Why are some communists considered to be to the 'left' of others?

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papaspace
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Apr 6 2010 13:53
Why are some communists considered to be to the 'left' of others?

What is it that positions them to the 'left' of other communists?

Why are Leninists, Trotskyists, council communists, and anarchists considered to be located on different places in the spectrum of 'leftism'?

papaspace

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Diagoras
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Apr 6 2010 20:42

It depends on who you ask. If you ask Lenin, he would consider council communists and anarchists to be to his "left," and would mean this as an insult, insinuating that such people are being impractical, idealistic, and ignoring the "realities" of politics. If you ask a council communist or anarchist if they are left of Lenin, they would likely say yes, emphasizing their uncompromising commitment to non-hierarchical modes of social organization, and their rejection of Machiavellian "realpolitik" as a corrupting trap for revolutionary politics.

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waslax
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Apr 7 2010 07:27

papspace

you asked on another thread (under Regions>General) why left communism was called "left" communism. I wrote, on that thread:

Quote:
papaspace wrote:
Quote:
Why is Left Communism called "Left" Communism at all?

If you really are interested in this, you should read Lenin's "Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder". (See the Marxists Internet Archive if you don't have access to a hard copy of it.) At that time (1920), the "socialist" (2nd International) and "communist" (3rd International) movements were generally seen as having factions or "wings", including a left, a right, and a center, similarly to the way mainstream bourgeois politics does. The "right" is/was seen as more "conservative" or "reactionary", and more tied to the staus quo, etc. The "left", on the other hand, was/is seen as more "radical" or "extremist", and more strongly opposed to the status quo. It is/was thus often (including by Lenin, in his pamphlet) criticized for being "utopian", "messianic", "apocalyptic", "purist", etc. Lenin, of course, was arguing from the communist "center", and he held that position then due to the international hegemony of the communist movement held by the Bolshevik Party following the Russian revolution.

Was this not helpful for you? If not, maybe you could be more specific in what it is that you don't understand. One point I could add is that those who are more "to the right" always see themselves as "more practical" and "more realistic", while those to the left are seen as "utopian" "dreamers" who aren't really serious about engaging with the existing reality.

papaspace
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Apr 7 2010 12:05
waslax wrote:
papspace

you asked on another thread (under Regions>General) why left communism was called "left" communism. I wrote, on that thread:
(...)
Was this not helpful for you? If not, maybe you could be more specific in what it is that you don't understand. One point I could add is that those who are more "to the right" always see themselves as "more practical" and "more realistic", while those to the left are seen as "utopian" "dreamers" who aren't really serious about engaging with the existing reality.

It was indeed helpful, however there are still a few things I don't completely get -- why would Lenin declare himself to be to the right of those 'leftists'? Did Lenin and the Leftist mean different things when they used the terms 'right' and 'left'? (ie Lenin used 'left' as a pejorative, while the leftist used it to mean 'radical' and used 'right' as a pejorative).

Another thing, I've heard that Trotskyists are considered to be to the left of Leninists (though I could be mistaken) -- how come? What aspect of their politics makes them more 'radical'?

Thanks for your responses.

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Entdinglichung
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Apr 7 2010 12:12

basic rules:

a.) the "others" are always on the right of your position
b.) when they have positions which are more left-wing than your, they are "leftwing opportunists", which means, that they are not programmatically on the left but in reality also on the right

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Entdinglichung
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Apr 7 2010 12:23
papaspace wrote:

Another thing, I've heard that Trotskyists are considered to be to the left of Leninists (though I could be mistaken) -- how come? What aspect of their politics makes them more 'radical'?

talking of Leninism in the sense of Lenin's "classical" theories: we have the rejection of Lenin's stage theory outlined e.g. in "Two Tactics of Social-Democry in the Democratic Revolution" which calls for a revolutionary dictatorship of workers and peasants (opposed to the Mensheviks' call for a bourgeois democratic government after a revolution against Tsarism) which carries out the tasks of a bourgeois revolution. Trotsky in "Results and Prospects" remarked, that a revolution carried out by the proletariat (with support of the peasantry) would fail, if it would limit itself to the tasks of a bourgeois revolution, it should not wait but advance to a socialist revolution ... in his April theses of 1917, Lenin adopted Trotsky's viewpoint

radicalgraffiti
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Apr 7 2010 12:45

the anarchist federation published this article about why we don't consider our selfs part of the left. http://afed.org.uk/blog/historical/113-anarchist-federation-neither-left-nor-right.html

Gravedigger
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Apr 7 2010 14:00

Left and right of what? They both originate from the same paint pot and consequently seek solutions within the capitalist framework. Which entails accepting the state machinery as a neutral institution, taking sides in war, expressing horror when the working class are being hit hard, applauding when the capitalists are on a roller, mincing words on environmental destruction, enjoy free rides on the greasy pole, experts in conning the workers with mealy mouthed promises, demand we put our trust in political leadership even when they don't trust themselves or each other and making a mockery of democracy.

