Book Review - The Alternative to Capitalism

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jk1921
Book Review - The Alternative to Capitalism
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Book Review - The Alternative to Capitalism. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.
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jk1921
Interesting review. I think

Interesting review. I think the issue of the "transition period" is an important one. On one level the idea that socialism could be insituted immediately after the revolution seems assinine, but I think this begs the question as to why a theorist of Crump's caliber could argue for such a thing? Where is this coming from? I suspect that there is a confusion of "transition period" with "state capitalism," but the issues do seem to go deeper and beg an exploration of how captialism can be transformed towards socialism if it is impossbile to develop new economic relationships within capitalism? How does this relate to the issue of the state, etc.? On communisation theory, I actually thought that there wasn't so much a rejection of a "transition period" as there was a fetishization of a decentralized mode of transition taking place before a confrontation with the state, i.e. the so-called rejection of the "proletarian condition."?

slothjabber
I think so too

I was heartened to read this piece in WR. As someone with a long-standing interest in the SPGB (while at the same time being utterly frustrated with them) it's good to see the ICC trying to critically engage with them and their tradition.

 

Two SPGBers attended the ICC dayschool in summer, and during this year several SPGBers have come to MDF discussions. Does this represent a new mood of openess in 'Britain's oldest socialist party'? From some of the comments on the SPGB website here - http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/general-discussion/icc-review-a... - and here - http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/general-discussion/icc-way-and-... - (as well as from anecdotal evidence) it seems that some at least some in the SPGB regard the ICC (and other Left Communist groups) not as 'enemies' but as genuine proletarian organisations with which the SPGB has some profound disagreements - which is pretty much my view of the SPGB.

 

It seems the famous 'hostility clause' of the SPGB's statutes - http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/our-object-and-declaration-principles - is perhaps not always as hostile as it appears. From converstaions with members and ex-members of the organisation, and reference to some of the comments in the threads linked to above, it seems clear that at least some in the SPGB believe that the SPGB itself (whatever part 8 of the Declaration of Principles might say) is not itself 'the party seeking working class emancipation' (part 7) but, like the ICC's conception of its own organisation as being 'not the Party but for the (World Communist) Party', being part of the matrix from which the genuine 'party seeking working class emancipation' will emerge.

 

On the question of immediate socialisation/communisation, this depends to a great extent on how one sees 'the revolution' going, which in part also touches on the question of 'consciousness'. We've all, I suspect, argued with LBird long enough on this site to know that in his view class consciousness develops before the revolution and not during. The SPGB have the same view, it seems to me (in fact, I recommended to LBird some months ago that he check out the SPGB as he'd find a lot of common ground with them). This means that the revolution, for the SPGB, is pretty much the end of the process of transforming society. Thus there is no need of a long period 'after' the revolution. What is left to be one? Merely, to use the massive productive capacity that capitalism has created supply all human needs.

 

As, for the SPGB, the revolution is also a relatively peaceful affair - the vast majority is convinced of socialism and it is impossible for capital to effectively mobilise opposition against this rising socialist consciousness - there is no 'tidying up' to do. There is no years- or decades-long world civil war in their conception, and therefore no (perhaps long) period of rebuilding necessary. The 'hard work' for the SPGB is now - the generalisation of socialist consciousness. If that happens enough, for the SPGB the rest of the process is fairly unproblematic, it seems.

 

In this sense, communisation is not 'immediate' as in 'it could happen now'. It is 'immediate' in that it can happen immediately after the revolution, but the revolution cannot happen now, because there is no generalised socialist consciousness. For the ICC and other 'Leninists' (I use the term somewhat ironically) the working class is pushed to revolution because of its circumstances in capitalism, and in the process it becomes aware of itself as a class with its own interests opposed to capitalism and the state. This process can happen and is happening all the time, and could errupt in a short time to a real revolutionary situation very rapidly. Consciousness develops in a revolutionary situation much more rapidly than under capitalist hegemony. The 'objective conditions' (which for the ICC are primarily the conditions of the development of capitalist production and technology) are complete; it is the 'subjective conditions' (working class combativity) that is lacking. For the SPGB this seems to make no sense, as 'consciousness' (ie the will to take up an active fight against capitalism) is itself an 'objective condition'.

 

Both organisations agree that capitalism itself has done all that it needs to do in a historical sense. The SPGB does not accept 'decadence' as the ICC understands it but it does see capitalism as 'obsolete' - or, certainly some in the SPGB do. Indeed, the foundation of the SPGB in 1904 was predicated on the idea that capitalism had no progressive role to play for society, and that the task of the working class is to struggle for socialism. In this sense, the SPGB was ahead of Luxemburg, Lenin and Pannekoek in the early 20th century in seeing that capitalism no longer had any historic role - in beginning to outline a critique of the decadence of capitalism in fact.

 

 

LBird
Confirmation of dream

slothjabber wrote:
On the question of immediate socialisation/communisation, this depends to a great extent on how one sees 'the revolution' going, which in part also touches on the question of 'consciousness'. We've all, I suspect, argued with LBird long enough on this site to know that in his view class consciousness develops before the revolution and not during. The SPGB have the same view, it seems to me (in fact, I recommended to LBird some months ago that he check out the SPGB as he'd find a lot of common ground with them). This means that the revolution, for the SPGB, is pretty much the end of the process of transforming society. Thus there is no need of a long period 'after' the revolution.

I'd just like to confirm the accuracy of sj's account of my current views, on the timing of the development of class consciousness, and of what I consider that implies regarding a 'transition' period, ie., little or none.

Simply put, the proletarian revolution must be the end act of a process of development by an entire class already having come to a Communist consciousness.

jk1921
To clarify a bit: I don't

To clarify a bit: I don't think the ICC (or left communism historically) sees class consciousness as only maturing in the revolutionary period. Consciousness develops under captialism, but it does so "subterreaneanly." You can't mesure it or see it through the methods that are typically used by bourgeois social scientists to measure these things. It only emerges into full view in an immediate pre-revolutionary/revolutionary situation, which is how it ca appear to explode out of nowhere or be a pure act of spontaneity for some. This is the critical difference. In fact, I think the ICC has a long running polemic with organizations/groups that think that in between periods of open struggle there is no class consciousness (origin of the EFICC split).

Of course, the idea of subterreanean class conscious continues to be highly controversial and rightly so. It is also true that this idea is not an invention of the ICC, but has its origins in Marx himself.

Still, I think we have a more fundamental problem when it comes to the transition and that is that if it is truly impossible to change capitalism into something else, what sense does it make to talk about a "transition," shouldn't we instead be talking about a "break"? I think perhaps this is what in part lies behind Crump's view, but also the ideas of communisation in which the proletariat has to "reject" the proletarian condition rather than go through some transition process, which first involves an affirmation of itself as a category of capital.

So, I am not quite clear where the communisation trend stands on a "transition period." Somebody enlighten me.

Fred
the cart before the horse

LBird says:

Quote:
Simply put, the proletarian revolution must be the end act of a process of development by an entire class already having come to a Communist consciousness.
 

If that's the case then I'm glad I've decided not to post on this site anymore.  

 

Its like saying: you're not allowed to run without leg shackles till you can run a mile in 3 minutes. Or: you're not allowed to post on leftcom. till  you can say things like Marx and Rosa Luxemburg used to write.   Or: you're not allowed to develop a communist consciousness till you've achieved one on a mass scale, in advance of knowing what a communist consciousness is, which you won't find out till after the revolution when you start to develop it and, in the process, invent it! 

If this anti-evolutionary way of seeing things was, or had ever been a reality for us all, then we'd still be hopping about in the trees wouldn't we? 

LBird
If the mass can't know...

Fred wrote:
...in advance of knowing what a communist consciousness is...

By this logic, Fred, neither you, I, nor the ICC can 'know what a communist consciousness is' before a revolution.

That is, unless one separates out a minority who can and do 'know', and contrast this with a majority who can't and don't 'know', until after a revolution which will have either been directed by a minority or will have been entirely undirected.

No, I think a mass communist consciousness is possible, purely because you, I and the ICC do already have some conception of it, and we are willing to develop it further. If it's possible for us to do this, then it's possible for the rest of the proletariat to do likewise.

I've no time for the notion that 'blind' action will lead to 'consciousness'. 'Unconscious' action will just as likely lead to nationalism and wars.

LBird
'Subterreanean' for whom?

jk1921 wrote:
Consciousness develops under captialism, but it does so "subterreaneanly." You can't mesure it or see it through the methods that are typically used by bourgeois social scientists to measure these things. It only emerges into full view in an immediate pre-revolutionary/revolutionary situation, which is how it ca appear to explode out of nowhere or be a pure act of spontaneity for some.

For 'whom' is this consciousness 'subterreanean'?

'Who' can't 'measure' or 'see' it?

Surely the class itself, which is the entity which is developing this 'consciousness', can 'see' it, and indeed 'feel' it, from its own perspective?

If it's 'hidden' from 'full view', this can only be from the bourgeois perspective.

Fred
[quote=LBird]By this logic,

[quote=LBird]By this logic, Fred, neither you, I, nor the ICC can 'know what a communist consciousness is' before a revolution.

I quite agree with you LBird.  I don't think we'll know what a communist consciousness fully is till we've got communism. And when might that be? I don't know.  Maybe it'll be an ongoing discovery that never completely ends. Didn't Marx think that "communism" wouldn't necessarily be  humanity's final goal?  That our evolution into and beyond communism is thus a  continuing process that can hardly really finish, unless we stop evolving.  Or unless the bourgeoisie destroys us all before we even begin.  Surely the beginning of our amazing journey into communism and beyond, starts, and only properly starts, after we escape the imprisonments of capital. And I agree with you about consciousness - I think?  I believe from experience that consciousness can be "felt" and measured against the identification and thus loss of  (sort of) false consciousness called ideology.  Maybe it is  subterranean (in the "subconscious - but that's Freud and you won't like that comrade   LBird).  That  is to say for one reason or another you don't know that it's there, or what exactly it is that's bugging you  -  but then something happens that makes it all click.  (I'm not being very scientific. Please excuse me!) I have called the "clicking" process a EUREKA moment. I think that Jamal once confirmed on this web site that he knew what this was and had presumably had it himself.  (Very poor science all this.)  For me a "first contact" with ICC comrades did the trick, and everything fell in place.  History suddenly made sense.  My private ruminations, which I felt could be a kind of lunacy, were confirmed as the historical political achievements of the working class.  And Marx suddenly made sense too.   It was hidden but suddenly came into view.  Consciousness I mean. Or at least a modicum of it.  Enough to make me start to understand how much more there is to  consciousness; and how we will (not under capital!) expose, attain, develop and grow it together when we are in the process of building the society which will embody it and love it,and want more of it. Communist society that is.  Yes. The class that is developing this consciousness can see it and feel it from its own perspective  as you say LBird.  I agree. Where we disagree is how much we need to  have of it , or even CAN have  of it, in advance of overthrowing our capitalist chains.     

