Socialist Wanker

Digesting some of the material about the collapse of the British SWP. Here are some of the links that are relevant beyond UK sectariana but of interest to those interested in Marxist theory and Trotskyist history more broadly. For those interested in the gory details, go to Jim Jepps’ ever-growing link list, from which a couple of the items below are pilfered, or to Mikey’s tabloid version. Apologies this is so un-chronological, with stuff from January through to April.

Leninism, vanguardism, party democracy, activist culture:

Theorising Marxism and feminism:

Tony Cliff, founding figure of the British Int...

Tony Cliff, founding figure of the British International Socialists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “IS tradition”:

The radical movement in Britain

Historical Materialism journal:

Centrist Marxism

English: Heading of an ILP letter

The material on centrist Marxism was removed from the Wikipedia article on Centrism, so I have created a new article on the former. It is very much a work in progress, so anyone reading this who is a Wikipedia editor, please work on it. It started like this:

Centrism has a specific meaning within the Marxist movement, referring to a position between a revolutionary and reformist position. For instance, the Independent Labour Party (ILP) was seen as centrist because they oscillated between advocating reaching a socialist economy through reforms and advocating revolution. The members of the so-called Two-and-a-half and Three-and-a-half Internationals, who could not choose between the reformism of the social democrat Second International and the revolutionary politics of the Communist Third International, are exemplary of centrism in this sense; instances are the Spanish Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), ILP and Poale Zion.

Revolutionary Marxists often describe centrism in this sense as opportunistic, since it argues for a revolution at some point in the future but urges reformist practices in the mean time; Libertarian socialists and anarchists view any reformism as political opportunism because they view reformism as incapable of effecting structural changes to social organization.[1]

The term “Centrism” also denotes positions held by some of the Bolsheviks during the 1920s. In this context, “Centrism” refers to a position between the Right Opposition (which supported the New Economic Policy and friendly relations with capitalist countries) and the Left Opposition (which supported an immediate transition to a socialist economy and world revolution). By the end of the 1920s, the two opposing factions had been defeated by Joseph Stalin who eventually gained enough support from members of the factions through the application of various ideas formed by the factions’ various leaders. (i.e. Leon TrotskyNikolai Bukharin, etc.)

(more…)

From the archive of struggle no.69: Emma Goldman, anti-fascism, etc

Most important link today is an apparently previously unpublished text by Emma Goldman on “The political Soviet grinding machine“, written in Barcelona in 1936.

I’ve only recently noticed the newish website Anti-Fascist Archive, which mainly has material from the history of British militant anti-fascism. Here’s a recent weekly update to give you an idea of what’s there:

Most relevant to this blog, I guess, is the pre-war stuff, so here’s a taster.

img074 img075 img076 img077img072 img073

The Two-Gun Mutualist site has been updating its translations. Among the updated are: “Nihilism” by Voline (ca.1929); Joseph Déjacque,Authority—Dictatorship (Down with the Bosses!) and Exchange; Henri Rochefort, letter on Louise Michel; Han Ryner, from “The Congress of Poets” and “The Revolt of the Machines“.

There’s lost more from the radical archive at Entdinglichungmainly in French but also including Rare texts by the Situationist International 1966-1972 and Nestor Machno’s The Anarchist Revolution (192?).

Below the fold, what’s new at the Marxist Internet Archive: (more…)

Notes on Third Campism and liberal interventionism

1. Read the series of posts on Libya at Lady Poverty: 1234.

2. Read Kellie on Eammon McCann’s reminiscences in Socialist Worker of his meeting with Gaddafi in 1987.

3. An extract from Boffy’s comments at Though Cowards Flinch:

However, the problem I still have is that if you argue that workers intervnetion is alright up to a point, but given our weaknesses at the moment, there is a limit to what they can achieve, you still end up with the “Something Must Be Done” argument. The point is that sometimes doing nothing other than what you can do, which might simply be saying what should be done if workers had the power to do it, is better than doing something, which is a lesser evil.

