1914 ‘commemoration’: Right and left justify imperialist war

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Hawkeye
1914 ‘commemoration’: Right and left justify imperialist war
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: 1914 ‘commemoration’: Right and left justify imperialist war. The discussion was initiated by Hawkeye.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Hawkeye
Two ways of opposing wars

It is one thing to refuse to fight in an imperialist war, but something else to actively encourage the defeat of the forces of the nation in which workers live.  What caused me to question that was the following brief extract from a lengthy article entitled 'Attitude of the Proletariat Towards Imperialist War' of 1944 re the founding conference of the British Revolutionary Communist Party by the Left Faction of the former RSL.:-

(Quote:-)  'Revolutionary defeatism counterposes to the bourgeois necessity of achieving victory the necessity of the proletariat desiring the defeat of its own government'.

Does the ICC agree that workers, for instance in the UK, should desire the DEFEAT of the UK's forces in wars ?  Whether or not a particular war is imperialist (it probably would be), would that not totally alienate ICC from the mass of the UK working class who, rightly or wrongly, will mostly tend to support UK forces ?

MH
on revolutionary defeatism

Hawkeye, no doubt other comrades will want to come in on this but I just wanted to comment on the source you are using and put it in its proper context since others may not be familiar with it.

In WW2 the Trotskyists, including those in Britain, abandoned an internationalist position and called on workers to defend the USSR, ie. the Stalinist capitalist, imperialist state, and to defend the democratic imperialisms in the name of defeating fascism.

The process of this betrayal did not go unopposed within the Trotskyist movement, particularly by Grandizo Munis and the exiled Spanish section, the Revolutionary Communists of Germany (RKD), and the tendency around the Greek Trotskyist Agis Stinas.

In Britain, a majority of the Revolutionary Socialist League opposed it, albeit in a confused way. The Left Fraction that you refer to even went as far as stating that it preferred the military occupation of Britain by the German army, in order to help create a ‘revolutionary situation’…

This was a caricature of the revolutionary defeatist position defended by Lenin and the Bolshevik Party in WW1, best expressed in the slogan “Turn the imperialist war into a civil war!”, and in the worlds of Karl Liebknecht, “The main enemy lies in our own country”.

Neither slogan of course made these revolutionaries very popular at the time… Leibknecht was immediately imprisoned. But he was freed two years later essentially as a result of the struggles of the working class in reaction to the horrors of the war and its effects on the conditions of the workers…

jk1921
Alienation

Hawkeye wrote:

Does the ICC agree that workers, for instance in the UK, should desire the DEFEAT of the UK's forces in wars ?  Whether or not a particular war is imperialist (it probably would be), would that not totally alienate ICC from the mass of the UK working class who, rightly or wrongly, will mostly tend to support UK forces ?

 

It would seem to be that desiring the defeat of a nation's imperialist forces is the other side of the coin of desiring their victory. Left communists tend not to be so much concerned with "alienation" from the working class. The extent to which they are "alienated" from the class at any given moment says more about the objective historical situation than the veracity of their positions.

Hawkeye
On revolutionary defeatism-reply to MH

MH - Thank you for your informative response.  I'll look for an answer to my question soon.

Hawkeye
Alienation - reply to jk1921

Well, saying more about the objective historical situation than the veracity of communist left positions might be all very interesting, but my question as to whether the ICC would agree that workers in the UK should desire the DEFEAT of the UK's forces in wars has not been answered so far, whether or not two sides of an ideological coin are thought to be related.

LBird
What sort of 'defeat', by whom, and for what ends?

Hawkeye wrote:
...my question as to whether the ICC would agree that workers in the UK should desire the DEFEAT of the UK's forces in wars has not been answered so far...

I'm not a member of the ICC, so this is only my personal attempt to answer your question, Hawkeye.

Your question has to be put in some political context; so, if most 'workers in the UK' believe that they actually 'live in the UK', as opposed to 'live under world capitalism', then we Communists will have no influence on that issue. They'll fight for their perceived interests under capitalist nation-states.

The 'UK' here, of course, is a political definition, not a geographical definition.

But if workers living, for example, in the geographical areas of the British Isles and China, regard themselves as workers opposed to all bosses in the British Isles and China, then we workers would 'desire the DEFEAT of the UK's and China's forces in wars'. These wars would only have the aim and effect of killing workers from both geographical areas.

This 'defeat', however, would not be a battlefield defeat, but a political defeat, as those 'forces' would be decapitated of their current bourgeois class leadership, which would be replaced by democratic workers' control. That is, the 'defeat' would be a part of a Communist revolution.

I hope this 'political context' helps to answer your reasonable question, Hawkeye.

MH
not answered?

Hawkeye wrote:

...my question as to whether the ICC would agree that workers in the UK should desire the DEFEAT of the UK's forces in wars has not been answered so far, whether or not two sides of an ideological coin are thought to be related.

Well I think it has actually, Hawkeye; my point about the Trotskyist position you quoted was that this was based on a distortion of the revolutionary position against imperialist war, precisely because if you follow it to its logical conclusion – ie. calling for the defeat of ‘your own’ military forces in a war - you end up supporting the military victory of the opposing imperialism; which of course would undermine the class struggle of the workers of the opposing imperialism….  Don't you? First and foremost as communists we’re internationalists; that means calling for the transformation of any imperialist war into a class war against capitalism.

So what is your own view on this question?

 

Hawkeye
Response to MH

After some reiteration and hedging around, again there is not a clear answer to my clear question as to whether or not the ICC would recommend the DEFEAT of UK forces sent to a war.  I'm reminded of a short extract from the article from which my original question emanated, as follows:- '...but slogans which are evasive and ambiguous with regard to the proletarian attidude to the war are a betrayal of socialist internationalism' (End of quote).  As for your closing enquiry as to my own view, like millions of other people of my age, I am glad that the UK was not defeated by the forces of Hitler, whether or not WW2 was inter-imperialist, and can see no sense if in suggesting that UK forces in the war should have been defeated for the alleged sake of proletarian internationalism. 

jk1921
I don't speak for the ICC,

I don't speak for the ICC, but I can't see anyway they would recommend, suggest or in any other way root for the defeat or victory of any imperialist power in any imperialist war. The idea just doesn't make sense for left communists. Not taking sides in an imperialist conflict is one of the class line positions that marks off revolutionaries from bourgeois leftists. The preferred outcome of any imperialist war for left communists would be that it is transformed into an international proletarian revolutionary wave.

Of course, left communists took a lot of heat for all this during the Second World War. How could they not oppose fascism?

radicalchains
Sorry for ignoring this forum, I've been a bit down

I think support for the democratic states in imperialist war whether historically or current is deeply ideological in the true Marxist sense. Which means it's relatively irrelevant because thinking something today might not mean anything in the practise of tomorrow. What I mean to say is that those who on other subjects are proletarian revolutionairies but support historically the democratic states may do the opposite in practice if faced with the situation in the current. 

Hawkeye
More responses

Thank you to all responders so far.  

Re Lbird's distinction between workers thinking that they live in the UK OR under world capitalism, that doesn't seem to me to be consistent with materialist reasoning, because territorial location is inevitable, whereas world political concepts about them are in addition to them, thus simultaneous understanding, acceptance, seems tenable.

I reckon that the comment by radicalchains was spot on.  Circumstances and experiences can tend to impel changes of views.  Getting to know of a range of various views on wars is important in seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the subject.  Some workers regard war as so horrible that they won't participate in any of it.  Some regard defeat as so horrible that they will do anything to avert it, even to the extent of using nukes.  When workers were internationally threatened with an escalating imperialist extension of territorial control, as in WW2, the majority of workers beyond the aggressor opposed it, even though of course all, both sides, were living under capitalism anyway.  In that war 'proletarian internationalism' was widely regarded as being anti-fascist, although of course that does match the concepts of the 'communist left'.

If the 'communist left' are going to consider themselves as 'not pacifists', (in agreement with Jock's "We are not pacifists" ) and so then are prepared to use weaponry in certain revolutionary circumstances, what results of so doing can be expected, both short and long term ?

LBird
Location, location, location? Or exploitation, exploitation...

Hawkeye wrote:
Re Lbird's distinction between workers thinking that they live in the UK OR under world capitalism, that doesn't seem to me to be consistent with materialist reasoning, because territorial location is inevitable, whereas world political concepts about them are in addition to them, thus simultaneous understanding, acceptance, seems tenable.

