Appeal to sympathisers of the communist left (Australia)

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N. Rossi
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May 2 2010 13:12
Gabs wrote:
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What was that line from that dead Russian guy about revolutionary theory and revolutionary practice?

Bit vague mate! :)

In retrospect it is quite vague isn't it. I suppose it would also help if I got the quote right. Haha.

For those that didn't get it first time round (bonus points if you did):
"Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement." - WITBD, Lenin.

Nic.

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Devrim
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May 2 2010 13:26
Skraeling wrote:
sorry cant resist, but i take it the council communists are the irish wolf hounds and the italian left the chihuahuas - small, furry, bark a lot, but have no bite, meaning all programme and no influence, ho. my apologies, that was truly awful. tho i would suppose the ICC would see it the other way round. definitely.

actually, the irish on here might not like the irish wolfhound analogy at all given its links with english toffs in ireland.

anyway, more seriously, since the german/dutch left and italian left are vaguely related, surely the wolfhound and chihuahua analogy is not so good? i mean those breeds they havent got much in common at all...

There wasn't a direct analogy. My point was just that although they are very different they are still classified as dogs.

Devrim

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Bilan
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May 3 2010 00:41
Lugius wrote:
.

What flaming? I'm heckling - it's a working-class tradition.

u r so prolez. or being absurd. I'm not sure which one.

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I am making a political point; Marxists are authoritarian and middle-class in outlook and nature.

Another brilliant, substantiated argument. Shall we all regress to the 1890s and go through this again?

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I mentioned Marx's 'Civil War in France' and his behaviour in the International. Is that not evidence?

As long as you accept that me saying Bakunin is anti-semetic is sufficient evidence that you are.

Quote:
You put evidence that I smeared anyone. If you have courage of your convictions, you bring a process that will have me banned from this list for breach of the rules.

People are reasonable. They ask you to stop, and if you don't stop, there are repercussions.

Quote:
Otherwise, you merely attempting to supress a dissenting view.

You must make a distinction between "dissent" and "trolling". There is not a fine line. You are just trolling.

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waslax
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May 3 2010 04:26
nastyned wrote:
waslax wrote:
nastyned wrote:
Devrim wrote:

Are the council communists 'left communists'? I would say yes if we take 'left communism' to mean the historical descendents of the groups who broke with the politics of the Third International in the early twenties, just in the same way that we include the SWP as Trotskyists. Yes this is a completly non-homogonous group in that it includes people from hard-line ultra-Bordigists to people such as Otto Rhule. Nevertheless, it does have meaning as a historical catorgory.

Devrim

As I understand it 'left communists' was the term for those on the left wing of the Bolshevik Third International. It would make sense for me to use the term for those that still consider themselves to be on the left wing of Bolshevism, but not for those that have broken completely with Bolshevism.

But the Third International was not homogeneous, and not entirely Bolshevik in its first few years. People can debate when thorough 'Bolshevization' occurred. In any case, the German-Dutch left communists in the KAPD and KAPN (Holland) broke with the Third International, and with the Bolshevism they saw as increasingly dominant within in it in 1921. (Third International was founded in 1919.) The Italian communist left didn't split with the Third International until 1928, by which time it was of course completely controlled by Stalin and his henchmen. Also, I don't think the Italian com. left ever really saw themselves as breaking with 'Bolshevism', as they saw Stalin and co. as betraying the latter. It is this difference between the two wings of the communist left that often leads to confusion when generalizing about 'left communism'. The fact is, there are a number of voices (including the ICC and the IBRP/ICT) who defend the Italian com. left's view of this history, while there are very few defending the German-Dutch left's view. Still, there are solid reasons, as Devrim says, to classify both tendencies as being 'left communist'.

So you agree with me that they are two very different movements, yet you conclude it's correct to lump them together with the same term. Is this a dialectical thing?

