Bordigism and anti-fascism

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Alf
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Mar 1 2012 17:01
Bordigism and anti-fascism

nastyned wrote:

The point that seems to have been missed is that the problem in not actually combating fascism, it's the ideology of anti-fascism that means siding with the one side of the capitalist state against fascism.

To which Ocelot replied:

Thank you. This is the response I was fishing for.
This is a flat-out lie by the Bordgists. In reality it was (and is) the actual practice of fighting fascism that they attacked. The "ideology" argument is secondary, and simply the excuse they come up with when they get pinned in the corner. If you read the ICC's history of the Italian Communist Left, they document how the external Bordigist organisation in France sent delegates to the POUM's Karl Marx barracks to tell the POUM it was their proletarian duty to cease fighting against Franco (imperialist war, dontcha know).
Yes, there was a specific "anti-fascist" ideology that the post-war (and wartime, after Barbarossa) CPs pushed, in favour of the tactics of the Popular Front, "compromiso storico" and the rest, that justified alliances with "the progressive bourgeoisie" to develop the productive forces (Fordist/Keynesian productivity deal, that the operaisti defined themselves again), and so on. As Dauve talks about in Fascism/Antifascism (although he cant help himself throwing in a sickening bit of holocaust revisionism in passing, in homage to his previous maitre-a-penser, doubtless). But none of this is anything to do with the activity of fighting fascists. And yet, mention anti-fascist activity on these forums, and some of the less bright/devious Bordigists will immediately launch into shrill denouncements of the evils of anti-fascism. Nothing to do with the CP, Popular Fronts or productivity deals. Bait and switch, simple as.

Some points in response to ocelot:

1. If by the ‘Bordigists’ (a term which he never defines), ocelot means the Italian communist left, they certainly did not oppose responding to fascism on a class basis. In the early 20s, they were deeply involved in the physical defence of workers’ struggles and political meetings against attacks by the fascists. There’s a video of Bordiga himself talking about this http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/amadeo-bordiga-video-translated-25112010. What the communist left opposed (and which was increasingly advocated by the right wing of the party) was the notion of allying with capitalist democracy against the fascists.
2. For the same reason the Italian Fraction in the 1930s supported the general strike and uprising of the workers of Barcelona in July 1936 against the Francoist putsch. They opposed the subsequent derailment of the workers’ struggle into an anti-fascist front dominated by bourgeois forces (liberal Republicans, Socialists, Stalinists etc) and argued that workers had to break from this front by returning to their own methods of struggle against both camps. This is why they also supported the workers’ uprising against the Republican/Stalinist power in May 1937 and tried to make contact with those anarchists who they saw as defending class positions against the betrayals of the ‘official’ CNT (such as Berneri. I am not sure if they were aware of the Friends of Durruti, but would certainly have seen them in a similar light).
3. In the 90s, in France, there was a big campaign initiated by the likes of Le Monde and supported by Liberation and other leftists, which tried to present Bordiga as the ‘father of negationism ‘ (ie holocaust denial). This was because certain elements in the ‘ultra left milieu’, who had been influenced by Bordiga and who were loosely organised around the publication La Vieille Taupe, had come to the defence of Robert Faurrison’s claims that there were no Nazi gas chambers. I don’t know to what extent Dauve, who was part of this milieu, allowed himself to be involved in this stupidity. But in the articles the ICC wrote at the time (links below) we denounced the whole false amalgam between Bordiga and holocaust denial, which was essentially aimed at discrediting the internationalist position on World War Two by identifying it with crypto-fascism (just as the Stalinists did during the war itself, to the point of murdering comrades of the Internationalist Communist Party in Italy and coming very close to murdering Marc Chirik of the Gauche Communiste de France). Bordiga’s pamphlet Auschwitz, the great alibi, which was singled out as proof of Bordiga’s negationism, was very clear in presenting the extermination of the Jews as a reality. What the left of capital didn’t like was that it argued that this was a product not simply of fascism but of capitalism. When ocelot says Dauve “cant help himself throwing in a sickening bit of holocaust revisionism in passing, in homage to his previous maitre-a-penser, doubtless”, he is lining himself up with this campaign of lies about Bordiga.

Sorry if this is seen as continuing a derailment of the platformism thread. But it’s not at all accidental that the question of anti-fascism should come up in a discussion about why some anarchist currents have been sucked up into the left wing of capital. It was precisely antifascism which drew a number of anarchist currents (such as parts of the CNT in Spain in the 30s and during the second world war) into abandoning internationalism, which is the fundamental dividing line between the proletarian movement and the left wing of capital.

http://en.internationalism.org/wr/197_slanders.htm
http://en.internationalism.org/ir/088_antisacsim_barbarity.html

http://en.internationalism.org/node/3767

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ocelot
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Mar 2 2012 15:54

OK, before I get to Alf's points, let's get the Dauvé thing out of the way. I mentioned, in passing:

Quote:
[...]Dauvé [...] in Fascism/Antifascism (although he cant help himself throwing in a sickening bit of holocaust revisionism in passing, in homage to his previous maitre-a-penser, doubtless).

