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Were there workers' councils in Spain?

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Skraeling
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Jun 21 2006 03:20
Were there workers' councils in Spain?

Following on from the discussions on Spain, one interesting area that i don't know much about is workers' councils in Spain in 36-37. I think it deserves a separate thread. I know some claim workers councils were set up there, but i'm not really sure at all. I've read a fair bit about Spain, but it was many moons ago, and my impression that workers' councils weren't established by the Spanish workers and peasants, instead collectives were. I know some talked of councils, but they i think were different in my view from classical soviets (if anyone can point me to some writing about workers councils in spain, i would be very interested -- i havent come across any at all).

were the collectives soviets by another name? or more reminscient of the Paris commune (in that the rural collectives were based around self-governing a locality or neighbourhood, not just workplaces)? or something new and unique that developed in accord with the unique conditions in Spain?

(i'm more interested in discussing what the Spanish workers and peasants constructively achieved, rather than blaming any one sect or organisation or leadership as so often seems to happen with discussions on Spain)

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 21 2006 03:35

Well, there was the Council of Aragon, whose 'President' was Ascasco's youger brother. I believe they stayed out of the Stalinist pale as long as they could and were then of course repressed into oblivion. I think that when the agrarian collectives took shape, you might say that the CNT organisms basically became a kind of council, as the syndicates became the collectives they had been pushing for, if you read Gaston Leval's book on the collectives, you get to see this happening. I know little about Aragon, as I've asked about on another thread.Peirat's book on the CNT (only Vol. I in English) also refers to these structural matters.

Google council of aragon for the marxist's internet archive, can't seem to get it to link from here. the Council was dissolved by decree and Ascasco 'dissappeared' apparently. Some rough shit, and slander as well.

One thing I think I remember is Stuart Christie saying in the FAI book that the CNT's delegates were not revocable in the sense that the Pannekoek-type model would have councils be, which is a limit on the 'directness' of the democracy of the organism. And as the CNT became more sullied with statecraft, the delegates became higher paid proffessionals/deskocrats, breeding complacency and corruption.

The Councilist model, for me, implies a more thorough-going cross section of civic life than a 'purely' syndicalist model- atleast in an urban context- can provide.

It could be argued that the Friends of Durruti advocated a kind of tri-partate councilst model:

-all economic power to the federated syndicates

-free municipalites tending to concerns falling outside the syndicates

-the Revolutionary Councils for Defence, or Juntas.

Skraeling
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Jun 21 2006 03:51

i've read Gaston Leval's book, but can't remember much of it. Thanks for the other info.

I know that many in the CNT advocated councils. Diego Abad de Santillan, a governmental anarchist who Stuart Christie roundly criticised as being a key member of bourgeois intellectual tendency that he believes took over and subverted the FAI, talked about councils in his book After the Revolution. The CNT also advocated a defence and an economic council.

But all these councils were to be part of the union, as some sort of overaching coordination bodies. One big question to me is whether workers councils are compatible or incompatible with a revolutionary union? To be genuinely in touch with workers, would they need to be independent from all unions, or should it be the other way round, if the union is merely an expression of working class self-organisation and direct democracy, then the two aren't incompatible then surely?

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 21 2006 04:10
Quote:
But all these councils were to be part of the union, as some sort of overaching coordination bodies. One big question to me is whether workers councils are compatible or incompatible with a revolutionary union? To be genuinely in touch with workers, would they need to be independent from all unions, or should it be the other way round, if the union is merely an expression of working class self-organisation and direct democracy, then the two aren't incompatible then surely?

I believe they are compatible because they have to be. Pannekoek and the S.I. after him ditched the unions in reaction to the failures of the CNT and the longstanding corruption/'integrated' status of all other union models, but Pannekoek respected the IWW and admired the rural work of the CNT.