LBird
Ruptures for individuals and society?

Fred wrote:
That is to say for one reason or another you don't know that it's there, or what exactly it is that's bugging you - but then something happens that makes it all click. (I'm not being very scientific. Please excuse me!) I have called the "clicking" process a EUREKA moment. ... For me a "first contact" with ICC comrades did the trick, and everything fell in place. History suddenly made sense. My private ruminations, which I felt could be a kind of lunacy, were confirmed as the historical political achievements of the working class. And Marx suddenly made sense too. It was hidden but suddenly came into view. Consciousness I mean. Or at least a modicum of it. Enough to make me start to understand how much more there is to consciousness...

Yeah I think we all know what you mean: suddenly, class, communism, history, Marx... all seem to make sense.

But this 'eureka' moment is essentially, I think, a moment that an individual comes to consciousness, at least, of the problem. Of course, it's always part of a person's social development and awareness, helped by their experiences and the comrades that they meet and talk to, but it's still an individual moment.

In times like these, it seems very few workers have that moment, but at other times many workers, very quickly, experience 'eureka'.

But... I still think that it is essentially an individual awakening, an awakening to one's non-individuality, if you like.

I think that the SPGB have been accused of trying to bring consciousness 'individual by individual'. I'm not sure if they'd accept this, but even so, I think that that is precisely what we communists have to do. Persuade other workers, a majority. Perhaps in some periods the 'individual conversion' will take place in drips, and in others like a nuclear chain-reaction, which tremendously quickly passes from one to another.

To me, the idea that workers will suddenly, from nowhere, develop a class consciousness strong enough to produce a successful revolution, is incorrect. It will be a long, drawn out, educative process. And the number of 'eureka' moments that have already happened will have to be very widespread. I think those who experience that moment at the moment of revolution, from no prior understanding, will be very few. I think that the proletariat will have to have already taken on a mass class consciousness, so great that it will already be familiar to those workers who haven't yet had their eureka moment, and for whom the revolution wll be the point of persuasion.

As you might imagine, I don't think much of the theory of 'subterreanean' consciousness. We'll all be able to tell well enough when the time is ripening, and the possibility exists. It won't be a 'consciousness' in a few homes, or in the heads of a few train passengers, but a 'consciousness' of the sort that is in common usage at workers' mealtimes, and getting on any train will expose one to dozens of conversations about communism and its possibilities.

I don't think that this sort of consciousness has yet ever existed, neither in Russia nor Germany, and as I consider this consciousness to be an objective requirement for a successful revolution, I don't think that the 'objective conditions' have ever existed, never mind in 1914, and not even in 1918-19.

Finally, if comrades argue that only a minority consciousness can exist, and the revolution is the affair of that minority, then I think that this would prove that Marx was wrong.

Communism must be a mass, democratic movement of the vast majority of humans on this planet, consciously striving to liberate themselves, which grows ever stronger. And these individual ruptures must take place before the social rupture.

jk1921
Huh?

LBird wrote:

Fred wrote:
...in advance of knowing what a communist consciousness is...

By this logic, Fred, neither you, I, nor the ICC can 'know what a communist consciousness is' before a revolution.

That is, unless one separates out a minority who can and do 'know', and contrast this with a majority who can't and don't 'know', until after a revolution which will have either been directed by a minority or will have been entirely undirected.

No, I think a mass communist consciousness is possible, purely because you, I and the ICC do already have some conception of it, and we are willing to develop it further. If it's possible for us to do this, then it's possible for the rest of the proletariat to do likewise.

I've no time for the notion that 'blind' action will lead to 'consciousness'. 'Unconscious' action will just as likely lead to nationalism and wars.

Did you just contradict yourself within this very post? On the one hand you return to your old elite slamming critique of those who would purport to know things the mass of the proletariat doesn't and then you state that you do in fact know things the mass of the proletariat doesn't. Which one is it?

jk1921
Social Democratic consciousness

LBird wrote:

jk1921 wrote:
Consciousness develops under captialism, but it does so "subterreaneanly." You can't mesure it or see it through the methods that are typically used by bourgeois social scientists to measure these things. It only emerges into full view in an immediate pre-revolutionary/revolutionary situation, which is how it ca appear to explode out of nowhere or be a pure act of spontaneity for some.

For 'whom' is this consciousness 'subterreanean'?

'Who' can't 'measure' or 'see' it?

Surely the class itself, which is the entity which is developing this 'consciousness', can 'see' it, and indeed 'feel' it, from its own perspective?

If it's 'hidden' from 'full view', this can only be from the bourgeois perspective.

This seems a reversion to the old conceptions of consciousness in Social Democracy in which it is built up incrementally and measured in things like election results, union membership, class identity, etc.

LBird
Old and new

jk1921 wrote:
This seems a reversion to the old conceptions of consciousness in Social Democracy in which it is built up incrementally and measured in things like election results, union membership, class identity, etc.
[my bold]

Could you list the 'new' conceptions of consciousness, and suggest how these are 'built up' and 'measured', please, jk?

slothjabber
On the elitism of anti-elitists

jk1921 wrote:

Did you just contradict yourself within this very post? On the one hand you return to your old elite slamming critique of those who would purport to know things the mass of the proletariat doesn't and then you state that you do in fact know things the mass of the proletariat doesn't. Which one is it?

 

The notion that communist theory is delivered to the proletariat is an elitist notion. Contrary to the Marxist conception, that the proletariat develops it theory through its struggles, the idea that communism is 'learned' - that consciousness is a matter of aquiring theory rather than developing it - is precisely the idea that Kautsky had, and Lenin is criticised for whenever 'What Is To be Done?' is mentioned.

 

For Marxists, it is class struggle that produces class consciousness and revolutionary minorities. Every action by the working class in defence of its interests produces a spark from which the class can develop its consciousness. It may produce revolutionary minorities, it may not; but it is at least an example for other workers even if none of those involved in the action develop politically. Small actions produce small reflections; massive actions produce more massive reflections; a revolution produces the biggest reflection of all. The reflection, however, cannot preceed that which it is reflecting.

 

For the 'socialist intellectuals' like Kautsky, the SPGB or LBird, it is class consciousness that produces class struggle. The revolution cannot happen until the majority is convinced of the correct socialist formulae. This means of course that the problem is squarely the working class. The small minorities of socialists are not enough for the revolution. The rest of the working class must still be convinced. But what are the socialists to do? The workers, for some reason, do not listen. Oh, if only the lumpen workers would listen to the wisdom of their enlightened socialist teachers! Still, those enlightened socialists will bravely attempt again and again to fill up the empty heads of the workers with the correct theory.

 

For the SPGB, and for LBird, the working class has nothing to teach the socialists; this I would hazard is why LBird wants to exclude non-communists from the workers' councils. Only the enlightened may be permitted to administer society, only those who have learned the correct theory will be privileged to decide for the rest. And we move effortlessly from Leninism (only communists in the councils), through theocracy (and professions of faith) to Plato's ideal Republic, where wise philosopher-kings reject passion to assume benign, enlightened and autocratic rule over the inert masses. Such is the outcome of the idea that LBird and the SPGB share, that the proletariat doesn't learn through its own struggles, that consciousness is a matter of intellectual appreciation.

 

And I say this as someone who quite likes the SPGB, of course.

LBird
What's missing?

slothjabber wrote:
And I say this as someone who quite likes the SPGB, of course.

And as someone who neglects to mention democracy, sj!

slothjabber
Funny kind of democracy...

... that dis-enfranchises workers who do not have a profession of faith in communism.

 

The 'dictatorship of the proletariat' is not the 'dictatorship of the communists' as you seem to believe.

 

But in the end 'democracy' is only possible after capitalism has been destroyed and there are no more classes.

jk1921
SMC (Again)

LBird wrote:

jk1921 wrote:
This seems a reversion to the old conceptions of consciousness in Social Democracy in which it is built up incrementally and measured in things like election results, union membership, class identity, etc.
[my bold]

Could you list the 'new' conceptions of consciousness, and suggest how these are 'built up' and 'measured', please, jk?

You'd have to reference the lengthy discussion of subterrean maturation of consciousness (SMC), LBird. Whatever one thinks about it, it is an attempt to navigate between the poles of Social Democracy (taken over by official communism), which sees consciousness as evident and visible through the structures of bourgeois democracy (party membership, election results, etc.) and the cult of pure spontaneity for which consciousness does not really exist outside of moments of open struggle--it just kind of explodes as a result of local and contingent events. I think that there is a "measurement" problem for SMC, but I don't have a position on whether or not this is a fatal flaw. I am still mulling that over.

But, I think the main issues raised by Crump's book are getting lost here. How do we transform capitalism into communism, if it is impossible for capitalism to become something other than itself? What is the relationship to the state? Is there really a transition or is it more of a break? If so, what does this mean exactly? Do we have to start from scratch? Perhaps it is not so much capitalism that prepares the ground for communism but industrial society (thinking back to Demo's distinction between the two in the Eco-Decadence thread)? Can we really seperate the two?

LBird
Democratic content

slothjabber wrote:
But in the end 'democracy' is only possible after capitalism has been destroyed and there are no more classes.

This is at the heart of where we disagree, sj. The communist movement must be democratic, all proletarian political organisations must be democratic, as this will foreshadow our political methods under communism.

While you keep reading what I write without this centrality of democracy, then you'll misunderstand what I'm arguing.

