respect for the youth, the inablity of the communist left to do this etc

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Santiago Rolento
respect for the youth, the inablity of the communist left to do this etc
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I think one of the problems of the communist left is that I think a lot of its militants don't respect the youth, or rather, they think they do but they don't really know how to. I was talking to ronan in facebook about this.

For example, I posted in that disgrace of an article called "marxism vs idealism" in the ict website about how such a polemic makes no sense outside a few old people who are acquainted with ancient communist tracts. I don;t think a lot of people would understand what is really going on without an intimate familiarity with the history of the communist left. I am on the process of discussing with some people, we went through the icc platform, and most of them are in there early 20s, late teens and they lack a political language. I don't think the language of the communist left in general is very helpful for convincing young people who have no political language and were not leftists/anarchists already. Most of the people Ive been discussing for months lack a political language, most of them have never met a communist irl except me. A lseasoned left communist will point at documents that were written before the 50s if I ask for good things to read. THis is not helpful at all.

 

I think part of the reason why insurrectionists have been so succesful in the US is that they are tuned to the fact that a lot of working youth lack a political language. I don't live in france, where intellectuals are sort of rockstars. I live in a place where folks like to hunt and go to church. I can't just go about dropping jargon at all. We don't have a political language. Actually, I would argue one of the reasons why the ICC has been able to reach to young people in the US is because a lot of them seem to have stumbled through the icc with the recent spurt of interest in the french ultraleft because of insurrectionist texts.

 

My point is that the communist left will pay if it doesn't start getting better about reaching out to young people. They are getting a bit better now, but still there is a long way to go. There was a whole split in battaglia around a faction who wanted to modernize the publication and another who didn't. What a stupid reason to split.

 

sincerely

-maldoror

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jk1921
A good deal of what you say

A good deal of what you say is valid, but for whatever the weaknesses of the communist left when it comes to reaching outside its ranks, the younger generations have their own pathologies from the culture they have to make the effort to overcome as well: democratism, eclecticism, immediatism, "worldisflatism," hipsterism, anti-hipsterism, etc. How can the communist left contribute to this process without: a.) validating these things or b.) patronizing people?

Santiago Rolento
This is the point I was

This is the point I was saying. No respect for the youth. What if some kid likes to dress in skinny jeans and slam pbrs i mean how is that a pathology compared to to whatever the hell kids were doing in the 60s. i think people who worry too much about "eclectisism" worry too much about orthodoxy. the positions of the communist left are actually pretty basic, which revolve around anti-parliamentarism, internationalism, anti trade union, for the party and workers' councils, etc. the rest can be decided by discussion. "democratism" has been endemic in the west since the enlightment, it is not a youth thing.

Santiago Rolento
This is the point I was

This is the point I was saying. No respect for the youth. What if some kid likes to dress in skinny jeans and slam pbrs i mean how is that a pathology compared to to whatever the hell kids were doing in the 60s. i think people who worry too much about "eclectisism" worry too much about orthodoxy. the positions of the communist left are actually pretty basic, which revolve around anti-parliamentarism, internationalism, anti trade union, for the party and workers' councils, etc. the rest can be decided by discussion. "democratism" has been endemic in the west since the enlightment, it is not a youth thing.

Santiago Rolento
to add, one of the reasons

to add, one of the reasons bordigists dissolved into irrelevance was their inability to understand youth culture. in the hot autumn in italy, when operaismo and autonomia emerged they were just quick to sign it off as petit-bourgeois. now bordigism is the refuge of old ossified fossils and their dogs. yet, battaglia comunista was able to survive. the icc wasn't as bad so it was able to survive too. working class history is full of exciting "counter cultural elements", like music, free-love, edelweiss piraten, etc. ii dont think you can sign off the ways working class youth express their creativity just like that.

baboon
I think that there's a

I think that there's a certain amount of truth to the opening post in that there's a necessity to avoid jargon. I also think that the positions of the communist left, of internationalism are basically very clear. I also think that it is criminal that existing communist left groups cannot even make a unified stand against imperialism and imperialist war and treat  the "opposition" as a greater enemy. I don't think that this is as much a lack of respect for youth as an insult to the working class overall. On a track record over some four decades, where the bitterness, bile and sarcasm in some quarters is still as "fresh" as yesterday, I do not see anything changing in respect of respect to the working class.

 

On another issue at a completely different level, I also ask for respect for the elderly.

