Egypt: after the revolution that wasn’t, workers’ struggles continue

123 posts / 0 new
Last post
Demogorgon
I strongly agree with JK's

I strongly agree with JK's excellent post no. 69.

 

jk1921
Kant or Cant?

Demogorgon wrote:

I read one of those, it wasn't bad! I read the Kant book in the same series though and didn't get it at all!

The one on Lacan left me stumped. I still have no idea what the hell he said.

Demogorgon
No-one understands Lacan.

No-one understands Lacan. No-one is meant to understand Lacan. The only real way to understand Lacan is reverse the mirror phase and unravel the linguistic structuring of the ego. Of course, then you wouldn't be able to understand anything else.

Redacted
Ok a few things... Most

Ok a few things...

Most people here seem to be assuming "changing syntax" is the same as "dumbing" something down. I don't think so. Something can remain every bit complex as it was while at the same time using language that workers actually use...on lunch break for example.

But this is pretty irrelevant now, because jk's last post has really made me rethink where I was coming from.

I guess from knowing me personally jk was able to go to the root of my problems directly, after some thought hehe.

"Behind the "you can't inspire me," meme lies a certain lingering substitutionism influenced by Gramscianism in which it is the job of revolutionaries to build up a kind of counter culture within captialism by winning the "struggle for hegemony" with bourgeois insitutions. Of course, from the left communist perspective this is patently impossible. Revolutionary consciousness cannot be won by changing the culture; cultural change follows the revolutionary activity of the working class as it struggles to defend its living and working conditions." - jk

I somehow missed that memo during PF discussions.

Redacted
Re:

Demogorgon wrote:

If the ICC's syntax is complicated, how on earth do people cope with Marx?

Coffee.

Also by reading the same paragraph or sentence over and over and over and over and...

 

@LL - Here is my article for Internationalism: https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201206/5004/sexual-freedom-impossible-under-capitalism

And just for the record there are more than a few threads I've started with 10,000+ views.

 

jk1921 wrote:

The first task of any revolutionary organization is to defend internationalism

Yet the first point on the ICC's Basic Positions is about decadence. Confusing

 

Demogorgon wrote:

If the class is dependent on the success or failings of an organisation that can barely stagger out of double figures on a global basis, then its really not much of revolutionary class is it? The question then becomes why is the ICC so bad? Why has the working class produced such a sorry collection of useless militants? Why isn't there something much better out there?

Demogorgon
Well, actually, decadence is

Well, actually, decadence is the reason why national struggles are no longer revolutionary so it actually should come first ...

Redacted
Lol, ok I'm wrong. I'll just

Lol, ok I'm wrong. I'll just stop now

Fred
  jk1921 wrote:The first task

 

jk1921 wrote:The first task of any revolutionary organization is to defend internationalism. I thought it was to help the class defend itself against capitalism, and come to the realization that capitalism needs to be got rid of and replaced by the self-organization of the class-for-itself. If a worker was to ask the revolutionary organization what it did, and the org replied "we defend internationalism" then I think the worker might wonder what was meant.   I wonder a bit myself. I know the revolution can only be successful on an international basis, and that "nationalism" is poison, and that the workers have no country, but I think "Internationalism" is a very abstract notion at the present time, and not very helpful.  And another small point. If consciousness cannot be changed by changing the culture, why does jk seem to think it can be - or that there is "a cultural gap" rather than a generational gap - on another thread of the forum?   

mhou
Quote: They don't complain

Quote:

They don't complain that the articles are too long and tedious?

It may be due to the small number of people that I distribute to, but I haven't heard that. Most of the complaints I've seen of printed communist press have been on sites like RevLeft where all publications, regardless of the organization or specific publication, are lumped together as 'worthless left rags' to begin with.

jk1921
Helpful to what?

Fred wrote:

I thought it was to help the class defend itself against capitalism, and come to the realization that capitalism needs to be got rid of and replaced by the self-organization of the class-for-itself. 

 The class can't defend itself against capitalism. Capital is driven by the inner logic of its system to attack the working class' living and working conditions. It has no other option. The organization can't help the class do something that is impossible. It can only defend and develop the communist perspective (what I called internationalism in order to distinguish it from leftism) in the hope that as the working class comes to realize the impossibility of defending itself against capitalism, it will find a guide for its struggle. 
Fred wrote:
  If a worker was to ask the revolutionary organization what it did, and the org replied "we defend internationalism" then I think the worker might wonder what was meant.   I wonder a bit myself. 
  The answer was in my previous post. "Defending internalism" simply means developing revolutionary theory and planting a seed of the communist perspective when objective conditions provide an opening. It's not a giant mystery. 
Fred wrote:
 but I think "Internationalism" is a very abstract notion at the present time, and not very helpful.  
 Its not abstract at all. Its a fundamental class line position. Internationalism is what sets apart revolutionaries from bourgeois leftism. All it means is rejecting all factions of the bourgeoisie and recognizing that the problems of captialism cannot be solved within national boundaries. But should we really care if its "helpful" or not right this second? Helpful to what? Just because some workers might find it unhelpful today in terms of their immediate needs, doesn't make it any less necessary on the historical level, which is the level revolutionaries operate at. We are not out to seek an immediate audience in the class, if it means we have to change our positions. 
Fred wrote:
 And another small point. If consciousness cannot be changed by changing the culture, why does jk seem to think it can be - or that there is "a cultural gap" rather than a generational gap - on another thread of the forum?  
 You can call it a "generational gap" if you want. I tried to avoid that terminology because it seems to suggest something about age, which isn't always accurate. But I don't know what you mean when you say I seem to think consciousness can be changed by changing culture. I don't follow that. There is clearly a cultural gap seperating the established organizations of the revolutionary milieu and the newer (see, I didn't say younger) generations of searching elements. Just look at mhou's quote about Revleft. The press of the revolutionary milieu is dismissed as "worthless" left rags. There is just a different way of doing politics--perhaps even a different mode or experience of politicization itself today. This seems like a fact to me and it seems like we can all take notice of it and attempt to find ways through it, rather than reacting with contempt and distrust all the time. Still, that's is a far cry from thinking revolutionaries can win some kind of culture war with bourgeois insitutions or that in order to have more "success" all we have to do is get off our asses and learn how to reach people better. That's what bourgeois politicans do, precisely because they have the resources to engage in mass marketing campaigns to change people's mind. We don't have the capacity to hire all the computer geeks and buy the ad time or fancy microtargeting software that would entail. We can only rely on objective conditions produced by capitalism's insoluable economic crisis to move people towards the communist perspective at which point internationalism might start being more "helpful." 
Fred
Thanks jk. I'm sure you must

Thanks jk. I'm sure you must be right, but I need a couple of aspirins now. 

mhou
Quote: There is clearly a

Quote:
There is clearly a cultural gap seperating the established organizations of the revolutionary milieu and the newer (see, I didn't say younger) generations of searching elements. Just look at mhou's quote about Revleft. The press of the revolutionary milieu is dismissed as "worthless" left rags.
I should note this was in relation to the Trotskyist paper 'The Internationalist'; which then spawned numerous comments about 'all left-wing papers'; I don't know that it's fair to assume those who have stuck to leftism would have the same criticism of a revolutionary press (if they've read them in the first place). There's a quote from one of Engels letters where he says it's better to win over 1 worker with no political history through direct internationalist propaganda than 10 converts from Lassalleanism. I'm inclined to think that the opinions of entrenched leftists aren't interchangable with those of non-politicized workers, or those looking for answers/solutions.
Redacted
Re:

jk1921 wrote:

The press of the revolutionary milieu is dismissed as "worthless" left rags. There is just a different way of doing politics--perhaps even a different mode or experience of politicization itself today. This seems like a fact to me and it seems like we can all take notice of it and attempt to find ways through it, rather than reacting with contempt and distrust all the time.

Well said! "Never take anything personally."

jk1921 wrote:

 Still, that's is a far cry from thinking revolutionaries can win some kind of culture war with bourgeois insitutions or that in order to have more "success" all we have to do is get off our asses and learn how to reach people better.

This seems to be a bit contradictory though. How is "attempt[ing] to find ways through" a dismissive revolutionary milieu any different from getting off our asses and reaching people better?

jk1921 wrote:

That's what bourgeois politicans do, precisely because they have the resources to engage in mass marketing campaigns to change people's mind. We don't have the capacity to hire all the computer geeks and buy the ad time or fancy microtargeting software that would entail.

Wait aren't computer geeks and marketing people workers too? Why would we have to "hire" them?

jk1921 wrote:

We can only rely on objective conditions produced by capitalism's insoluable economic crisis to move people towards the communist perspective at which point internationalism might start being more "helpful."

