Anarchists and the war question

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Alf
Anarchists and the war question
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An important confrontation taking place on the libcom threads about ISIS and anarchist participation in the war.   http://libcom.org/forums/news/isis-17062014?page=6#comment-545383 Anarchists join fight against ISIS to defend Kurdish Autonomous Areas. This one is also relevant http://libcom.org/forums/news/ukrainian-crisis-left-necessary-clarification-28092014 ReplyReply all or Forward | More

baboon
Defence of internationalism

There are now five texts on the libcom forum dealing with the question of Isis/war in Syria cutting along the lines of nationalism vs internationalism. One of the threads is on an ICC text on the Kurdish question and another on the involvement of anarchists in the anti-war movement of Zimmerwald - which is quite interesting. It's not only ICC comrades and sympathisers defending working class internationalism but quite a few anarchists. There are obdurate hard-line supporters of Kurdish nationalism swamping some threads with long, turgid texts. Others see the needs to fight Isis because of its inherent nastiness in terms of "anti-fascism". Others are looking for anything, any glimmer of anything vaguely proletarian "on the ground" in order to justify supporting the war against Isis. They've even played the feminist card ("women in uniform is positive") that has been soundly denounced. And there are others, correctly labelled "centrists", sitting on the fence. I think that it would be helpful if more ICC comrades, who have cut their teeth on questions of self-determination, anti-fascism and internationalism joined this important struggle.

mikail firtinaci
Turkish scene

I tried to discuss this question with anarchist friends in Turkey. I am getting depressed, because even though every day PYD/PKKs another dirty agreement and act is revealed, leftists are just completely mute and reject everything with the same worn out arguments. They regard any criticism of PKK as an implicity defense of Turkish nationalism. Leftists blame internationalists for being ignorant, cruel, and authoritarian about the price Kurds paid for their "national rights". It is extremely tiring...

baboon
Solidarity

midail, you have been fighting a great fight and there is no way - at the moment - that leftism, especially local leftism will support your position. But there are many on libcom on the international level that do. Personally I wouldn't waste time arguing against the avid supporters of Kurdish nationalism like kurremkamarruk who has now swamped a couple of  threads. I think it pointless trying to swap blow for blow with the likes of such individuals. But from  your original efforts an internationalist position has been maintained in the face of outright leftist support for nationalism and the more or less sophisticated  centrist fence-sitters.

Red Hughs
Cheers for the link, I am

Cheers for the link,

I am impressed that you folks are doing an effective intervention

Alf
Anarchism in crisis

I would think that one of the clearest signs that the anarchist movement is in crisis is that none of them are talking about the crisis. Libcom just carries on as normal. I said on libcom that this was 1914, 1936 and 1939 all over again. In other words, faced with a march towards war, a considerable part of the anarchist movement goes over to direct support for one imperialist camp. Although in 1914 it took the form of Kropotkin and the French CGT openly opting to support the Entente powers; in the latter cases it took the form of support and participation in "militias" or organs of "resistance", which is what is happening today with those who defend the PKK "revolutionary democracy" in Syrian Kurdistan. 

mikail firtinaci
thanks for the positive

thanks for the positive comments baboon! I know that my comments are sometimes hasty; in fact if it was a Turkish web forum, I could be lynched for writing half of what I wrote on Libcom. Even among friends we had terribly tense and emotional debates over this issue... It was exhausting really. So, I appreaciate your comment. 

About the crisis;

I think we can make a distinction between anarchists; most platformist anarco-communists around the world are either completely taken over by the pro-PKK hysteria or paralyzed. However, I think anarco-syndicalists in most cases are either clearly internationalist or at least they are showing a healthy suspicion even they lack information. That is something positive to acknowledge, don't you think so?

 

Demogorgon
I don't think anyone should

I don't think anyone should underestimate the courage it takes when taking a stand when you're in a country involved in these sorts of bourgeois conflicts. Well done, Mikhail.

baboon
Anarchism's crisis

The crisis of anarchism becomes more intense with the development of capitalist decomposition and imperialist war. As we've pointed out several times recently on Libcom in relation to Isis, etc., the whole framework for imperialist war in the Middle East is generally ignored in favour of looking for something, anything, positive to fight for on the ground. This "something positive", like Alf says above in regard to the anti-fascist resistance, draws them into supporting and generatiing support for imperialist war without having to clearly expose themselves as adjuncts to nationalism and war - that is they don't openly bang the drum for imperialist war directly supporting one side or the other but look for some lesser evil. In this fashion they continue along the lines of the moralism and unhistorical nature at the heart of anarchism. They've found a few "positive" elements in the west's war against Isis: feminism, the "fight for Kobani" (some anarchist elements in Newcastle, I think, organised a protest to defend Kobani this weekend) and the "people's movement" of Rojava in Syrian Kurdistan - an expression of a nationalist proto-state.

Alf
anarcho-syndicalists and the war

I think that there are significant divisions in the IWA. Certainly the CNT-IAT in France has come out with a "pro-Kobani" position. Also significant is the silence of many elements from Solfed on the libcom forum. There are also divisions within the AF and the International of Anarchist Federations, but being anarchists, such vast differences can co-exist in the same 'federation' 

mikail firtinaci
I did not know that IWA was

I did not know that IWA was divided on Kobane. I just hoped that the best groups in anarchist and marxist camps could be in solidarity on this and defend a resolute internationalist position together.

Anyways; after PYDs alliance with Barzani, the US and FSA became official, it probably became harder to defend PYD for many centrist anarchists. Of course, that does not mean that those who were on the fence drew any lesson from that...

 

 

Alf
CNT-AIT position
baboon
Not much ambiguity there from

Not much ambiguity there from my reading of the above. Rojava is the expression of an "emancipatory social movement", then there's anti-Turkish caveats but the postiion supports "movments of resistance" and its task is now to "mobilise support for these movement", ie, Kurdish nationalism.

Fixating  on these secondary imaginery "social movements" deliberately ignores wider questions about imperialist war and the specific development of war in this region. AP reports today that large numbers of al-Nusra forces, not necessarily working in conjunction with Isis, are massing on the strategic Turkey/Syria crossing point near the town of Bab al-Hawa. Throughout the whole of this region, town after town and village after village, has fallen to al-Nusra as the Syrian Revolutionary Force - a big part of the USA's umbrella organisation, the Free Syrian Army - has collapses and fled in front of al-Nusra's advance.

Tyrion
Anarchism in crisis

Alf wrote:

I would think that one of the clearest signs that the anarchist movement is in crisis is that none of them are talking about the crisis. Libcom just carries on as normal. I said on libcom that this was 1914, 1936 and 1939 all over again. In other words, faced with a march towards war, a considerable part of the anarchist movement goes over to direct support for one imperialist camp. Although in 1914 it took the form of Kropotkin and the French CGT openly opting to support the Entente powers; in the latter cases it took the form of support and participation in "militias" or organs of "resistance", which is what is happening today with those who defend the PKK "revolutionary democracy" in Syrian Kurdistan. 

