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Kasama

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March 18, 2006

Comments

samo

"Also, the article does not say 'imminent' but 'coming'. The latter phrase is more open-ended and allows for the role of consciousness."

Yah,I hear Jesus is coming too. I've also read about the eventual unification of Geist, Reason and History. Plenty or room for consciousness there.

"Even with a scientific approach one can make mistakes [also debated in other threads]. Anyone wanting an error-free approach to social theory is in for a lifetime of disappointment."

Dissapointment? One could say the same think about all Marxist prognostications since 1978. The belief in a communist utopia as the culmination of history is a religious one, not "scientific" in any manner. Spare me the scientism of Marxism and its depleted claims of predictive power. Nobody but a silly fringe believes that anymore.

"Samo, if a civil war comes, don't expect an e-mail notification 8 weeks in advance."

How about an 800 year notification. . . . is that open-ended enough? How "scientific" is a predictive analysis the result of which is "open-ended"? Can you reproduce the methodology and lab results that led to the claim that civil war is "coming"?

"If your strategy is to wait for things to happen, then react with shock and moral outrage, you haven't learned anything from history."

Do you mean the reaction to the collapse of communism in China? Or the collapse of communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe? Maybe you're talking about the rise of "Christian fascism" in the U.S.? Surely the Avakianists saw that coming through the use of their "science", right?

Maz

I think it's funny how every debate gets ends up bashing the RCP...and people say it's not the vanguard, ha!

Anyways, this discussion was interesting before the last digression. Repeater calls for more class analysis on the events in France because class is the determinant of history and if you're not doing that then you're not a communist. Well yes, and no.

Class is the determinant of history in the sense that there is a coherence in the changes of modes of production through class struggle. it's also true that other forms of oppression, like women's oppression or national oppression, are rooted in the class system. But I think it would be good to emphasis the word "rooted" here and think about what just that means. A blade of grass and a grape vine are both rooted in the soil, yet each has their own particular contradictions that require their own analysis to understand and transform them. Sure, this is just a metaphor, but it's useful. One cannot understand women's oppression simply by doing a class analysis, because gender relations take on a whole "life of their own" which needs to be analyzed. And one couldn't simply uproot women's oppression just by waging the struggle in terms of class. Also, one couldn't even wage the class struggle effectively without also simultaneously understanding and uprooting women's oppression, because all forms of oppression react back on the basic class structure itself.

Also, I think it's useful to discuss where revolutionary openings actually come from. Often, perhaps even more often than not, chances for proletarian revolution don't initially come from the movements of proletarians. The cultural revolution is a great example. This was started mostly among students, even the more priveleged urban university students. But it obviosuly quickly engulfed all of society, and brought the proletariat into motion on a massive (and unprecedented) scale.

Another good (and sobering) example of this is what happened during the Iranian revolution. The Union of Iranian Communists (Sarbedaran) made the analysis that during the spring and summer of 1981 a mjor revolutionary crisis had engulfed the country, the Islamic Republic was far from secure, and there was a chance it could have been toppled. But the Communinists did not attempt to take leadership of the events. Why? Because they saw the spring/summer upsurge as being an airing of liberal grievances, led by liberals -- One of the major sparks was a protest in commemoration of Mossadegh, the Prime Mininister toppled in the 1953 coup d'etat. What they failed to see at the time, and only saw too late, was how this situation could transform rapidly and spin out of control, which it did, and quickly became characterized by protests by the masses on the new regime itself, from a whole host of perspectives. But the Communists couldn't see this, and so by the time they did launch an uprising (in January of 1982) the upsurge had subsided, and it was too little, too late.

This is worth thinking about when discussing the situation in France. The role of communists is to to wrench the maximum they can out of any given situation as well as being ready to adapt quickly to rapid, turn-on-a-dime changes in the political terrain. It is mechanical materialism, dogmatism, and just plain shit to look at the initial participants of a movement and then cynically "decide" where the movement will go based on that.

P.S. This whole post isn't a criticism of Repeater's views specifically, but just the discussion and stuff floating around in general.

Repeater

Maz:

Granted, but in my estimation the more serious threat is exactly the one which is represented by the ideologies of samo and logan. In other words, the universal is so debased as a political viewpoint, one need not train as much fire upon the incorrect manifestations of it as one should upon the cult of the particular and all its manifestations.

Logan and samo give us excellent examples of the stand, viewpoint and method of those who take up the dogma of the particular, along with all its anti-communist rants designed to bolster its leftist bonafides in favor of doing so with analysis and action.

