Oh sh*t! Just realized Friends of Durruti proposed a Semi-State!

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Jul 19 2013 00:22
Oh sh*t! Just realized Friends of Durruti proposed a Semi-State!

Oh shit... just dawned on me that the Friends of Durruti's proposal for a military council* was a proposal for a semi-state. I'm a little freaked out!

(* If anyone wants to participate in this thread but doesn't know the history behind this situation, just ask in a post or PM and I'll explain. But for now I'll just assume people know what I'm talking about.)

Trotskyists like to claim that the Friends of Durruti's proposal was for a state, and was thus a break with anarchism. Anarchists make the defense that the proposal was not for a state, but for a federalist council of mandated delegates operating as a participatory democracy.

I used to take this typical anarchist view, but just now (literally, a few minutes ago) it occurred to me this is incorrect. Here's why:

- The role of the proposed military council was to plan the war strategy against the fascists and the popular front government.
- War strategy plans must be kept hush-hush, because if those you're at war with find out your plans, that puts you at a severe disadvantage.
- This means there's no way to have open discussion and debate from the grassroots level in the assemblies of workers and peasants, in order to provide the elected delegates with a mandate. In other words, participatory democracy for deciding war strategy is out of the question.
- Therefore, the representatives (not delegates) on the military council would have to operate the way state politicians do -- making decisions based on their own views, rather than the views mandated by those who elected them.
- They could be recalled by their base, but this is not the same as participatory democracy.

I still think Trotskyists are wrong about this being a state. It's only a semi-state. A state undemocratically monopolizes control not just over the military, but also
- Legislation
- Regulation and enforcement of legislation
- Service provision
- The public goods sector of the economy
- (In fake-socialist / state-capitalist countries) The whole economy

So it's not a state, but due to its pseudo-democratic character, it's still a semi-state. This kind of freaks me out, but I don't see any alternative.

In that case, what can be done to best ensure this semi-state remains as accountable to the non-state federation of revolutionary organizations (the workers councils, community assemblies, etc.)? How can we best ensure this semi-state does not transform into a full-blown state?

Or, is there in fact a viable alternative to the semi-state that I'm not seeing?

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Jul 19 2013 00:34

things i am thinking over right now (though not expecting others to answer unless they feel like it):
*** what does this mean for anarchists to be advocating a semi-state?
*** does this contradict anarchism? if not, why not?
*** is anarchism an ideal that should be aspired to and implemented to the maximum extent practical, but compromised on when necessary?
*** how to deal with the dangers of saying yes to the above question ? and how to deal with the dangers of saying no to the above question?

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Jul 19 2013 00:58

are the militias voluntary, and, can they elect their officers?

i think there is always a big danger of the army imposing its will on others as they hold so much power, this applies to the individual soldiers too.
theres not much we can do about that, apart from hopefully the war finishes quickly before the army begins to detach itself from the community

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Jul 19 2013 01:50

yes, the militias must remain voluntary and with officers elected by soldiers.

you bring up an important point, as this limits the control of the militias by the military council. in a regular state, military officers are chosen by their superiors. in anarchist militias, officers are chosen (and recallable) by their soldiers, not the council.

another limit to the power of the military council, and the militias themselves, is that (ideally) the revolutionary workers and peasants who are NOT in the militias are also armed.

all this adds greater emphasis to the seminess of the semi-state.

part of the mandate of this council should be that it can't mess with the voluntary and democratic nature of the militias. it can have a constitution making this explicit.

those elected to the council must also be recallable and have term limits.

all this helps, but doesn't make me fully comfortable with the semi-state. but like i said, i don't see a viable alternative. would be happy to hear of one if anyone has any ideas...

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Jul 19 2013 02:16

You lie!

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Jul 19 2013 02:17

I'll try to respond to this later, perhaps tommorrow morning.

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Jul 19 2013 02:18

Post #5 is a joke btw.

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Jul 19 2013 04:09
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
Post #5 is a joke btw.

Those sort of jokes often fall flat when written on the Internet. They depend on readers knowing the appropriate context - and a large majority of them won't.

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Jul 19 2013 04:20

This all boils down to you think there should be a tight security culture, and that the rank and file of the militias would be kept from this knowledge. Is this really necessarily so? Did the Friends of Durruti anywhere advocate that? If so I'd like to see.

