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Kasama

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July 29, 2007

Comments

srogouski

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.

No. The Wermacht was defeated by a discplined state army. Guerilla armies don't field divisions of T34s Think about it. As ruthless as the American ruling class is in Iraq and as degenerate as American culture is, neither is at the point quite yet where they can wipe out whole cities the way the Nazis did in Eastern Europe (although Fallujah comes close). With an industrialized state army, the Nazis would have turned all of Russia into one big death camp as a prelude to settling the master race in its spanking new colony. An anarchist Russian guerilla movement would have been useless. The Germans wouldn't have drained the swamp. They would have nuked the swamp along with everything in it.

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.

Had the Germans won in 1939 and taken over whatever city Emma Goldman found herself in, they would have turned her into a lampshade.

Like it or not, the Nazis were far worse than either the Soviet Communists or the Anglo American imperialists. They would have destroyed civilization. And let's go one step further. Even though the Anglo American ruling class would have just as soon had the Nazis as FDR, the Nazis would have eventually destroyed them.

You sound like that eurocentric man who says 'radical' islam will destroy civilization.

Bzzzzzzzzzzztt. Wrong. The reason the neocon/zionist hysteria about "radical Islam" is so silly (and such a hypocritical justification for rape and pillage) is this. Radical Islam at best has controlled what? The Sudan and Afghanistan? Two failed states? Hitler controlled the biggest, most powerful nationn state in Europe. Hitler WAS a real threat to civilization in a way "Radial Islam" is at best a threat to a couple of buildings here and a couple of subway stations there. In the end, Al Qaeda (without a state) is at best the Red Bridages on steroids.

srogouski

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

Well, to her credit, Emma Goldman wound up in Spain fighting the fascists there in an admitedly sectarian way.

That makes her a good deal better than Roosevelt, who was so worried about losing the Catholic vote in New York and Boston that he let Franco have Spain and kept up the embargo.

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.

Exactly right. The Anglo American image of Neville Chamberlain as a well meaning but naive liberal might just be the greatest propaganda coup in history. Chamberlain and the right wing of the British ruling class wanted Hitler to take over Eastern Europe. In their minds, the Nazis were a better alternative than Communism. At some point, the British ruling class realized how crazy the Nazis were (maybe a bit like the endless stream of American conservatives who have taken to denouncing Bush over the last few years).

But they certainly didn't decide to fight Hitler to preserve democacy when they decided to fight for fascist Poland after letting Hitler rape democratic Czechoslovakia and Spain.

srogouski

If I had to list the greatest imperialist propaganda coups in history it might look something like this:

1.) The famine in the Ukraine in the 1930s demonstrated that Stalin was a genocidal tyrant. The famine in Ireland in 1848 (that killed 8 million people) was just an accident, even though Lord Russel stopped government relief from getting to the Irish because he was afraid it would interfere with the "free market".

2.) Lenin was a ruthless brute but the western capitalist politicians who kept the giant death camp on the western front going from 1914 to 1918 were merely quaint Victorian relics. Even though the western ruling classes kept the western front going by terror, summary executions and military dictatorship in German (and see Kubrick's "Paths of Glory") and it killed 20 million people, it doesn't rank as a holocaust.

3.) King Leopold's Belgian Congo is a Joseph Conrad novel, not a holocaust on the scale of what the Nazis did in Europe.

4.) Pol Pot in Cambodia was a judgement on the American anti-war movement, not on the American bombing. the genocide in East Timor (covered up in the UN by our good friend Daniel Patrick Moynahan) and the genocide in Indonesia have been almost completely scrubbed from the Amercican imagination (fans of Chomsky and Amy Goodman don't count).

5.) The coup in Prague and Martial Law in Poland are (rightfully) remembered for the tyranny they were. Nobody remembers the massacres in South Korea in 1980.

6.) The Christian right's genocide in Guatamala has gotten lost in Tammy Faye Mesners falsh eyelashes.

In short, however radical you think you are, singling out the Soviet Union as somehow more ruthless or bloody than American or British imperialism is just naive.

But if you really want to know what anarchists or radical populist democrats would have done against the Nazis two words: Munich Soviet. The Munich Soviet was run by a gang of bohemian democrats and semi anarchists and lasted all of a few days against the Freikorps. Maybe if it had been defended with the kind of ruthlessness that Lenin would have brought to it, the Nazis would have been crushed right then and there.

srogouski

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.