The distinction, Hawkeye, is that 'UK' is a political and ideological construct, a 'ruling class idea', that must be rejected by class conscious workers, not a 'territorial location'. When they realise that the entity that they do live under is 'world capitalism' (a socio-economic category), they won't accept the notion of 'UK', and so the notion of 'fighting' for an entity that exploits their class will seem ludicrous. The question you posed, of 'defeat for one's country', won't arise, because the very idea of 'having a country' that can be 'defeated' is meaningless. Bosses have 'countries', workers don't. Class conscious workers don't confuse 'political entities' with 'geographical entities'.

On 'materialist reasoning', I think that ideological construct has been done to death recently, on here, so I won't restart that particular discussion. But if you want to elaborate on what you mean by 'materialist reasoning'... well, be my guest. Let's hope you haven't been talking to the 'Engelsian rocks'...

MH
the problem is the question

Hawkeye wrote:

After some reiteration and hedging around, again there is not a clear answer to my clear question as to whether or not the ICC would recommend the DEFEAT of UK forces sent to a war.  I'm reminded of a short extract from the article from which my original question emanated, as follows:- '...but slogans which are evasive and ambiguous with regard to the proletarian attidude to the war are a betrayal of socialist internationalism' (End of quote).  As for your closing enquiry as to my own view, like millions of other people of my age, I am glad that the UK was not defeated by the forces of Hitler, whether or not WW2 was inter-imperialist, and can see no sense if in suggesting that UK forces in the war should have been defeated for the alleged sake of proletarian internationalism. 

Thanks for this Hawkeye, at least now I understand where you’re coming from. I’m sorry you think comrades have been ‘hedging’. Like jk1921 I’m not an ICC member, but I think actually you’ve been given a pretty full answer on the meaning of proletarian internationalism and the attitude that communists take up in an imperialist war.

In fact the real problem here is in your question: as LBird suggests in his post above, as communists we talk about the political defeat of imperialism at the hands of the working class, not the military defeat of our own imperialism by the opposing imperialism.

Should communists in the UK “recommend” the defeat of UK forces in a war?

To answer ‘yes’ logically means to prefer, to actively work for, the military victory of the opposing imperialism.

To answer ‘no’ logically means to prefer, to actively work for, to 'critically support', the military victory of ‘our own’ imperialism.

In WW2 the Left Fraction of the RSL in Britain answered ‘yes’ and ended up arguing for the military occupation of Britain by the German army...

Other followers of Trotsky, like the Workers’ International League, answered ‘no’ and called for the British government to ‘arm the workers’ to defend the country in the event of a German invasion…

Neither position has anything to do with proletarian internationalism.

It may be true that many workers of the time were, like you, “glad that the UK was not defeated by the forces of Hitler”, but this is not a criterion for communists in determining their position against an imperialist war.

You’re obviously familiar with the debates in the Trotskyist movement. I don’t know if you are aware of the history of the Communist Left during WW2 but below is the text of a leaflet distributed by comrades in 1944, at the height of anti-fascist mobilisations in France, which illustrates the internationalist position they defended at this time:

WORKERS!

The Anglo-American troops have replaced the GERMAN GENDARME in the work of repressing the working class and reintegrating it into the imperialist war.

The RESISTANCE is pushing you into an insurrection, but under its leadership and for capitalist aims.

The COMMUNIST PARTY has abandoned the cause of the proletariat and has sunk into patriotism, which is so inimical to the working class.

More than ever your weapon remains THE CLASS STRUGGLE without any regard for frontiers or nations.

More than ever your place is not on the side either of fascism or of bourgeois democracy.

More than ever, ANGLO-AMERICAN, RUSSIAN AND GERMAN CAPITALISMS ARE THE EXPLOITERS OF THE WORKING CLASS.

The strike now underway has been provoked by THE BOURGEOISIE and for ITS INTERESTS.

Tomorrow, to fight against the unemployment which it cannot solve, YOU WILL BE MOBILISED AND SENT TO THE IMPERIALIST FRONT.

WORKERS!

 - Don’t respond to the insurrection which will be made with your blood for the greater good of international capitalism.

 - Act as proletarians, not as revanchist Frenchmen.

 - Refuse to be reintegrated into the imperialist war.

WORKERS!

 - Organise your action committees, and when the conditions allow it, follow the example of the Italian workers.

INTERNATIONAL CAPITALISM CAN ONLY LIVE THROUGH WAR

THE ANGLO-AMERICAN ARMIES WILL PROVE THIS TO YOU JUST LIKE THE GERMAN ARMY!

YOU WILL ONLY GET OUT OF THE IMPERIALIST WAR THROUGH THE CIVIL WAR!

PROLETARIAT AGAINST CAPITALISM!

French Communist Left, August 1944

 

LBird
Questions contain seeds of answers: Kill the seeds!

MH wrote:
In fact the real problem here is in your question: as LBird suggests in his post above, as communists we talk about the political defeat of imperialism at the hands of the working class, not the military defeat of our own imperialism by the opposing imperialism.

Thanks for your clarification and deepening of the views contained in my post, MH. Your post gets to the nub of the issue.

We have to get ourselves, as a class, to the position where we realise that we have to not only provide 'answers', but to actually 'formulate the questions' themselves.

Hawkeye's framing of the question contains ideological presuppositions that (perhaps) Hawkeye is unaware of. We have to be wary of the bourgeoisie setting the agenda of which 'questions' should be asked. We are all products of our society and its ideological brainwashing. Critical thinking, by us all, about both 'answers' and 'questions', is required.

Hawkeye
Thanks again

Thanks again, following and for interim responses.  For now, I'll refrain from knee jerk charging into the 'china shop', except to say that most workers probably reckon that where they live is not ONLY just a part of world imperialism.

LBird
The 'UK' is not the group of islands named the 'British Isles'

Hawkeye wrote:
...most workers probably reckon that where they live is not ONLY just a part of world imperialism.

Well, 'where workers live' is a geographical location, so it's 'not a part of world imperialism' in ANY sense.

Islands, like the British Isles, don't exploit the workers who live on them. Ruling classes do that, and they live everywhere.

'World imperialism' is not a geographical issue, but a political and economic one.

I still have the sense, Hawkeye, that you're continuing to confuse 'where people live' with 'the regimes they live under'.

If this is correct, and most workers share your confusion of geography with politics, then it just shows how much work we Communists have yet to do, in explaining the very basics of our case to other workers.

Hawkeye
Reply to LBird

Your contention that geography and politics should be regarded as discrete entities, only to be considered separately, is simplistic,  whereas history has been described as a 'seamless web', probably by Bloch, if I remember correctly.

Alf
defeatism

I agree with the answers given by LBird and Mh. We do not desire or work for the defeat of our own imperialism by the opposing imperialism. The real meaning of revolutionry defeatism is that in times of war we continue to advocate the class struggle against our own ruling class, even though this is bound to undermine their war effort. But the ambiguity of the term revolutionary defeatism still remains, which is why we prefer to use Lenin's phrase' turn the imperialist war into a civil war'.

LBird
Seamless entities don't contain contradictions

Hawkeye wrote:

Your contention that geography and politics should be regarded as discrete entities, only to be considered separately, is simplistic,  whereas history has been described as a 'seamless web', probably by Bloch, if I remember correctly.

This phrase gives me even more cause for concern, Hawkeye. 'Seamless web' is a concept most often employed by conservative thinkers, because it means, in effect, 'don't analyse things too closely'. This is because conservatives don't want us thinking too deeply about 'how things work', especially 'society'. Why talk of 'exploitation', when there is a 'seamless web' of co-operation between employer and employee?

In the context of the issues you have raised, the belief of there being a 'seamless web' connecting geography and politics, is a nationalistic dream. Once workers identify 'where they live' with 'the regime they live under', they are easy meat for bourgeois warmongers. 'Defence of one's house' becomes 'defence of one's queen'.

No, Hawkeye, 'geography' and 'politics', for Communists, are 'discrete entities'. This is not 'simplistic', but necessarily analytical. We must 'spot the seams' in our existence. 'Seams' mean discontinuities.

Hawkeye
Response to LBird

Whether or not 'a seamless web' is an appropriate definition summarising the interrelationships between historical, geographical and political features of life on our planet is debatable, but further to my view that there are a close connections between geography and politics, Karl Marx referred to asiatic modes of production, but, that said, I am not well informed of those to which he referred and so won't say more on them.