I'm not sure this comparison really holds up. In 1914 and 1936 (perhaps not as much by 1939), anarchism was a mass movement with some influence over whether or not workers would enthusiastically go to their deaths in the service of rival bourgeois factions. I'm not sure that anarchists really have much influence at all over the course of the Rojava situation, due to the general marginalization of all communist tendencies at this point in time; certainly I'm not aware of anarchists taking up arms and shipping out to Kobane, despite David Graeber's best efforts. I don't really think that this can be called a crisis in the very practical way that the other situations mentioned were, though it's certainly brought to light a nasty (though maybe not so surprising, given the historical record) nationalist streak among many supposed socialists.

Demogorgon
It's true that anarchists,

It's true that anarchists, any more than communists, don't have any practical influence over the course of the class struggle at present. On the other hand, Bilan had absolutely no influence on the class struggle whatsoever in 1936 but it was still important for them to take a political stand against the currents that called for workers to join the various militias in Spain that were, by that stage, lining up with various imperialist and bourgeois interests. They even had to fight this disease in their own ranks. Similarly, the Zimmerwald Left was largely irrelevant when it met to take an internationalist position against WW1. Obviously, the elements that made up the Zimmerwald Left went on to have a very important influence on the class struggle in later years but you wouldn't have known that at the time.

What the current situation highlights, is the inadequacy of present-dat anarchism to serve as a true basis from which a new working-class political current can emerge. The tent of anarchism allows authentic working class currents to sit side-by-side with bourgeois currents like the Platformists (who are basically Trotskyists with attitude problems). They still haven't learned the lessons that Social Democracy had forced on it in the First World War: that the present epoch doesn't allow for the coexistence of revolutionary and reformist currents in the same movement. Nor have they learned that although questions of organisation and "hierarchy" are important, they don't constitute class lines in themselves. As long as you're against "hierarchy" groups can line up with nationalist factions in an imperialist war and still, somehow, be regarded as part of the movement. This eclecticism makes it difficult for anarchism to have a true decantation and confrontation between the bourgeois and proletarian currents. Without this, anarchism cannot emerge as a true proletarian force (this doesn't stop elements within it being proletarian but they can only achieve their full potential by ultimately breaking with anarchism).

This is important because the authentic internationalists in the anarchist movement represented a new generation of working-class militants that the class began to produce after the defeats following the collapse of the Russian bloc. If they are unable to even recognise this "crisis", let alone confront and overcome the bourgeois trends in anarchism, then they will ultimately be lost to the class. This failure is also linked to the chronic weakness the whole working class has experienced since the "Great Recession" exploded in 2007 - although the class has tried to struggle both politically and economically, its weaknesses have been more apparent than its strengths.

It's not just anarchism that's showing these problems. You only have to look at the difficulties the ICC has had over the last couple of years to see that Left Communists are hardly immune to the general malaise either, even if the problems take different forms. Although one might at least argue that we are, at least, aware to some extent that we've got problems and self-knowledge is the first step to a cure. It remains to be seen if the internationalist in the anarchist movement are able to take that step as well ...

[Edited for clarity!]

jk1921
A number of "anarchists" were

A number of "anarchists" were arrested yesterday after their alleged plans to disrupt the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in order to protests the non indictment of the cop who shot Michael Brown was "discovered." Is this part of the crisis of anarchism?

Theft
The Anarchist Federation have

The Anarchist Federation have put out a statement which goes against some of the other IFA groups.

http://libcom.org/news/anarchist-federation-statement-rojava-december-20...

Alf
AF statement

The AF statement definitely rejects the idea that there is a revolution in Rojava and is rather clear about the role and nature of the PKK. They recognise that their position will not be popular, which indicates how many anarchists have fallen for this trap. But its still contradictory in that they call for organising humanitarian aid through IFA and the Turkish DAF, which actually wants to fight in the 'Peoples Protection Units' . There is a very evident avoidance of differences between the components of the same anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist  'Internationals' and federations. We will publish an article on this soon. 

baboon
Agree with the above on the

Agree with the above on the AF statement. It's relatively clear on the class nature of the PKK and the non-existence of any sort of "revolution" in Rojava. But these tepid conclusions have provoked a response from various anarchist elements thus demonstrating the persistence and depth of anarchist support for the various factions engaged in imperialist war as they fall, once again, into the arms of the "resistance" and support the imperialism of the "lesser evil". The statement takes a "bottom up" approach to the analysis of the war, i.e., looking at the specifics mainly rather than the overall dynamic of capitalist war - and this war is one the greatest examples so far of the descent of capitalism into barbarism.

The article is prefaced by a photograph of what seems to me to be PYD women fighters in a sort of action shot. This belies the subsequent analysis of the statement given of other women's military units of various states. But these women's fighting units are a big draw for anarchist youth and the PKK publicity department has been very effective in promoting them in order to attract attention and support. The AF statement itself, which can't avoid saying something positive about them, says that they show signs of "feminist influence". And so they do, like the feminist influence on the Suffragettes and their mobilisation for imperialist war.

Alf points to the contradiction in the Statement about the roundabout support for some fighting factions, i.e., through the Turkish DAF and the People's Protection Units which elsewhere the Statement denounces for opeing fire on protesters.

Alf
Le proletaire 513

The latest paper of one of the Bordigist PCIs, le proletaire in France, has published a lead article 'Mobilisation pro-imperialiste autour du Kurdistan', which is rather clear on the Kurdish question and the implication in the war drive of Trotskyists and anarchists, in the latter case the French Organisation Communise Libertaire.  The article is not online yet but probably will be soon. http://pcint.org/

baboon
The ICC's article on

The ICC's article on anarchism and war is on the libcom website but not on here?

Alf
anarchism article

No, the link was posted once the article was on the website, but wasn't yet on the front page. Some of the AF comrades aren't very keen on our contribution....http://www.libcom.org/news/anarchist-federation-statement-rojava-decembe...

baboon
Precipitation

Yes, I was a bit precipitous.

I think that the article was correct to welcome the courage of the AF in taking this position against war mobilisation (I think that they supported the Zapatista movement some time ago?). And I think it also correct in framing the question in the historical context of the area between the two major classes that anarchism still tends to inhabit.

The ICC text certainly raised a response somewhere between moral indignation and bourgeois hypocrisy and that's to be expected. If there weren't any overt positive responses then I think that is not surprising and Leo got the brunt of the outright abuse - he can take care of himself but my solidarity to the defence of his position.

There are other discussions going on on libcom indicating some sort of anarchist ferment: There's a discussion/argument between the FAU syndicalists (Free Workers Union) and the IWA, (the International Workers Association). Though one comrade points to the needs to allow for splits and stengthening of the statutes, it seems difficult to know what's going on.

Others support the AF statement and ask for more clarity but the real issue is the constant attempt to hover between the two classes, and this is particularly true in the case of syndicalism. There's valid criticism of the statement from the ICC for its ambiguous attitude to working with other groups (this is part of the wider problem) such as the FAI (International Federation of Anarchists set up in 1968) and the DAF (Action Devrimci Ararsist) soundly denounced by Leo.