1.) Part of the reason the Iraqi insurgents have been effective against the American occupation has been the fact that they're led by (Soviet trained) ex Iraqi army officers. They also had access to the arms dumps that the Americans failed to secure when they rolled into the country in 2003.

2.) The Vietnamese were operating in a Cold War context. The North Vietnamese had MIGs and Soviet anti-aircraft weapons. The Mujahadeen in Afghanistan had the support of the United States.

3.) Blacks in the American south had no industrialized army. It took the (very industrialized) state army of the Northern states to end slavery. After the Republicans sold Southern blacks down the river in order to take Ohio, the whites (who had a monopoly of modern weapons and technology) quickly brought back racial apartheid. The apartheid was ended in the 1960s by non-violent resistence AND by the willingness of the American ruling class to use the state to get rid of the anachronism that was Jim Crown.

There's only one example of a guerilla movement beating a colonial army without a state army. Algeria

zerohour

off the cuff's remarks about an industrial army reveals a great deal about anarchist feel-good dogma. I did not assume "that the only way to fight an industrial army is to build a counter industrial army." I did something far more shocking to the anarchist mindset - I actually spoke about what did happen, not what what should have happened! Let's go through what I said: 1] scorched earth tactics did not stop Hitler, the Battle of Stalingrad did, 2] scorched earth tactics are not effective against a military that can store supplies and personnel at distant locations and can quickly transport them from such locations. These are not assumptions they are well-established events.

With anarchists, when history isn't to their liking, they simply ignore it [Stalingrad], or re-write it [emphasizing scorched earth well beyond its merits] until it comes out right.

An anarchist will never let something stupid like a fact spoil a good time.

off the shoulders

"No. The Wermacht was defeated by a discplined state army. Guerilla armies don't field divisions of T34s Think about it. As ruthless as the American ruling class is in Iraq and as degenerate as American culture is, neither is at the point quite yet where they can wipe out whole cities the way the Nazis did in Eastern Europe (although Fallujah comes close). With an industrialized state army, the Nazis would have turned all of Russia into one big death camp as a prelude to settling the master race in its spanking new colony. An anarchist Russian guerilla movement would have been useless. The Germans wouldn't have drained the swamp. They would have nuked the swamp along with everything in it."

There certainly was a state army however at the end of the day it was not conventional industrial military tactics the defeated the Nazis, it was the small scale grittier stuff such as burning houses and supply lines done primarily be ordinary Russians combined with the landscape as well as a hardcore hatred of anything German. Beyond this there is a question of whether revolutionaries of insurgents should really fear death on any level when it comes to ones revolutionary means. If it so happens that the civilized fucker of the day really wants to wipe you out at least go out with your ideals in tact. The fact is for those who are serious about egalitarian ideals there will always be a disadvantage against the likes of fascists of any color. For me the logic of Sun Tzu remains quintessential in regards to taking on ones enemies, particularly if you wish not to become like them as the vanguards most certainly did. Eastern Europe became a death camp under another ideological name. What's even more ironic is that contemporary Eastern Europe has a burgeoning brown shirt movement and this is very much tied to what I call 70 years of shit in addition to the added misery from 89 onwards. An anarchist was recently killed as you may have heard in Siberia and his kind is now outnumbered 3-1 thanks to the historical conditions that YOUR KIND helped create. You never ended fascism; you simply allowed it to flower under local conditions. Give yourself a pat on the back dude!


"Had the Germans won in 1939 and taken over whatever city Emma Goldman found herself in, they would have turned her into a lampshade."

Well Emma and others would fend for themselves, I'm sure she wouldn't care for your kind of "salvation".

"Like it or not, the Nazis were far worse than either the Soviet Communists or the Anglo American imperialists. They would have destroyed civilization. And let's go one step further. Even though the Anglo American ruling class would have just as soon had the Nazis as FDR, the Nazis would have eventually destroyed them."