For example, a while ago, I wrote some blogs about the AWL’s position taken from Albert Glotzer about the establishment of the state of Israel. Glotzer & ImmigrationGlotzer & The Jews As Special, and Glotzer, anti-Semitism and the degenerated workers state. Glotzer argued that the socialist position argued up to that time that nationalist struggles were reactionary and divisive of the working class could no longer hold for the Jews after the Holocaust. Jews could not wait for the working-class to come together and resolve the problem. Only the Zionist idea of creeating a separate Jewish State could address the immediate concerns of Jews. Something had to be done. It was a moral not a Marxist argument. (more…)

War, and class war

Photo from my current favourite blog, Bertram Online.

Libya

An individual, a group, a party, or a class that “objectively” picks its nose while it watches men drunk with blood massacring defenceless people is condemned by history to rot and become worm-eaten while it is still alive. – Leon Trotsky The Balkan Wars 1912-1913 (Sydney: Pathfinder Press, 1980), pp.292-293.

So starts Sean Matgamna, in his recent intervention on intervention.

David Osler is also very interesting on Libya and the ortho-left, responding to Eamonn McCann  in Socialist Worker.

More surprisingly, Gilbert Achcar agrees with Matgamna. Jim writes:

Gilbert Achcar, a member of the mainstream (“Pabloite“) Fourth International, refuses to scab on the Libyan revolutionaries… other “revolutionaries” aren’t happy

Here’s what Gilbert says […] writing in International Viewpoint

Barry Finger comments on Achcar and “anti-imperialism”, here.

The Orwell Prize

I have no doubt George Orwell would have taken the same line as Matgamna and Achcar. I have little doubt he would not have been pleased with many of the recent Orwell Prize for blogging long listees. I suspect he would agree with HarpyMarx‘s assessment that “Orwell Prize blogger longlist, with 1 or 2 exceptions, is just full of media privileged luvvies or journos who should b in journo section!”

I think Orwell would not have been upset about Sunder Katwaler‘s or Cath Elliot’s longlistings (he would have liked Katwala on cricket I think, and taken up cudgels for Cath against the Morning Star). He would have been pleased about David Osler’s (second?) longlisting.

And he would have been OK with Paul Mason’s (second?) longlisting. Mason writes:

Getting myself longlisted yet again for the Orwell Prize (and good luck to all the real bloggers who don’t have a mainstream media pension, salary and self-censorship training to fall back on)… made me ask: what single bit of Orwell’s writing I would recommend to somebody starting a blog, or studying journalism?

Actually it’s Inside The Whale, where Orwell takes apart the literary industry of the late 1930s, concluding that of 5,000 novels published, 4,999 were “tripe”. He does this sandwiched between two lengthy eulogies to a book that, at the time of writing, was banned – and banned in the 1930s meant impounded at Dover and burned, to be found only in the secret cupboards of anarchists and wierdos.

The book in question is Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller – a strange choice of book to praise for a man who’d just come back from the Spanish Civil War and who, with the Dunkirk fiasco, believed Britain was entering a “revolutionary period”.

Musing on this very point, Orwell concluded that Miller had probably founded a new school of writing with this one book, and its successor Black Spring:

“In Miller’s case it is not so much a question of exploring the mechanisms of the mind as of owning up to everyday facts and everyday emotions. For the truth is that many ordinary people, perhaps an actual majority, do speak and behave in just the way that is recorded here. […]

Orwell sensed that at some point people would start writing about ordinary life in ordinary language, dramatising the ordinary, peeling back layer upon layer of literary finesse, pretension, writing-school prose, irony etc.

The blog is the logical outcome.

And like the novels of 1940, the vast majority of blogs are mediocre, “tripe” as Orwell might have said. But they are mostly attempts at honesty – whether literary or non-fictional.

I give you two excerpts, both from fellow longlisters, writing about the same recent event: (more…)

Poumacetic

detail of bertram d wolfe from proletarian unity|walker evans|July–August 1933|1994.256.295The past in the present: After last week’s echoes of the Spanish civil war in the UK student protests, here is a superb post by Marko Hoare finding echoes of Trotsky’s vacillations in contemporary Lib Dem policy: “Trotsky ‘massively regrets’ breaking pre-revolution pledge to give power to the proletariat”.

