1939 and all that...

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 21 2005 19:36

Hi

Thanks for that MoM, I suppose I'll have to let you off.

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North Korea is preferable to Franco's Spain?

Marginally perhaps, I’m not sure. Regardless, from where I stand, social democracy (even the U.S. model) is to the Left of North Korean State Capitalism. That’s unconventional, but represents an analysis advantageous to my own survival.

Love

Chris

alibadani
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Sep 22 2005 06:21

cantdocartwheels,

The paramilitaries couldn't conquer Europe. Germany couldn't fight a world war with an army of petty-bourgeois and lumpenproles.

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To simply generalise and say the 'working class just needed not to fight'' is a bit mental when in the 30's it faced a hundred thousand or more armed paramilitaries backed by the state mobilised from various non-proletarian sections of society.

I never said the working class shouldn't fight the state and whatever armed thugs they backed. I'm all for that. If fighting the Nazi state was the only way to avoid fighting French, English and Russian workers, then the German workers should have done that. That is defeatism, not anti-fascism.

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888
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Sep 23 2005 05:40
alibadani wrote:
I know!!!!! It's so obvious I wonder why so many people have a problem with it?

My point was, how do these observations help us even remotely now? And how would they have helped in the 30s? Not at all.

meanoldman
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Sep 23 2005 07:30
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My point was, how do these observations help us even remotely now? And how would they have helped in the 30s? Not at all.

Indeed. They're as helpful and as relevant as stating that the Gate Gourmet striker would win if there was world wide revolution.

alibadani
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Sep 23 2005 08:43
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Indeed. They're as helpful and as relevant as stating that the Gate Gourmet striker would win if there was world wide revolution.

meanoldman, you almost make my point for me. I believe that revolution is not possible when major reforms are. If workers can get reforms there is no necessity for revolution.

When was the last successful strike? I mean a real success not a phony union "success". When is the last time average working hours were reduced? The Gate Gourmet strike is just such an illustration. Guess what? IT WILL FAIL!! You can't reform capitalism anymore. Even the smallest workers' demands can't be met anymore. If they are, they are temporary at best. Revolution is only possible when it becomes apparent to the workers that revolution is the ONLY hope for even a marginally improved life.

I happen to think that we find ourselves in such an age. An age when the most minute improvements cannot be granted the workers. That's why I must sound so damn impractical to those who hope that smaller goals can be achieved. That was quite possible a while ago but today workers have no hope in any reforms. IT won't happen. All we'll get are more wars, more attacks on our living standard, more environmental degradation, more precarity, more terrorism and Katrinas.

Quote:
My point was, how do these observations help us even remotely now? And how would they have helped in the 30s?

These observations tell us that today, as in 1939, YES revolution indeed is the only answer, PERIOD!!!!

About practical steps? Workers must fight against the attacks. They must learn to fight on thier own terrain, to generalise and spead thier struggles, and finally to fight the system and the state in all countries. Revolutionary parties must be a catalyst in this process.

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888
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Sep 23 2005 09:39

Thanks for showing us that left communism boils down to an idiotic faith in the impending revolution and absolutely nothing else.

Utterly passive abstract bollocks.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 23 2005 10:42

I see no reason why insurrection cannot work through fighting for gains in the here and now. For one thing, how will we know how to uprise on a global scale if we're not constantly doing it on hte local scale?

The ICC's -- 'All, or nothing at all' -- position, seems to me like an excuse for doing nothing.

wld_rvn
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Sep 23 2005 13:07

The replies to Alibadani nearly all seem motivated by a desire to caricature his position, and by extension, that of the left communism and the ICC. He is absolutely right to insist that revolution is not a pious wish but a necessity because capitalism has no future to offer us. He is equally right to argue that the working class will not embark upon the dangerous and difficult path of revolution unless it sees that it has no other choice. Socialism or barbarism is the fundamental perspective facing humanity and if communists don't say it, no one else will.