Like it or not I will continue to call such claims as better and worse a mountain of bullshit. All this kind of reasoning has done is given people restrictions on what they should fight for. The only way an irrelevant sect of vanguards can claim the opposite is to claim they are not worse then the Nazis. Quite frankly I find wolves in sheep’s clothing far worse then the most frothing of wolves (who tend to last half as long). And srogouski let me just say that I would love to see civilization destroyed, such an event will take a lot of work and long time to accomplish which is why your worry of what the Nazis would have done to civilization is so hilarious. Do you really seriously believe that civilization would have been destroyed? You’re forgetting that civility is based and prefigured on an unprecedented level of barbarism, think of those long dead hunter-gatherer and herding societies which had to be wiped out for those ancient civilizations to grow. Hitler had a logic that was quite healthy for the game of civilization. In all likelihood the newly minted German empire would have had to at some point consolidate its power by calming things down a bit. You’re sort of seeing the opposite with the c
"Bzzzzzzzzzzztt. Wrong. The reason the neocon/zionist hysteri ontemporary USofA though the result of this will perhaps be the end of the American empire. The term burning twice as bright but lasting half as long would easily apply to the Nazis if they had won. But please, get over this 'the world would have come to an end crap'.

a about "radical Islam" is so silly (and such a hypocritical justification for rape and pillage) is this. Radical Islam at best has controlled what? The Sudan and Afghanistan? Two failed states? Hitler controlled the biggest, most powerful nationn state in Europe. Hitler WAS a real threat to civilization in a way "Radial Islam" is at best a threat to a couple of buildings here and a couple of subway stations there. In the end, Al Qaeda (without a state) is at best the Red Bridages on steroids."

The neocon/zionist hysteria is just as silly as your position to justify the 'kinder' raping and pillaging of that political gang of reds. The point isn't how much power the islamo dumb dumbs have, the point is even if they did take over the world civilization would clock on in one form or another.

As for your 6 points of propaganda what you are of course missing is that people like me are well aware of what the US were doing, however people like me will always find it profound when those fighting for a classless society do similar things with similar mechanisms better or worse aside.

To your final 3 points for 1) and 2) the fact remains that a conventional industrial army approach to taking on said Americans would not have worked. It was obviously used but it was not the primary thing that did the USians in. And it’s a tad bit silly to say that the only thing that would have ended slavery in the US was an act of statecraft. That is certainly not how successful slave rebellions have been completed in the past. If you really want to see what puts a chill on the ruling class look at the watts or Rodney King riots.

Also I would add the Chiapas revolution to your last point with people who have still remained with their means in tact. And at this stage the people would rather die with those means in tact then have another Cuba be created.

off the shoulders

Zilcho

I'm hardly ingoring stalingrad, I would say there were a number of events that played a role in defeating the germans the russian winter and lanscape being one thing. Beyond that its quite silly to assume that scorched earth tactics did not play a role in wearing them down. Stalingrad was the culmination of a lot of things. When comparing the respective armies the german war machine was far more sophisticated then what soviet war machine was. At the end of they day though I'm not as worried about death as much as I'm worring how I die. If Canada the country I live in ever destroys capital and state in one glorious blow I will not be concerned with rebuilding the 2 ugly phenomenas to take on the US or heck maybe the Chinese army. I will die how I want to live at the very least. Just like those in Chiapas would probably not be sold on the vanguard state model for their continuing existence.

Christopher Day

Well, thats a lot more than five minutes now.

Zerohour mentioned an article I wrote back in my Love and Rage days, "The Historical Failure of Anarchism" for which I caught enormous flack. It is now available online at:

http://www.loveandrage.org/?q=historicalfailure

The one point I'd like to make concerns the question of "anarchist dogmatism." It is absolutely true that there are a lot of very dogmatic Marxists. I would suggest however that when someone responds to the possibility of anarchist dogmatism by dismissing it out of hand because it came from a Marxist, that well that is in itself a pretty dogmatic stance.

Most anarchists are impervious to the charge of dogmatism because they have reduced the phenomena in their minds to the forms that it takes on the part of Marxists and other supposed "authoritarians." Since dogmatism is an expression of authoritarianism and since they are anti-authoritarians, the reasoning goes, they are incapable of being dogmatic.

Anarchism is highly dogmatic in the sense that anarchists generally don't revise their thinking on the basis of experience and investigation in the way that at least the better Marxists try to. It is true that anarchists lack the formal hierarchical organizational structures to enforce their dogmas on the rank and file of their movement the way that many Communist and Socialists parties have. But the intensity of conformity on the part of anarchists is therefore all the more striking.

ShineThePath

"When comparing the respective armies the german war machine was far more sophisticated then what soviet war machine was."