Honestly if the council of delegates and officers are instantly recallable then I don't see what the problem is. Their mandate on activity would be decided by the whole of the militias, perhaps that would include a security culture, but having secrets does not equate to these delegates and officers being representatives. I mean Makhno's army also had secret agencies. But yeah I just don't understand how mandating a security culture means that things will be non-participatory.

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Jul 19 2013 11:23
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Trotskyists like to claim that the Friends of Durruti's proposal was for a state, and was thus a break with anarchism.

Yeah, I think this is more due to a misunderstanding of anarchism than anything else.

Ultimately at the margin orthodox Trotskyist claims about the Spanish civil war are pretty much indistinguishable from anarchist claims. (Pretty much everyone says the the FoD were right.) I don't really think that's a problem for us.

The problem is one for the Trots. But actually Trotsky on Spain poses a number of problems for Trotskyist. The first problem for the Trots is that most Trots today aren't orthdox Trots. When they discuss the Spanish Civil War they don't take the side of Grandizo Munis and the Seccion Bolshevik-Leninista, they take the side of the CP or the International Brigade (i.e. the CP) or at best they take the side of the POUM. None of whom were Trotskyist and all of whom were opposed, to varying degrees, by Trotsky. The second problem is that there is a massive difference between what Trotsky advocated during the Spanish Revolution and Civil War (little of which can be faulted) and what Trotsky actually did during the Russian Revolution and Civil War. The third problem is that there is little connection between what Trotsky said about the Spanish Civil War and how the Trotskyist movement has conducted itself for the last 60 years.

The point is that Trotsky on the Spanish Civil War is a break from Trotskyism. The FoD was not a break from anarchism.

(Ok it was a bit of a break from anarchism. But it was still definitely anarchist. Maybe better to say an innovation within the anarchist movement.)

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Jul 20 2013 13:30

First things first, I'm not an expert on the Spanish Revolution. So from my perspective, all of those claims made by the OP may or may not have been true. It would be nice to see what sources you are using to put together your thoughts.

Second, I think klas batalo is right.

klas batalo wrote:
Honestly if the council of delegates and officers are instantly recallable then I don't see what the problem is. Their mandate on activity would be decided by the whole of the militias, perhaps that would include a security culture, but having secrets does not equate to these delegates and officers being representatives. I mean Makhno's army also had secret agencies. But yeah I just don't understand how mandating a security culture means that things will be non-participatory.

The elected-and-recallable military council is performing a very specific function in that case: which is to defend and protect the revolution made by the Spanish workers and peasants. That's their mandate. Maybe the rank-and-file allowed for some leeway. If there's any disagreement, please feel free to respond. I just don't think an organization in which every single decision is not made by the rank-and-file constitutes a state.

Third, I think we need to go back a bit, and remember what exactly is a state. A state is an institution that arises out of class divisions for the specific purpose of defending those class divisions. The military council I suppose is directly tied to the class-based workers' movement. Perhaps, its not up to the exact nature of the anarchist form. But that doesn't make it a "state".

Perhaps, you might even have a minority within that institution that might conspire to resurrect a state and class society in general because they think they have a monopoly on the means of violence. But they didn't. I think ultraviolet herself said the population is armed as well.

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Jul 19 2013 17:17

Yeah, I would agree with the posters above.

In my view it doesn't constitute a "state" as it is still a mandated and recordable body which has no authority to give orders as such as the anarchist militia were voluntary with elected and recordable officers, and the population at large was armed as well, so it was not the sole legitimate exercise of violence in the society either.

As pointed out, the Makhnovists didn't submit all of their tactical military plans to a mass vote either, they are secretive by their nature.

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Jul 19 2013 22:47

well, they did propose a way for "legislation" to be made, but that would have been via worker congresses I think. they also proposed popular tribunals, i.e. courts. governance in this sense doesn't amount to a state. A state has to be the kind of structure that can act to defend & protect a dominating, exploiting class, and is thus insulated from effective control of the producers. if the revolutionary committee, which coordinates/oversees the popular mililtia, is accountable to the base via elections, conferences of delegates etc, and has no power over workers, has no economic managerial apparatus at its disposal, then it's hard to see how this is a state. It can't even command its own resources without the agreement of the worker organizations which provide the resources to keep the military in the field. even if they had proposed to use conscription (which actually was being considered by members of CNT militia late 1936) I don't think it would have been a state.