Spikeymike is not quite sure one way or the other.

Alf
running away from debate?

The thread on the AF statement seems to have come to a grinding halt....

Alf
carrying on the fight

Spikymike has posed questions, in his usual apparently sitting on the fence way, about Ocelot's attack on 'periodisation' theories (actually 'decadence' theory), and the argument in our article that if anarchists say anything that advances things theoretically, it's basically because they got it from marxism. He sees much to criticise on both sides, and yet the ideas criticised also have some validity, perhaps...

I think personally that we shouldnt let the anarchists get away with retreating into silence on the Rojava issue, but should reanimate the libcom thread. However, I would need some back up if I'm going back in there.....

baboon
Today Spikey has posted about

Today Spikey has posted about his attitude to Solfed and the AF - again it's a sitting on the fence issue I think. But he did have the merit of asking that the discussion on the issues raised by the article continued and I thought he was quite positive in this respect.

Get back in there you wimp. For what it's worth I will help out if I can and I urge others, who have some knowledge and understanding of nationalism, war and anarchism to do the same.

GUERRE DE CLASSE
In Rojava: People’s War is not Class War

In Rojava: People’s War is not Class War

http://www.autistici.org/tridnivalka/in-rojava-peoples-war-is-not-class-war/

Also exists in French: http://www.autistici.org/tridnivalka/rojava-la-guerre-populaire-ce-nest-pas-la-guerre-de-classe/

 

Text “In Rojava: People’s War is not Class War”, which you can read below, represents a contribution of “Internationalist Communist Tendency” (ICT) to a debate that has been taking place in certain circles claiming “anti-capitalist struggle” since several weeks. The central points of this discussion are current events in Western Kurdistan, Rojava.

Even if we generally don’t agree with the ideological corpus of ICT (despite some programmatic positions and references in common), we nevertheless decided to publish here this text and to translate it in Czech and in French from the original English version because we share the defence of internationalist positions expressed in it. State is not merely a structure of government, police, army and administrative apparatus, State, as the communist movement grasps it, is a social relation, materialization of capitalist world order, no matter whether its legitimacy is based on parliament or community assemblies. If therefore PKK and its PYD’s henchmen claim that they do not seek to create a State, it is just because in reality they already – due to their role, practical and ideological, they play in Rojava – represent the State. This is what some of PKK’s partisans call quite rightly “a State without a State”, i.e. a State that doesn’t necessarily territorialize as a Nation-State, but which ultimately really constitutes a State in the sense that capitalist social relations, private property, are not fundamentally challenged.

Unlike all kinds of euro-centrists and other worshippers of the world division into “central countries” (which are the only ones the spark of revolution could come from) on one hand and the “periphery” of capitalism on the other hand, we do not doubt that there is a proletarian movement in Rojava (as in the whole region of Middle-East, and that’s quite a fundamental disagreement we have with ICT positions in general), a movement that in spite of its weaknesses aim, however only partially, to emancipate the working class, and that in this sense is an integral part of worldwide proletarian movement heading towards abolition of capitalism and creating of a real human community – communism. Neither PKK nor PYD however represent this movement and this despite their seemingly pro-socialist proclamations and declarations in favour of this fashionable fetish of direct democracy (through the so-called “political turn” of PKK which would adopt “democratic confederalism”, “communalism” and “municipalism” dear to a whole a stream of Proudhonian libertarians all over the world). And if some would-be revolutionaries will continue to support them without any critique (or even while adopting a “critical support” à la Trotsky), they will become the gravediggers of this fragile movement in the same way as it happened with supporting the Popular Front in Spain 1936.

The main players in the current developing international support campaign for Rojava, acting as spokesmen of such organizations as PKK or PYD and its armed groups (YPJ and YPG), do nothing but confuse the existing social movement with organized and formal political forces that claim to be the representatives and leaders of the current struggles. The fact that Marxist-Leninist organizations (Bolshevik, Stalinist, Maoist, Trotskyite, etc.), which were historically nothing but the capitalist left whose task has been and will be to supervise and quell in blood the struggles of our class, support statist sister organizations such as PKK or PYD, is quite normal. The fact that “anarchists”, “libertarians”, “libertarian communists”, “communist anarchists” who always claimed to fight against the State, against any form of State, do the same and take part in this campaign (in a “critical” way or not), doesn’t surprise us either but nevertheless urges us to raise the issue and develop some comments.

First, the campaign of “solidarity with Rojava” that is a distortion of an obvious need for solidarity with proletarians in struggle throughout the region, as all over the world, this campaign supporting the struggle for national liberation (here the Kurdish one) is not the prerogative of one family but it goes right through both big ideological families that talk in the name of the proletariat, and even causes divisions within them as they are torn between the supporters of the “Kurdish issue” and “oppressed peoples” on one hand and those who defend internationalist positions on the other hand. Indeed, in the “Marxist” ideological family as well as in the family of “ideological anarchism”, there are pros and contras. Therefore it is very clear that demarcation lines are not located (about this issue as well as more generally about the question of war and the tasks of revolutionary militants), between “Marxists” and “anarchists” but between the supporters of national liberation and therefore of bourgeois State and capitalism (even repainted in red) on one hand and the militants who develop genuine internationalism on the other hand, in short between the defenders of the bourgeois party for the proletariat (Social-Democracy under any political colours it is able to adorn itself with) and the fighters of the only “party” freeing all humanity, the party of the revolutionary proletariat, the World Communist Party, “the Party of Anarchy” (Karl Marx).

Then, whereas almost all sectors of anarchism historically and vehemently refuse any reference to “the dictatorship of the proletariat” they wrongly put into the same category as the real dictatorship of the value imposed to the proletariat for decades on behalf of communism in countries that proclaimed themselves to be “communist” and were named as such by Western bourgeois propaganda, now we see these “anarchists” forgetting all their “principles” and raising the flag of PKK and its State as a “lesser evil” as it was recently revealed by a stand taken and published by the Anarkismo network: “The issue of the relation of anarchists and syndicalists to movements like the PKK – movements that are not explicitly, or even thoroughly, anarchist – is a matter of controversy. A substantial section of the anarchist movement, particularly the large platformist and especifista network around Anarkismo.net, has supported the PKK, although not uncritically. […] Under the current circumstances of ISIS invading Kobane, even if democratic confederalism is defeated in Rojava internally by PYD elements and they implement a state, that state (from what we have read of the PYD) would be better than the other options that are real possibilities, being ISIS, Assad, or the KRG. […] In summary, applying our general approach, we can say of the battle for Rojava: we support the struggle for the national liberation of the Kurds, including the right of the national liberation movement to exist; […]; our support moves on a sliding scale, with Kurdish anarchists and syndicalists at the top, followed by the PKK, then the PYD, and we draw the line at the KRG; in practical terms, we cooperate around, and offer solidarity (even if only verbal) on a range of concrete issues, the most immediate of which is the battle to halt the ultra-right Islamic State and defend the Rojava revolution; within that revolution, we align ourselves with the PKK model of democratic confederalism against the more statist approach of the PYD models, and, even when doing so, aim at all times to propose and win influence for our methods, aims and projects: we are with the PKK against the KRG, but we are for the anarchist revolution before all else.” [http://www.anarkismo.net/article/27540/] [our emphasis]