But from this the 'anti-left-communists' conclude that we urge the workers to do nothing and simply 'wait' for the world revolution to appear out of the skies. Alibadani makes it clear that workers need to fight for their demands and spread their struggles, even if long term gains are not possible. The reason is simple: if workers don't fight, their conditions will get worse, faster; and if they don't fight, if they don't rediscover their identity as a social force, they will never be able to take the next step of waging an offensive struggle against the system. In that sense, we would agree with one point in Lazlo's last post - the general uprising can indeed only be prepared by many smaller uprisings.

This is going off topic a bit and perhaps should connect to the threads on the unions. But since Gate Gourmet has been mentioned, we should say that this strike is particularly rich in lessons. The Gate Gourmet workers made just such an initial 'uprising' by organising an unofficial meeting to discuss the bosses' plans; the baggage handlers and others took an even more important step when they threw away the union rule book and walked out in solidarity. It is precisely movements of this kind which re-establish workers' sense of self-confidence and identity, and revolutionaries can only encourage them. But unlike the leftists we don't also encourage the workers' illusions - above all their illusions in the unions, who were able to take advantage of these illusions and keep the strike isolated, and are now wearing it down while they negotiate away the workers' jobs. Calling for the self-organisation and extension of a struggle, raising such basic problems as the integration of the unions into the system - this is not and has never been 'doing nothing' and neither is it so far away from the practical experience of the workers as to make it totally abstract or even incomprehensible to them.

This post is already too long. Other issues have also come up recently on this thread, in particular the nature of the state under capitalism, and in the period of transition to communism; but we will return to this another time.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 23 2005 13:17

In general, I actually agree with a lot of that post. However, in terms of the analysis og WW2, I cannot see what struggles the ICC was attempting to generalise, or that can, today, be said to have been a real alternative to anarchist anti-fascism.

posi
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Sep 25 2005 10:19
alibadani wrote:

These observations tell us that today, as in 1939, YES revolution indeed is the only answer, PERIOD!!!!

The point is that in 1939 the working class did not have the level of coordination or political conviction necessary for there to be a revolution. However, they did have the coordination and conviction (this not being difficult) to enlist on an individual or collective level to fight in a war against Nazi Germany. Not only did they not have it within relatively organised and socialist Britiain, but they certainly didn't have it internationally - which as alibadani admits is what would be necessary to make the choice of 'revolution or war' a real one. (i.e. it is British/allied workers who faced the choice: 'fight the nazis or refuse and work for the social revolution'). And given that they had no way to contact and coordinate with the German working class, this wasn't a real choice. So I don't think objections need to be historically generalised or seen as responding to a caricature of alibadani's position - it's simply that the alternative he suggests wasn't practically realisable, unless you treat the class as a monolithic entity capable of making its own unified decision in the instant. If your point is that, right up until the moment of such a war we should work for the confidence and organisation of the workers/people on an international level, then I (and probably everyone else) agrees with you. Likewise if you were to propose that a anarchist soldier in WWII should agitate among her or his fellow soldiers/workers and encourage a lack of confidence in state and capital, even if to the detriment of their efficiency, despite the war conditions.

The problem with this is that capitalists fight wars like capitalists - hence as a soldier you will be involved in an army, maybe a unit, that does stuff like bomb Dresden and be involved in rape/pillage and so on, which is unambiguously unaceptable from an anarchist POV. On the other hand, British workers would have to be able to justify to their French comrades why they weren't prepared to fight in their defense - war being a fact for the French by that point. That would be difficult.

baboon
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Sep 30 2005 12:59

The idea of "defending the left of capital because it's preferable to the right" (the "lesser evil") is absolutely central to this whole discussion. To defend this idea is to always deliver up the working class to the interests of capital, whether in elections, unions and especially in imperialist wars, ie., gang fights between different imperialist nations or groups of nations.

The support for this or that faction of the bourgeoisie (left/right) has already shown up its contradictions stalinism v thatcherism for example. Which is the lesser evil? The workers are already corralled because they are given the choice of defending one faction of the bourgeoisie against another.

This idea also undermines another essential position of the working class the development of state capitalism over the 20th century. An analysis of this confirms that the state is perfectly able to provide itself with a left and a right, the aim of which is again to fool the working class. Or it uses one to lay the ground for another depending on historical circumstances. It was the Tony Benns of Germany in the 1920s who developed the Friecorps. It was they (and the international bourgeoisie) who paved the way for the National Socialists.

