Spring/Autumn notes

Spring up here, but Autumn down there. Some extracts from Andy’s notes:

Anarchism / History

Wisdom earned the hard way – “The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid” [Review]:

It is not news to report that the Bolsheviks destroyed the anarchist movement in the Soviet Union. But how, and what were the consequences? These reprinted bulletins from the Joint Committee for the Defense of Revolutionists Imprisoned in Russia and the Relief Fund of the International Working Men’s Association for Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia show it as it happened. They ‘shed a little light on the struggles of our comrades and keep their names alive’ (p.x)…

See alsoBlack Flag: Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross (April 14, 2009) | The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921 by Voline (1882-1945) | Leninist critiques of anarchism (March 25, 2010).

State/Politics / Trot Guide

Another call for unity on the left, this time by SA in Victoria (Socialism of the 21st century’ and left unity): “In Victoria this year we will most likely have both federal and state elections. It would be a real step forward if all socialist groups publicly supported the candidates of other socialist organisations (Socialist Alliance, Socialist Party, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Communist Party of Australia) and advocated a first-preference vote for them.”

The Socialist Equality Party — the Australian section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), the world party of socialist revolution — is not included in this list, probably not without reason, as the SEP only make reference to the SA in order to denounce it, whereas the SA do what most everybody else does with regards the SEP, and ignore it.

    Links — which is published by SA nee DSP — has published a statement by COSATU on “the brutal murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche on April 3, 2010″. Oddly, for an Australian-based publication, Links is most popular in the US, and by a fairly wide margin.

It’s unlikely — to put it mildly — that SA or any of the other Marxists parties will trouble any former lawyers as they make their way to their rightful place to a seat in State Parliament — although stranger things have happened. For my money — and keep in mind I live below the poverty line — the only possible exception would be inner-city Melbourne, where several seats — Brunswick, Melbourne, Northcote and Richmond — which are otherwise the property of Labor are under pressure from The Greens.

See alsoWhat happened to the Left? (February 27, 2010).


History / Media / Music

History is Made at Night – The Politics of Dancing and Musicking is neat-o, especially1990: Trafalgar Square Memories (March 31, 2010), which is all about how the Militant saved the day… or not.

The bad old days will end is “Home of the Freedom Pass Anarchists and the wonderful world of professional wrestling, psychogeography, allotments and the class struggle.” The author writes: “On the day that I retired from my final job as a lockkeeper I left the following on the wall… I started work at fifteen years of age. Worked on the river and at sea but I also worked in factories and fields. In the circus and in films. I never achieved much. But I never crossed a picket line. Never judged a fellow worker by their colour or creed nor sucked up to the bosses for my own ends. Pretty much sums it all up.”

See alsoRefuting the stupid left’s charge sheet against Orwell (March 29, 2010).#

Also from History is Made at Night:

Stars Campaign for Inter-Racial Friendship: rock against racism in the 1950s? (Trad jazz versus the White Defence League)

Dancing at the Peckham Experiment (anarchism, social democracy, and dancing)

On Hugo Chavez, defender of Iranian theocracy, and his defenders in the Trotskyist movement:

Via Andy again, and relevant to this:

Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency: The Clique and Chavez’s policy towards the IRI

Criticism of Chavez by Iranian labour activists and Marxists is nothing new. Over six years ago, in November 2004, Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network (IWSN) wrote a polite open letter to President Chavez highlighting Iranian workers’ lack of basic trade union and other rights. This was followed by an open letter by the IRSL in July 2006 contrasting the main policies of the Bolivarian government and the IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran] and explaining the regime’s role in the crushing of the 1978-79 revolution. There have been numerous open letters and statements (usually on the occasion of state visits) on Chavez’s close relationship with the Iranian regime since then, including an IMT statement which we drafted but the IS, in its infinite wisdom, watered down before publication.