This is an outright lie and myth of actual Nazi propaganda...basically the thrist of their propaganda being the stupid and incompetent Slavic Soviets can't compete with Aryan technology. As any military historian will note, Russian tanks were far superior to the German Panzer (which was poorly equiped), Germans lacked automotive transportation and were reliant on donkey trains since even the beginning of Operation Barbarrossa, and Russian artiliry was perfecting rocketry...Germany was not.

It is also important to mention Nazi German troops lacked basic equipment for even dealing with a modest winter.

With the vast majority of German troops and armor (as well as, not forgetting Italian, Hungarian, Romanian, Finnish, and European Free Korp divisions) on the Eastern front, how did the Soviets beat back the Fascists?

Because the Soviets were frankly competent and equipped to do the job...it wasn't just a magical winter.

I mean we are forgetting the fact that the Soviets beat the largest Japanese Field Army in a week in this war.

srogouski

If Canada the country I live in ever destroys capital and state in one glorious blow I will not be concerned with rebuilding the 2 ugly phenomenas to take on the US or heck maybe the Chinese army. I will die how I want to live at the very least. Just like those in Chiapas would probably not be sold on the vanguard

What are the Iraqis doing right now? Are they fighting the American occupation in a gentlemanly way? No. They're doing exactly what Reed said. They're fighting the American occupation by terror, executions, the massacre of civilian collaborators.

How is the neocon argument any different from the anarchist argument? What's the fundamental argument the neocons make against any resistence movement in the Arab world?

To me it looks like: "Well those Arabs aren't conducting themselves according to the kind of morality we have the luxury of living by in suburban America so they're fight is illegitimate". And why do they make this argument? Because they know, as well as you and I do, that a colonial occupation is brutal and ugly and the resistence against it is brutal and ugly.

Non violent, democratic resistence only worked in the American south in the 1960s for one reason. The Soviet Union was embarassing the USA in most of the third world and the American ruling class under Eisenhower and Kennedy thought Jim Crow was an embarassing anachronism they wanted to get rid of.

So Martin Luther King was able to leverage the ruling class into bringing state power into the conflict on the side of the civil rights movement.

In another context, where you have no superpower on your side or no state that will intervene to help you, what do you do?

Well in the case of a country with the size and brute power of Russia, you can think about buckling down and beating the imperialists by yourself.

In the case of Iraq or Chiapas the very best you can do is fight the imperialists to a stalemate and hope their society and economy collapses. Whether the Iraqis will be successful is yet to be seen.

off the shoulders

On the issue of dogmatism I certainly don't doubt that there is an anarchism problem in that regard. For me it is about how fixed ones ideas are and as I said, due to the fact that marxism is essentially a postulate based ideology, it takes the cake over the worst of the anarchists.

Quite frankly though chris is being silly if he thinks that anarchist thinking has not gone through some significant changes particularly in the last 25 years.
Perhaps he should define what he means as revision. I would say the one thing that you might say about anarchists is that they have kept their ideals intact. The details have changed a bit. There are an increasing amount of anarchists who see the destruction of civilization as down right nessesary, but the main ideals are there and have shown themselves workable in time. If you want an example of a profound change there is an increasing number of anarchists who believe that one revolution will not do it, will not come close to doing it. These tend to be those who took what the Foucaults and the Derridas said to heart. Beyond that what in my view has been well cropped up not just by anarchists is means and ends being intact. It was the Marxists like Marcuse who realized that the dream in Eastern Europe was dead from the moment they formed their political power. You have marxists like Holloway and others who've come over to the anarchist side of things and the libertarian strand of marxism is really the only kind of marxism left in the world that isn't a laughing stock.

If the anarchists got it so wrong why did these marxists from the 60s onwards start an intellectual process that lead to the same conclusions that anarchists had been chirping about all along? Bear in mind anarchism near death in the 60s as a relavent tendency. You had a lot of anarchists who either became platformists, supported self-management in Lybia or Yogoslavia or suported cuba even. But something happened chris. Something that Marxists like Foucault had to point out was wrong with marxism. You had the situationists who helped breath some life back into a comatosed tendency.