Is there any clear difference between the left and right wings of capitalism? None whatsoever other than one is called tweedledum and the other is called tweedledee!

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Apr 7 2010 23:44

I agree with Gravedigger: the first question is to establish what class interests a political organisation or current serves. There is certainly a left and right wing within the ruling class. The bourgeoisie has an extreme right – fascism etc – and an extreme left – Maoists, Trotskyists, even certain brands of anarchism – and all sorts of gradients in between.

Perhaps the main question is whether the proletarian movement can also be divided into a right, a centre and a left; or whether these definitions are still as relevant as they were in the past. Certainly in the period 1914-18 this was a life or death question. The terms right, centre and left were part of a tool of analysis (developed mainly by the left…) to identify the reaction to the imperialist war from different tendencies in the workers’ movement, above all within social democracy whose fragile unity was shattered by the war. The right represented that openly opportunist wing of the old Second International who had now directly aligned themselves with the war effort. In that sense – and this was essentially recognised by the left at the time – they had ceased to be the right wing of the workers’ movement and become the left wing of the bourgeoisie.

The centre was made up of all those who tried to hold a middle ground between reactionary and revolutionary positions: the ILP in Britain, Kautsky and the USPD in Germany, etc; inconsistent, hesitant, trying to conciliate with both revolutionaries and traitors, pacifist on the issue of war.

The left – the one that emerged from the social democratic parties - was made up of those groups and tendencies that were clearly internationalist - against the war, and for the revolution: the Spartacists and Bremn left in Germany, Pannekoek and Gorter in Holland, Mclean and Pankhurst in the UK, Bordiga in Italy, Trotsky, Lenin and the Bolsheviks…..

These divisions were also reflected in the anarchist movement: those who betrayed, such as Kroptokin and the CGT; those who continued to defend internationalism, whether from the starting point of anarcho-syndicalism, anarchist communism, or industrial unionism; and, no doubt, a wavering centre who were not very clear about the revolutionary position on imperialist war and how to apply it. Perhaps others can say more about these different trends.

So: at that point, knowing who was on the right or left within the movement was key to knowing who could be relied on, who was really on the side of the revolution. And of course with the revolutionary wave after 1917, the formation of the Communist International, the subsequent defeats and degeneration of the Russian revolution, the previous alignments shifted, and the communist parties themselves gave birth to a right, centre and left. And again it was primarily the left wing – the left communists – who made most extensive use of the concept of opportunism as a way of understanding the degeneration of the International.

The question remains whether these distinctions still have validity today. I think they do, although obviously they cannot be mechanically copied from the past. There was a rather significant debate on this question in the ICC in the 1980s. It was one of the issues that led to the formation of the tendency at the origin of the Internationalist Perspective group. They argued that terms like centrism and opportunism may have been valid in the past but were no longer so in the period of decadence; the majority argued that despite the change in period, these phenomena expressed the weight of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology within the workers’ movement, which is a permanent fact of proletarian life. It was not a disagreement justifying a split, but there were important issues involved nonetheless. International Review 43 published texts both by the minority and the majority on this. They can be found here:
http://en.internationalism.org/node/3146

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Apr 8 2010 00:30

Its interesting that no one as thus far made use of the word science, which I would have argued was the basis of its usage especially by Lenin. Lenin, taking his cue from Engels, believed that Marxism was a science, and therefore ideas evolved essentially from the materialist understanding of class struggle. This meant organisational methods, tactics and stratergy. Thus deviations in tactics had explicitly to be explained in terms of chauvinism, reformism, oppurtunism or entire stratergic political deviations in terms of left and right.

It really is worth going back and reading Lenin's 'Leftwing Communism: An Infantile Disorder' alongside the Pannekoek's, Rhules and Pankhursts he is slating, while in true fashion what Leninists and Trots par excellence do is blinker you into reading only Lenin's account of the problems facing the Communist International.

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Apr 15 2010 13:36

edit: sarky comment removed

Gravedigger
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Apr 11 2010 00:34
Alf wrote:
I agree with Gravedigger: the first question is to establish what class interests a political organisation or current serves. There is certainly a left and right wing within the ruling class. The bourgeoisie has an extreme right – fascism etc – and an extreme left – Maoists, Trotskyists, even certain brands of anarchism – and all sorts of gradients in between.