As we can see in this quote, nothing has changed since at least 1936 and “ideological anarchism” continues as much as then to justify a “lesser evil” (which in practice always proves to be the worse!) and sacrifices thus social revolution on the altar of political profitability, pragmatism and opportunism, or any other expression of the bourgeois politics rainbow. While yesterday in Spain, these “anarchists” (CNT-FAI) led astray the struggles of our class, they refused what they called “the dictatorship of anarchy” (i.e. the development of elementary and drastic measures to be imposed on the bourgeoisie, the struggle against private property, in order to satisfy the needs of the revolution), while they channelled the social movement on the rails of republican legality, these ladies and gentlemen had dealings with the forces of the Popular Front, with the “socialists” as well as the Stalinists, they entered the bourgeois governments and assumed thus their role in the State repression against our class. Today again, certain “anarchists” rub shoulders with the same political forces that bear no proletarian program, no revolutionary perspective, going as far as to overtly claim their militant support not to some of the revolutionary expressions emerging with difficulty from the quagmire of social peace but rather more prosaically to “progressive popular struggles” (cf. Anarkismo’s text already quoted), and this all the more easily since it is difficult to detect with force and certainty the programmatic and effective autonomy of our class on the ground in Rojava. No proletarian and communist expression emerges with force (at least given the few militant information coming from there) as it existed for example in the 1991 uprisings in Iraq where significant expressions of proletarian associationism have arisen.

These are only some comments in relation to this important debate which significance goes beyond the “Kurdish issue” and the support or not (and how) to “the resistance in Rojava”. This is also about the question of war as well as the question of class struggle, class war, and the affirmation of the proletariat as an organized force imposing the satisfaction of its needs. We would like to finish this little introduction, while suggesting some other critical texts that inspire us, even if we have strong reservations about some of their weaknesses and limitations. Debate and discussion are far from being over…

PS: We would like to say a last thing to all those who, after these not very popular critics, would doubt about our solidarity with proletarians in struggle in the Middle-East and everywhere else: since the emergence of the so-called “Arabian spring”, we did publish no less than five texts and/or leaflets directly dedicated to this issue which are clear-cut affirmations in favour of struggles against misery and exploitation (without counting the various texts of other groups that we translated in Czech, which we made a presentation of, and we distributed through our internationalist militant network). Not only we produced our own texts in the three languages of our group (Czech, English, French) but they were also translated and distributed by various militant expressions all over the world, in German, Arabic, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Turkish…

Class War # December 2014

 

# # #

 

In Rojava: People’s War is not Class War

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce (…)

The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living (…)

The social revolution (…) cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the future. It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped away all superstition about the past. The former revolutions required recollections of past world history in order to smother their own content. The revolution (…) must let the dead bury their dead in order to arrive at its own content.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/ch01.htm

 

Spain in Historical Context

David Graeber’s article, “Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?”, has been widely syndicated in the anarchist and liberal press. In it he talks of the “scandal” of how the social revolution in Western Kurdistan (Rojava) is being ignored by everyone including an undefined “revolutionary left”. He chooses to start on a deliberately subjective note by announcing that his father volunteered to fight for the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War in 1937. He goes on

A would-be fascist coup had been temporarily halted by a worker’s uprising, spearheaded by anarchists and socialists, and in much of Spain a genuine social revolution ensued, leading to whole cities under directly democratic management, industries under worker control, and the radical empowerment of women.

Spanish revolutionaries hoped to create a vision of a free society that the entire world might follow. Instead, world powers declared a policy of “non-intervention” and maintained a rigorous blockade on the republic, even after Hitler and Mussolini, ostensible signatories, began pouring in troops and weapons to reinforce the fascist side. The result was years of civil war that ended with the suppression of the revolution and some of a bloody century’s bloodiest massacres.

I never thought I would, in my own lifetime, see the same thing happen again.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/08/why-world-ignoring-revolutionary-kurds-syria-isis/

Our professor of anthropology […] clearly needs to study history more carefully. The military coup of July 18 1936 against the Second Spanish Republic came after years of class struggle. The Popular Front government of socialists and liberals did not know how to respond but the workers did. When the liberal ministers refused to arm the workers they attacked the barracks of the regime and armed themselves. This unleashed a social revolution which in various parts of Spain was almost as Graeber describes it. However it did not touch the political power of the bourgeois Spanish Republic. The state was not destroyed. The leading anarchists of the CNT-FAI first decided to support the Catalan regional government of the bourgeois Luis Companys and then, only 5 months later, entered the Madrid government with liberals and Stalinists. They decided to put the fight against “fascism” before the social revolution. In so doing they abandoned any working class agenda and delivered the revolution over to the bourgeoisie. It is the most shameful episode in anarchist history and most anarchist historians will agree with that verdict […].

Graeber, though invoking history, turns it upon its head. For him it was the fact that Hitler and Mussolini armed Franco that led to the defeat of the revolution. Not so. It was the abandonment of the social revolution for the military needs of “anti-fascism” that was really to blame. It was the social revolution of July 1936 which had galvanised the mass of the population to begin to fight for themselves and a new society. We are not saying this would have won, given its isolation at the time, but it would have left a more inspiring legacy for us today. In fact the history of the Spanish working class was so different to the rest of Europe (the Spanish bourgeoisie did not enter the First World War, for example) that the Spanish workers found themselves fighting alone. The rest of the European working class had not recovered from the defeat of the revolutionary wave that put an end to the First World War. This defeat had already allowed fascism to be victorious in Italy and Germany.

Imperialist Manipulations

And this had also defined the imperialist context in which the Spanish Civil War came about. Graeber is also not accurate when he says that all the great powers signed up to “non-intervention”. This was the hypocritical policy of the French and British ruling classes who hoped to persuade the Axis powers to attack the USSR (thus leaving them free to pick up the pieces later). They dragged Mussolini in to it in an attempt to split the Axis, but it failed.