These are serious questions that I think about too much. One anarchist 'greatest hit' formula that I like to cite is Kropotkin's theory as rehearsed in Rocker's Anarcho-Syndicalism:

paraphrasing-

The revolution is achievable by the harmonization of the following influences:

Then: [ Now:]

Militant trade unions [syndicalist style organizing, wildcat action]

[like, heroic shit, yo]

Municipal Socialism [directly democratic civic assemblies binding the working class

outside of the workerist model: elders, students, everyone: as a means of achieving socialized healthcare, education, transport,utilities,the abolition of ground rent. In tree-hugger's,tenant's and immigrant's rights orgs, I think you see the germinal stages of this, but only if linked with...]

Federated Cooperatives. [consumers and producers. Parecon provides an all-too detailed model with a councilist formula. Also a thorough system of barter for the decentralization of the dollar.]

I think that we are shooting for a loose interdependence, definitely a dynamic compatibility or harmony rather then any sole power or strict exclusion. The first step is developing solidarity between the different organisms. Syndicates can develop union halls as social centers for hosting/engaging the various other groups and promoting the idea of DD civic assembly. This is the process of making the revolution, I think is must be bound with revolutionas as its manifest intent, and its modality. In the end the syndicates become collectives having already formed and tested their organization models. And everything sort of dissolves into the broader civic assembly.

One interesting thing that August Guillamon says in his very detailed and balanced assessment of the F.O.D. was that he did not believe that the C.N.T leaders had merely failed the people by becoming ministers, but that the C.N.T. model actually, inevitably 'churned out ministers." Don't know where I stand, there.

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Jun 21 2006 08:39

There were two vital components lacking in Spain 36-37 soviets and a communist party.

The workers' uprising of July 1936 paralysed the Francoist putsch and put power within the workers' grasp. But they were unable to centralise the movement through soviets. Instead the Popular Front reconstituted itself in 'radical' form through the Central Committee of Anti-fascist Militias, which was supported by the POUM and the CNT. Organs like this 'saved' the Republic from the workers and allowed it to turn an incipient civil war into an imperialist war between the democratic and fascist camps.

The Friends of Durruti represented a proletarian reaction to the betrayal of the CNT, which had by now been completely confirmed by its participation in the official government. The activity and demands of the FOD showed

- the necessity for a political organisation defending clear positions against both the Popular Front and fascism. The FOD was still limited by its loyalty to the CNT, and it was deeply confused on many questions, but its very formation obeyed the need for the most class conscious elements of the working class to regroup inside an organisation - a vanguard, in fact.

- the necessity for organs of proletarian political power. Munis considered that the FOD's slogan of 'Revolutionary Juntas' was essentially a call for soviets. But it remained a slogan. Such bodies were never formed and the Popular Front rapidly crushed the defensive reaction of the workers in May 1937. After that the working class no longer raised its head in the Spanish war.

This does not mean that the Spanish workers didn't give rise to some basic forms of self-organisation during these events but they were unable to centralise into organs capable of taking power; at the same time they lacked a clear political perspective and were hampered by the betrayal of former working class organisations like the CNT, which served to pull the various workers' committees and patrols towards defending the Popular Front. The genuine revolutionaries in Spain were themselves unclear about the meaning of the anti-fascist war and were in any case unable to exert sufficient influence to counter this development.

This negative evolution was in turn the reflection of an international situation in which the counter-revolution had almost totally triumphed and the world was poised on the brink of a second imperialist war.

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 21 2006 09:20

They did squint towards a kind of vanguardism and stumped for a 'totalitarian' proletarian reclamation/restart of the revolution. Which is why the POUM reached out, as well as the Bolshevik/Leninist section. The POUM were extended a fraternal word for their barricade fighting in the May Days, The Leninists nothing, and neither group had any real 'influence', just contacts with the FOD...I think that the anti-Stalin bolshies were casting about for allies, more than the FOD, though they would never admit it.

They were correct in their basics prescription, as I said, and whether or not they were purely anarchist in character is not so much relevant as the need for a guiding strategy for the supercession of state power-and the suppression of the Stalinist regime- that the C.N.T.'leadership' did not and could not provide. Neither could the F.O.D., they sketched an outline of demands, had no overriding strategy for implementing them, or enough sway with the populace...though I'm sure the hearts of many were with them. The tribal loyalty to the C.N.T. did stunt their efforts I believe.