The question remains whether these distinctions still have validity today. I think they do, although obviously they cannot be mechanically copied from the past. There was a rather significant debate on this question in the ICC in the 1980s. It was one of the issues that led to the formation of the tendency at the origin of the Internationalist Perspective group. They argued that terms like centrism and opportunism may have been valid in the past but were no longer so in the period of decadence; the majority argued that despite the change in period, these phenomena expressed the weight of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology within the workers’ movement, which is a permanent fact of proletarian life. It was not a disagreement justifying a split, but there were important issues involved nonetheless. International Review 43 published texts both by the minority and the majority on this. They can be found here:
http://en.internationalism.org/node/3146

I was under the impression that the ICC consider themselves to be Leninists and as such part of the left. Correct me if I'm wrong but if this is so how can you agree with what I've said in my previous post? Or are you calling the kettle black and using dialectics to justify your position?

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Apr 11 2010 10:08
Quote:
I was under the impression that the ICC consider themselves to be Leninists and as such part of the left. Correct me if I'm wrong

I am not under the impression that the ICC considers itsel to be Leninist, and I am a member. We think that in 1914 when he called to turn the imperialist war into a civil war, and in 1917 when he called for all power to the Soviets, he was a revolutionary. Ultimately he ended up siding with capitalism and the state for example at Kronstadt. We recognise that there were posive things in Lenin's contribution, but also see that things can be learned from his mistakes. We think that 'Leninism' as it exists today is anti-working class, and we don't see ourselves as part of 'the left'
Devrim

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Apr 11 2010 13:55
Devrim wrote:
Quote:
I was under the impression that the ICC consider themselves to be Leninists and as such part of the left. Correct me if I'm wrong

I am not under the impression that the ICC considers itsel to be Leninist, and I am a member. We think that in 1914 when he called to turn the imperialist war into a civil war, and in 1917 when he called for all power to the Soviets, he was a revolutionary. Ultimately he ended up siding with capitalism and the state for example at Kronstadt. We recognise that there were posive things in Lenin's contribution, but also see that things can be learned from his mistakes. We think that 'Leninism' as it exists today is anti-working class, and we don't see ourselves as part of 'the left'
Devrim

OK I'll take your word for it that you do not consider yourselves to be Leninists. Do you consider yourselves to Bolsheviks? You are however vanguardists and has such by definition belong to the left.

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Apr 12 2010 05:52
Quote:
Do you consider yourselves to Bolsheviks?

I'm not sure what this really means. Certainly I have never sat down and thought of myself as a Bolshevik. I think that Bolshevism was a historical tendency, and its a pretty meaningless term today.

Quote:
You are however vanguardists

What do you mean by this? If it means that we believe in a vanguard party, then we are. If it means we believe that party should seize power, then actually we are not.

Quote:
and has such by definition belong to the left.

I suppose it depends how you define the left.

Devrim

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Apr 12 2010 12:08
Devrim wrote:
Quote:
Do you consider yourselves to Bolsheviks?

I'm not sure what this really means. Certainly I have never sat down and thought of myself as a Bolshevik. I think that Bolshevism was a historical tendency, and its a pretty meaningless term today.

Quote:
You are however vanguardists

What do you mean by this? If it means that we believe in a vanguard party, then we are. If it means we believe that party should seize power, then actually we are not.

Quote:
and has such by definition belong to the left.

I suppose it depends how you define the left.

Devrim

Thanks for that. If you are a vanguard party it means you have leaders who set the party line, define the rules or constitution, determine party activity, expel those who dissent, interpret procedures to suit their own agenda, instigate witch hunts, verbally abuse those members who oppose their version of events and are addicted control freaks.

The aim of a vanguard party, by definition, is to treat the workers has grist for the mincer. For the working class are incapable of thinking for themselves and need directions from the vanguard on the nearest cul de sac. Self-emancipation according to the self-appointed vanguard, can only be brought about by 'professional revolutionaries' whose superior knowledge ensures the day to day tactics are correct and strictly followed in a dogmatic fashion. For what is the point of leaders if they have no followers?

Seems that with such a party structure you are most definitely on the left of the capitalist political spectrum.

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Apr 12 2010 15:51
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Thanks for that. If you are a vanguard party

We are not. We are a tiny organisation. It would be absurd to declare ourselves to be a party, let alone the vanguard.

Quote:
it means you have leaders who set the party line, define the rules or constitution, determine party activity, expel those who dissent, interpret procedures to suit their own agenda, instigate witch hunts, verbally abuse those members who oppose their version of events and are addicted control freaks.

