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Were there workers' councils in Spain?

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TheWillsWilde
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Jun 23 2006 04:54

Whatev.

I never considered Chomsky a 'theorist' outside of linguistics, he is an analyst of sorts and a polemicist. He's never pretended to add anything to "anarchist thought", describes himself as a 'derivitive fellow traveler', also acknowledges the Council Commune. That being said, I only starting reading him about a halfyear ago, anti-bandwagoneer that I am. I don't understand why purists bother thrashing him for not being what he doesn't pretend to be, he's done an admirable job of educating and exposing the ideas.

Marcos is not a theoretician, he surely sees his 'bad self' as a warrior-poet (tho he is a rank amateur-and a gambler- at both) but if you look at the Zapatissmo 'class analysis' in Ya Basta- from January 94-

Penthouse Mexico

Middle Mexico

Lower Mexico

Basement Mexico

there is a poetry that transcends rigid classist analysis. I don't think anyone in Mexico is confused about who he's not talking about when he says 'civic society'. Again, I'm not wedded to the expression. I'm feeling it out. Some here agree with me.

The point I guess I haven't made well, Oliver, is, that if LCists actually build the house that Direct Worker's Democracy lives in, they get to determine who does and does not enter. Who has voice and vote. That is pure reason. A 'civic assembly' that is organized, in part, by tenant's rights organisations who've been given a dose, or started, by Anarchists is certainly not going to admit landlords. A CopWatch org that reproduces itself on a neighborhood basis, thereby 'stacking' the assembly, will certainly not allow police. It may be the start , along with more mature direct-actionist tendencies, of germinal defence committees...the very act of observing police activity is preperation for...a dual power scenario. An I.W.W presence, which by that point, would be quite large, would not and could not allow people who have the power to hire and fire. The Civic Assembly, or whatever you wish to call it, is a specific and well-convicted organism, it can allow no conflict of interest.

Where did I say soldiery would be unwelcome? They were 'civic' before they needed money for college. Those with honor, despite their decision- are all and always our family, Heather has a cousin in Rhamadi, I have a friend of 15 years in the rearguard who just got sent back like three months after having her first child. Conscientious objectors, deserters, grunts up against the brass would be some of the toughest organizers and examples....some would have to be vetted (security, and Abu-Ghraibists. There are many in Iraq who are totally dehumanized now). Wesley Everest of the Centralia IWW was a WWI vet, was horribly martyred. WWI vets actually did drill formations (iIthink) and public order during the Seattle General Strike. Who knows better than these men and women what the State will sacrifice for Capital? What atrocities it will commit?

Quote:

'civilian', which you did in fact use. '

where? In quotes, in reference to your private joke.

Ohmigod, I'm like, 'defending positions' and shit.

Poorly.

Fucking awesome.

grin

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OliverTwister
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Jun 23 2006 06:44
Quote:
The pun with 'civilians'; like non-workers.

So that's where you used the term Civilian.

Anyways

Quote:
A 'civic assembly' that is organized, in part, by tenant's rights organisations who've been given a dose, or started, by Anarchists is certainly not going to admit landlords. A CopWatch org that reproduces itself on a neighborhood basis, thereby 'stacking' the assembly, will certainly not allow police. It may be the start , along with more mature direct-actionist tendencies, of germinal defence committees...the very act of observing police activity is preperation for...a dual power scenario.

It depends just how 'civic' don't it? It starts small - petition for non-profit status. Any direct-democratic 'civic' group is gonna be tempted by that. Once you're subsidized by the state, your mouth is closed. It's gonna be a lot harder, to argue from a LibCom POV, not to allow the enemy into your group, when the politics are already influenced by the money of the state. Much more so when the best you can conjure up is 'civil society', which fits right in with the rest of 'democratic discourse', in which, by general standards, cops and landlords fit right into.

I'm unsure how effectiive CopWatch is as a 'germinal defence committee'. However, that might be for another thread (as a matter of fact, I smell a split...)

So, remaining off-topic, do you ever notice how late at night its just us? Must be that time differential...

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 23 2006 07:05

It depends just how 'civic' don't it? It starts small - petition for non-profit status.

My theory is with Syndicalist Union Halls with a multi purpose capacity developing slow (thorough, therefore fast) and well considered modes of outreach. I have it all knocked out elsewhere. Non-profit status is a compromise I would not make, a bed I don't necessarily want to hop into, but that leaves loans from credit unions and private no-interest capital. Very hard to come by, and for some even harder to rationalize, but it has to be as independent as possible, beholden to as little as possible, and self sustaining.

Quote:
Any direct-democratic 'civic' group is gonna be tempted by that.

Yes but we musy be shrewd and willing to fight to prevent cooptation. I didn't say it would be simple or easy, dude. It starts first with strength of the ideas and the example we provide. in a cultural setting, in facilitated forums, in open houses, all hosted by the IWW or the IWA, or what have you.

Quote:

Much more so when the best you can conjure up is 'civil society', which fits right in with the rest of 'democratic discourse', in which, by general standards, cops and landlords fit right into.

Well, geez. Sorry.

Should I tattoo a black and red flag to everyone's forehead? I don't know, dude, I'm not a theorist either. As far as what the 'popular' connotations of the terms are outside of Chomsky, I sadly would not really know, because I have very little contact with popular media, left or otherwise. That is a fault I guess but I'm too busy reading dusty shit.

Quote:
I'm unsure how effectiive CopWatch is as a 'germinal defence committee'. However, that might be for another thread (as a matter of fact, I smell a split...)

I have no idea how effective they are. If I were involved, I would be as a syndicalist- forming a new structure out of the strategic- observation process.I do believe in the value and the right to a neighbourhood police review commitee, a mirror-site or opposite- number to the fuzz. I don't know how effective such groups are in reality are either. But the principle is good. Not fully radical but a start.