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Jul 20 2013 13:44

So while in most cases, you would see existing states resurrecting class society, particularly capitalism, because they depend on such divisions for their power and survival, or class society in general resulting in a state, it is still conceivable that an organized movement can become a state in the making. They would have to re-create class divisions by seizing substantial amounts of economic power to subordinate the mass of people to work for them. To do this, say from the starting point of a political party, doesn't just require an authoritarian form, but a criminal and manipulative mentality. It also requires a lot of luck, because it would be certainly hard to seize so much political and economic power, especially when people are certainly going to be much resistant.

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Jul 20 2013 18:35
georgestapleton wrote:
Quote:
Trotskyists like to claim that the Friends of Durruti's proposal was for a state, and was thus a break with anarchism.

The problem is one for the Trots. But actually Trotsky on Spain poses a number of problems for Trotskyist. The first problem for the Trots is that most Trots today aren't orthdox Trots. When they discuss the Spanish Civil War they don't take the side of Grandizo Munis and the Seccion Bolshevik-Leninista, they take the side of the CP or the International Brigade (i.e. the CP) or at best they take the side of the POUM.

unlikely, that their are any contemporary Trotskyists or other Left Oppositionists (or remnants of London Bureau or Brandlerite orgs and even some left Eurocommunists like the late Fernando Claudin) who take the side of the CP, they all see the CPs' and the SU's policy as the main reason of the failure of the revolution in Spain (and France) and do not forget their martyrs of that period, siding with the 1936/37 PCE/PSUC would mean siding with murderers of comrades; orthodox believers of the true gospel would literally follow e.g. Trotsky, Morrow or Bortenstein, among the less orthodox ones, you will find a wider variety of historical reference point and generally a more positive appreciation of the POUM, great respect for Anarchists like Bernieri and sometimes also opinions that Largo Caballero or Luis Araquistáin were personally decent fellows

btw.: the Swiss Mandelites reprinted during the 1970ies a pamphlet from 1937 or 1938 by Paul Thalmann about Spain when he still was a relatively orthodox Trotskyist but asked him to write a new introduction in which he basically totally rejects Leninism

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Jul 20 2013 22:28
georgestapleton wrote:
The first problem for the Trots is that most Trots today aren't orthdox Trots. When they discuss the Spanish Civil War they don't take the side of Grandizo Munis and the Seccion Bolshevik-Leninista, they take the side of the CP or the International Brigade (i.e. the CP) or at best they take the side of the POUM. None of whom were Trotskyist and all of whom were opposed, to varying degrees, by Trotsky.

personally i've never come across a single trot that supports the CPs role in the Spanish Civil War... tbh i've found that most tend to have read and got their knowledge of it from orwell.

Quote:
The second problem is that there is a massive difference between what Trotsky advocated during the Spanish Revolution and Civil War (little of which can be faulted) and what Trotsky actually did during the Russian Revolution and Civil War. The third problem is that there is little connection between what Trotsky said about the Spanish Civil War and how the Trotskyist movement has conducted itself for the last 60 years.

this. trotsky's turn after his ousting is pretty drastic. its just a shame it wasn't more drastic, because he was always bound to end up with large amounts of influence due to his celebrity status, whilst other communists who'd made more drastic breaks got more or less ignored.

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Jul 21 2013 07:16
Quote:
personally i've never come across a single trot that supports the CPs role in the Spanish Civil War... tbh i've found that most tend to have read and got their knowledge of it from orwell.

Just on this, the only time I really got into a discussion with a Trot on the Spanish Civil War I was told that anarchists sabotaged the war effort and that the Friends of Durruti later broke with anarchism to become a Trotskyist Organisation.

But that Trot was from a pretty obscure UK sect (although their French sister group is apparently the largest Trot organisation in Europe) so, again, take it FWIW.

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Jul 21 2013 09:28
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
personally i've never come across a single trot that supports the CPs role in the Spanish Civil War... tbh i've found that most tend to have read and got their knowledge of it from orwell.

Just on this, the only time I really got into a discussion with a Trot on the Spanish Civil War I was told that anarchists sabotaged the war effort and that the Friends of Durruti later broke with anarchism to become a Trotskyist Organisation.