In World Revolution no. 343, in an otherwise good article entitled "Pensions put out to pasture", it says: "(...) admirable as it is that some older people can show that they are still capable of looking out for themselves in the labour market, if the elderly continue to take up jobs at the same kind of rate as they did in 2006, it actually makes it difficult for the young to get jobs". The patronising "admirable" is not important, but, given the bourgeoisie's incessant campaign to make division between generations this is a weak political argument. Not only that, it obscures the fact that many "older people", parents, grandparents, are having to work longer in order to help to look after and maintain their children and grandchildren. I take the general point of the article about working 'til we drop and so on but do not agree with this particular point.

Devrim
 I agree with malador about

 I agree with malador about the language. Where I don't agree is that it is something that particularly is only problematic with young people. I think that the way that we present ourselves is something that really needs a great deal of attention.

Devrim

 

mikail firtinaci
the language is an alive thing

I think I understand the problem that Maldoror points out to. But I don't think that the cause is disrespect. Contrary I know a lot of leftist groups which just try to reach to young generation through a cultural (or sub-cultural) language without a revolutionary content. In fact for most of its history, turkish left -which I am most familiar and pretty stronger compared to the US left- was itself a subculture with its own dressing, music and generally an esthetic sense attaching itself to a frozen wooden theory such as maoism.

However obviously there is a problem of reaching out to the young generation of the communist left even in countries like turkey where there is a significant population familiar with leftist jargon. But this problem can not be overcome by changing merely the style or jargon. I am not saying this because I see the problem as superficial. On the contrary I think it is a deeper problem of lost of an alive link in organisational and daily continuity of communist left between periods. If we assume language as a tool for discussion and hence through that activity of discussion and evaluation of mutual experiences, the weak link is partly the inability of touching on the mutual experiences of class. But this is not solely the mistake of communist left since class itself and especially the younger generation of class, lacks some fundemental elements of "class sense" or experience: One of the most vital element of which is actual class struggle experience. Our generation (I am 26) lacks the experience of strike, actual solidarity on the shop floor etc because there are huge numbers of unemployement and hidden unemployement in the form of "studentship". This is a bit of a new phenomenon caused by the decomposition and can not be overcome by the efforts of the communist left solely.

However I thing we can analyze the devastating results of this new phase of capitalist barbarity in daily life to form a link between our theories and the reality of the young generation. Discussion can bring this us. And though without more open struggles we can not expect more discussion and interest to the theory, obviously comrade Maldoror's questioning and frusturation can also be recognized as the birth pains of this process of formation of a new theoretical link between the experiences of the former generations and the new ones. I think the problem can be solved by developing a new -but also connected- criticism of the contemporary daily life which is different in many respect than the older generations with its isolation, stupitidy, nihilism and pessimism etc. But while we are getting rid of the formalism of our theory we should also fight against the anti-theorism of the increaisngly irrationalistic ideologising of this period. My personal experiences tells me that our epochs widest feeling is somehow pessimism and loss of hope and it is feeding a kind of nietzschean, nihilistic attitude in our generation which is perfectly against any patient study of theory; it is expressing itself in a cold sarcasm, a kind of feeling of being outside of history as a passive doomed object. This attituted is also feeding impatience which dangerous for any discussion or theoretical elaboration. If this is producing in youth tendencies like insurrectionism it is also the same which is producing the massive passive de-politized pop culture fans of superficial and banal. What do you think?

jk1921
I am worried about

I am worried about electicism, but I don't see myself as the defender of any "orthodoxy." I think we need to be careful about generational grievances, because it cuts both ways, but to think that the younger generation are not subject to certain specific weaknesses, or a tendency to express certain weaknesses more profoundly etc., resulting from having grown up largely in decomposition and the era of the culture industry seems wrong to me. On the other hand, the younger generation may not carry the same weight and burden of the past as older comrades, which may endow them with a certain strength.

Maldador, doesn't labeling certain texts "ancient" express a certain "disrespect" for the past? What about refering to people as "fossils"? Is this a valid way to characterize Bordigism? Does Bordigism's scleroticism come from a failure to understand youth culture or an organizational conception which has each group seeing itself as the true communist party?