We don't. I dissent often and haven't been abused, or expelled. I suppose it depends what you see as a vanguard party.

Quote:
Seems that with such a party structure you are most definitely on the left of the capitalist political spectrum.

It is quite ironic that you are calling us this, considering that this analysis comes from the communist left.

Devrim

posi
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Apr 12 2010 17:08
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Why are some communists considered to be to the 'left' of others?

The term goes back to the Bolshevik advocates of "revolutionary war" in Russia 1917/18, who opposed Brest-Litovsk. This position was held to be a left position because - contrary to what might seem most intuitive now - it was premised on a greater faith in the international working class to refuse to keep on prosecuting war against revolutionary Russia. It was therefore seen by its proponents as the genuinely internationalist position.

The modern left communists are the descendents of this faction, which was also oppositional on alot of other questions. I'd be interested in what modern left comunists think of the 1917 "revolutionary war" policy now....

Oh, and btw, it is totally impossible to work out what modern left communists think about the party, because they are very keen on insisting that it must be "centralised", but very unwilling to explain what that means. In truth, the range probably runs between Pannekoek, Bordiga and the early Marx (e.g. ICG)...

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Apr 12 2010 17:25
Gravedigger wrote:
I was under the impression that the ICC consider themselves to be Leninists and as such part of the left. Correct me if I'm wrong
Devrim wrote:
I am not under the impression that the ICC considers itsel to be Leninist, and I am a member. We think that in 1914 when he called to turn the imperialist war into a civil war, and in 1917 when he called for all power to the Soviets, he was a revolutionary. Ultimately he ended up siding with capitalism and the state for example at Kronstadt. We recognise that there were posive things in Lenin's contribution, but also see that things can be learned from his mistakes. We think that 'Leninism' as it exists today is anti-working class, and we don't see ourselves as part of 'the left'
Devrim
Devrim wrote:
Quote:
Do you consider yourselves to Bolsheviks?

I'm not sure what this really means. Certainly I have never sat down and thought of myself as a Bolshevik. I think that Bolshevism was a historical tendency, and its a pretty meaningless term today.

Quote:
You are however vanguardists

What do you mean by this? If it means that we believe in a vanguard party, then we are. If it means we believe that party should seize power, then actually we are not.

Quote:
and has such by definition belong to the left.

I suppose it depends how you define the left.

Devrim

I find this a bit disingenuous. I considered the ICC a left-wing Leninist grouplet. I still am trying to grasp your politics and your exact split with the Communist International.
So a few questions for whomever cares to answer.

Do you believe methodologically the Bolsheviks ever believed in all power to the soviets? Or even in workers self-management?

Are you stipulating that it was an erroneous policy/policies that brought about state capitalism in Russia?

Whats the premise of a vanguard party?

Do you believe in pluralism in the workers movement, or do you call for the class to be in one organisation?

Do you believe in the agency of political change to be the sole premise of the organised working class over and above other sections?

What's your opinion on the libertarian assessment of ends and means?

How does saying 'If it means we believe that party should seize power' have any divergence from past examples of what the Bolsheviks did?

What if anything as been learned from Bolshevism, and the Russian Revolution?

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Apr 12 2010 22:43

Although I know your questions are directed at the ICC, and I am not a member so I cannot speak for them, I think they're interesting to address.

Quote:
Are you stipulating that it was an erroneous policy/policies that brought about state capitalism in Russia?

I think that certain policy decisions of the post-October Revolution government can be said to have brought about state capitalism; but these policies also have to be taken in the international context in which this government was operating. The revolution occurred in the context of a global revolutionary wave, a wave which was massively and viciously put down in the majority of the industrialized world.

Russia did not exist in a vacuum. The run-up to the revolution was in lock-step with worldwide developments and the defeat of the revolution also followed this tread. The isolation of the revolution led to its defeat. To what extent was this the result of personality defects of its leaders? I am not versed enough to speculate, but with the worldwide revolution defeated I do not think that there was anyway to defend the revolutionary gains from the cannibalistic counter-revolution (most violently expressed with the Stalinist rise to power).

Quote:
Whats the premise of a vanguard party?

I always understood this to be a grouping of the most militant sectors of the proletariat. Its structure is centralized insofar as it formulates action and thought with the interest of the entire class in mind but it does not take or wield power in some sort of substitutionist sense. In other words, the party is not the class--it's an expression of the class.

Quote:
Do you believe in pluralism in the workers movement, or do you call for the class to be in one organisation?

I don't think the party functions as the end-all-be-all of proletarian organizations. It functions in a particular way with a particular platform, there will always be other proletarian organizations fulfilling other functions.