LBird
Even close interrelationships are not seamless

Hawkeye wrote:

Whether or not 'a seamless web' is an appropriate definition summarising the interrelationships between historical, geographical and political features of life on our planet is debatable, but further to my view that there are a close connections between geography and politics, Karl Marx referred to asiatic modes of production, but, that said, I am not well informed of those to which he referred and so won't say more on them.

Hawkeye, there's no need to refer to Marx's discreditted notion of an 'asiatic' mode of production, or any other complex issues.

I'm merely trying to show that the way you formulated your question, about 'workers defending their country', in itself contains some assumptions which themselves can determine what is regarded as an 'acceptable' answer or not.

You appeared to be taking this route, in your responses to comrades' earlier replies to your question. That is, we weren't answering your question in the way you wanted it answering. This unfortunately happens all the time in political discussions and debates, because most workers coming to political issues for the first time, fail to realise that 'questions' are often 'loaded', and the only 'answer' is one unfavourable to those being forced to answer it in that way.

That's why we Communists must 'question the question', rather than just promptly 'answer the question that was asked'.

Anyone wanting simple ('straight') answers to complex political questions is always going to be disappointed. Part of workers' education is to learn to deal with these difficulties. Life ain't simple! Anyone wanting 'simple', should stick to 'common sense' and what exists now: ie. capitalism. It's 'what we know'!

None of this means there aren't 'close connections between geography and politics', as you say Hawkeye, but we have to determine the extent and type of these 'close relationships'. On one reading, this 'close relationship' can be taken as an argument for Fascism. We don't want that view of 'Fatherland', do we?

Hawkeye
Reply to LBird re #22

Russian communists have had no problem in regarding where they have been born and grown up as their 'motherland', although fascist ultra-nationalists take a reactionary standpoint on it.

 I note your description of your methods of dealing with political questions.  You might consider whether or not any such questions are ever unloaded in one way or another, whether or not intentionally.

LBird
Inescapably burdened with our load

Hawkeye wrote:
Russian communists have had no problem in regarding where they have been born and grown up as their 'motherland'...

Any notion of 'motherland/fatherland' is anathema to any Communists.

Those espousing this concept are not Communists, because we don't have a 'homeland'. We live on this planet with our fellow humans.

Hawkeye wrote:
...although fascist ultra-nationalists take a reactionary standpoint on it.

Yeah, it's the natural resting place for all 'homeland' thought, eventually.

Hawkeye wrote:
I note your description of your methods of dealing with political questions. You might consider whether or not any such questions are ever unloaded in one way or another, whether or not intentionally.

All 'questions' are ideologically-loaded, and always will be, 'intentionally' or not. As are 'answers', comrade!smiley

We have to expose our 'ideological' basis. I try to do this, when in difficult discussions with comrades, by stating as clearly as I can my assumptions, and giving references to my readings/influences.

Since Einstein, humans have known that there is no 'objective' position from which to 'observe' the world, neither natural or social.

To be 'human' is to be 'loaded'.

jk1921
Not to try to hijack the

Not to try to hijack the thread, but there are lots of interesting things going on here, particularly at the level of understanding class consciousness and ideology:

Notice some of the differences in how its approached: Hawkeye worries about communists being "alienated" from the working class if they take positions that are too far away from the predominant views among workers at any given moment. If workers want to defend their country from a perceived aggressor, using revolutionary defeatist language will isolate communists from the class. Hawkeye doesn't say this, but the implication is there that communists have to take care to find the right messaging strategy to make sure they are heard and maintain some influence in the class. If this means toning down the rhetoric, so be it.

LBird on the other hand argues that if workers identify with the nation state that dominates the geographical territory they live on then it is a sign of "ideological brainwashing." The cure for this, however, is not to pander to these illusions but to (patiently) explain communist positions to workers. In line with his educationalist view of consciousness, communists need to engage in an education campaign to convince workers of the rightness of their views. While LBird is closer to the spirit of the communist left than Hawkeye in his commitment to internationalist positions, he appears to have little real theory of consciousness or ideology. If the problem is "ideological brainwashing" and the cure is a communist education campaign, why wouldn't communist simply undertake such a campaign in advance of any imperialist war, such that the problem of workers' consciousness being out of step with communist positions never arises in the first place? If such a campaign was attempted but failed, why did it fail? The educationalist position seems to have no real ability to explain or understand the power of bourgeois ideology or why it remains so salient outside of revolutionary situations--its all down to bad pedagaogy, which begs the question as to why communists are so bad at it. At any rate, this view seems to give all the agency back over to communists. Its they that have to carry out the education campaign. This would seem to contradict his claims made elsewhere about workers' "self-education," but of course there also seems to be some conflation of "communists" with "workers." But its also clear that not all workers are communists in his view, otherwise there would be no need for communists to explain anything to anyone--because everyone would be a communist already.

Its all very confusing. If its all down to an education campaign, why hasn't this taken place yet? What are the objective/material factors that block it?

Hawkeye
Response in brief to comments #24 and#25

It is easy to think that some contributors, maybe with the best of internationalist intentions, are tending to view the whole planet as from outer space !  Unfortunately  proletarians don't live only on thin air, but somewhere or other, with feet on the ground.

LBird
Someone's on the wrong site

Hawkeye wrote:
It is easy to think that some contributors, maybe with the best of internationalist intentions, are tending to view the whole planet as from outer space ! Unfortunately proletarians don't live only on thin air, but somewhere or other, with feet on the ground.

Helluva slogan, Hawkeye!smiley "Let's keep our feet on the ground! Let's deal with 'the real world'!"

But... doesn't it sound just a bit... well... conservative?

LBird
Been there, done that, got the tank

In keeping with Hawkeye's plea to recognise the unshakable nationalist beliefs of British workers, I've thought of a marvellous title for our political programme!

How about: 'The British Road to Socialism' ?

Fred
good posts all round

Good post LBird about "questioning the question" and why don't you send your "The British road to Socialism" idea to Ed Milliband who needs some new suggestions?  wink

And good if not excellent post jk about educating the educator and "the educationalist view of consciousness"  and how this clearly doesn't work!  And also the idea of a "theory of consciousness" and what it might be?  I wish you'd written more about it: sensuous human activity, revolutionary praxis and so on.  Do we all only attain the beginnings of our actual real sensuous revolutionary consciousness in the process of making the revolution itself and through the solidarity engendered therein? 

 

And good posts  Hawkeye for asking all these loaded questions which have produced such helpfully loaded answers.  Don't stop now!  

LBird
Who has an 'educationalist view'?

The manufactured myth, about 'LBird's educationalist view' has come up, yet again!

jk1921, post #25, wrote:
In line with his educationalist view of consciousness, communists need to engage in an education campaign to convince workers of the rightness of their views.

Fred, post #29, wrote:
And good if not excellent post jk about educating the educator and "the educationalist view of consciousness" and how this clearly doesn't work!

In line with Marx, I've always argued that the class must do the 'educating'. It must 'self-educate'.

Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, wrote:
III

The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society.

The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/theses.htm

The notion of 'Communists educating the Class' is Leninism. The notion of 'the Class becoming Communist' is Marxism.

On the substantive issue of this thread, as a proletarian Democratic Communist, I've tried to persuade fellow proletarians (Hawkeye and those others of the 'nationalist' persuasion) that 'Communists have no homeland'.

But I'm being taught by Hawkeye and the rest of the class that 'National Communism' is the way forward. I'm a Democratic Communist, and while the class disagrees with me, their view must prevail.

Thus, the proletariat's 'revolutionary practice', at this point in history, will be 'Nationalist-Communist'.

Good luck to Hawkeye and the proletariat, in fighting for their national interests.

Practice will show whether the revolutionary method of National Communism prevails, or whether, if that method fails, that the proletariat needs to learn lessons and teach itself to become an Internationalist Class, rather than separate nations, that their 'homeland' is the planet Earth, and not differing patches of earth.

