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Internationalist Perspective

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Communard
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Mar 28 2008 11:36
Internationalist Perspective

What about this group?
i know they are a split from ICC... BUT i heard they are anti-bolsheviks, councilists, against "decadence theory"... is that true?

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Devrim
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Mar 28 2008 13:02

Check out their website:
http://internationalist-perspective.org/IP/ip-index.html
Devrim

Iron Column
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Mar 29 2008 00:59

They don't seem to be against decadence theory. I really couldn't tell anything else.

Spikymike
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Mar 29 2008 16:25

Don't be put off by their use of left communist language and references to Decadence they have a very different approach to this than the ICC.

Organisationally they are more open to other ideas than the ICC and recognise that despite differences there is a level of common purpose amongst minority pro revolutionaries. See their links page for instance.

booeyschewy
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Mar 29 2008 17:19

i met them once. super nice people. Their paper seems ridiculously anti-organizational though. They made claims that trying to organize anything at all in housing was authoritarian. They also seem to endorse a pretty strict determinism (which helps if you don't feel the need to organize anything). This seems to be the perpetual tragedy of the councilist left, the best economic analyses, but on the question of how to build revolution it becomes a spectator sport. personally i wish i believed it, because then i would just go off and have fun all the time and wait for the dynamics of capital to work it out for me.

mel
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Mar 29 2008 17:51

what's so good about their economics, if i may ask? smile

Communard
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Mar 29 2008 21:05

ok....they sound pretty nice...
what the hell did they do with the ICC bolsheviks? smile

Quote:
i wish i believed it, because then i would just go off and have fun all the time and wait for the dynamics of capital to work it out for me.

you're right, but it's better to be against organization than to organize a counter-revolutionary leninist party...
ok, building a militant communist (anti-bolshevik) organization is even better....but...too much to ask smile

Jean Barrot (aka Gilles Dauvé) opinion on this stuff is quite interesting....

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Mar 29 2008 21:42

The IP folks had been original members of the ICC's US and Belgian sections - in the case of the US IPs, pre-ICC. One had also been in active in the International secretariat in France for decades.I was never quite clear as to why the split ocured. My sense is they objected to the way the ICC was becoming more leninist and returned to their more councilist backgrounds, but I may be wrong here. They've picked up some support in North America from former ICC contacts as well as councilists.

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Alf
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Mar 29 2008 22:52

There were three main political issues
- the last point mentioned by fnbrill: disagreement about what the 'IP' Tendency (initially the 'External Fraction' when they left the ICC) saw as the ICC's lurch towards Leninism and what the ICC saw as a recognition of the need to go beyond the councilist weaknesses which had characterised it since its inception
- disagreement about the notion of opportunism: for the ICC this is a constant element in the workers' movement, for IP it only had any reality in the ascendant period of capitalism
- linked to the above; disagreement about the process and moment of the passage of the Socialist and Communist parties into the capitalist camp.

In the ICC's view, none of these disagreements were sufficient to justify a split. We saw the principal reasons for the split lying in organisational problems and weaknesses. In our view there was a strong element of personal loyalties in the coming together of the Tendency and a rejection of our method of functioning. This came to a head at our congress in 85 when we asked the Tendency whether they were intending to participate as part of the organisation or whether they had already decided to leave. They claimed that the ICC was demanding a 'loyalty oath' and walked out. We made a number of efforts to contact them and told them to come back and argue for their ideas, but they refused, instead insisting that they had been expelled. Whatever view you take of this, it is clear that two very different understandings of what it means to be part of a revolutionary organisation had developed here.

At the beginning the External Fraction saw itself as the Real ICC, defending its platform against its betrayal by the majority, but over the years they have developed more and more disagreements with our platform.I would agree with fnbrill that their evolution has confirmed their initial leanings towards councilism, although I would see this as negative rather than positive of course. They have certainly rejected much of the ICC's interpretation of decadence, but they do by and large still defend a conception of decadence.

Initially a lot of IP's attitude was what we would call 'parasitic' in the sense that much of what it produced was focused on attacking the ICC. We think those origins still weigh heavily on them, although now there is less of a tendency to define themselves 'negatively' in relation to the ICC.