A soviet/councilist model could have obtained without the influence or anchor of a 'party' as such.

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Jun 21 2006 09:29

Alf, I'm not sure you can say things like that. Looking at the decision to join the government on the part of the CNT, that decision was supported by the majority of the CNT membership, which was basically the most revolutionary section of the working class. Could the failure of the Spanish Revolution be more to do with the fact that Spanish workers just weren't "revolutionary" enough, or didn't think a lasting revolution was possible at that stage?

And people always talk about the FoD, but not the FIJL, which was much bigger. I will start a thread about it now...

AnarchoAl
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Jun 21 2006 11:25

It must have been very hard to make the decision at the time. If the CNT hadn't joined, and the fascists rode over a divided, in-fighting left, maybe we'd be sitting here now at our computers saying that the CNT should have joined for tactical reasons and saying that "bourgoise intellectual tendencies" in the CNT/FAI were too purist for the real world.

John's point is a good one. It's interesting to notice that the whole left, from Stalinists to Sparts to Anarchists, calls decisions they disagree with "bourgoise". Proletarians make shit decisions too.

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Steven.
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Jun 21 2006 11:43
AnarchoAl wrote:
It must have been very hard to make the decision at the time. If the CNT hadn't joined, and the fascists rode over a divided, in-fighting left, maybe we'd be sitting here now at our computers saying that the CNT should have joined for tactical reasons and saying that "bourgoise intellectual tendencies" in the CNT/FAI were too purist for the real world.

I certainly wouldn't. There is never any excuse for anarchists to join any government.

Quote:
John's point is a good one.

Thanks smile

Dolgoff makes the point well here:

Controversy: Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution - Sam Dolgoff

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Jun 21 2006 11:45

It's obviously true that workers can make the 'wrong decisions' on a mass scale. They did in 1914, for example - the majority followed their parties and unions in 'defending the fatherland'. But

- revolutionaries often have to defend the principles and historic interests of the working class against the immediate mood of the masses

- in 1916-18 millions of workers took a different course and began to oppose the war. In Spain we also saw key moments when the dynamic of the class struggle went against the official organisations. July 1936 was one, and May 1937 was the other. It's this inner dynamic which makes it possible for revolutionary principles and goals to re-connect with the mass movement.

I have started a thread about an ICC meeting on July 8 in London where we will be talking about Spain 36-37, and where participants on these boards would be very welcome. It's on 'Organise', but I think that may be a mistake - could you clarify this John? Should it go on 'Britain'?

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Jun 21 2006 11:52
Alf wrote:
In Spain we also saw key moments when the dynamic of the class struggle went against the official organisations. July 1936 was one

Please explain how those events went against the CNT?

Quote:
I have started a thread about an ICC meeting on July 8 in London where we will be talking about Spain 36-37, and where participants on these boards would be very welcome. It's on 'Organise', but I think that may be a mistake - could you clarify this John? Should it go on 'Britain'?

It seemed to be an announcement for an event, so I moved it to Events/Announcements.

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Jun 21 2006 12:16

thanks for sorting that.

Does your question about July 36 that mean that in May 37 the conflict between the most advanced workers and the CNT was more obvious?

In the uprising against Franco, CNT/FAI miitants often played a leading role. But the organisation was already moving towards class collaboration. Its participation in the Central Committee of Antifascist Militias was perhaps even more significant - as a way of derailing the struggle - than the decision to send anarchists to the ministries, which followed later. I'll come back to this.

Skraeling
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Jun 22 2006 03:38
Alf wrote:
There were two vital components lacking in Spain 36-37: soviets and a communist party.

i think you are prob right on the first but not on the second. i think communism can be, and has been, achieved without a communist party directing or coordinating things. eg. lots and lots of Spanish anarchist collectives abolished money and instead had a communal storehouse where people could freely take things they needed. very commendable indeed.