Hawkeye
Responses to #27, #28. #29

Thank you, Fred on #29.  As for #27 and #28, sneering isn't much help.  There are serious questions as to how and where socialism can start.  Surely it is idealist to imagine that socialism can only BEGIN on a fully world scale and thus to condemn local attempts, admittedly within a capitalist world, as futile or false and so on.  Making a beginning is not the same as reaching an overall final success, however much the 'communist left' might desire it.  Some workers might long for a total world solution, whereas their varied situations according to their local circumstances, albeit all under exploitation, are generally their main concern.  Pointing ever onwards might be eventually useful as a task for the CL, but would probably be more persuasive if the CL could be less dismissive of localised attempts to form embryonic socialist arrangements, perhaps eventually leading to internationalist coagulation, combination, like gaining more bits of the world jigsaw puzzle.  By now I expect that issues re statelessness, moneylessness and workers' councils will be raised yet again, but never mind, please think over what I've just said.

LBird
Qualitative leap or slow evolution?

Hawkeye wrote:
As for #27 and #28, sneering isn't much help.

It's not 'sneering', Hawkeye, but an attempt at humour, to try to help you see where your 'Nationalist Communism' will take the proletariat. Proletarian, anti-Stalinist humour doesn't sit well with Nationalists, does it?

Hawkeye wrote:
Surely it is idealist to imagine that socialism can only BEGIN on a fully world scale and thus to condemn local attempts, admittedly within a capitalist world, as futile or false and so on. Making a beginning is not the same as reaching an overall final success, however much the 'communist left' might desire it. Some workers might long for a total world solution, whereas their varied situations according to their local circumstances, albeit all under exploitation, are generally their main concern. Pointing ever onwards might be eventually useful as a task for the CL, but would probably be more persuasive if the CL could be less dismissive of localised attempts to form embryonic socialist arrangements, perhaps eventually leading to internationalist coagulation, combination, like gaining more bits of the world jigsaw puzzle.
[my bold]

The rest of your post can be summed up with the concept 'Socialism in one country'. What will be the symbol upon your 'local tanks'?

You seem resistant to the idea that your strategy of 'localism' has already been tried, and found not to work. Accretion of 'Bits' is not a revolution.

Hawkeye wrote:
By now I expect that issues re statelessness, moneylessness and workers' councils will be raised yet again, but never mind, please think over what I've just said.

But... "statelessness, moneylessness and workers' councils" is Communism.

On the contrary, your "state, market, nation" alternative, based on a piecemeal, nationalist, gradual approach, will lead us nowhere.

Frankly, Hawkeye, you are the one who needs to 'think over' what we've been saying. You are saying nothing new.

Hawkeye
Response to LBird #32

Thank you for your reply.  Some new thinking is doubtless advisable for everyone, without necessarily requiring major leaps in any directions. Any one set of organised views which regards all others as totally defective is likely to be disappointed in its results as time goes by.  Let's consider which gains and losses have been made and are likely to be made by the working class in the near and more distant future, and to the extent that those are influenced by existing domains of allegedly marxist guidance.  

 

LBird
Philosophical starting points

Hawkeye wrote:
Thank you for your reply. Some new thinking is doubtless advisable for everyone, without necessarily requiring major leaps in any directions. Any one set of organised views which regards all others as totally defective is likely to be disappointed in its results as time goes by.

And thanks for your comradely response, Hawkeye.

I don't think that you should regard philosophical and political 'disagreement' as either side regarding the other as 'totally defective', but it is in the nature of political debate to test present positions against historical examples, to draw out the implications of positions and where they might lead to, and to expose hidden presumptions.

I don't regard 'Nationalist Communism' as 'totally defective'. It's a policy which the proletariat might choose, and we will have to live with the consequences. In my opinion, Nationalist Communists will have to execute Internationalist Communists to achieve their nationalist goals, so clearly I'd argue against what you've been proposing.

Hawkeye wrote:
Let's consider which gains and losses have been made and are likely to be made by the working class in the near and more distant future, and to the extent that those are influenced by existing domains of allegedly marxist guidance.

Given what you've said on this thread, it's certainly necessary to clarify just what we proletarians mean by 'Communism'. 'Gains' and 'losses' can only be measured against some standard. The main standard to me is the growth of class consciousness within the proletariat, which means the development of the understanding for the need for the destruction of states, markets and money, and the institution of democratic workers' control of production.

That is, no individual private ownership of productive property, the realisation that the Earth is the common property of all (wherever they live), and democratic decision making about anything that affects us.

I don't regard British workers having control over the UK as a 'gain'. Workers living in the British Isles have as much right to be involved in decisions about production in Russia (for example), and workers living in Eastern Europe have the same right to have a say about production in Britain. Production is a human task, not a national one.

There is no 'homeland': the earth is a common treasury for all.

If you disagree with any of this, Hawkeye, you should outline your views of what constitutes 'Communism'. Your clarification might throw some light on the preceding positions adopted by both sides on this thread.

Hawkeye
Reply to LBird re #34

Your assumptions that I personally am this, that or the other are not helpful.  Mention of non-CL thinking should not 'condemn' workers to labelling as necessarily supporting it nor anything else.  Dmitri Pisarev argued that if something could be broken, it should be !  

Whilst various types of revolutionaries did all sorts of things to each other, your contention that 'National Communists'  WILL HAVE TO execute 'Internationalist Communists' sounds daft, even if some of them eventually do so.

 As for my views of what constitutes 'Communism', so far it seems to be a pack notions following the economic studies of Marx, from which all sorts of conjectures have sprung, with varied consequences on the working class, which is still being urged to accept and apply them in all sorts of forms, whether they like them or not.

Production is certainly worldwide in many ways, but workers with deeper knowledge of local circumstances than newcomers to them don't automatically welcome what might be regarded as uninformed interference in their work.  Invasive interventions by colonialists in many lands was resented and opposed by local workers.  Production of some workers' newspapers in Europe, when heavily influenced by some Stalinists, was derided as 'by orders of Moscow'.  If you think that you have an equal right to decide how production should be done in whichever part of the world you choose to visit, why not give it a go ?!

Whilst I again thank Fred for encouraging me to continue to make comments, by now I've had just about enough of it, you might be glad to know.

 

LBird
Painful process we've all gone through

Hawkeye wrote:
Your assumptions that I personally am this, that or the other are not helpful.

Only someone with something to hide doesn't like speculation on their own ideology!

We all have an ideology, comprising both parts that are consciously chosen and parts we have unconsciously assimilated from our society. As Communists, we wish to dig into our beliefs, to help expose our assumptions, the better to think clearly about our existence in our present society. This critical approach is necesary if we are to discuss what's worth preserving and what needs changing in our lives.

Hawkeye wrote:
Whilst various types of revolutionaries did all sorts of things to each other, your contention that 'National Communists' WILL HAVE TO execute 'Internationalist Communists' sounds daft, even if some of them eventually do so.

You haven't got the best grasp of history, have you? If the nationalists don't shoot us, we'll shoot them. Another name for 'National Communists' is 'Nazis'. If this 'sounds daft' to you up until now, perhaps you should now reconsider.

Hawkeye wrote:
Whilst I again thank Fred for encouraging me to continue to make comments, by now I've had just about enough of it, you might be glad to know.

Well, critical thinking is always painful when one first comes to it, because it requires one to question all sorts of assumptions one holds to be 'Truths'. Don't forget, you're the one who started the thread to ask questions, but seemed unable to recognise that your 'questions' would be also questioned.

You are still harping on about 'local circumstances' and 'newcomers', 'colonialists' and 'Stalinists', and, most bizarrely of all, 'visitors'. What has any of this to do with 'Communism'?

You are clearly still a prisoner of your 'assumptions', and your unwillingness to confront and expose these, both to us and yourself, is doing you no favours in your development.

Why not outline why you think Communism (the democratic control of the world economy by workers) would involve the problems you identify? Or, if you think that Communism is something else, why not explain what you think it is?

These discussions would form a basis for you to understand why you asked your original question (about workers defending their 'own' country) in the way you did.

Anyway, if you've 'had enough' here, good luck with your future questioning elsewhere.smiley

Hawkeye
Reply to LBird 30-1-2014

One doesn't have to have a definite standpoint from whiich to ask questions.  You seem to imagine that you have the best grasp of history. You seem to discount any local angles regarding the world economy.  It is not up to me to explain what communism is, that's the requirement of communists.  I do not belong to any communist organisation, so, to approximately quote Trotsky, "...with the party you're everything, without the party you're nothing",  so if you insist on labelling me, please think of me as nothing, if it makes you any happier.  I am a 77 year old retired worker who has been reading a wide range of marxist and other political texts in books and papers and been to what could be described as marxist demonstrations and meetings since I was 17.  If you think it important that those offering comments should provide personal descriptions of themselves, perhaps you would enlighten us as to yourself ?  Of course I already gather that you support the 'communist left' in one way or another.  What does the ICC think of you ?