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Mar 29 2008 23:09
booeyschewy wrote:
i met them once. super nice people. Their paper seems ridiculously anti-organizational though. They made claims that trying to organize anything at all in housing was authoritarian. They also seem to endorse a pretty strict determinism (which helps if you don't feel the need to organize anything). This seems to be the perpetual tragedy of the councilist left, the best economic analyses, but on the question of how to build revolution it becomes a spectator sport. personally i wish i believed it, because then i would just go off and have fun all the time and wait for the dynamics of capital to work it out for me.

That might be mostly true but their obit of Cajo Brendel in the last issue was somewhat critical of those tendencies.

baboon
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Mar 31 2008 13:11

The substance of the discussions around IP, the "External Fraction of the ICC" or the "Tendency" as it also called itself, can be read in International Reviews nos. 40 to 45. This "Tendency" left during one of the ICC's Congresses under the pretext that it had beeen excluded, and set up a new group, initially based on exactly the same platform as the ICC (the "Tendency" did admit that their exclusion was "de facto"). In other words, they posed themselves, against the overwhelming majority of the ICC that voted against them and their conditions, as the real defenders of the ICC's positions. It actually constituted itself as a "fraction" (which in the workers' movement means "part of") after it quit the ICC. So it was an "external" "fraction" - an outside that is part of?
The tendency had no positive positions but centrism towards councilism (see their texts in the Reviews), but were rather (vaguely) against those of the ICC.
I was a member of the ICC throughout their time and, over a long period, the ICC encouraged the Tendency to develop its positions, local, terrritorial and international meetings were given over to it, discussions, publications of its positions, translations and rapid distribution all came into effect. They were given every opportunity against the stupid accusations of "monolithism" that it made. Against the "wall of silence" that the tendency also accused the ICC of, there's the days of work and meetings and the texts in the Reviews.
Their political concessions to bankrupt councilism were accompanied by the animation of a circle spirit showing not just a lack of organisation discipline but a certain contempt towards it. The largely underdeveloped political positions of the tendency, as important as they could have (they were secondary really) were in no way themselves a barrier to belonging to the same organisation and defending the same platform. Individualism, the circle spirit and sectarianism underlined their theory and practice.
Even inside the tendency what political coherence there was wasn't shared by all its members and its make up was unclear and heterogeneous. The question for the ICC was the danger of the circle spirit and centrism towards councilism.
The ICC's response was a positive and solid defence of the organisation and its functioning involving everyone. It was also a defence of organisational discipline against those that felt that were too high and mighty for it to apply to them.

Iron Column
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Apr 2 2008 03:12

So they split because they rejected Leninism as completely bourgeois, is that what this is about? Or that they were just an anti-organization branch of the ICC? I'm still not quite clear on their positions, even after reading quite a few articles.

baboon
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Apr 2 2008 11:43

"doing nothing much". The world wide activities of the ICC have been well laid out on these boards - they don't include supporting nationalism, they are an internationalist organisation.
The positions of IP can be read in the above texts.

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Apr 2 2008 12:40

"So they split because they rejected Leninism as completely bourgeois, is that what this is about?"

There was a debate on class consciousness and organisation, in which the ICC made a distinction between 'the consciousness of or in the class' and 'class consciousness'. or, in other words, between the extent of class consciousness at any given moment, and its historical depth. We saw this as a necessary basis for criticising the councilist approach which tends to see only the immediate level of consciousness of the class (particularly as expressed in open struggle), and not the historical dimension which integrates all the lessons of past struggles in a coherent programme, and whose elaboration is the specific task of the organisation of revolutionaries. The future IP saw this as a concession to Lenin's view of consciousness being imported into the class.

But as I said, the 'anti-organisational' elements of this tendency were their defining feature, not their 'theoretical' disagreements.

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Apr 7 2008 03:35

I don't know the history of the split or anything, but I would have to agree about their anti-organizationalism. I was involved in the early stages of trying to form a group to fight against slumlords in Seattle. We invited the one IP member in town to join the discussions on forming a group. We probably invited too many people who turned out to be flaky anarchists, and there were other problems (which the one IP member pointed, and I usually agreed with). Unfortunately the IP person wanted to turn the group into purely a reading group. The IP position seemed to be mainly that organizing anything is inherently class substitutionism, reformism and counter-revolutionary. Trying to initiate any struggle is inherently Leninist, etc... Anyway... you can read a denunciation of us in the latest Internationalist Perspectives smile That particular attempt fell apart not long after the IP person denounced us all as naive leninists and withdrew from the group... but luckily some of the same people have gotten our shit together a bit more and have recently mounted our first successful anti-slumlord campaign... We have another ongoing.