Is false consciousness an objective condition?

 

mhou
LL- Quote:For us today the

LL-

Quote:
  1. For us today the key, absolutely fundamental issue, is internationalism. This is the dividing line, in today's conditions, between those who one way or another defend a proletarian perspective, and those who do not. For example, if you look at a lot of the slogans in Occupy, they were about making a difference in the USA (this lack of international perspective was very striking to me, looking at events from Europe). So being for assemblies is not in itself a determining factor, IMHO.
  2. While the purpose of any effort to bring revolutionaries together is obviously intervention in the working class, this cannot be seen in the short term. Struggles will come and go (indeed they are coming and going all the time), but if and when internationalists actually try to build something together then they must be in it for the long haul; in other words they must be driven by a perspective which goes way beyond strikes at the immediate level.

I agree with what you and jk have written about the primacy of internationalism as a fundamental of communist positions and activity. Jamal posted about some examples of the international dimensions to Occupy; I think the course of events during the Wisconsin struggle (in its initial phase) show American workers being inspired by workers in Egypt. You're right that internationalism wasn't an immutable principle or guiding force in every instance of social turmoil or protest, but there were instances where it showed through- either in the forms taken, the signs and placards held by demonstrators or statements issued by participants. If communists are a factor as both an expression of consciousness and conduit for communist positions, maybe we should be talking about how the struggles that are constantly coming and going factor into communist activity; the basics of putting internationalist perspectives into practice.

I've been reading about instances where international outlook, open class struggle and the unions are all intermixed and can't quite unravel where rank and filism or militant trade unionism ends and if there are other factors at work; ex. the P-9 meatpackers against Hormel strike in the middle 1980's, where international solidarity was sought by the workers (including statements on South African workers and apartheid) who also combatted their union, the United Food & Commercial Workers union- or more recently rank & filist type groups like 'Transport Workers Solidarity Committee', made up of former local union officers and IWW members that try to link international struggles and solidarity:

http://transportworkers.org/about

Is it a case of workplace militants or workers seeking solutions being drawn into the union orbit, or is it a matter exlusively dominated by institutional trade unionism? The recent link between Hong Kong dockworkers on strike, the Japanese transport union and the lock-out in Vancouver, WA has similar dimensions (how much of it is driven and dominated by the trade unions and how much involves workers seeking international solidarity?). I'm sure communists have to start from internationalism for the reasons jk describes- I'm unsure of how to relate this directly to the ongoing ebb and flow of the class struggle when it comes to real existing situations that, as you rightly point out, are constantly coming and going. Not for the purpose of winning immediate struggles, but of the basic activity of communists within the class (intervention on the basis of class positions)- surely that's important not just for the class, but for making its revolutionary minority better able to carry out its particular functions? Rather than immediatism or activism, I think the question is how communists orient themselves and carry out tasks only communists can given the specifics/characteristics of current conditions.

A.Simpleton
Workers

Hi Jamal: 'Wait aren't computer geeks and marketing people workers too?' #84

Sort of, but no: but I think it's a fair 'attached' point to make. I have asked myself questions to clarify re: 'Capital' 'The State' 'The Middle Class' 'The Bourgeoisie'. A crude sketch, for me as much as anyone....

'Das Kapital'/'Capital' (the 'thing' not the book) is the big 'IT' -neuter- in Capitalism: the latest 'Mode of Production' and the current expression of the whole-of-history-long Class Struggle: instituted by ....

'The Bourgeoisie': now International Cartels of Industry,Services et. al. are The Current Ruling Class who deposed Kings/Caliphs/Mandarins and took over as Accumulators of Hoards.

'The State' is both Capitalist and Bourgeois: it may, on its own against, or in alliance with other States, be in league or at loggerheads with the International Corporate Bourgeoisie: but never at the expense of losing Rule however...

Note: the decadence and decomposition of Capitalism everywhere exacerbates this contradiction of Ruling Class rival, dog eat dog, interests along with the built-in contradictions of the mode itself (see Marx passim)

The State/States and/or The Bourgeoisie own the Means of Production (and consequently the means of distribution et al. )

So....a middle class employee -say a bank teller- may 'work', could be called 'a white collar wage slave', plugging away 9-5 ,but s/he is not of The Proletariat : the motor force of history which mines, grows, manufactures maintains, everything in the world.

Jamal asks 'Is false consciousness an objective condition?' 

My Marxist understanding answers: no. It may arise from objective conditions: it is not part of the primary material 'out there' base: no form of consciousness is material or prior to 'objective circumstances'; trans. 'the objects standing around' 

The colloquial 'received' (wrongly) meaning of Marx's use of 'object' ,'objective', 'objectify' and 'objectification' has fouled up understanding. His use has nothing to do with that heinous usurper 'impartial' for 'objective'.

Jamal is right about 'reading Marx' : one paragraph over and over and etc.

AS

PS : jk's 69# and 81# make important distinctions : and mhou's last post delineates the key issues v,clearly ; all posts are leading to clarity of problem purpose , means ends: excellent clarifications.

A.Simpleton
the tasks

' I'm sure communists have to start from internationalism for the reasons jk describes-'

I agree and also will add here that jk makes an important distinction about 'gaps' -whether described as 'cultural' 'generational' or even 'can't-quite-work-out-what-kind-able'. A perceived disjuncture in Communist Revolutionary Organisation 'lineage'-for want of a better phrase- is well worth analysis: drawing out causes from conditions. jk adds a further key distinguishing perception that whatever these conditions/causes of 'Milieu Flux' may be, they in no way can casually or even logically be projected onto or transferred to The Workers or used to explain the difficulties and obstacles The Class has in fighting Capitalism in'recovering consciousness'.

And both these distinctions above are themsleves distinct from questions of 'orientation', linking 'intervention' ( trans. 'going among') by Organisations and The Class . mhou defines the questions precisely.

'Is it a case of workplace militants or workers seeking solutions being drawn into the union orbit, or is it a matter exlusively dominated by institutional trade unionism? The recent link between Hong Kong dockworkers on strike, the Japanese transport union and the lock-out in Vancouver, WA has similar dimensions how much of it is driven and dominated by the trade unions and how much involves workers seeking international solidarity?'

Rather than immediatism or activism, I think the question is how communists orient themselves and carry out tasks only communists can given the specifics/characteristics of current condition

I was unaware of these specific struggles where workers made cross-national appeals- however 'coming or going'.

Does the ICC perceive a progressive 'evening' of 'uneven-ness' of development'?

The Workers Have No Country: in a way, nor has 'Capital' or 'Commodity' in (unsurprisingly) dialectic contrast/unity - global Capital's oversaturated universalising of 'the commodity' : paradigm -the mobile phone.

Is the unprecedented scale of  'Internationalism' of Capital' (though largely fictional) a relevant factor in conditions or does the mode's all pervasive Decomposition render these questions 'the wrong questions' .

AS

 

 

 

jk1921
Fair Enough

mhou wrote:

Quote:
There is clearly a cultural gap seperating the established organizations of the revolutionary milieu and the newer (see, I didn't say younger) generations of searching elements. Just look at mhou's quote about Revleft. The press of the revolutionary milieu is dismissed as "worthless" left rags.
I should note this was in relation to the Trotskyist paper 'The Internationalist'; which then spawned numerous comments about 'all left-wing papers'; I don't know that it's fair to assume those who have stuck to leftism would have the same criticism of a revolutionary press (if they've read them in the first place) (...). I'm inclined to think that the opinions of entrenched leftists aren't interchangable with those of non-politicized workers, or those looking for answers/solutions.

 

Fair enough, but I have even heard some contacts of left communist organizations dismiss the basic texts of Marxism as "dusty old tomes," or something like that. Not a helpful attitude, but where does it come from?

jk1921
Good Questions

Jamal wrote:

jk1921 wrote:

Still, that's is a far cry from thinking revolutionaries can win some kind of culture war with bourgeois insitutions or that in order to have more "success" all we have to do is get off our asses and learn how to reach people better.

This seems to be a bit contradictory though. How is "attempt[ing] to find ways through" a dismissive revolutionary milieu any different from getting off our asses and reaching people better? 

 It depends on whether we are talking about improving subjective conditions within the milieu or attempting to revolutionize the entire working class through some kind of broad propaganda/cultural campaign. The first one we actually do have some control over; the latter is a voluntarisitc illusion that will only end in frustration, burn-out or worse reintegration into the state apparatus. 
Jamal wrote:
 
jk1921 wrote:

That's what bourgeois politicans do, precisely because they have the resources to engage in mass marketing campaigns to change people's mind. We don't have the capacity to hire all the computer geeks and buy the ad time or fancy microtargeting software that would entail.