The sections in question (from the English translation released as Fascism/Anti-Fascism)

Quote:
The horrors of fascism were not the first of their kind, nor were they the last. Nor were they the worst, no matter what anyone says(1). These horrors were no worse than "normal" massacres due to wars, famines, etc. For the proletarians, it was a more systematic version of the terrors experienced in 1832, 1848, 1871, 1919
[...]
1) Public opinion does not condemn Nazism so much for its horrors, because since then other States - in fact the capitalist organisation of the world economy - have proven to be just as destructive of human life, through wars and artificial famines, as the Nazis. Rather Nazism is condemned because it acted deliberately, because it was consciously willed, because it decided to exterminate the Jews. No one is responsible for famines which decimate whole peoples, but the Nazis - they wanted to exterminate. In order to eradicate this absurd moralism, one must have a materialist conception of the concentration camps. They were not the product of a world gone mad. On the contrary, they obeyed normal capitalist logic applied in special circumstances. Both in their origin and in their operation, the camps belonged to the capitalist world...

Now this translation is taken from the original text, "« Bilan » Contre-Révolution en Espagne - Présentation", written in 1979 as an introduction to a book of collected articles from the left communist magazine "Bilan", which is up on the John Grey website here.

The original version goes:

Quote:
Les horreurs du fascisme n'étaient ni les premières, ni les dernières, ni, quoi qu'on en dise, les pires. [1] Elles n'avaient rien à envier aux massacres « normaux » des guerres, famines, etc. Pour les prolétaires, c'était la réédition en plus systématique d'autres terreurs vécues en 1832, 1848, 1871, 1919, ...
[...]
[1] Cf. Auschwitz ou le grand alibi, texte de Programme Communiste, reproduit en supplément au ri, 5 du Mouvement Communiste, octobre 1973. L'opinion publique ne reproche pas tant au nazisme son horreur, car depuis les autres Etats et simplement l'organisation capitaliste de l'économie mondiale ont fait mourir de faim ou dans des guerres autant d'hommes qu'il en avait lui-même tués ou mis en camp. Elle lui reproche surtout de l'avoir fait exprès, d'avoir été consciemment méchant, d'avoir « décidé » d'exterminer les juifs. Personne n'est « responsable » des famines qui déciment des populations, mais les nazis, eux, ont voulu exterminer. Pour extirper ce moralisme et cette absurdité, il importe d'avoir une conception matérialiste des camps de concentration, montrant qu'il ne s'agissait pas d'un monde aberrant ou démentiel, et qu'il obéissait au contraire à la logique capitaliste « normale » appliquée seulement à des circonstances spéciales. Dans leur origine comme dans leur fonctionnement, les camps faisaient partie de l'univers marchand capitaliste. Les ouvrages de P. Rassinier sont utiles à cet égard : cf. entre autres Le mensonge d'Ulysse et Ulysse trahi par les siens. Le mensonge d'Ulysse a été réédité par La Vieille Taupe, 1979.

The bits italicised above, were removed from later versions. The first is the link to Bordiga's "Auschwitz or the great alibi" as on this site in English translation here. Which I will get back to when dealing with Alf's point 3 above, in a subsequent post.

The second bit, is the reference to Pierre Rassinier's "The lie of Ulysses", one of the books in the "negationnist" cannon. Rassinier was a peculiar fish (to say the least), but to cut a long story short by the 1970s, he was the darling of the holocaust denial and revisionnist movement, doing speaking tours in Germany organised by ex-SS officers, and taking Maurice Bardeche (long-time fascist from 1930s onwards) as his publisher.

So, back in the 60s... In 1965 Dauvé originally joins J-F Lyotard's Pouvoir Ouvrier (Workers Power - the Lyotard split from Socialisme ou Barbarie, b. 1963 - d. 1969). In the same year the bookshop/publisher la Veille Taupe (Old Mole) is set up by ex-SouBer Pierre Guillaume and Jacques Baynac. la Veille Taupe is expelled from PO in 1967, but Dauvé later hooks up with them in the aftermath of May '68 (where a number of them are involved in the action committee in university of Paris-III aka Censier). The politics of the group are increasingly influenced by Bordgism and Cammatte. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of 1968, Pierre Guillaume also discovers Paul Rassinier's "Lie of Ulysses" and thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. Baynac falls out with Guillaume in 1969 and buggers off, calling on the rest of the collective to do likewise. Dauvé and François Cerutti (aka François Martin, co-writer of Eclipse...) stick around and Rassinier's books are sold by the bookshop from 1970 onwards. Eventually the bookshop closes in 1972 and Dauvé and Cerutti go on to found the magazine le Mouvement Communiste, etc.