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Apr 7 2008 03:38

-----accidental double post-----

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Apr 7 2008 07:14

Quint, I don't think that what they are saying here is anti-organisational at all. I just read their article about the housing group ( http://www.internationalist-perspective.org/IP/ip-archive/ip_48_housing.html ), and I agreed with the vast majority of it (there were two sentences that I was not in agreement with). I am certainly not anti-organisational.

There is a difference between being against organisations, and against campaigns.

Devrim

mikus
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Apr 8 2008 01:11

Their criticism seems totally ridiculous. Should radicals just wait for the apolitical workers to start campaigns and then encourage them and shove our line down their throats? Why not initiate campaigns? As far as I can tell of the group that IP criticized, they were involved in organizing tenants. There is nothing inherently substitutionist about this. And from what I know about their activities, they seem completely anti-substitutionist. It is a bunch of tenants and workers getting together to support each other to press their demands on landlords. If apolitical workers were doing this most communists would be cheerleading this as an example of spontaneous radical militancy. But when radicals do it it's substitutionist?

They might not be completely anti-organizational, but they do seem to be against any organization whose activity goes beyond putting out propaganda -- and they are in favor of worker's councils, so long as they are formed by apolitical workers in the midst of a spontaneous insurrection.

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Apr 9 2008 00:07

Just to be clear, I didn't mean that their article takes the position that doing anything other than producing propaganda is class substitutionism. I meant that from my interactions with IP people, this is what their political perspective boils down to. To be clear, the first attempt to form a group was quite incoherent, and fell apart largely because of that. A fair portion of the incoherence came from the IP person though. When we argued that we wanted to focus on fighting landlords in Seattle, it was not out of some attempt to "spark" the class... In Seattle rent is very expensive, and if you compare wages to rents it is one of the most expensive cities in the US to live in. The landlords are very well organized and the laws are pretty anti-tenant. Their is one pretty timid advocacy group for tenants. More importantly though, everyone in the group was a renter (except for the IP person who was a homeowner). One of the first campaigns we were planning on doing, was trying to get the security deposit back for one of the people in the group (a local anarchist). The whole thing about us being essentially leninists is ridiculous. There's class struggle going on over housing... (a class struggle in which we're getting beaten up pretty badly). The only way that it would be substituionist for us to start organizing would be if we (mostly anarchists, and me and the IP person who would prefer the term "communist") were no longer workers and tenants because we have read some marx or malatesta or whatever... if only it were that easy to escape from the proletarian condition... but unfortunately knowledge is not power and i still have to get up every weekday at 5am to go to work sad

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Apr 9 2008 07:27
quint wrote:
There's class struggle going on over housing... (a class struggle in which we're getting beaten up pretty badly). The only way that it would be substituionist for us to start organizing would be if we (mostly anarchists, and me and the IP person who would prefer the term "communist") were no longer workers and tenants because we have read some marx or malatesta or whatever...

I don't think that this is what is being suggested. I think that what is being criticised is the notion that by setting up 'campaigns', anarchists can lead the class into struggle. This is called volunteerism. It is being opposed to participating in struggles that actually happen. I agree with this.

I can't comment on IP's activity as I know nothing of it.

Devrim

Mike Harman
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Apr 9 2008 10:47

Well, the article itself doesn't look that bad to me, I didn't find all that much to disagree with in the general analysis there.

However, I also don't associate quint with substitutionism, which made me question the portrayal of the group itself. Having said that, I can easily imagine that quint and the IP guy were the only remotely decent people in it (seems like the IP guy feels that way anyway) and that when you're disappointed with how something turns out, you tend to emphasise the negative aspects of it.

mikus
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Apr 9 2008 15:04
Devrim wrote:
quint wrote:
There's class struggle going on over housing... (a class struggle in which we're getting beaten up pretty badly). The only way that it would be substituionist for us to start organizing would be if we (mostly anarchists, and me and the IP person who would prefer the term "communist") were no longer workers and tenants because we have read some marx or malatesta or whatever...

I don't think that this is what is being suggested. I think that what is being criticised is the notion that by setting up 'campaigns', anarchists can lead the class into struggle. This is called volunteerism. It is being opposed to participating in struggles that actually happen. I agree with this.

So how exactly do you know that the group thought it would lead the whole class into struggle?