From the vaults: Black Flag 1976 with some wonderful insane leftist comments on sex (hat-tip me). And “What is the trad left?” Maurice Brinton from 1969.

Marxist theory/anarchist theory: Andrew Coates on Lars Libs’ Lenin Rediscovered: good analysis of some of Lenin’s (and Leninism’s) strengths and weeknesses. At Anarchist Writers, a Freedom text against Leninist distortions of anarchism from ca.2000. As they say, “With anarchism back in the news thanks to the student protests in 2010, we can expect the likes of the Socialist Workers Party to have patronising and inaccurate articles on “anarchism” in their publications.” Along the same lines, two anarchist letters to Socialist Resistance from 2004. Into more esoteric territory, they have a long critique of Allan Engler’s Economic Democracy: The Working-Class Alternative to Capitalism. And slightly less esoterically, here is “Bob” on some influential left-wing ideas, and here is Norman Geras’ take on a couple of them.

Anti-communism: This week Barry Rubin at PJM on Bertram Wolfe, right-Communist turned apostate turned Cold Warrior. I will at some point return to this, because Wolfe is an interesting and important figure, badly served in this hatchet job.

Published in: on December 23, 2010 at 3:11 pm  Comments (4)  
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For Engels

Friedrich Engels picture at Nikolaistraße/Kaul...

Image via Wikipedia

Sunday was the 190th anniversary of Friedrich Engels’ birth. The great man is honoured in this post at Socialism or Your Money Back.

Also read: David Riazanov on the Anti-Duhrung (also a major theme on Thomas Riggins’ philisophy blog), a great Engels quote at Stalin’s moustache, and this portrait of his friend Helen McFarlane.

Update: Stalin’s moustache brings you the t-shirt:

 

Today in 1864: A Soiree

(more…)

More catching up

This was meant to be in my last round-up: Don’t blame Bevan, a robust defence of Nye against the Kinnockite scum.

The author, Carl, also has a piece on Christopher Hitchens and prayer and Andrew Coates has a long and very good review of Christopher Hitchens’ Hitch 22. This provokes quite a long comment thread, involving our comrades Mick Hall and Mike Ezra, who recounts the debate in a post at Harry’s Place entitled A Debate with the Indecent Left. The Coatesy comment thread, unlike more or less any at Harry’s Place, is well worth reading.

Meanwhile, as Carl informs me, a furore has raged in the pokier corners of the leftiesphere about said Place, specifically the association with it of one Terry FitzPatrick, street-fighting man, veteran anti-racist and, erm, bon viveur, recently arrested for racism in relation to statements made to Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote and Lee Jasper, black liberation tsar. (When I lived in Brixton, Jasper’s names featured prominently in local graffiti, which described him as a police informer, on which I will not pass comment). Here‘s Andrew again, but more relevant are posts by Richard Seymour, Lee Jasper and especially this series at Socialist Unity: 1, 2, 3, 4. Here are the charges against Fitz, to which he is pleading not guilty. I won’t weigh in on this debate (although the links to HP posts in the following paragraphs will show that I am not chopping them out of my on-line life) except to note that Woolley and Jasper’s faith in bourgeois law as a tool to punish alleged racists is rather in contradiction to their disregard for due process in making a big deal of this before the court rules – in contrast, say, to Paul Stott, an anarchist who prefers not to upset the legal proceedings.

Some unrelated things: Lucha, lucha, lucha! (Mexican wrestling superhero activist comics). Diane Abbott is the real (Ralph) Miliband. The sins of the grandchildren (obliquely Milibandist and related to this). Ron Radosh on the hubris of Peter Beinart and the politics of Father Coughlin and on Howard Zinn’s FBI files. Alan Milburn’s Trotskyist past. The miracle of News Line.

Umissable: John Sweeney’s World Service documentary on Stalin’s “useful idiots“.

Jimmy Reid: Last of the great Clyde-built liners slips off; Jimmy Reid addresses supporters of the sit-in in 1971; YouTube Remembering a comrade: Jimmy Reid. A great round-up of obituaries at Socialist Unity (featuring Joan McAlpine, Paul Corby from Labour Uncut, Councillor Terry Kelly, Mick Hall and Johanna Baxter from Labour List), to which we can add Francis Sedgemore and John McTernan in the Daily Telegraph.