In 1978 Pierre Guillaume opens another bookshop/publishing house under the la Veille Taupe name, which becomes a central holocaust denial publisher, in league with Robert Faurisson etc. as the story is known (including that infamous Chomsky "introduction" scam). In 1980 the Mouvement Communiste group apparently splits over the question of whether to support Faurisson or not. Dauvé is on the "not" side and hooks up with Serge Quaddrupani to form la Banquise (and later le Brise-glace).

During the 1980s Jacques Baynac and a number of other old ultraleftists attack Guillaume and the revisionnist milieu through various publications and media articles.

Time ticks along until 1995 when Dauvé, a professional writer and translator, submits a fiction novel to a publisher that Quaddrupani has put him onto. Said publisher actually has Baynac on board who remembers Dauvé from the 70s and goes, "hang on, he's a bleeding revisionist". Meanwhile in the 1990s the rumbling spat over Guillaume, la Veille Taupe and revisionism is seized on by a certain Didier Daeninckx who likes a good witch hunt and is used by him for another round of the old extreme left = extreme right gag. In response, the anti-fascist magazine collective Reflex (who have contact with Quaddrupani, through the latter's work for No Pasaran) decide to put out a compendium of articles by old and ex-ultraleftists making a stand against revisionism and also defending the ultraleft against the Daeninckx calumny. The book is "Libertaires et "Ultra Gauche" contre le négationnisme." in which Dauvé's contribution is "Bilan et contre bilan", at the John Grey site here. However that later version is edited in one detail. The original version, (still available here [edit: link broken]) says:

Quote:
Auschwitz ou le grand alibi n'est pas un texte complaisant envers le nazisme, c'est seulement un texte borné. Au lecteur de ne pas prendre la partie pour le tout, ni d'oublier qu'il a sous les yeux une polémique contre la vision idéaliste réduisant le racisme à une idéologie pernicieuse réfutable par une propagande humaniste: Programme Communiste tord le bâton dans l'autre sens, vers un économisme réducteur. Une lecture parallèle d'Auschwitz ou le grand alibi et des publications du MRAP en 1960 grossirait d'ailleurs les dossiers des releveurs de perles, tant les textes du MRAP regorgeaient d'omissions et réductions, par exemple sur l'antisémitisme d'Etat... en URSS. [*NOTE* La première phrase de ma préface à Bilan 1936-1939 paru en 1979 chez 10x18 contient une énorme perle de cet acabit. Détachée du contexte, elle prête à confusion. J'y dis que "les horreurs nazies ne sont pas les pires" alors que jamais la barbarie capitaliste n'a atteint de tels sommets.]

[hack trans]
Auschwitz or the great alibi is not a text obliging to Nazism, it is only a limited [blinkered] text. It is for the reader not to take the part for the whole, nor to forget that he has before him a polemic against the idealistic vision reducing racism to a pernicious ideology rebuttable by a humanist propaganda: Program Communist bends the stick in the other direction, toward a reductive economism. A side-by-side reading of Auschwitz or the great alibi and publications of MRAP in 1960 also would swell the records of the hunters of pearls, as the texts of MRAP were full of omissions and discounts, for example on the state anti-Semitism. .. in the USSR. [* NOTE * The first sentence in my preface to Bilan 1936-1939 appeared in 1979 with 10x18 contains a huge pearl of this ilk. Detached from the context, it is confusing. I say "the horrors of Nazism are not the worst" whilst in fact never [before] has capitalist barbarism reached such heights.]

This [*NOTE ...*] is removed from the John Grey version.

So, even Dauvé himself has admitted that there was something pretty damn problematic in his opening statement to the Bilan intro and the (later edited) note.

My position on the line taken in Fascism/Anti-fascism is that it is "revisionist" in the sense that it denies any specificity to genocide and reduces the event to a mere body-count. This is actually a favourite tactic of those on the Right, particularly in Germany, who wish to relativise away the "problem" of the Holocaust, by reducing it to a body count. By reducing the Holocaust to a body count, right-wing revisionnists can then compare the figure to those who died in the famines caused by Stalin and Mao and say that, numerically speaking, National Socialism is a lesser evil than Communism (as they designate it). That is what I mean by revisionist.

I will deal with point 3 of Alf's challenge above, next - relating as it does to the critique of Bordiga's "Auschwitz the great alibi". But in a while, as I have IRL commitments to attend to. I trust no-one's in a rush, as this isn't a real-time issue particularly.

edit: removed the link to the scanned version of the Reflexes text (http://www.vho. [link broken] org/aaargh/fran/arvs/bavarde/GDbilan.html) as on further inspection it appears this is actually a revisionist site. This version does differ from the John Grey version in other sections as well, but without putting my hands on a printed copy of the original Reflexes version, it is not possible to say further.