Of course, you can still disagree with me, but if you want to understand my argument, then you have to accept this essential democratic content of my views, whether you or the ICC think it is possible or not. Otherwise, you'll have a false impression, as you do have (with your talk of 'elitism'), so far, of my views.

LBird
Theory and practice?

jk1921 wrote:
But, I think the main issues raised by Crump's book are getting lost here. How do we transform capitalism into communism, if it is impossible for capitalism to become something other than itself? What is the relationship to the state? Is there really a transition or is it more of a break? If so, what does this mean exactly? Do we have to start from scratch?

These are all fundamental questions, jk. But to answer them, we have to discuss notions of 'consciousness' and the nature of 'proletarian organisation'.

One's stance on those issues will determine one's answers, to a great extent, to your questions, above.

jk1921
Reductionism?

LBird wrote:

jk1921 wrote:
But, I think the main issues raised by Crump's book are getting lost here. How do we transform capitalism into communism, if it is impossible for capitalism to become something other than itself? What is the relationship to the state? Is there really a transition or is it more of a break? If so, what does this mean exactly? Do we have to start from scratch?

These are all fundamental questions, jk. But to answer them, we have to discuss notions of 'consciousness' and the nature of 'proletarian organisation'.

One's stance on those issues will determine one's answers, to a great extent, to your questions, above.

It sounds like you are making a reductionist argument that the only thing worth discussing is consciousness. I'll just say this about your "educative" approach to consciousness. How to you purport that this task of educating the working class could be carried out? Wouldn't it require some kind of institutional structure with sufficient size, resources and weight within capitalist society in order to reach the masses of the working class and "educate them"? This seems to be precisely the approach of Social Demcoracy and later the official communist parties and is of course the approach of the bourgeois left today from the Trotsyists to post-Gramscians. I can't see this approach ending in anything other than a reintegration of these insitutions into the state--precisely the fate of Social Democracy and the official communist parties. (I am using the phrase "official communist parties" rather than Stalinists, because the turn towards these methods preceded Stalinization, i.e. the KPD under Paul Levi).

Unless by "education" you mean something completely different, like the education that comes from the class struggle, but if this is the case you aren't as far away from the ICC as you think. But this would seem to be belied by your insistence that the working class obtain some kind of empirically visible communist consciousness in the broadest sense before any revolutionary action takes place. If this were the case, however, it would seem to make the revolution almost unecessary, we could just vote communism into being, so maybe you aren't so far from the SPGB as you think?

jk1921
In terms of educating the

In terms of educating the masses, one only needs to look at the fate of the current campaign against religion waged by the so-called "New Atheists"--people like Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, etc. to see the limits of such an approach For this tendency, religion is an unquestioned evil and should be eradicated from the planet. Agnosticism is an act of intellectual dishonesty and the approach of some, like Stephen Jay Gould, who argue that science and religion inhabit mutually exclusive spheres, is a form of appeasement.

Thus, they have taken it upon themselves to attempt to "educate" the public out of their religious sentiments. They have made films, put billboards on the side of London tranist buses, written numerous books, gone on every talk show possible to "publicize" the scientific view against religious bigotry and ignorance.

How much success have they had? It is likely true that that they have successfully convinced a few individuals to drop their religious beliefs in favor of the scientific approach, but have they had any luck in moving the broad religious masses their direction? Proably not much. While it may be true that religious belief is on the decline in the West in general, is this due to the progaganda work of Dawkins and company or  broader historical, social and cultural changes within captialist society that require a more critical and independent minded work force? Moreover, while religion may be in decline in the West, many surveys suggest it is actually on the rise in the Thrid World and even within the West, those who believe often tend to cling harder to their faith in the face of Dawkins and company's harsh and aggressive attacks.

Of course, the approach to religion touted by the New Atheisits is in direct opposition to that developed by Marx, who argued that religion is not simply an error in thinking, an intellectual mistake that can be corrected by showing the believer the truth. Religious belief had a deeper origin, rooted in the social conditions of class society. It could not be transcended on its own--the social conditions that produces religion must themselves be overthrown. (I suppose there is some question as to whether the type of captialism we are experiencing today is moving in the direction of transcending religion itself, but if it is, this would seem to be condemed to be incomplete)

This was also Pannekoek's approach in his famous (strawman) attack on Lenin's materialism. The Bolshevik Party had revealed its middle class nature in the form of its middle class materialism that suggested one could win a "battle of ideas" with religion, without understanding the social and historical (material) forces that produced religious belief in the first place.

It seems to me that this idea of an individual educative process producing communist consciousness as an objective pre-requisite of the revolution repeats all the mistakes of Social Democracy and the New Atheisits. Moreover, it completely underestimates the massive material resources that would be necessary to win some kind of campaign of ideas on this level. It would almost certainly require the resources of the state to accomplish, which is in large measure how oerganizations that set off on these kinds of campaigns end up as appendages of the state. Of course, even state power can be inadequate for such a task, as even the Stalinist states were unable to completely stamp out religious belief.

We see these ideas come up time and time again. Most of the time they seem to be born of frustration that we aren't doing enough to "reach people," that we are wallowing in our own isolation, that we are passively waiting for objective conditions to effectuate a change in workers' consciousness when we could get up off our own buts and do something about it. Of course, the "Leninist" (really the caricature of Leninism) implications of such an approach are fairly transperant, I think.

Fred
Just tried to post, but got

Just tried to post, but got my now usual "Validation error, please try again" dismissal.  Tiresome! 

Fred
LBird wrote: The communist

LBird wrote:
The communist movement must be democratic, all proletarian political organisations must be democratic, as this will foreshadow our political methods under communism.
 

Of course the communist movement will be democratic else it won't be communism will it? But proletarian political organizations can't be democratic by definition. They're proletarian!  The Dictatorship of the Proletariat isn't democratic, its a dictatorship.  But if by some miracle the whole of society has achieved a communist consciousness in advance of the revolution to overthrow capitalist relations of production, then the need for a proletarian dictatorship and a transition from a capitalist society to a communist one, has also gone as well I suppose. This is convenient but a bit like Alice in Wonderland where things you want to have happen take place "just like that" as Tommy Cooper would say. 

As to the foreshadowing of "our political methods under communism" this made me shiver.  Surely there won't be any  "political methods" under communism, for a full democracy will have been achieved, and politics - as in the exercise of some domination by somebody  over everyone else - will have been superseded by....well, democracy!   And regarding the "our" as in "our political methods..." Who is the "our"?  This gave me the willies.  

 

 

Fred
A good quote from jk about

A good quote from jk about "education"  bourgeois style - all phony and dead - and the EDUCATION   that arises from the class struggle - all organic and alive.

jk wrote:
 I'll just say this about your "educative" approach to consciousness. How to you purport that this task of educating the working class could be carried out? Wouldn't it require some kind of institutional structure with sufficient size, resources and weight within capitalist society in order to reach the masses of the working class and "educate them"? This seems to be precisely the approach of Social Demcoracy and later the official communist parties and is of course the approach of the bourgeois left today from the Trotsyists to post-Gramscians. I can't see this approach ending in anything other than a reintegration of these insitutions into the state--precisely the fate of Social Democracy and the official communist parties. (I am using the phrase "official communist parties" rather than Stalinists, because the turn towards these methods preceded Stalinization, i.e. the KPD under Paul Levi).

 Unless by "education" you mean something completely different, like the education that comes from the class struggle, but if this is the case you aren't as far away from the ICC as you think.

 

 

LBird
Which classes are the target of 'Dictatorship'?

Fred wrote:
Of course the communist movement will be democratic else it won't be communism will it? But proletarian political organizations can't be democratic by definition. They're proletarian! The Dictatorship of the Proletariat isn't democratic, its a dictatorship.

This is where we disagree, Fred. I think proletarian political organisations have to be democratic, by definition.

As to the DOTP, it's 'dictatorship' is in regards to its external relationship to other classes, not internally. All our class organisations must be internally democratic.

Fred wrote:
But if by some miracle the whole of society has achieved a communist consciousness in advance of the revolution to overthrow capitalist relations of production, then the need for a proletarian dictatorship and a transition from a capitalist society to a communist one, has also gone as well I suppose.

Quite!

My only criticism really is that 'whole' needs to be replaced by 'most', which would still leave room for a class dictatorship over any remnant non-proletarian classes, perhaps in some parts of the planet. Circumstances would determine the nature and harshness of our measures towards any classes that still try to cling to private property in the means of production.

But you're right to stress 'some miracle'! We haven't seen much evidence of widespread 'communist consciousness' recently, have we?

Fred wrote:
As to the foreshadowing of "our political methods under communism" this made me shiver. Surely there won't be any "political methods" under communism, for a full democracy will have been achieved, and politics - as in the exercise of some domination by somebody over everyone else - will have been superseded by....well, democracy! And regarding the "our" as in "our political methods..." Who is the "our"? This gave me the willies.

This sounds almost 'anarchist' in its treatment of the question of 'power', Fred!

Power and authority will always exist - they always have. Unless you're going to argue for 'the sovereignty of the individual', like anarchists do.

As Communists, surely we argue for the 'sovereignty of the commune'? Democracy means minorities obeying the will of the majority, not 'individuals doing exactly as they please'.

We need to discuss our treatment of the 'losers of votes', because we will all be in that category, sometime.

LBird
Proletarian self-education

jk1921 wrote:
Unless by "education" you mean something completely different...

What do you think I mean, jk?!

Fred
LBird wrote: Democracy means

LBird wrote:
Democracy means minorities obeying the will of the majority, not 'individuals doing exactly as they please'.

