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July 29, 2007



Hey, that was only 3 minutes! :)

Good clip though... was actually watching Reds today.


You expect me to change my ideas just because of a few million dead peasants? You women and your silly notions! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a train to catch!


yeah! the red army should have just disbanded and let the Soviet Union be invaded and recaptured by Tsarist generals so that a smug, self-righteous ideologue like Emma Goldman could relax in the very country that gave her exile and liberty.


True. I'm with John Reed on this one. Emma's logic would be similar to an American soldier in France in 1944 saying "hey. We're fighting in a hierarchical, segregated army. We're no better than Hitler. I'm going home.

But Goldman's essay on Patriotism was great.

True Disbeliever

The point is isn't communism supposed to be able to do better than that? If not why bother?

Why trade human rights, freedom of speech and other liberties away just so your factory can be controlled by some state beauracrats instead of some capitalists?

It's like the cure is worse than the disease!


For Russia in the 1930s and 1940s the disease was Hitler and fascist genocide and the cure was Stalin and authoritarian socialism.

So let's just call it very harsh chemotherapy.

Can you imagine what the world would have been like had there been no Soviet Union to beat the Nazis? Even in the United States, the Kennedys supported Civil Rights not through any kindness in their own hearts but because they didn't want the emerging third world to choose Communism over American capitalism.

Had there been no Soviet Union, you would have had President Strom Thurmond in the 1960s instead of President Kennedy or Johnson, Segregation forever instead of the Great Society.

off the shoulders

I have news for you srogouski, if hitler had won the world and rational instrumentality would have gone on and their would be a completely different set of agents who are as use to a german empire(which likely would have had to tone it down via assiniating hitler from within and the like)as we are to an american empire.

Gawd I get so sick and tired of people trying to stick these non-existent objective barameters on what accounts for better and worse. Only context defines such things. And quite frankly you are about as good as predicting what would have happened via a german victory as you are predicting when the proles will finally usher in that revolution. And fuck your chemotherapy, there holistic ways of taking on cancer you know.

And good on Em for trying to stay true to both her means and ends. As a 21st century anarchist I'm not taken in by such things as rights talk and the like, but I respect the woman regardless as one powerfull individual.


"if hitler had won the world and rational instrumentality would have gone on and their would be a completely different set of agents who are as use to a german empire"

Oh nonsense. The Nazis would have killed everybody in Poland and Russia. And they would have completely destroyed any civilization in the west.

Your anti-communism is just tiresome. The Nazis for you are just "business as usual". You never get around to criticizing American imperialism.

Well let's look at the difference between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Marshall law in Poland in 1980 killed under 100 people. During the same period of time, American proxies were killing millions in Central America.

The USA killed many times the number of people in Vietnam as the Soviets did in Prague in 1968.

Stalinism in the 20s and 30s. Pretty brutal. But why don't you talk about this in the context of Verdun, the Somme, Ypres, the 20 million people capitalism killed in the First World War, you know, the event that made Lenin a world historical figure in the first place.

So give those Russian soldiers in Stalingrad the credit they deserve. Had they not fought to save your ass, you'd probably be speaking German now.


What happened to parts of the world that (unlike Russia under Stalin or China under Mao?) weren't able to embark on a crash course of industrialization?

Compare China to the Middle East. In the 19th Century the British imperialists were fighting wars in order to pump the Chinese full of drugs. Millions of people died in famines. Now they're the world's major industrial power.

Compare China to Africa or the Middle East. Do you think the Chinese envy people in Baghad or Palestine?

And how about Russia? How's Russia now that it's living under almost a form of gangster anachism? What's the life expectency now compared to what it was like under the Soviet Union? What's the educational system like now? How about the health care system?

But hey, if you want the perfect anarchism, why not move to Somalia. Last time I checked they didn't even have a government. Or how about Afghanistan?

What does anarchy really look like? Paradise or a lot of competing warlords fighting for turf?

I'm so sick of these "If the USSR didn't exist Hitler would have won!" fallacies. It's not as if Russia would have disappeared if someone else had came to power after the collapse of the Tsar. Whoever was in power in Russia would have defeated Hitler.

It's like saying that if the American Bolsheviks hadn't ocerthrown capitalism in America then the Japanese fascists would have won...oh wait there were no American Bolsheviks. Yet somehow the Americans still managed to defeat fascism.


Really? You mean like the way the American and British capitalists fought fascism in Spain? Oh yeah right. They didn't.

"It's not as if Russia would have disappeared if someone else had came to power after the collapse of the Tsar. Whoever was in power in Russia would have defeated Hitler."

Right wing governments all over Eastern Europe sided with Hitler, the Croations, the Baltic States, the Romanians. None of them realized Hitler meant everything he said in Mein Kampf literally, that he was going to depopulate Eastern Europe of the inferior slavs and use colonize the land for Germany. Only the Communists had the ideological clarity to fight him.

"Yet somehow the Americans still managed to defeat fascism."

"America" didn't defeat fascism. The Soviet Union did. "America" was more than willing to embargo the Spanish Republicans so the fascists could win. What "America" was doing in the Second World War was making sure the Communists didn't take over all of Europe. Well "America" wasn't quite as bad as the Nazis but "America" did drop two nukes on Japanese civilians. So "America" wasn't exactly free of innocent blood either.