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 30 2005 15:59

Hi

Quote:
To defend this idea is to always deliver up the working class to the interests of capital, whether in elections, unions and especially in imperialist wars

In so far as it is in Capital's interest to keep the working class alive. It is not the concious “defense of the left of capital” but a rational choice in the game of survival.

Love

Chris

alibadani
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Oct 1 2005 00:42

Some people here are convinced that Abu Ghraib is better than Mussolini's jails; that Hiroshima is better than Aushwitz. They rally us to defend Guantanamo and Dresden against the fascist horrors. They call on the workers to fight fascism, and defend democracy thus defending My Lai, Jenin, and Fallujah. They want us to fight cyanide and defend arsenic.

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Oct 1 2005 11:11

Hi

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Hiroshima is better than Auschwitz

Yes, Marginally. On my own scale of universal goodness Auschwitz is about 1 out of 10, Hiroshima is between 4 and 6 depending on my mood.

Love

Chris

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Steven.
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Oct 1 2005 11:50
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hi
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Hiroshima is better than Auschwitz

Yes, Marginally. On my own scale of universal goodness Auschwitz is about 1 out of 10, Hiroshima is between 4 and 6 depending on my mood.

So what would say giving someone the top half of your Bounty* be?

*dark chocolate of course

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 1 2005 12:59
alibadani wrote:
Some people here are convinced that Abu Ghraib is better than Mussolini's jails; that Hiroshima is better than Aushwitz. They rally us to defend Guantanamo and Dresden against the fascist horrors. They call on the workers to fight fascism, and defend democracy thus defending My Lai, Jenin, and Fallujah. They want us to fight cyanide and defend arsenic.

Do they? For myself, I'd say that the fight against fascism is often an integral part of the fight against capitalism, as it was 1920-40s

(although it begins with the fight against bolshevism, of course tongue )

baboon
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Oct 4 2005 14:00

In response to the last post I'd like to support the position expressed by Alibadini.

The fascist regimes were just brutal expressions of the needs of capitalism to statify the national economy, concentrate power, accelerate the war economy, militarise labour and cohere the bourgeoisie. The democracies expressed exactly the same tendencies - though as the generally victorious powers from WWI they had slightly more room for manoeuvre. Fascism was just one expression of capitalist barbarism. To support democracy was to support another expression of it. There's no "integral fight against capitalism" in this whatsoever, but a fight for the defence of one part of capitalism against another. It's not a matter of what you would do if you were there because we have now had 50 years of endless demonstrations that WWII and its aftermaths were expressions of capitalist barbarism.

The greatest anti-fascists, the stalinists, were not only more barbaric in time and scale but, with the help of democracy, propagated the biggest lie of history that stalinist Russia was communist. "You want communism (or socialism) workers, there it is, look at Russia". The pernicious effects of this still weigh on us today.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 4 2005 14:07

You two can keep on 'supporting' each other , like two coppers giving witness statements, but why won't you engage with my position, rather than some turnip-ghost?

I'm saying that there was anti-fascism that was both against fascism and against capitalsm. Since you say fascism was a form of capitalism, this doesn't seem too far fetched, surely?

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Oct 4 2005 16:02

Hi

Quote:
So what would say giving someone the top half of your Bounty* be?

Maybe 8 or 9. It depends on what I get in return. I think I'd benefit from a sense of well being and it would obviously create solidarity, which is a force for good.

Love

Chris

LongJohnSilver
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Oct 4 2005 21:29
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
Do they? For myself, I'd say that the fight against fascism is often an integral part of the fight against capitalism, as it was 1920-40s

(although it begins with the fight against bolshevism, of course tongue )

Well, what did the "fight against fascism" mean in the 1920s-40s? Leaving aside the war in Spain and the Popular Front for the moment (we can always come back to that), what did the "fight against fascism" mean in 1939-45? It could only mean one thing (if you meant to "fight against fascism" seriously that is): it meant upholding the war machine of the democratic imperialist powers and NOTHING ELSE.