In the lead up to the Second World War Stalin’s USSR also had to find a way to try to win allies. It had already made “antifascism” its slogan in November 1935. And on this basis it helped to form of Popular Front governments in Spain and France. The idea was to persuade the Western democracies that they could trust the Soviet “pariah” state. As it was the USSR secretly armed the Spanish Republic from the beginning (apart from Mexico, the only state to do so). And he who pays the piper calls the tune. Although the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) had only 6,000 members in 1936 it was immediately swollen by the defection of the Socialist Party youth led by Santiago Carillo. And it grew significantly bigger by opposing the very social revolution which had started the resistance. The petty bourgeois in Republican Spain flocked to them for defence against the anarchists. And soon Communist ministers appeared in Madrid and the security apparatus (the SIM) was taken over by the PCE. Stalinist stooges like Palmiro Togliatti (“Comrade Ercoli”) and Ernö Gerö were sent to Spain to conduct witchhunts of real revolutionaries. These mainly took place after the debacle of May 1937 in Barcelona where fighting broke out between the CNT and the POUM on one side and the Stalinists on the other. It ended with a truce but with the Stalinists in the driving seat (as the “anti-fascist struggle" was paramount) and more massacres of their opponents on the Republican side. At every stage the Stalinists justified their takeover of the state apparatus by the need to make “the fight against fascism” more effective. All it did was demoralise and destroy the initiative of the masses and pave the way for Franco’s final victory and yet further massacres. Graeber is right that the revolution was suppressed, not by Franco but by the “anti-fascists” he now seeks to emulate.

This is what so many on the left from the Graeber-type anarchos to the traditional Marxist left of Trotskyists and Stalinists cannot fathom. Anti-fascism was the ideology of one side of the 1930s imperialist equation to mobilise the population for imperialist war. It worked. Graeber’s father was not the only one to volunteer for the International Brigades. So did my steelworker Dad in 1938. He was then a 16 year old butcher’s delivery boy and had no strong political views. He was (thankfully!) turned down on grounds of his age but his reaction was precisely what the Allied bloc in the Second World War were counting on to mobilise the working class for yet another slaughter after the “war to end all wars” had ended in 1918. No-one would fight for “King and Country” anymore but plenty thought it worthwhile to risk their lives fighting the evil in fascism.

And once again history partially repeats itself, the tragedy first, the farce to follow. The Graebers, as well as the Stalinists and Trotskyists are dressing themselves upon in the clothes of the past to call for support for the Kurdish nationalists against the “fascist” or “crypto-fascist” Da’esh or IS in Rojava. Now the Da’esh are a monstrous reactionary force perpetrating acts worthy of Genghiz Khan and the Mongols but fighting for or against them is not for an autonomous working class. We should be aware of the imperialist context of what is going on in Syria, Turkey and Iraq before urging anyone to go running off to fight for the PYD […]. The PYD is dominated by the PKK although for diplomatic reasons it says it is not (the PKK is condemned internationally as “terrorist” whilst the PYD is not). The “democratic” or “mutualist” turn of the PKK is largely to try to win support in the West just as “anti-fascism” and the “Popular Front” functioned for Soviet imperialism in the 1930s.

The Da’esh are a creation of the very imperialist coalition that now bombs it […]. Without the US-led dismemberment of the Iraqi state after 2003 there would be no space for the IS to work in. Without the initial arms supply of the Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar the IS would be nothing. And the Kurdish regime in Northern Iraq has been the biggest beneficiary of US policy. Barzani’s Kurdish Democratic Party regime there is a close ally of both the US and Turkey and is exporting its oil to Turkey via a new pipeline recently completed. The IS, having gained its own sources of cash, has broken free of its original imperialist masters and is pursuing its own agenda. Again there are parallels with the 1930s but not the ones our anti-fascists like to think about. In 1939 Stalin abandoned “antifascism” to sign the Hitler-Stalin Pact […] with the very fascists the workers in Spain had supposedly died fighting. Then as now, imperialist imperatives can dictate what the name of the cause is. Whatever Graeber et al. assert, the fight in Syria today is a fight for imperialist control of the territory.

Rojava’s “Social Experiment”

And what is going on in Rojava is not as wonderful as Graeber says. He is merely relaying the propaganda of the PYD. In fact you get the impression (given the relative weight of words devoted to it) that he is more impressed by the “conversion” of the Stalinist Ocalan to the ideas of “libertarian municipalism” of the late Murray Bookchin, an ideology close to Graeber’s heart.

The PKK has declared that it no longer even seeks to create a Kurdish state. Instead, inspired in part by the vision of social ecologist and anarchist Murray Bookchin, it has adopted the vision of “libertarian municipalism”, calling for Kurds to create free, self-governing communities, based on principles of direct democracy, that would then come together across national borders – that it is hoped would over time become increasingly meaningless. In this way, they proposed, the Kurdish struggle could become a model for a worldwide movement towards genuine democracy, co-operative economy, and the gradual dissolution of the bureaucratic nation-state.

Oh that this were true! The PKK have reviewed their strategy, withdrawn their fighters over the Turkish border into Iraq and toned down the Stalinism in an attempt to present themselves as “democratic”. But even Graeber recognises that some “authoritarian elements” remain although he does not elaborate. Let’s help him out. According to the PYD themselves there is a form of dual power with the now famous self-governing communities existing alongside a parliamentary type set-up entirely controlled by the PYD. No surprises for guessing who has the real clout. The PYD have got a virtual monopoly of weapons.1 They are the state. And in each country (Iraq, Iran and Syria) the local Kurdish bourgeoisie has set up its own national entity in the same vein. These might not be recognised by international imperialism but they are states in all but name. In some ways they impinge more on people’s lives than the state in the UK. For example, if you are over 18 you are subject to conscription.2 And as for the supposed internationalism of the PYD, its leader Salih Muslim has threatened to expel all Arabs from “Kurdish” territory in Syria despite the fact that most of them were born there.3 Women may be freer in Kurdistan in general than in the surrounding territories but it’s all relative. There have been many accusations of a rapist/sexist culture in the peshmerga and Ocalan himself seems not only to condone it but to admit to it personally. None of this is discussed in Graeber’s all too brief account of the wonders of Rojava.

The one word missing from Graeber’s account is class. For him Rojava is a “people’s movement” just as the Occupy movement was. The Second World War was on the Allied side touted as a “People’s War”. But “the people” are the nation. The rallying cry of the capitalist class was that they were the representatives of “the people” against the feudal order. But we recognise that the people is an all-class idea. It includes exploiters and exploited. This is why we pose the question of class in opposition to all ideas of the people or “the nation”. Nationalism is the enemy of a working class which owns no private property nor exploits anyone. As Marx put it “Workers have no country”. The class war is not a “people’s war”.

We do recognise that there is a need for many workers to look for inspiring examples of social organisation. This is why we look to the Paris Commune of 1871 or Russia in 1905. It’s also why we look to Spain in the summer of 1936 or Russia in the winter of 1917-18. Neither were perfect but both gave some indication of what the working class was capable of doing. Both were ultimately drowned by imperialist intervention. But they were a lot further down the road to real proletarian autonomy than what is being sold to us today in Rojava or anywhere else in Kurdistan. We are used to the capitalist Left (Trotskyists, Stalinists, Maoists) rushing to support this or that “lesser evil” or lauding this or that model as “really existing socialism” (Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Vietnam etc., etc.) but all they are inviting us to do is enter into the imperialist propaganda games of our rulers. A real social revolution cannot take place inside one country as the history of the 1920s and 1930s shows. If we want to see an autonomous class movement capable of creating a society without classes, exploitation, without states and murderous wars we have to fight for it where we live and work. In the long run we have to create our own class wide organisations […] or whatever is appropriate to the struggle, but we also have to make this part of a conscious fight against capitalism in all its forms. This means that the creation of an international and internationalist political movement, opposed to all national projects today, is an indispensable part of that struggle. This has to be capable of inspiring and uniting the revolutionary consciousness of wider swathes of workers. It’s not as easy or instantly gratifying as sloganising about this or that supposed workers paradise but it is the only road for the emancipation of humanity. […]

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Source: http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2014-10-30/in-rojava-people’s-war-is-not-class-war

1 Even the most pro-PKK/PYD accounts reveal that “The opposition wants to establish their own army, but they are not allowed to by the PYD.” http://www.anarkismo.net/article/27301.