Quote:
So, remaining off-topic, do you ever notice how late at night its just us? Must be that time differentia

l...

I have to get to bed, but just try to see where i'm getting at with the civic society and shit. it is just an expression, I'm sure you know what I mean.

Good night Fellow Worker, I wish you well in all things.

red n black star circle A red star

Skraeling
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Jun 23 2006 07:57
Alf wrote:
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.

hhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, agree that was a failure to destroy the capitalist state and also the isolation, but isn't a cornerstone of anarchist ideology the dismantling of the state apparatus (more so than Marxism)? or are you arguing that certain types of anarchist ideology claim to be anti-statist but in practice aims at ignoring the state and hoping it will just disappear or be made redundant by building the new society in the shell of the old, rather than destroying it outright?

plus also the anarchists were very aware of the importance of the Soviets. the "class struggle anarchist" strain of anarchism has often been reponsive to radical developments in the class struggle. thats why after 1871 the commune of communes was adopted by anarchist communists (at least) as their primary model for a future society, then after the appearance of soviets in 1905 and 1917 and all that, many, many anarchist communists and anarcho-syndicalists were strongly influenced by the workers councils, and adopted them in their literature and programmes eg. off the top of my head, the Dielo Truda group who wrote the Organisational Platform, Alexander Berkman in What is Anarchist Communism?, and the French anarchist communists who called themselves "council anarchists" in the 1920s. I don't know about the Spanish anarchist movement, but i wouldnt be suprised if they knew heaps about workers councils as well.

i think you could make a case that anarcho-syndicalist ideology (now, i will really get flamed!) didn't see the importance of autonomous, non-union based councils open to all workers (union or not), as they were tied to integrated everyone into their one big union strategy (i expect to get a bollocking for saying that).

Alf wrote:
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.

yeah, sorry i don't like the term party. and i think there should be many, many, many non-authoritarian, non-hierarchical communist organisations doing the things you describe (in a non-authoritarian manner tho), not one pure communist organisation, and these communist organisations ought to be in my view merely expressions of the communist tendency of proles and peasants, not a sterile programme put forward by intellectuals.

shit i feel a strong desire to quote Kropotkin, musn't, can't, shant, oh bugger, wot the hell

Kropotkin wrote:
It [communism] cannot exist without creating local life, independent in the smallest unities – the block of houses, the street, the district, the commune. It would not answer its purpose if it did not cover society with a network of thousands of associations to satisfy its thousand needs: the necessaries of life, articles of luxury, of study, enjoyment, amusements. And such associations cannot remain narrow and local; they must necessarily tend (as is already the case with learned societies, cyclist clubs, humanitarian societies and the like) to become international.

so Kropotkin is saying that genuine communism depends on workers and peasants freely creating communism in 'their own' back yards and workplaces by their own activity, then linking up with others. now i would say that this did sort of happen in 1936 and 1937, a network of hundreds of communist associations did exist, in a localised, distorted and somewhat confused form in Spain in 1936 and 37 (i'm talking of the collectives who operated without money and labour notes here, ie. communism in practice, not of ideological communist groups). it's just that this commie tendency got swamped, suppressed and put on the back burner. that was one of the tragedies of Spain. to me, its not just all about failing to set up workers/peasants councils and workers/peasants failing to smash the state!

Alf wrote:
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.

i kind of agree, but the collectivisations weren't just about tying the workers to 'their own' enterprises, some collectives were genuine in their communism (although these examples of communism were contained and localised).

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Steven.
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Jun 23 2006 09:40
Skraeling wrote:
Alf wrote:
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 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.

hhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, agree that was a failure to destroy the capitalist state and also the isolation, but isn't a cornerstone of anarchist ideology the dismantling of the state apparatus (more so than Marxism)?

Exactly. To me that just smacks of a cheap shot, which I know Trotskyists also claim, quite ridiculously as you point out. One thing at least where anarchism is consistent is the need to destroy the capitalist state, as I'm sure Alf well knows.

I think a more likely answer is the weakness of anarchist ideas amongst the population - a large number of workers were not anarchists, and so the anarchists that there were thought the destruction of the capitalist state was not a possibility for them at the present time.

Going back to workers' councils, AFAIK the structures of the CNT were used to co-ordinate production in revolutionary areas, and possibly the UGT as well? Would these not have been open to workers at large anyway, and so akin to a network/federation of workers' councils which was already in existence and just took on a greater role during the revolution (i.e. the management of society, not just struggle)?

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Alf
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Jun 23 2006 10:53

Skraeling it's true I have overgeneralised about the anarchists here. But the crucial influence in Spain was anarcho-syndicalism. Anarcho-syndicalism was, in the late 19th and early 20th century a real attempt to provide an answer to the growing bureaucratisation of the trade unions and socialist parties. But the appearance of the soviets showed that it was the wrong answer. The working class (unlike the bourgeoisie) cannot build the new world in the shell of the old. The soviets and related organs (assemblies etc) express the fact that revolutionary struggles have to create their own organisational forms and can't be structured in advance. And the strength of anarcho-syndicalist ideology in Spain surely led the majority of militant workers (even the most advanced ones, like the FOD) to think that they already had their organisations ready and waiting to take over production. And in the context of an overarching conflict between two bourgeois factions, this became a deadly trap for the workers as the Italian left communists argued, 'union controlled' factories were enterprises where strikes were seen as a betrayal of the war effort and rates of exploitation were increased.