Wait aren't computer geeks and marketing people workers too? Why would we have to "hire" them?

 Because not many people work for free. In order to carry out the kind of marketing campaign necesary to actually change the culture, the revolutionary organizations would need a massive infrastructure that it is impossible to obtain--at this moment--without a lot of money to pay experts and other technical type people to do the work necessary to get this done. In other words, we would need to have a party structure something on the order of Social Democracy; we would need to have an open prescensce in civil society, a real social weight capable of mobilizing monetary resources, which would mean we would be on our way towards becomming yet another bourgeois party.  
Jamal wrote:

jk1921 wrote:

We can only rely on objective conditions produced by capitalism's insoluable economic crisis to move people towards the communist perspective at which point internationalism might start being more "helpful."

Is false consciousness an objective condition?

That's a good question. If it is, then we aren't really going to have much success changing minds on anything like a broad level, until objective conditions make it possible. If it isn't, then its not clear what we can do to shake people out of their maladaptive beliefs.

mhou
Press

jk1921 wrote:

Fair enough, but I have even heard some contacts of left communist organizations dismiss the basic texts of Marxism as "dusty old tomes," or something like that. Not a helpful attitude, but where does it come from?

My best guess is a kind of process of weeding out; is it certain that every worker who comes into contact with communist propaganda/press/texts (tomes?), and agrees with the final goal of full communism, will necessarily get involved or be won over to revolutionary positions relevent to the current state of things? Bordiga emphasized that the responsibility for communists is to, together, develop and maintain clarity despite the (greater or lesser) numerical size of the communist organization. Issue #1 of the paper 'The Communist Party' writes:

Quote:
The newspaper Il Partito Comunista, and the organised network of militants gathered and still gathering around it, are the result of a selection which occurred in the course of conducting «the hard work of restoring the revolutionary doctrine and party organ in contact with the working class, outside the realm of personalized politics and electoralist manoeuvrings»; a job undertaken by the  Communist Left in Italy after the collapse in 1926 of the Communist International, the victim of Stalinism and the distorted theory of “Socialism in One Country”. The story of the real reconstitution of the revolutionary class party is inevitably marked by these periodic selections which, in the organisational sphere, express the clarification, definition or simply the placing on the agenda of the major questions of theory, of program, of tactics and of the party’s internal organisation and functioning, which reality itself, not men’s will, forces the party to face up to, to reassert and to formulate in an ever more precise way.

-'On the Same Road as Always', 1974

Is this concept unique to Bordigism, or is it an example of a generally accepted view of the nature/tasks of the communist minority of the class common to the communist left in general? If it is a general concept developed by the communist left and not unique to the PCI, then dismissal of the foundational texts of Marxism and tactics of the revolutionary organization is a real life example of this 'selection' or as slothjabber put it in an earlier thread an example of 'a communist not wanting to work with other communists'- is rejection of 'long texts' or printed press in general just a flashpoint of a deeper disagreement with communist tactics and positions (i.e. would the same people still reject working with or joining an organization even if the media of an organization is overhauled, internet-only, pleasing the way commercial websites are, simpler, etc.?). I don't know. How do we explain those of us contributing here now; surely we've all read the press and been influenced (if not won over) by the positions therein- how else did 'we' get here?

AS-

Quote:
I was unaware of these specific struggles where workers made cross-national appeals- however 'coming or going'.

There's an interesting article from the French section on their intervention:

Quote:
Thus for example, on the 13 May, at a departmental (regional) general assembly regrouping around 500 strikers in Lyon and led by the an 'Intersyndicale' made up of the FSU, FO, CGT, SUD and the CNT, our comrades were able to intervene twice despite the aggressive attitude of the Intersyndicale which chaired the assembly (and in particular a local boss of the Trotskyist LCR, an official of the FSU union, who tried to stop them speaking with interruptions like "Cut it short", "Start by getting your school out on strike"). Despite the union barrage aimed at shutting us up, another comrade who works in the hospital sector had come to this assembly and insisted on the necessity to cross the street and meet up with other sectors suffering the same attack on pensions. His intervention was followed very closely and this forced the praesidium to switch off the microphone. But despite this manoeuvre, our comrade continued his intervention by raising his voice. He was warmly applauded. It was at this moment that the praesidium was obliged to take notice of the orientation our comrades were putting forward: the necessity for geographical extension, but only as a vague perspective - which the leftists did in many places, once the movement began to run out of steam. This parody of extension would be concretised by sending delegations of trade union officials to trade union officials in other sectors.

This departmental assembly clearly showed that the 'radical' unions, to avoid being outflanked by the impact of our interventions, were forced to adopt these kinds of manoeuvres.

The vote on [the ICC] motion showed that there is the beginning of a questioning of union control over the struggle and of their sabotaging manoeuvres. Although this questioning is only taking place in a minority, the intervention of our militants was not a bolt out of the blue. On several occasions our comrades were called on to develop their interventions, sometimes with invitations to come and speak at other assemblies in the sector where the same kinds of question were being posed. Numerous discussions took place and are still continuing. In other departmental assemblies, like the one on 21 May in Nantes, our comrades directly confronted the unions by proclaiming loudly that "the unity of the struggle doesn't mean trade union unity!"

https://en.internationalism.org/wr/266_notre_intervention.htm

The union to union delegations proposed and international trade union unity demonstrated this year between the US-Chinese-Japanese dockworkers/transport unions (and the rank and file/extra-union groups like the TWSC, Labor Notes, etc.) seems similar to some of the points the ICC makes on the episode in France and different sectors/industries and the unions. But the article also describes the popularity of the communist press during this specific intervention- why is it that the communist press does well in instances of active engagement with other workers during open struggle, but doesn't win over every individual that seeks out communist positions?

 

Quote:

I agree and also will add here that jk makes an important distinction about 'gaps' -whether described as 'cultural' 'generational' or even 'can't-quite-work-out-what-kind-able'. A perceived disjuncture in Communist Revolutionary Organisation 'lineage'-for want of a better phrase- is well worth analysis: drawing out causes from conditions. jk adds a further key distinguishing perception that whatever these conditions/causes of 'Milieu Flux' may be, they in no way can casually or even logically be projected onto or transferred to The Workers or used to explain the difficulties and obstacles The Class has in fighting Capitalism in'recovering consciousness'.

And both these distinctions above are themsleves distinct from questions of 'orientation', linking 'intervention' ( trans. 'going among') by Organisations and The Class .

I wonder whether they are closer in nature, or, have an answer that is relevant to all of these questions.  

 

A.Simpleton
Also

I too am wondering: I am not at all convinced by my own reasoning: it's dark: I've lost my spectacles and there is more than one gap to fall into.

AS

 

jk1921
Popularity

mhou wrote:

But the article also describes the popularity of the communist press during this specific intervention- why is it that the communist press does well in instances of active engagement with other workers during open struggle, but doesn't win over every individual that seeks out communist positions?

Possibly because the workers in the heat of struggle begin to see certain themes in the communist press that express their feelings in the moment; however, outside of open struggle, individual searchers are held back by fear of taking certain positions that have ominous implications (decadence, decomposition, etc.) they are not prepared to acknowledge or integrate into their life (perhaps, because they would imply a need for organization). The ICC has an analysis of this phenomenon in the article where it examines the resistance to decadence theory in the milieu.

 

mhou
I agree with that

I agree with that interpretation; and there's a definite break with the typical purpose/spirit of activism, unionism or bizarre military-disciplined cadre and other organizational norms of leftism. Do you think the real life implications of political positions should be explored further?

Fred
mhou wrote: . Do you think

mhou wrote:
. Do you think the real life implications of political positions should be explored further?
 

 

This is a terrific question, well posed.  Yes. I think they should be.  But I'm not going to start. I am not prepared to integrate this question into my life today.  Is the article jk refers to the one in French, or some other? 

mhou
jk may be describing a

jk may be describing a different one, but I think this is the article:

https://en.internationalism.org/ir/118_decadence_i.html

jk1921
This One

mhou wrote:

jk may be describing a different one, but I think this is the article:

https://en.internationalism.org/ir/118_decadence_i.html

 

Actually, I think it was this one: https://en.internationalism.org/internationalreview/201206/4981/decadence-capitalism-part-xiii-rejection-and-regressions

A.Simpleton
Radical Chains

Posted the whole of this this on the Day of Discussion thread and I thank him for it: these are just some excerpts from a critical reaction to 'People Assembly' blather .