"Only the Communists had the ideological clarity to fight him."

Stalin-Hitler Pact.

Nuff' said.


I'm sorry, there was no "Hitler-Stalin" pact. No such "pact" occured. In the aftermath of the Anglo-French push at Munich to get Nazi Germany to "go east", the Soviet Union signed a temporary non-aggression pact in order to set the battlefield a few hundred miles to the West. Considering that Leningrad (now Petersburg) could have been overrun in days in the face of the most powerful offensive army in the world, I don't see the controversy around this.

There was never, not for a single day an alliance between the Nazis and the Soviet Union – in fact, the Nazis main point was the destruction of the Soviet Union, what they dedicated 80% of their military to accomplishing. While capitalist countries were invaded in days, it was the Soviets – and the Soviets largely alone – who stood up to Hiterism and saved the day in many important respects.

But really, is that the issue?

Without "ideological clarity" you can't even begin to engage in "politics". You can moralize to your hearts content, but you can neither galvanize a movement, nor make concrete gains in a manifold world without "eyes on the prize".


Is this the first time in a debate (on WW2 of all things!) that an (American) Pole stood up to defend the Soviet Union's strategic necessities?

But I guess the argument is whether there is such a thing as "strategic necessity" or even necessity at all.

It's worth noting that Emma was in the Soviet Union as an honored guest, that she received political exile after being deported from the USA – and that she was not hindered in any significant way from speaking her mind, coming and going as she pleased or leaving when she got (personally) fed up.

Well, she didn't have a better plan either. Just judgement, something Emma seemed to have a lot more of than that mythical dancing spirit attributed to her. I truly imagine that even Old Joe was a better dancer than Emma G.


Tangentially, there is an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise that posits an alternative, distopian future for Earth.

The key turning point where things went bad? Lenin got assassinated and the Russian Revolution never happened.


Clearly, without Stalin's ideological clarity we would all be living in Pottersville, and old man Gower would have murdered that innocent boy.

This is just an argument between politics and morality.

You really can't make an omlette without breaking a few eggs, an unlike the anarchists I'm not becoming a vegan.

off the shoulders

Well I woudn't mind speaking german, itd be a change from this boring language that I type now, but it would be a completely different me now woundn't it. As for anti-communism, that depends, perse I don't identify with the word however when you talk about people like Debord or Vanegiem as opposed to your boys I'm willing to give the discourse a listen. Now on to your points.

What would have happened in poland and russia who knows but I can guess one thing, the russians who fought off the german war machine would have done so with or without a state. What killed off the invading nazies in russia was largely those crazy agrarians who burnt their houses and their crops down to starve the mutherfuckers. To be blunt desperate times desperate measures. And quite frankly its quite silly to assume that within any civilized logic it is in the interest of a super power in question to wipe out a mass of people that could serve as a means of accumulation. This isn't primitive warfare where that stuff did happen(and I would argue is preferable). And its the hight of idiocy to claim that civilization in the west would have been destroyed. I would LOOOVE this happen but come on now, are you really seriously trotting this out? You sound like that eurocentric man who says 'radical' islam will destroy civilization. What would likely have happened is yes more of us would speak german and it would be a completely different scenerio as far as radical views are concerned. But to say that western civilzation would be no more is to be some what full of shit. It's no different then Von Mises who claims that if communism won western civility would be no more. I only wish. And of course the only way srogouski can wash away the blood on the hands of the reds is to compare an isolated incident of prague to central america. What do the people of prague care at that particular moment that there might be a worse situation. The fact is all these comparisons that you make are situational and it cheapans the very act of resistance to say which is worse. It is part of the same logic that determines which is better.

In closing I will say again, if the germans and the japanese had won, different situation, different radicals, different forms of struggle, different brand of western civilization. But lets stop with the BS of better and worse.


One of anarchism's major shortcomings is its insistence on a pure all-or-nothing notion of revolution [the other is its philosophical basis in the liberal bourgeois sovereign individual]. Such an approach considers anything short of full, immediate realization of an abstract program to be an unacceptable compromise. Since this strategy cannot hold up against the stubborn forces of reality, anarchists have always been able to escape the responsibility of building a revolutionary society. This allows them to point fingers at others, mythologize their own past and moralize their politics without too much internal difficulty.

EG raised legitimate grievances, but what was her - and anarchism's solution? Overthrow the state. Empty slogans in the face of complex realities.

Anarchists might respect this commitment to "staying true to means and ends", but others should recognize it for what it is, dogmatism.

Whenever anarchism is faced with real world challenges, it would rather re-define the world than re-examine itself. Of course communists have much to account for and we have been doing that with various degress of success [and failure] for decades. Where is the anarchist equivalent? The fact that Chris Day's The Historical Failure of Anarchism was so controversial is testament to the lack of self-critical tradition among anarchists.