MH
this is no way to discuss

Actually I’d like to encourage Hawkeye to continue to discuss on this forum.

LBird does not represent the ICC, or indeed the Communist Left, and I’ve read with some alarm his increasingly hysterical attacks on Hawkeye’s views here as ‘National Communist’, ie. Stalinist, and now even ‘Nazi’. I don’t agree with Hawkeye’s views, and I’d like to come back in response to them, but this is no way to discuss - in fact it's more typical of leftism.


LBird
Standpoints exist, knowingly or not

Hawkeye wrote:
One doesn't have to have a definite standpoint from whiich to ask questions.

But knowing one's standpoint helps one to understand the questions one is asking. Otherwise, any answer can seem reasonable. What's more, we all have a standpoint. There are simply those who acknowledge this, and those who don't.

Hawkeye wrote:
You seem to imagine that you have the best grasp of history.

Well, I certainly have a better grasp than you. But there are plenty of other workers who have better grasps of certain periods than I do. I try to learn from those who can answer my questions. And I try to help those who can learn from my answers.

Hawkeye wrote:
It is not up to me to explain what communism is, that's the requirement of communists.

But you've come to a Communist site, and asked questions of Communists, who'll give your their answers based upon their perspective of 'what communism is'. If you're not a Communist, you won't agree with (or even understand) those answers. Even if you are a Communist, you might disagree with those answers. That's why we try to  discuss these issues, which are at base ideological issues, hence the need to be clear about our (and your) ideological positions.

Hawkeye wrote:
If you think it important that those offering comments should provide personal descriptions of themselves, perhaps you would enlighten us as to yourself ?

No-one needs 'personal information' to be given, and perhaps you should edit your post to remove the details you've provided, comrade.

What we need is an examination of all of our 'ideological positions'. That gives us all a basis for understanding each other's positions, which inform our various answers (and, indeed, as you have seen, our questions).

Hawkeye wrote:
Of course I already gather that you support the 'communist left' in one way or another.

I'm not sure that I do. It's still unclear to me, really, what the 'communist left' consists of. I'm certainly no Leninist, though. If I was asked, I'd say that Marx and the Dutch/German left (Pannekoek), perhaps Gramsci, are my current influences. I'm also heavily critical of Engels' view of 'science' and 'materialism'. I think he was influenced by 19th century positivism, in a way that Marx wasn't (or, at least, had the sense to keep quiet about).

Hawkeye wrote:
What does the ICC think of you ?

Not much, going by some of the recent discussions that we've had on here! It's to the ICC's credit, though, that even given my disagreement with what many posters say, I've been allowed to continue posting.

I hope you continue to ask questions, which can only help us to all develop our thoughts. But we must question our assumptions. We all have them.

LBird
Tablets are available for it

MH wrote:
LBird does not represent the ICC, or indeed the Communist Left, and I’ve read with some alarm his increasingly hysterical attacks on Hawkeye’s views here as ‘National Communist’, ie. Stalinist, and now even ‘Nazi’.

'Hysterical attacks'?

Try to keep your posts in the bounds of reality, MH.

If you disagree with me, why not engage, rather than succumb to 'alarm'.

Isn't being easily alarmed a symtom of 'hysteria'? Perhaps time to look in the mirror, comrade.

baboon
Firstly to welcome the texts

Firstly to welcome the texts and video putting forward a marxist perspective on the "commemorations", the ideological attack, around the issue of WWI and capitalism's decadence. The video is great in my opinion and the articles very rich, particularly the one by Jens. An excellent riposte to the weight of the bourgeoisie's propaganda.

Now a technical hitch. I can't get back on the normal home page but keep going round in circles back to the video page. What am I doing wrong? There are no side-bars to click on and "read more" just takes me round in circles.

Absolutely agree with MH above. I am interested in the position of Hawkeye even if I don't agree with it and the discussion should be pursued properly. L. Bird can pose himself as a spokesman of the communist left - he's not in my opinion, he's a distorter of the positions of the communist left - but he doesn't at all speak for the ICC and I expect that someone from the ICC can confirm that? Once again L. Bird's language becomes abusive and unecessarily sharp under a false cloak of matiness. He should stop this abusive line.

LBird
Is politics too rough for some?

baboon wrote:
L. Bird can pose himself as a spokesman of the communist left - he's not in my opinion, he's a distorter of the positions of the communist left - but he doesn't at all speak for the ICC and I expect that someone from the ICC can confirm that? Once again L. Bird's language becomes abusive and unecessarily sharp under a false cloak of matiness. He should stop this abusive line.

Not another whine about 'being too rough' with those 'poor, little, fragile' workers, who can't stand up for themselves.

I've never posed as a spokeperson for anyone other than myself. I'm a Communist, and entitled to question both other Communists (you lot here) and those who come here asking questions based upon non-Communist positions, like Hawkeye.

I'm quite open that I don't speak for the ICC or the 'Communist Left' (whoever they are).

When you talk about being 'abusive and unnecessarily sharp', why don't you look closer to home? Every time I question you or many of the others here, you all, without fail, resort to questioning me, my motivation, my Communism, etc, rather than my arguments. For example, see MH's abusive post about 'hysterical attacks'.

Why can't you, Baboon, MH, et al, challenge my ideas and put together a decent argument to defend yourselves?

The constant refrain of "LBird's being too independent of thought" is getting a little tiring.

I've told you all before, attack my ideas, not me. If you do start to have a go at me personally, I'll do it back. Keep your personal opinions of me to yourselves, and we'll all be happy.

Right, anyone want to comment on Hawkeye's ideological position that 'workers should defend their homeland'?

Or, indeed, my ideological position that 'workers have no homeland'?

The discussion about '1914' and all imperialist wars revolve around these ideological positions. Let's be open about this, comrades, and not pretend otherwise. It can only benefit Hawkeye to discover this philosophical fact, that underlies opposing stances.

Hawkeye
Thanks to MH #38 and to baboon #41

Thank you for resuscitation of me !  I hope that my exit from 'ping-pong' will be advantageous to readers in that I would like to draw your attention to what follows.  Before going further, though, I should say that in seeking to understand as much as possible about the contents of the vast domain of marxist thought, it seems to me useful to see what its various organisations actually have to say on subjects, rather than abandon reading because the organisations concerned might be thought to be totally or partially contrary to a reader's present political opinions.

If you search the web per  international view  and thus arrive at the site of  ' International  Viewpoint' (please don't panic, yes, it's Trotskyist ! ) then by scrolling down you will find an article entitled 'The Fourth Internatioal in the 21st century.'  It printed out onto four pages of A4, on which I noted various points as I read through Alan Thornett's reported remarks.  So what ?  Well, the following extract seems to me to be worth noting:-

   'Building broad parties,  however, is crucial if the FI is to have the influence on the wider movement which is necessary and possible today.  It means building parties that can start to fill the political space to the left of social democracy that is opened as it moves to the right.

   'Our class enemies are clear about this.  They are not too concerned if we build small revolutionary groups which do good things but which have little influence beyond their own ranks -  particularly today when the level of trade union struggle remains low.  They do care, however, if we become an influential force in much bigger formations that can have a real influence on the course of events - and even challenge for government'. (End of quote).

Of course there has been a steady stream over many years of calls for new parties, some then formed and then overtaken, but if the working class of the world is going to intend to get rid of capitalism, then it seems to me that what  Alan Thornett has just said about parties is very relevant, though allowing for ICC  reservations about 'challenging for government'.  Now, the problems following 1914 are immense.

jk1921
We Know

LBird wrote:

In line with Marx, I've always argued that the class must do the 'educating'. It must 'self-educate'.

We all know what you say LBird. The problem is that its totally inchoherent and it shows up when you have to resort back to explaining why the class might not be in the business of educating itself at any given moment in history. You say its the "failure of the communists." You foist off agency on communists in such a way that it makes it seem like they are repsonsible for the consciousness of the broader class. In other words, you slide into a backdoor substitutionism that tends to make your approach to consciousness circular and meaningless.