We're using "democracy" with different meanings, LBird.  I'm using it essentially to mean an established communism.  Where everyone has  the right to  be 'unequal'  and everyone is free to develop their abilities together,  communally, for the good of all.  Nobody will be required to "obey" anybody else, just as nobody will be expected to disregard the code of agreed ethics working within the society.  Within these agreeable ethics - I suppose I'm talking about "civilization" in its highest meaning of the word, as being an ethical society - people will be free to do as they please, because what they"please" will not be offensive or detrimental to anyone else's freedom to do as they please, and to  be and to  live their life as fully as possible.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that SOCIETY is free to do as it pleases ; that is to say what it agrees communally to do (which is something very different from what  happens under our current rulers) and not that individuals will be, because wont individuals identify more closely with a social rather then an individual existence? Things will be so different then.  Education will be unrecognisable as compared to the mind-stifling conditioning that passes for education in this society.   I am aware that this above can be easily dismissed as pure idealism by anyone who has doubts about the validity of the communist pursuit, or is frightened by it for one reason or another. But, given the immense power of the forces of production now, this apparent pipe dream is only just round the corner, awaiting its realisation, if only the working class could get its act together.  When you say: "Demcracy means minorities obeying the will of the majority " I take that as just a reversal of the bourgeois concept of democracy, where the majority obeys the dictates of a minority. Both these practices are abuses  of the word.    I think "authority" as an ethical behaviour, will replace  "authoritarianism " which is why the word "obey" can fall into disuse.  And I don't think I understand "power" in the  sense I suspect you do, comrade Bird,  but its late and I can't go into that now. In fact we've argued about 'power" before. For me, AUTHORITARIANISM is what I associate with power.  And that's  bad.  But if you mean the authority  of a communist democracy as the expression of a new understanding of power  - ie. society actually  knows what it's  doing and why - then I will agree. So thank you LBird.       

slothjabber
Democratic incoherence

LBird wrote:

slothjabber wrote:
But in the end 'democracy' is only possible after capitalism has been destroyed and there are no more classes.

This is at the heart of where we disagree, sj. The communist movement must be democratic, all proletarian political organisations must be democratic, as this will foreshadow our political methods under communism...

 

'Democracy' means 'rule by the people'. In capitalism 'the people' are an abstraction. They include the proletariat and the bosses, and they don't include various other categories up to and including (sometimes and some places) the poor, women, immigrants etc.

 

What does that have to do with the functioning of a political organisation?

 

LBird wrote:

While you keep reading what I write without this centrality of democracy, then you'll misunderstand what I'm arguing.

Of course, you can still disagree with me, but if you want to understand my argument, then you have to accept this essential democratic content of my views, whether you or the ICC think it is possible or not. Otherwise, you'll have a false impression, as you do have (with your talk of 'elitism'), so far, of my views.

 

So, to prevent yourself from being an elitist, you want lots of people not in political organisations to decide what your political organisation should do? Why should the bourgeoisie get to decide what an organisation supposedly pledged to trying to end capitalism should do?

 

I really don't get what you're arguing here.

LBird
Democratic coherence

slothjabber wrote:
I really don't get what you're arguing here.

Evidently.

It would probably help if you read what I'm actually writing, rather than assuming and adding things I haven't said, and asked questions of any statements that I've made that are unclear to you.

If you really don't know what 'democratic organisation' means, perhaps you could ask about that. There are differing views about that.

LBird
Authority and enforcement?

Fred wrote:
Nobody will be required to "obey" anybody else, just as nobody will be expected to disregard the code of agreed ethics working within the society.

See, Fred, I think that this is unclear.

If 'obedience' is not required, what happens when somebody 'disregards'?

I think that in every society there is a law/code/agreements which are enforced by society.

I'd rather be open about this, and openly discuss it, rather than pretend it won't happen.

For my part, I think that if the subject is ignored, then there will be an unexamined authority who do enforce social codes. This is inescapable in any society.

In my opinion, the only people I've heard argue against this notion are anarchists, who have assumptions that allow them to argue that 'no authority' will exist in a Communist society. I'm not an anarchist, so I don't agree with them.

jk1921
No Clue

LBird wrote:

jk1921 wrote:
Unless by "education" you mean something completely different...

What do you think I mean, jk?!

 

I have no idea. But since you talk about it being an "individual" process, I can only surmise its some kind of critical pedagogy. Its completely unclear how this would procede though in a society dominated by ruling class ideology. What level of insitutional resources would this require? But then, you mention proletarian "self-education." Of course, it is totally unclear what this means and one wonders if the idea is even coherent. Who are the educators and who educates the educators? The entire things smells like Gramscian counter-hegemony, which has already been pointed on here is at the end of the day thouroughly "Leninist" in its outlook.

slothjabber
I don't think you get to decide if you're coherent

LBird wrote:

slothjabber wrote:
I really don't get what you're arguing here.

Evidently.

It would probably help if you read what I'm actually writing...

 

It's not the reading that's the problem; or rather, it is the problem, because I am reading what you're writing. What I'm not doing is understanding what you're writing.

LBird wrote:

slothjabber wrote:
But in the end 'democracy' is only possible after capitalism has been destroyed and there are no more classes.

This is at the heart of where we disagree, sj. The communist movement must be democratic, all proletarian political organisations must be democratic, as this will foreshadow our political methods under communism.

While you keep reading what I write without this centrality of democracy, then you'll misunderstand what I'm arguing...

 

So; I say 'democracy is only possible after capitalism has been destroyed'.

 

And then you say this is the root of our disagreement (thereby implying you believe democracy is possible in capitalism).

 

And when I show that democracy is impossible under capitalism, you say I have misunderstood you. I don't think so.

 

LBird wrote:
rather than assuming and adding things I haven't said, and asked questions of any statements that I've made that are unclear to you.

If you really don't know what 'democratic organisation' means, perhaps you could ask about that. There are differing views about that.

 

If you don't know what 'democracy' means, perhaps you could ask about that.

LBird
You're not so much 'incoherent' as 'obfuscatory'.

slothjabber wrote:
If you don't know what 'democracy' means, perhaps you could ask about that.

How else are proletarian organisations supposed to function?

If you're arguing for 'democratic centralism' (ie., as every worker now knows, 'centralised cadre control over workers'), why not say so?

If you don't agree with 'democratic centralism' (sic), all well and good, tell us how you think workers should control their own organisations?

It's a simple political question, slothjabber.

jk1921
Which democracy?

LBird wrote:

slothjabber wrote:
If you don't know what 'democracy' means, perhaps you could ask about that.

How else are proletarian organisations supposed to function?

If you're arguing for 'democratic centralism' (ie., as every worker now knows, 'centralised cadre control over workers'), why not say so?

If you don't agree with 'democratic centralism' (sic), all well and good, tell us how you think workers should control their own organisations?

It's a simple political question, slothjabber.

Actually its not that simple. You seem to imply that the entire working class should "democratically control" revolutionary political organizations, which to us destroys the distinction between the organization and the broad proletariat. If this were to be the case, there would be no reason for an organization at all. We would just need someone to poll the working class on what they think at any given moment. Of course, this would destroy the entire political specificity of the communist program and leave us at the mercy of majority sentiment, which in non-revolutionary periods is always some reflection of bourgeois ideology.

If though you are talking about the internal functioning of the organizations, then yes, it needs to function according to formal "democratic" mechanisms, what else is there? Of course, it would also have to have a strong commitment to and clear mechanisms for protection of the minority and even the publicity of their positions, since there is never any guarantee that the majority is right, even within the communist organization.

So which is it LBird? Which vision of "democracy" is yours?

LBird
Whatever can LBird mean?

jk1921 wrote:
But then, you mention proletarian "self-education." ... Who are the educators and who educates the educators?

Isn't the answer to your question in what I've already 'mentioned'?

It seems obvious to me.

As to what 'proletarian self-education' might look like, why not ask that question and try to discuss it?

I'm not sure why there is a marked reluctance to discuss, both with this issue and with slothjabber's 'democracy' incomprehension; rather than feign wonderment at what I might be trying to discuss in relation to communism ("what? what's 'democracy'? what's 'self-education'? what can these things mean?"), isn't it obvious I mean workers' self-education and workers' self-control through democratic methods.

It's not rocket science, chaps!

If you disagree with these ideas, no problem, say so, and explain your alternatives.

LBird
Guarantors?

jk1921 wrote:
...since there is never any guarantee that the majority is right...

Right, now we're getting somewhere!

If the 'majority' within communist proletarian organisations isn't the guarantor, who is?

Simple question.

jk1921
Here we go again. Nobody

Here we go again. Nobody understands poor LBird. We are oppresing him with our incomprehension; either that or we are just a bunch of dodos, I guess.

What you mean by "workers' self-education" is far from obvious and "workers' control through demcoratic methods" is nothing more than a slogan. Its not us who are feigning interest in discussion comrade, rather its you who merely asserts often contradictory bromides and slogans, thinks that means you are done for the day and then gets annoyed when anyone questions you.

We know you have a built up a pretty elaborate system in your mind that you are obviously very invested in, but its just not realisitic to expect that everyone else is just going to go along with it without questioning you.

 

slothjabber
A very unclear question

LBird wrote:

slothjabber wrote:
If you don't know what 'democracy' means, perhaps you could ask about that.

How else are proletarian organisations supposed to function?

If you're arguing for 'democratic centralism' (ie., as every worker now knows, 'centralised cadre control over workers'), why not say so?

If you don't agree with 'democratic centralism' (sic), all well and good, tell us how you think workers should control their own organisations?

It's a simple political question, slothjabber.

 

So, now you're discussing the functioning of a political organisation.

 

Which means you are misunderstanding me, even though you didn't ask.

 

I said: 'Democracy can only exist after capitalism has been destroyed' = 'Rule by the people can only exist after capitalism has been destroyed'.

 

'But I disagree', says LBird, implying 'Rule by the people can exist before capitalism has been destroyed'.

 

'No,' says I, 'before capitalism has been destroyed "Rule by the people" means "rule by the capitalists".'

 

'But that means you are a democratic centralist', says LBird.

 

I'm a democratic centralist, because in class societies the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class? But, the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class for all of us; does that make you, and Marx, and Gandhi and the SPGB all democratic centralists too?

 

How else are political organisations supposed to function? Other than by 'rule by the people'? Do you think the whole people, including capitalists, should decide what the policy of the political organisation is? Or do you think the organisation should decide what the policy of the organisation is? Or do you think (given that you want to purge workers out of the workers' councils to make them communist councils instead) that the workers should get to decide that the political organisation's policy should be to get the communists to purge the workers (ie themselves)?

 

When I talk about a minority of class conscious workers who believe that class consciousness preceeds class struggle, and how this conception (shared by yourself, the SPGB, Kautsky and others) is elitist, you say I'm missing the question of democracy. I claim that this is irrelevant, as under capitalism democracy is impossible. But you disagree.

 

So, what do you think we're discussing?