All in all theres something about that horizontal home cooking that is liked by more then just formally labled anarchists. That's been obvious since Seattle and it hasn't really changed.

srogouski

This is an outright lie and myth of actual Nazi propaganda...basically the thrist of their propaganda being the stupid and incompetent Slavic Soviets can't compete with Aryan technology. As any military historian will note, Russian tanks were far superior to the German Panzer (which was poorly equiped), Germans lacked automotive transportation and were reliant on donkey trains since even the beginning of Operation Barbarrossa, and Russian artiliry was perfecting rocketry...Germany was not.

With communist China and Russia you really have a type of moblization that doesn't match the classic third world anti-colonial resistence or an imperialist first world army.

The Russians beat the Nazis not only because they could build a moderan industrial army but also because they could take more casualties (and Russia never really recovered from the Second World War).

When the USA tried to destroy the Chinese revolution and the Chinese fought them to a standstill in Korea, the Chinese had industrial/modern weapons, tanks, jet fighters, etc. But they also had the ability to put a huge number of boots on the ground.

Iraq can't do this. That's what a lot of 4G warfare theorists don't get. Right now the American population is under an astonishingly tight system of repression and propaganda. The American ruling class seems to have solved the problem of the Vietnam War, solved the problem of domestic unrest.

So if a country with the size and brute power of the USA has no restraints on it either from domestic oppostion or a rival superpower a la the USSR, it can and will grind down the Iraqi resistence and if it can't it will just destroy the whole country.

So in a sense a non first world army like the Iraqi resistence can cause the USA endless headaches but it really can't out and out win.

off the shoulders

To be frank srogouski my main point from the get go was to show that there are other possibilites besides building an industrial army that in some cases have more sucess in taking on an industrial army. What ultimately matters for me is what political or should I say non-political prefiguration you have in place. And quite frankly in regards to the soviet union it lossed on 2 counts, it was never on its way to communism and in the end it proved incapable of keeping up with the US. It was a sad 70 year old sack of shit that quite frankly did its own imperialistic deeds quite on par and within the same civilized capitalistic logic as the US. The US played the game better, they are classical liberals afterall, the only leftist ideology which actually works due to the fact that it is the immediate recipiant of 2000 years of christianity and its governmentality.

As for out and out winning believe it or not I see revolution as a process that one will never truly win or lose.

srogouski

I think we're dealing with two seperate questions here.

1.) Was the Soviet Union an ideal socialist state? The obvious answer is "no".

2.) Was the world better off with the Soviet Union and China as communist countries? Looking at Russia's descent into pure gangster capitalism and China's descent into the low wage sweatshop of the world AND with the USA's behavior in Iraq once the restraints were kicked away the answer seems to be "yes".

You really can't compare Russia and the USA from 1940 to 1990 head up simply because the USA had always been a vastly more wealthy and developed country.

And it also had the advantage of centuries of free labor in a way Russia had not (even with serfdom).

From 1607 to 1865: That's 258 years

From 1865 to 1990: That's 125 years

So it's not exactly classical liberalism or social democracy that was the basis for American economic development. It was stolen land and free labor.

True, if you only look at the white population and some of the gifts the imperialists gave it (the Homestead Act, landgrant colleges, the New Deal, etc.) you have a form of imperialist social democracy but that's only if you look at history through the tradional American racially filtered lenses.

zerohour

In regards to off the shoulders's comment: "As for out and out winning believe it or not I see revolution as a process that one will never truly win or lose." This is remarkable, but not surprising, coming from someone who accused Marxists of "moving the goalposts." But it is consistent with the degradation of anarchism's once grand aims. They resolved the issue by not having any goalposts. It is certainly easier to wish reality away than deal with its messiness.

Day's article made a point I had been making against anarchism for years: never having succeeded in overthrowing an "authoritarian" state, their ideas have never really been put to the test. Instead of honest, critical reflection, anarchists have simply deflected the challenge by either ignoring it, or singling out some local success and declaring vindication for anarchist principles.

Notice how shoulders talks about "fighting" but says "winning" is an open question. off the shoulders kieeps insisting that it is not necessary to build an industrial army to "take on" an industrial army. No one disagrees with that. People with slingshots can "take on" an industrial army - witness the Palestinian Intifada. The question is winning - or is it?

See the logic here? Once anarchists also had ideas of making revolution by overthrowing states. Unable to do this, they start emphasizing local structures of governance. When even these don't lead to overall revolutionary changes, we have yet another emphasis on the egoistic individual. Anarchism went from a challenger of capitalism to a coping mechanism.