But that Trot was from a pretty obscure UK sect (although their French sister group is apparently the largest Trot organisation in Europe) so, again, take it FWIW.

Lambertists or Lutte Ouvriere?

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Jul 21 2013 09:39
Harrison wrote:
georgestapleton wrote:
The first problem for the Trots is that most Trots today aren't orthdox Trots. When they discuss the Spanish Civil War they don't take the side of Grandizo Munis and the Seccion Bolshevik-Leninista, they take the side of the CP or the International Brigade (i.e. the CP) or at best they take the side of the POUM. None of whom were Trotskyist and all of whom were opposed, to varying degrees, by Trotsky.

personally i've never come across a single trot that supports the CPs role in the Spanish Civil War... tbh i've found that most tend to have read and got their knowledge of it from orwell.

Revolution and the civil war in Spain by Broué/Témime is pretty popular in the Trotskyist scene, but a relatively high number of Trotskyists & Co. who are more deeply interested in the topic have e.g. read Vernon Richards' Lessons Of The Spanish Revolution ... as far as I know, the tiny CP section in Asturias which was due to the war geographically isolated from the main party took a similar position than POUM and the left-wing of the CNT on the question of "war and revolution"

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Jul 21 2013 09:57
Quote:
Lutte Ouvriere

This one

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Jul 21 2013 11:38
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
Lutte Ouvriere

This one

pretty cultish (and definitely hostile towards historical and sociological accuracy) but they were able to build a solid network of contacts in factories all over France which supplies them with superb in-side information from the shop floor which they use for their weekly leaflets

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Jul 21 2013 17:19

entdinglichung is a left dictionary!

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Jul 21 2013 19:53
Entdinglichung wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
Lutte Ouvriere

This one

pretty cultish (and definitely hostile towards historical and sociological accuracy) but they were able to build a solid network of contacts in factories all over France which supplies them with superb in-side information from the shop floor which they use for their weekly leaflets

Yeah, they attempt to do the same thing in the UK, focusing on a few factories in particular. I don't how successful they are, however.

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Jul 21 2013 19:59
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Entdinglichung wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
Lutte Ouvriere

This one

pretty cultish (and definitely hostile towards historical and sociological accuracy) but they were able to build a solid network of contacts in factories all over France which supplies them with superb in-side information from the shop floor which they use for their weekly leaflets

Yeah, they attempt to do the same thing in the UK, focusing on a few factories in particular. I don't how successful they are, however.

not too successful, as far as I know ... I knew a few people from the German clone of the former L'Etincelle/LO-minority who have applied this concept partly successfully in Berlin ... getting loads of information from three different shop floors there but they aren't really successful in building their org with it, the workers like their monthly bulletins but see no reason to join or even collaborate closer with this bunch of boring ex-students

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Jul 21 2013 23:19

well, everything that people have said has helped make me feel somewhat better about this. although i'm still not totally comfortable, but since there's no viable alternative, there's nothing really to be done. and maybe being somewhat uncomfortable with a military council (even while supporting and advocating for it) is a healthy attitude to have. helps us stay vigilant to possible creeping abuses of power.

as an aside, people on this thread keep saying, "i don't think it's a state" and make some good points on why... but remember i never said it was a state, either... i said semi-state, because its authority is limited to the military.

Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
Third, I think we need to go back a bit, and remember what exactly is a state. A state is an institution that arises out of class divisions for the specific purpose of defending those class divisions.

i agree with this... but also think it leaves something out. this might be somewhat untraditional, but i think that class divisions can be economic or political. if some have access to the means of political decision making power, and others don't, then this is a class division - a political ruling class and a political underclass. even if economic class divisions have been abolished, theoretically political class divisions can still exist.

klas batalo wrote:
This all boils down to you think there should be a tight security culture, and that the rank and file of the militias would be kept from this knowledge. Is this really necessarily so? Did the Friends of Durruti anywhere advocate that? If so I'd like to see.

well, i don't think they advocated for it. but i think it's clear that there would have to be tight security culture when it comes to military strategy. it's not that the rank and file in general cannot be trusted with this knowledge. but we don't want our battle plans to be known by our enemies, and it's pretty impossible to keep a secret when millions of people are in on it.

Ablokeimet wrote:
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
Post #5 is a joke btw.