No, not really. The 'lumping together' of them is more a matter of their shared history in the early years of the Third International, when they both defended the Russian revolution and the need for parties of communists, yet also opposed parliamentarism and the frontism (with social democrats) and the support for so-called 'workers governments' (also involving social democrats) as against the prevailing orientation (within the Third Int.) of the Bolsheviks. Also, within each of their respective countries, they were a distinct tendency on 'the left' of the others of communists. The refusal to compromise with reformism, the stress given to seeing the social democrats as class enemies based on the latter's support for WWI and opposition to revolutionary uprisings (in Germany and Italy), set them apart from all other (non-'left-wing') communists.

At the same time, it's true that the council communists in the '30s (especially after the publication of the "Theses on Bolshevism") did move significantly away from a number of the positions defended by the KAPD et. al. in the early '20s. So I think one needs to clarify which version or form of council communism one has in mind when making such general claims (i.e. that they are or are not a form or part of left communism.)

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waslax
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May 3 2010 04:50
Skraeling wrote:
icastoriadis in the first issue of socialism or barbarism in 1949 wrote:
castoriadis wrote:
as the traditional forms of property and the bourgeoisie of the classical period are pushed aside by state property and by the bureaucracy, the main conflict within society gradually ceases to be the old one between the owners of wealth and those without property and is replaced by the conflict between directors and executants in the process of production.'

so, he believed this new contradiction had apparently replaced the old one from pretty early on. i see he also claims it has its roots in working class of technicians, adminstrators and army personnel -- i can see why he thought that coming out of WWII and the application of military style adminstration to capitalist business. still, he overestimates bureaucratic trends...

Is there an online source for that quote? I would like to see that, and haven't read the first issue of SouB before. It does surprise me. So perhaps Castoriadis never really defended Marxism after he split from Trotskyism ... which is what Devrim had claimed, and I'm willing to acknowledge that. (Should point out, though, that I don't think a refusal to defend Marxism means by itself abandonment of communism or of a pro-revolutionary perspective and practice.)

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Devrim
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May 3 2010 06:00
waslax wrote:
Is there an online source for that quote? I would like to see that, and haven't read the first issue of SouB before. It does surprise me. So perhaps Castoriadis never really defended Marxism after he split from Trotskyism ... which is what Devrim had claimed, and I'm willing to acknowledge that.

As much as I would like to win the 'King of Trivia' prizes I hadn't read the first issue of SouB (I don't read French), and I was just making a general statement without specific reference to time.

waslax wrote:
(Should point out, though, that I don't think a refusal to defend Marxism means by itself abandonment of communism or of a pro-revolutionary perspective and practice.)

No, neither do I. My point was just that it puts them in a different current to councillists.

Devrim

Skraeling
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May 3 2010 10:45
waslax wrote:
Skraeling wrote:
icastoriadis in the first issue of socialism or barbarism in 1949 wrote:
castoriadis wrote:
as the traditional forms of property and the bourgeoisie of the classical period are pushed aside by state property and by the bureaucracy, the main conflict within society gradually ceases to be the old one between the owners of wealth and those without property and is replaced by the conflict between directors and executants in the process of production.'

so, he believed this new contradiction had apparently replaced the old one from pretty early on. i see he also claims it has its roots in working class of technicians, adminstrators and army personnel -- i can see why he thought that coming out of WWII and the application of military style adminstration to capitalist business. still, he overestimates bureaucratic trends...

Is there an online source for that quote? I would like to see that, and haven't read the first issue of SouB before. It does surprise me. So perhaps Castoriadis never really defended Marxism after he split from Trotskyism ... which is what Devrim had claimed, and I'm willing to acknowledge that. (Should point out, though, that I don't think a refusal to defend Marxism means by itself abandonment of communism or of a pro-revolutionary perspective and practice.)

from a quick look on the interwebs, the first issue does not appear to be up in english. it is in french, so if you can read french, you are in luck http://soubscan.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/107-46-600.pdf
i typed the quote in from the translation that appears in Castoriadis, Political and Social writings vol 1 1946-55 from the critique of bureaucracy to the positive content of socialism ed. Ames p. 79. the entire article is called 'socialism or barbarism' as you can see above, pp 76-106 for the complete article. if there is demand i could scan it in and OCR it and put it up in the library.