Quote:
Do you believe in the agency of political change to be the sole premise of the organised working class over and above other sections?

The international proletariat is the only revolutionary force in society. I think that some discussion on what precisely constitutes "proletariat" might be useful but for myself I always understood it to be the sector of society that is constrained to prostitute themselves for a wage--this includes more than simply the factory worker, but does not necessarily include sectors such as students.

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Apr 13 2010 06:40
october_lost wrote:
I find this a bit disingenuous. I considered the ICC a left-wing Leninist grouplet. I still am trying to grasp your politics and your exact split with the Communist International.

I am not sure what you find disingenuous.. Is it me saying that we are not Leninists? It is a pretty similar response to that our publications have give to accusations that we are Leninists:

ICC wrote:
In the first part of this article, we answered the accusation that we have become “Leninists”, and that we have changed position on the organisational question. We have shown not only that “Leninism” is opposed to our political principles, but also that it aims to destroy the historic unity of the workers’ movement.

Maybe the people being disingenuous are the ones saying we are Leninists.

october_lost wrote:
Do you believe methodologically the Bolsheviks ever believed in all power to the soviets? Or even in workers self-management?

I am not sure exactly what you mean by methodologically here. Nor am I sure that we can ascribe ideas to the 'Bolsheviks' as if it wasn't a massive party with conflicting tendencies. If you question means do I believe that the vast majority of workers in the Bolshevik party believed in using radical sounding slogans to achieve state power and establish a dictatorship over the proletariat, then no I don't. If it means do I think Lenin did this, no I don't either, but that doesn't mean that the Bolshevik party didn't establish a dictatorship over the proletariat regardless.

october_lost wrote:
Are you stipulating that it was an erroneous policy/policies that brought about state capitalism in Russia?

It is a difficult question to answer in that we can't turn back the clock and run it again with different policies. I think the key to the failure of the revolution is the failure of the world revolution. Without an international revolution, the revolution was doomed to failure even with the best economic policies. If the question is whether the Bolshevik's policies contributed to the specific way that the revolution did die, then of course they did.

october_lost wrote:
Whats the premise of a vanguard party?

It is a big question. Different people have different answers. Maybe this article addresses your concerns:

http://en.internationalism.org/pamphlets/cconc/3_substitutionism

october_lost wrote:
Do you believe in pluralism in the workers movement, or do you call for the class to be in one organisation?

We believe that there will be different organisations. We also believe that communists should work to co-ordinate and centralise their political activity. We don't say that only one party can exist and that al other organisations are anti-working class. Nor would we make the absurd claim that the ICC is the vanguard party. The ICC is for a vanguard party. It doesn't claim to be it, certainly not at the moment.

october_lost wrote:
Do you believe in the agency of political change to be the sole premise of the organised working class over and above other sections?

This one is much easier, yes.

october_lost wrote:
What's your opinion on the libertarian assessment of ends and means?

I am not sure what the 'libertarian assessment of ends and means' is. We believe that they are connected though, and that some 'means' are contradictory to the desired 'end'.

october_lost wrote:
How does saying 'If it means we believe that party should seize power' have any divergence from past examples of what the Bolsheviks did?

Maybe, I didn't express that well. What I was saying was that we don't believe that the party should seize power. Try reading the sentence again with that in mind.

october_lost wrote:
What if anything as been learned from Bolshevism, and the Russian Revolution?

Lots of things, that the party can not substitute itself for the conscious activity of the working class, that violence can not be used to settle disputes within the class...It is again a big question.

Devrim

Gravedigger
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Apr 13 2010 12:03
Devrim wrote:
Quote:
Thanks for that. If you are a vanguard party

Devrim wrote: We are not. We are a tiny organisation. It would be absurd to declare ourselves to be a party, let alone the vanguard.

Reply: Seems you consider yourselves to be a vanguard but not the vanguard party - which despite its inconsistency begs the question: Who on the left do the ICC consider to be the vanguard party?

Quote:
it means you have leaders who set the party line, define the rules or constitution, determine party activity, expel those who dissent, interpret procedures to suit their own agenda, instigate witch hunts, verbally abuse those members who oppose their version of events and are addicted control freaks.

Devrim wrote: We don't. I dissent often and haven't been abused, or expelled.

Reply: Not yet you haven't!

Quote:
Seems that with such a party structure you are most definitely on the left of the capitalist political spectrum.

Devrim wrote: It is quite ironic that you are calling us this, considering that this analysis comes from the communist left.

Devrim

Reply: No irony intended but if the analysis fits wear it. The irony is that the left see themselves has leaders of the workers but have failed grasp the implications of self-emancipation means leaders can get lost! We the working class are quite capable of thinking for ourselves in order to gain a revolutionary and political consciousness.