I think you have also hit the nail on the hand when you talk about the illusion - also deeply ingrained in anarcho-syndicalism - that you can make the revolution purely on the economic level, by taking over the factories, and that the state will simply go away. The experience in Italy in 1920, where factory occupations also became a real diversion from the struggle against the state power, had made the Italian left very clear on this point the proletarian revolution must begin as a political act in which you have to replace one political power with another. Without the destruction of the capitalist state and the establishment of proletarian power, there can be no real process of socialisation.

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Steven.
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Jun 23 2006 11:05
Alf wrote:
The experience in Italy in 1920, where factory occupations also became a real diversion from the struggle against the state power, had made the Italian left very clear on this point: the proletarian revolution must begin as a political act in which you have to replace one political power with another. Without the destruction of the capitalist state and the establishment of proletarian power, there can be no real process of socialisation.

Can you explain exactly what you mean by this?

BB
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Jun 23 2006 11:09
AnarchoAl wrote:
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.

Hi Al, from what i've read it was mainly the FAIstas (post uprising), that were pushing the CNT to join the government. See Federica Montseny, so called leading FAIsta, and government minister.

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Jun 23 2006 12:27

John I mean that the working class has to establish its dictatorship over society in order to transform it. That it cannot start the process of abolishing wage labour and commodity production while the capitalist state is still intact. That it needs to have political power and the armed force to back it up in order to expropriate the bourgeoisie and suppress the principle of capital accumulation.

Political power and armed force are not sufficient conditions for establishing the bases of communism but they sure are necessary. You can't get round it and create communism in one factory, village, or country while the bourgeoisie still holds power.

Did I understand your question?

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Jun 23 2006 12:40

Right okay, so by political power you basically mean military power right?

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Jun 23 2006 13:42

No; it can't do without military power, but for the working class it means its ability to lead society forwards by mobilising itself, organising itself, developing its own class consciousness and generalising this consciousness throughout society. It's not just a question of force. And it can't work at a local level. The political power of the working class has to be centralised, even if it is centralised 'from below'. And it has to be established on a world scale.

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 23 2006 14:35

Alf, I agree with you in essence but we have to start on a local level and simultaneously reach out to others on other local levels to coordinate things. We don't wait for the correct party line to act.

Your definition of 'political power' is and probably will always be too abstract for me, though. As far as society organising and mobilising itself, I'm all about it.

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OliverTwister
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Jun 23 2006 15:04

The question of workers' councils among syndicalist thought in the 30s is a good one. There were a lot of diffeerent tendencies. The CNT certainly didn't think that they could act as the 'one big union' - several times they tried to merge with thee UGT, but this was blocked primarily by the PSOE. However, when the war started situations changed rapidly - the UGT came under the influence of the Communist Party and began accepting Assault Guards, former bosses, small business owners, etc. who soon formed a majority in Catalonia. At the same time entire sections of the UGT joined the CNT as well as many individual militant workers so that membership soon swelled to 3 million. Despite this groups within the CNT (such as the FOD) still sought unity with the working class sections of the UGT and it was on the basis of these unions that they sought to institute 'proletarian dictatorship'. I think its likely that most CNT shops, at least, could be described as being similar to workers' councils in practice. (In rural areas i think the collectivess which were created were only marginally tied to the CNT so this is probably even more the case).

One more thing: Just as the ICC draws lessons from, but doesn't seek to become a replica of the Bolshevik party, so I doubt that there's many syndicalists who seek to become a replica of the old CNT, rather than simply draw lessons from it. (A good example could be the article i was reading on the website of the CNT-Bordeaux saying that the 'Charter of Amiens' was totalitarian in the way it imagined all economic power to lie with the unions under socialism; another is the CNT-Spain who do not have any pretense about becoming the 'one big union' - they want all decision making power to lie in workers' assemblies, but say that prior to the revolution the purpose of the CNT is to intervene in, strengthen, and initiate workers struggle [paraphrasing, of course]).

redtwister
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Jun 23 2006 19:48
Skraeling wrote:
Kropotkin wrote:
It [communism] cannot exist without creating local life, independent in the smallest unities – the block of houses, the street, the district, the commune. It would not answer its purpose if it did not cover society with a network of thousands of associations to satisfy its thousand needs: the necessaries of life, articles of luxury, of study, enjoyment, amusements. And such associations cannot remain narrow and local; they must necessarily tend (as is already the case with learned societies, cyclist clubs, humanitarian societies and the like) to become international.

so Kropotkin is saying that genuine communism depends on workers and peasants freely creating communism in 'their own' back yards and workplaces by their own activity, then linking up with others. now i would say that this did sort of happen in 1936 and 1937, a network of hundreds of communist associations did exist, in a localised, distorted and somewhat confused form in Spain in 1936 and 37 (i'm talking of the collectives who operated without money and labour notes here, ie. communism in practice, not of ideological communist groups). it's just that this commie tendency got swamped, suppressed and put on the back burner. that was one of the tragedies of Spain. to me, its not just all about failing to set up workers/peasants councils and workers/peasants failing to smash the state!

First of all, while it is certainly true that communism will involve all kinds of levels of organization and what can be done at the most local level should be done at the most local level, that is by the people directly implicatd in it, there is nothing to say that revolution implies starting from the backyard, as you put it.

Localism, that is the fetish that local is somehow better, more communist, etc strikes me as a very bourgeois prejudice, akin to that of looking towards a "Town Hall" model of local democracy. In United States history it is patently obvious that bowing to localism would mean bowing to the worst prejudices, to extreme narrowness, to white supremacy, to small town cupidity and suburban fragmentation. Localism and extremely strong federalism was always the hallmark of the racist, white right wing, and it is so today in the U.S., and goes hand-in-hand with a most perniscious national chauvinist centralist militarism.