Alf wrote:
This does not mean that the Spanish workers didn't give rise to some basic forms of self-organisation during these events but they were unable to centralise into organs capable of taking power;

perhaps you seem to hold the view that the Spanish revolution was a primitive, basic form of rebellion? as in Eric Hobsbawn's (sp?) view that the Spanish anarchists were "primitive rebels" who beleived in a simplistic, religious, apocalyptic cleansing type thing. Also the view that peasants are backward and incapable of making real revolution. It seems to me that is the view of many Marxists of the Spanish revolution (apart from the SI who praised it as the most advanced example of prole self-organisation). The problem is that this view is many. for a start its simplistic in itself and overlooks the thousands and thousands of examples of constructive achievements of the Spanish workers and peasants, in the collectives and so on.

WillsWilde wrote:
I think that we are shooting for a loose interdependence, definitely a dynamic compatibility or harmony rather then any sole power or strict exclusion. The first step is developing solidarity between the different organisms. Syndicates can develop union halls as social centers for hosting/engaging the various other groups and promoting the idea of DD civic assembly. This is the process of making the revolution, I think is must be bound with revolutionas as its manifest intent, and its modality. In the end the syndicates become collectives having already formed and tested their organization models. And everything sort of dissolves into the broader civic assembly.

i think you might just be on to something here. a loose interdependence, yes, a dynamic relationship yes, but i would place as much importance on solidarity between the different organisms. i think this approach can become a little inward looking, it perhaps reminds me a little like the fresh young recruit to activism who wants to unite the left and all activists so they just get all along together, when the real class struggle goes on (mainly) outside the left (and outside the anarchist movement) and so the key relationship to me is the relationship we have with that struggle rather than seeking to build a folorn unity between different sects. which is not to say that co-operation and solidarity and synthesis between different sects and their theories is a bad thing, its necessary but to me of secondary importance. (wow, that was a bit tangential of me)

i think anark-syndicalism has always had a communal dimension. its not all workplace based. Pelloutier set up bourses du travail which were basically community halls where workers socialised, educated themselves and so on. The CNT was much the same. wasnt just about workers control but it was also into self-managed hospitals, community based stuff, rent strikes and other neighbourhood type stuff so on.

and how Willswilde do you think Parecon is compatible with workers' councils? i haven't heard that one b4

and finally i came across this draft by Tom Wetzel, its anark-syndicalist view of the Spanish revo, its about the only one in depth article that discusses workers' councils and Spain i've come across

http://www.uncanny.net/~wsa/spain.html

shit Wetzel and Wayne Price were at each others throats way back in the 80s! wink

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Jun 22 2006 04:09

ParEcon is completely incompatible with revolutionary thought.

I wouldn't have such a problem with its adherents if they were straight up about being reformists, but they are not...

Yeah i saw that exchange between Wetzel and Price earlier today - interesting stuff!

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 22 2006 06:01

I would not apply a strict Parecon model, obviously, All I am saying is that there is a fleshing out of the practical functions of a councilist model in consumption and production that merits attention and argument. I've more than grazed the texts, and find them almost too detailed, sort of, but I have no illusions (at the moment) about trying to apply the formulas in a non-revolutionary context, as a band-aid, which would simply be hemmed in by the markets at all sides. Heirarchical relations and the drone of wage labor almost inevitably prevail in large scale retail cooperative contexts, for the simple fact that they fail to spread...they are merely self-sustaining and stagnate accordingly. Like John has said, workers self-managing their own exploitation. Have no idea what the 'adherents' are like, I'm not one of them.

Quote:
i think you might just be on to something here. a loose interdependence, yes, a dynamic relationship yes, but i would place as much importance on solidarity between the different organisms.

The looseness is essential in the initiatory stage, so that the revolutionary potential and ambition of the various 'guest groups' involved, and compatability can be determined. It is essential for Anarchists to host and nurture/weed out this confluence of groups and interests, so that they can be integrated beyond single-issues, so that Solidarity can grow in an organic and robust manner, collective responsibility can be fostered, and so that libertarian organizational principles are thorough and present at the root, and blossom accordingly. Early on you have to be a little careful of your involvements.