Spassmaschine
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Mar 3 2012 00:12
ocelot wrote:

So, back in the 60s... In 1965 Dauvé originally joins J-F Lyotard's Pouvoir Ouvrier (Workers Power - the Lyotard split from Socialisme ou Barbarie, b. 1963 - d. 1969). In the same year the bookshop/publisher la Veille Taupe (Old Mole) is set up by ex-SouBer Pierre Guillaume and Jacques Baynac. la Veille Taupe is expelled from PO in 1967, but Dauvé later hooks up with them in the aftermath of May '68 (where a number of them are involved in the action committee in university of Paris-III aka Censier). The politics of the group are increasingly influenced by Bordgism and Cammatte. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of 1968, Pierre Guillaume also discovers Paul Rassinier's "Lie of Ulysses" and thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. Baynac falls out with Guillaume in 1969 and buggers off, calling on the rest of the collective to do likewise. Dauvé and François Cerutti (aka François Martin, co-writer of Eclipse...) stick around and Rassinier's books are sold by the bookshop from 1970 onwards. Eventually the bookshop closes in 1972 and Dauvé and Cerutti go on to found the magazine le Mouvement Communiste, etc.

In 1978 Pierre Guillaume opens another bookshop/publishing house under the la Veille Taupe name, which becomes a central holocaust denial publisher, in league with Robert Faurisson etc. as the story is known (including that infamous Chomsky "introduction" scam). In 1980 the Mouvement Communiste group apparently splits over the question of whether to support Faurisson or not. Dauvé is on the "not" side and hooks up with Serge Quaddrupani to form la Banquise (and later le Brise-glace).

During the 1980s Jacques Baynac and a number of other old ultraleftists attack Guillaume and the revisionnist milieu through various publications and media articles.

Those interested in Dauve, Quaddrupani et al's take on the above could do worse than check out Re-collecting our past from the second issue of La Banquise, particularly the second half, which deals with the above in great detail.

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rat
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Mar 4 2012 14:33

From the other thread...

ocelot wrote:
The Mahknovschina fought against various Ukrainian nationalist, authoritarian and anti-semitic forces, from Skoropadsky's to Petliura's and others besides. Not officially "Fascism" by the book, I grant you

May be proto-fascist?

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Mar 5 2012 12:45

As further preparatory or supplementary materials, looking at Bordiga's "Auschwitz the Big Alibi"...

Documents referred to:

Amadeo Bordiga: Auschwitz the Big Alibi (ABA)
Gilles Dauvé: Bilan et contre-bilan (B&CB)
Pierre Vidal-Naquet: A Paper Eichmann (1980): Anatomy of a Lie (APE)

Vidal-Naquet, somewhat reluctantly taking up the baton of confronting Faurisson’s tissue of lies, starts in a seemingly peculiar place, with a discussion on cannibalism and the modern explanantions for it’s existance:

Quote:
Anthropophagy, or (to use a word generalized from a Carribean term meaning "blood") cannibalism, has provoked in recent years two different - and oppositely symmetrical - interpretive models. The first, which is "materialist" in tendency, has been proposed by Marvin Harris in a book intended quite simply to explain simultaneously "the origins of war, capitalism, the state, and male supremacy." If men eat human flesh, it is, in the last analysis, because they need protein: a perfect example of a totalizing explanation that, in fact, explains nothing at all.[4] How is one to account for the fact, under such conditions, that Aztec society disposed of ample sources of nourishment? And how account for an additional fact: the inhabitants of Mexico, besieged and starved by Cortés's men in 1521, sacrificed their prisoners, and them alone, but without consuming anything other than the bodily parts ritually permitted, none of which prevented them from dying of hunger? As Marshall Sahlins has written: "Clearly the cultural content at issue, this stupendous system of sacrifice is too rich, logically as well as practically, to be explained by the natural need for protein by which Harris proposes to account for it. To accept his view, we have to make some sort of bargain with the ethnographic reality, trading away what we know about it in order to understand it. Or, at the least, it takes a heroic act of utilitarian faith to conclude that this sacrificial system was a way the Aztecs had of getting some meat." Posing the problem of human sacrifice and anthropophagy in terms of econmic rationality and considerations of profit leads to incredible absurdities: the system was in no way profitable, and in fact partook of an economy of wasteful expenditure.

Vidal-Naquet (APE)

If we jump from this seemingly random digression to Bordiga’s, “Auschwitz the Great Alibi” the relevance becomes clearer.