If you want to see the end point of samo and logan's lines send an email to Daniel Cohn-Bendit in the European Parliament. He should be able to put it out in a more concise and clear way than either of these.

Logan

Repeater is wrong if he thinks that I fetishize the particular. I agree with the likes of Agamben, Mouffe/Laclau, ect that the two should not be dichotomised. Both lead to reifications of struggle.

The Anti-globalization movement actually had the right formula for my mind as it transcended centralized outdated class analysis, as well as the problem of identity politics.

As far as the left goes, I think it is time to let it die in that dialectical fasion. It was formalized in 1789 and one of its metamorphasises died in 1989. Take a hint from that.

Non Serviam

I suppose that even if B-man is not updating, we're still allowed to comment on events as they happen.

So without further ado:
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-France-Job-Protests.html

Seems the best way to describe this turn of events is that Chirac has sued for peace, with Villepin and Sarkozy probably egging him on since they're the ones who are would be scared shitless were the movement to blossom into a true political force.

Putting Logan to the Run

Logan wants the "left" to die... while the right rules the world.

This is not a dichotemy that was somehow imposed on us by the (dread!) French revolution: it is the struggles between capitalism (the right) and the future communist world (the left).

Seeking to relable defeat transendence is a vice that runs deep in small circles, but is pervasive in the population as a whole.

Do for self. Get my own house in order. Drop out. Give up.

I don't have much patience for that shit -- or simply blaming the left for defeat. That's a loser's logic -- with notes liberally cribbed from every piece of right-wing, "end of history" bullshit we get spoonfed on a daily basis.

There is no "anti-globalization movement." It doesn't exist. It is a mirage.

What it didn't get right when it DID exist is a lot.

The basic fight was over national trade tarrifs, national sovereignty, the ability of local polities to reach agreements not "trumped" by "trade rules" set by capitalists.

It wasn't the (let's be honest) active fringe of anarchists at those protests that gave them life -- with the exception of Quebec City and a couple DC protests -- it was a MUCH broader constellation of forces that this active element (cleverly, or unconsciously) surfed.

Then real politics intervened: Chavez. Castro. European "social-democratic" imperialism. And so on.

The myths of Seattle are many, but hardly unique. Anytime a popular movement rises up, those brought into activity (often for the first time) think the whole world is standing from the same mountaintop.

Not true.

And when the "mountain" of popular struggle dissipates under changed circumstances (like say 911), the partisans of the new New NEW find that mountain hasn't just washed the world clean. It was just a thunderstorm.

Communists are about finding ways to "intervene" in such movements so that they move in directions that will reap tangible, political results.

For those who dismiss results as "compromise" or "vanguardism," then I pity your own misanthropy and self-marginalization.

The world cries out for a vanguard and SOME sections of the left are busy ensuring their own impotence as if it were a virtue.

But we're hearing less and less of that because its an argument that defeats itself. The only people who can keep making it are grad students, grant-funded professional leftsits and anarchists. And those who listen find themselves silent before the wind even leaves their mouths.

Dear John Letter

And thank you John for pointing out how silly "class reductionism" can be. As if the world neatly lined up between hard hats and pencil pushers... Lol.

This is the distinction between "proletarian leadership" and "workerism."

Workerism is much like identity politics -- it just makes "worker" into an identity as if the political and social divisions of the international proletariat were just "false consciousness."

I don't think so.

John's point about European imperialism "ripping up the social contract" is right on target.

In the two rounds of French youth uprisings -- we can see the contours that the revolutionary communist movement will build itself by.

Kostoyed

Putting Logan:
"Communists are about finding ways to "intervene" in such movements so that they move in directions that will reap tangible, political results.

For those who dismiss results as "compromise" or "vanguardism," then I pity your own misanthropy and self-marginalization."

When your done with that bout of pity, could you then expand on the "tangible, political results" that vanguardism and communist intervention have "reaped"? I don't see anything that history hasn't rolled back with vengeance and a laugh. Maybe you see something more permanent. Where are you looking? The revisionist in Nepal? The die-hards in Havana and Pyong-Yang? Let us know.

Repeater

I would suggest as an answer to Kotoyed that one simply needs to look at the world before and after November 1917 to see what tangible effects communism has had.

One cannot say that the events of 1917 and later did not tangibly effect not only the people of Russia and the Soviet Union, but the entire world. Just one example of the way in which the reverberations of 1917 shaped the last decade would be to look at May '68. Read what was being said and debated. Even the most anarchistic forces in that struggle were relating directly to the history of the Russian Revolution.