2 See http://aranews.net/2014/07/conscription-law-pyd-calls-syria-kurds-defend-dignity/

3 See Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 3 – 29 November 2013 wrote:

The leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, has warned that the Kurds’ future war would be with Arabs who have settled in the Kurdish areas with the help of the Syrian regime. “One day those Arabs who have been brought to the Kurdish areas will have to be expelled,” said Muslim in an interview with Serek TV. The PYD leader said that the situation in Qamishli and Hasakah is particularly explosive and that “if it continues the same way, there will be war between Kurds and Arabs.” Qamishli is the largest Kurdish city in Syria and Hasakah boasts most of the country’s oil wealth. Muslim’s own armed forces known as People’s Protection Units (YPG) have been in control of Syria’s Kurdish areas for the past year and a half.” This is from a pro-PKK site: http://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/2013/11/29/kurdish-news-weekly-briefing-3-29-november-2013/

 

Theft
Worth while checking out this

Worth while checking out this thread http://libcom.org/forums/news/no-genuine-revolution-interview-graeber-ev... as graeber has joined libcom to further his pro PKK propaganda.

 

From the discussion at the MDF held in November Spikymike had a clear internationalist take, I simply think he is posing questions and as we all should do, is question everything.

Anyway here is the link to the discussion that was lead off by Mike 

“Islamism, Imperialism and the Middle East”

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OMsMvSWHiU

 

baboon
I can't stand much more of

I can't stand much more of this celebrating - I'll just give it another seven or eight days.

 

There's a whole new mass of indigestible text on libcom `supporting the "Rojava experiment". David Graeber, as Theft says, a seriously committed Kurdish nationalist and the cop-trainer supporting wing of libertarian communism. There's loads of detail that is difficult to wade through and the pastel-printed quotations, I can hardly read, but there are volumes of them. I agree with Theft that Spikey has firmed up his internationalist defence in the face of this onslaught.

radicalchains
Quit libcop?

baboon wrote:

I can't stand much more of this celebrating - I'll just give it another seven or eight days.

 

There's a whole new mass of indigestible text on libcom `supporting the "Rojava experiment". David Graeber, as Theft says, a seriously committed Kurdish nationalist and the cop-trainer supporting wing of libertarian communism. There's loads of detail that is difficult to wade through and the pastel-printed quotations, I can hardly read, but there are volumes of them. I agree with Theft that Spikey has firmed up his internationalist defence in the face of this onslaught.

If that's what you call him for arguing the case for revolution in Kurdistan or wherever what on earth would you call him if he was offerring material support or joined the militia/army? What is the cop-trainer bit about?? As far as I can see this guy is no special case but the norm for academic leftists. His proclamations mean nothing. Apart from a certain milieu no one knows who he is or cares. Libcom forums went to shit a while ago. They're dead.

baboon
I don't think it's dead -

I don't think it's dead - amongst all the various elements there are strong internationalist voices as well as others concerned with the support being given to nationalists and nationalism.

To clarify some of the elements above: support for the Rojava "revolution" comes from the anthropologist and anarchist, David Graeber. Graeber supports the PKK local council in Rojava, which acts much the same as a local council in Britain but is in a war zone and has given itself the power to dragoon individuals into its army. It's a capitalist military force. Graeber is also supported by some of the libcom administrators and Aufheben members, a "revolutionary" organisation that has totally supported one of its members who job it is/was to train police forces in crowd control. There's an article on here about it but I can't find a reference. There's further support for the Rojava revolution from a committed Kurdish nationalist called Kurremkarmerruk. Others, for example one named Ocelot, support the PKK for its "feminism", for involving women directly in imperialistwar. There are all sorts of other level of support mainly going along the lines of the lesser evil. But, as I say, there are internationalist elements against these positions and many who are concerned.

radicalchains
  So you mean some of the

 

So you mean some of the people who supported the Aufheben cop trainer are now supporting Graeber? Is Aufheben still around? I thought it was a journal not an organisation. 

I really can't take their forums seriously anymore, the rank individualism of so many commenters, the appalling 'news' articles and the popularity up and down voting. It's not much better than revleft these days.

 

Alf
Graeber and the cop consultant

Not sure that the 'line up' works that way in this discussion. Joseph K, who was the main supporter of the 'cop consultant', seems to be playing a centrist game of 'maybe, maybe not, we need more facts on the ground', etc. I dont recall whether Ocelot took a position on the Aufheben business. On the other hand, I think that Red Marriot, who is defending a rather clear position on Rojava, made his peace with the libcom collectvie over the Aufheben affair, which might have meant falling out with Samotnaf, who I think was his friend and one of the main supporters of the TPTG. So it's a bit of a moral maze....Baboon says Graeber is suported by some of the libcom admins but are any of them taking a clear position?

I agree libcom has declined a great deal but it's still important to keep tabs on it to see what's going on in the libertarianmilieu and baboon is right that some are defending internationalist positions on this issue. 

Alf
posted

I've done a post on the Graeber thread and there have been a couple of replies, first by kurrem, then by radicalgraffiti, then by Joseph K, and then by me again, with much of it touching on the question of method. 

 

jk1921
Centrist?

Alf wrote:

Not sure that the 'line up' works that way in this discussion. Joseph K, who was the main supporter of the 'cop consultant', seems to be playing a centrist game of 'maybe, maybe not, we need more facts on the ground', etc.

Is that being "centrist" or is it not having enough information about what is happening?

Alf
centrism

When i made the point about hatred of 'grand narratives' I had Joseph in mind, since he is very influenced by bourgeois academia with its explict opposition to the 'grand narrative' of historical materialism (in Joseph's case, as with many anarchists, to the notion of ascendance and decadence in particular). To be fair, he did reply to radicalgraffiti who was accusing me of using the notion of imperialism as an abstract ideology with no reference to reality, trying to explain where I was coming from. But I have found most of his interventions on the thread very wishy washy and always prepared to accept that maybe there's something positive going on after all....if more evidence was supplied. Inability to take a clear position faced with fundamental questions like imperialist war is a key aspect of centrism historically. 

Redacted
I tend to agree with Theft

I'm starting to agree with radicalchains regarding Libcom.

What fulfillment or purpose do comrades get from posting in threads like those mentioned here? Taking a principled stand is one thing, using up ones vital energies debating a bunch of intelligent fools does not seem to be worth it, at least to me. I stopped posting on revleft years ago, as well as reddit recently.