Quote:
[...] German Capitalism was overtaken by a total depression. And it was probably the small and petit-bourgeoisie that suffered most of all, as in all crises which lead to the proletarianisation of the middle classes and to a concentration of capital enabled by the elimination of a proportion of small and medium sized businesses. But in this instance, it was such that the ruined, bankrupted, dispossessed, and liquidated petit- bourgeoisie couldn't even descend into the proletariat, who were themselves affected badly by unemployment (7 million unemployed at the worst point of the crisis); they therefore fell directly into a state of pauperism, condemned to die of starvation when their reserves were gone. It is in reaction to this terrible menace that the petit-bourgeoisies invented anti-Semitism.
[...]
Anti-Semitism originated no more from a Machiavellian plan than from perverse ideas: it resulted directly from the constraints of the economy. The hatred of Jews, far from being the a priori reason for their destruction, represented only the desire to delimit and concentrate the destruction on them.

Bordiga (ABA)

Now we see the relevance of Vidal-Naquet’s discursis on cannibalism. This is clearly a “materialist” explanation along the lines of the “protein-deficiency” model of Marvin Harris (for protein read surplus value). But this is developed further:

Quote:
It was at this point that the economic liquidation commenced: expropriation in all its forms, eviction from the liberal professions, from administration etc. Little by little, Jews were deprived of all means of existence, having to live on any reserve they had managed to save. During the whole of this period up to the latter part of the war, the politics of the Nazis towards the Jews hung on two words: Juden raus! Jews out! Every means was found to ease Jewish emigration. But if the Nazis intended only to throw out the Jews whom they didn't know what to do with, and if the Jews for their part only wanted to leave Germany, nobody else would allow them to enter. And this isn't really so astonishing if one considers that nobody could let them enter: there just weren't any countries capable of absorbing and providing a living to millions of ruined petit-bourgeois, only a tiny fraction had been able to leave, The greater part remained, unfortunately for them and unfortunately for the Nazis. Suspended in mid-air as it were.

"unfortunately"? Here we are going into the idea that intentionality for the genocide is called into question. Now it is simple a case of a surplus population that the nazis would be happy to see emigrate, if only it were possible (NB this was never the intention for the Jews of the East, that Barbarossa would bring under nazi aegis - the intention was for extermination from the outset, emigration was not on the cards).

Quote:
The imperialist war was to aggravate the situation both qualitatively and quantitatively. Quantitatively, because German capital, obliged to reduce the petty-bourgeoisie so as to concentrate European capital in its hands, had extended the liquidation of Jews to the whole of central Europe. [...] Conditions of life were made harder by the war and the Jewish reserves fell; they were condemned to die of starvation before long. In normal times, when it only affects a few, capitalism can leave those people rejected from the production process to perish alone. But in the middle of a war, when it involved millions, this was impossible. Such disorder would have paralysed it. It was therefore necessary for capitalism to organise their death.

Bordiga (ABA)

Again, it was the objective economic forces acting on German capitalism that necessitated the death of the Jews and Gypsies. Nothing personal, just business - “All in the game” as yer man from the Wire might say. (nb This is also the “materialist conception of the concentration camps [...] they obeyed normal capitalist logic [...]” of the 1979 Dauvé, quoted in comment #2 above.). It is also historically incorrect to say that anti-semitism in Germany begins only with the depression of 1929 (or even with the hyperinflation that racked Germany from 1923).

Dauvé, talking of “Auschwitz le grand alibi” later in the 1990s has a somewhat different position (which they had specifically reprinted in Vielle Taupe 1 days):

Quote:
L'article n'est en rien négateur de l'antisémitisme systématique des nazis, qu'il vise au contraire â expliquer, l'attribuant au besoin du capitalisme d'éliminer une partie de la petite bourgeoisie. Vision réductrice : plus que de se débarrasser d'une catégorie sociale en trop, c'est pour réunir l'Allemagne, unifier un Volk, se donner comme universel en excluant, que le nazisme a lancé sa chasse au Juif. Mais en aucun cas, ici, la logique exterminatrice n'est niée. La thèse bordiguiste serait stupide et ignoble si elle faisait d'Hitler et de son parti les jouets quasi-irresponsables de forces aveugles, comme le soutiennent les révisionnistes noyant le poison sous des entités inaccessibles, « innocentes » par définition : la crise, la guerre... A moins de supposer les nazis inconscients, il ressort du texte qu'il se sont faits les agents volontaires d'une politique de « destruction » entamée avant 1933, muée ensuite en extermination.

The article is in no way a negation of the systematic anti-Semitism of the Nazis, that it aims instead to explain, attributing it to capitalism's need to eliminate some of the petty bourgeoisie. A reductionist vision: more than getting rid of a surplus social category, it is to reunite Germany, to unify a Volk, to posit itself as universal by excluding, that the Nazis launched their hunt for Jews. But in any case, here, the exterminationist logic is not denied. The Bordigist thesis would be stupid and despicable if it made of Hitler and his party the quasi-irresponsible toys of blind forces, as argued by the revisionists drowning the poison under inaccessible entities, "innocent" by definition: the crisis, the war ... Unless we assume the Nazis to be unconscious, it comes out of the text that they made themselves voluntary agents of a policy of "destruction" started before 1933, then transformed into extermination.