Going to the other end of the world you find situations such as China and Vietnam, neither of which would have been liberated without communists, and without the legacy of the 1917 revolution.

Coming back again to the West you find that both these struggles, especially Vietnam and the Cultural Revolution became major forces for revolutionizing people in the U.S. The Black Panthers are just one example.

We can argue about what the quality or value of all this history is, and I'm sure you'll share your viewpoint that it was all evil or no different than what came before, but in the end it is indisputable that it has had tangible results and will continue to do so.

It will continue to do so because it is what works, and it corresponds to the interests of the vast majority of humanity, including anarchists inspite of themselves.

Simply because the structures created by these upsurges have dissapeared does not mean they have failed or that it's all over. The process is much larger and more historic than that.

The permanence comes in the existence of capitalism. So long as it exists it creates its negation and it will be at times negated nearly absolutely. What comes out of this process will be the revolutionizing of human society in a much more comprehensive way than any of the socialist revolutions to date have accomplished. That's the revolution some people think we can have outside of a historic process. That you can see its shape in the revolutions of the 20th century leads some people to the conclusion that some force must have led it astray or stopped it from happening. Typically the very force which pushed the struggle up to that height is blamed for having betrayed it. But what is ignored is exactly what is accomplished in even making the contours of this much deeper and more profound revolution visible. These vanguards and the revolutions they led gave concrete shape to a contradiction out of which we can see the outlines of a truly liberated society. They were not themselves this society, and they never claimed to be, but they got us closer than we've ever been before and they left us a lot of new answers and questions from which to go further.

Repeater

decade = century

Kostoyed and the Prague Spring

This is a remarkable concession, in ways that I don't think Repeater realizes. What's argued (above) is that the real legacy of revolutionary movements lays in the way they served as a corrective measure to capitalism, allowing it to make concessions and keep its structural intergrity. That, comrade, is the end of the 20th century.

May '68 had as much to do with surrealism and dadaism (see the Situationist International) as an already moribund communism. And if you want to see the tangible results of that earth-shattering revolt you only have to look at the political careers of those ever protean "soixante-huitards". Or, you can just read Paul Berman's fawning "Power and the Idealists", if you've got the stomach.

And forget anarchists looking to the Russian Revolution for guidance in '68; that's just silly. The histories of Mahkno, Kronstadt, Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman put that all to rest. May '68 as tangible result? How about the PRAGUE SPRING! Which really had a more lasting legacy, one that you care to defend?

What's missing from Repeater's limp defense of "tabgible results" is very telling: the complete political economic failures of command economies in China and the USSR. They only worked very briefly under military command and terror and once that heavy hand was lifted, led to similar declensions of long drawn out decay. . . until once more succumbing to capitalism. Central planning is the rotted center of modern communism that can not be revived, discussed or actually promoted. It's the transcendental signifier, symbolizing everything yet being totally unreachable. Commmunist don't even put it into local or communal practice anymore, certainly not enough to quit their day jobs. Addressing this dilemma is beyond the abilitiies of Chairman Bob or the Revolutionary Kids Brigade, for everyone wants to be a hero while no one wants to be a technocrat. And Repeater, Baby, it's the technocrats who rule in Central Planning. Well, either them or the apparatchiks. Those "revolutionary" classes are your tangible results.

gimme

Let me guess: capitalist market economics is the only system that actually works?

Antidote to this tired litany of bitsized cliches?

why doesn't someone post a link to that wonderful annalysis by Ray Lotta on what's wrong with market socialism, and why there needs to be a major role for planning and what exactly soc planning is.

I can't find it, but remember it was lucid and detailed.

anyone?

Repeater

To Kostoyed:

If 1917 never happened, then May '68 would never have happened. Dadaism? Surrealism? Watch "Can Dialectics Break Bricks?" Read "Obsolete Communism a Left Alternative" What both these anti-communist tracks do is simply confirm the tangible effects of the 1917 revolution and my thesis that without it neither of these distinct discourses would have had any meaning and therefore would not have existed.

These people fail to see that it is exactly that which they criticize which has given the freedom to criticize by creating an objective history from which to look further. Not that either of the specific tracks I've brought up look beyond the horizons of bourgeois right, something which was first truly accomplished by the 1917 revolution.

Prague Spring, was just another aspect of a global upsurge which was evident in such different struggles as May '68 and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It is not essentially different. This was understood by many people in the movements of the 60's.