Let them say whatever they want, just make sure they link to the correct website (www.internationalism.org)

Cheers

baboon
It's not a question of

It's not a question of fulfillment or purpose but an obligation to proletarian positions to take on a political struggle over what is one of the most important questions facing the working class - where you stand on imperialist war and nationalism. As far as simple numbers are concerned there are more or less clear internationalist voices supporting proletarian positions on the libcom thread referred to than there are on here. It is important for these to be supported in order that the whole discussion is not taken over by centrism, academics and outright nationalists. I don't particularly think that libcom has degenerated, it's always appeared as a unholy mess to me but, if anything, the level of anti-marxist abuse has been attenuated. There is all sorts of sorts of anarcho-academia on the site that's resolutely anti-marxist but what do you expect? Ocelot's latest foray for example equates marxist theory on the development of imperialism with the four stages of the French Enlightenment (don't ask me) and suggests it "Hopelessly irreconciliable with any basic knowledge of human history from the Neolithic revolution to the present". Such garbage does exist on the site but I think it somewhat arrogant to think that we should ignore the fundamental issue and cede the discussion to the bourgeoisie, particularly when there are so many elements who are wavering or uncertain, or giving their unequivocal support to proletarian positions..

Redacted
I think the internationalist

I think the internationalist position has already been made clear in those threads. The positions of the comrades even seem to have won the popularity/upvote contest.

I just still think libcom is a waste of effort. These forums have the richest discussion on the issues in my opinion. Its too bad people dont come debate with us here. If you want to change libcom there are far easier ways to "take it over"...but once again who cares about libcom or 85% of the people posting there?

Fred
baboon is right

I agree with baboon and object to people putting libcom down just because everyone who posts there doesn't sound like Marx. I think it's more worthwhile to post on  libcom than to post on here where everyone agrees with what's being said even before it's said. That's to say we all want the proletarian revolution; we all want the party; we all want more class consciousness and we all wish we could do better posts and had read more stuff but probably won't.  

There are some very intelligent  guys who posts on libcom though some waste their skills on trivialities. It is possible to try and redirect the trivial into more worthwhile directions, especially now the antimarxist abuse has eased off. 

This forum here may have "the richest discussion" but who reads it and who posts here other than the regulars?  And to say you don't care for 85% of the people posting there on libcom....I object strongly to that.  This is crazy elitism and against the ideas of communism.   You may not like what some of these guys post, but their views are open to criticism and change, and isn't it our job as the "enlightened minority", if that's what we think we are,   to spread communist ideas among those who haven't got there yet? Or at least to try, even if it doesn't work on everyone.  To dismiss 85% of libcom participants as hopeless is to say that communism is impossible!  

Sorry Jamal.  I seem doomed to regularly be rubbed up wrong by some of what you say.  I find this both distressing and puzzling. And I am really saddened and sorry. 

Redacted
Well I guess I'm doomed to

Well I guess I'm doomed to seeing libcom as a bunch of lifestyle anarchist activist bullshit. Also there's tons of disagreement on these forums.

lem_
nrt, but last time i was on

nrt, but last time i was on an anarchist board, there seemed to be legit discussion on the legitimacy of GENOCIDE. eh, i wonder what happened to those freaks :/

jk1921
Huh?

Fred wrote:

I think it's more worthwhile to post on  libcom than to post on here where everyone agrees with what's being said even before it's said.

Huh? I am not sure what forum you are talking about Fred. Personally, I do not have the stamina or patience to try to make sense out of Libcom, but if other comrades do--than I don't see why its a problem to attempt to defend proletarian positions there. But one needs to be prepared for the difficulties or I imagine it is very easy to become depressed and jaded. Maybe righfully so at times.

jk1921
OK

Alf wrote:

When i made the point about hatred of 'grand narratives' I had Joseph in mind, since he is very influenced by bourgeois academia with its explict opposition to the 'grand narrative' of historical materialism (in Joseph's case, as with many anarchists, to the notion of ascendance and decadence in particular). To be fair, he did reply to radicalgraffiti who was accusing me of using the notion of imperialism as an abstract ideology with no reference to reality, trying to explain where I was coming from. But I have found most of his interventions on the thread very wishy washy and always prepared to accept that maybe there's something positive going on after all....if more evidence was supplied. Inability to take a clear position faced with fundamental questions like imperialist war is a key aspect of centrism historically. 

 

OK, I don't know the specifics or the history of the discussion, so you are probably right. I can certainly imagine a scenario in which the constant request for more infromation really is a ploy to avoid taking a position, but I think we need to be careful not to characterize genuine caution or confusion pejoratively as "centrism." This of course raises the entire issue of just what centrism is, which I understand has a contentious history in the milieu--but that is probably for another place and time.

Redacted
On libcom the same people

On libcom the same people with the same kinds of positions show up in the same kinds of threads in defense of the same shitty and pointless positions that have little or nothing to do with working class communism. Posting there as a left comm is like flying into a beehive. De facto provacateurs post provokative things when they think the left comms are not watching and we fly in there and take the bait every time. I'm just frankly bored with it if nothing else. And I'm being WAY kinder than libcom generally is towards the ICC on their forums. Every known ICC militant or supporter is voted down two or three times almost automatically regardless of specifics of particular discussions. The ICC talks about the importance of the culture of debate, and in terms of that culture, libcom is like in medieval times. It's a waste of revolutionary potential dealing with all this shit.

Alf
optimism

The ICC's intervention on libcom has been considerably reduced in the last couple of years, for a number of reasons, but I am reluctant to abandon it entirely. You still encounter (mainly young) people who are 'searching', even if the collective that runs it has definitely shown itself an obstacle to any real advance, especially following the Aufheben affair, but also with the increasing domination of anarcho-syndicalism, the weight of parasitism, etc etc. Not so much lifestylist stuff really. I agree we should watch out for provocations, of which there are many.  

Fred is right to post there, but wrong to think that it's more worthwhile than posting here. This forum needs to be built.

Alf
what optimism?

I had originally intended to say that we (the ICC) have been too optimistic about the capacities of the politicised minorities who emerged in he early 2000s - libcom being one expression of this development - and have underestimated the obstacles posed by the present conditions of social decomposition, the difficulties they have experienced in really advancing towards communist positions, and above all a communist position on the organisation question. If we are going to assess where libcom is today, I think we have to situate it in that kind of framework

jk1921
Two Generations?

Alf wrote:

I had originally intended to say that we (the ICC) have been too optimistic about the capacities of the politicised minorities who emerged in he early 2000s - libcom being one expression of this development - and have underestimated the obstacles posed by the present conditions of social decomposition, the difficulties they have experienced in really advancing towards communist positions, and above all a communist position on the organisation question. If we are going to assess where libcom is today, I think we have to situate it in that kind of framework

Yes, that's clearly right. But are there two generations of "emerged" groups here. One in the early 2000s, post-Seattle set in motion by the anti-globalization campaigns etc. and a newer post-2008 crisis generation characterized more by Occupy, Indigandos, etc. or are they roughly speaking the same group?