[mirth]to return to the wolfhound/chihuahua dog analogy, yep i know Devrim you weren't being literal. i was just being silly. one further point: if the purpose of the ICC or whoever (as with IIRC the Bordiga versus Pannekoek antagonism pamphlet) is to combine the best of the german/dutch left with the italian one, then the irish wolfhound/chihuahua analogy doesn't really work, i mean those two breeds can't really cross-breed can they? that would be physiologically impossible. better to say something like, i dunno, rottweilers and dobermans, or some breeds that can cross-breed and come up with a superior mongrel maybe? [/mirth]

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Denna
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May 3 2010 10:59

Bordiga and Pannekoek are entirely incompatible.

Discuss.

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Rats
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May 4 2010 03:29
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Bordiga and Pannekoek are entirely incompatible.

I think the ICC pamhplet Communist Organisations & Class Consciousness touches on this. There's alot of 'but once again, the bordigists were being completely mental.' in it.
Of course, i don't think you would really need to argue that they're incompatible, merely that there were significant differences between the two strains of thought. The ICC argues that Bordiga(or maybe just the bordigists) went off the rails into abstraction, and contradicted themselves often.

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Rats
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May 4 2010 03:40
Quote:
For those that didn't get it first time round (bonus points if you did):
"Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement." - WITBD, Lenin.

I was thinking lenin - but then i thought, if he meant lenin he would have remembered him, as lenin is a rather unforgetable character.

Do i still get bonus points?

Ella
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May 4 2010 03:43

On the one hand you have a current which rejects the role of parties in a revolution, even argues that they are a hindrance to it, tools to control workers. That revolution isn't a party affair.

On the other hand you have Bordiga whom wrote that "The Theses on the Role of the Communist Party in the Proletarian Revolution approved by the Second Congress of the Communist International are genuinely and deeply rooted in the Marxist doctrine." That Theses being “The Communist International rejects most decisively the view that the proletariat can carry out its revolution without having an independent political party. Every class struggle is a political struggle. The aim of this struggle, which inevitably turns into civil war, is the conquest of political power. Political power can only be seized, organised and led by a political party, and in no other way.

These appear incompatible.

Ella
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May 4 2010 03:52
N. Rossi wrote:
Gabs wrote:
Quote:
What was that line from that dead Russian guy about revolutionary theory and revolutionary practice?

Bit vague mate! :)

In retrospect it is quite vague isn't it. I suppose it would also help if I got the quote right. Haha.

For those that didn't get it first time round (bonus points if you did):
"Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement." - WITBD, Lenin.

Nic.

And did you ever read what he wrote after it? "This idea cannot be insisted upon too strongly at a time when the fashionable preaching of opportunism goes hand in hand with an infatuation for the narrowest forms of practical activity."

Anyway, yah Lenin wrote that without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. Marsella writes that without a movement revolutionary theory is redundant (more importantly, theory isn't unchanging or absent from circumstances).

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Alf
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May 4 2010 08:44

I dont think the Italian and Dutch/German left can be reduced either to the personalities of Bordiga and Pannekoek, or even to unchanging views of the party: the Pannekeok of the early 1920s was, like the KAPD, definitely in favour of a party, but was already moving to the view that its role was not to take power. If you look at the way the two currents evolved in the 30s and 40s, there were of course major differences,but there was also a real process of synthesis going on. For example: the German/Dutch left were pretty clear on the unions from the time of the revolutionary wave. It took the Italian left longer to come to similar conclusions, but they had a more solid framework for understanding why they had become ogans of capital. Similar process with the national question. On the party, the Italian left in this period moved steadily away from the idea of the party taking power, while some parts of the Dutch left - eg the Spartacusbond after the war - returned to the idea that a communist party was needed. Bordiga himself was often left out of these developments during his period of enforced non-actvity during a large part of the fascist period. When he returned to activity at the end of the war he frequently took up many of the positions that he had defended in the early 20s, which by then constituted a regression.