If I've made a concession it has been to take seriously the attacks against communism and its history, but only inasmuch as they themselves prove the very tangible results and possibilities of that history.

Perhaps you consider yourself an anarchist or some other "radical" offshoot of politics, but your words are weighted down with the dreary logic of capitalism and its history; the history of the end of history. Your class analysis of the Soviet Union comes straight out of the textbooks of the Sovietologists, and simply puts derogatory names and loaded categories onto a reality which is thousands of times more complicated just as it is a thousand times more simple. Moreover this analysis which you share, being as it is so clearly connected with "authoritative" accounts of the Soviet Union, was created not to bring richer understanding, but to obscure it. Damn straight Bob Avakian and the RCYB want nothing to do with it.

But how could I damn you personally for taking up the most obvious and easily available ideology and analysis? You've been trained to shop for truth. There's a better way to do it, but it's not surprising that you and millions like you would persist in eating shit just because it's free and in a shiny package.

Logan

For he/she who would have me on the run.

He/she perpetuates a pretty tired manichian driven idea of the right vs the left. It completely misses the idea of power and domination in its totality. The persons being opressed could easily be doing opressing himself. The fact is slave moralistic politics guarentee rullers of tomorow. The simple problem with the left is that IT IS CAPITALISM. It is simply a different dimention of capital that seeks to recuporate itself in more "collective" means. The socialists today wine like the traders of yesteryear who were rulled by the King and Queen. The more things change the more they stay the same as the saying goes.

As for repeater, I feel he illustrates perfectly the bankruptsy of marxian objectivist telleological thinking. The tragedy of 1917 is part of a linear equation and the spontanious everyday expressions of power as expressed by 68, 77 ect, must pay some kind of homage to the silly vanguards past. Puh-leeeze. Revolution is not something enslaved to a metanarative, it's an everyday process exemplefied in micro and macro level events. It is heterogenious not homo.

It's not the end history, it's the end of ideology. And people should be happy about such an end.

repeater

Heterogeny, Agamben, Laclau, the multitude, etc. Your categories and leaders do not in anyway transcend, undermine, or subvert capitalism.

They'll say as much if you pay attention. If everyday existence is rebellion then why is there no rebellion? If everything from dumpster diving to engaging in electoral politics is revolutionary, where is the revolution?

Your revolution is wallowing in shit and calling it paradise.

If everyone is a subject then why is everyone a cog in the machine, including yourself?

You've bought the narrative of the bourgoiesie. Whether it's the end of history or the end of ideology, two aspects of the same story. Liberalism by another name, waving a black flag or no flag, is still liberalism. If not in name, in deed.

Crying about dichotomies simply forgets that dichotomies exist. At the extremes of any dynamic there are poles which lay the basis for representing those dynamics. Simply because you can't understand this dialectically doesn't mean that anyone here is saying that everything exists as strict duality. The biggest failure of you and yours in regards to your polemics and opinions of communism is that you've never understood your subject.

Logan

"Heterogeny, Agamben, Laclau, the multitude, etc. Your categories and leaders do not in anyway transcend, undermine, or subvert capitalism."

Well some of them do play a role in continuing captalism. However you my repititious friend do more to recuporate the big bad C then the two names and concept that you metioned. What does Marx's homenous fetish bring? More capital and civilization.

"They'll say as much if you pay attention. If everyday existence is rebellion then why is there no rebellion? If everything from dumpster diving to engaging in electoral politics is revolutionary, where is the revolution?"

Well the two aformentioned see things in terms of power as apposed to capitalism. As for there being no rebellion. That depends on how you imagine it.

"Your revolution is wallowing in shit and calling it paradise."

As apposed to the revoltionary wonders of the 20th century.

"If everyone is a subject then why is everyone a cog in the machine, including yourself?"

I doubt many would deny that we are stuck in a matrix. The difference is I don't pretend to be a vanguard who will lead them out of it.

"You've bought the narrative of the bourgoiesie. Whether it's the end of history or the end of ideology, two aspects of the same story. Liberalism by another name, waving a black flag or no flag, is still liberalism. If not in name, in deed."

You recuporare far more of the bourgies then I do my friend. It is you who want to reshape humanity, enlightenment techniques and practice, world society ect not me. Oh and nonlinier does not mean non narrative btw.