Marxist theory: AVPS on Gramsci, internal class divisions and the party; Alex Snowdon on the united front; Duncan Hallas on the united front; Tony McKenna on Lukacs and class consciousness; David Mitchell on autonomism versus democratic centralism; Permanent Revolution say it’s all Lenin’s fault.

History notes: Chris Nineham on Harold Isaac on the Chinese revolution; Summit Sarkar on a Marxian history of India; Poplar 1921; Peterloo 1819; Carry On Barcelona 1937; the British Library and the Czech Legion; Anarcho-philately;

From the archives: Socialist Standard 1924The Blackshirt 1935; International Socialism 1975 (Hallas on the Comintern and the united front); Workers Power 1980Socialist Worker Review 1990 (Callinicos reviews Tariq Ali).

To add to the blogroll if they’re not already there: Divergenta, Reifying the leftIn praise of small things, Enchanted Alphabet (via Airforce Amazons, in praise of the mantilla).


Poumastise

Anarchism versus Marxism

A Greek tragedy (on the Leninist fight against petit bourgeious violence in the revolution).

Marxist theory

Reading The Grundrisse; Thinking About Athens’ Rage

Bonapartism, Bureaucracy, Categories, Lessons And The Revolution Betrayed

Chris Harman: not all Marxism is dogmatic

Daniel Bensaid: Working class, social movement, alliances – and the limits of radical democracy

Stalinism and anti-Stalinism

Stalin, Robeson, and Me.

Claire Berlinski at City Journal wonders why hardly anyone cares about the unread Soviet archives [via Michael Totten]. Ron Radosh responds. Berlinksi replies to him. Ron comes back again.

Human Rights Watch in the NYRB on Castro’s Cuba. (And Radosh’s response to that.)

Anarchist theory

Murray Bookchin’s political development.

Dave Graeber interview (original source here, with unreadable formatting).

Iberian culture

Belated

I can’t believe I missed the death of the talented singer songwriter Llasa de Sela age just 37 at the start of 2010. See Roland/Jams.

And some late additions to my Colin Ward obituaries: from Peter Marshall, author of Demanding the Impossible, from Critical Chatting, and from Robert Graham.

And one more for Michael Foot – the JC with a Jewish angle.

And two more obituaries, via Histomatist: The new issue of Socialist Review has a short article on the founder of the International Socialist TendencyTony Cliff (1917-2000) by Ian Birchall – at work on a forthcoming biography of this critically important twentieth-century revolutionary Marxist thinker. See also Sabby Sagall on the British actor and revolutionary socialist [sic] Corin Redgrave (1939-2010).

Talking of mourning (not that we’re mourning Redgrave), the New Centrist: “Pray for the twenty-nine West Virginia miners who lost their lives and their families. Then get active. Amending Joe Hill’s famous phrase, don’t only mourn, organize.”

Max Dunbar: All shall have prizes. On the Orwell Prize, Stephen Mitchelmore, Nick Cohen, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and George Orwell’s anti-pacifism. Related, did Christopher Hitchens read the SWP’s John Molyneux and blogger Snowball after reading Animal Farm?

Principia D: Eric Hobsbawm: The Marxist who never read Marx. (“Not judging by this survey of Post-war Italy, anyway. “) More on this in a future post, maybe.

From January, Kathedar Blog with two very good interrelated posts: on Alex Callinicos on imperialism and on Marx and the dialectic.

AF: Steps towards re-emergence of anarchism in Cuba. See also here.

Jamie Bartlett: Politics and the English language 2.0.

Continuing our anarchism vs Marxism discussion, these lapidary posts from Lady Poverty are well worth your time: Marx and Foucault; A note about Marx and FoucaultThe point, as it relates to Holden Caulfield and Karl Marx; Marxism vs. identity anarchism. And here, very much less to my taste, is a contribution from a Maoist: Anarchism or revolutionary Marxism? by Arindam Sen of the CPI(ML).

Also chronically belated: New Statesman: Jonathan Derbyshire interviews Terry Eagleton on nostalgia for 1970s socialism.