Those sort of jokes often fall flat when written on the Internet. They depend on readers knowing the appropriate context - and a large majority of them won't.

that's a good point! i've certainly been on both sides of that problem. but for what it's worth, i was able to tell agent of the fifth was joking, and it gave me a little smile. smile

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Jul 22 2013 00:34

Hooray, your back! Where have you been? I thought the admins might have banned you for suggesting that we were semi-statists. I got nervous for a minute.

ultraviolet wrote:
as an aside, people on this thread keep saying, "i don't think it's a state" and make some good points on why... but remember i never said it was a state, either... i said semi-state, because its authority is limited to the military.

Well a semi-state seems to be an approximation of a state.

ultraviolet wrote:
i agree with this... but also think it leaves something out. this might be somewhat untraditional, but i think that class divisions can be economic or political. if some have access to the means of political decision making power, and others don't, then this is a class division - a political ruling class and a political underclass. even if economic class divisions have been abolished, theoretically political class divisions can still exist.

I think this calls for Marx's method of abstraction, which I am in no way capable of utilizing in this case. Coincidentally, I'm reading Marx right now. As for your points, I think class divisions are purely economic. You have to be careful when talking about economics and politics. There's really no separation between the two. What's usually called politics, i.e. that political regime within the state that grows out of and is dependent on the economic. To not have economic class divisions, but for some to have "political power" over others doesn't make sense. Unless we are talking in regards to cultural issues.

Now political power does not constitute class power by itself. But then again, I don't know what you mean by it. What purpose would it serve?

And as for the military council, well I can't say unless I know what is meant by political power. It's still not a state. I think your concern is about whether its governed democratically or not. I wouldn't be able to imagine one dimension of the post-capitalist society being authoritarian while everything else, including production, being governed in a libertarian and egalitarian fashion.

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Jul 22 2013 06:15

haha, the counter-revolutionary libcommissars might try to ban me but i will defeat them!

ok, well whether we call it a state or not, the point is that political decision making power can be hoarded by a minority, depriving the majority. we don't have to call this a class division if you don't want, but it's still a Bad Thing.

what purpose would this political power serve for those who wield it? even without economic privileges, they would still have a privileged position of power. they would get to shape innumerable aspects of society in the ways they wanted, without the rest of the population having a say.

the military council wouldn't have such extensive power, but with power over the military, they could conceivably evolve in that direction. but what i think is more likely is the possibility that they might use the military to persecute sections of the population who were not counter-revolutionary but who advocated for points of view they disagreed with. in the spanish revolution, much of the cnt leadership got pissed at friends of durruti for criticizing them and they voted to kick them out of the cnt. (this decision was reversed by the general cnt membership, though.) i bring this example up because a military strategy council might decide that X group of dissidents should be killed or jailed. shitty decisions like this can also be made through participatory democracy, but witch hunts and persecution becomes more likely when military control is centralized... at least i think so.

ok, i know the delegates are recalable, so that provides protection... but what if they decided to abolish the recall rule - with military power, who could stop them? though i guess if that happened the militias themselves would rebel against them - saturated as they would be with the anarchist spirit. (one can hope, anyways.)

well, hearing myself write all this, maybe i really am being too paranoid after all.

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Jul 22 2013 08:20
Harrison wrote:
entdinglichung is a left dictionary!

unfortunately, you can't make a living out of it wink

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Jul 22 2013 10:22
Entdinglichung wrote:
georgestapleton wrote:
Quote:
Trotskyists like to claim that the Friends of Durruti's proposal was for a state, and was thus a break with anarchism.

The problem is one for the Trots. But actually Trotsky on Spain poses a number of problems for Trotskyist. The first problem for the Trots is that most Trots today aren't orthdox Trots. When they discuss the Spanish Civil War they don't take the side of Grandizo Munis and the Seccion Bolshevik-Leninista, they take the side of the CP or the International Brigade (i.e. the CP) or at best they take the side of the POUM.