"Crying about dichotomies simply forgets that dichotomies exist. At the extremes of any dynamic there are poles which lay the basis for representing those dynamics. Simply because you can't understand this dialectically doesn't mean that anyone here is saying that everything exists as strict duality. The biggest failure of you and yours in regards to your polemics and opinions of communism is that you've never understood your subject."

Dichotomies only exist as far we construct them. And dialectics are always in a state of flux to begin with. As for communism, well that depends. I think communism has been vary muddled over time. It's also very connected with instrumentalist thinking in general. I would like a world of many worlds so to speak. Let there be dentralized communal existences, however let them be local and based on subsistance. "Think global act local" as the saying goes.

repeater

"What does Marx's homenous fetish bring?"

What does homenous mean?

"As for there being no rebellion. That depends on how you imagine it."

Cutting the toes to fit the shoe. We see no overturning of the social system, no radical ruptures in our society just political and theoretical musings of such stillborns as the Zapatistas and the Anti-Globalization movement. The failures of struggles that only go halfway and proclaim it as a virtue, because we all know that if you dare to go the entire way all you get is the "horror" of communism. Again simply redefining reality in order to keep the privileged position of revolution or rebellion doesn't in fact mean it is happening. At least not when workers in Argentina take over their factories just to give them right back, alot like how the Zapatistas took over Chiapas just to give it right back. But then we don't need leadership, or rather with leaders like these who needs liberals?

I will simply say this the notion that rebellion is an everyday event is wrapped up in a backward concept of subjectivity and agency. The reality of our situation is that most so called agents are simply reproducing the system of their own enslavement. Is that really agency? Are these really subjects, or are they objects of this system? If that's the kind of rebellion you see, if that's the "revolution" you want, aren't you really just putting a fresh coat of paint on our current realities and calling it something else?

It requires breaking with old ideas and radically rupturing with the status quo to truly form as a subject. It is almost the definition of free-will that it be verified in rebellion, true rebellion. Not something packaged and sold to you.

"As apposed to the revoltionary wonders of the 20th century."

Yes absolutely. Again the inability to recognize the advancements made in the revolutions in China and Russia and the identification of these situations as more of the same bourgoeis shit is negated by reality.

Ultimately it is a reification of bourgeois right. That bourgeois right is never truly given to society as a whole leads "radical" political forces and ideologues like yourself to think that this is the problem, the answers to which are more "equality", more "democracy", more freedom of this and that. All on the basis of a foundational illusion that the bourgeoisie itself has sold you. These same political forces turn around and attack communists with the same vehemence, method, and even phraseology of the bourgeois, because of our insistance that bourgoies right is not only based in its opposite, but is in fact a limitation which we can go beyond.

For instance democracy cannot exist without dictatorship, just as equality requires inequality. Perfect democracy or equality are illusions created by the bourgeoisie to outline the limits of its aspirations, and to obscure the realities of dictatorship and inequality. They're part and parcel of the humanist program which barely obscures and in fact carries the water for much of imperialism's outrages in places like Africa.

All these ideologies together with other things, such as pacifism, come together to essentially stifle the aspirations of humanity and then call this process liberation, or progress.

"I doubt many would deny that we are stuck in a matrix. The difference is I don't pretend to be a vanguard who will lead them out of it."

Your doubts are irrelevant, and unverifiable. Regardless it is not a matter of opinion, but of truth that we are "stuck in a matrix". Regarding the vanguard you haven't got a clue as to what you're talking about.

"You recuporare far more of the bourgies then I do my friend. It is you who want to reshape humanity, enlightenment techniques and practice, world society ect not me. Oh and nonlinier does not mean non narrative btw."

This is either incomprehensible or you're simply throwing out a priori understandings of my position based upon your categorical understanding of communists. In other words: what the fuck are you talking about?

"Dichotomies only exist as far we construct them. And dialectics are always in a state of flux to begin with. As for communism, well that depends. I think communism has been vary muddled over time. It's also very connected with instrumentalist thinking in general. I would like a world of many worlds so to speak. Let there be dentralized communal existences, however let them be local and based on subsistance. "Think global act local" as the saying goes."

The only thing I agree with here is that there has been a history of instrumentalism in the communist movement. Aside from that this is idealism in the philosophical sense, especially this stuff about what kind of world you would like. To a certain extent, who cares? Who cares what kind of a world you would like? The question is what kind of a world do we have and what kind of a world can we create?

"Let there be dentralized communal existences, however let them be local and based on subsistance. "Think global act local" as the saying goes."

Yeah, and let them eat cake. Or more to the point, let there be light.

"Think global act local"

why?


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