Santiago Rolento
I am sorry if my post seemed

I am sorry if my post seemed to generate generational grievances. I just sometimes get a bit frustrated with my isolation. I respect older militants a lot and they carry with them certain experiences that I do not have (the experience of the general strike and the waves of the struggle in the 70s and 80s). But I come from a different demographic than a lot of people here and the way I have to discuss about things have to be adapted to the particular demographic I come from.

I do think decomposition is real, and I think decomposition does creep through youth culture in very damning ways. For example, one thing that bothers me about youth culture is this whole thing of "irony" or w/e which attempts to reduce any sort of spine or posturing as uncool or clownish. I think this is sometimes a weakness.

The reason why I call "ancient" certain texts of our history is because I am trying to make a point. Sometimes the communist left has a very scholastic approach to discussion. The communist left has a certain history and as such it has engendered a certain groupspeak and certain assumptions about their audience - for example, an intimate familiarity with revolutionary history, the comintern, etcetera. I think this history is very important. However, I don't think the assumptions about our audience are necessarily effective. I didn't learn about the  german revolution or the comintern in HS or college. I didn't learn about all the tendencies within communism through formal means. It just has been one of my interests since I was a teenager. But I am a very strange man, and I can't assume everyone I talk to or might be interested is a maldoror. We feel the same dehumanizing effects in this capitalist hell, some people despair and drink themselves to death, some of them pickup crippling drug addictions, some like my friend, try to binge on opiods until you sleep yourself to eternity. One of the things I like about the communist project is that it gives you a conceptual framework to understand your miserable position within this world. To understand sometimes is not to despair. To understand sometimes is to know how to fight back. This was the gift given us by the situationists, even if their politics were kindof shit.  There are certain things in old documents that are part of the universal human condition of our class, but we also live in the 21th century, and I find it a bit ridiculous to use a language and documents that were effective in the early 20th century, but they are not anymore.

 

 

 

d-man
Marx for kids
Red Hughs
I think maldoror makes some

I think maldoror makes some excellent points. 

I think that in this day and age, it is crucial for we communists to put our theories in terms that the proletarians can understand easily. And in terms that proletarians use easily. And in terms that proletarians can easily debate and change to fit their circumstance. Of course, being simple, being exact and being clear are all different things. Communism is a simple word. We can define it fairly exactly but what we mean is often not at all clear to the average person. And likewise with a lot of other terminology.

All that said, I would mention to Maldoror that the existing communist "milieu" is simply microscope. Sure, it would be nice if we could put together complete theories and organizations appropriate to the present era but the truth of the matter is that given the vast size of the globe, we communists are certainly struggling and that's a reason for many of the weaknesses you can. But given this, why not do it yourself? The communist milieu certainly could desperate use someone articulating communist positions in clear, simple language. Writing down communist ideas as you understand them might seem hard but in a lot of ways, there's not much choice.

It's easy to get caught up in "the ICC versus the Insurrectionists" as if its a battle for group members. But it shouldn't be. Instead, we (both those inside anti-state communist groups and those sympathetic to them) need to make this a dialog, a respectful battle of ideas, the sense that, at least theoretically, everyone who wants to put an end to the horrific system wants to use the ideas that be most effective in destroying capitalism and creating a human community. 

I am not a member of the ICC. I am attracted to two aspects with the way the ICC is currently operating. A) Looking at the entire historical trajectory of capitalism rather than a-historically considering "how best should we organize" or some such seemingly "obvious and reasonable" question. B) Pursuing open dialog with all those who are sympathetic. For example, we can see Devrim doing an excellent job of questioning positions articulated by other posters here. Open, multidimensional - it's a good thing.

But we're back to the point that I think anyone and everyone who's sympathetic to communism needs to appoint themselves an articulator and advocate of communism. There aren't enough people for it to worth waiting. It's not the job of the ICC or anyone else to drag people kicking and streaming into an authentic perspective. We should be providing people with resources but given the circumstances, there are a lot of thing where you're going to have to do it yourself.