 

'.....So let’s stop talking about being anti anything and start talking about being pro whatever the new solution is.

More importantly the move from, say capitalism into communism, as Marx stated is not to be achieved overnight and we must [1] seize the right time [2] definitively move from capitalism into communism at the will and desire of the people. Such actions cannot be forced and this is why there has never been a communist state to date, only authoritarianism regimes or those with communist ideals. As much as I would love a party that “educated” the masses on what Marxism is, and why they have an extremely misinformed view of communism, what we need right now is just a mass part by the people for the people. Capitalism must fall, but this doesn’t mean we need to explicitly discuss this with the masses. Each individual must have his/her/hir /their own enlightenment when it comes to how capitalism is eating them alive and openly robbing and raping them of their right to the means of production. I do not use these adjectives lightly; I have literally been raped by this system of my right to the means of production living my life as a slave to wage labour.

Furthermore, I want to hear from people who have some political grasp and understanding of Marxism, socialism, fascism, reactionary ideas, propaganda etc who can offer us clear explanations and solutions that are politically driven – not comedians, celebrities and waste of space public figures. They need to be able to talk about the good and the bad. They need to be able to learn from the victories and the losses, the rights and wrongs of former leaders and regimes from Hitler to Lenin, Stalin to Mussolini, Thatcher to Blair. We need people providing analysis who understand the intricacies of the workings of politics who are leading. That doesn’t mean I want to sit back helplessly, that doesn’t mean I am stupid or lazy, that doesn’t mean I see myself as inadequate. It’s called finding the right individual(s) for the job, as long as they are from the PROLETARIAT and are rightfully elected. '

...................

 Can we please not confuse top-down approaches with strong leadership and the possibility for a bottom-up approach that utilizes leadership and structure. I want to be led by a strong group of people, who are dedicating their time and effort to resolving these issues. May I remind you that I have a job to go to and children to raise. I can campaign, I can protest, but my desire for strong leadership and the fruition of a relationship with leaders who are my mentors more than leaders, and those willing to sacrifice their lives on behalf of the causes we discuss, IS NOT authoritarianism or top-down approaches......

.................

 

........I am sick of hearing about how we need to reach consensus on exactly how the party should look, feel, smell, taste etc. This is not an interior decorating challenge – we are talking here about the formation of something organic, which grows and changes in time and which WILL NOT BE PERFECT from the outset and will probably never be perfect – which is why is will be a thing in CONTSTANT REVOLUTION. So let’s get realistic and stop trying to achieve something that panders to and tries to please everybody. There are some basic things we all agree on so we could start a party tomorrow based on the following tenants: unity, equality, anti-racism, anti-prejudice, pro LGBTQ, anti-austerity, rights to the means of production, supporting the 99% of working people and financially crushing the 1% of rich elites. The rest we can fill in once we actually have a damn organization. We don’t even need to be a “political party” right now but we need to be out on the road, speaking, uniting, sharing, talking about what we stand for and trying to increase membership every single day.

..........

Is this not a real life example of a proletarian mother who nonetheless is an urgent 'searcher ' as jk describes and is 'reflecting the 'real life implications of polical positions' which mhou relevantly brings up ?

-individual searchers are held back by fear of taking certain positions that have ominous implications (decadence, decomposition, etc.) they are not prepared to acknowledge or integrate into their life (perhaps, because they would imply a need for organization)

Her comprehensive, not-at-all-mystified, vigorous, statement doesn't seem held back by fear of organisation or education:

Furthermore, I want to hear from people who have some political grasp and understanding of Marxism, socialism, fascism, reactionary ideas, propaganda etc who can offer us clear explanations and solutions that are politically driven – not comedians, celebrities and waste of space public figures. They need to be able to talk about the good and the bad. They need to be able to learn from the victories and the losses, the rights and wrongs of former leaders and regimes from Hitler to Lenin, Stalin to Mussolini, Thatcher to Blair. We need people providing analysis who understand the intricacies of the workings of politics who are leading.

 

For whole article and context of what she's criticising go here:

Jasmin Al-Hadaq

 

Just one individual but..

Apologies if you've all read this already but I missed it for a week or two and find it focussing

AS

 

 

mhou
The sentiment expressed by

The sentiment expressed by the participant that AS quotes is literally one of seeking answers- which as jk pointed out, the form of communist organization is ultimately the answer (resevoir of experience and common-collective activity). How does someone in that situation find a 'pole of regroupment' /  make first contact with a communist organization? Maybe actively promoting the perspective of capitalist decadence to new communists is itself a means to defend it from attacks by other sections of the 'proletarian political camp' (process of clarification at the point of doing/being engaged, rather than 2 fixed positions in a theoretical stalemate).

Fred
I thoroughly agree with what

I thoroughly agree with what mhou says. Jasmin has great passion and confusion and is seeking answers.   But I think she's reflecting ' the real life implications of no political position at all', or a mixture of many. And her longing for strong leadership is upsetting, because  she's thinking in a Trotskyist-bourgeois way while insisting on some different kind of society as being necessary. She wants the right kind of people to be elected "from the proletariat"!  Is this the democracy myth/trap again?  mhou wonders how she can make contact with some "pole of regroupment" or make first contact with a communist organization.  It isn't exactly easy to make contact with a pukka communist organization is it though? They're not exactly two a penny. And if you only made contact with the ICC...well it would depend what form the contact took, if it was to have good effects.  "Dry and dusty documents" clearly don't go down well everywhere; articles about decadence and the fetishism of commodities may not immediately be what's needed; an in-depth on-the-net debate about what's going in Egypt and Syria, and how these disasters arise from Imperialism or whatever, may not help a frustrated mother immediately; and while an account of the breakdown of health and social services, and an analysis of the imposition of austerity, will strike sympathetic chords, will it "convert" her to Marxism, for which clarity she is clearly crying out.  She could have found what she wanted had she gone to the day of discussion, but she wouldn't have known about that would she?  And that's really the trouble and the heart of the matter.  People just don't know about communism anymore. The bourgeoisie have shit  all  over even the idea of it in the most effective way. A triumph for them! 

 

She says she wants to hear from people who have an understanding of Marxism.  This surely is a direct appeal to the ICC, ICT, Internationalism, Birov, and many other small groupings round the world, to some how make themselves better known in a simple way to an unknown audience in unknown places who are looking for information.  That's a very helpful thing to say, isn't it? (lol)  Of course I don't know how such comrades would do this.  But how do people hear about anything?  Leaflets saying simply what communism is, and what it wasn't, spring to mind.  But that only reflects an inability to consider anything new on my behalf.   How can we tell people simply what communism is? How do we get the information to them, without the aid of mass media?  Can you place leaflets about communism in public libraries? Ha Ha and Ha again!  I suppose not.  Do Jamal and radicalchains, or mhou and jk, have any ideas about this, or the down-but-not-out Demogorgon who wondered whether the ICC could have done better?  Maybe. But consider what it's done and cheer!  

 

If only we had the Party, say some.  But if we had it what would it do now?  But instead of the Party what if the groups I mentioned above were to consider working together to find a way to aid and hasten the dissemination of the idea of communism to a wider public....But at my back I seem to hear jk's objections rumbling near. (With apologies to Andrew Marvell). And so will stop. 

A.Simpleton
Yes and no ..

 

Yes Fred I agree and can see confusion about 'how' to organise, a localised and understandable urgency-to-impatience that has the pitfalls of 'let's-at-least-do-something-now-anything-while-waiting-for-the-right-conditions-for-Proletarian-revolution' .....but then in all fairness I only have to look within the milieu to see that in trumps ( not to mention occasionally in the mirror ) .

I guess I saw the encouraging half of her 'Escher Sketch': you the equally inherent discouraging half.