But the bigger problem is not so much these kinds of errors--they have been made by others before. Its the attitude and approach you have to confronting questioning of your system. Rather than being open to the fact that you may not have all the answers and that there may be contradictions, gaps and holes in your system--you get frustrated rather quickly, hurl around epithets like "Leninist" and "Engelsian," as if these things had any meaning to anyone not immersed in your worldview. In short, you have a highly sectarian approach to reality--even if it is only a sect of one. Its tempting to think psychoanalytically here and wonder if the force with which you repel criticism of your system only masks a deeper realization that its built on a foundation of political and philosophical eclecticism and methodological inconsistency such that it lacks the rigour to stand up to informed criticism.

Contrast this approach with Hawkeye: He clearly has some sympathy for certain positions that the vast majority of us here would disagree with, but rather than denouncing us all with the final judgement of history--he seems generally interested in exploring the ideas of the communist left with a certain spirit of openess, even if , in the end, he might reject the substantive positions.

LBird
Cod and quips

jk1921 wrote:
Its tempting to think psychoanalytically here and wonder if the force with which you repel criticism of your system only masks a deeper realization that its built on a foundation of political and philosophical eclecticism and methodological inconsistency such that it lacks the rigour to stand up to informed criticism.

jk, mate, I salute you! I couldn't make this up if I tried!smiley

Gave me a laugh, anyway!

Hawkeye
Responding to #44 and items from LBird

I recognise that I have been responding to LBird's statements rather than offering straight answers for him, but doubt if I could provide ones which would meet his wishes.  Maybe I am guilty of 'liberalism' towards my self, liberalism being a major complaint of Maoists. That brings me back to 'territorial' thoughts, in that at least one Maoist organisation, website  LLCO, talks of 'the Third World' needing to defeat 'the First World', regarding workers in the first world as having been bought off by capitalism, based on massive exploitation of the third world.  I don't know if the 'Leading Light Communist Organisation' (based in Detroit) is the most prominent Maoist organisation in the world. I haven't researched ICC re Maoism so far, but expect that there is something to be found.  Fair question would be, what has this got to do with the original article on 1914 ?  I'm not sure if anything, but wars killing millions of people might be a relevant common factor. Mao's view that 'power grows out of the barrel of a gun' might be a more useful topic for current concern, in view of latest events across the world, perhaps coupled with questions as to whether an internationalist communist world would be able to do away with guns altogether.  

Thank you to jk1921 for his closing remarks on #44.

Hawkeye
Following #46

I should also have mentioned that the CPB-ML (with their journal 'Workers')  rejected the notion of workers having been bought off by the capitalist class, in that actually workers had had to fight for every penny.

The websites RCPBML  and  Newworker  have articles on `1914, as, no doubt, do many others.

radicalchains
Educationalist approach

I once asked a Socialist Party of Great Britain member why they didn't lobby the government for Scientific Socialism (Marxism) to be added to the National Curriculum (school education programme). It seemed to me to be a sensible practical step in line with their idealist approach to consciousness. The member did not seem to unerstand and thought I was being sarcastic. 

LBird
"We don't need no education!"

radicalchains wrote:

I once asked a Socialist Party of Great Britain member why they didn't lobby the government for Scientific Socialism (Marxism) to be added to the National Curriculum (school education programme). It seemed to me to be a sensible practical step in line with their idealist approach to consciousness. The member did not seem to unerstand and thought I was being sarcastic. 

If 'Scientific Socialism' is anything, it's 'Engels-ism'.

Marx wasn't a positivist.

Marx also praised 'idealism' (see the Theses on Feuerbach).

Some 'education' about Marx's ideas wouldn't be wasted on this site.

But no, I suppose radicalchains is a 'materialist', like jk et al, who listens to rocks.

And I'm not being sarcastic, either. But I suppose you won't understand that, either.

Alf
internationalism?

I admit to not having read this whole thread, but I do recall that it began with a discussion about 1914 and defeatism. I agreed with LBird when he stood up for internationalism, for class struggle against imperialist war, and when he argued the case with Hawkeye, who has never been able to break from his Stalinist/nationalist past, although I have always admired his stubborn effort to engage with the communist left, which has gone on for many years now. Unfortunately, he also engages with Stalinist groups as well - the Maoist variety. He just doesn't understand why we say there is a line of blood between us and them.  

I don't think I agree with much of what LBird says about philosophy, but that is a secondary question compared to this key issue of internationalism. 

Hawkeye says 

"I haven't researched ICC re Maoism so far, but expect that there is something to be found"

You could do well to start here: http://en.internationalism.org/ir/094_china_part3.html, although the title already says a lot: "Maoism, monstrous offspring of decadent capitalism". 

 

jk1921
Materialist?

LBird wrote:

But no, I suppose radicalchains is a 'materialist', like jk et al, who listens to rocks.

Interested to see how long it takes "materialist" to replace "Engelsian" as the epithet of choice. I'll give it 'till this time next week.

LBird
Immediate educational epithet

jk1921 wrote:

LBird wrote:

But no, I suppose radicalchains is a 'materialist', like jk et al, who listens to rocks.

Interested to see how long it takes "materialist" to replace "Engelsian" as the epithet of choice. I'll give it 'till this time next week.

Hey, comrade, I'll do you a favour, right now!

You're a 'materialist', just like Engels and Feuerbach.

Marx wasn't a 'materialist'. Anyone who bothers to read Marx can understand this obvious fact.

For Marx, 'idealism' provided the 'active side' of human praxis. He united 'idealism' and 'materialism' in human praxis: that is, the unity of theory and practice.

Engels, under the immense influence of 19th century positivist science, reverted to 'materialism' (mechanical materialism). And you've blindly followed him (and the reflectionist Lenin).

Guess who?, wrote:
But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality. At the end of every labour-process, we get a result that already existed in the imagination of the labourer at its commencement.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch07.htm

From your 'uneducated' perspective, jk, Charlie is yet another 'idealist', eh?

'Theory and practice' is not 'materialism'.

You continue to listen to rocks, you 'materialist', you.

LBird
Mao not Marx

Alf wrote:
I admit to not having read this whole thread, but I do recall that it began with a discussion about 1914 and defeatism. I agreed with LBird when he stood up for internationalism, for class struggle against imperialist war, and when he argued the case with Hawkeye, who has never been able to break from his Stalinist/nationalist past, although I have always admired his stubborn effort to engage with the communist left, which has gone on for many years now. Unfortunately, he also engages with Stalinist groups as well - the Maoist variety. He just doesn't understand why we say there is a line of blood between us and them.

Thanks for your comradely words of support, on this issue, Alf.

Alf wrote:
I don't think I agree with much of what LBird says about philosophy, but that is a secondary question compared to this key issue of internationalism.

Yes, the thread should continue to challenge Hawkeye's views that 'workers should defend their homeland', and his belated revelation about his Maoism.

Mao argued for the 'unity of the four classes'. This is Chinese Nationalism, pure and simple. The betrayed Communist workers of Shanghai in 1927 could tell us that. Maoism is not Communism.

jk1921
Really?

LBird wrote:

You're a 'materialist', just like Engels and Feuerbach.

Well, you didn't dissapoint. The problem here, again, is your tendency to project your Manichean worldview onto others. To be quite honest, I am rather agnostic on these philosophical issues. But you insist on labeling me a rock-talking Englesian materialist, because I do not bow down to your rock solid (pardon the pun) certainty about them. This is a rather sectarian attitude, which is not very helpful to your case. Moreover, isn't there a contradiction between your iron clad certainty and the kind of epistemological skepticsm you think you want to champion?

LBird wrote:

Marx wasn't a 'materialist'. Anyone who bothers to read Marx can understand this obvious fact.

I guess all those hours I spent reading Marx in the library were for naught? The fact of the matter is that there is significant controversy about all this; although I would have to say that the weight of the literature is stacked against your interpretation. Anyone who bothered to read it in a  dispassioante and objective light, without the need to search out yet another iconoclastic interpretation to beat people over the head with in a quest to look more radical than everyone else can understand that. I wonder if you recently found Norman Levine's book somewhere and decided you just had to make anti-Engelsianism part of your worldview, because it sounds so radical? One more plank of the campaign to identify the real origin of all the false Marxism in the world?