(B&CB)

I think Dauvé protests a little too much here. Bordiga begins his article specifically by poo-poohing the “bourgeois” notion that the nazi’s subjective intentions have any historical or political significance (as, again, does the 1979 Dauvé in that footnote). (In passing, let us remark on the grand irony in the defenders of this text relying on Bordiga’s lack of subjective intention to promote holocaust revisionism as a defence.). In fact the effect of the piece in toto is very much to leave the reader with the overall impression that the nazis were the “unfortunate” victims of circumstances, rather than their own genocidal impulse.

Later in the text, having examined the causes that pushed the ultraleftists around Guillaume into supporting Faurisson and revisionism or outright denialism, Dauvé nonetheless makes the connection:

Quote:
Une fois lancée, la machine idéologique allait réabsorber les réductions et partialités antérieures et de ces bornes faire son horizon. Malgré ( ou à cause de ) sa visée anti-idéaliste, Auschwitz ou le grand alibi donnait dans le matérialisme étriqué, mais valait au niveau particulier où il se plaçait. Après 79, divers textes ultra-gauches furent publiés sur le sujet, beaucoup plus amples et profonds que celui de 1960, mais contenant pour la plupart à un moment ou un autre l'affirmation réductrice de l'extermination comme sur-exploitation. Ce qui était une erreur dans une polémique devenait intolérable quand l'analyse se devait d'être globale. On aurait dit que la radicalité exigeait de retourner sur sa tête la version officielle : Vous dites que les sadiques nazis avaient l'intention de tuer, eh bien ils n'en avaient pas l'intention, c'est le capital qui a tout fait

Once launched, the ideological machine would reabsorb the previous reductions and biases and from these limits construct its horizon. Despite (or because of) its anti-idealist aim, Auschwitz or the great alibi went for narrow materialism, but had value at the particular level where it placed itslef. After 79, various ultra-left texts were published on the subject, and much more profound than that of 1960, but containing for the most part at one time or another the reductivist affirmation of extermination as over-exploitation. That was a mistake in a controversy become intolerable when the analysis needed to be comprehensive. It seemed that the radicalism required to turn on his head the official version: You say the sadistic Nazis had intended to kill, well, they did not intend so, it is capital that has done everything

(B&CB)

In summary there are three principle elements from Bordiga’s text on the holocaust that the revisionist ultraleft make use of. Firstly the marginalisation or de-signification of the nazi intentionality through the emphasis of the “objective” economic imperatives of capitalism. Secondly the relativisation of the deaths of the holocaust with other deaths caused by non-fascist capitalist regimes, again through economist arguments, the reduction to a matter of relative bodycounts. Finally the direction of attention to the instrumentalisation of the holocaust by the defenders of bourgeois democracy as being the most significant aspect of any discourse on this topic.

----

Finally, just as a note for the benefit of any French readers, I include the following link for an article discussing the revisionist tendencies in Dauvé and Quaddrupani’s work in La Banquise (1983 - 1986) for which, in the opinion of the author, the subsequent distancing or partial apologies (in Quaddrupani’s case only - Dauvé, of course, was/is never wrong...) in the Reflexes publication of 1996, is less than complete to the task.

mondialisme.org, “Yves”: A propos des comparaisons absurdes défendues par « La Banquise » sur la question juive et le sionisme
http://www.mondialisme.org/spip.php?article1054

nastyned
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Mar 9 2012 23:02
Alf wrote:
nastyned wrote:

The point that seems to have been missed is that the problem in not actually combating fascism, it's the ideology of anti-fascism that means siding with the one side of the capitalist state against fascism.

To which Ocelot replied:

[i]Thank you. This is the response I was fishing for.
This is a flat-out lie by the Bordgists. In reality it was (and is) the actual practice of fighting fascism that they attacked.

Sorry if I'm missing the point totally here, I've been away for a week and it's late on Friday. But surely it's a material fact that there is a well established capitalist anti-fascism that many on 'the left' buy into now, without bringing Bordiga into it (which I certainly didn't!).

Harrison
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Mar 13 2012 01:24

Was reading an interview of Solidaridad Obrera from 2008 (small anarcho-syndicalist union in Spain, split from CGT which it saw as reformist), they have some info about (present day) Spanish Bordigists and anti-fascism.

link - http://www.alasbarricadas.org/noticias/?q=node/7514

The translation is terrible... if someone who speaks Spanish could do a better job that would be much appreciated.

Machine translation wrote:
A.L.B. Could you tell us a little about the reasons for the expulsion of PCI resulting in SUT that participated in the strike of Cleaning?