 Albeit solo- one voice of the Oppressed Class speaks with considerable clarity of consciousness on some key mystifications. viz:     She's aware of The Great Lie of the USSR. Reform is not the answer plus 'it's not about this or that banker it's the mode of production itself. The Eureka moments ? Awareness cannot be injected : and 'ownership of the means of production' is her right.   To be fair one could equally cherry pick and highlight the negative indications as you say.  AS

mhou
In the debate on Wisconsin

In the debate on Wisconsin that was published by IP, one of the participants believes the communist left has never developed practice for non-revolutionary times (I disagree with the ahistoric or abstract idea of 'left communist practice' that doesn't take account of factors like flux-reflux, counter-revolution, etc. and seems to lump together the original communist left in the 20's and 30's to post-war and post-1968 left communist groups):

http://internationalist-perspective.org/IP/ip-discussions/unions-2.html

But it's along the same lines as the discussion here- 'what do we do and why'. The documents published about the recent 19th Congress of the ICC give a concise analysis of the present period and what is happening (accounting for many of the factors Barnes' critique in the IP discussion doesn't mention- end of the reflux in the class struggle stretching from the late 70s-early 2000's, new international wave of struggle, the crisis of capitalism and the debt crisis of 2007-08, response of the  bourgeoisie to the crisis, etc.)- I think it provides a positive framework to begin answering what "we" do now and why.

https://en.internationalism.org/ir/146/resolution-international-situation

jk1921
No Theory?

mhou wrote:

In the debate on Wisconsin that was published by IP, one of the participants believes the communist left has never developed practice for non-revolutionary times (I disagree with the ahistoric or abstract idea of 'left communist practice' that doesn't take account of factors like flux-reflux, counter-revolution, etc. and seems to lump together the original communist left in the 20's and 30's to post-war and post-1968 left communist groups):

http://internationalist-perspective.org/IP/ip-discussions/unions-2.html

But it's along the same lines as the discussion here- 'what do we do and why'. The documents published about the recent 19th Congress of the ICC give a concise analysis of the present period and what is happening (accounting for many of the factors Barnes' critique in the IP discussion doesn't mention- end of the reflux in the class struggle stretching from the late 70s-early 2000's, new international wave of struggle, the crisis of capitalism and the debt crisis of 2007-08, response of the  bourgeoisie to the crisis, etc.)- I think it provides a positive framework to begin answering what "we" do now and why.

https://en.internationalism.org/ir/146/resolution-international-situation

I don't know if Barnes's representation of IP's position on Wisconsin is accurate or not, but what he describes sure wasn't the ICC's analysis. There was a potential for generalization and mass struggle pregnant in the early days of the movememt that was eventually recuperated by the unions and the Democratic party on legalist grounds. The question then is why did this happen? Why did the workers allow themselves to be enrolled in the electoralist campaigns? (Of course, if we are going to ask that--we might as well ask why the German working class consistently handed power back over to the Social Democrats in 1918-1920?) Barnes' answer is that there were no revolutionaries with strong enough organic links to the class to actually call the general strike and that left communism has failed because it has no theory of how to build these links in non-revolutionary times. There is no theory of revolutionary practice for periods in which massive class struggle is not imminent.

I don't think it is so much the case that left communism has no theory of what to do in periods outside of open struggle. Its more that its theory is not very attractive to many people who want to be seen as doing something, anything, concrete to advance the cause-- people who say they want to be "proactive" and not "sit back and wait." Its not for nothing that leftism attracts more people than left communism. It offers people something concrete to do. There is a vision of building something right now that leads somewhere, even if it is just some front group. I understand Barnes' is no leftist, but his critique seems rife with many of the same themes that are hurled at left communism by leftists--its really another religion, its academic, its passive, etc., etc. 

Still, Barnes seems to have no theory to explain just where these revolutionaries with organic links are supposed to come from. Is it all just a matter of will? Of having the right theoretical orientation and overcoming our cloistered biases, of being willing to get out there and mix it up at the shopfloor level? Is that all it takes to get workers' to actually listen to us and not the Democrats? It all seems rather simplistic in its voluntarism and ignores the tremendous power of bourgeois ideology which can only be overcome when workers' objective needs move them to see through it. Are we really at a juncture in history where the prescence/abscence of revolutionaries at the shopfloor level is what makes the difference?

mhou
The opinion in that

The opinion in that particular piece I don't think is indicative of the IP position (the post WB is responding to may be)- but a key part of it is a recognition that there are times when 'outside intervention' is how communists make contact with the struggle which in turn influences communists (although he picked an example from over a century ago- Lenin in 1905). This is the point that was lost in the Situationists' post-May 68 text (Beginning of an Era)- they say basically the same thing as Barnes:

"If just 1 occupied factory had formed a council..." to the above "If just one public sector workplace formed a shop committee..."- but the point is: what is our role in that? The IWW was the only organization representing a working-class position on internationalism that had both an established local organization at the epicenter of events and members embedded in local workplaces- while they demonstrated a lot of the hesitations and confusions inherent to an organization that allows one-click online membership and a 'big tent' +/- syndicalist vision, shown in their general strike pamphlet (telling workers to go back to 'their unions' and demanding preparation for an AFL-CIO run general strike), but the popularity of their propaganda and slogans during the initial phase of the struggle, from workers holding their General Strike posters during the constant protests to spread of their pamphlet, leaflets and press (based on IWW reports published online before the 'Recall Walker' campaign became the centerpiece of the struggle), suggests/is indicative of a brief period of time in a limited geographic area that a space of some kind was opened for revolutionary positions. Who's to say a modest handful of communist militants tied to an international organization couldn't have had an impact on par with the ICC's experience in France during the pensions fight? The unions were in a far worse position initially in Wisconsin- since their first reaction was to immediately accept all cuts in the name of their members (but keep check-off and contracts); it took awhile for the unions-Democratic Party to take control of the unrest and completely channel it to legalism.

mhou
On the international terrain,

On the international terrain, beyond the specifics of the US or Egypt or France, do the same actions have the same validity for communists/communist organizations- are the actions by the ICC sections in Spain during the Indignados movement or what the Turkish section is doing right now, the same that communists everywhere else should be doing (or aspire to do) during the international response of the class to the crisis?

jk1921
Crowding Out

mhou wrote:

Who's to say a modest handful of communist militants tied to an international organization couldn't have had an impact on par with the ICC's experience in France during the pensions fight? The unions were in a far worse position initially in Wisconsin- since their first reaction was to immediately accept all cuts in the name of their members (but keep check-off and contracts); it took awhile for the unions-Democratic Party to take control of the unrest and completely channel it to legalism.

I don't know. This sounds like something akin to chaos theory. Small changes in initial conditions can result in widely divergent outcomes. But this still leaves us with the burden of explaining why these communist militants were not there? Or were they there? Isn't the ICT's U.S. comrade based in Wisconsin or somewhere close? Wasn't there someone on the ground there defending internationalist/communist positions? If so, why were their ideas crowded out by the electoralist/legalist campaign?

 

Why is the voice of internationalism that the workers' heard the IWW's? Why are they able to maintain the kind of prescence they do, where left communists are marginalized at that level? What is the relationship between the IWW's local precence and their advice to "return to your unions"? Is it just a mistake or is there some kind of relationship between their ability to maintain this kind of local prescene and almost always ending up as adjuncts of the official unions? Does one condition the other?

mhou
Quote: But this still leaves

Quote:
 But this still leaves us with the burden of explaining why these communist militants were not there? Or were they there? Isn't the ICT's U.S. comrade based in Wisconsin or somewhere close? Wasn't there someone on the ground there defending internationalist/communist positions? If so, why were their ideas crowded out by the electoralist/legalist campaign?

At that moment, likely due to the permanent-mass organization nature of the IWW; the weaknesses of which include no development of militants, little accountability or responsibility. But the nature of communist organizations in non-revolutionary times, developing cadre with active participation of members in the life of the organization, should be able to 'break through' being crowded out by numerically larger organizations (IWW, AFL-CIO, ISO, SPUSA) that will also be present in large or qualitatively 'different' class movements. I would've thought that the practical activity of the communist organization would be the same internationally- if the forces exist to intervene, then it would be done to the abilities of members (this may not always be possible depending on geography, and we're all workers anyway so financially this is difficult as well)- when talking about being involved or intervention vs activism, are the types of recent published accounts of involvement in specific struggles (France 2010, Spain 2011, Turkey today), some of the things Jamal brought up earlier, the kinds of activities 'we' should use as a template for guidance?

I'm assuming that there is a significant qualitative difference between a single militant and a small group of militants- particularly if the latter are members of an international organization. But being able to define what is expected of a member of an international organization, what you do as a member (including how/why involvement with episodes of ferment is important) is an important part of integrating new or won over communists into the organization?

 Analysis of the present conditions and of the state of the class struggle has to come from real experience: if our task is to understand the movement of capital and movement of the class which gets crystalized in theory (which then informs practice), I think it has to mean some measure of engagement with ongoing struggle. Barnes' response to the first part of the IP discussion was to a post that relied almost entirely on an abstract framework that didn't involve much attention to actual events:

ex.