Whenever anyone talks about "means and ends" and focuses on the means, the undertone of evasion can't be missed. So let's face a stark fact: anarchist means don't lead to anarchist ends. Isn't a critical self-evaluation long overdue?

About "moving the goalposts" I think you're not clear about the relationship between theory and practice. Marxists have been consistently focused on national AND world revolutions. That has never changed, but how we understand the intertwining processes is constantly being developed and refined. As in everyday life, we must act based on our best available information. Even at its most successful any theory will be found wanting when put to the test. For the Marxist, this becomes an occasion to step back, re-evaluate the theory and implement a modified practice. For the anarchist, reality is the problem and must never be allowed to transform the pristine theory.

Here's how Zizek put it: "liberal Leftists reject Social Democratic compromise; they want a true revolution, yet they shirk the actual price to be paid for it and thus prefer to adopt the attitude of a Beautiful Soul and to keep their hands clean." Anarchists have never actually overthrown a state or created a new society. No wonder their fingers look so spotless when pointing at the shortcomings of others who had to do the work.

zerohour

srgoushi, I appreciate your comments but ewhen you said "Non violent, democratic resistence only worked in the American south in the 1960s for one reason" I have to slightly disagree.

Non-violence only works to the degree that one can convince others to be non-violent. Once that's off the table, non-violence is completely ineffective. MLK proved this by calling on Lyndon Johnson to send in marines whenever things got too physically rough. In this way, pacifists themselves prove that non-violence does not work since they often call on violent forces, either police or military, to protect them from other violent forces.

Like anarchists, pacifists are blind to the fundamental contradictions of their on theory and practice. Pacifism as a means of social transformation is more emotionally self-satisfying than practically viable.

off the shoulders

srogouski

In terms of your last point you're kind of elucidating what I am saying. The reason why classical liberalism is so succesfull is because it is the immediate benificiary of all that slavery. As Foucault pointed this will always put your kind of states at a disadvantage(with the retoric of a classless society and all) In practice it does give it a go however. If you really want a succesfull socialist state be honest about what your means will be next time, means that will include slavery and brutality to borrow a Bakunin phrase. The fact is your were bad at the game of civilized rationality and were even worse at anything resembling an egalitarian form of existence. The tendencies that had it got killed off buy the not as worse state. And again I will say better and worse are meaningless outside of a certain context. There are people in the world who were personally butchered by the soviets who will tell you the world is better off without them. It would be hard to argue with those life experiences. In regards to what the US is doing now it is simply covering ground the soviets would have tried to cross anyway. The point should be no empires not counter empires that people like Gramsci like to spout off about. Oh and I would not put either state or socialist in an ideal category(mine at least)

Zerohour

Your right about getting rid of goal posts. As Lyotard said grand narritives need to swept into that dust bin of dust bins(as Baudrilard put it)that is history. Anarchists and even the more sophisticated marxist ala John Holloway accept that now.

I don't dissagree that overthrowing states are hard(though its been done in Chiapas) What you are fundamentally dealing with are social relationships of difference and various modern attachments at the end of the day. The reason france did not crumble in 68 was because(in addition to those revolutionary specialists and civilized recuporators)the populace continued to have modern attachments on the most psychological of levels. This is something that the most brilliant of anarchist discourse can never fight. Beyond that there is the simple fact that human goal posts have to be erased. As Heidegger Nietzsche say human agency is something that must always be ahead of its agents less they become overwhelmed by nothingness.
What the anarchists(of the hakim bey stripe) have been able to do is awknoledge this once and for all and simply strike ones mark in time and acheive what ever elevation is possible. At the end of the day as Benjamin points out revolutions have traditionally been about accelerating when it should about slamming the breaks on this crazy rationality. The latter is not easy and there has not been one that has happened in either a willed fasion or on a large scale. What can I say anarchists demand the impossible to use a 68 slogan. But we're intellectually stronger for it ;)

Marxists(your kind) have problems on the otherhand admittin this however. The fact is a state withering away was never going to happen, the worker being the ditchdigger has not happened, everything to the contrary has. It was marxists largely in academic areas who had to admit these painfull facts. Power for example does not derive from a primary location,perhaps workers themselves are as much capitalists as the owners. These are of course from the ideas of foucault and marcuse, what makes them different is that they incorporated people like Nietzsche and Heiddeger into their thinking and put them and others on par with marx and hegel, in the former case it lead to him dumping marx.

srogouski

Off the shoulders. I don't mean this as an insult but your remarkably imprecise language seems to me that you haven't thought through your arguments.