Oh, and by the way, since by bolshevism I assume you mean the Stalinist regime in Russia during the same period, isn't it time that somebody pointed out that "fighting fascism" meant "supporting Stalinism", since there were 20 million Red Army troops who died "fighting fascism". So, instead of "starting by fighting bolshevism", you are going to "start by supporting bourgeois democracy" then go on to "support stalinism".

As for all those in this thread (like "l'Agité") who seem to think that somehow the Stalinists are a "lesser evil" - I wonder what criteria they use? Hitler "only" killed 6 million people in the camps. The body count for Stalin is now stable at about 20 million. Of course, Stalin was more "democratic" - you didn't have to be a Jew to go to the gulag.

In fact, Stalin would have certainly agreed with Lazlo_Woodbine that "it begins with the fight against bolshevism, of course" - the first people he massacred were all those Bolsheviks who had fought in the vanguard of the workers' revolution in 1917 (the ones left alive after the Civil War that is).

Think about it!

nastyned
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Oct 4 2005 23:10

grin Good old Otto Rühle. He always gets the Bolshies foaming at the mouth.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 5 2005 18:47
nastyned wrote:
grin Good old Otto Rühle. He always gets the Bolshies foaming at the mouth.

Smokes out the ICC's basic Leninism Mr. T

I'd agree with Ruhle, that Lenin and Trotsky developed and extended the power of the state, as well as techniques to mobilise yet control the masses. Hence we can see them as part of the post-war drift towards fascism, which was made up of the various Red and Brown counter-revolutionary movements.

And the history of anarchist, anti-capitalist, anti-fascism from the 1920s onwards is essential if we're to avoid a crude, bogus, interpretation of fascism and anti-fascism.

wld_rvn
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Oct 7 2005 12:13

What exactly has been 'smoked out'?

Has the ICC ever concealed its support for Lenin on a whole series of key questions - on the necessity for a centralised political organisation, the need for the destruction of the capitalist state, the April theses and the vision of the October revolution as the first step of the world revolution?

And have we ever concealed our criticisms of Lenin on other fundamentals, like support for national liberation, trade unions, parliament, or the suppression of the Kronstadt revolt?

The anarchist/councilist/SPGBist use of the term 'Leninism' is a barrier to thought. It completely obscures the question of the class nature of an organisation, because it is applied equally to bourgeois gangs like the Stalinists and Trotskyists, and to proletarian currents such as the Bordigists (or the ICC). And it certainly makes it impossible to make a serious analysis of Lenin's real contribution to the revolutionary movement. It is not accidental that the very term Leninism was invented by the Stalinists with the precise aim of crushing the possibility of critical thought about the Russian revolution.

This is a thread about internationalism, so we will try to keep it there. In 1914 Lenin was in the forefront of the internationalist opposition to the imperialist war. His position of 'turn the imperialist war into a civil war' was ahead of the positions defended by Luxemburg, Trotsky, or the best of the anarchists. We have also argued that this position was equally valid in 1939. If that makes us 'Leninists', then we definitely prefer that to the patriotic apologies so many 'anarchists' on this thread have come up with.

nastyned
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Oct 7 2005 13:31

Time for some more from Otto i think:

"This distinction between head and body, between intellectuals and workers, officers and privates, corresponds to the duality of class society. One class is educated to rule; the other to be ruled. Lenin’s organisation is only a replica of bourgeois society. His revolution is objectively determined by the forces that create a social order incorporating these class relations, regardless of the subjective goals accompanying this process"

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 7 2005 13:47
wld_rvn wrote:
use of the term 'Leninism' is a barrier to thought. It completely obscures the question of the class nature of an organisation, because it is applied equally to bourgeois gangs like the Stalinists and Trotskyists, and to proletarian currents such as the Bordigists (or the ICC).

No, the analysis of Leninism quite properly points out that stalinists, trotskyists and other defenders of bolshevik party vanguardist methods, even though they may hate each other, share a great deal of similarities. As nastyned indicates, at bottom, the Leninist method involves a distrust of independent working class organisation. After all, lenin only belatedly came over to the idea of supporting the soviets, rather than shoving them to one side. After the bolshevik leadership had used the soviets they were, predictably, pushed to one side.