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Apr 10 2008 00:58

Again though Devrim, your formulation of volunteerism as " opposed to participating in struggles that actually happen..." begs the question, of how any struggle ever happens? Should "apolitical workers" who start struggle, and then read some Marx and begin calling themselves communists now only support their fellow workers for fear of substituting themselves for the class? I am against substitutionism, but I don't think that initiating any kinds of actions is substitutionist, which seems to be the argument you are making.

IP aside, I guess the broader theoretical issue is whether or not people who call themselves "communists" have a different role from other working class people. I would say no. We don't carry the knowledge that will lift the workers out of their trade-union consciousness nor should we only wait until workers who haven't read Marx start something and then support it out of fear of becoming leaders or activists or something. We should engage in class struggle where we can, and try to clarify our ideas about that... same as anyone.

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Apr 10 2008 08:21

Finally, someone from IP responds to all the rumours swirling around here about us. It is truly amazing how far from the truth many of these rumours are. It is also disappointing how easily they seem to be accepted by people if they aren't strongly combatted. So ....

booeyschewy wrote: "Their paper seems ridiculously anti-organizational though. They made claims that trying to organize anything at all in housing was authoritarian. They also seem to endorse a pretty strict determinism (which helps if you don't feel the need to organize anything). This seems to be the perpetual tragedy of the councilist left ...."

This is very, very confused; and thoroughly false. First, IP does not put out a "paper". IP publishes a magazine or review twice a year. How is it "ridiculously anti-organizational"? What does that even mean? The magazine is well organized, and it is put out by an organization; furthermore, it defends a perspective of workers organizing themselves in general assemblies, strike committees and workers' councils, and of communists organizing themselves in communist organizations. How much less "anti-organizational" is sufficient (or desirable)?

When or where exactly did IP or any member of IP claim that trying to organize anything at all in housing is authoritarian? That is a flat out fabrication. It should be clear to anyone familiar enough with IP to know that we are not anarchists that we would never judge an attempt at organizing a struggle by proles to be "authoritarian". "Authoritarian" is an anarchists' admonition. It is just these sorts of lies that create a poisonous atmosphere of distrust within the pro-revolutionary milieu. What is the point? And it is no defense for booeyschewy to reply that he/she was slightly careless in that formulation. There is a clear difference between carelessness and flat out falsehoods.

What about "a pretty strict determinism"? Where is the evidence for that? In fact IP has recently published a few texts dealing with the question of determinism, and we have taken a clear anti-determinist position. And we are currently in the process of developing our critique of determinism, which will be reflected in forthcoming texts in IP.

"Councilist left"? Where is the evidence for IP's councilism? (And no, I'm not asking for the ICC defenders to trot out their old material which purports to prove how IP is "centralist towards councilism".) IP has many times clearly argued against councilism. The most recent occasion was the obituary for Cajo Brendel (who was an unabashed councilist), which I highly recommend everyone here read. It's on our website, which is linked to in the second post on this thread.

It is this kind of gossip, and that's all that it is, that is so so easy for individuals such as booeyschewy to spread on internet forums such as this one, that needs to be firmly opposed and denounced by all serious pro-revolutionaries.

Although fnbrill's post was overall more accurate than not, it also contained this claim: "One [IP member] had also been in active in the International secretariat in France for decades." The historical record is that the ICC was formed in 1975 and the members who split and formed IP left the ICC in 1985. That means that no one in IP was a member of the ICC for more than 10 years, so it can't possibly be true that one was a member of the ICC's international secretariat "for decades".

Quint wrote: "The IP position seemed to be mainly that organizing anything is inherently class substitutionism, reformism and counter-revolutionary. Trying to initiate any struggle is inherently Leninist, etc." "Counter-revolutionary"? You must be joking here. Of course, you wrote that it "seemed" (to you) that that was IP's position, so you have an out on this. I recommend readers read the IP text rather than accept this gossip. There are no claims about "organizing anything" being "substitutionism", "reformism" or "counter-revolutionary". The claim made in the article, and by the person who wrote it at the meeting she attended, was that this particular organizing effort, and others like it, initiated by people who come together on the basis primarily of their political perspective, is voluntarist. Period.

