Middle East: The historical obsolescence of the nation state

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Hawkeye
Middle East: The historical obsolescence of the nation state
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Middle East: The historical obsolescence of the nation state. The discussion was initiated by Hawkeye.
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Hawkeye
Middle East:The historical obsolescence of the nation state

The article is clear enough.  What is not clear, at least to me, is just how areas of large population can organise their economic requirements without the traditional form of a state.  Immediately notions of workers' councils spring to mind, but how long will it take for enough to be formed to then arrange for co-ordination for such large enterprises as running railways and so on ?  Also, there are questions as to whether or not the working class needs some sort of its own police force, because unfortunately, so far, we do not entirely consist of philanthropists, whether or not that will be amended by the benefits of the sort of communism advocated as necessary by the communist left. Presumably it assist in persuading workers that ICC perspectives are practical propositions when some credible answers are made known.

lem_
I never know what it meant by

I never know what it meant by "siezing state power", I assume it invloves the councils organising to overthrow existing state power, so, their police force, capitalist owned media and transport systems. i.e., i would assume that, whether or not the whole thing is on the hoof, it is somewhat reactive and according to the demands not just of the councils but organisation necessary to defend them as well as spreading the struggle to other areas of resistance.

i.e. it would involve "communism" and would entail a kind of civil war quite different to a democratic inspired defence against fascists. that, to (i think) quote bordiga, this comes first, not the demands of the individual work place. ideally, anyway:

"To declare that they are the proletariat's organs of liberation, without mentioning the role of the party, after the fashion of the programme adopted at the Congress of Bologna, seems mistaken in our view. To maintain, alter the fashion of the Turin L'Ordine Nuovo comrades, that even before the collapse of the bourgeoisie the workers' councils are organs, not only of political struggle, but of technico-economic training in the communist system, can only be seen as a return to socialist gradualism. This latter, whether it is called reformism or syndicalism, is defined by the mistaken belief that the proletariat can achieve emancipation by making advances in economic relations while capitalism still holds political power through the State."

this isn't really me stating my opinion, as much as trying to move the discussion on in the manner i would like...

Demogorgon
Quote:What is not clear, at

Quote:
What is not clear, at least to me, is just how areas of large population can organise their economic requirements without the traditional form of a state.  Immediately notions of workers' councils spring to mind, but how long will it take for enough to be formed to then arrange for co-ordination for such large enterprises as running railways and so on?

Workers councils (and their precursors) are formed during the pre-revolutionary struggle. Until they are formed, a revolutionary struggle isn't on the cards so the question of seizing direct control of the means of production isn't an issue anyway.

Quote:
Also, there are questions as to whether or not the working class needs some sort of its own police force, because unfortunately, so far, we do not entirely consist of philanthropists, whether or not that will be amended by the benefits of the sort of communism advocated as necessary by the communist left. Presumably it assist in persuading workers that ICC perspectives are practical propositions when some credible answers are made known.

The revolutionary working class will certainly need an armed force that will take on some policing duties. Such a force would be under the control of the councils with its members and leaders delegated from the council structure and subject to immediate recall. One historical example can be found here: "A 300­ man force of labor war veterans was recruited to maintain peace and security. These worker guards carried no weapons, and wore only white armbands to identify them. They used their power of persuasion and the authority of the General Strike Committee to defuse difficult situations and preserve order."

The article also gives some interesting examples of how the Committee in the Seattle strike managed local services.

lem_
Quote:Workers councils (and

Quote:
Workers councils (and their precursors) are formed during the pre-revolutionary struggle. Until they are formed, a revolutionary struggle isn't on the cards so the question of seizing direct control of the means of production isn't an issue anyway.

how are you defining workers councils? i thought they were organisations formed to sieze the workplace, or which have control of it

Demogorgon
Soviets and Factory Committees

Workers councils (or soviets) reach far beyond the workplace, but unify workers on a territorial basis. In the period of dual power in Russia, workers formed the soviets which regrouped workers in the cities (the most famous being the Petrograd soviet) and eventually most of the country.

The workplace organs of this period were the factory committees, which functioned in a similar manner as the soviets (directly elected, recallable delegates, etc.).

Hawkeye
Two aspects of CL Marxism

There are two main aspects of communist left Marxism, which are the descriptions of all that is wrong for the working class with imperialist capitalism and then arguments for the necessity of communism as a total alternative to capitalist imperialism.  Even without much knowledge of theoretical Marxism, millions of workers directly know of what capitalism is doing to them and not doing for them, but when we look at the second aspect, we are perpetually urged to adopt what is mostly an article of faith that somehow a socialist economy run by workers will get rid of all that is wrong with the status quo, but, so far, without any clear advice to workers as to how a socialist economy without the use of money is to be planned and run.  We are expected to believe that although a scientific materialist view is essential, the CL deny that any actual plans in advance of revolution are needed.  Really ? How many workers will agree with that?

Demogorgon
A class that thinks for itself or does what it's told?

Marx made the point that communism isn't a plan dreamt up by a bunch of intellectuals but the real movement that changes things, the actual actions of workers acting as a class. A working class that abandons bourgeois ideology only to adopt communist "ideology" developed by a minority (even if that is a minority of workers) is not a revolutionary class at all but one that has yet to develop its own consciousness, that has yet to become a class for itself. A working class that demands communists present it with a plan is not a class ready to take power.

The irony is that workers didn't need communists to tell them to form combinations, unions, factory committees or soviets. It's hardly an "article of faith" but actual historical reality. Nor is anyone saying that it's going to be a path strewn with flowers towards utopia. Again, historical reality showed us that the first steps towards proletarian rule will be difficult and, most likely, chaotic. Certainly, this was the case in Russia at some moment.

Of course, the working class might fail. But if the working class proves incapable of unifying itself as a class, of developing a true mass consciousness, of being unable to "run the economy"*, etc. then it is condemmed to remaining intellectually subordinate to minorities and thus, ultimately, being materially subordinate to them. In that case, communism is nothing but an empty dream.

* In fact, the aim of a communist revolution would be to dismantle the "economy" i.e. subordinating productive forces to conscious control as opposed to remaining subject to forces that confront us as an alien force somehow outside of the sphere of human activity.

lem_
I'm just surprised by the

I'm just surprised by the apparent claim that "dual power" doesn't involve (partial) seizure of the means of production :-)

Hawkeye
A class thinking for itself by 2016

Thank you for your response, but it leaves me wondering whether the events in Russia of  1917 are of any use whatsovever as lessons for workers around the world today.  So much has changed technically, especially in ways of communicating, that that in itself is of much greater tactical relevance, both in terms of co-ordination of struggles and of potential for planning those, and further ahead.  It is capitalism that is chaotic, whereas workers moving towards its overthrow may be able to avoid repeats of the sorts of chaos experienced in the largely unplanned situations of 1917 onwards.  It is not a matter of whether or not the working class is capable or incapable, but rather one of whether or not communists can adequately assess and advise what exactly will be required, step by step.  If communists think that they know best politically, but don't do so, then, yes, chaos is more likely again.

lem_
I think if worker's are going

I think if worker's are going to bite the bullet, then it will be due to more than economic pressures. i.e. the whole rotten edifice of capitalism. Even that too much emphasis on how society would cope with economic demands, could be counter productive.

For me, to myself, I just think: look things could be better. Of course that could be due to my personal failure

lem_
So who "siezes state power",

So who "siezes state power", one would assume that the hands of any comunist party would be involved? So perhaps there will to be several groups who take power, the councils, the left, communists. And the task, then, is to make sure it doesn't fall to the left, and all power to the councils as soon as this is achieved.