(there is more to be said but I'll leave things at this)

 

 

 

kinglear
cheer up youth

Comrade Maldoror makes a lot out of the idea that people lack a political language, or that the communist left has a special one. I doubt this is true. There are certain words that are used, like proletariat or class struggle, which are traditional almost, but so what! The way to develop your own political language is to talk about, read about and discuss political matters. That way ideas, concepts and the words to go with them get developed. But really you have to do it yourself, neither the ICC, Libcom, or the ICT, can do it for you, asRed Hughes has already pointed out. As to ancient texts, the ICC has lots of stuff written only recently and on this website, that are neither ancient nor use archaic language. Maldoror says he is frustrated by his isolation at 26. But he's not actually isolated at all. He's posting on this site. He says the communist project gives him a con eptual framework for understanding the world and thus easing his despair. I completely agree. At 76 I am more or less a living fossil, but the one great thing that keeps me going is the chance that I may be around to see at least the start of the effort of the working class to overthrow the bourgeoisie. Maldoror is lucky. If the revolution is ever to take place at all, he will undoubtedly be alive to participate. Lucky guy.

jk1921
No Worries

Santiago Rolento wrote:

I am sorry if my post seemed to generate generational grievances. I just sometimes get a bit frustrated with my isolation. I respect older militants a lot and they carry with them certain experiences that I do not have (the experience of the general strike and the waves of the struggle in the 70s and 80s). But I come from a different demographic than a lot of people here and the way I have to discuss about things have to be adapted to the particular demographic I come from.

I do think decomposition is real, and I think decomposition does creep through youth culture in very damning ways. For example, one thing that bothers me about youth culture is this whole thing of "irony" or w/e which attempts to reduce any sort of spine or posturing as uncool or clownish. I think this is sometimes a weakness.

The reason why I call "ancient" certain texts of our history is because I am trying to make a point. Sometimes the communist left has a very scholastic approach to discussion. The communist left has a certain history and as such it has engendered a certain groupspeak and certain assumptions about their audience - for example, an intimate familiarity with revolutionary history, the comintern, etcetera. I think this history is very important. However, I don't think the assumptions about our audience are necessarily effective. I didn't learn about the  german revolution or the comintern in HS or college. I didn't learn about all the tendencies within communism through formal means. It just has been one of my interests since I was a teenager. But I am a very strange man, and I can't assume everyone I talk to or might be interested is a maldoror. We feel the same dehumanizing effects in this capitalist hell, some people despair and drink themselves to death, some of them pickup crippling drug addictions, some like my friend, try to binge on opiods until you sleep yourself to eternity. One of the things I like about the communist project is that it gives you a conceptual framework to understand your miserable position within this world. To understand sometimes is not to despair. To understand sometimes is to know how to fight back. This was the gift given us by the situationists, even if their politics were kindof shit.  There are certain things in old documents that are part of the universal human condition of our class, but we also live in the 21th century, and I find it a bit ridiculous to use a language and documents that were effective in the early 20th century, but they are not anymore.

 

 

 

 

Well, this is a really heart felt and honest post and I feel and understand you regarding isolation. You say you come from a demographic much different than many others here. How would you describe this demographic? What are its motivations? What are its strengths and weaknesses? What method should we use to understand the younger searching elements coming towards left communist positions? Why are there so many young people open to political discussion today compared to just 10 years ago, when there were practically none? What is the role of the internet, etc. in this? Why are documents that were effective in the early 20th century not effective anymore in your opinion? What has changed? There is a lot of research about your demographic coming from social scientists that gets regurgitated as noise in the bourgeois media, some of it positive, some of it quite critical. What is valid if anything in all this? These are all important questions we all need to wrestle with, I think.

Zanthorus
Agree and Disagree

I feel sort of compelled to comment on this subject since I am probably in a younger demographic than maldoror. I agree that the language used by the ICC like 'decadence', 'decomposition', 'parasitism' and so on is problematic. I disagree that this is a problem with the Communist Left and the 'old' texts though. Reading through old pamphlets by Gorter, Pannekoek and the rest I think many of them are quite clear and easy to understand. The problematic language seems to have accumulated after the initial phase of Left Communism when it moved from being the left-wing of the Comintern with a fairly sizeable following ranging in the tens of thousands in Italy and Germany to much smaller and more isolated groups with membership in the tens and hundreds.
 

I think if there is a problem with those old classic texts, it's not in the language but the type of arguments themselves. They were adressed to an audience for whom the first few Comintern congresses and the German revolution would've been fresh in their memories. I think one thing that is lacking in the literature produced by the Communist Left is literature which reaches out directly and clearly to those who still imbued with the dominant ideologies of our society. A lot of the classic texts seem orientated towards criticising others who already self-identify as 'Communist' or 'Socialist' and so to some extent already share a lot of our assumptions about nationality, class struggle, the state and so on.