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Apr 13 2010 18:22

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/96/leninists

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/97/leninists2

Good responses from Devrim and Sheldon. The above articles respond to the charge that we are 'Leninists', by looking at what the term meant historically.

In our view the term 'Leninist' is often used in a very misleading way, precisely because it can obscure a class analysis. There are groups which are 'libertarian' which are actually leftists, like the Anarchist Workers Group which supported Iraq in the 1991 war, and there are 'Leninists' (although they don't really use the term either) such as the descendants of the Italian communist left who are consistently internationalist. We are more critical of Lenin, but in our view there is no doubt that he took up revolutionary positions in 1914 (on the war) and 1917 (on the need for proletarian revolution).

Judging whether a group is part of the capitalist left is more than a discussion about what they mean by 'vanguard'. It is a question about whether they have actually participated in bourgeois wars, supported bourgeois states, etc. It's a question of practice.
In haste...may not be back for a few days.

Gravedigger
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Apr 13 2010 19:08
Alf wrote:
http://en.internationalism.org/ir/96/leninists

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/97/leninists2

Judging whether a group is part of the capitalist left is more than a discussion about what they mean by 'vanguard'. It is a question about whether they have actually participated in bourgeois wars, supported bourgeois states, etc. It's a question of practice.
In haste...may not be back for a few days.

Yes it is a question of practice. Not only in what is done but also in how its done. And in this respect the left wing mirror the political structure of capitalism with a hierarchy of leaders where true democracy is a dead duck. The ICC consider themselves a vanguard organisation which in effect means, whether they like it or not, they are part of the left wing and subsequently have no solutions outside of the capitalist mindset.

mciver
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Apr 14 2010 11:32

Gravedigger takes no prisoners. This is in marked contrast to some who are inclined to accept the myth of the ICC's communist nature. They can't see that groups that claim 'heritage' from the Bolshevik Party, be they Trotskyists or left communists like the ICC, are rackets (using the concept as developed mostly by Camatte and Collu). Regardless of what these rackets preach, their everyday practices reveal them as most definitely part of the existing political spectrum. They don't point to the alternative of an emancipated future.

In 1939 Otto Rühle correctly described the Russian empire that emerged from October 1917 (under the Bolshevik Lenin) as the prototype fascist state. In this sense the Bolsheviks of Lenin were the 'redshirts' or storm troopers of a new anti-proletarian state.

Gravedigger is correct about the ICC:

Quote:
If you are a vanguard party it means you have leaders who set the party line, define the rules or constitution, determine party activity, expel those who dissent, interpret procedures to suit their own agenda, instigate witch hunts, verbally abuse those members who oppose their version of events and are addicted control freaks.

The aim of a vanguard party, by definition, is to treat the workers has grist for the mincer. For the working class are incapable of thinking for themselves and need directions from the vanguard on the nearest cul de sac. Self-emancipation according to the self-appointed vanguard, can only be brought about by 'professional revolutionaries' whose superior knowledge ensures the day to day tactics are correct and strictly followed in a dogmatic fashion. For what is the point of leaders if they have no followers? Seems that with such a party structure you are most definitely on the left of the capitalist political spectrum.

Predictable denials by ICC hacks have followed Gravedigger's analysis. But the evidence confirms that the ICC have always treated their oppositionists and seceders like they will be compelled to treat the working class one day: in a manipulative and violent way (that is, if they ever achieve some real power).

Mark Chirik, the ICC's founding egocrat, used to declare loud and clearly to his chekists: 'I am a Bolshevik'. This seemed like a war cry and a warning to all concerned. The promise was there, as in 1917, -- if workers disobey the Bolshevik Party, then this can only mean petty-bourgeois or 'parasitic' influences. Retaliation and coercion will follow because these workers are now class enemies, not authentic proletarians. The early Bolsheviks' intimidation and crushing of the working class and peasantry from 1917-18 are justified as 'mistakes' by the ICC. As if shooting and terrorising people was something done in virginal innocence, a 'lesson' that mistaken Bolsheviks unfortunately didn't grasp. Or as if 'internationalist credentials' in 1914-17 conferred special dispensations to slaughter and terrorise workers and civil society. The penny dropped years later, in the dulled brains of the Italian Left --- that killing workers wasn't such a neat idea after all. Yes, let's suggest this as a 'class line', a 'big question' like Devrim frets, one open to future referendums. Maybe held inside new Lubyankas?