And some considerable time after Michael Foot’s death, this from Brian Brivati: Foot and Nye Bevan.

Wobbling around the world: a socialist belatedly discovers the IWW.

On Maoism: Richard Wolin remembers the Maoist 1960s, and Apoorvanand analyses Maoism in India, as does Dilip Simeon.

Wolin and Brivati come from Arguing The World, the now not quite brand new trans-Atlantic blog at Dissent. Here is one more from that: Alan Johnson: Žižek or Bobbio? (The blog title is familiar to me from the PBS documentary about the New York intellectuals I link to over to the right – I ought to know whose being quoted: Irving Howe?)

I meant to link to this article on William Morris discovering socialism in Iceland when it came out, then forgot, but was prompted after noticing it at Histomatist – seems kind of timelier now, as Morris would no doubt be enjoying the effects of the volcano on the global tourism and agri-industries.

Finally, how can I post these days without mentioning Hugo Chavez? This is from the Venezuelan anarchist journal El Libertario: Venezuela: the myth of “Eco-socialism of the XXI Century” The author is Professor and Researcher at the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas. This contribution is the revised excerpt from a longer article appeared in Spanish in the Journal of Economics and Social Sciences (FACES-UCV) entitled “XXI Century Eco-socialism and Bolivarian Development Model: the myths of environmental sustainability and participatory democracy in Venezuela “, 2009, vol. 15, No. 1, pp.187-223 

The Black Jacobins, 2010: Haiti, CLR James (and George Orwell)

From Airforce Amazons:

There was a story in the paper last week about the discovery of a copy of the Haiti’s Declaration of Independence from the original printing in 1804, found in the British National Archives by Julia Gaffield of Duke University. (more…)

Published in: on April 10, 2010 at 11:31 am  Comments (2)  
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Anarchism versus Leninism

I’ve still not followed this up, but Andy brings to our attention a whole spate of recent Leninist critiques of anarchism. The most sophisticated is Marxism and anarchism byPaul Blackledge in International Socialism Journal. Most of the others are by crude defenders of ortho-Marxism like Alan Woods. Slightly different, and worth reading, are Steven Strauss’ socialist indictment of Noam Chomsky (Freedom Road Socialist Party) and “The Historical Failure of Anarchism” [pdf] by Christopher Day, then of Love and Rage.

The question is, I suppose, why are Leninist so keen right now to take up arms against anarchism? Is it a sign that anarchism is ascendant, that anarchism has better expressed working class rage at the economic crisis at a time when the left should be growing but isn’t?

Needed: a new left

Harry Barnes reflects on the 50th anniversary of New Left Review.

Previous post here.

Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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Poumunk

Colin Ward

From SlackBastard:

[…] UK anarchist Colin Ward has died. His Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2004) is both very short and quite good, and his appeal as a writer was widespread, his many, generally pithy writings emphasising the practical dimensions of Anarchy in Action. (Revolution by the Book has an extract from Anarchy in Action here; AK Press is also publishing Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader later this year.) In addition to being the author of numerous books and pamphlets, Ward edited Anarchy zine for its first 100 issues (1961–1970), criticised by some as being reflective of anarchism’s absorption by the middle class.

OBITUARIES – 20: COLIN WARD, Paul Anderson, GAUCHE, February 17, 2010 | Colin Ward, RIP, Jesse Walker, Reason, February 17, 2010 | Colin Ward: pioneer of mutualism, Next Left, February 14, 2010 | Colin Ward Presente!, Dan Cull Weblog, February 14, 2010 | Colin Ward, Rob Ray, libcom, February 13, 2010 | Colin Ward, Ross Bradshaw, Five Leaves Blog, February 12, 2010.

See also : Anarchism in Action: Methods, Tactics, Skills, and Ideas, Second Edition (draft), Complied and Edited by Shawn Ewald.

Marxism etc

Bob versus the Moonbats: marxism necessary but not sufficient.

Some items of interest from The Commune: Beyond the party-state, beyond the big bang; El Alto, bastion of social struggles in Bolivia; Readings on the Paris Commune from Marx, Bakunin, Kropotkin and the Situationists; The early Russian revolution: Laurat in wonderland (this is part 1 of a text on Lucien Laurat’s book L’Économie Soviétique: Sa Dynamique, son méchanisme, by  João Bernardo of Passa Palavra; the original in Portuguese is here, with part 2 here, presumably awaiting translation).