S.O. expulsion occurs when a previously 20N that had legalized Solidarity Workers antifascist demonstration, some explosives explode at home of a member of our Union of Messaging. They arrested several militants, they fall under the antiterrorism law and in an emergency conference call off is decided that anti-fascist demonstration. As a result, or as a result, there are a series of meetings that the Trades Union Several controlled by Bordigists (followers of Amadeo Bordiga), intended to change the root Labor Solidarity in social positions, leaving support occupations, etc. insubordination., and is expelled when the three leaders who drag their party and form the SUT.

The break we had with people today is the SUT was mainly due to the way we understand the unions, since they, Marxist Leninists understood as a transmission belt of the party, that is they understand that the party is the brain union struggle and hands, or in other words the game is to command and to obey the union. We are anarchists, and of course for us is an independent union. These things are a constant danger, Marxists need masses who follow them, and a way to get them is to put the union at your service. Since then we do not consent that a militant known to have a party representative positions in the union, or stand for election by the Workers Solidarity trade union.

Although you can not deny anyone entering a union, the problem with this is that at some point the parties tend to surround positions of responsibility and make the union a belt. Currently, this problem could be more CGT than us or CNT.

Original Spanish wrote:
ALB. ¿Podríais contarnos un poco sobre las razones de la expulsión del PCI que daría lugar a SUT que participó en la huelga de Limpieza?

S.O. La expulsión se produce cuando previamente a un 20N en que Solidaridad Obrera había legalizado una manifestación antifascista, estallan unos explosivos en casa de un militante de nuestro Sindicato de Mensajería. Son detenidos varios militantes, se les aplica la ley antiterrorista y en una asamblea urgente se decide desconvocar dicha manifestación antifascista. A raíz , o como consecuencia de esto, se producen una serie de asambleas en que el Sindicato de Oficios Varios, controlado por bordiguistas (seguidores de Amadeo Bordiga), pretende que Solidaridad Obrera cambie de raíz sus posiciones en lo social, dejando de apoyar las ocupaciones, la insumisión etc., y es cuando se expulsa a los tres dirigentes que arrastran a sus partidarios y forman el SUT.

La ruptura que tuvimos con la gente que hoy es el SUT se debió básicamente a la forma de entender el sindicalismo, ya que ellos, marxistas leninistas lo entendían como una correa de transmisión del partido, es decir ellos entienden que el partido es el cerebro de la lucha y el sindicato las manos, o en otras palabras el partido está para mandar y el sindicato para obedecer. Nosotros somos anarcos, y lógicamente para nosotros el sindicato es un organismo autónomo. Este tipo de cosas son un peligro constante, los marxistas necesitan masas que les sigan, y una forma de conseguirlas es poner los sindicatos a su servicio. A partir de entonces nosotros no consentimos que un militante conocido de un partido pueda tener cargos de representación en el sindicato, o presentarse a elecciones sindicales por Solidaridad Obrera.

Aunque no se le puede negar a nadie que entre en un sindicato, el problema que esto plantea es que en determinado momento los partidos tienden a copar puestos de responsabilidad y a hacer del sindicato una correa de transmisión. Actualmente este problema podría darse más en CGT que en nosotros o en CNT.

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Mar 27 2012 09:36
Alf wrote:
Some points in response to ocelot:

1. If by the ‘Bordigists’ (a term which he never defines), ocelot means the Italian communist left, they certainly did not oppose responding to fascism on a class basis. In the early 20s, they were deeply involved in the physical defence of workers’ struggles and political meetings against attacks by the fascists. There’s a video of Bordiga himself talking about this http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/amadeo-bordiga-video-translated-25112010. What the communist left opposed (and which was increasingly advocated by the right wing of the party) was the notion of allying with capitalist democracy against the fascists.
[...]

Right, I finally got around to viewing that Bordiga video. The problem is, it is not at all clear. He mentions the Arditi del Popolo "of which so much has been said" (or words to that effect, iirc) without really saying what was said and what he thinks of it. His own opinion on the Arditi he does not share in this clip, but perhaps that he then segues directly into a discussion about not allying forces with the Socialists is to be taken as an indication?

In any case, the historical record is unambiguous. Bordiga was vehemently opposed to any participation in the Arditi - the only viable working class self-defence force for taking on the Fascisti by direct action - by members of the PCd'I. To the extent that he threatened disciplinary action against members who ignored his line and continued to fight, like Giuseppe di Vittorio and many of the Livorno communists (as attested in the KSL Prisoners and Partisans pamphlet).