You could object that the content is different, but I think that would beg the question that what really matters is not federalism or localism versus centralism, but the content of each at any given moment, of what class interests they serve.

In a revolutionary situation, localism can just as easily be a problem because the issue is not "all of the workers doing their own thing" or "democratic agreement". The issue is the overthrow of capital, which means a certain unity in action and the possibility of the most militant and radical wing of the class leading or at least cementing the action of the class as a whole against capital, militates against any formalistic adherence to localism.

This is part of the role of the historical party of the class. From my point of view, to talk the of the party of the class, in this context, as anything other than an outgrowth of the class struggle, of the natural tendency towards unification and association in struggle, is nonsense. Such a historical party cannot be built, it comes into existence out of the need for class unity.

That is the opposite of the Leninist or Social Democratic party. The latter seeks to be a mass party under bourgeois society and as such is always already bourgeois. The former believes it can, brick by brick, through recruitment, propaganda and agitation, build an organization of cadre who will be the party of the class, its professionalized leadership trained in the arcane art of revolution, and who are of course shielded by the political indoctrination and pressure of the party, from the corruptions of bourgeois society.

In the same way, I see no reason to make a fetish of councils or soviets. Councils in Germany did not stop them from becoming organs of the Social Democrats' democratically strangling the revolution on one side, while they used the military and police on the other to kill and repress.

Nor have I seen anything to indicate that councils are the form of revolutionary organization for all periods. Councils were not the form taken by the Paris Commune. Councils have not come into existence in the industrialized countries since the 1930's. They have arisen only in other places that achieved a level of development akin to the U.S. and Europe in the 1920's and 30's, i.e. to the dominance of a certain kind of organization of the labor process where workers could still imgaine the entire production process.

To me, councilism is nothing more than an ideology today, a fetish because we do not know where to look. It is an ideal held up that has not realized itself and it is fair at this point to say that if reality has not lived up to the Notion, maybe it is our notion that is at fault and not reality.

I am not against the centrality of workers' self-activity, just so we are clear, but I am against trying to force it into a localist or federalist straightjacket.

As far as Alf's point about anarchism being weak against the state, I think he is correct in reference to those anarchisms which deny a political aspect to revolution and who therefore (pre)tend to ignore the state. It is not enough to take over the means of production, the social power of the bourgeoisie must be broken and suppressed, which means the establishment of the political power of the proletariat, that is, the organized and at least to some degree centralized and coordinated suppression of the bourgeois state, of value, of money, of commodities, of the market, etc. (keep in mind, that for me these are social relations, not merely properties of things or things) because they will continue to re-appear until a new way of organizing social production and relations has taken root.

Cheers,

Chris

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Jun 23 2006 21:02
Alf wrote:
The political power of the working class has to be centralised, even if it is centralised 'from below'. And it has to be established on a world scale.

And sorry but what do you mean by this?

davethemagicweasel
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Jun 23 2006 22:01
redtwister wrote:
In a revolutionary situation, localism can just as easily be a problem because the issue is not "all of the workers doing their own thing" or "democratic agreement". The issue is the overthrow of capital, which means a certain unity in action and the possibility of the most militant and radical wing of the class leading or at least cementing the action of the class as a whole against capital, militates against any formalistic adherence to localism.

This is part of the role of the historical party of the class. From my point of view, to talk the of the party of the class, in this context, as anything other than an outgrowth of the class struggle, of the natural tendency towards unification and association in struggle, is nonsense. Such a historical party cannot be built, it comes into existence out of the need for class unity.

Surely whether the issue is the overthrow of capital, its taking over and managing by the workers themselves or any other of the numerous possible courses open to the workers wlll be an issue to be decided by the workers themselves, not by a bunch of self-described revolutionaries prior to the revolution. I personally think it should be about taking control over our own lives, not about the fulfilment of a specific political program.

Also, I don't see that there is necessarily a distinction between localism and the unification of struggles. It is for those locally based groups that emerge to choose to unify their struggles (I would shy away from the word centralize) with others. If they choose not to then no party can impose that unification on them from above, not without defeating the revolution in the process of doing so. Either the workers will be unified by their own decisions or the revolution will fail. If they choose to do so then they may well organise themselves as a party, but that party would still be composed of and controlled by locally and workplace based organs.

I do agree with your point about not forcing the revolution into a straitjacket, but I'd probably call these hypothetical organs councils in the absence of a better idea of organizational forms for now.

Anyway, personally I'd rather see the role of unifying struggles filled by councils of delegates from those local bodies, so I don't see any need for a party as a separate organization.

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Jun 23 2006 23:22

I thought Redtwister's post contains some very good points, especially about localism. I will try to come back on other, more controversial points - the form of the councils and the party - when I am less knackered.

John posed a short question and I will try to give a short answer. In my opinion, centralisation can be illustrated by the way soviets function. They arise because local assemblies need to united their forces. Workers in one enterprise or locality don't have different interests from those in another so there is no reason why they shouldn't centralise - i.e. send delegates to a central assembly. That central assembly of delegates is not simply a meeting place; it is also a decision-making body and since the whole takes precedence over the parts, its decisions should be binding on the local assemblies (although they can of course revoke their delegates and/or try to argue against the decisions they disagree with).

Centralisation, as Bordiga once said, is a principle for the workers' movement because it transcends the notion of the autonomous individual or enterprise and expresses the collective nature of the proletariat's struggle. Thus communists are against individual workers or factory assemblies just doing what they feel like in the struggle - there is a collective responsibility which must be advocated and developed.

All this may appear banal, and many anarchists might say they agree with it and it's really no different from federalism, but given the amount of distrust and hostility we have encounterd from anarchists when we apply the principle of centralisation to the organisation of revolutionaries, we have reasons to doubt this.