Take this for example.

There are people in the world who were personally butchered by the soviets who will tell you the world is better off without them.

Do you talk to the dead? Obviously not. But (having grown up in the West) you have a vague emotional sense that communism is bad and that in order to argue about it you have to have the right kind of authenticity (ie be a dead right wing East European). But you don't bring any arguments to the table that back up you points. In fact, you're just factually wrong in two of them.

Take this:

If you really want a succesfull socialist state be honest about what your means will be next time, means that will include slavery and brutality to borrow a Bakunin phrase.

Lenin (and most Marxists) tend to be brutally honest about their intention to use brute force. Have you read Lenin? Anarchists and Libertarians, on the other hand, don't honestly confront what actually existing anarchy (post Communist gangster Russia, the Sudan, Somalia) looks like. And "classical liberals" mostly won in the twentieth century precisely because they could bullshit their way around their own brutality. "The Exile" describes the process pretty well.

http://www.exile.ru/2007-June-29/war_nerd.html

The Brits were the best for all kinds of reasons, but most of all because of the way they handled the propaganda side of colonizing the world. When they had to, they wiped out troublesome tribes all over the map, but instead of rolling home with bloody scalps and gory stories like some dumb Nazi boaster, they soft-pedaled the killing and only talked about their own casualties, even if there were only a handful. They used the press to turn their losses into martyrs on a scale no clumsy Shia amateur could ever manage.

This is also just factually wrong.

The fact is your were bad at the game of civilized rationality and were even worse at anything resembling an egalitarian form of existence.

Did the Sandanistas use death squads or genocide the way the USA's allies did in Central America. Have all Marxists (eg Alende) just acted like carbon copies of the imperaliasts? Has even an authoritarian like Castro used brutality gratuitously?

Why not look at the actual history?


srogouski

Non-violence only works to the degree that one can convince others to be non-violent. Once that's off the table, non-violence is completely ineffective. MLK proved this by calling on Lyndon Johnson to send in marines whenever things got too physically rough. In this way, pacifists themselves prove that non-violence does not work since they often call on violent forces, either police or military, to protect them from other violent forces.

Whatever it was it was an effective political strategy.

King knew the ruling class wanted Jim Crow out of the way. And you can look at the history for this. Eisenhower and Kennedy are pretty up front about how ending Jim Crow was part of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, an attempt to undercut Communism and Pan Africanism.

But there were a couple of difficulties. One, you had demented racists like J. Edgar Hoover high up in the bureaucracy. Two, you had the Southern Democrats.

So if King and the Civil Rights movement had picked up guns and tried to shoot it out with the segregationists, the state would have not only failed to help them, it would have sided with the Southern Democrats.

On the other hand, if you blackmailed Kennedy and Johnson by putting yourself in a position where your deaths would embarass them in front of the whole world, you could motivate them to do what they wanted to anyway.

But where there's no counterweight, no competeting power, non-violent resistence only gets you crushed underneath a bulldozer.

http://www.criticalconcern.com/rachelcorrie.html

That's where not thinking in terms of specifics gets you killed. Rachel Corrie thought the Israelis wouldn't dare kill a white American or if they did the American government would make a fuss.

Bad move. That's a totally different political reality from the American South in 1964.

Same with Baghdad. When the Iraqis tried to protest non-violently in Fallujah at the very beginning of the American occupation, the 82nd Airborne just massacred them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallujah

On the evening of April 28, 2003, a crowd of 200 people defied a curfew imposed by the Americans and gathered outside a secondary school used as a military HQ to demand its reopening. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne stationed on the roof of the building opened fire on the crowd, resulting in the deaths of 17 civilians and the wounding of over 70.

In both cases, an AK47 would have worked a lot better than an homage to Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau.

zerohour

off the shoulders, why are you resorting to namedropping a who's who of continental philosophy and throwing out unsupported assertions? It's neither impressive nor intimidating.