Oh and, jk291, what the hell is 'worldisflatism'?

jk1921
A provisional

A provisional definition:

"Worldisflatism," from Thomas Friedman's book "The World is Flat." In this this context, social and economic changes, facilitated by digitalization, that produce a cultural attitude that sees no hierarchies and few differences between people; all voices speak with equal authority, regardless of age, experience, credentials, etc; the tendency to put everything on the table; a form of democratism; also a form of individualism; part of the neoliberal social arrangement. This isn't always a negative thing, BTW.

What specically do you see as the problem with terms like "decadence," "decomposition" and "parasitism"? Is it the words themselves that are problematic or the concepts they express?

vstanrabotnikov
the

The words are just a little unnecessary in the main, I am also young and have been a bit put out by the use of those in conversations.

You can use other words for organisations that you don't like, you don't have to accuse them of parasitism. It just sounds unnecessary, that's just an example of what I mean.

Zanthorus
RE: Language

jk1921 wrote:
"Worldisflatism," from Thomas Friedman's book "The World is Flat." In this this context, social and economic changes, facilitated by digitalization, that produce a cultural attitude that sees no hierarchies and few differences between people; all voices speak with equal authority, regardless of age, experience, credentials, etc; the tendency to put everything on the table; a form of democratism; also a form of individualism; part of the neoliberal social arrangement. This isn't always a negative thing, BTW.

Thanks for explaining.

Quote:
What specically do you see as the problem with terms like "decadence," "decomposition" and "parasitism"? Is it the words themselves that are problematic or the concepts they express?

Saying that capitalism is decadent makes you sound like some crazy fossilised Stalinist moralist going on about how all young people nowadays are druggies or whatever. If you just said that capitalism is in decline you would sound less mental.

The poster before me did a good job explaining the issue with parasitism.

Alf
Decadent

 Descendant? de-cadent? Decaying, declining? decomposing?

Moribund, down-falling, in demise, obsolescent, collapsing?

All apply, even though there are some important nuances between them.

It means not ascendant, not progress, no longer a 'rational form' for the development of man's productive powers.

 

Regarding the term parasitism: I would say the key issue is not the word, but the need to develop a historical, theoretical framework for understanding how anti-proletarian behaviour manifests itself in the proletarian political movement 

Android
Political Parasitism

Maybe this is a derailment and if so feel free to move it.  

Alf wrote:
Regarding the term parasitism: I would say the key issue is not the word, but the need to develop a historical, theoretical framework for understanding how anti-proletarian behaviour manifests itself in the proletarian political movement 

It seems to me that the ICC have in practice jettisoned the theory of political parasitism.  With the change in position on anarchism and that you seem to have ceased referring to groups that you previously did as being parsites. So does the ICC still uphold their theory of parasitism and if it does what groups today would it apply that label to?  

My problem is not so much with the language (although the language did tend to be over-the-top, off-putting and unnecessary), but the conception itself.  Once you strip away all the over the top polemics etc, what it seems to amount to is what Alf refers to above as "anti-proletarian behaviour" and that this is a result of the penetration of bourgeois and petit-bourgoies ideology into the working class.  the problem with this though surely is that we live in bourgeois society - all of us! - so we get bourgeois ideas etc transmitted to us so to speak through our mother's milk.  Which surely it should follow from that, that parasites and anti-aprasites are as suspectible to the influence of bourgeois ideology as each other.  Utimately I think this theory has a sectarian quality and sectish logic to it in that the anti-parasites are the ones free of the influences of bourgeois ideology and so must necessarily isolate themselves from the corrupting influences of the world around them in order to stay on the true communist path.          

 

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d-man
Entartung

Android wrote:

It seems to me that the ICC have in practice jettisoned the theory of political parasitism.

Actually no claim is made to a theory of parasitism.

Android wrote:
the penetration of bourgeois and petit-bourgoies ideology into the working class.
  I've been reading Max Nordau's Degeneration, and what strikes me as important now is the distinction between bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology. The ICC's 27 odd Theses on parasitism significantly concern the latter.

Quote:
the problem with this though surely is that we live in bourgeois society - all of us! - so we get bourgeois ideas etc transmitted to us so to speak through our mother's milk.  Which surely it should follow from that, that parasites and anti-aprasites are as suspectible to the influence of bourgeois ideology as each other.

This only increases the necessity in shedding light on the phenomenon, would be the retort.