John are you going to accompany Jack to our forum on the 8th of July? We could discuss all these issues in person. But if this post failed to respond to your question, let me know. Re-reading your post you also quoted what I said about centralisation on a world scale. I used a local example of centralisation (a soviet in a city) because it's easier to envisage, but the same principles apply at national or international level.

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 24 2006 03:17

http://narconews.com/Issue42/article1928.html

A little 'popular assembly' action in Oaxaca.

Quote:
The holding of a Popular Assembly echoes the Oaxacan tradition of “uses and customs” (usos y costumbres) by which many towns still govern themselves in open citizen assemblies. The presence of political parties within such assemblies is not permitted; it is also forbidden in the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca.

The justification named in the first Popular Assembly document states, “Given that sovereignty resides in the people and for the people who have the inalienable right to expel their governments when those do not comply with the mandate for which they were elected, the people of Oaxaca are justified in soliciting the revocation of powers in the State of Oaxaca.” .

Quote:
The government buildings of Pinotepa Nacional, Tuxtepec, San José Chiltepec, Valle Nacional, San Pedro Pochutla and Asunción Nochixtlán have all been occupied.

Hmmm. neutral

Quote:
-In the pursuit of these goals[the social revolution], and in the defence of their integrity, we seek not the counsel , the approval , or the permission of representatives, politicians, or of ideologues; of demagogues, bureaucrats, or of opportunists; or of any who would wish to profit from the labor of others or conspire to deprive us of the few freedoms we have, or the many we have yet to share. We , united as the source of all of the wealth of society, and comprising the overwhelming majority of the peoples of the earth, require only each other, our own hearts, minds, voices and hands as the means by which we will effect this great change.

- To make this revolution-like-no-other possible, we seek the initiation of the directly-democratic assembly of all of civic society, in autonomous and freely federated bodies and the councils and commitees delegated for the execution of their collective will, in the workplace and in all realms of public life, as independent of, and ulitimately superceding, the legitmacy , the jurisdiction, and the power of any established form of governance, and of any form of governance to be.

(some shit i wrote a month ago)

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Jun 24 2006 06:53

Sorry but the part you bolded comes with some very questionable context:

Quote:
The holding of a Popular Assembly echoes the Oaxacan tradition of “uses and customs” (usos y costumbres) by which many towns still govern themselves in open citizen assemblies... Given that sovereignty resides in the people and for the people who have the inalienable right to expel their governments when those do not comply with the mandate for which they were elected

At the least, it's very 'populist'. To continue, I wouldn't be overly excited that both you and this document use 'citizen'. Citizens are the opposite of workers or even oppressed peasants.

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Steven.
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Jun 24 2006 10:43

confused Did you mean to start a new thread?

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 24 2006 14:00

Where have I committed the grievous counter-revolutionary deviation of using the dreaded word 'citizen", Comrade-CommIssar Oliver? Please, enlighten me, that I may renounce myself with the proper revolutionary zeal.

Is it the Gulag for, me, now? Or will re-education suffice?

roll eyes

It's not a new thread. Perhaps should be, Simple reminder that there is no Council without an Assembly. That it is the assembly that has power, the council is an agency within it commissioned. I don't have enough detail on Oaxaca but I would hope that things are moving that way. We know that there is the CIPO-Ricardo Flores Magon down there, I don't know how much influence they have.

But of course, since the folks in Oaxaca use the word 'citizen', it's just some bullshit. The massive teacher's strike, confrontations with police, the sruggling collectives, the assembly...their choice of language surely proves that they are not interested in truly proleterian revolution.

grin red n black star

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Jun 24 2006 14:55

All good points. Down with critique, up with blind support.

TheWillsWilde
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Jun 25 2006 01:09

roll eyes

Yes. That is exactly what I am proposing.

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Jul 5 2006 21:55

Since the forums went down there has been a lot of discussion on the back-up forum on the war in Spain. It's not possible to transfer them wholesale, so tomorrow if I get time I will transfer some of the discussion from the back-up forum to this thread (unless someone else beats me to it).

In the meantime, one of our comrades in Spain has been looking at the discussions on libcom, especially the discussion about the CNT with Oliver, and he sent me the following in an e-mail. Obviously the comrade is not writing in his first language but the points he makes are clear, whether or not people agree with them. I have proposed that in future he should post directly onto libcom, and am waiting for his reply The cde is from Valencia and events there are keeping our section busy no doubt. The comrades have issued a statement on the metro crash - it's on our site in Spanish, but we will put it out in English soon. Anyway, here are the points he makes. I have quoted from the main posts by Oliver that he is replying to.

Oliver Twister wrote on the 'Were there workers councils in Spain thread

“The question of workers' councils among syndicalist thought in the 30s is a good one. There were a lot of diffeerent tendencies. The CNT certainly didn't think that they could act as the 'one big union' - several times they tried to merge with thee UGT, but this was blocked primarily by the PSOE. However, when the war started situations changed rapidly - the UGT came under the influence of the Communist Party and began accepting Assault Guards, former bosses, small business owners, etc. who soon formed a majority in Catalonia. At the same time entire sections of the UGT joined the CNT as well as many individual militant workers so that membership soon swelled to 3 million. Despite this groups within the CNT (such as the FOD) still sought unity with the working class sections of the UGT and it was on the basis of these unions that they sought to institute 'proletarian dictatorship'. I think its likely that most CNT shops, at least, could be described as being similar to workers' councils in practice. (In rural areas i think the collectivess which were created were only marginally tied to the CNT so this is probably even more the case).