Half a century of the New Left Review: Coatesy has a long and fascinating critical elegy, and Entdinglichung reminds us of the 1960 edition. Michael Weiss has a different take.

Trottishness etc

The departure of Lindsey German from the British SWP is raising some interesting discussions of party democracy in the UK left blogosphere. Among the contributions are these: “When Zinoviev is in the majority he is for iron discipline, when he is in the minority he is against it“; “Once Tiberius is dead I, Sejanus, will rule as Emperor in Rome”; “It was the best times, it was the worst of times”….; United fronts or just fronts?; The examination of the conscience (or lack thereof). Odd how it brings out the erudition in bloggers with these titles.

Uncle Hugo

From SlackBastard:

And finally, um, for reasons best known to himself, but perhaps related to the recent departure of significant sections of the International Marxist Tendency, Uncle Hugo’s best mate Alan Woods has attacked Bakunin In Defence of Marxism.

The last link is worth clicking on, as it gets you an English translation of The Third Chavez by Demétrio Magnoli in O Estado de Sao Paulo, apparently “Brazil’s main bourgeois paper”. I found it quite perceptive, and Woods’ reply too tedious to bother with.

Karl Marx created the 1st International, Friedrich Engels participated in the founding of the 2nd, Lenin established the 3rd, Leon Trotsky founded the 4th and Hugo Chávez has just raised the banner of the 5th. “I take responsibility before the world, I think it is time to rally the 5th International and dare to make the call,” he said in a speech lasting five hours, at the opening session of the extraordinary congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to the applause of 772 delegates in red shirts.

The congress was held in November. Then Chavez imposed energy rationing in the country, devalued the currency and introduced a dual exchange rate, nationalized a supermarket chain, suspended cable TV broadcasts and unleashed a bloody crackdown on student protests. […]

Chavez is living his third incarnation, which is also the last. The first Chavez emerged after the failed coup of 1992, in the guise of nationalist and anti-American warlord mesmerized by the image of an imaginary Simón Bolívar. Under the influence of Argentine sociologist Norberto Ceresole, that original Chavismo flirted with anti-Semitism and dreamed of the establishment of an authoritarian, fascist-style state, which would reunify Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador in a restored Great Colombia.

A second Chávez could be discerned in outline in the spring of the first term in 1999, after the break with Ceresole, when the Leader drew close to Heinz Dieterich, a German Professor of Sociology in Mexico who came out of obscurity to formulate the concept of “socialism of the 21st century.” Chavismo reinvented itself and acquired left-wing collaborators, formed an alliance with Cuba and engaged in the project of building a state capitalism that was presented as a long transition towards a kind of socialism untainted by the Soviet legacy.

Brandishing a copy of The State and Revolution by Lenin, the Chavez of the extraordinary congress of the PSUV announced his conversion to the programme of the destruction of the “bourgeois state” and the building of a “revolutionary state.” This third Chavez was already implied in 2004, when the Leader got to know the British Trotskyist Alan Woods, and was fully manifest by the time of his defeat in the referendum of December 2007, shortly after the break with Dieterich. The PSUV is a result of Chavismo of the third period, as is also the proclamation of the 5th International.

The uses and abuses of history cont.

Bob posts on the Holocaust against the Roma and Jewish partisans in Greece, with lovely music. Chris Ford responds to Red Maria on Stepan Bandera (which I linked to here, to Will’s consternation). Graeme writes on an overlapping topic here.

Poumtang

Resources for critical thought:

Kronstadt and its revenges… an anarchist dissection of the corpse of Trotskyism today.

Platypus: Review of Dave Renton’s Dissident Marxism.

Platypus: Review of Perry’ Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism.

Andrew Flood: Towards an anarchist history of the Chinese revolution.

Paul LeBlanc: Marxism and revolutionary democracy (review of Simon Pirani and Soma Marik).

Paul LeBlanc: Trotsky lives! (on Robert Service).