Mikus wrote: "Should radicals just wait for the apolitical workers to start campaigns and then encourage them and shove our line down their throats? Why not initiate campaigns? As far as I can tell of the group that IP criticized, they were involved in organizing tenants. There is nothing inherently substitutionist about this. And from what I know about their activities, they seem completely anti-substitutionist. It is a bunch of tenants and workers getting together to support each other to press their demands on landlords. If apolitical workers were doing this most communists would be cheerleading this as an example of spontaneous radical militancy. But when radicals do it it's substitutionist?

They might not be completely anti-organizational, but they do seem to be against any organization whose activity goes beyond putting out propaganda -- and they are in favor of worker's councils, so long as they are formed by apolitical workers in the midst of a spontaneous insurrection."

Who is talking about "shov[ing] our line down [apolitical workers'] throats". You are just making stuff up here. What's the point? Straw man arguments are fun, aren't they? And what's with this "apolitical"? The relevant distinction is between communists and proles who aren't communists. The group that IP criticized may have wanted to organize tenants, but they weren't able to. Why is that? Either they were incompetent organizers, or else, as the article in question points out, because the conditions were not ripe for such organizing efforts to take place. That is the essence of voluntarism. Forget about substitutionism. That is not the issue here.

Apparently this needs to stressed here, as a result of all the false gossip being put forward: IP is NOT "against any activity that goes beyond putting out propaganda". You should know that mikus, you were just at a meeting in Oakland which two IP members particpated in with other west coast pro-revolutionaries; that was one small example of an activity that "goes beyond putting out propaganda". Furthermore, IP does not see its primary activity as "putting out propaganda". Our primary activity today is producing and disseminating original theoretical work, in collaboration with others, in an effort to forge a renewed critical Marxism appropriate to the 21st century. However, IP also intervenes in significant working class struggles where possible, to defend a perspective which is not merely a rehashing of left communist positions developed more than 80 years ago. That goes well beyond merely "putting out propaganda".

Quint wrote: "When we argued that we wanted to focus on fighting landlords in Seattle, it was not out of some attempt to "spark" the class." Surely you were trying to "spark" something. Did you want your efforts to remain confined to just yourselves, or did you want them to spread to others in similar circumstances. Why not be honest about this? Maybe not the whole class, but surely you wanted to see something develop on a larger scale amongst the tenants of Seattle.

The most recent post by Quint is focusing more on the real questions up for debate, at least in relation to the IP article. Do communists have no different role from other working class people or not? That is the essence of it. That is what should be debated, at least in relation to the specific article in question.

Devrim, Spikymike and Oliver Twister should be commended for rejecting one or more of the slanders mentioned above.

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Apr 10 2008 22:58

I don't want to get into a long back and forth about IP and this group... that will just get ugly and pointless really quick. I do have to respond to a few things Waslax wrote though. Absolutely, we hoped that our efforts in the group would spread. We were just not very optimistic as to the prospects of this "sparking off" a major working class movement though at the moment. I have actually read a fair amount of IPs papers, and find myself in agreement with a lot of it (with the exception of all that decadence stuff). Which is why I was disappointed to find myself in a group with an IP member who I disagreed with so strongly on practical organizational questions.

But so on to what seems to be the point in question: what is the role of the worker who has read communist literature and calls him or herself a "communist", that is different from the worker who has not? At what point of "politicization" does a worker who is "getting interested in communism" need to cease acting like a "regular worker".

(The reason I have these in quotation marks is because I would rather talk about communism as a historical tendency present in working class struggles, than as (some [very small] subset of) the group of people who call themselves communists.)

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Apr 11 2008 06:46
quint wrote:
But so on to what seems to be the point in question: what is the role of the worker who has read communist literature and calls him or herself a "communist", that is different from the worker who has not? At what point of "politicization" does a worker who is "getting interested in communism" need to cease acting like a "regular worker".

I don't think that this is the real question. I think that the real question on this issue is about the differences between mass organisations, and political organisations. The confusion of which, in my opinion, is something that characterises much of anarchism.

I think that another point that is interesting is about housing struggles. I agree with IP's perspective that "[i]t seems unlikely that a strong movement just around housing could arise in the absence of unrest at the site of production". Many anarchists, however, focus on housing issues. Do they think that there is a possibility of a strong movement around housing arising.

Devrim

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Apr 11 2008 16:42
guydebordisdead wrote:
In 1931 the CNT organised mass rent strikes to allow them to break out of limited struggles with individual employers and make the unions relevant to all social problems. Not so much recently though.