One more thing Just as the ICC draws lessons from, but doesn't seek to become a replica of the Bolshevik party, so I doubt that there's many syndicalists who seek to become a replica of the old CNT, rather than simply draw lessons from it. (A good example could be the article i was reading on the website of the CNT-Bordeaux saying that the 'Charter of Amiens' was totalitarian in the way it imagined all economic power to lie with the unions under socialism; another is the CNT-Spain who do not have any pretense about becoming the 'one big union' - they want all decision making power to lie in workers' assemblies, but say that prior to the revolution the purpose of the CNT is to intervene in, strengthen, and initiate workers struggle [paraphrasing, of course])".

Oliver wrote on the Kronstadt thread

"I'd like to come back to this thread tomorrow, but a quick point in response to Alf's post If you recognize that the Bolsheviks still had proletarian elements in the party until 1926 and the declaration of 'Socialism in one country', surely the same standard must be applied to other groups, such as the CNT? However unlike the Bolsheviks, the CNT actually critiqued its actions and (unanimously, IIRC) condemned them, writing them off for any future opportunities.

Also, i don't want this to seem like an ad hominem, because it is just a curiosity doesn't the Spanish section of the ICC participate in the CNT's web forums at Alasbarricadas.org? How is this reconciled if that organization is considered to still be part of capital?”

This is the reply from our Spanish comrade

1) O.T. claims that the tendencies inside the CNT to look for the unity with the UGT would be an expression that the Trade unions “sought to institute proletarian dictatorship”.

It’s true that these tendencies existed. In fact they were one of the main subjects in the two first CNT congresses, and probably also then on. But this has nothing to do with proletarian dictatorship. For revolutionary trade unionist positions, communism should be the unions, nor the proletarian dictatorship; as the organs of this dictatorship should be again the unions, nor the soviets. Whereas according to the unionist views, the working class unity is the sum of every branch in a corporatist sense, the soviets show the working class unity through and over the different parts. Unions (even “revolutionary” unions) represent the working class as it is in capitalism; soviets represent the working class fighting for revolution.

The real question with the CNT is that, on the one hand, at the beginning of the XX century, the workers in Spain, as in the other main countries in Europe, were pushed by the historical framework to a mass strike dynamic; different facts like the big weight of apoliticism from bakuninist and anarchist tradition, and the extreme weakness and opportunism in the socialist party, gave rise to a revolutionary unionist tendency where the anarchist were ready to intervene; on the other hand, just this anarchist intervention was the main trouble to understand the mass strike and the revolutionary perspective. So we could say that unionism and anarchism were the main problems for the working class to prepare its revolutionary assault.

All these tendencies lived together inside the CNT, and the way they confronted one another in the different moments till the 1936 war needs to be precisely elucidated.

2) The concrete question as to the “collectives” in the countryside, or any other committees in the towns would be worker’s councils, has been already discussed in the International Review articles

- Critique to the Munis Book “Jalones de Derrota, promesas de Victoria”

- Spain 1936, a deeper revolution than Russia 1917?

- The myth of anarchist collectives

3) Concerning the class nature of the CNT compared to Bolsheviks in 1926, etc.

To begin with, the ICC has always said that most of the best forces in the working class in Spain were in the CNT until the war. Even during the war, while she entered ministers else in the national and Catalunya governments, there were class reactions inside the CNT, as it is proved by “Los amigos de Durruti” (see article in the International review as well).

However this same experience showed the inability of the anarchist to draw the lessons from the events (in fact from the defeat), contrary to what has been said by O.T.. As we wrote in the International Review nº 118, this is one essential difference between Marxism and anarchism; while the first is able to criticize the wrong steps drawing out the political lessons and enriching the communist program, the very nature of anarchism, its refuse to get a political program, its idealist based positions, considering eternal truths, avoid any possibility of something similar to left fractions in Marxism. Perhaps “Los Amigos de Durruti” were one of the most significant experience, and in practice, although they represented a class reaction, were absolutely unable to pose a revolutionary program for the working class to confront the republican State and take the power.

4) The CNT today doesn’t work at all like a network of militants in favour of the assemblies. Even if they claim to defend the assemblies, they are really organized as a union. They form union sections in the factories and participate in the union elections as we denounced in Acción Proletaria nº 81, when CNT won the unions elections in SEAT in 1988.

This is the best period to see what the CNT does in the workers struggle nowadays, because in that time, the PSOE (socialist party) was in the government, and UGT and CCOO (the socialist and stalinist trade unions) were strongly implied in applying the attacks in the factories. So there were an important development of base unionism (not only in Spain; we can remember those days for example in France the nurses coordination, etc) where the CNT played an important role. One of the most important strikes at the moment, where CNT put itself in the frontline was the shipyard strike in Puerto Real (Cadiz). By the way there is a pamphlet in English, quite popular in the English speaking anarchist milieu http//www.solwest.org.uk/puertoreal.html; many people from this milieu take the information about the CNT defence of the workers assemblies from this text.

There was a lot of combativity in this strike, and the unions divided the work against the workers. While UGT & CCOO (majoritaries in the shipyard and controlling the strike committee) played the role of refusing the struggle and calling for the agreement offered by the bosses, CNT headed the radical actions and tried to present itself like assemblyist

But it was not CNT who impulsed the assemblies and the spreading of the struggle; but the workers. AT the beginning CNT tried to push to radical isolated actions Tuesday and Thursday, fighting the police, and closing the roads.

However the workers pressed to spread the struggle and open the assemblies to the workers family members, and also to workers from other sectors. They also organized demonstrations together with other factories. Thursday assemblies arrived to meet 4000 to 5000 people at the top of the struggle.

CNT, as you can see in the hyperlink, deliberately try to propagate confusion between these real assemblies, coming from the struggle, and permanent assemblies, as a way of organize its own union sections in the shipyards and in Puerto Real.