Quote:
Then, it was the role of the unions in forging the very nexus of corporate liberalism, today it's to defend -- not the standard of living of the workers -- but the legal right of the unions to speak for them and to play a predominant role in the management and control of the collective worker. Madison may be the scene of a bitter struggle, but the question for pro-revolutionaries is whether this is a struggle on the terrain of the collective worker, a struggle against capital and its depredations OR an intra-capitalist struggle, a struggle between competing factions of the capitalist class, with the unions mobilizing the workers in the service of coporate liberalism.

http://internationalist-perspective.org/IP/ip-discussions/unions-1.html

Yes, this and other struggles come and go- but it's a part of the life of the organization, right?  I think the 19th Congress documents did an excellent job outlining the nature of the present state of things, from different angles, with consistent methodology- that doesn't read as divorced from the real experience of the class.

jk1921
Whose divorced from the "real

Whose divorced from the "real experience" of the class? IP? Barnes may be right that IP's analysis tried to force certain preconceived abstract theoretical notions on the actual events, but this still doesn't get us to an explanation of why the militants he wanted to see on the ground didn't exist, or didn't exist in such weight to break through the democratic/electoralist campaign. Is it a matter of objective conditions either 1.) not producing suffiicient forces to carry out such intervention or 2.) such intervention not reflecting the immediate "needs" of the mobilized workers at that moment OR was it a case, as many allege, of the existing organizations being sclerotic, passive and aloof and failing to make the appropriate interventions or failing to do so in a way that resonates with the workers--in other words a failure of leadership or messaging?

In the end, any organization can only DO what its forces allow it to do. I assure you that writing articles, making analyses of world events and carrying on the discussions that make these analyses possible are not in any way "passive." Its all very hard work that requires a great deal of energy and commitment. Nor do I think one has to be on the ground at every struggle in order to appreciate the "real experience" of the class.

I think that IP was right to ask the question that it did about the significance of the events in Wisconsin, even if I disagree with their conclusion. We can all make mistakes, but I am not sure it is frutiful to conclude that these mistakes are evidence of some kind of organic disconnect between the revolutionary organizations and the wider class that renders their analysis inevitably "shrill," as Barnes suggested IPs was. I think that there might be a tinge of workerism behind this approach, i.e. only workers or those closely involved in their struggles can really know what is going on. 

mhou
I guess you could call it a

I guess you could call it a stylistic difference- both make the same analysis of the end of the protests/occupation, and both (for different reasons) oppose unionism. But the first analysis seems to suggest that the content was the same from before and after day 1 of what we know as 'what happened in Wisconsin', while the latter makes a larger effort to analyze day by day, specific events as they unfolded. Which one is the preferable path to analyze phenomenon in the class? Is one workerist; is one divorced from events? I'm not really sure. The argument that 'we must start from the unions because that is where the workers are' doesn't sound as compelling or persuasive as the point that pre-determining the outcome and content of events based on existing schema has a risk of turning theorization of the movement of the class into something abstract and out of step with what is happening.

Quote:
In the end, any organization can only DO what its forces allow it to do. I assure you that writing articles, making analyses of world events and carrying on the discussions that make these analyses possible are not in any way "passive." Its all very hard work that requires a great deal of energy and commitment. Nor do I think one has to be on the ground at every struggle in order to appreciate the "real experience" of the class.

I agree completely; not sure if we disagree on whether or not that is the exclusive activity of a communist organization- even if the forces do not allow it at present, should that stop discussion of the other activities in the life of the organization? It doesn't have to be an either/or situation of 'we must be present anytime there is industrial action' - 'we must not be present anytime there is industrial action'.

Quote:
1.) not producing suffiicient forces to carry out such intervention or 2.) such intervention not reflecting the immediate "needs" of the mobilized workers at that moment OR was it a case, as many allege, of the existing organizations being sclerotic, passive and aloof and failing to make the appropriate interventions or failing to do so in a way that resonates with the workers--in other words a failure of leadership or messaging?

Can those questions be answered without talking about the 'left communist practice' that WB alleges doesn't exist? There's a disconnect here. Are the kinds of active involvement linked earlier in this thread (in France, Spain, Turkey) workerist, or activism, immediatist?

Quote:
I think that IP was right to ask the question that it did about the significance of the events in Wisconsin, even if I disagree with their conclusion. We can all make mistakes, but I am not sure it is frutiful to conclude that these mistakes are evidence of some kind of organic disconnect between the revolutionary organizations and the wider class that renders their analysis inevitably "shrill," as Barnes suggested IPs was. I think that there might be a tinge of workerism behind this approach, i.e. only workers or those closely involved in their struggles can really know what is going on.

Their willingness to publish the debate is important, and despite agreement or disagreement valuable. I agree it wouldn't be fruitful to conclude, based on style or particular points of one published piece, that IP (or anyone else) is 'disconnected from the class'- the contrast between the responses suggest an underlying difference in perspective on what communists are in relation to the working-class, which is seemingly part of the disagreements spanning this thread.

jk1921
Well, I think in the end the

Well, I think in the end the sentiment expressed by Barnes, and which comes up here frequently (typically by newer comrades), is that there is something "practical" that left communist organizations could be doing now that they are not. Or that there is something some left communists are doing that others are not or something like that.

First, there is a tendency here to idealize a certain notion of "practice" and to oppose it to things like discussion, analysis and publishing written texts (sometimes seen as mere "rhetoric"), as if these things were not a form of practice in their own right. This is what allows Barnes to say that the communist left never developed a conception of practice for non-revolutionary times. Putting out a journal, developing Marxist theory, maintaining an organizational base and attempting to transmit the lessons of the past to a new generation are simply not seen by many as a form of "practice."

But beyond that, I think that Barnes' misses a lot of history. The history of the communist left is rife with various attempts of frustrated elements, groups, tendencies, etc. to do "more" that these things, to go to the shopfloor, to be there among the workers, etc. etc. Almost invariably, as the ICC's book on the history of the Dutch and German Communist Left shows, these efforts end up in disintegration, compromise with Trotskyism or Social Democracy or some other such fate. The specificity of Marxist theory disintegrates into the empirical consciousness of the class at the given moment. 

In fact, I might go so far as to say that avoiding these kinds of pitfalls is precisely what makes left communism distinct. Perhaps, this also condemns it to be a severly minoritarian movement outside of times of open struggle with no apparent "practice," but it is what it is. Attempting to deride left communists for having no theory of "practice" for non-revolutionary times is a little like criticizing a dog for not being a cat. In short, its a straw-man.

A.Simpleton
All good

Your post #69 still rings clear jk:

"Revolutionary consciousness cannot be won by changing the culture; cultural change follows the revolutionary activity of the working class as it struggles to defend its living and working conditions. The organization is not some kind of counter-institution that can impact the direction of bourgeois culture--it is itself a product of the working class struggling to throw off the ideological and cultural dominance of the bourgeoisie, which then reflexively acts on that struggle by defending the communist perspective once it has reached a certain level of development."

The answer to the question, "What does the ICC do?" is that it does what it has always done--it develops revolutionary theory and seeks to plant the seed of internationalism wherever it can. It simply can't do anything else without objective conditions providing the opening."

I doubt I've seen a clearer summation. Furthermore, 'It simply can't do anything else until ....'is absolutely not 'doing nothing' : and the fact that the questions, doubts, that 'we' all have are aired and followed through -as above- even if it is to the conclusion 'that no definitive conclusion is possible' is all sharpening reflex, making clarity more precise.

Yes indeed that is work: effort, directed mental labour: within the context of the all pervasive class struggle. In this sense it cannot be 'disconnected': the moving interdependent arising - the dialectical method made radical by Marx is in a class of its own (no pun intended). What other method identifies the key essences/reference points from the 'chaos of Bourgeois' society' allowing some grip of understanding and yet by its very nature not freezing them into stone or firing them into space.

The class struggle is an invariable constant that is constantly varying:  the forces within it are constantly and invariably linked but by links that are constantly variable. 

The AD. would run : Person wanted to clearly describe the above for the good of mankind : long hours : no pay: must be derision tolerant.

AS

 

 

 

 

mhou
Quote:Well, I think in the

Quote:
Well, I think in the end the sentiment expressed by Barnes, and which comes up here frequently (typically by newer comrades), is that there is something "practical" that left communist organizations could be doing now that they are not. Or that there is something some left communists are doing that others are not or something like that.

You're right that this sentiment does come up- but in this case, taking the day to day upkeep of an international organization as a starting point (constant internal and external discussion for the purpose of analysis and elaboration of theory, distribution and maintanence of the press and online presence, etc.) as a necessary part of communist practice, where examples of the international organization acting in other ways on top of aforementioned practices fit in to the discussion of what the organization is, does, and why.

Quote:
First, there is a tendency here to idealize a certain notion of "practice" and to oppose it to things like discussion, analysis and publishing written texts (sometimes seen as mere "rhetoric"), as if these things were not a form of practice in their own right. This is what allows Barnes to say that the communist left never developed a conception of practice for non-revolutionary times. Putting out a journal, developing Marxist theory, maintaining an organizational base and attempting to transmit the lessons of the past to a new generation are simply not seen by many as a form of "practice."