In the self-serving history of the ICC, the hullabaloo about 'stolen typewriters', 'unreturned internal bulletins', 'unpaid dues' and plots by 'parasites' and 'adventurers' serving world capital consciously or not, was a smokescreen. It was used to terminate debate and justify the expulsion of troublesome people. These campaigns of intimidation via the violent re-appropriation of material, plus theft of hostage goods and slandering individuals, undermined the ICC's claims that violence cannot be used to settle disputes within the class. But as a vanguard of the class, it didn't have to be accountable to anyone, as vanguards of the class know which violence is best for the proletariat and mankind.

Just because an ICC hack in Libcom claims that he dissents often and hasn't been abused or expelled doesn't prove that intimidating and violent actions haven't been used against past oppositionists. Claiming also 'that's before my time' shows how naive or deceitful arrivistes can be when whitewashing their cult.

For example, the 'direct action' carried out by the ICC in 1981 -- Alf's heroic misnomer for chekist gangster raids -- was aimed to physically hurt oppositionists, and it's mendacious to pretend that force wasn't the aim also in recuperating ICC bulletins. How could the bulletins be separated from typewriters or 'unpaid dues'? Could the apparat's bailiffs make the distinction? The 'welcoming of JK's post' by his sidekick Alf, on his fraternal post 12 of February 5, 2010 (The Question of Parasitism Letter... thread), cynically admits that force was essential to recuperate typewriters (and steal one as a bonus!). By whingeing that his house was broken into, he hides that at oppositionists' homes in Manchester, London and Lille, phone lines were cut and torn from walls, and individuals roughed up, even if they didn't resist the thugs set upon them.

A new party line may follow, like: 'OK, we made mistakes, that was in the past, let bygones be bygones, we are all amigos in the 'thin red line', but now we will play fair and smarmy, as we are studying Ethics and Freud'. They may even agree to some psychoanalysis, though therapists trained to cure left communist rackets are rare. They may borrow one from the CWO/ICT, who, compared with ICC zealots, seem to be sectioned in the good-behaviour ward.

Why some 'communists' are considered the 'left' of others is really an esoteric and pointless issue, like asking which racket is healthier for its inmates.

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Sheldon
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Apr 14 2010 03:21
Gravedigger wrote:
Yes it is a question of practice. Not only in what is done but also in how its done. And in this respect the left wing mirror the political structure of capitalism with a hierarchy of leaders where true democracy is a dead duck. The ICC consider themselves a vanguard organisation which in effect means, whether they like it or not, they are part of the left wing and subsequently have no solutions outside of the capitalist mindset.

Could you elaborate on this more? Alf seems to be arguing, sensibly I think, that an organization's structure is not what determines their integration into the capitalist order but rather their involvement in the capitalist order. I can understand how perhaps one influenced by anarchism may find this position jarring, which has always been my understanding of one of the sticking points from the anarchist milieu towards the ICC.

How does one constituting themselves as a vanguard (which I don't know if the ICC actually does in-and-of itself) necessarily place them within the ranks of the enemy? For yourself, do you not think that at any given moment there are more radical and, I daresay, theoretically advanced elements or groupings within the working class. Do these not constitute a vanguard and is it not a point of interest to align these elements together in some form of organization or network?

Gravedigger
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Apr 14 2010 10:02
Sheldon wrote:
Gravedigger wrote:
Yes it is a question of practice. Not only in what is done but also in how its done. And in this respect the left wing mirror the political structure of capitalism with a hierarchy of leaders where true democracy is a dead duck. The ICC consider themselves a vanguard organisation which in effect means, whether they like it or not, they are part of the left wing and subsequently have no solutions outside of the capitalist mindset.

Could you elaborate on this more? Alf seems to be arguing, sensibly I think, that an organization's structure is not what determines their integration into the capitalist order but rather their involvement in the capitalist order. I can understand how perhaps one influenced by anarchism may find this position jarring, which has always been my understanding of one of the sticking points from the anarchist milieu towards the ICC.
How does one constituting themselves as a vanguard (which I don't know if the ICC actually does in-and-of itself) necessarily place them within the ranks of the enemy?

Quote:

I answered this in previous posts. But here goes again: The ICC admit they are a vanguard party/organisation which effectively means they mirror the capitalist political structure and by definition offer no organisational practice which reflects the revolutionary potential of the democratic nature of socialism where the revolutionary watchword is: No leaders required..

Quote:

For yourself, do you not think that at any given moment there are more radical and, I daresay, theoretically advanced elements or groupings within the working class. Do these not constitute a vanguard and is it not a point of interest to align these elements together in some form of organization or network?