For anarchists interested in honest critical engagement, I would recommend Day's article as a good place to start. For the rest, the perfect dream of anarchist utopia will have to suffice.


off the cuff said: "I can guess one thing, the russians who fought off the german war machine would have done so with or without a state." Uh no. You are trying to conflate two questions here. They would have fought them, but they would not fought them off, ie, they would not have won. The romance of doomed rebellion might make for a good movie, but it isn't good politics.

More suspect anarchist history: "What killed off the invading nazies in russia was largely those crazy agrarians who burnt their houses and their crops down to starve the mutherfuckers." This was Hitler, not Napoleon. We're talking about a technologically developed war machine, not a soldiers on horseback. There was also something called the Battle of Stalingrad that all historians [yes even reactionaries] recognize as the crucial turning point in Hitler's defeat. Another reason never to learn history from anarchists.


zerohour says: "EG raised legitimate grievances, but what was her - and anarchism's solution?"

I'm not a Goldman expert but I think some pretty concrete demands are inherent in her critique: Local autonomy to the soviets, and end to political executions, multiple legal parties, the dismantling of secret police before they become a law unto themselves, and a leadership that serves the people rather than the preservation of its own power, etc.

Look, you pick whatever side you want, but don't pretend the other side has no argument. I think in this passage Emma is the one with an actual political point and ol' Jack is the one "moralizing to his hearts content." Shit happens, EG!

A good text related to this point in Russian history is Maurice Brinton's The Bolsheviks and Workers Control.


closing the italics....


"Local autonomy to the soviets, and end to political executions, multiple legal parties, the dismantling of secret police before they become a law unto themselves, and a leadership that serves the people rather than the preservation of its own power, etc."

The USSR had a devastated infrastructure from the revolution, and was under military attack almost immediately. On top of all that, they had no historical experience to draw from [no, not even the Paris Commune would help here] or contemporary allies to rely on. Unless there is a viable means to implement these measures indicated by occam in the concrete historical context, all we have here is empty sloganeering.

Such arguments were going on in the revolutionary government but anarchists would like to portray the Bolsheviks as a monolithic party - looks like Stalin was even able to influence the thinking of his enemies.

Italics fixed?

off the shoulders

OK zero lets take on a couple of your points.

1st of all its downright hilarious of a Marxist to accuse an anarchist of dogmatism. It's the anarchist who has an easier time of picking and choosing ideas and practices at will as to what can serve her. One need only compare the histories as they developed in the west(and the idea of anarchy is much bigger then the west quite frankly). Anarchism’s origins are far more eclectic the Marxism’s. Because in anarchism you have a mish mash of thinkers from Godwin to Stirner to Bakunin ect you have a discourse which has a better protection against being a postulated philosophy. I can't say the same for Marxism which far more ostensibly postulated from Hegel (a man bastardized by Marx) and Marx himself. From then on within Marxist theory you have what I would call the philosophical big man something that will always be with Marxism less it decide to deconstruct itself completely. It is in Marxism that ideas have to revolve primarily around class and economics, whereas anarchist it’s tended toward a more plural view of things. Also the point on a 'pure all-or-nothing notion of revolution' revolution coming from your type is quite hilarious considering that your type as I said puts an emphasis on objective barometers that deep down you know will never be met. Who are the ones that continue to put the end goal of revolution under eraser (to use a Heidegger term) by saying wait...WORLDWIDE revolution. Perhaps if the technocrats bring us to gene Rodenberry status it will have to be an intergalactic revolution. The anarchist of course willfully acknowledges that there will be no single sweeping revolution (the smart ones at least) and erases at will. He also doesn't sit around waiting for "conditions" she makes them herself. As for redefining the idea of anarchy and the world anarchists have a much better record of that then Marxists who 1)will not ditch their postulate and 2)continue to see things primarily in the realm of class and economics and all that objectivist buggery. As for Day and his so-called work on the failures of anarchism it’s about as much of a joke as the group that he led was. For one thing as I will continue to say outside of context success and failure mean nothing, and beyond that the Marxist vanguards of the world failed by the very praxis based conditions that they invented, so really their the last people to talk. What matters is that anarchism is filled with the means being intact. And that is all that matters. Oh and also if anarchism is predicated partly on the idea of the sovereign individual Marxism takes the sovereign social to be its friend. The difference is anarchists have tried harder then the Marxists to reconcile the differences.

As for the point on fighting off the Nazis zerohour repeats a certain axiom that is to borrow some Marxist jargon is not grounded in knowledge or facts. He assumes that the only way to fight an industrial army is to build a counter industrial army. She assumes this in spite of examples of the 20th century to the contrary. If one looks at Vietnam for example it was largely non-specialized network based warfare that defeated the US brown shirts. The most recent example would of course be Iraq, as an industrial army it got the shit kicked out of its ass and re-fed in its mouth. As the insurgents came different story. There’s a somewhat notable RAND corp. article on the efficiency of network warfare against even the best industrial army. These all fly in the face of the idea that an industrial army is needed to take on another. Besides the fact that it destroys your aspirations which must always be prefigured in the means, it just doesn't work that well. In fact when various commies formed the army it was after the hard work had been done (by the likes of the Ukrainian peasants) that the army is set up AND ONLY to consolidate the power of the newly minted political gang of fuckers.

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