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April 09, 2005



Pretty crazy stuff.

What really "jumps out" at me is not so much their unwillingness to establish and operate a new state apparatus -- that's long established anarchist tradition -- but their SHOCKING disinterest in SMASHING THE OLD STATE.

It's as if they imagine that we could simply "ignore" the old state and it will just "go away" and "leave us alone".

Perhaps they intend to "nibble it to death". (!)

Mr. Holloway & Company cannot be faulted for lack of imagination...but I must confess that much of their material reads more like science-fantasy than serious analysis.


Come on folks,

Being snarky and dismissive with out (it seems) seriously reading or thinking about why so many current popular movement's and thinkers have deeply re-thought how to change things does yourselves a dis-service.

More and more communists, socialists, anarchists and grassroots folks have helped make our movements more effective and a better world mre possible by letting go a bit and looking honestly at the last centuries combo of heroic struggles and disasterous taking of power, without changing the form of that power.

Marcos-- former vanguard marxist-lennist-maoist vanguard-- is a postive example: As Eduardo Gelean describes, he "went to Chiapas and spoke to the indigenous, but they did nt undersatnd him. Then he penetrated the mist learned to listen, and was able to speak."

It's right to rebel

A good discussin of the two currents highlighted by this discussin by John Ross is at:

the burningman

Well, there are disasters and there are disasters. Abdicating responsibility for the direction of society is a way of getting comfortable with defeat. This has nothing to do with being "snarky" and a lot to do with calling this stuff out for what it is.

Marcos is not hard to understand. He is a leader of a regional reform movement that has not even won reforms. Very inspiring, but put to use as a replacement for dealing with the power of the capitalist state. Vincent Fox is the SubCommandante's president. Mexico is governed by NAFTA and corporations and the plantations of Chiapas have been totally unaffected by the uprising.

Instead of serious reporting on what has happened in Chiapas, we get one communique after another from El Supe. Purple prose and poetics work for a couple of years. But then... Well, it's wearing thin. Those who have rejected socialism, and who promote the capitalist "trail of tears" narrative of the history of communist movements, are doing a poor service.

And, for the record, Marcos was never a Maoist and has always rejected People's War. He was a Guevarist, and THEY were the ones who believed in the arrogant "foco" that would lead the ignorant masses to revolt by their own heroic example.

Those who choose anti-communism as a way of demonstrating their democratic bonafides continue to ignore what revolutionary communism is, has been and will be. Their willful ignorance will not serve them well in the coming years.

Lev B.

Could you elaborate on why you consider Tariq Ali's defense of Chavez to be "social-democratic"?

I'm against turning 20th century political ideologies into eternal quick fix labels we can stick on to folks whose ideas we might disagree with. (i.e. Stalinist, social-democratic etc.)

jed brandt

I love the idea that the millenium brought an end to existing poltical realities. It's fun, but silly.

Why is Tariq Ali a social-democrat? Because he believes the at the capitalist state can be turned to meet social needs. Which, to a degree -- under exceptional circumstances -- it can. But like Holloway, the "state" is viewed as a singular entity. As if it were a tool that could be picked up, rather than the monopoly of a single system, maintained by violence.

Chavez can GRANT concessions to the people, but the people don't rule through him. That confusion, and the disregard of the possibility of popular republics, is the essence of "social democracy."

Some people are Stalinists, not many, but I've met them. MANY people are social-democrats. It's not a "label" or a pejorative. It's a description of politics.

Lev B.

Holloway says that the state is inherently a tool of capitalism whether social democrats, populists or communists run things, which is why the left should leave all state related things to them.

Chavez clearly shows that it is a lot more complicated than that, and in the real world of 2005 created one of the few existing alternatives to the neo-liberal model, which no social-democrats have been able to do or showed much interest in.

I don't think its a model but to negativly compare to a system that has never existed(a worker run Marxist-Leninist state) is a useless exercise, as useless as pretending that the EZLN running a small piece of Mexico is a real alternative to neo-liberalism.

actually not-existing socialism

Socialism in some shape or form is the only alternative to capitalism worth discussing. It seems like so long as working people are not able to articulate their own politics (generally called "communist"), we will have to listen to middle class demagogues talk about reform and subculture. Really. They absolutely hate communism and any chance that their privileges won't be respected. That's the horror of socialism to them. That they can't live making two or three times what the rest of us do. Like the professors in China who took turns farming with the rest of the people. They thought of it as some kind of punishment, even when 90% of the population did it every day of their lives.

John Holloway is ridiculous. It makes me sad that so many activists I respect have so little intention of actually doing anything. Whenever I hear his name mentioned, it's as a justification for the inability to make any headway.

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