Perhaps comrade, the fact of the matter is that these issues are very complicated and the reason why there is so much disagreement about them is that there was a real tension in Marx's approach itself, something we haven't really solved yet? Of course, this never occurs to you, and as such, you tend to treat anyone who questions your preferred reading as some kind of enemy. We could really use less of this attitude, if we are going to reconstruct a real revolutionary alternative to this society out of the ruins of the post-68 project.

jk1921
Internationalism or Approach?

Alf wrote:

I admit to not having read this whole thread, but I do recall that it began with a discussion about 1914 and defeatism. I agreed with LBird when he stood up for internationalism, for class struggle against imperialist war, and when he argued the case with Hawkeye, who has never been able to break from his Stalinist/nationalist past, although I have always admired his stubborn effort to engage with the communist left, which has gone on for many years now. Unfortunately, he also engages with Stalinist groups as well - the Maoist variety. He just doesn't understand why we say there is a line of blood between us and them.  

I don't think I agree with much of what LBird says about philosophy, but that is a secondary question compared to this key issue of internationalism. 

Of course LBird is right on the issue of internationalism. But I think the other issue here is not so much his position on philosophy, which is rather bankrupt--its his approach to discussion, in which he consistently tends towards brow beatinng, name calling and epithet hurling at the first hint of resistance to his discovered truth about the world. Surely, Alf, this is not a "secondary question"?

I am tempted to say that LBird's approach--even though I agree with him on many substantive things (even class line issues like internationalism) is a good example for the younger generations of how not to go about doing politics.

Alf
tone

I can see many problems with LBird's way of discussing. But perhaps focusing on fundamental points of agreement - especially when there are so few internationalists around - can help us to establish the basis for a more fraternal approach. There have been times when LBird has apologised for misrepresenting comrades' views and using uncomradely terms, so he is not incapable of evolving.  With regard to the polemic between Hawkeye and LBird, what is it that other comrades have found so damning? I think that it is politically accurate to call hawkeye's viewpoint 'national communist', for example. Things got more heated in my reading of the thread (I have now read it all...) when the debate turned from internationalism to 'philosophy', but as I tried to say before, this was not the original purpose of the thread. 

Hawkeye
Response to Alf and LBird

Whilst over many years I have read all sorts of political data, including that of ICC, CWO, 'Stalinism', 'Maoism', several strands of 'Trotskyism', 'nationalism' 'european nationalism' etc, and have argued sometimes along some of their lines of thought, I'm not happy that you declare those to be 'mine'.  If I go to a Public Meeting of one of them, that, too, doesn't imply that I belong to, nor automatically support them.  In the course of exploring political ideas, I have been to some meetings of several of them and met many different 'supporters' of umpteen strands on demonstrations.  If you want to raise proletarian consciousness, do you only want workers to know of 'your own' viewpoints ? I keep my own counsel as a retired worker. Sometimes I find part of the statements of some of the forementioned  worth considering, without necessarily endorsing more than the part.  For example, the following brief extract from the website Lalkar (generally known as Stalinist) from the start of its recent article 'Ukrainian putsch jumps the gun':-

(Quote:)  'In their haste to secure a new East European dumping  ground for the West's surplus commodities, manipulate the European energy market, undermine Russia's economy and impose upon an independent country a political leadership tied to an imperialist agenda, the EU and IMF have unleashed a political storm in the Ukraine which they will come to regret'. (End of quote).

LBird
Exploring political ideas

Alf wrote:
With regard to the polemic between Hawkeye and LBird, what is it that other comrades have found so damning? I think that it is politically accurate to call hawkeye's viewpoint 'national communist', for example.

This is the key point of the discussion:

For Communists, do workers have a mother/father/homeland?

I've argued (and other posters seem to agree) that the answer should be a resounding 'No!'.

Hawkeye seems to disagree:

Hawkeye, post #23 wrote:
Russian communists have had no problem in regarding where they have been born and grown up as their 'motherland'...
[my bold]

Whereas for us, this is a big problem. For us, those workers (Russian or otherwise) who argue this are not Communists. If Communism relates to 'class', this cannot be so. 'Nation' plays no part in the political thinking of a class conscious worker. The phrase 'National Communism' is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron.

Hawkeye wrote:
Whilst over many years I have read all sorts of political data, including that of ICC, CWO, 'Stalinism', 'Maoism', several strands of 'Trotskyism', 'nationalism' 'european nationalism' etc, and have argued sometimes along some of their lines of thought, I'm not happy that you declare those to be 'mine'.
[my bold]

But, if you come here and 'argue along those lines of thought', and don't make it plain that you are just quoting someone else and that you personally disagree with those 'lines of thought', you have to expect that it will be assumed that "they are 'yours'". Otherwise, why bring them up? If not to try to persuade us here that those 'lines of thought' have some important, useful content?

Hawkeye wrote:
In the course of exploring political ideas, I have been to some meetings of several of them and met many different 'supporters' of umpteen strands on demonstrations. If you want to raise proletarian consciousness, do you only want workers to know of 'your own' viewpoints ? I keep my own counsel as a retired worker.

This is a statement that you should have made from the start, rather than after your posts seemingly supporting 'National Communism'. You could have simply asked what do posters here think about 'National Communism', without any commitment on your part.

Hawkeye wrote:
Sometimes I find part of the statements of some of the forementioned worth considering, without necessarily endorsing more than the part.

Here again, you still argue that you 'find part' of National Communism 'worth considering', even after what's been said by other posters (not just me, if you dislike my personal 'style' of arguing, but also by many others).

'In the course of exploring political ideas' (your words), you must be pressed by us on this issue. Why do you see any value whatsoever in workers looking to an ideology that countenances 'Nationalism' in any way at all?

Put simply, 'Nation' and 'Class' are violently opposed ideological constructs, which have their bases in differing classes.

Communism requires world revolution by the proletariat. Any 'localism' of any form will be employed by bosses to undermine workers coming to class consciousness.

'Russian' workers have lost from the start. The workers in the geographical entity at present known as 'Russia' must renounce their imposed 'Russian-ness', and become class conscious 'Workers of the World'.

Workers have no nation.

LBird
Exploring political ideas

DP

radicalchains
I read probably as much

I read probably as much leftist stuff as I do Left Communist stuff and I consider/think about both does this make me a 'National Communist'?

It's probably 'worth considering' because it's a different perspective that at times criticises the society we live in. Just as certain avenues of conspiracy theory do, no matter how bogus or reactionary their overall view is.

I too have even dared to read bits of Lalkar from time to time.

As an aside, has anyone read Lenin Rediscovered: What is to Be Done? I started reading it and thought it was very much 'worth considering'.

jk1921
Battered Wife

Alf wrote:

I can see many problems with LBird's way of discussing. But perhaps focusing on fundamental points of agreement - especially when there are so few internationalists around - can help us to establish the basis for a more fraternal approach. There have been times when LBird has apologised for misrepresenting comrades' views and using uncomradely terms, so he is not incapable of evolving.

 

Well, Alf, that hasn't worked out so well before. We always seem to end up in the same place. Its true LBird has moments of contrition when he apologizes, but those don't tend to last very long. Once he gets rolling on another iconolcastic brainstorm, he'll revert back to his confrontational tactics at the first sign of resistance to his newly discovered truth. He doesn't so much evolve as move back and forth in a vicious cycle, and we--like battered wives--are all too quick to tolerate it. I am not sure if the problem is politcal/philosophical or a personality issue, but we don't seem to have the tools to deal with it very well and as such this forum tends to get subsumed under the weight of his various pathologies/traumas.

Of course, that is not the only problem on this fourm lately. Where has the ICC been? Other than occasional posts by Alf--it seems to have almost abandoned its own forum. It makes one wonder?

Alf
concern

Your concern over our failure to follow the forum recently is well founded and we are discussing it. It reflects more profound difficulties confronting the organisation (and probably the revolutionary movement as a whole) which we have begun to write about at the general level (cf article on the last ICC congress) but will have to make more concrete. But we aim to take more immediate measures to improve our following of the forum. 

Hawkeye
One response following comments #58 to #61

Some years ago, influenced by ICC internationalism, I spent several weeks trying to convince myself that I was a world citizen rather than English, but after a while it seemed to me that not to consider myself as English was absurd.  Even so, with a working class interest in marxism, whether I or anyone else should be a 'national communist' or an 'internationalist communist'  or any sort of communist remains debatable.  When nazis came to power, ANY sorts of communists were killed by them, but ,oops, then we tumble again to all the 'communist left' arguments opposing 'anti-fascism'.