Quote:
Utimately I think this theory has a sectarian quality and sectish logic to it in that the anti-parasites are the ones free of the influences of bourgeois ideology and so must necessarily isolate themselves from the corrupting influences of the world around them in order to stay on the true communist path.        

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Ah, but sectarianism is listed in the theses on the first spot as a corrupting influence. My sense is thus that while most reject even the idea to pay any attention to something like parasitism, in actual fact a similar conception surfaces (through terms like anti-social, destructive, trolling, etc. behaviour) in almost every discussion/organisation, but because it's unconscious it takes a more arbitrary form. At least with a text you can point out inconsistencies or wrong application of the term.

On bourgeois ideology, this itself is not really a problem. One can only wish ones opponents would base themselves more often on Hegel's Philosophy of right!

jk1921
Well, I think we are starting

Well, I think we are starting to get to the bottom of it now. I think its one thing to criticize the "group speak" that ICC militants sometimes fall into in conversations, but couldn't that be more of a stylistic, cultural issue rather than a symbol of something deeply flawed about the ICC as an organization? Some of these things are awkward English translations of phrases that probably don't sound so "over the top" in French.

I honestly don't understand the fear and hesitation about terms like decadence and decomposition. These are central theoretical concepts to understanding the trajectory of the capitalist system today. This doesn't mean everyone has to agree with them (certainly the ICT has a problem with the idea of decomposition); but to me these concepts seem like attempts to clarify the stakes facing humanity and the proletariat rather than obfuscate or put people off. Why should people be put off by the attempt to understand the historic stakes?

I'll concede that "parasitism" is more problematic, but the ICC have gone to lengths to explain how this idea is in continuity with the history of the workers' movement. This doesn't mean that is right, or that the idea of parasitism is still valid today, or that it doesn't do more harm than good, but the idea, at least, is not just some invention of the ICC. As I understand it, parasitism occurs when elements in the milieu set themselves up as an independent group--for the sake of being an independent group-- without consituting a real alternative pole of regoupment around sufficently distinct political positions. In other words, they act as parasites on the programs of the existing left communist groups. Once again, nobody has to agree with this, but put in these terms, it doesn't seem so "mental." It's an attempt to understand and clarify the basis of organization. Different organizations should be based on sufficiently distinct political positions, or what good are they really doing? I don't think the ICC ever believed anarchism itself was parasitical. International anarchism has a distinct enough political program. Of course, this doesn't mean that the ICC hasn't in the past treated specific international anarchist groups as if they were parasites--an unfortuante history it is trying to remedy today.

I don't think the ICC sees itself as exempt from the pressures of bourgeois ideology or the effects of decomposition. In fact, I think it has spilled a lot of ink arguing just the contrary.

Frank the Tank
Aye. Tradition is not always

Aye. Tradition is not always reactionary. (Think of our proud heritage as Communists!) And one of the things we can take from tradition, worldwide, is respect for our elders. I agree, as a young person. Especially when our elders are capable of thinking straight.

Regarding jargon, and Communism having little appeal to those who have not read "the elders", I say that the young people, who encounter our ideas and do not understand them, should learn them. You cannot dumb down a good idea.

Frank the Tank
Exactly so

Yes, we need people to be ready to express their ideas in oratory. Vague sympathies are one thing, but  the best way to bring the ideas forward is through committed expression.

ernie
denigration

JK1921 we would added to the definition of parasitism that you give

"As I understand it, parasitism occurs when elements in the milieu set themselves up as an independent group--for the sake of being an independent group-- without consituting a real alternative pole of regoupment around sufficently distinct political positions. In other words, they act as parasites on the programs of the existing left communist groups".

That such a group would also carry out an active policy of denigrating the milieu as a whole or individual groups. A group could form within the milieu which we think does not really have an alternative but if it does not engage in an active policy of hostility (either openly or behind the scenes) we would not consider it parasitic.

You are also correct to say we  have certainly spilt a lot of ink on the weight of bourgeois ideology and its penetration into our organisation. It is this penetration that has been at the root of all the crises in our organisation so far, not the specific actions or this or that individual or group of individuals. Unfortunately, this central crucial aspect of our analysis of our organisational problems is often missed by some who criticise our organisation

 

ernie
Max Nordau's Degeneration

 D-man could you expand more on how this book has helped you to better understand the difference between bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology? I have not read the book.

shug
  Well, as someone

 

Well, as someone who’s been branded a parasite for the past 30 years, it’s really a pisser having to read yet again about how I’m guilty of "anti-proletarian behaviour" and an example of "the weight of bourgeois ideology and its penetration into our organisation." Anyone interested in an other side to this sorry shit can visit the CBG archive. I live in hope that one day the ICC will quietly abandon this bollocks.

d-man
re: degeneration

Ernie, I only read some parts of that book. The title btw, 'Degeneration', I associate somewhat to decomposition. Later (1909) Nordau also specifically elaborated a conception of parasitism in his Interpretation of history (fwiw all his books are on archive.org).