Larry Gambone: Principled Bakuninism in Latin America.

Declaration against re-intensified oppression in Cuba. [Spanish source, and signatories.]

International Communist Tendency: Kronstadt 1921: The beginning of the counter-revolution.

On Arthur Koestler: Christopher Hitchens, Louis Menand, Bernard Avishai, Christopher Caldwell.

Iain McKay: anarchist-communist critique of mutualism.

Libertarian communist forum in Moscow.

Catalunya: Amadeu Casellas announces new hunger strike.

Heather Gautney: Which Anarchism? Which Autonomism? Between Anarchism and Autonomist Marxism.

Communism from below, in theory, in history and in action

Two long and interesting theory articles. What in the hell … is right and wrong with autonomist marxism? looks at Negri and other authonomists and their problematic axioms on historical materialism and inadequacy on the organisation question. (Here’s more on Hardt and Negri from the same source.) Trade unions, worker militancy, and communism from below by Property is Theft looks at the history of militant working class self-organization.

Relevant to the latter issue are the next few items, mostly from Conatz, on anarcho-syndicalist and other forms of self-organization.

Most relevant, from Argentina, a report on worker-run factories.

Via the Turista, Tom Wetzel on the fight for free unionism in Germany. Includes a brief history of the FAU:

The FAU itself is roughly the German equivalent of the American IWW. The FAU derives from a tradition that goes back to the decentralist unions of the late 1800s and early 1900s, which separated from the main centralist labor federation (predecessor of the present DGB) over the issue of local autonomy. After World War 1, the autonomous unions came together to form the Freie Arbeiter Union Deutchlands (FAUD). The FAUD was part of the radical grassroots unionism in Germany in the years immediately after World War 1. Famous German anarcho-syndicalists like Rudolph Rocker and Augustin Souchy participated in the FAUD in those years.

In the late ’20s the FAUD had about 30,000 members. The FAUD was  banned after the Nazis came to power in 1933, and many of its members ended up in concentration camps. Kersten, my Frankfurt FAU contact, told me that during World War 2, the German SS rounded up thousands of FAUD members and formed them into an armed battalion and stuck them out on the eastern front, facing the Red Army. An SS division was behind them, armed with machine guns. The FAUD people were told, “You fight the Russians or we kill you.” Few FAUD members survived to tell about that.

In the late ’70s a new generation of German anarcho-syndicalists decided to rebuild the FAU.

More info here.

Also from the Turista, 2010 is the CNT’s centenary.

In Brazil, the Federação Anarquista de São Paulo (FASP – Anarchist Federation of São Paulo) has been launched, This is from its manifesto:

The FASP is part of a tradition that has always been a majority in the libertarian camp, that of “social anarchism” or “anarchism of the masses”, which was responsible for the rise of certain phenomena of great importance such as revolutionary syndicalism. However, notwithstanding our belief in the need for anarchism to act within the popular movements – what some have called the “vectors of social anarchism” – we believe that in order to do this it is essential for there to be specific anarchist organization, a position that has not always been a majority one. This is, though, the position historically held, since the birth of anarchism, by Bakunin (Alliance of Socialist Democracy), Malatesta, and even Kropotkin at certain times, and also by the Russian anarchist communists of Delo Truda and the Federation of Anarchist Communists of Bulgaria (FAKB). In Latin America there have been important experiences such as the Junta of the Partido Liberal Mexicano, the Federación Anarquista Uruguaya and Resistência Libertária in Argentina.

Federação Anarquista de São PauloIn Brazil, this mass tradition of social anarchism has existed for over 100 years, and was responsible for the union mobilizations that were so important in the early 20th century. It was comrades from this tradition who organized the Brazilian working class that started the struggle for gains such as the eight-hour working day. They inspired events such as the 1917 Strike, which had significant anarchist participation. With regard to specific anarchist organizations, there have been groups who tried to organize militants, but without much success, given that at that time, anarchism in Brazil – like elsewhere in the world – was hegemonised by syndicalist ideas, which did not deem the establishment of anarchist organizations important for work in the unions. Examples of organizations of this type are the first Brazilian Communist Party (1919), the Anarchist Alliance of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo groups that formed around newspapers at the time, and which supported differentiated levels of activity – the anarchist organization and the popular movements, known by some as “organizational dualism”.