One of your points reveals a great deal about the cynicism that now pervades anarchism: "The reason france did not crumble in 68 was because(in addition to those revolutionary specialists and civilized recuporators)the populace continued to have modern attachments on the most psychological of levels. This is something that the most brilliant of anarchist discourse can never fight." So anarchism cannot overcome any of its political opponents or the social conditioning of the population? What use is it other than to provide condescending liberalism with a radical veneer, not to mention keeping Doc Marten in business?

As far as political aims go, perhaps your abandonment of oppressive Enlightenment rationality has prevented you from seeing that you are just re-hashing an old argument: revolution hasn't happened yet so it will never happen. I'd recommend that you put away Lyotard and pick up Fukuyama - you might feel a sense of familiarity.

zerohour

Correction: when I said "revolution hasn't happened yet..." it should read "world revolution..."

srogouski

So anarchism cannot overcome any of its political opponents or the social conditioning of the population?

Anarchists, Marxists, and even left-liberals all have to recognize the difficulty of confronting the propaganda industrial complex.

To be fair to the RCP, Bob Avakian talks about this all the time. But what's his solution? The RCP paper has an occasionally good article but its mired in 1980s technology. An anarchist critique would make sense here. The top down cadre organization of the RCP makes it impossible for it to establish a decent web presence (and I realize I'm posting on a blog that supports the RCP so I'd qualify that a bit).

But groups like World Can't Wait and their top down strategy of getting progressive celebrities to support them in the hope of moving people of "disproporionate influence" has pretty much exploded. They've actually protested people who have signed their call (Conyers) which pretty much showed that signing it really meant very little in the first place.

And sure, Sean Penn can ride in a car with Chavez while he holds up a photo of Che but unless you have a system of information distribution/news that can spin that your way, it's just more grist for the right's outrage mill.

In the late 90s, the anarchists did have a real edge on any other political tendency because they really did pioneer usenet, Indymedia, and other similar decentered counter propaganda outlets.

But they were easily overtaken by the left liberals at the Daily Kos/Atrios (who have now been transformed from left liberals into AIPAC ass kissing mainstream Democrats) in 2002 and 2003 as the anti-war protests burned themeselves out.

In reality, both anarchists and neo Communists face a similar problem, repression in the streets. The cops and the state have figured out how to counter the image of disorder that came out of Seattle in 1999. They've mastered the technique of making protest look ridiculous, not dangerous.

So where's the current pressure point?

zerohour

srogouski, your point is well taken but recognizing the difficulties of overcoming propaganda is one thing. Saying that it can't be done is another. Then why resist? Personal integrity? To release energy? off the shoulders's stance portrays anarchist resistance as a moralistic, yet often creative, set of disruptive tactics that are practically designed to become dissipated.

It's not a surprise that anarchist creativity gets coopted by other trends. A lack of strategic orientation allows for this.

r. john

srogouski: It is revealing that the RCP does not allow its supporters to participate in blogs and online discussions -- even one like this that "engages with BA," and debates what (they themselves) think are a number of the key issues.

You can't build a movement in such a micromanaged way -- but it is not just a tactical problem. and it is not (imho) a question of just 80s technology. It is a matter that they attempt to keep their statements and representations so intensely controlled that they can't even "wade into stormy weather."

There are ideological roots to this: While the RCP officially says it wants to be "out on a limb with a string on its back" (i.e. that it wants to take real risks without losing its connection with others.) But in fact it is very risk-averse -- to the point that it can't even allow its supporters to do unsupervised public activity (or even deliver unscripted speeches at rallies). There is a "fetishism of the word" (that runs very very deep in Avakian personally) that believes a microscopic, convoluted, legalist precision of expression is key to expressing truths with potency.

And their view of the "irreplacability" of their leadership leads to a defensive crouch which cramps their work in ways you can't even start to imagine. Every issue, every statement, every initiative is scrutinized (first and foremost) from the perspective of how it may reflect on the perception and position of Avakian. and the mechanics of approaching politics that way leads to a pathetically "clogged pipe" -- a party whose supporters literally can't speak or act without slowmoving pre-approval, and after-the-fact scrutiny.

Again, this is not just bureaucratic madness, it is tied to a series of erroneous assumptions about how ideas move people, and how central the personal of a special leader is to hopes of success.

the dude

R John, I really don't know where you're getting this all from. I've never heard of any rcp supporters being barred from online discussions or blogs. But... should people trying to move millions spend as much time as most of the folks on this blog debating with the same few people that already have an axe to grind with the rcp? Probably not.

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