LBird
Class not party

Anton Pannekoek 1936, Party and Working Class, wrote:
We are only at the very earliest stages of a new workers' movement. The old movement was embodied in parties, and today belief in the party constitutes the most powerful check on the working class' capacity for action. That is why we are not trying to create a new party. This is so, not because our numbers are small -- a party of any kind begins with a few people -- but because, in our day, a party cannot be other than an organization aimed at directing and dominating the proletariat. To this type of organization we oppose the principle that the working class can effectively come into its own and prevail only by taking its destiny into its own hands. The workers are not to adopt the slogans of any group whatsoever, not even our own groups; they are to think, decide and act for themselves. Therefore, in this transitional period, the natural organs of education and enlightenment are, in our view, work groups, study and discussion circles, which have formed of their own accord and are seeking their own way.

This view directly contradicts the traditional ideas about the role of the party as an essential educational organ of the proletariat.

[my bold]

http://www.marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/1936/party-working-class.htm

This is the essence of my argument.

Class, not party.

Class self-education, through organic groups which have emerged spontaneously from proletarian workplaces and communities, and which are organised on democratic principles.

This is the method by which the proletariat will bring class consciousness to itself, and I see this method and its results as an objective condition which must be present before a Communist revolution.

If you wish to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this position, fine, but I'm not entering into a discussion which mischaracterises my stance.

Demogorgon
Pannekoek (and by extension

Pannekoek (and by extension LBird) is quite right that the process described is part of the process by which consciousness is developed. The argument about "parties" is flawed, of course, because if you define a party as an organ "aimed at directing and dominating the proletariat" then it's hardly surprising you regard any talk of a party as such an organ.

But is it perhaps possible that others have a definition of the party that does not involve directing and dominating the proletariat?

For us, the party is the organised expression of the most class conscious workers - it's taking the consciousness developed by Pannekoek's process to a new level by attempting to propagate it throughout the mass of the working class in an organised fashion. It does not "direct" the class; it does not "dominate" the class; it does not organise the class. And, in fact, when it begins to do these things it ceases to perform its role as a party - works against it in fact, because these actions prevent the development of consciousness.

If you want to stick to your own definition of "party", that's absolutely fine. But don't assume when we use the term "party" it means what you think it means.

To take an example. A group of workers may form a discussion group and spend two evenings a month talking about Marxist politics. Then, suddenly, a war breaks out. The group decides to produce a statement condemning the war - for us, that is a party function: an effort to stimulate political consciousness in the wider proletariat. The war continues and the group decides to produce a monthly newsheet analysing the course of the war and calling on workers to resist. Another party function! The discussions continue but now those discussions (or conclusions drawn from them) are being propagated to the rest of the class. That, in essence, is what a party does - it may evolve very complex structures with formal rules, commissions to handle specific things like organising the discussions meetings and printing the newsheet or it may remain very loose and informal.

But the essence of what it does, the desire to be active in the class, to stimulate revolutionary thought beyond the confines of the group that is what a proletarian party does. Unless you think there is something inherently counter-revolutionary about printing a leaflet defending a communist position on a war or a strike, it's difficult to see what the problem here would be.

 

slothjabber
same old unfinished arguments

We're returning here to the discussion that LBird abandonned a few months ago, about the role (and even definition) of the party - about the 'workers, non-party communists, and party-communists'. LBird has never come back on the idea that at the moment, to be a communist is to be a 'part' (not the whole) of the working class, and that to be a 'communist who will not work with other communists' is a nonsense.

 

It's all very well for LBird to refuse to enter into a discussion which mis-characterises his stance, but if the rest of us took the same line none of us would ever respond to him, as he is incapable of correctly characterising anyone else's.

LBird
Class and party, again.

Thanks for your measured reply, Demogorgon.

I think that this is, once again, our sticking point:

Demogorgon wrote:
But is it perhaps possible that others have a definition of the party that does not involve directing and dominating the proletariat?

To me, this would mean, on the contrary, that the proletariat would 'direct and dominate' its parties.

Which, as I've said before, I agree with.

Demogorgon wrote:
That, in essence, is what a party does - it may evolve very complex structures with formal rules, commissions to handle specific things like organising the discussions meetings and printing the newsheet or it may remain very loose and informal.
[my bold]

If proletarian parties are going to be 'directed and dominated' by the proletariat, then it follows that, in relation to the proletariat, they must 'remain very loose and informal'.

I suspect that the 'spontaneous study groups', that Pannekoek hopes for, will form the basis of 'workers' councils', and this will be the 'organised' form of the proletariat, with parties remaining as loose 'propaganda groups', to help inform and develop class consciousness, and which groups/parties will grow weaker as the proletariat develops itself.

Demogorgon wrote:
If you want to stick to your own definition of "party", that's absolutely fine. But don't assume when we use the term "party" it means what you think it means.

No, I don't think that you do use the term in the same way I do!

Isn't that the point of our discussions? To try to understand various ways of conceptualising the 'class/party' relationship?

Demogorgon
"To me, this would mean, on

"To me, this would mean, on the contrary, that the proletariat would 'direct and dominate' its parties."

Parties in our conception are the organised expression of class consciousness. They are the most class conscious workers who have got together in order to spread that class consciousness. In that sense, although they are part of the proletariat they are also distinct in their nature and function.

Their sole function is raise the consciousness of both themselves and the rest of the class. They cannot allow themselves to be "dominated" by the rest of the class in this arena or it makes it impossible for them to fulfill their role. By this, I mean the mass of the class does not dictate to a proletarian political organisation what its political positions should be. This reduces class consciousness to some sort of democratic poll of what the mass of the proletariat thinks at any particular moment.

Class consciousness is not the immediate, psychological consciousness of this or that worker, or even all workers. It is not democratic. It is an awareness of the objective situation of the proletariat, an understanding of what it is, what its interests are and what is must do to pursue those interests. As Marx said "It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do. Its aim and historical action is visibly and irrevocably foreshadowed in its own life situation as well as in the whole organization of bourgeois society today."

In that sense, it's the role of communists to defend the awareness of this historic role of the working class. Sometimes it has to do that against a mass of a class that is dominated by bourgeois ideology or is retreating from a revolutionary consciousness into a bourgeois consciousness. But it can only defend that awareness by fighting on the ideological terrain; class consciousness cannot be established by decree; it cannot be established through force of arms. That is why it's not the role of the party to control class decision-making organs ... but nor do these organs tell the party what its political positions are.

"If proletarian parties are going to be 'directed and dominated' by the proletariat, then it follows that, in relation to the proletariat, they must 'remain very loose and informal'."

Given that, in order to raise class consciousness, parties cannot and must not be "dominated" by the mass of the class, this begins from a false premise.

But even if they did, please demonstrate why being "loose and informal" enables proletarian control; conversely, you should also demonstrating why establishing formal rules of functioning automatically leads to some sort of sinister outcome for a political group.

"I suspect that the 'spontaneous study groups', that Pannekoek hopes for, will form the basis of 'workers' councils', and this will be the 'organised' form of the proletariat"

Historically, workers councils arose directly out of mass struggles, not study groups.The workers councils that formed in Germany and the Soviets in Russia were formal organs made up of delegates elected by mass assemblies in the factories and who (in theory at least) represented and reported to those assemblies.

I find the idea that study and discussion groups somehow provide the skeleton of future mass organs deeply disturbing. It seems to suggest that somehow its communists that are the driving force of workers movements rather than the mass of the class, although it is consistent with your idea that only communists will be allowed in the mass organs in the first place, which is equally disturbing.

And here we come back to the fundamental contradiction lurking behind your conception. On the one hand you (quite rightly) defend the autonomy of the working class and that it should never allow itself to be dominated by political parties. We totally agree with you here. But on the other, we find you suggesting that organs of power will somehow emerge ... from political minorities, from discussion groups! Here you part company with both us and Pannekoek, who never had such a conception.

Previously, you've reinforced this idea of political domination as opposed to class domination by saying that only communists should be allowed in the mass organs of power. This is, of course, consistent with your idea of such organs emerging from political organisations rather than the mass of the class. I think, at some level, you are actually aware of the dangers that arise from this conception and this is why you want to keep such political organisations loose and informal. You don't seem to realise that this doesn't stem from a fundamental problem with organisation per se but from a misunderstanding about the origins and functioning of class consciousness and class power.

Your pre-occupation with consciousness (and the misunderstanding about subjective and objective conditions of struggle) seems related; you see the problem of revolution as primarily an intellectual problem to be resolved in study groups. Perhaps this is why you see the Russian revolution as doomed from the start, because the workers weren't conscious enough. This, of course, is nothing like the Marxist conception and nor does it relate with the way class struggle evolves in the real world.

It is, of course, true that a certain degree of consciousness is necessary for workers to begin any struggle. There must be a will to fight, reflexes of solidarity, a conception of mass action. But workers rarely rarely begin a mass movement or revolution in full consciousness of what they are doing. The Paris Commune had its origins in a nationalist movement to defend the capital from a German attack! The Russian Revolution began as demands for bread on International Women's Day. The German Revolution began with a bunch of sailors quite understandably not wanting to go on a suicide mission against the British Navy.

Real workers councils in real historical situations formed because at a visceral level, workers had simply had enough! The councils were formed in answer to very immediate, practical questions of organising struggles, armed defence and the like. In Russia, there was a clear lack of understanding among the working class about what they had actually done: they had created new organs that threatened to dissolve the state itself and didn't fully realise it. This is why the idea of "All Power to the Soviets" from Lenin had such resonance; it enabled workers to see the power they themselves had created.

Mass class-consciousness does not precede mass struggle; it is mass struggles that allow the development of mass class-consciousness: "Both for the production on a mass scale of this communist consciousness, and for the success of the cause itself, the alteration of men on a mass scale is, necessary, an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew."

This doesn't mean a given mass struggle will automatically create a sufficient level of consciousness to push it to the next level. Nor does it mean class-consciousness is a solely spontaneous phenomenon - the role of revolutionaries in pushing it forward is vital, especially at crucial moments, as Lenin's "All Power to the Soviets" showed.

LBird
A conscious class

Demogorgon wrote:
Parties in our conception are the organised expression of class consciousness. They are the most class conscious workers who have got together in order to spread that class consciousness. In that sense, although they are part of the proletariat they are also distinct in their nature and function.