Having quoted from a Stalinist article on the current situation in Ukraine, readers might like to read an  article entitled 'Ukraine Turmoil: Capitalist Powers in Tug of War' which can be found on website  icl-fi.org  as on 'Workers Vanguard', their paper printed in the USA, with 'Workers Hammer' printed in the UK.  The article has many references to nationalists and fascists.  Please note that to mention the article doesn't automatically mean that I am a 'Spartacist' !  

In 1958, working for a few weeks near the borders between S.E.Poland, Ukraine and what is now Slovakia, in the Carpathian forest, I was shown remains of former fighting with Ukrainian nationalists.  Near our log cabin, a young Pole sat on guard, with a gun across his legs.

As for LBird's requiring that I should have said more initially, or qualified further my subsequent remarks during the course of exchanges of views, thank you, 'your attitude has been noted', (to use words from Doctor Zhivago !).  Did you see that film ?  It made quite an impression on me, many years ago.

ernie
lenin rediscoveres

Radicalchains

 

Lenin rediscovered  is an interesting book. The analysis of the influence of Kautky on Lenin and also the wider growth of the workers' movement is worth reading. Lih's analysis of the chapters in What is to be done on spontenaity and consciousness are thought provoking. However one has to bear in mind that Lih is part of an attempt to 'revise' Kautsky which the CPGB is under taking. From what I have read of Lih's stuff about kautsky he does not mention the struggle that Rosa Luxemburg and the Left waged against Kautsky' centrism in the German SDP. 

ernie
Lenin.....

Lenin's inability to join Rosa Luxemburg and the Left's struggle over the. Course of the 1900s against the destructive centrist attitude of Kautsky towards the revionists and support of the trade unions determined efforts to undermine the discussion on the mass strike within the party and class.after 1905 is one of his most surprising weaknesses. This weaknesses weakend the ability of the Left to coordinate an international struggle against the growing tide of centrism and opportunism.

 

baboon
Immediate

A fairly immediate and welcome response from the ICC to  participation in its forum.

I agree with those that clearly defend internationalism above. It's a real revolutionary cornerstone, a clear delineation and among those that defend the workers' movement and it's also a point on which we can afford little ambiguity.

I don't think that anyone doubts that in the working class at the moment, the vast majority of workers that is, tend to support or identify with the national capitals that they are born and indoctrinated into. Most of the ambient "information" comes from the bourgeoisie and it's true that reading, sharing or relaying what is written doesn't mean that we have to be identified with it. But it's also important to be clear about where any "analysis" is coming from and particularly in the case of leftism which can promote the most insidious and dangerious form of nationalism among the working class.

Ernie talks elsewhere about the way that the bourgeosie are now piling on the nationalist pressure. I agree with this; it's not a sat-down globally agreed plan but comes from the development of the economic crisis and the very essence and being of their system. It's all the more essential here to maintain and develop a position of internationalism.

LoneLondoner
The national question and the curate's egg

I may disagree with Lbird on a lot of things, but on this one I am full square with him (and I am in the ICC). For those who don't remember the original, here is the nervous young curate breakfasting with the Bishop. My lord bishop remarks "I'm afraid you have a bad egg Mr Jones", to which the young curate replies "Oh no my lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent".

Allowing nationalism into communist positions is like that. The egg may look fine on the outside, but as soon as you open it up, it stinks. The same is true of Trotskyist positions (and Maoist, and Stalinists). Superficially they can (sometimes) look very radical, but as soon as you break the surface, they stink - of nationalism which will always be the radical enemy of working class interests.

With regard to Lbird's reference to the Nazis (short for "National Socialists" let us remember) - again, I reckon he is fundamentally correct. One of the constant themes of the ruling class is that there is a fundamental dividing line between fascism and democracy. We say that is not true. Both fascism and democracy (and Stalinism and Maoism) are expressions of the same underlying capitalist ideology of which national defence is a fundamental element. We have published several articles on the "crimes of the democracies" during World War II on this subject (and the latest article on World War I provides another case in point).

Those who argue otherwise, who wonder whether it is not possible to have some kind of admixture of national defence with socialism or communism, should consider the many cases where "national socialism" led direct to fascism: Pilsudki in Poland ("national liberation" wing of the pre-1914 Polish Socialist Party, not Luxemburg's SDKPiL), Mussolini (one-time editor of the socialist Avanti) in Italy, Doriot (French CP mayor of St Denis who went over to the fascists lock stock & barrel during WWII) in France, the "national Bolsheviks" Wolffheim and Laufenberg in Germany.... and more recently whole sections of the French CP dominated CGT going over to Marine Le Pen's crypto-fascist National Front.

As for Lbird's way of debating, well, I for one sometimes find him exasperating (and on some aspects of scientific methodology he is just plain wrong). It's also true that in forum debates - where the tone of voice is not there to complement the written word - one should be particularly careful not to use throw-away remarks which may come across as insulting (err... talking to rocks??). But when push comes to shove, give me a communist internationalist who sticks to his guns, however exasperatingly, over a polite democrat any day of the week...

LBird
Rocks are for throwing at Nazis, not for consulting with

Lone Londoner wrote:
As for Lbird's way of debating, well, I for one sometimes find him exasperating (and on some aspects of scientific methodology he is just plain wrong).

Well, since 'my way of debating' about 'scientific methodology' included buying, reading and quoting from texts recommended by the ICC (as well as about a dozen other books, just in the last 6 months, including Pannekoek, Korsch, Dietzgen and Untermann), and not getting any replies that showed any reading about the philosophy of science (including my previous background in Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend and Lakatos), it's hardly surprising many find me 'exasperating'. It's another term for 'well-read and having well-argued positions'. As I've said, on 'scientific methodology', I seem to have a similar approach to the ICC, from what I can tell. But, more clearly, I don't have the '19th century positivist' view that many here seem to irrationally cling to.

LL wrote:
It's also true that in forum debates - where the tone of voice is not there to complement the written word - one should be particularly careful not to use throw-away remarks which may come across as insulting (err... talking to rocks??).

This is a criticism that I accept that I might be guilty of, but I think that it's mostly just the nature of the internet. If I was having a beer with the comrades here, in the pub, much of what I'm saying would come across better (especially if I was buying).

But... 'talking to rocks' is my 'exasperated' response to having to constantly say the same thing to those who won't read any further, and wish to maintain outdated methodological positions. It captures the core problem very well, I think.smiley

LL wrote:
But when push comes to shove, give me a communist internationalist who sticks to his guns, however exasperatingly, over a polite democrat any day of the week...

Well, 'sticking to my guns' applies to all the issues that we discuss.

If someone wants to argue for Nazism, that fine by me. But don't be surprised when I challenge it. Or point out to those who erroneously espouse 'National Socialism', whilst claiming it to be a form of Communism, that they are mistaken.

But, yes, I'm a communist internationalist, LL, just like the majority here. I just don't get my politics from wise rocks, like some, apparently!laugh

jk1921
Now, you just sound flat out

Now, you just sound flat out arrogant AND you continue to use throw-away lines that imply that anyone who doesn't agree with you, or who doesn't see the light of the LBird way, is an idiot. Do you really think so highly of yourself?

LBird
Tired repetition

jk1921 wrote:

Now, you just sound flat out arrogant AND you continue to use throw-away lines that imply that anyone who doesn't agree with you, or who doesn't see the light of the LBird way, is an idiot. Do you really think so highly of yourself?

Thanks for your usual contentful reply, jk.

How come you 'think so highly of yourself', that you don't need to read widely, reason things through, and argue competently, but just insult by implying your opponents have 'psychological issues', and mindlessly repeat bourgeois myths, as you constantly do?

Do me a favour, and do one.

jk1921
I don't know you from a hole

I don't know you from a hole in the ground, but based on how amaterurish you continually sound, I would reason that I am magnitudes more widely read than you are. You seem to have just discovered your anti-Engelsianism a few weeks ago. Of course, all of this is besides the point. The fact of the matter is that you are a disruptive force in discussions, you attempt to shout down anyone who disagrees with you and then when someone returns the favor, you cry victim.

But beyond that, there is the issue of how a community that is supposed to be based around developing a "culture of debate" handles a character like you? So far, I would say rather poorly, myself included.