Previously on this topic: Libertarian socialism.

Published in: on January 3, 2010 at 11:04 am  Comments (4)  

Two Cries of Freedom

[José Serrano: ‘Soleá’]

From Two Cries of Freedom: Gypsy Flamenco from the Prisons of Spain (ROIR, 1998), feat. José Serrano and Antonio “El Agujetas”.

Dedicated to Paul ‘Jock’ Palfreeman, a 23 year old Australian currently in prison in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is undergoing trial on charges of murder and attempted murder after an encounter with a gang of 16 far-right football hooligans. The gang were assaulting two Roma (Gypsy) men when Jock intervened in their defence.

More bloggery below the fold. (more…)

Leon Trotsky drinking Mexican coffee

Robert Service on Trotsky again: Service was on the weekend’s The Forum on the BBC World Service. The Service bit starts at 27 minutes. I don’t like Service’s analysis, although he is partly right. Service is right about Trotsky’s personality: cold, prim, glacial, disdainful, arrogant, self-centred. But Service basically says Trotsky and Stalin are “blood brothers”, that Trotsky was as ruthless as Stalin, who in turn was as much a “man of ideas” as Trotsky. This is surely not right, despite Trotsky’s faults. However, Service is right that Trotsky would have suppressed the peasants to achieve industrialisation, less brutally than Stalin but nonetheless harshly.

One interesting point Service makes is that other Russian exiles were making similar analyses of Soviet Russia, and have been forgotten. (He doesn’t name names, but Victor Serge, Ante Ciliga, Boris Souvarine, Voline, the exiled Mensheviks André Liebich writes about in From the Other Shore, and so on.) Service suggests that it was because Trotsky was a great writer and subsequently a great martyr that he became so important. I think this is true, but the third factor, both Trotsky’s strength and his flaw, his hubris perhaps, was that he was a great factionalist, with a sense of himself as a leader of a movement, something that was untrue of the other, more modest key figures of the anti-Stalinist left. Anyway, I still prefer Hitchens’ version. Lots more here.

***

Heroes: Josef Frantisek. Marek Edelman, Steve Cohen and Mercedes Sosa. John Saville. Bongani Mkhungo.

Villains: Nat Hentoff.

George Orwell: His lessons for combating antisemitism today.

Histories: The Communist Party in the French resistance. New York elections: from honourable Jewish socialists to odious Marxoid cults. The end of the left’s Cuba romance? The state of Bund historiography [pdf]. The Labour Party and the Battle of Cable Street.

Book reviews: Platypus on Communist Chicago. Colin Waugh’s Plebs. Geoffrey Foote on Paul Flewers’ New Civilisation. Andrew Coates on Flewers and two other books on Communism.

Interviews: Nick Cohen in Black Flag.

The Kaminski affair: Bob has a good round-up (scroll to “Strange alliances”).

Marxist theory: Louis Proyect on John Molyneux on party democracy. Playtpus on Karl Korsch. David Black (Hobgoblin London) on philosophy and revolution.

Un-Marxist theory: Irving Howe “Class and sociology” 1957, plus replies by Lewis Coser and Dennis Wrong.

If sharks were people: From Brecht’s Tales from the Calendar.

Consumerism: Buy Zapatatista coffee! And buy the new edition of Zapata of Mexico. And buy The Workers’ Next Step. And The Insurrectionists by Bill Fishman.

Libertarian socialism?

My last post was on anarchist history, the one before on Marxist theory. This post links to some blog posts that try and think through the relationships between those two traditions. Many of these take as their starting point Staughton Lynd and Andrej Grubacic Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History (which you can buy here).

Lady Poverty: Politics and class; Communists/Rudolf Rocker.

Socialist Humanism with a human face: Towards socialism; Anarchism and Marxism.

Eric Kerl, International Socialist Review: Debating how to change the world.

Revol68, LibCom: Marxism and Anarchism.

Upping the Anti: Wobblies and Zapatistas.

Independent Working Class Association: Economic democracy – the need for a vision, part 1.

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