Their sole function is raise the consciousness of both themselves and the rest of the class. They cannot allow themselves to be "dominated" by the rest of the class in this arena or it makes it impossible for them to fulfill their role.

Demogorgon, if the term ‘parties’ was replaced here by ‘worker’s study groups’ (or some other term denoting Pannekoek’s idea of “work groups, study and discussion circles”), then I could agree with you. Of course, these ‘study groups. can’t be ‘dominated’ by the majority non-communist working class, at this point. But, the sole purpose, or as you say, function, is to “raise the consciousness of both themselves and the rest of the class”. When that task has been achieved, then, with the class conscious proletariat now being a majority, these communist proletarian organisations will ‘dominate’ their own ‘parties’.

Demogorgon wrote:
By this, I mean the mass of the class does not dictate to a proletarian political organisation what its political positions should be. This reduces class consciousness to some sort of democratic poll of what the mass of the proletariat thinks at any particular moment.

Yes, a ‘democratic poll’ of the ‘workers’ study groups’ will dictate to their political organisations. That is ‘class consciousness’. Communist workers conscious of their own power.

When ‘workers’ study groups’ have become a majority of the proletariat, then the objective condition of class consciousness will have been sufficiently developed for a communist revolution to be possible. If the majority of the proletariat isn’t in favour of communism, in both its ideas and practice, then a successful revolution will not happen. Communism can’t be the act of a minority, however ‘conscious’ that minority is.

Demogorgon wrote:
Class consciousness is not the immediate, psychological consciousness of this or that worker, or even all workers. It is not democratic. It is an awareness of the objective situation of the proletariat, an understanding of what it is, what its interests are and what is must do to pursue those interests.

This is the nub of our disagreement, Demogorgon.

‘Class consciousness’ can only be democratically determined. If ‘workers’ study groups’ don’t represent the majority of the proletariat, the time for communism is not yet ripe.

Demogorgon wrote:
As Marx said "It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do. Its aim and historical action is visibly and irrevocably foreshadowed in its own life situation as well as in the whole organization of bourgeois society today."

Marx’s words can be interpreted to support my argument, too. It’s not individual or the entire proletariat (as I’ve already said), but what the ‘workers’ study groups’ themselves determine “what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do. Its aim and historical action is visibly and irrevocably foreshadowed in its own life situation…”. Only the class conscious proletariat can democratically determine ‘what it is’, ‘what it is compelled to do’ and ‘its aims and actions’. These will be ‘visible’, before the revolution, which they will ‘foreshadow’.

Communism must be the conscious act of the proletariat, which means a majority, which can be determined democratically.

Demogorgon wrote:
Historically, workers councils arose directly out of mass struggles, not study groups. The workers councils that formed in Germany and the Soviets in Russia were formal organs made up of delegates elected by mass assemblies in the factories and who (in theory at least) represented and reported to those assemblies.

Yes. And they failed ‘historically’, too.

I think that ‘workers’ study groups’ would foreshadow, and probably evolve into, ‘workers’ councils’. That is, workers would already be overwhelmingly class conscious before the emergence of WCs. This would ensure that ‘delegates’ would report to them, in practice, not just ‘in theory at least’. Without this pre-existing consciousness, the ‘delegates’ will in practice become ‘representatives’ who ‘determine’, rather than merely ‘report’

If Workers’ Councils emerge, once again, before widespread class consciousness exists within the proletariat, then they will, once again, go down to defeat. History is supposed to teach us things: we know now that Workers’ Councils can’t function without mass communist conscious pre-existing their emergence. And we’ll know that that consciousness already exists through democratic mechanisms.

No ‘guesses’ by a ‘party’ (or its ‘central committee’).

Demogorgon wrote:
I find the idea that study and discussion groups somehow provide the skeleton of future mass organs deeply disturbing. It seems to suggest that somehow its communists that are the driving force of workers movements rather than the mass of the class, although it is consistent with your idea that only communists will be allowed in the mass organs in the first place, which is equally disturbing.

Again, this is only ‘disturbing’ to you because you presume workers can’t develop communist consciousness before a revolution. In my terms, ‘communists…are the driving force of workers movements’ precisely because communists are a majority of the workers’ movement. That is, the ‘mass of the class’ is already communist.

Demogorgon, quoting Marx, wrote:
"Both for the production on a mass scale of this communist consciousness, and for the success of the cause itself, the alteration of men on a mass scale is, necessary, an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew."

Yeah, ‘a practical movement, a revolution’.

That’s what the process of workers setting up their own ‘study groups’ and eventually ‘workers’ councils’ is: a ‘practical movement’ ending in a ‘revolution’.

The problem with quoting Marx, as generations of communists have now found, is that he’s a bit like the bible. I think Marx is suggestive, rather than prescriptive. We can’t get away from ‘interpretation' of him. That’s why we’re still having these debates, 130 years after his death.

All I can say is that ‘parties’ and ‘councils’ have been tried in situations in which communism hasn’t been the mass ideology of the proletariat, and they haven’t succeeded.

I’ll have to stop now, although you make more valid points, Demogorgon, because of the length of this post, not because I’m ignoring your further views.

jk1921
Well, it seems pretty clear

Well, it seems pretty clear now that LBird's vision is that of a critical pedagogy that is somehow carried out by the workers themselves through "study groups." Its no doubt that something lilke the process that LBird describes does take place, but it only ever happens among a minority of workers in a pre revolutionary situation. LBird simply does not understand or just rejects the entire distinction between the political organizations and unitary organs of the class.

Of course, it is not clear how a majority of the working class could become communist within the belly of captialist ideology through "study." This seems to be a totally one sided and artificial seperation of intellectual labor here. There is no appreciation of how cosnciousness develops through "the fight" (as Pannekoek called it). It seems a linear conception of development whereby the working class becomes synonomous with communists within capitalism and under the view of the state. It seems just another attempt to abolish the distinction between the broad class and communists, simply by requiring that the entire class (or a majority) become communist before it acts. It seems a way of smuggling the social democratic mass party in through the back door.

All of this, though, does raise the issue of the state and why the overthrow of the state is such an important moment in the revolutionary process. LBird thinks this can't be contemplated until at the very least a majority of the working class are communist, while the ICC thinks that communist consciousness cannot really flourish until the bourgeois state is smashed. So what, then is so critical about the state? (My attempt to shift the discussion back to the questions of transition broached by the original article).

LBird
Comms out?

jk1921 wrote:
Of course, it is not clear how a majority of the working class could become communist within the belly of captialist ideology through "study." This seems to be a totally one sided and artificial seperation of intellectual labor here.

jk, the name 'study group' is used to suggest a 'starting point': that is, that workers must theorise.

The fact that I've gone on to suggest that they might well evolve into workers' councils, surely tells you that some practice will be involved! Try and give me some leeway not to have to repeat everything that I've written before.

jk1921 wrote:
There is no appreciation of how cosnciousness develops through "the fight" (as Pannekoek called it). It seems a linear conception of development...

If that's your interpretation of what I've been trying to say, it's not surprising that we are having trouble communicating.

jk1921
Miscomprehension

LBird wrote:

If that's your interpretation of what I've been trying to say, it's not surprising that we are having trouble communicating.

Well, it could also be your way of explaining it. Miscomprehension often works in more than one direction.

I think that the "study groups" you refer to will more likely become the party rather than workers' councils. The councils come from somewhere else. This is why I think you confuse the "political" with the "unitary" organizations of the class. What you describe as the process of the class coming to consciousness is really the process of the formation of communist organizations. But I suppose that fits with your tendency to obliterate the distinction between communists and the broader proletariat.

LBird
Mutual?

jk1921 wrote:
But I suppose that fits with your tendency to obliterate the distinction between communists and the broader proletariat.

If you want to put it that way, then, yes, I think that the 'broader proletariat' have to 'obliterate the distinction' between them and 'communists'.

I think that the proletariat has to become class conscious before the revolution. I can't see how a mostly 'unconscious' class can make a revolution in their interests without being conscious of their aims.

I don't think that being 'led' by a 'conscious minority' will work: it never has yet. While there are proletarian organisations outside of the power of a organised mass proletariat, I think that is a sign the revolution will fail.

The class must dictate to its organisations, including the power to disband any that it sees fit.

jk1921
I think, LBird, that you have

I think, LBird, that you have not transcended the vision of the mass party that was the hallmark of Social Democracy. You suggest that the revolution is not possible until the distinction between party and class is eliminated by a general raising of the consciousness within the confines of bourgeois society. As you put it, until, at the very least, a majority of the class become self-identified communists.

However, you seem to see the process of the development of consciousness proceeding in a pedagogic fashion whereby the working class raises itself above bourgeois ideology through "study." There may have been a time when this idea was in some ways workable--the period of capitalist ascendancy, when Social Democracy was capable of exisiting within captialist civil society and could command the resources necessary to educate workers in party schools, etc. But those days are long gone. They went out the window with capitalist decadence and the development of state capitalism.

There simply is no possibily of maintaining mass organs of the class on a permanent basis within bourgeois civil society without them eventually becoming reintegrated into the state. This doesn't matter if they are parties, unions or "study groups." While it is possible that some study groups can be formed in the aftermath of various struggles and these groups can be part of the nucleus that might form a future communist party, outside of periods of open struggle these can only ever exist as minoritarian entities defined on a political basis.

As far as the broader proletariat, its consciousness can only develop in the course of its struggles against capital's attacks, which as part of a process, eventually pushes the class to develop unitary organs of struggles, the embryos of the workers' councils. These organs are not defined politically, but sociologically, as fighting organs of struggle. They are open to all workers, regardless of what ideas they have in their head at the moment as the necessary condition for developing the unity and consciousness of the struggle.

Its true that the the ultimate goal of the revolutionary process is to end the distinction between communists and the broader proletariat (as it is to end all other forms of human alienation and separation), but it seems clear that this will only be possible after a relatively extended period of struggle in which the structures that maintain the hegemony of bourgeois ideology (the state mainly) have been progessively dismantled as the result of revolutionary action. The broad mass of the proletariat does not need to know it is building communism to accomplish this initial and all important task of eradicating the state. The revolution is a process--a process of becomming. The proletariat becomes self-cosnciously communist, reuniting itself with the communist minority in the process of meeting its material needs of defending its living conditions. Accomplishing this concrete material task, a real practical problem immediately posed, is what in the the end requires it to become conscious of its communist nature--when defending its living conditions require it to grasp the material need to get rid of capitalism and start building something else, even if we don't know exactly at the moment we are doing it what that something else we call communism will look like in every detail.