Quote:
i think this approach can become a little inward looking, it perhaps reminds me a little like the fresh young recruit to activism who wants to unite the left and all activists so they just get all along together, when the real class struggle goes on (mainly) outside the left (and outside the anarchist movement) and so the key relationship to me is the relationship we have with that struggle rather than seeking to build a folorn unity between different sects. which is not to say that co-operation and solidarity and synthesis between different sects and their theories is a bad thing, its necessary but to me of secondary importance. (wow, that was a bit tangential of me)

Not interested in the Left at all. People can leave that shit at the door. (Or can they?) Or in 'making every body get along'. Trying to tap into latent revolutionary instinct, and realize its potential in the real world as immediately beneficial to the working class, yet constantly pushing forward to more and more radical contexts. The revelation of a civic power in the workplace and in all phases of public life that is independent, and ultimately supercessive of the State and Capital.

I have a brief mission statement which squints at a basis for 'unity' which is both populist/earnest and prettty broadly Anarchist in its language. It needs help tho, but if you want to see it, I'll mail it to ye.

Where can I find source material about the Borses Du Travail, the life of the CNT Hall, and the old Wobbly halls? We are thinking of establishing a IWW union hall in Oakland for the very purposes I've described, it would be nice to get some historical context.

Skraeling
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Jun 22 2006 09:56
TheWillsWilde wrote:
I would not apply a strict Parecon model, obviously, All I am saying is that there is a fleshing out of the practical functions of a councilist model in consumption and production that merits attention and argument.

you might want to have a look at the Dutch council communists who in the 1930s fleshed out what they saw as the practical functions of a councilist model of consumption and production, i think they were a little more on to it than the Pareconistas

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/6579/

WillsWilde wrote:
It is essential for Anarchists to host and nurture/weed out this confluence of groups and interests, so that they can be integrated beyond single-issues, so that Solidarity can grow in an organic and robust manner, collective responsibility can be fostered, and so that libertarian organizational principles are thorough and present at the root, and blossom accordingly. Early on you have to be a little careful of your involvements.

i agree with your sentiments and aims, and most of your method, but i still get the impression you seem to see solidarity between anarchists as important, i think that is secondary, in terms of solidarity what i think is needed is genuine working class mutual aid (that is, give and take solidarity, not one way solidarity) arising out of people themselves collectively meeting their own needs, a working class culture that i think has been all but wiped out by the welfare state and capital.

WillsWilde wrote:
I have a brief mission statement which squints at a basis for 'unity' which is both populist/earnest and prettty broadly Anarchist in its language. It needs help tho, but if you want to see it, I'll mail it to ye.

yeah why not. why not post it to these forums too? you risk getting flamed but then one risks that everytime one posts to these forums eh. wink and you never know, ye might get some decent feedback

WillsWilde wrote:
Where can I find source material about the Borses Du Travail, the life of the CNT Hall, and the old Wobbly halls? We are thinking of establishing a IWW union hall in Oakland for the very purposes I've described, it would be nice to get some historical context.

I dunno much about the Wobbly halls or the CNT halls. The best source i've come across for the bourses du travail is Frank Ridley's very interesting book Revolutionary Syndicalism in France. There is also a book by Moss called the Origins of the French Labor Movement which i found OK but cant remember if it had stuff on the bourses. Most of Pelloutiers (Pelloutier was an anarcho-syndicalist founder of the bourses) (the bourses were founded way back in 1892) stuff hasn't been translated. The bourses were one part of the French CGT called the FBT (federation bourses du travail). The other side was the syndicates. There are a number of other books but dunno about the CNT halls but the CNT, i believe, was initially largely modelled on the French CGT (in the CGT's early syndicalist phase that is). (the CNT was formed in 1910 when the CGT was still a syndicalist union). blah blah...