Please come to terms with the fact that I, and other anarchists, have a clear analysis of Lenin. The fact that Lenin may have opposed the war on the international stage doesn't wipe out his counter-revolutionary aims and practise in Russia. I may respect George Galloway's anti-war stance (a bit wink ) but that doesn't mean I agree with his anti-abortion or pro-religious stances.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 7 2005 15:05
revol68 wrote:
It's nationalist bollox hidden in anti imperialist rhetoric, it's not real internationalism.

It also played into the hands of the german imperialists to a major extend, hece the sealed train, hence Lenin's handing of the Ukraine to them -- which was opposed by all the anarchists, Mr Trot and the rest who had failed to share Lenin's excellent 20/20 anti-war vision...

wld_rvn
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Oct 7 2005 16:04

George Galloway is not anti-war. He supports one side of the war against the other, including Saddam and the most reactionary Islamists.

We have pointed out in a number of articles that the term 'revolutionary defeatism' contains ambiguities which can be exploited in precisely the way the leftists do. The slogan 'turn the imperialist war into a civil war' is much clearer, but again it was Lenin who put it forward. And when it came to opposing any kind of 'national defence' in world war one, Lenin was clearer than Rosa, who in the Junius pamphlet still made some concessions to it. Lenin also attacked those who called for the defence of brave little Belgium et al against the bigger German imperialism.

baboon
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Oct 7 2005 16:42

There's always a qualification from the anarchists, they always support one faction of the bourgeoisie or the other (with a few notable exceptions in history). We see it on this site Galloway, the Iraqi resistance, Stalinism (heavily supported, never denounced), democracy, one's own country, etc., etc.,. Sometimes this appears like a BNP site in disguise, pared only of its overt racism support for patriotism, my country, nationalism and rabid anti-internationalism. If someone agrees with a coherent, internationalist, working class perspective they are denounced by an anarchist as being like the police (see previous posts). Boneheaded abuse and "fucking wankers" are the level of discussion risen to.

Internationalism meant something to the whole of the working class in the first world war. It came from the class, was expressed clearly by the Bolsheviks and, with force of arms (not least the arm of consciousness) put an end to the destruction of the imperialist war and dared to pose the revolutionary perspective. I would expect boneheaded BNPers to mock and abuse this position.

meanoldman
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Oct 7 2005 17:21

Ignoring the counterfactual bullshit that makes up your first paragraph, and indeed most of your politics, "Internationalism meant something to the whole of the working class in the first world war" doesn't really hold up to the actual events. That the working class fought and died in their millions, and that in countries where the war didn't lead to social collapse (Germany and Italy) there was little or none mass working class resistance to the war would indicate that internalionalism really didn't mean much in practice to the whole of the working class in the First World War.

Bonehead BNP members may mock your position, but then so does the entire working class...

alibadani
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Oct 7 2005 19:22

This discussion just won't quit huh? Anyway I don't think there is such a thing as Leninism really. Lenin developed organizational methods and theories which one can agree with or not. He made some great contributions to working class thought, and he made a lot of mistakes too. What we need to do is learn from the mistakes and accept the contributions. On this forum I see people clinging on to ideas that have failed repeatedly, while passionately rejecting ideas that have at least shown some promise (and we're the impractical ones). Rejecting the political party while embracing anti-fascism is a prime example of this.

Internationalism did mean something to the working class in WW1. Not in 1914, but certainly in 1917 and 1918. The workers fought in the war but they also ended it. In 1914 internationalism was the position of a tiny minority among those parties and groups claiming to represent proletarian interests. This position did win the day in Russia, Hungary and Germany. Had the latter two countries had their own Lenins and their own Bolsheviks, we would be living in a far different world today.

Meanoldman, to dismiss a position because it isn't popular among workers at a given moment is strange. The entire concept of a workers' revolution is a minority position. The same can be said about most of your own ideas. The Bolsheviks in Russia were a tiny minority well into 1917. (Even after October the Bolsheviks remained a minority outside the cities.) In February of 1917, most Russians had never heard of them. But there's was something about those hellish trenches which made people think, which made them more open to the perspective of those loony, impractical internationalists. A couple of years of hell, and YES internationalism meant something. And against all odds the supposedly crazy ideas of a tiny majority spread like a pandemic.