TWICE CNT signed (together with the other unions), the agreement accepting the laid offs AGAINST the workers position. And TWICE the assemblies voted AGAINST the agreement, to carry on the struggle. The first time they were able to present UGT as the only responsible for the capitulation. But the second time, all of them, including CNT rested exposed as traitors in front of the workers.

Those days, as it goes, the workers were really angry with the unions. In the north, in Bilbao, one of the slogans they cried was “centrales sindicales todas sois iguales” (trade unions you are everyone the same).

So, what the recent experience shows in the CNT roll as a radical unionist wing, a base unionist appendicle for the official tradeunions. And this in not an isolated example, as CNT also participated “critically” in the 14 D general strike (in December 1988), a bourgeoisie manoeuvre against the strikes wave summoned by UGT and CCOO.

5) Concerning our intervention in “alasbarricadas” . Firstly it is not said anywhere that it is a CNT forum; but an anarchist one, even if everybody knows that CNT is more or less responsible (usual cleanness). So it is not a CNT official site. You can find a lot of people interested in political positions discussing there. And we could say that it is quite similar to libcom. There are Stalinist, trotsykist, councilist, anarchist, and Marxist posts.

On the other hand, it has to be said that the ICC doesn’t consider each member in a bourgeois organization responsible of its politics, particularly in mass organizations, like trade unions, where a lot of workers are trapped; because the totalitarian bourgeois state try to close citizens in general and workers in particular in bourgeois ideology through different parties and organizations who, contrary to the parties in XIX century, aren’t the expression of the civil society in the state; but the expression of the state in the civil society. So, every time we are given the possibility to talk to these workers trapped in bourgeois parties and organizations, even in openly leftist meetings or forums (which is not the case with “alasbarricadas” as it is said), we do it.

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Jul 5 2006 22:20

Alf, this link doesn't work: http://www.solwest.org.uk/puertoreal.html;

Dev

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Jul 6 2006 11:31

Devrim - sorry about that. Does anyone else know where to find the text in question? If not I will check with the comrade who wrote the message.

I have looked back over the thread on the back-up forums on the topic of our public meeting (Spain 36, the communist left, the Friends of Durruti) on Saturday, with the notional idea of copying it over, but I am not going to be able to do this in the time available. However it is worth checking out as there are some interesting contributions (not only the leftcommie ones). Here's the link

http//punkt.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=272&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

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Jul 6 2006 21:59

Quickly:

Alf: is your Cde. sure that the organization he mentions having won the SEAT elections in 1988 is the same that goes by the CNT today? I know the CGT form part of the SEAT works council, and they only changed their name in 1989. So with that at least there is some possible confusion i'd like to clear up.

When I have some free time i'll read the Puerto Real document and comment on the CNT during the Puerto Real strike. However I do think it's illogical to seperate the CNT from the workers, as if the CNT was not a part thereof. With Leninist or social-democratic organizations one can seperate them since they take orders from (often clearly bourgeois) leaders who are seperate, but that wouldn't have been the case with the CNT so I don't see any reason to think of them as anything other than a group of workers who had certain ideas and pushed for them to be taken up by the rest.

Devrim: Yes it is going very well. We've been listening to a few of Georges Brassens' (french anarchist folk singer) songs in Esperanto, which was an interesting treat.

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Jul 7 2006 13:58
Quote:
Alf: is your Cde. sure that the organization he mentions having won the SEAT elections in 1988 is the same that goes by the CNT today? I know the CGT form part of the SEAT works council, and they only changed their name in 1989. So with that at least there is some possible confusion i'd like to clear up.

Yes, it is the CGT, no the CNT.

The CNT has a section at SEAT, but of course doesn´t take part at the professional elections.

Quote:

But it was not CNT who impulsed the assemblies and the spreading of the struggle; but the workers. AT the beginning CNT tried to push to radical isolated actions Tuesday and Thursday, fighting the police, and closing the roads.

However the workers pressed to spread the struggle and open the assemblies to the workers family members, and also to workers from other sectors. They also organized demonstrations together with other factories. Thursday assemblies arrived to meet 4000 to 5000 people at the top of the struggle.

CNT, as you can see in the hyperlink, deliberately try to propagate confusion between these real assemblies, coming from the struggle, and permanent assemblies, as a way of organize its own union sections in the shipyards and in Puerto Real.

TWICE CNT signed (together with the other unions), the agreement accepting the laid offs AGAINST the workers position. And TWICE the assemblies voted AGAINST the agreement, to carry on the struggle. The first time they were able to present UGT as the only responsible for the capitulation. But the second time, all of them, including CNT rested exposed as traitors in front of the workers.

That are only lies, lies and ignorance... the ICC is inventing tthe things like they like that were.

Although the truth hurt the ICC, not all the Unions are equal.

Manu Garcia
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Jul 7 2006 14:13
Quote:
But it was not CNT who impulsed the assemblies and the spreading of the struggle; but the workers.

Were the workers organised at the CNT who did that.

Quote:
However the workers pressed to spread the struggle and open the assemblies to the workers family members, and also to workers from other sectors. They also organized demonstrations together with other factories. Thursday assemblies arrived to meet 4000 to 5000 people at the top of the struggle.

This was promoved by the CNT workers.

Quote:
CNT, as you can see in the hyperlink, deliberately try to propagate confusion between these real assemblies, coming from the struggle, and permanent assemblies, as a way of organize its own union sections in the shipyards and in Puerto Real.

This is, directly, a lie.

Quote:
TWICE CNT signed (together with the other unions), the agreement accepting the laid offs AGAINST the workers position.

This is FALSE. The CNT didn´t sign.