Here is a short paragraph from a piece i wrote which got published somewhere (cant remember where tho):

I wrote:
The bourse was a communal social centre. It was a centre for mutual aid (a term taken directly from Kropotkin) and working-class self-help – as a labour exchange, and for providing community-based welfare (such as unemployment and sickness benefits). The bourse also performed the important function of education. Education was to be practical, formed through the experience of the workers’ struggle against capitalism. The bourse possessed a library so that workers could learn to read and write, as well as to study and discuss revolutionary literature. Bourses were centres of class-struggle. They would organise strikes and general agitation, and hence they had a strike fund and organised help for strikers. The bourse was thus a centre of co-ordination between syndicates of different industries and occupations but of the same locale – for example, if a syndicate at a factory went on strike, then through meetings at the bourse other local syndicates of different factories might go on strike too in sympathy. Finally, the bourse would enable a new workers’ culture or consciousness to be built, uniting workers of different syndicates together for solidarity and mutual aid. Bourses were organised together in regional federations, with the federations subsequently forming the FBT.
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Alf
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Jun 22 2006 10:00

Skraeling; in July 1936, there was a moment when the workers of Barcelona were armed and on the streets, the army was disintegrating, and power was there for the taking. But, for a number of reasons, the workers lacked the consciousness needed to take the next step, the destruction of the capitalist state

- the international defeat of the revolution, which left the Spanish workers isolated

- the strength of anarchist ideology, which made it difficult for them to see the importance of soviets and the necessity to dismantle the capitalist state apparatus.

There were thus historical reasons why there was no communist organisation capable of giving a clear direction at such a decisive moment. The 'party' is not a deus ex machina, it is also a product of the class as well as an active factor within it. But whether you want to use the term party or not, there was certainly a necessity for a revolutionary organisation capable of acting in a unified way within the movement, able to identify the traps facing the workers, to generalise the lessons from other experiences of the class (such as 1905 and 1917), and to put forward precise proposals for action.

The Friends of Durruti expressed this need they tried to act as a unified organisation and to give a definite direction to the movement during the events of May 37. They had all sorts of confusions (especially about the international dimension), but they had grasped certain key things - above all, the need for the workers to take political power.

The question isn't that the Spanish workers and peasants were 'primitive'. The problem was that once the workers had failed to take power, the bourgeoisie resumed the upper hand and dragged the workers and peasants into an imperialist war. The collectivisations, for all the idealism they expressed, were integrated into this bourgeois strategy, tying the workers to 'their own' enterprises and preventing class struggle in the 'socialised' sectors.

Steve
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Jun 22 2006 10:54
Alf wrote:
There were thus historical reasons why there was no communist organisation capable of giving a clear direction at such a decisive moment.

i.e. Middle class intellectuals telling the working class what to do.

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Jun 22 2006 12:23

Would you include the Friends of Durruti under that category?

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 22 2006 14:05
Quote:
you might want to have a look at the Dutch council communists who in the 1930s fleshed out what they saw as the practical functions of a councilist model of consumption and production, i think they were a little more on to it than the Pareconistas

Thanks for the link, Skraeling. I love Worker's Councils but it doesn't delve into the practcal economic functions so much . I also which there wee more detailed accounts of the function of the Councils in Hungary 56.

Practical mutual aid is definitely a function of the social centre/wobbly hall, working class solidarity in action, as an example that may spread. It is a folksy thing, you know. Have you heard of "Make the Road by Walking" in NYC? They are an interesting group for mutual aid of all kinds, have ties with The IWW.

Cheers!

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 22 2006 14:07

dp damn trouble posting/editing today, heh, heh.

Anarchist unity not so important as "anarchistic' unity, heh, heh.

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Jun 22 2006 14:37
Quote:

The looseness is essential in the initiatory stage, so that the revolutionary potential and ambition of the various 'guest groups' involved, and compatability can be determined. It is essential for Anarchists to host and nurture/weed out this confluence of groups and interests, so that they can be integrated beyond single-issues, so that Solidarity can grow in an organic and robust manner, collective responsibility can be fostered, and so that libertarian organizational principles are thorough and present at the root, and blossom accordingly. Early on you have to be a little careful of your involvements.

I get the feeling you're trying to write in a "non-leftist" mode. That can be very valuable sometimes, however I feel like in the abovee case where you're trying to re-state the wheel, its eveen harder to follow...

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 22 2006 14:40

Please explain, I dunno if you mean the language is hard to follow.