unlikely, that their are any contemporary Trotskyists or other Left Oppositionists (or remnants of London Bureau or Brandlerite orgs and even some left Eurocommunists like the late Fernando Claudin) who take the side of the CP, they all see the CPs' and the SU's policy as the main reason of the failure of the revolution in Spain (and France) and do not forget their martyrs of that period, siding with the 1936/37 PCE/PSUC would mean siding with murderers of comrades; orthodox believers of the true gospel would literally follow e.g. Trotsky, Morrow or Bortenstein, among the less orthodox ones, you will find a wider variety of historical reference point and generally a more positive appreciation of the POUM, great respect for Anarchists like Bernieri and sometimes also opinions that Largo Caballero or Luis Araquistáin were personally decent fellows

btw.: the Swiss Mandelites reprinted during the 1970ies a pamphlet from 1937 or 1938 by Paul Thalmann about Spain when he still was a relatively orthodox Trotskyist but asked him to write a new introduction in which he basically totally rejects Leninism

Yeah this is right, or rather this is right about people who are established party members. The average SWP/SP member on the ground however is a different matter. Often I meet members who see Spain in terms of Anarchists vs Marxists. The level of historical and theoretical knowledge of the average SWP/SP member can be very, very, very low.

Also, tangentially Workers Fight the UK sister party of Lutte Ouvriere can be found here. To be honest, I kind of like them and their workerism.

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Jul 22 2013 11:04
georgestapleton wrote:
Yeah this is right, or rather this is right about people who are established party members. The average SWP/SP member on the ground however is a different matter. Often I meet members who see Spain in terms of Anarchists vs Marxists. The level of historical and theoretical knowledge of the average SWP/SP member can be very, very, very low.

or even lower ... its "anarchist equivalent" (much rarer) are those, who defend the popular front against the "adventurist elements in the CNT" and "dangerous POUM Leninists" (who are much much more dangerous than the PCE because they are real Leninists)

georgestapleton wrote:
Also, tangentially Workers Fight the UK sister party of Lutte Ouvriere can be found here. To be honest, I kind of like them and their workerism.

they are generally very sincere in the stuff, they do but their way of " culturally assimilating" themselves into the working class is sometimes quite strange and shows, that they got somewhere stuck in 1950ies France (less ridiculous today than up to the 1980ies)

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Jul 22 2013 15:52
Entdinglichung wrote:
or even lower ... its "anarchist equivalent" (much rarer) are those, who defend the popular front against the "adventurist elements in the CNT" and "dangerous POUM Leninists" (who are much much more dangerous than the PCE because they are real Leninists)

I've honestly almost never encountered those.

More common is the "theory of betrayal" by the mysterious "CNT Bureaucrats". A funny/interesting inversion of this is Garcia Oliver's "Wrong Steps : Errors in the Spanish revolution". Where he, the CNT Minister of Justice, makes basically the same argument that the CNT betrayed anarchist politics, but he blames it on the CNT membership whose mandate he had to follow even though he disagreed with it. (Also interesting is the account that Montseny spent the night before she accepted her position as health minister crying, because she was opposed to it.)

The problem here of course is that, as Dolgoff discusses, the question of what alternatives were open to anarchists in July 1936 are not as simple as people like to make out. It was not some simple morality play whereby the chimerical bureaucracy betrayed the rank-and-file/anarchism. There was a choice essentially between either (a) collaborating to form an anti-fascist unity, (b) unilaterally seizing power, (c) taking a principled position of refusing both collaboration and vanguardism and being rapidly defeated by Franco.

While the FoD, Garcia Oliver (after the fact), Trotsky, Morrow, and others unequivocally say option (b) should have been chosen, the more common "anarchist equivalent" is the claim that anarchists should have merely refused to go into government. When the real challenge was not whether to go into government or not, but it was rather whether anarchists should have tried to destroy the republic or not.

Obviously, I'm on the side of destroying the republic. But I'd say this is the silly argument, more of an 'anarchist equivalent', that you hear from anarchists much more often than a direct defense of CNT policy.

Quote:
georgestapleton wrote:
Also, tangentially Workers Fight the UK sister party of Lutte Ouvriere can be found here. To be honest, I kind of like them and their workerism.

they are generally very sincere in the stuff, they do but their way of " culturally assimilating" themselves into the working class is sometimes quite strange and shows, that they got somewhere stuck in 1950ies France (less ridiculous today than up to the 1980ies)

Yeah I've only really personally encountered their English members who seemed pretty normal. But I did think it was funny that they were so 'anti-student' and then the only public meeting I've ever seen them hold was in Bloomsbury, in the Student Union building iirc.