Quote:
the assemblies voted AGAINST the agreement, to carry on the struggle

The Assemblies ALWAYS followed the CNT workers position, so they were, of course, against the agrrement, as the CNT was.

Quote:
The first time they were able to present UGT as the only responsible for the capitulation. But the second time, all of them, including CNT rested exposed as traitors in front of the workers.

Another lie. The CNT ALWAYS (hear me well ALWAYS) respect the decisions of the workers assembly, NEVER decide by other workers. Also, the position of the assembly and the one of the workers of CNT was ALWAYS, ALONG ALL THE PROCESS, THE SAME.

The CNT workers at the shipyard of Puerto Real are the most respected by the other workers by their honesty and the lies, the slanders, that is spreading at these forums an ICC member are very serious. I would like to see him at the factory defending that in front of the workers.

The reality doesn´t give reason to the ICC, so the ICC falsify the reality. It is the same, for them, if they have to calumn honest comrades.

The last case, in Spain, was the struggles at SEAT. For the ICC, were "spontaneus and against the unions", and the truth was (if like the ICC or not), that were CGT members who impulsed them. And I am not a CGT member, but I have to recognize the things.

Quote:
Firstly it is not said anywhere that it is a CNT forum; but an anarchist one, even if everybody knows that CNT is more or less responsible (usual cleanness).[/quote]

More lies without knowing, from the more absolute ignorance. Is this the ICC usual line?

redtwister
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Jul 7 2006 17:02
John. wrote:
Alf wrote:
The political power of the working class has to be centralised, even if it is centralised 'from below'. And it has to be established on a world scale.

And sorry but what do you mean by this?

Is this directed to me?

The dictatorship of the proletariat in my understanding is a social issue, not a political one. There is no such thing as a "workers' state" or a dictatorship of the proletariat in one country. That is nonsense. The DoP is an internationalist concept, involving the social power of the proletariat , on a world scale. DoP in one country is the same as socialism in one country. Claims that the Bolsheviks instituted the DoP in Russia aree damnable nonsense and occaissonally damnable lies too. So for anarchist comrades who worry I am defending a "workers' state" kind of thing, I am not. We agree on the need to smash the bourgeois state and to not substitute it with a so-called "workers' state".

The DoP is the social power of the proletariat organized to suppress value, money, the commodity, etc. But it is also the recognition that this is a global requirement, not one that can be done at the level of local whimsy or through federation. The suppression of capitalist social relations is a class-wide task.

This involves centralization that grows organically from the requirements of struggle. It cannot be imposed by this or that group or party, nor can we just wish it. I think that forms of struggle which develop must express this if capital is to be ended and they must coordinate globally with a unity of purpose. This is about a political perspective about the possibility of communism and either it is correct for the class as a whole or it is wrong for the class as a whole. You cannot have a little "workers' state" in one area experimenting with Taylorism, wage-labor, etc and not expect capital to re-assert itself. And the workers in other areas, the class as a whole, has the right to suppress the development of such relations as part of a counter-revolution. And in fact, historically, it is self-proclaimed parties that have tried to impose this. The workers have tended to resist this, but often without a clear political perspective on why and how.

The party idea I hold to is not one of a group or organization. It is the coming together of those who understand the tasks of the moment in a revolution, who resist fragmentation, who resist the re-imposition of wage-labor, of commodity production, of value, etc., who wage the political-theoretical fight, not outside or against the material organs of struggle that develop, but within them. This does not require that all of these people be in the same organization, agree on all issues, etc. That is why it is a historical party, and like the DoP is a social concept, a political force, not a mere conglomeration of people with an abstract agreement on some "points of unity." in the abscence of class wide activity, such a party does not exist.

So the issue becomes what one believes the tasks of revolution are, what communism is in its content. Arguments over councils or not councils is secondary, in the abscence of struggles giving rise to material forms of self-organization, to the political fight over the content of communism and revolution.

Therefore, defenses of money and commodities are to me more an issue than councils or not councils. If we find that the council form is the one that arises in our struggles, and we find ways to coordinate action across them in a centralized, that is in a concentrated and universal matter, at the decisive moments, then good for us. But if the councils are nothing more than a vehicle for repression of the revolution, as the Social Democrats used them in 1918-19 in Germany, then they are useless to us.

That is why it is worth arguing with Lazy and others who defend the idea that communism is compatible with the continuation of money, commodities, etc. Those things are the very root of the divide between Value and use-value that constitutes capital as the perpectual and absolute separation of producers from the means of producing, the imposition of wage-labor, the mediation of the transfer of goods by money, etc.

Money is, after all, not just a useful thing, but a relation in which I can produce a thing with potential value for no one in particular and exchange it for pure, abstract value (money) and then hold on to that money until I wish to purchase something else. It is the web of indirect relations this creates, that masks the social aspect of production and consumption, that atomizes us. And it is predicated on the often violent and continuous separation of the producers from the means of producing and from their product. The problem with money, and the need for its suppression, is not moral, but goes to the heart of the transformation of objects for human need into values, into things with a life and purpose of their own.

Given the global nature of this, I cannot imagine how it is possible to suppress it, to abolish it, in the abscence of a consciously organized, and at times centralized, activity. To me, that centralization grows out of the social relations workers' struggle seeks to abolish, out of the requirements of abolishing capital itself. It is not a product of some group or idea, but I hope expresses the actual struggle in ideas. That is why communists have no special theories to foist on the movement of the class, but rather try to express in ideas, to struggle to help make conscious the necessary social practice. if I am wrong, then IMO communism is a fantasy because then our ideas do not express reality, they are just another philosophy interpreting the world, instead of expressing and sharpening the cutting side of the blade of the class struggle.

Chris