Useless Pastime

Let's get down to the business of really discussing the issues: the role and nature of the State, trade unions, feminism, nationalism, sexuality, etc.

It was Otto von Bismark, I believe, who said, "...the International is dead; but woe be to the crowned heads of Europe should red and black ever be reunited." Unfortunately, old Otto's fears are yet to be realized. It appears from the current debate in The Red Menace that both anarchists and marxists are more interested in scoring debating points against their opponents; in arguing over the correct interpretation of the sacred texts; in defending the integrity of their favorite revolutionary "saint", than in dealing with the substantive issues that have separated these two schools of thought and action since the split in the First International.

Yet, while I feel that the polemics are futile, I am be no means neutral in the debate. While I am not anti-marxist, I do feel that many of the anarchist criticisms of marxism are legitimate. On the other hand Ulli Diemer does not even venture to critique anarchist ideas concerning the state, society, the individual, organization, revolutionary activity, etc. He merely criticizes anarchists for criticizing Marx, for being anti-intellectual, for being moralistic. His chief concern seems to be to "prove" that Marx and not Bakunin is the real libertarian; the Bakunin was just an anti-Semite and an anti-German and, therefore, his criticisms of Marx are invalid; that Bakunin not Marx was the real forbear of Lenin (as if it really mattered). Diemer seems to be concerned with the allegation that the anarchist critics of Marx have not read Marx. Yet when confronted with critics who have obviously read Marx, and use quotations to back up their comments, Ulli merely backpeddals claiming that these critics have mis-interpreted Marx and that what Marx really meant was...

Let's face it, comrades, none of us really meant when they wrote what they did. We interpret these teachings in the light of our own personalities; our own preference. This is why the debate, anarchism vs. marxism, is a useless pastime. There is no resolution. I am not going to stop being an anarchist, not because I think that Marx was full of shit, but because in the light of history I think the anarchists were right more often than not. (Bakunin's almost prophetic description of what the marxist dictatorship would look like, whether or not Marx actually subscribed to these views attributed to him, is a case in point.) Nor does this mean that I reject the left-communist tradition of Pannekoek, Gorter, Korsch, Ruhle, etc. These individuals contributed a great deal to an understanding of society as it exists and the vision of how society could be transformed. Genuine revolutionaries should draw upon all of these revolutionary traditions.

Let's get down to the business of really discussing the issues: the role and nature of the State, trade unions, feminism, nationalism, sexuality, etc. and the lessons that past revolutions have for all of these points. And let's try to do it without getting into a battle of quotations from sacred texts. Just because Marx, or Bakunin, or Lenin said thus and so doesn't make it true. What do we think about these things? What lessons do we draw from past revolutions? What can we do to put our ideas into practice. Let the dead bury their dead!

In Solidarity,
Michael J. Hargis