I agree completely. They are practices; vital for the continued existence of an organization and its advancement. But taken as a whole, in other situations, other forms of practice are engaged in on top of all of the previously mentioned activities- are you saying that speaking at workers' meetings, arguing communist positions in assemblies, distributing pamphlets, leaflets and/or the press during strikes or social movements, etc. are superfluous, or a tendency in the wrong direction for an organization like the ICC?

Quote:
But beyond that, I think that Barnes' misses a lot of history. The history of the communist left is rife with various attempts of frustrated elements, groups, tendencies, etc. to do "more" that these things, to go to the shopfloor, to be there among the workers, etc. etc. Almost invariably, as the ICC's book on the history of the Dutch and German Communist Left shows, these efforts end up in disintegration, compromise with Trotskyism or Social Democracy or some other such fate. The specificity of Marxist theory disintegrates into the empirical consciousness of the class at the given moment.

I'm hesitant to agree- yes, there are plenty of examples of small groups or splits from existing organizations that chase other forms of practice; my problem with Barnes' claim that there has never existed a defined non-revolutionary left communist practice, if talking about 'practice' in the sense of examples like the ICC in France, Spain or Turkey given earlier in this thread, his claim is abstract (what about the GCF in the massive strikes in France in 1952 or the PCInt in the 1940's, vs contemporary intervention by the ICC). I understand your point about being fixated on the immediate or drawing conclusions solely from what the class is doing at a given moment in time & space, but are examples of 'intervention', which take place in addition to the practices of discussion, debate, analysis, publishing articles-pamphlets-books-press, theoretical elaboration- a liability rather than integral part of the whole of communist organization, causing it to potentially lose its way?

Quote:
In fact, I might go so far as to say that avoiding these kinds of pitfalls is precisely what makes left communism distinct. Perhaps, this also condemns it to be a severly minoritarian movement outside of times of open struggle with no apparent "practice," but it is what it is. Attempting to deride left communists for having no theory of "practice" for non-revolutionary times is a little like criticizing a dog for not being a cat. In short, its a straw-man.

Maybe; but contemporary communist organizations do have established practice- ongoing at this moment, with plenty of historical examples going back to the '20s.

Quote:
Furthermore, 'It simply can't do anything else until ....'is absolutely not 'doing nothing' : and the fact that the questions, doubts, that 'we' all have are aired and followed through -as above- even if it is to the conclusion 'that no definitive conclusion is possible' is all sharpening reflex, making clarity more precise.

That's a good point to keep in mind in the process/progress of it all.

mhou
double post

Doublepost.

jk1921
Losing its way

mhou wrote:

I agree completely. They are practices; vital for the continued existence of an organization and its advancement. But taken as a whole, in other situations, other forms of practice are engaged in on top of all of the previously mentioned activities- are you saying that speaking at workers' meetings, arguing communist positions in assemblies, distributing pamphlets, leaflets and/or the press during strikes or social movements, etc. are superfluous, or a tendency in the wrong direction for an organization like the ICC?

No, I am not saying that at all. But these "other forms of practice" can only be engaged in where forces allow and circumstances permit. Criticizing an organization that counts militants in the single digits for not being on the ground at struggles over one thousand miles away from where they are located is a little disingenous (I am not saying that you mhou have done this, but it comes up constantly). If forces permit such interventions in France, Turkey, etc. then that is great, but they are simply not objectively possible right now in the vast majority of circumstances in North America, at least as far as the ICC is concerned, and I would imagine the ICT and IP as well. This of course begs the question or why this is not possible. What is going on in North America that makes this intervention so difficult and which renders the left communist forces almost invisible today?

mhou wrote:

Quote:
But beyond that, I think that Barnes' misses a lot of history. The history of the communist left is rife with various attempts of frustrated elements, groups, tendencies, etc. to do "more" that these things, to go to the shopfloor, to be there among the workers, etc. etc. Almost invariably, as the ICC's book on the history of the Dutch and German Communist Left shows, these efforts end up in disintegration, compromise with Trotskyism or Social Democracy or some other such fate. The specificity of Marxist theory disintegrates into the empirical consciousness of the class at the given moment.

I'm hesitant to agree- yes, there are plenty of examples of small groups or splits from existing organizations that chase other forms of practice; my problem with Barnes' claim that there has never existed a defined non-revolutionary left communist practice, if talking about 'practice' in the sense of examples like the ICC in France, Spain or Turkey given earlier in this thread, his claim is abstract (what about the GCF in the massive strikes in France in 1952 or the PCInt in the 1940's, vs contemporary intervention by the ICC). I understand your point about being fixated on the immediate or drawing conclusions solely from what the class is doing at a given moment in time & space, but are examples of 'intervention', which take place in addition to the practices of discussion, debate, analysis, publishing articles-pamphlets-books-press, theoretical elaboration- a liability rather than integral part of the whole of communist organization, causing it to potentially lose its way?

No, what causes an organization or tendency to lose its way is growing frustrated with things like discussion, debate, analysis, working with searching elements, etc. and insisting on engaging in some other "concrete activity" to revolutionize the broader class outside of periods of open struggle. This can generally only be done by latching oneself onto those organizations that continue to have an influence in the working class outside of open periods of struggle: the unions, the leftists, the Democratic Party in the U.S. , for example. Of course, for the communist left, these organizations only have this influence because they serve capital as a form of cosnciousness control and manipulation. Its the classic question of trading principle for influence that bedeviled the communist movement from 1919 onwards. But the communist left was very clear on this--at no point should communists trade the specificity of the communist perspective for immediate concrete influence in the class. It was better to suffer isolation than to subcumb to the temptation of coalition forming or frontist politics, which always lead to reintegration into the state. 

At the root of all this, of course, is the persistent search for some kind of relief from our isolation. The idea that, as Fred has pointed out, "If only we had the party" or, otherwise put, "if only we had the right messgaing to reach the workers." Of course, the party does not fall out of the sky. It can't just be proclaimed as many Bordigists thought. It has to be built and it has to be built from the very searching elements that today seem to have a lot of skpeticism about parties. This isn't the generation of '68 that formed a new organization every six weeks.Perhaps the best thing we can do today is to try to analyze this skepticism and get to the root of it.

As far as messaging is concerned, as I have pointed out before, communists cannot lie to the workers; they can't tell them what they want to hear at the given moment; they have to defend the communist perspective. If workers are not finding this useful right now, this can only reflect something about their own objective/subjective position--a certain inmaturity of their struggles or an as yet insufficient process of development. Perhaps communist ideas do not yet reflect the gravity of the attacks against them or perhaps they have simply not yet run out of hope in democracy of some kind. There is only one message, even if we can disagree about the specific meaning of various points. Its not a problem of messaging; its a problem of a lack of congrunece between the communist perspective, which has developed as a result of an hsitorical process spanning centuries, and the immediate needs/state of the workers' struggles, which today are only beginning to emerge from three and a half decades of reflux.

In the end, I am not sure its much use to try to get up and speak at workers' assmeblies, if you are just going to get shouted down, ridiculed or ignored, except perhaps for planting the seed of communism in the minds of a minority of workers, who may keep it tucked away in their subsconsious someplace and who might come back to it in the future, when the next struggle poses different immediate needs that require a new perspective. In the end, doing things like this, this "other kind of practice" is not much different from what the communist left already does. The goal in leafleting a struggle, or speaking at an assembly today is not to have illusions in calling a mass strike when there is no perspective for one, but to plant the seed for the searching elements, which at some point in the future might mean the development of more militants, such that the grave objective crisis of the communist left today (not enough people; aging core of miltiants, etc.) can be overcome. So the communist perspective can finally have more "visibility." Of course, today with the Internet, its possible for anyone seeking out the communist perpsective to find it online. Its not that hard. Yet, the hits on articles at this site seem to top out in the thousands (when it is not something some kid thinks they can use for whatever book report they are working on!). 

The communist perspetive is out there, it can be found--but people have to seek it; they have to want to hear it, in order for it to have an impact. If the problem is that this perspective is not "intriguing" people; then we have to ask why not? Is it a problem with the messenger or the audience? If its a problem of the messenger, what is its nature? Is it that we just use really funny langauge that off puts people? That seems like a total cop out. If communism were on the agenda at the moment, I am sure the working class would be willing to overlook some awkward, poorly translated from the French, phraseology in order to focus on the essential power of the communist perspective as an expression of its class needs. Or could it be that objective conditons have changed so much that a total rethink of the revolutionary process is in order? Have we finally reached a post-modern world with a sociology so fundamentally different from Fordist captialism that we need a totally different theory and langauge to understand and express the "social movements" or "social revolts"?  I think that's an open question, but if its true than it would seem to throw the entire communist project (as we have understood it in the communist left) into doubt, such that concerns about "reaching the class" are ultimately moot.