Alf
generations

I tend to see them as the same, although of course the idea of a 'generation' is never precise. For example, a number of the people on libcom at the beginning had been involved in the ultra-activist anti-capitalist movements you mention, but set up libcom because they were looking for something with a bit more historical substance and more of an orientation towards the working class. It's also true that many of the people involved in the 2010-2013 movements were even younger, but I would tend to see them all as expressions of the same 'flux' in the class movement which lasted from about 2003 to 2013

Redacted
I disagree, only slightly. I

I disagree, only slightly. I think there are some significant differences. My generation is less effected by Stalinism/anti-communism/"the death of communism" compared to someone like jk only about five to ten years older. Also, 9/11, the Iraq War, Katrina...I think these events all played a different role in the development of political thought between the generations.

Occupy I think was very clearly dominated and driven by post-1985ers.

You also can't forget we've had the internet and cell phones basically our whole lives.

baboon
libcom

I'm not going to try to make any bilan of the development of libcom, nor the generational issue, though it's clear that developments on this website are related to general developments of the class struggle.

 

Firstly, I disagree with Fred that libcom is more important than this website but I do agree with him that the libcom site is important and worthwhile. Looking back over the 10 years that I've been posting on there, we (the ICC and sympathisers) went straight onto a learning curve regarding posting and discussion on websites. There was a certain element of a clunky, lecturing, even hectoring tone to some of the posts - as well as inappropriate comments - that got up many peoples noses. It wasn't a great start from us but then it was all very new and entirely different from the type of discussions that we were used to. There's nothing wrong with being wrong as long as you learn from your mistakes and I think that we did that to the point that today posts are much more measured and, as a consequence over time I think, have drawn a greater respect for left communist positions over wider layers.

I think that over the same period any hope we had of an advance or consolodation of the question of organisation has not only not materialised but has actually become prey to more centrifugal forces. This is clear today on the site where various anarchist groups are falling out within and amongst themselves and this comes from the general incomprehension of what revolutionary organisation is and the general "looseness" of the organisations themselves. Is there a deeper crisis of anarchism than there was ten years ago say? I would say that it's the same crisis but it has deepened in relation to the needs of the class struggle. Anarchism is not up to the task and it's showing it.

I agree with Alf on Soffed (amongst other things above). I looked at its website a little while ago and it seems to live in a specific localised atmosphere that is mostly divorced from the real world of capitalism. Even when some anarchists broaden their analyses to take in more historical factors, it tends to get even more specific and unrelated to the global whole. An example of this is Ocelot who, looking at the specific element of Kurdish Rojava, thinks it helpful to go back hundreds of years looking at Kurdish tribal society. It just moves further and further away from the overarching imperialist war in the Middle East and its causes.

Another point to bear in mind that relates to what I believe is the positive nature of the site is that, like this one, the great majority of people reading it do not post anything, therefore it's worth bearing these in mind. Another positive element to the site is the quality of some texts or posts that appear on there - a recent example is the text of the US "ultra" on events in Hong Kong.

Fred
I like your post baboon, but

I like your post baboon, but must point out I never said that "libcom is more important  than this site" even I am not that thick!  It's a small point but irritating for me! 

jk1921
No

Fred wrote:

I like your post baboon, but must point out I never said that "libcom is more important  than this site" even I am not that thick!  It's a small point but irritating for me! 

 

No, but you did say you thought it was "more worthwhile to post on Libcom than to post on here" and then implied that everyone here agrees with one another all the time, which is clearly untrue.

Fred
you're always right jk

Yes you're right jk. I did say I thought it was more worthwhile to post on libcom  etc.  and see no reason to change my tune. But you don't  have to if you don't  want. And I still think that generally speaking the few who post on here do agree with each other most ot the time!  So what?  (Perhaps I should have said "it's more worthwhile for me to post on libcom than on here" as I lack the  necessary background reading for full involvement on this site,)   

 

Incidentally our comrade Leo has been extremely and fascinatingly active on  Libcom this last couple of days.  He could well be changing the  minds of his readers. Do you follow his posts on there? 

jk1921
Right

Fred wrote:

Yes you're right jk. I did say I thought it was more worthwhile to post on libcom  etc.  and see no reason to change my tune. But you don't  have to if you don't  want. And I still think that generally speaking the few who post on here do agree with each other most ot the time!  So what?  (Perhaps I should have said "it's more worthwhile for me to post on libcom than on here" as I lack the  necessary background reading for full involvement on this site,)   

 

Incidentally our comrade Leo has been extremely and fascinatingly active on  Libcom this last couple of days.  He could well be changing the  minds of his readers. Do you follow his posts on there? 

I am not always right, Fred. I don't know if posters on here agree with one another "most of the time" as a matter of statistical fact, but there are often important disagreements that emerge in the course of discussions. It is of course a question of how we deal with those disagreements--the culture of debate. Do we do any better than LibCom and other forums? In some cases, probably not, but that of course is something that needs to be built and developed across the entire proletarain milieu.

lem_
Alf, I would say that it

Alf, I would say that it takes prolonged use and disenfranchisement with libcom to be drawn to icc there. I speak seriously and honestly when I say that the icc posters there at first seemed like an almost nightmarish oddity, i.e. unwanted but tolerated only because anarchism was bang on on anti authoritarianism.

 

FWIW I came to communist theory around the very early 2000s, reading about anarchism etc. in the mainsteam music press. BUT it took workplace discussion to take it at all seriously :/

Tyrion
As a fairly regular libcom

As a fairly regular libcom poster, I think some of the negative characterizations in this thread are quite overstated. I first came to communist politics through involvement in Palestinian solidarity activism and Occupy and general leftist activism and started checking out libcom at the recommendation of an encouraging anarchist friend. I've found the library and forums on there to be enormously educational and they've greatly deepened my understanding of communism, capitalism, and the history of the working class--they've also led me to generally identify with left communist analysis, though I wouldn't call myself one. While there are certainly PKK defenders very visible lately, I don't think it's at all clear that they're the most popular voice in Rojava threads and if anything it seems to me that the opposite is true. Lifestylism and "we have to do something!" activism tends to be roundly mocked and condemned and usually the same goes for national liberationism these days (contentious Rojava issue aside). I really do think that some commenters in this thread are swearing off a very active and widely viewed source of class struggle texts and discussion on the basis of inaccurately harsh judgments, and personally I'd be sad to see baboon, Leo, and other ICC members who post on libcom go.

Redacted
Interesting post:
petey
libcom

i find it hard to speak againt libcom as it was my way back in after decades' absence from politics. there are many excellent posters and good deates there, i've learned so much and been rightly chided sometimes, but i sympathise with jamal. really i've got to learn not to pop off when i read the identity-politcs posts, of which there are many (at least too many for me).

baboon
I welcome the post of Petey

I welcome the post of Petey above and support of the position of Tyrion above that.