I'm not a Leftist, yes, I believe that that whole vocabulary is tired, always have, but i 'recognize' what it is supposed to mean.

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OliverTwister
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Jun 22 2006 14:56

It sounds too 'post-leftist', almost to the point of left-liberalness...

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 23 2006 02:02

Well that certainly wasn't my intent. I despise liberalism and leftism, I think the terms are basically bankrupt, I don't know if you disagree with the spontaneous thought stream I laid out or you 'disagree' with the language, but to me, 'left-liberalness' is a slur. I was just kind of thinking out loud, not offering up statements for inspection as to their proper revolutionary content.

Howzabout this:

Tomorrow I'm going to find some 'Pareconistas', drag them into the woods at gunpoint, force them to dig their own graves, and shoot them in the back of the head. For being reformist/left-liberal/counter-revolutionary.

Only we know who is 'truly revolutionary' and who is not, who has the potential or desire or not, we are not here to invite, debate, learn from others, include, influence, educate. We are here to label people, shunt them into boxes, measure them for content. We are here to draw the line.

Better?

smile

Anyhoo back on topic. This is from The Felix Morrow article from the marxists archive about the Council of Aragon. Alf and Skraeling shoulkd both appreciate this, it points to a lot of key issues. Sorry about the length but i think it bears a look.

Quote:
Backed by their success in freeing Aragon, the anarchists met with little resistance there from the bourgeois-Stalinist bloc in the first months. Aragon’s municipal councils were elected directly by the communities. The Council of Aragon was at first largely anarchist. When Caballero’s cabinet was formed, the anarchists agreed to give representation to the other anti-fascist groups in the Council, but up to the last days of its existence the masses of Aragon were grouped around the libertarian organizations. The Stalinists were a tiny and uninfluential group.

At least three-fourths of the land was tilled by collectives. Of four hundred collectives, only ten adhered to the UGT. Peasants desiring to work the land individually were permitted to do so, provided they employed no hired labour. For family consumption, cattle were owned individually. Schools were subsidized by the community. Agricultural production increased in the region from thirty to fifty per cent over the previous year, as a result of collective labour. Enormous surpluses were voluntarily turned over to the government, free of charge, for use at the front.

Libertarian principles were attempted in the field of money and wages. Wages were paid by a system of coupons exchangeable for goods in the co-operatives. But this was merely pious genuflection to anarchist tradition, since the committees, carrying on sale of produce and purchase of goods with the rest of Spain, perforce used money in all transactions, so that the coupons were merely an internal accounting system based on the money held by the committees. Wages were based on the family unit: a single producer was paid the equivalent of 25 pesetas; a married couple with only one working, 35 pesetas, and four pesetas weekly additional for each child. This system had a serious weakness, particularly while the rest of Spain operated on a system of great disparity in wages between manual and professional workers, since that prompted trained technicians to migrate from Aragon. For the time being, however, ideological conviction, inspiring the many technicians and professionals in the libertarian organizations, more than made up for this weakness. Granted that, with stabilization of the revolution, a transitional period of higher wages for skilled and professional workers would have had to be instituted. But the Stalinists who had the effrontery to contrast the Aragon situation with the monstrous disparity of wages in the Soviet Union, appeared to have forgotten completely that the family wage—which is the essence of Marx’s ‘to each according to his needs’—was a goal toward which to strive, from which the Soviet Union is infinitely further away under Stalin than under Lenin and Trotsky.[ roll eyes ]

The anarchist majority in the Council of Aragon led in practice to the abandonment of the anarchist theory of the autonomy of economic administration. The Council acted as a centralizing agency. The opposition was in such a hopeless minority within Aragon, and the masses were so wedded to the new order, that there was no record of a single Stalinist mass meeting in Aragon in direct opposition to the Council. Many joint meetings were celebrated, with Stalinist participation, including one as late as July 7, 1937. Neither at these meetings nor elsewhere in Aragon did the Stalinists repeat the calumnies which the Stalinist press elsewhere was spreading, in order to prepare the ground for an invasion.