I disagree with IP's assesment of the Wisconsin events. I am closer to Barnes on the score that it was not an inherently reformist movement from start to finish, but at the same time I am not sure its realisitic and practical to think that "if only there were more militants willing to call a general strike" that the result would have been much different. I think I am at the place where Pannekoek was in 1920 on this--its going to be a long and difficult road for the working class to overcome its illusions (or as Pannekoek said "attachment") to bourgeois democracy or just democracy in general (and in this, I think we have to ask if the problem is more than a simple ideological illusion or is it more of a structural problem expressing some of the sociological weaknesses we have discussed elsewhere). While it is true that the class is beginning to throw up forms of struggle that go beyond the union framework (assmeblies, etc.); content (i.e. consciousness) is lagging far behind. In that sense, I simply cannot agree with Jamal's original statement of the main problems facing the development of struggles today or Barnes diagnosis of the problems in Wisconsin.

jk1921
Double post

Double post

jk1921
Ugh, not sure my last post

Ugh, not sure my last post made it through. What is wrong with the forum?

jk1921
Double Post

Double Post

mhou
After reading your last

After reading your last response jk I did some more reading and found this statement:

Quote:
The Congress underlined the whole importance of theoretical work in the present situation: “The organisation can neither fulfil its responsibilities towards revolutionary minorities, nor those towards the class as a whole, unless it is capable of understanding the process preparing the future party in the broader context of the general evolution of the class struggle. The capacity of the ICC to analyse the evolving balance of class forces, and to intervene in the struggles and towards the political reflection in the class, is of long-term importance for the evolution of the class struggle. But already now, in the immediate term, it is crucial in the conquering of our leading role towards the new politicised generation ... [b]The organisation must continue this theoretical reflection, drawing a maximum of concrete lessons from its intervention, overcoming schemata from the past[/b]”.

The other relevant portion:

Quote:
The other essential preoccupation of the 16th Congress was thus to make sure our organisation is capable of living up to its responsibilities faced with the emergence of these new elements moving towards the class positions of the communist left. This was expressed in particular by the activities resolution adopted by the Congress: “The fight to win over the new generation to class positions and militantism is today at the heart of all of our activities. This applies not only to our intervention, but to our whole political reflection, our discussions and militant preoccupations”.

Identifying and reaching out to such small groups seems like the most straightforward way to do this- beginning a correspondence. Assimilating sympathizers seems like another straightforward way. I'm inclined to guess that momentum builds when things start progressing (however you want to define that). The question of intervention (bolded in the quote above) is linked to theoretical elaboration, analysis and absorbing emerging communist groups directly- this is what seems impressive about the thorough analysis of the current period they've developed since 2008; as an ingredient in the whole.

Quote:
Its the classic question of trading principle for influence that bedeviled the communist movement from 1919 onwards. But the communist left was very clear on this--at no point should communists trade the specificity of the communist perspective for immediate concrete influence in the class. It was better to suffer isolation than to subcumb to the temptation of coalition forming or frontist politics, which always lead to reintegration into the state.

But is it about forcing perspectives/consciousness/events if things are already underway (not revolutionary, but not status quo collective bargaining)?

Fred
mhou quoted this from an ICC

mhou quoted this from an ICC congress.

 

Quote:
 The organisation must continue this theoretical reflection, drawing a maximum of concrete lessons from its intervention, overcoming schemata from the past.

 

I wondered what "schemata from the past" were.  It would be nice to know. Would they include the sort of things that the ICT for example don't like, and which they label idealist?  Is it possible to clarify this? 

mhou
Initially it sounded more

Initially it sounded more like a general perspective that remains constant in communist activity- the idea that if an analysis or interpretation of events is proven wrong by new phenomenon or later developments, a new understanding is necessary rather than trying to force new developments into old analyses that have been refuted. Reading back over it you may be right that specific ideas are being referenced there; hard to tell.

Redacted
Back to Egypt...

According to Sharif Abdul Koudous the Revolutionary Socialists "have been completely co-opted by the military lines."

They have been supporting the military to the utmost extent, going as far as calling for citizens to form popular committees to "protect state institutions."

Not exactly shocking, but still surprising considering that before the elections the RS in Egypt was one of the military/SCAF's biggest opponents.

Would really appreciate more information about this if anyone has it.

Alf
Libcom thread

Libcom thread here

http://www.libcom.org/forums/news/egypt-reaction-morsi-mb-machtergreifung-23112012?page=5

 

links to the latest statement of the Revolutionary socialists. which on the face of it looks more radical, but theya re basically Trotskyists as I understand it, with links to the SWP in Britain, so this stance is probably a tactical switch given that the repressive nature of the army is now incontrovertible

http://links.org.au/node/3477

mhou
The Revolutionary Socialists

The Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt routinely have statements, articles, etc. translated and published by the American Trotskyist group ISO- if you get on their 'socialistworker.org' site and search for "revolutionary socialists Egypt" a large number of articles come up (from 2010-today).

Here's a list of demands they presented after Morsi took power:

Quote:

The Revolutionary Socialists call on the revolutionary people to save the revolution that has been stolen by an alliance between the Brotherhood and the remnants of Mubarak's regime. We call on people to come out into the streets with the slogans: bread, freedom, social justice.

We demand:

-- The cancellation of the supplementary constitutional declaration that entrenches tyranny and autocracy

-- The formation of a new Constituent Assembly which represents all sections of society, including workers, peasants, civil servants, professionals, women, Copts, Nubians, the people of Sinai and Upper Egypt, fishermen and others

--The resignation of Qandil's failed government and the formation of a revolutionary coalition government to take office until the completion of the new constitution and the election of a new parliament

-- Serious steps toward achieving of social justice, such as: implementing a minimum wage of 1,500 Egyptian pounds a month and a maximum wage, seizing the assets of corrupt companies and Mubarak's businessmen for the benefit of the people, imposing progressive income taxes, re-nationalizing companies that were sold in corrupt deals and canceling the privatization program

All power and wealth to the people!

11/26/2012

http://socialistworker.org/2012/11/26/morsi-power-grab-sparks-protests

baboon
Though from another time and

Though from another time and another place, "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" has some resonance in Egypt today, not least the "dates" of revolution and counter-revolution, the strutting military, the baseless and murderous politicians, the rise from the grave of the terminally-ill Murbarak, it all looks like such a sick joke. The leftist-inclined Tamarod has been forced to jump somersaults in the whole circus. The media talks of the "revolution" unravelling, of there being a "counter-revolution", showing the whole thing is seen in terms of different state factions and making any concept of revolution seem dirt cheap.

But, contrary to what the Revolutionary Socialists also say, there has been no revolution in Egypt, there's not even been a serious movement of the self-organised workers but a massive groundswell of protest that, for the moment, has effectively been drowned in national and international settling of scores. And if it's the blood of muslims which is flowing from the terror of the state then this will be directed against the working class in the coming period. The military will not hesitate to turn its fire on the working class.

What is happening is another example of imperialism filling the vacuum left by the inability of the workers' movement to progress overall and the latter in Egypt must be shaken by the ruthlessness of the state's response and its previous solidarity with muslims - who were on the anti-Morsi protests in some numbers - has had a wedge driven between it.

The imperialist cess-pit of the Middle East is expressed in the Egyptian crisis. The Muslim Brotherhood has been active in supporting the jihadi infestation of the Sinai Peninsula and this is both intolerable for Israel - which has suffered rocket attacks, airport closures and greater threats from Hamas which has linked up with the jihadis politically and through the crossings previously controlled by the Egyptian military - and for the Brotherhood's enemy Saudi Arabia (along with Bahrain, the UAE and Kuwait). This Israeli, Saudi, Egyptian push against the Brotherhood has isolated Qatar and discomforted Turkey in its aspired role as a pivotal imperialist power in the region. What it means for the war in Syria can only be more chaos and more bloodshed as this chaos deepens across the region. It's possible that the US gave its backing to the military crackdown in Egypt - this would be in line with its interests - but the situation also seems to show the weakness of the US in the situation with the latter unable to take a firm grip over centrifugal tendencies. It also appears to discomfort the British Foreign Office which, to some extent at least, had given its support to the Brotherhood.

Pages