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i hope it's ok to start a thread on what is pretty much just my musings. and no i am not well read or a militant, so forgive me for any lack of clarity or mistakes :-)

so i have mentioned claude lefort before on forums, to the effect that he is still kinda so close to being a communist, that he can be considered almost a crypto marxist.

what i find divergent in his thinking, is that he places such emphasis on the idea of democracy, before that or the working class.

but i see / recall, some "communists": scraping round trying to justify some kind of working class populism (to what possibe ends?). this is not the case with lefort, i think by definition!

but likewise, i would be left to draw from more disparate sources than the working class movement. not class collaboration, it seems that his idea of what democracy amounts to surely preclude that by nature. but, i guess, past bourgeois movements. this, actually, sits well with me, though. not picking them over us at any point in history, but recognizing when, in the past, they have been progressive. sometimes i wonder if a fair amount of my confusion has stemmed from not being able to state that past e.g. reforms were good, without that is working for them. i am left wondering if they were won by a class for itself, that is the working class in opposition to the bourgeois, but what was? i agree [i assume that this is the prime example], the russian revolution actually. but what parts of that instance of the class for itself, were not democratic? is it essential to repeat the ideology of the past, in order to try to right its mistakes?

hesitantly, i want to conclude [and i hope someone here knows what i am talking about, or at least can follow what i'm saying - if not delete this!] that lefort is a very paranoid man - suspicious of both the totalitarian left and right. this appeals to me! at the cost, it seems, of being able to have historical agency. but surely that itself, would be for me, only an illusion. but i don't understand how, if i have no control oevr the future, there can be any individual wth agency. for any entity to have that agency, in the place of individfuals, there would have to be ether a mass movement for a certain kind of democracy, if that is there is no socialist one. the rub is that i don't believe the crisis will go away [not absolutely certain], i didn't like the state of capitalism before the crisis, but equally, i see no good evidence of anything i can do about it. better to try to live on according to democractic, or socialist ones principles? because, outside principle, i see nothing :-) !


democratic ideology is a big obstacle

There's no problem at all about raising the issue of democracy. It's a key question. The basic ideology - of the capacity of 'the majority' to rule when they are still atomised citizens - was a major weakness of the various social movements of 2011 and an expression of the difficulty the proletariat is having in recognising itself as a class, which is one the questions being posed in the thread about 'why is it so difficult to struggle'. 

Some marxists have argued of course that what communists call for - self-organisation of the working class in soviet type organs -is the only 'true' form of democracy. Both Lenin and the council communists have put this forward. Others, like Bordiga, insist that 'workers' democracy' is a contradiction in terms, (since demos means the people and thus is by definition an inter-class concept) or at best a tautology, since when everyone, the demos, rules, there will be no power, no kratos. But all communists agree that the classless society can only be the result of a class-based revolution which destroys the institutions of capitalist democracy.  

It seems there are two

It seems there are two seperate but related questions here. What is the nature of "democracy" itself? and then what is the character of "bourgeois democracy"? Is democracy a useful concept for the workers' movement today (i.e. the idea of the soviets as expressions of "workers democracy," or "direct democracy," or "democracy from below" vs. the notion that democracy implies political mediation and thus the existence of the state and alienation). What about "bourgeois democracy"? Was it ever real? If so, is it still real today or has it been replaced by various forms of state captialist totalitarianism? What about the recent developments in bourgeoise politics that seem to suggest that the electoral mechanisms are escaping the control of the main factions of the bourgeoisie? What does this say about democracy?

There are all very important questions. Claude Lefort was a member of Socialisme ou Barbarie, right?

:"destroys the institutions

:"destroys the institutions of capitalist democracy"


hi alf, hi JK...



yes, lefort was.

" soviet type organs -is the only 'true' form of democracy. Both Lenin and the council communists have put this forward"

i agree. that's not to say that i think that other organs [like your own] are somehow defective. really, i was talking from the perspective of my own perspective, of not being sure how to proceed with my own life. a little lame, i guess. 

what is the essence of the councillist postion? i remember you saying that it is a highly dangerous one. i do not oppose even in theory the formation of a communist party, like lefort probably would. i am just stuck wondering how it can be necessary, if the struggle is a ripe as sometimes it seems to me!

i don't want so seem

i don't want so seem facetious, but if not very soon then when ffs?

i'm not talking about sci-fi, but if things get much more out of our control.......... for a communist i can't see how. maybe if you believed in piecemeal gains that can chip away and a better capitalism TM. but... otherwise?



i'm not any kind of theorist, there's a tonne of stuff i never read but that's how i see it.