It is important to point out that this is not merely a hobby-horse of the Iranian left but that Iranian workers are also disgusted by Chavez’s very cosy relationship with the leaders of the Iranian bourgeois state. In July 2006 Chavez visited Iran Khodro, the biggest car and vehicle manufacturing plant in the Middle East. The workers had heard many positive things about Chavez and were excited to meet him in person. To begin with the workers were pleasantly surprised at the President of a country shaking hands with workers and even kissing them on the cheek. They were about [to] read out a statement in his honour, welcoming this revolutionary leader to their factory. But before they could read it Chavez began praising Ahmadinejad, calling him his brother, calling the Iranian regime a revolutionary government and so on. The workers were totally disgusted by him. They tore up the statement and left the hall.

The refusal of Alan Woods’s Clique to condemn Hugo Chavez for his whole-hearted support of the IRI in its suppression of the post-‘election’ street protests, therefore, brought matters to a head. As the regime used increasingly brutal methods to smash the street protests, Mr Chavez became more determined in his support of the repression of what he thought were CIA-sponsored protests.

Alan Woods’s Clique also tried to pretend that our highly critical position did not exist. In particular, the so-called International Secretariat (IS) refused to publish Maziar Razi’s Open letter to the workers of Venezuela on Hugo Chavez’s support for Ahmadinejad and all subsequent material that disagreed with the totally wrong, indefensible and opportunist ‘analysis’ of the official IMT position. This made the IRMT’s work inside Iran almost impossible. This official position was decided by the IS, the hard core of Alan Woods’s bureaucratic clique, without consultation with anyone – including neither the IRMT, the Iranian section as recognised by the 2008 World Congress, nor the IEC! Even video footage of demonstrators denouncing Chavez in the ‘revolution’ that the Clique had predicted did not bring about a change in policy! […]

It may be a truism to say that the revolution is the ultimate test of all bragger mouth revolutionaries. Yet there is no better way of expressing this. If we look at how our ‘revolutionary leadership’ has behaved since June 2009 then its true character becomes fully exposed.

Although there were many signs of Alan Woods’s total lack of knowledge about the basic facts of Iranian society today, the history of the past 30-35 years and the organisations of the Iranian left in his journalistic and impressionistic articles written since June 2009, the recent IEC meeting was when all these strands came together into a ‘coherent’ whole and laid bare his perspective for the ‘revolution’ that he predicted 30 years ago! For once Alan Woods took off his ‘revolutionary’ mask and made a number of clear statements about his concept of a two-stage revolution: a revolution that begins without the workers on the basis of slogans of “revolutionary democracy”.

Alan Woods and his Clique claim that today’s Iran is “mainly a peasant country but with a powerful proletariat in some centres” like Spain in 1930! They also maintain that the IRMT does not understand that Iran is basically a peasant country and that the Iranian revolution can begin without the workers. It is “an ABC question” that the students start the revolution, not the workers.

Yet our Titan theoretician’s greatest gift is that he does not need to sully himself with the concrete facts and chooses to remain ignorant and spout generalities that would fit many underdeveloped countries – but not, unfortunately for him, Iran! The ‘leader of leaders’ does not know that already in 1981-82 Iran’s population was over half (50.53%) urban and the urbanisation rate reached over two-thirds (67.87%) by 2005-06. So Iran has been mainly an urban country since the early 1980s and over two-thirds urban for about four years! The ‘information’ of Alan Woods’s Clique about Iran, therefore, is about 30 years out of date! The Clique may find it uncomfortable to know that the Iran of the 21st Century is more urban than Japan, Italy or Austria! If we look at this in terms of GDP composition, we see that agriculture makes up just 10.8% of economic output, as opposed to 44.3% for the industrial sector and 44.9% for services (2008 est.).

However anyone looks at it, today’s Iran is nothing like Spain in 1930! But it would be a big mistake to think of this as a mere case of the ignorance and arrogance of the Clique. This totally incorrect information is used to support the Clique’s ‘analysis’ of class forces in Iran and drawing up slogans and tactics for intervention in the ‘revolution’.

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  1. […] as already reported, Woods’ Iranian comrades have deserted his micro-movement, due to his apologies for […]

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