It was at a time when there was widespread workplace struggle though. I see housing struggles as something that can arise in the future, but not in isolation.

Devrim

mikus
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Apr 12 2008 00:16
waslax wrote:
Mikus wrote: "Should radicals just wait for the apolitical workers to start campaigns and then encourage them and shove our line down their throats? Why not initiate campaigns? As far as I can tell of the group that IP criticized, they were involved in organizing tenants. There is nothing inherently substitutionist about this. And from what I know about their activities, they seem completely anti-substitutionist. It is a bunch of tenants and workers getting together to support each other to press their demands on landlords. If apolitical workers were doing this most communists would be cheerleading this as an example of spontaneous radical militancy. But when radicals do it it's substitutionist?

They might not be completely anti-organizational, but they do seem to be against any organization whose activity goes beyond putting out propaganda -- and they are in favor of worker's councils, so long as they are formed by apolitical workers in the midst of a spontaneous insurrection."

Who is talking about "shov[ing] our line down [apolitical workers'] throats". You are just making stuff up here. What's the point? Straw man arguments are fun, aren't they?

Sorry if this is unfair, but this is basically how I see the left communist strategy of "intervention", which in every case I know of, basically involves going to different political gatherings of workers (and frequently non-workers) and giving out leaflets that try to show that the participants are incorrect for one reason or another. I'm not against fliering and producing propaganda, but if that is all the political activity of a group involves it certainly comes off to participants involved that the group/sin question that the communists are some random outsiders with nothing to provide except for some slogans. And I don't think that is a false impression.

The impression I got from Devrim's defense of the article was that you guys agree with this strategy of intervention. (Although he didn't explicitly say that your group was, and perhaps didn't even intend to imply so). If you don't, please clarify what type of organizational work you see as being relevant for communists now, outside of this sort of intervention, and outside of propaganda activities. (Actually the intervention is just a specific form of propaganda activity.)

waslax wrote:
And what's with this "apolitical"? The relevant distinction is between communists and proles who aren't communists.

Every time Leninist (or whatever form of "leftist") proles organize, they are denounced as leftists and so forth. In many accounts of wildcat strikes given by left communists (and those heavily influenced by left communists), Leninist proles are very much looked down upon and there is a good deal of effort put forth to explain away their role in strikes. (I'm specifically thinking of the Dodge Wildcat pamphlet but I don't think it'd be very hard to come up with other examples.) So my assumption, which still seems correct to me, is that the type of worker generally cheerleaded [sic] by left communists is not just any non-communist worker (since left communists don't generally consider Leninists communists, and left communists never cheerlead Leninist workers), but specifically apolitical ones.

quint wrote:
The group that IP criticized may have wanted to organize tenants, but they weren't able to. Why is that? Either they were incompetent organizers, or else, as the article in question points out, because the conditions were not ripe for such organizing efforts to take place. That is the essence of voluntarism.

Why is it so hard to believe that a group of people are incompetent organizers? This seems highly likely. (And the account of the group in the first couple of paragraphs of the article very much points in this direction.)

Sure, "objective conditions" are not ripe for revolution at the moment but so long as wage labor exists, it seems fair to assume that workers can at least push back on the capitalist class, which in some areas isn't happening. It's not like objective conditions have forced us into exactly the situation we're in, and any other situation is impossible. So it seems very reasonable to assume that with better organizers we'd have a somewhat different situation of class struggle. The balance of power between the two classes would be slightly different.

mikus wrote:
Forget about substitutionism. That is not the issue here.

The word "substitutionism" is not used in the IP paper, but this passage makes what seems like an accusation of substitutionism:

"Should [communists] undertake direct action against bad landlords in the hope of scaring them into making concessions, so that small victories demonstrate to the renting population, which is too “backward” to fight unless someone shows them how, the benefits of direct action? To think so, one would have to believe that a determined minority could transfer its will to fight to the masses. It implies a vanguardist confidence in the belief that the masses can be dragged onto the path of revolution, and a corresponding underestimation of the creativity of the class."

So basically any attempt to fight landlords by a militant minority of workers involves substituting that group of workers for the whole class.

mikus wrote:
Apparently this needs to stressed here, as a result of all the false gossip being put forward: IP is NOT "against any activity that goes beyond putting out propaganda". You should know that mikus, you were just at a meeting in Oakland which two IP members particpated in with other west coast pro-revolutionaries; that was one small example of an activity that "goes beyond putting out propaganda".