They do exist and I'm sure you are quite aware who they are. But nevertheless, ask yourself this: Which organisation has no leaders; where policy and action is decided by the membership has a whole; who declare that the revolutionary process presumes a 'politically conscious working class who have transformed themselves from a class in its self, to a class for its self'; acknowledge that globally the workers themselves and not the party have to democratically plan for a change in the social relationships so the process of revolution harmonise the means and end; recognize that capitalism is not in the interest of the working class and that the state is not a neutral institiution; conclude that despite its drawbacks and the lack of realistic alternatives, engagement in the parliamentary process will provide a ready made measurement of support for the common ownership of the means of production.

I'm sure this is enough for you to go on and I don't have to spell it out who I see, has "at any given moment there are more radical and, I daresay, theoretically advanced elements or groupings within the working class."

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Apr 14 2010 18:19

McIver, you are obviously deeply traumatised by your time in the ICC. I'm genuinely sorry for that. I also think that the ICC must have destroyed or demoralised many people who were involved in it in its time. This is itself is bad enough without even mentioning the damage that people in the ICC did to themselves and the organisation.

McIver wrote:
Just because an ICC hack in Libcom claims that he dissents often and hasn't been abused or expelled doesn't prove that intimidating and violent actions haven't been used against past oppositionists.

No, you are right. It doesn't at all. However, I am commenting on the ICC as it is today, not how it was 30 years ago.

McIver wrote:
Claiming also 'that's before my time' shows how naive or deceitful arrivistes can be when whitewashing their cult.

It was before my time though. I have actually never really commented on any of the events. Yes, I have said things like "I think if somebody steals, your typewriter, it is OK to go round and take it back". The reason that I have never commented on them is that I don't know what actually happened. There are so many different versions of these events, and I suspect all of them have a bit of truth to them, a bit of exaggeration, and even a few lies. I obviously include the ICC version in this. Personally, I have no desire to comment on things that I don't know what happened, so I don't think that it is at all deceitful to say "that's before my time".

McIver wrote:
In the self-serving history of the ICC, the hullabaloo about 'stolen typewriters', 'unreturned internal bulletins', 'unpaid dues' and plots by 'parasites' and 'adventurers' serving world capital consciously or not, was a smokescreen. It was used to terminate debate and justify the expulsion of troublesome people. These campaigns of intimidation via the violent re-appropriation of material, plus theft of hostage goods and slandering individuals, undermined the ICC's claims that violence cannot be used to settle disputes within the class.

I think that the important thing is without knowing exactly what went on is that things must have been pretty bad for all of this to happen. It is pretty damning thing about an organisation.

I think I have actually said before with regards to this that I don't think that the 'internal bulletin' thing was at all justified (I have never heard the unpaid dues one before, but I think that is pretty absurd too).

I have also said publicly that I believe the 'Thesis on Parasitism' is harmful, and if the ICC is to move forward, it has to go.

The question is whether the ICC can repair itself from the damage it did to itself in those years (not to mention to others). I believe that it can. That is why I am a member. Of course, I could be wrong. Time will show us.

Devrim

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Devrim
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Apr 14 2010 18:23
Gravedigger wrote:
The ICC consider themselves a vanguard organisation
Gravedigger wrote:
I answered this in previous posts. But here goes again: The ICC admit they are a vanguard party/organisation

I don't know if I was clear about this, but the ICC does not think it is the vanguard at all.

Devrim

Gravedigger
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Apr 14 2010 20:16
Devrim wrote:
Gravedigger wrote:
The ICC consider themselves a vanguard organisation
Gravedigger wrote:
I answered this in previous posts. But here goes again: The ICC admit they are a vanguard party/organisation

I don't know if I was clear about this, but the ICC does not think it is the vanguard at all.

Devrim

Yes you were quite clear and has I've pointed out in my post No 21 you tried to make a hopeless distinction between a vanguard and the vanguard party.

In your post No 14 you stated this, "What do you mean by this? If it means that we believe in a vanguard party, then we are. If it means we believe that party should seize power, then actually we are not." Such inconsistency is called hedging your bets by gamblers, self denial by psychologists, and spreading confusion by socialists. Myself I call it abstrusely absurd!

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Devrim
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Apr 14 2010 20:52
Gravedigger wrote:
Yes you were quite clear and has I've pointed out in my post No 21 you tried to make a hopeless distinction between a vanguard and the vanguard party.

In your post No 14 you stated this, "What do you mean by this? If it means that we believe in a vanguard party, then we are. If it means we believe that party should seize power, then actually we are not." Such inconsistency is called hedging your bets by gamblers, self denial by psychologists, and spreading confusion by socialists. Myself I call it abstrusely absurd!

But regardless of these quibbles, we are for a vanguard party. We don't think that the ICC is it.

Devrim