Many workers’ leaders from abroad saw Aragon and praised it: among them Carlo Rosselli, the Italian anti-fascist leader, serving as a commandant on the Aragon front (on leave in Paris when he and his brother were assassinated by the Italian fascists). The prominent French socialist, Juin, wrote strong praise of Aragon in Le Peuple. Giustizia a Liberta, the leading Italian anti-fascist organ, said of the Aragon collectives: ‘The manifest benefits of the new social system strengthened the spirit of solidarity among the peasants, arousing them to greater efforts and activity.’

And then of course the decree for dissolution, the usual caluminies,the restoration of employing class power, militarization, the Stalinist blight.

But no details about the actual function/structure of the Council. Surely it recieved delegates from the collectives, etc.

Has ther been a thread discussing the term 'centralization' and its usages? In its negative and affirmative connotations?

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OliverTwister
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Jun 23 2006 02:34

Have you reverted to hostile-wills-mode or are you just joking?

Anyways its like I pointed outm "Civil Society" is a statist term...

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 23 2006 02:38

I'm joking of course.

Maybe. tongue

The hostile Wills is dead. I killed him. black bloc

"Civil Society' i(I prefer Civic) is a Statist term? I dunno. It sounds kind of wishy washy in a way, somehow coming from Marcos it doesn't. Semantically I don't think it necessarily implies, uh, 'statism'. But what do i know. neutral

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 23 2006 03:00

There should be a thread on the expression. It is in currency, and should be assessed.

"Civil" has more moral/moralist connotations, i.e., 'civility', 'act civil'.

The pun with 'civilians'; like non-workers.

but even the IWW has an IU for 'housewives'.

I think it is about empowering/acknowledging every contributing factor in the health of society...the 'Council mode", family wage bit, etc., seems more all embracing than the "Syndical" mode, which was more descriptive when class lines were more starkly drawn. The prole is compelled to labor inside and outside of the home. Always in service.

Youth (future workers), students (apprenticed), and elders (on permanent vacation. As it should be, if they desire so.)

The moral sense of it also implies an exclusion. Decent fucking people, not speculators, bosses, etc. There is a paragraph in Worker's Councils which very neatly presents reasoning for the strictness of the council's proletarian-'civic' make-up... what elements are not allowed in this forum, in this democracy, those who have...shall we say...spent their voice and/or their vote as they have leeched off the labor of others, etc., But i can't find an online copy.

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OliverTwister
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Jun 23 2006 03:33

First of all that is an industrial union for domestic workers, and it explicitly states that they need not be waged. In other words there is an explicit and implicit recognition that 'housewives' ARE workers (using the regular sense of that term).

But if you can find a non-working 'housewife' i'lll accept a revolutionary praxis based on 'civilians'.

Sucks for those 'proletarians in uniform', the soldiers..

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 23 2006 03:44

What I was saying was, i absolutely acknowledge the value of domestic work as any other kind. So should any revolutionary praxis. I don't know how that got lost, i'm stoned, a litle abstract.

'housewives' only cos i couldn't remember the actual title, not trying to be facetious.

Quote:
but if you can find a non-working 'housewife' i'lll accept a revolutionary praxis based on 'civilians'.

I wouldn't use the term civilians, it's ridiculous. I guess I could accept it also if 80 year old people were forced to work. neutral

I think that when Chomsky and Marcos use the term civic society, they are sort calling a bluff on the goodwill of those outside the pale of the burgeoning councils and assemblies. No landlords, no bosses, no politicians, no brass, but everyone else who cares and is affected, to varying degrees. For the liberals it is 'put up or shut up' as a subtext, small business may have to be steered into collectivization in order to have pull, which Syndicalist action can prepare it for and cooperative federations can actually help them do so formally. If they are good for anything.

Make any sense? Sorry if i'm confusing today, I'm in a good mood. smile

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OliverTwister
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Jun 23 2006 03:56

that's part of the worst facets of Marcos' and Chomskys' theory.

Anyways 'worker' excludes politicians, generals, etc. much better than 'civilian', which you did in fact use. 'Civic society' is multi-class and excludes sections of proletariat, such as the soldiery, who are not part of 'civic society'.