Its the concrete need to develop communism as a practical task of the moment that leads the working class to consciously realize itslef as the bearer of a new society. Its not something the majority of the proletariat is goign to grasp by "study" under conditions of bourgeois equilibrium. The idea that the proletariat must learn communism in its heads before it acts to bring it into being, seems to reflect the bourgeois division of mental and manual labour, failing to take into account the crucial element of praxis in revolutionizing consciousness.

So, I submit, that LBird's conception of consciousness really isn't council communist at all. Its actually social democratic in his tendency to pose a mass party as a pre-requisite of revolutionary action by the proletariat. While it is true that Luxemburg suffered from some of these same illusions, I don't think that Pannekoek actually did.  He did like to talk about "study-groups," but I am pretty sure he saw these as the basis for communist minorities not the revolutionary mass action of the class.

 

LBird
Pan-luxian?

jk1921 wrote:
I think, LBird, that you have not transcended the vision of the mass party that was the hallmark of Social Democracy. You suggest that the revolution is not possible until the distinction between party and class is eliminated by a general raising of the consciousness within the confines of bourgeois society. As you put it, until, at the very least, a majority of the class become self-identified communists.

I think you are very accurately describing my views, here, jk. Whether that is the entirety of Social Democracy, I'm not sure: I'm not a reformist, for example, but a revolutionary. Bourgeois society and its political structure has to be smashed.

jk1921 wrote:
However, you seem to see the process of the development of consciousness proceeding in a pedagogic fashion whereby the working class raises itself above bourgeois ideology through "study."

I've already shown that this, though, is a mischaracterisation of my views of a revolutionary process that begins with self-organised proletarian 'groups' (if the word 'study' irritates you, just leave it out, or call them 'struggle-groups'). The point is, it must be organic within working class communities and workplaces.

jk1921 wrote:
There simply is no possibily of maintaining mass organs of the class on a permanent basis within bourgeois civil society without them eventually becoming reintegrated into the state.

I disagree with this assumption, jk. If workers can found all sorts of social-activity clubs, which remain outside of state control, they can found political-activity groups and retain their independence. This is possible (even if you argue 'unlikely').

Much of the rest of your post I can agree with, if our differing premises of proletarian self-activity are discounted.

jk1921 wrote:
So, I submit, that LBird's conception of consciousness really isn't council communist at all. Its actually social democratic in his tendency to pose a mass party as a pre-requisite of revolutionary action by the proletariat. While it is true that Luxemburg suffered from some of these same illusions, I don't think that Pannekoek actually did. He did like to talk about "study-groups," but I am pretty sure he saw these as the basis for communist minorities not the revolutionary mass action of the class.

That is a reasonable opinion that you're entitled to, comrade.

I just don't agree with you. If you want to call me a 'Luxembourg-illusionist' or 'Pseudo-Pannekoekian', I don't mind!

jk1921
To be clear, LBird--I don't

To be clear, LBird--I don't think you are a Social-Democrat, but your conception of the development of class consciousness seems to me to be much more consistent with Social Democracy than councilism. I recognize that you do not openly support reformism, but then again Social Democrats (outside of the open revisionists) always said their ultimate goal was revolution as well.

The question is what happens to the "struggle groups" you envision in the period after they first arise as a result of struggle and the eventual overthrow of the state? What happens to them? Where do they go? How do they relate to the existing unions and parties? What social space do they occupy? How do they avoid reintegration into the state? Your conception still seems to rely on a form of empiricism, whereby if you can't see it--measured in the increasing proliferation of these study groups--it isn't happening. You also evidence a total underestimation of the power of state capitalims, something that reintegratred the Bolshevik Party into the bourgeois state. If it can do that, what chance do "struggle groups" have outside of moments of open struggle?

 

LBird
Too pessimistic?

jk1921 wrote:
The question is what happens to the "struggle groups" you envision in the period after they first arise as a result of struggle and the eventual overthrow of the state?
[my bold]

The first thing to be said is that 'the period' you identify above is, from my perspective, the entire process of a Communist revolution, which begins with proletarian self-organisation, develops through self-education and class struggle, and ends with a successful overthrow of all ruling class authority.

jk1921 wrote:
What happens to them? Where do they go? How do they relate to the existing unions and parties? What social space do they occupy? How do they avoid reintegration into the state?

Put simply, if the state remains strong enough to destroy, at any point in the entire process, the earlier-formed 'study/struggle groups' or the later-emerged 'workers' councils', then there will be no Communist revolution.

There has to be an assumption that, at the same time as the development of workers' consciousness, education, organs of struggle (all interacting with each other, to produce a mass movement), there is a concommitant deterioration of ruling class confidence, institutions and armed forces (where sections of the ruling class (initially artists, then scientists?) start to look to the proletariat for inspiration, leadership and finally safety).

jk11921 wrote:
Your conception still seems to rely on a form of empiricism, whereby if you can't see it--measured in the increasing proliferation of these study groups--it isn't happening.

Well, we can't see 'ideas' either, but we can see their manifestation in, perhaps initially, art. I would expect massive changes starting to happen in the arts, as well as at the more political level of 'study/struggle groups'. Once again, I would regard the emergence of these factors to be visible to all - both to workers wanting change, and to bosses failing to maintain their system.

jk1921 wrote:
You also evidence a total underestimation of the power of state [forms]...

On the contrary, I think those who 'underestimate the power of the state' are those who think that forming Bolshevik parties can circumvent a process of deterioration within capitalism. Capitalism and the bourgeois state, and its ideologies, have to already be in a process of deterioration for us to begin to strengthen.

Of course, this leads us nicely into a discussion of 'decadence', eh, comrade?

As I've already also said, I don't think that capitalism has been in a period of decadence since 1914. In fact, if pressed, I'd be more likely to agree that the process began in recent decades (post-1980? post-2008), but here, too, I could be persuaded otherwise, and simply conclude that capitalism is as yet still too cohesive, both in structure and ideas.

Perhaps decadence starts in 2114? Whatever, discussion between Communists is vital, whether I'm right or wrong on this point.

slothjabber
What has capitalism to offer?

Do you think capitalism has anything positive to offer humanity, or the working class, LBird?

 

If so, then reformism is probably the way forward.

 

If not, if capitalism has outlived its usefulness, is no longer progressive (as it was when overthrowing feudalism), is 'decadent' in the terminology of the ICC or is 'obsolete' in the words of the SPGB, the only nswer for the working class is the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system.

 

The SPGB was founded more than a century ago on the basis that the task for the working class was to struggle directly for socialism; Lenin, Trotsky, Pannekoek, Luxemburg and others at the begining of the 20th century came to the same conclusion, horrifically confirmed by World War One. Capitalism had ceased to be a system that offered meaningful advancements for humanity; the fact that the ICC refer to this as 'decadence' doesn't mean that all the other revolutionaries 100 years ago didn't agree that the progressive era of capitalism was over - even if they never used the word 'decadence'.

jk1921
It sounds to me LBird that

It sounds to me LBird that you are still grasping for some kind of empirically visible proof that a development of class consciousnes is underway--something you can see within civil society as evidence that the working class is beginning to wake up--the study groups/struggle groups or whatever. Of course, it is here that you run into a concrete empirical problem, because these groups are nowhere to be found today. They simply don't exist, outside of the very minoritarian groups of the revolutionary milieu. Therefore, you have to, it seems to me, conclude from this that the revolutionary process really isn't underway at all today, almost as if the working class does not exist as a struggling force. Its one step from here to concluding, as you do, that there is no decadence--or that it just started five years ago. Of course, the ICC solves this issue of "no immediately, empirically visible" signs of sustainable working class self-organization through the theory of SMC, something you also reject.

I think Slothjabber is right though, if captialism isn't really decadent, than there is no reason to reject reformism. There is also no reason to prefer study/struggle groups to regular trade unions and social democratic parties. Might as well vote Labour/Democrat until we can see clear signs that are "visible to all" that there is a progressive (linear?) process under way that will weaken the state and constitute the working class as an alternate locus of social power. I think that this conception of revolutionary process, confuses the specific characteristics of the proletarian revolution with previous historical revolutions like that of the bourgeoisie, where social power was built up (accumulated) within the confines of the old order. I don't have the stamina to go into that discussion now, but the ICC has written globs on why this is not possible for the proletariat. The trajectory of the "workers' movement"  during the last one hundred years of state capitalism does seem to provide some powerful evidence backing this idea up.

Is it possible to move this discussion back to issues of the state in the period of tranisition, rather than another "LBird's System" thread?

LBird
'Heads in the sand' is a poor method

jk1921 wrote:
Is it possible to move this discussion back to issues of the state in the period of tranisition, rather than another "LBird's System" thread?

Why, when I've been entirely frank and comradely on this thread in trying to answer your questions, do you and slothjabber always turn it into something to do with 'me and my problematic system'?

If you don't want to discuss with me, or don't like my answers, just stop discussing with me.

It suits me if you go back to discussing issues with the other posters who fundamentally agree with you, but what's the purpose? Many other Communists are asking similar questions about the experiences of the working class in the 20th century, and reject the 'party mentality'.

Unless you expose your ideas to the light of criticism, you won't clarify them.

Of course, you could both always file my posts under 'the wrong sort of criticism' header, and ignore it.

slothjabber
What can be said on a supposedly fraternal forum?

LBird wrote:

jk1921 wrote:
Is it possible to move this discussion back to issues of the state in the period of tranisition, rather than another "LBird's System" thread?

Why, when I've been entirely frank and comradely on this thread in trying to answer your questions, do you and slothjabber always turn it into something to do with 'me and my problematic system'?...

 

Not sure why you want to bring me into this, the only time I've been involved in a discussion over something that might be called 'LBird's System' I was supporting your attempts to provide alternatives to the traditional approach to reading Capital.