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Rats
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May 5 2010 03:22
Quote:
These appear incompatible.

Indeed. That clears it up, now i dont have to bother reading them.

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waslax
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May 5 2010 09:30
Alf wrote:
I dont think the Italian and Dutch/German left can be reduced either to the personalities of Bordiga and Pannekoek, or even to unchanging views of the party: the Pannekeok of the early 1920s was, like the KAPD, definitely in favour of a party, but was already moving to the view that its role was not to take power. If you look at the way the two currents evolved in the 30s and 40s, there were of course major differences,but there was also a real process of synthesis going on. For example: the German/Dutch left were pretty clear on the unions from the time of the revolutionary wave. It took the Italian left longer to come to similar conclusions, but they had a more solid framework for understanding why they had become ogans of capital. Similar process with the national question. On the party, the Italian left in this period moved steadily away from the idea of the party taking power, while some parts of the Dutch left - eg the Spartacusbond after the war - returned to the idea that a communist party was needed. Bordiga himself was often left out of these developments during his period of enforced non-actvity during a large part of the fascist period. When he returned to activity at the end of the war he frequently took up many of the positions that he had defended in the early 20s, which by then constituted a regression.

Definitely, people need to remember that the Italian left was not just Bordiga (especially between '27 and '45), and the German-Dutch left was not just Pannekoek or him and Gorter. And very important point that both of these currents changed over time, while many people speak of them as though they remained frozen at a chosen point in history.

ernie
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May 10 2010 19:55

The same applies to the 'Bolsheviks'. There was not one solid homogeneous party, well until Stalin crushed the proletarian life out of the party, but a living political organisation animated by a constant discussion and political struggle over what orientations to follow, united around a common programme. Or in the case of the later stages of the struggle against degeneration the defense and development of the original programe faced with its destruction by opportunism. The degeneration of the Communist Party was the slow process of the strangulation of this living breath of the party.

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Rats
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May 17 2010 04:45

THIS song is somehow about left communists??
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyLnD_dp4k0

ps: THE PANTS

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Steven.
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May 17 2010 11:40
N. Rossi wrote:
Devrim wrote:
Nic, are you going to have a website?

Well, yes, I think we agree that a website is really a neccessity now adays. What form this will take is less certain though.

We are trying to set up a google group at the moment that will allow us to communicate with one another and will be a medium we can conduct discussion outside of face-to-face meetings.

We have discussed the possibility of approaching Libcom for a subforum like various other groups have where we can post reports, minutes, etc.

I have also suggested having a stand alone blog/website just for the sake of having one.

What do you think about this?

Nic.

hi, you would be very welcome to have a sub forum here - we would encourage it even to make it easier for people around the world to observe and contribute to these discussions.

Anything which you write collectively you would be welcome to post in the library - which would put the content in a tag which would appear much like a blog, for example here is the Anarchist Federation's tag:
http://libcom.org/tags/anarchist-federation

soyonstout
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May 28 2010 00:09

I think this is a tremendously positive development. I'd be very interested to know how it goes. Also just curious--how did you find each other (in the US i only know the ICC sympathizers who've been to public meetings and Days of Discussion, and we're mostly very far apart geographically with only 1 person in each city with one exception)

-soyons tout

N. Rossi
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May 28 2010 03:52

Thanks for the kind words, soyons tout.

Regarding how we found one another, its depends. I think most of us found each other through the internet, both in the past on revleft/libcom aswell as just recently since we issued the appeal. Others were through political activity in the past and extended networks of contacts, for example contacts of the ICC in Australia. Still others were simply a matter of coincidence. For example, whilst Fabius was a sympathiser of ICC in years past when living in Britain and Portugal/Spain, he fell out of contact. We only got in touch after a young Spart woman who was selling their rag on the campus he worked at got talking to him and told him about myself, having attended one of their meetings the week before. You can be lucky sometimes!

Nic.