? the French ultra-left?

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Jan 15 2008 13:25
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Please note all of the 'anarchists' on here who advocate running off to the ballot box as soon as the BNP raises its head.

Where was that?

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Jan 15 2008 13:25

So the communist left "came up with decadence theory so they could say there was an unbroken revolutionary stand running from marx and engles through social democracy to left communism and all the counter-revolutionary failiures were by people who weren't really Marxists" .

On other threads we have shown that it was Marx and Engels who "came up with" decadence theory. Some people disputed this. But they didn't dispute that "decadence theory" is at least as old as the Second International (in fact the idea that it was the Second International that "came up with it" is Aufheben's brilliant and original contribution to the 'critique' of decadence theory) and that the Communist International was founded on the basis of recognising the beginning of capitalist decline. Either way, nasty's jibe does not fit the facts.

An understanding of decadence indeed makes it much clearer why so many former proletarian organisations betray the working class and become integrated into the state in this epoch. But in itself it doesn't explain the basic tendency towards the betrayal of working class organisations, which results from the permanent pressure of the dominant ideology on the workers' movement, a phenomenon which exists throughout capitalism's history.

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Jan 15 2008 13:49
Saii wrote:
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Please note all of the 'anarchists' on here who advocate running off to the ballot box as soon as the BNP raises its head.

Where was that?

On here,...often.

Devrim

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Jan 15 2008 13:54

Never seen it. I've seen people saying we should fight fascists, but not that we should vote for them. Perhaps I've been on the wrong threads.

But so what if they did? In other circumstances anarchists have laid down their lives to fight both the state and fascism at the same time. What you describe is a function of inexperienced people panicking at the prospect of a real fascist/far right threat when Britain’s been free of it for a while, not a failing peculiar to anarchists.

There’s an apocryphal story of the Durruti column, which routed when it was first buzzed by a fascist plane. By the end of the war they were one of the toughest columns in the war. It’s a matter of experience and discipline which gives people the ability to stick to their positions, learning the lessons of history is a part of that experience, but so is fucking up when you feel threatened, which you either learn from and move on, or descend into reformism. No-one, no matter how well-read they are, is immune from fucking up when reality bites.

nastyned
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Jan 15 2008 13:58
Mike Harman wrote:
nastyned wrote:
Devrim wrote:
The communist left did though analyse the betrayals of Marxism

... and came up with decadence theory so they could say there was an unbroken revolutionary stand running from marx and engles through social democracy to left communism and all the counter-revolutionary failiures were by people who weren't really Marxists.

What, all of them? The entire KAPD? Miasnikov? the French ultra-left?

Sorry, I thought this was an internet discussion forum. I'll stick to writing fully referenced essays in future roll eyes

Mike Harman
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Jan 15 2008 13:59
Saii wrote:
There’s an apocryphal story of the Durruti column, which routed when it was first buzzed by a fascist plane. By the end of the war they were one of the toughest columns in the war.

Getting routed is a tactical decision (or non-decision) in the face of actual mortal danger - it's not quite the same as voting for New Labour (or joining the Republican government for that matter).

Also: http://libcom.org/forums/archives/should-we-vote-against-the-bnp - a few 'yes' on there.

Mike Harman
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Jan 15 2008 14:02
nastyned wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
nastyned wrote:
Devrim wrote:
The communist left did though analyse the betrayals of Marxism

... and came up with decadence theory so they could say there was an unbroken revolutionary stand running from marx and engles through social democracy to left communism and all the counter-revolutionary failiures were by people who weren't really Marxists.

What, all of them? The entire KAPD? Miasnikov? the French ultra-left?

Sorry, I thought this was an internet discussion forum. I'll stick to writing fully referenced essays in future roll eyes

Well I think it's a shame that those perfectly decent movements get sullied by the nominal association with the ICC, don't you?

nastyned
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Jan 15 2008 14:06

The KAPD, Miasnikov and the French ultra-left are not perfectly decent!

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Rob Ray
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Jan 15 2008 14:07

That’s a difference in extremity not in outcome.

John. rightly laughed off the offer of a duel not long ago, in different time he would have been considered a coward to turn it down. Today, particularly the middle classes are in a comfortable place, the threat of fascist violence seems a long way away. Is it tremendously surprising that some people will panic and drop their non-voting philosophy when fascism looks to be gaining ground and threatening them?

That doesn’t reflect on the philosophy, it reflects on them, and they only become reprehensible if they never wise up.