 

However, if you're really "trying to answer your questions'" perhaps you could actually answer some (any) of the questions that have been posed to you over the last 6 months or so, such as 'why do you think wanting to purge workers from the workers' councils doesn't make you a Leninist?' or 'why do you think an educated socialist elite has to teach the working class about revolution?'

jk1921
Discussion

LBird wrote:

jk1921 wrote:
Is it possible to move this discussion back to issues of the state in the period of tranisition, rather than another "LBird's System" thread?

Why, when I've been entirely frank and comradely on this thread in trying to answer your questions, do you and slothjabber always turn it into something to do with 'me and my problematic system'?

If you don't want to discuss with me, or don't like my answers, just stop discussing with me.

It suits me if you go back to discussing issues with the other posters who fundamentally agree with you, but what's the purpose? Many other Communists are asking similar questions about the experiences of the working class in the 20th century, and reject the 'party mentality'.

Unless you expose your ideas to the light of criticism, you won't clarify them.

Of course, you could both always file my posts under 'the wrong sort of criticism' header, and ignore it.

I never said that I didn't want to dicuss with you, but many threads you participate in seem to degenerate into a back and forth over your system (primarily on the issues of consciousness). There has been very little discussion on this thread of the important questions about the transitionperiod raised in Crump's book or the ICC's review of it. I know it can be difficult to seperate them at times; sometimes discussion of one issue leads to others, but we seem to have gotten far off track of the original subject matter of the thread.

I think that your system is worthy of discussion. I think that you have thought long and hard about these things and have built up a comprehensive approach to these issues; even if we tend to think you have many contradictions and difficulties you don't see. Perhaps it would be better if there was a seperate thread to discuss all this?

But here is where you run into a little trouble, when you write things like "Many other Communists are asking similar questions about the experiences of the working class in the 20th century, and reject the 'party mentality'". What does the "party mentality" have to do with anything in this thread? "The party" has barely been mentioned. Why use the term "mentality"? This seems prejorative. It seems a bit like a gratuitous shot at someone, but its not clear who?

LBird
Interlinked

The issues of 'transition period', 'consciousness', 'decadence', 'class' and 'party' are all interlinked, and I'm the one trying to discuss them as a whole.

In my opinion, the 'party/class' relationship is the fundamental key to understanding 'Communism', which is why I bring it into every discussion.

Again, to me, opinions of this relationship are what separate, what I'd call, Leninism, as compared with Marxism.

I admit to steering several discussions into that central one, and I can't apologise for that, because I think it so important.

But, given the expressed wishes of others to 'leave it alone', I will.

slothjabber
Some agreement with LBird

LBird wrote:

...

In my opinion, the 'party/class' relationship is the fundamental key to understanding 'Communism', which is why I bring it into every discussion.

Again, to me, opinions of this relationship are what separate, what I'd call, Leninism, as compared with Marxism...

 

So, as you have the 'Leninist' (or rather Second Internationalist) position that the Communists should rule the working class (by purging non-Communist workers from the workers' councils), and the ICC and its supporters have the Marxist position that the liberation of the working class will be won by the working class, what do you think are the advantages to your Leninism over our Marxism?

LBird
Quite

slothjabber wrote:
So, as you have the 'Leninist' (or rather Second Internationalist) position that the Communists should rule the working class (by purging non-Communist workers from the workers' councils), and the ICC and its supporters have the Marxist position that the liberation of the working class will be won by the working class, what do you think are the advantages to your Leninism over our Marxism?

Yeah, a 'carbon copy' account of my ideas.

It makes me wonder if you've understood (or, quite frankly, even read) anything that I've written.

At best, you're trying to fit what I'm saying into your framework, without even acknowledging that you have a framework of assumptions. I'm questioning your philosophical assumptions, not the policies that flow from those assumptions.

But we're going to not discuss them, again.

slothjabber
Not sure you've ever discussed them at all

... as every time I've asked you refuse to answer.

 

So; yet again - why do you think communists should exclude non-communists from the workers' councils? Why do you think your viewpoint has anything to do with Marxism?

Fred
Demogorgon wrote:"By this, I

Demogorgon wrote:"By this, I mean the mass of the class does not dictate to a proletarian political organisation what its political positions should be. This reduces class consciousness to some sort of democratic poll of what the mass of the proletariat thinks at any particular moment... Class consciousness is not the immediate, psychological consciousness of this or that worker, or even all workers. It is not democratic. It is an awareness of the objective situation of the proletariat, an understanding of what it is, what its interests are and what is must do to pursue those interests."  The class doesn't dictate political positions to any one,  but from where do proletarian political organizations draw their positions?  Surely from the struggles of the class in practice. There's the example of the lesson learned by Marx and others that the class cannot just seize the bourgeois state and use it for its own purposes - the bourgeois state is there to serve only bourgeois interests - but has to discover its own form of dictatorship. This being the invaluable lesson of the Paris Commune.  This vital political understanding, and political position, was not invented by some communist thinker, but was "dictated" by the class through its own revolutionary practice.  The communist theoreticians and advanced "thinkers" produced by the class merely reduced what the class had discovered through political practice into a form of words which encapsulate a vital lesson for us, not to be forgotten or dismissed.  That the Bolsheviks were aware of this lesson of the Commune, about not seizing the bourgeois state, but still seized power of an intact bourgeois state anyway (hoping for salvation from elsewhere perhaps) only reinforces the lesson from the Commune.    This behaviour of the proletariat on seizing political control of Paris doesn't seem to have much to do with the unhelpful word "democracy" so beloved by the bourgeoisie as a disguise for their dictatorship.  For what the working class did in Paris in 1871 was the expression of something new.  They acted almost intuitively on what they must have felt communally to be the right thing to do, in bringing into being the sort of society they began to understand they wanted. Free bread: abolish the police etc.  They weren't putting into practice some ready-made formula, so democracy in its bourgeois sense, and voting on a motion to do either this or that,  didn't arise.  For where we have the emergence of consciousness as a replacement  for ideology surely "democracy",if we need to go on using the word, is going to require a new definition that takes "consciousness" into account? Perhaps "consciousness" will not feel the need for democratic votes, but more the urge to reach consensus whereby counting heads might even be unnecessary, because we know what we're thinking don't we?  And we win doubters  to our cause through discussion and debate  rather than by forcing unripe matters to a vote.  I will will have to stop here because I haven't really thought about this enough.  It's just that proletarian rule and proletarian democracy will be so different from the bourgeois way of organizing society that we'll only truly know about it when we start to do it.    

jk1921
True

Fred wrote:

It's just that proletarian rule and proletarian democracy will be so different from the bourgeois way of organizing society that we'll only truly know about it when we start to do it. 

 

Quite true Fred, which is why its probably not even correct to consider communism some form of "democracy," as that would imply that there is still some kind of political mediation going on. The question is what do we do in the meantime?

 

Fred
What do we do in the

What do we do in the meantime, jk?  

Suggestions.  Wait for the working class to wake up and act. Go on trying to disseminate communist ideas more widely.  Go on arguing with LBird. Read more!  Stop thinking that proletarian struggle and its ultimate aims have anything at all in common with bourgeois habits and understandings of life and try to express what they are more like.  (Very difficult). Break the habit of thinking in bourgeois terms about proletarian issues.   Work to make this web site even more interesting than it is, so that  more and more sympathizers will find it irresistible.  And more no doubt Fred

 

A.Simpleton
Sometimes Fred

I think you are so unpretentiously masterful in your straigthtforward yet 'uncommon' sense :@}

'Stop thinking that proletarian struggle and its ultimate aims have anything at all in common with bourgeois habits and understandings of life and try to express what they are more like.  (Very difficult). Break the habit of thinking in bourgeois terms about proletarian issues.' 

From you - because of your open, creative insistence, yet resolute stance - it comes across as 'revolutionary avuncular wisdom'  . I am only a 'junior' senior citizen looking forward to 'promotion'.

I have been re-reading loads that I have already read and read ,except that I read it again and think: er .... I would swear the author didn't say that the first, second or third time time I read it.

^^

'Does a worker in a cotton factory produce merely cotton textiles? No: he produces Capital: he produces values which serve afresh to command his labour and by means of it create new values ..... this throws an entirely new light on the problem of reality.

It is doubtless true that in Capitalist society the past dominates the present. This only means that there is an antagonistic process that is not guided by a consciousness, but is driven forward by its own immanent blind dynamic, and that this process stands in all its immediate manifestations as the rule of the past over the present, the rule of Capital over labour.

It follows that any thinker who bases his thought on such ideas will be trapped in the frozen forms of this or that stage. He will stand helpless when confronted by the enigmatic forces thrown up by the course of events, and the actions open to him will never be adequate to deal with the challlenge.

This image of frozen 'reality'  at once becomes meaningful when this frozen 'reality' is dissolved into the process of which man is the driving force.

This can only be seen from the standpoint of The Proletariat, for the meaning of these tendencies is the abolition (auf-heben: very simple common use word in Deutsch incidentally) of Capitalism: for the Bourgeloisie to become conscious of them would be suicide.

I am not even going to go to the trouble of citing the author because there is an unfortunate tendency on the forum at present to take any 'name' one mentions and -simply because of a name-launch sloppy random vitriolic 'ah oh that's just typical of 'you' arrogant neo-reflerxist-shaggists.' I'm not a member of anything: but ~I recognise, thoroughness, method, logic,coherence when I see it.

and the ICC has it.

Bollox to ' ...oh yah....Marx is sometimes useful as a contributor to critical thought' ??? He was/is still the ONLY source of the 'Einsteinian level' disclosure that 'critical thought' is flawed from the very beginning because as he patiently, methodically, comprehensively, forensically, showed 'just critical thought' is precisely the wrong starting point.

'It {Marx's materialist View Of History} has not, like the idealistic view of history, in every period to look for a category, but remains constantly on the real ground of history; it does not explain practice from the idea but explains the formation of ideas from material practice; and accordingly it comes to the conclusion that all forms and products of consciousness cannot be dissolved by mental criticism, by resolution into “self-consciousness” or transformation into “apparitions,” “spectres,” “fancies,” etc. but only by the practical overthrow of the actual social relations which gave rise to this idealistic humbug'

AS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i

 

Fred
Thank you for what you say

Thank you for what you say comrade AS.  You have made me happy this morning.