This actually demonstrates my point quite well. The meeting wasn't organizational in any way. It was a meeting in which various issues were discussed, not an attempt to build any form of organization. (I'm not faulting the meeting for that, but the fact that you guys were at the meeting in no way disproves my claim nor defends you from the charge of anti-organizationalism.) And at the end of the meeting, the one concrete proposal of what to do on a more continuous basis was precisely... to put out propaganda! Again, I'm not faulting the meeting for this, but the fact that you turned up at the meeting doesn't show that you are in favor of organization or activity beyond putting out propaganda.

mikus wrote:
Furthermore, IP does not see its primary activity as "putting out propaganda". Our primary activity today is producing and disseminating original theoretical work, in collaboration with others, in an effort to forge a renewed critical Marxism appropriate to the 21st century. However, IP also intervenes in significant working class struggles where possible, to defend a perspective which is not merely a rehashing of left communist positions developed more than 80 years ago. That goes well beyond merely "putting out propaganda".

No, that's exactly what I meant by putting out propaganda. You "intervene" in struggles, which as far as I know (and again please clarify if I'm wrong), involves giving fliers, pamphlets, and so forth, to people involved in working class struggles. This is what I was referring to at the beginning of my post on this thread.

As far as theoretical development goes, okay, I see your point that that it isn't "propaganda", strictly speaking. (Although it is used to primarily to produce propaganda.) So I'll revise my earlier claim that IP was interested only in propaganda to "IP is interested only in propaganda and theoretical development." Which doesn't affect the rest of my argument in any way.

Mike

Devrim's picture
Devrim
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Apr 12 2008 05:26
mikus wrote:
No, that's exactly what I meant by putting out propaganda. You "intervene" in struggles, which as far as I know (and again please clarify if I'm wrong), involves giving fliers, pamphlets, and so forth, to people involved in working class struggles. This is what I was referring to at the beginning of my post on this thread.

I would include things such as attending picket lines, discussing with workers, arguing in mass meetings, and taking part in the tasks decided upon in those mass meetings as included within intervention. To give an example from my personal experience, arguing in a mass meeting to send out flying pickets to another workplace, and taking part in those flying pickets, and spreading a strike would all be covered by intervention.

mikus wrote:
The word "substitutionism" is not used in the IP paper, but this passage makes what seems like an accusation of substitutionism:

"Should [communists] undertake direct action against bad landlords in the hope of scaring them into making concessions, so that small victories demonstrate to the renting population, which is too “backward” to fight unless someone shows them how, the benefits of direct action? To think so, one would have to believe that a determined minority could transfer its will to fight to the masses. It implies a vanguardist confidence in the belief that the masses can be dragged onto the path of revolution, and a corresponding underestimation of the creativity of the class."

I think this is describing voluntarism, not substitutionalism.

Devrim

Mike Harman
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Apr 13 2008 15:04

David just linked to an article by the Seattle Solidarity Network - some of the same people?

mikus
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Apr 13 2008 18:58
Devrim wrote:
mikus wrote:
No, that's exactly what I meant by putting out propaganda. You "intervene" in struggles, which as far as I know (and again please clarify if I'm wrong), involves giving fliers, pamphlets, and so forth, to people involved in working class struggles. This is what I was referring to at the beginning of my post on this thread.

I would include things such as attending picket lines, discussing with workers, arguing in mass meetings, and taking part in the tasks decided upon in those mass meetings as included within intervention. To give an example from my personal experience, arguing in a mass meeting to send out flying pickets to another workplace, and taking part in those flying pickets, and spreading a strike would all be covered by intervention.

Yet taking part in a small group of communist workers doing flying pickets is voluntarist?

Devrim wrote:
mikus wrote:
The word "substitutionism" is not used in the IP paper, but this passage makes what seems like an accusation of substitutionism:

"Should [communists] undertake direct action against bad landlords in the hope of scaring them into making concessions, so that small victories demonstrate to the renting population, which is too “backward” to fight unless someone shows them how, the benefits of direct action? To think so, one would have to believe that a determined minority could transfer its will to fight to the masses. It implies a vanguardist confidence in the belief that the masses can be dragged onto the path of revolution, and a corresponding underestimation of the creativity of the class."

I think this is describing voluntarism, not substitutionalism.

You're right. I read it wrong originally.