In fact the PSI had already attacked the Arditi in early July and then signed their famous pacification pact (patto di pacificazione) with the Fascisti in early August. The PSI's decision to impose organisational discipline to pull their members and affiliated trade unionists out of the Arditi was mirrored exactly by Bordiga. PCd'I officially declared that this was because of non-communists in their ranks, but effectively they were making common cause with the legalist quietism of the PSI pact. Justifying tactical unity with the Socialists in the name of not confusing yourself with the Socialists is cute, but contemptible. So the Arditi were left with the anarchists, the USI a handfull of republicans and those Socialists and Communists willing to ignore the threats of expulsion or other discipline from their party leaderships.

Clearly here we have Bordiga using the discourse of a principled opposition to United Frontism, to actually condemn, not bourgeois antifascist unity with social-democracy, but direct action, self-defence based proletarian anti-fascism. And not only that, but in a completely opportunistic tactical alliance with the PSI, whose line they were supposedly attacking. Once again, as in the U-turn on standing in elections, Bordiga's skill or chutzpah in making an unprincipled reversal in political direction appear as the most "intransigent" adhesion to eternal unchangeable principles has to be admired for it's Machiavellian vertú.

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Mar 28 2012 14:57

Bordiga's version of materialism is open to the criticism, which Dauve makes, of being reductionist. I also think Bordiga underestimates the irrationality of capitalism (and thus of its ideological productions) in its epoch of decline. But to look at the material forces driving the Nazis towards the policy of extermination does not equate to denying that the extermination took place, and that is the basic lie of the anti-negationist campaign in France in which Vidal Naquet was a leading figure. Bordiga's essential thesis is that the Holocaust cannot be put down to the Nazis alone, that it was indeed a product of capitalism, and that the allies also bore responsibility for the massacre because they deliberately decided to close the door of escape to the Jews of Europe. Bordiga is arguing from the internationalist starting point that the second world war was an imperialist war and that communists had to oppose both camps. I don't know whether Ocelot agrees with that or not.

There's a response by the Bordigists to a number of the attacks on Bordiga's pamphlet made by Trotskyists and liberals during the anti-negationist campaign:
http://www.sinistra.net/lib/upt/prolac/muua/muuainucaf.html.

Unfortunately it's in French and I am not sure it has ever been translated. But the arguments Ocelot makes are very similar to the ones answered here.

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Mar 29 2012 16:03

Interesting text. I haven't the time (or inclination - Dauvé's Bilan and contre-bilan maybe if I get time) to translate all of it. Bit this bit I thought worth the effort:

Quote:
Annex: And the Gas Chambers?

Valerie Igounet publishes in fact as an appendix to her book [Histoire du négationnisme en France] the full text of an interview with a certain J.C. Pressac whose archives she used. Initially a collaborator with Faurisson, this former negationist [Holocaust denier] became convinced during his research of the error of the latter. He then published a technical book which was hailed by the press as providing, for the first time, irrefutable proof of the existence of gas chambers in Nazi camps. Studying the construction plans of Auschwitz, Pressac concludes however, that their irrefutable homicide transformation was carried out after their construction and commissioning:
"The first results were from two starting points. On the camp's history, the demonstration that the crematoria had been planned as normal sanitation installations, then converted into liquidation centers for "Jews unfit for work", that is to say, women, children and old . (...) The criminal transformation was undertaken in late November 1942. "

Pressac thus establishes that there is no trace of a will to exterminate that would have characterized the Nazi regime from its origins (or even before, since the founding of the Nazi Party), since the "homicidal gas chambers" once they existed (the date of their putting into service varied depending on the camps) were the result of an alteration of earlier installations, scheduled for another use (disinfection). He also revises downward the estimates of the actual number of victims in concentration camps and he argues that
"The emotional multiplier [previous estimates relative to the reality] varies from 2 to 7 and is an average of 4 to 5".
Summarizing the conclusions of this work he writes
"As for the massacre of Jews, several fundamental concepts must be fully revised. The figures should be reviewed thoroughly. The term "genocide" is no longer appropriate (...).
We must abandon the concept of a systematic extermination planned from the outset. There was rather a gradual radicalization, imposed by the war itself was exacerbated the violent anti-Semitism of Hitler and his entourage. Measures more coercive, more drastic, were developed and applied to arrive in April 1942 to "mass murder"
"(22).

If that there is not, in some way, the confirmation of the points which have brought upon us the charge of being at the origins of Holocaust denial [in France] (that the massacre of the Jews was not the consequence, planned long in advance, of the bad ideas of the Nazis, but the consequence of the situation which German capitalism found itself), then what is it? And if, for another thing, our opponents accuse us of revising the official history by applying a reductionism Marxism which would pave the way for genocide denial, what should they not say about Pressac?

But it is true that he is not a Marxist, but a conservative bourgeois: his words are perhaps disturbing, they are not dangerous ...

Maybe it's just me, but I found it a peculiar thing to put at the end of a text whose principle aim is defend the writers against the charge of being holocaust revisionists.