But to return to Degeneration, Trotsky quotes from this book in his Anti-Nietzsche (is in Portuguese, so I'm basing the following on etranslation). There Trotsky I think agrees with Nordau, whom Trotsky sees as a representative of the 'middle' bourgeoisie, about Nietzsche. Nietzsche is an ideologue of the petty bourgeoisie or as Trotsky calls it the 'parasiten proletariat' (I'm not sure if Nordau talked in such class terms, although he certainly recognised the prolatariat). Trotsky also explains why the parasistenproletariat adopts this ideology, and why it clashes with the ideology of the bourgeoisie (represented by Nordau).

Wikipedia says about him; Nordau's views were in many ways more like those of an 18th Century thinker, a belief in Reason, Progress, and more traditional, classical rules governing art and literature.

Besides Nietzsche, there's of course a whole list of other bad guys for Nordau, probably Stirner (as Nordau was very much against 'egomania'). Certainly on the list were Oscar Wilde, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Richard Wagner, Zola, Walt Whitman and shug of course

jk1921
OK

shug wrote:

 

Well, as someone who’s been branded a parasite for the past 30 years, it’s really a pisser having to read yet again about how I’m guilty of "anti-proletarian behaviour" and an example of "the weight of bourgeois ideology and its penetration into our organisation." Anyone interested in an other side to this sorry shit can visit the CBG archive. I live in hope that one day the ICC will quietly abandon this bollocks.

 

What is the underlying problem with the concept of parasitism, beyond being "sorry shit" and "bollocks"? There are people who have genuine concerns about this concept, who might benefit from a calm discussions of its problems, without all the personal baggage.

d-man
Decadence!

I say, I say! Just browsing through Nordau's Conventional Lies of Our Civilization (1883), which was banned in Austria. In the section on political economy, Nordau not only recognizes the proletariat,  the capitalists and petty-bourgeoisie, he was a genuine communist! He critises the Mir as fake communism, he dismisses Proudhon's 'property is theft', he even predicts decadence! He explicitly forsees the drying up of the markets with the industrialisation of the remaining backward countries.

At some points I could swear Nordau was only paraphrasing Marx.

Zanthorus
Decadence

Alf wrote:
Descendant? de-cadent? Decaying, declining? decomposing?

Moribund, down-falling, in demise, obsolescent, collapsing?

All apply, even though there are some important nuances between them.

It means not ascendant, not progress, no longer a 'rational form' for the development of man's productive powers.

I'm not illiterate, I know what the word means. The specific term 'decadence' for me however and I think probably for quite a few of my generation brings up images of Islamic cults complaining about how western women show their faces in public.

d-man wrote:
He explicitly forsees the drying up of the markets with the industrialisation of the remaining backward countries.

At some points I could also swear he was anticipating Luxemburg 

 

Alf
sorry

 Sorry Zanthorus if you found that my comments were aimed at your literacy, which is certainly not in question. My point is rather to draw you out about whether you agree with the basic concept or not.

Zanthorus
Is Capitalism Progressive or Not?

It's an interesting question. I actually have no idea. It seems like a very confused subject to me. I would say the answer is obviously that it is not progressive. I also think this has probably been the case since about the mid-19th century. It is not something I have thought about very systematically though.

Let me ask you something actually, if capitalism was still 'progressive' until 1914 or thereabouts, would you have supported British colonialism up until that point? After all, it did bring areas with pre-capitalist social relations into the world-market like India and China. The argument about the development of the productive forces was used by the pro-colonial factions of the Second International. Kautsky opposed it stating that the task of the proletariat was to overthrow opression, and it was inconcievable for the workers' movement to support 'civilising' missions like those of the colonial powers. I think on this issue he was undoubtedly correct.

Alf
Progress and support

 I agree with your point about Kautsky - it was a point of principle for revolutionaries to oppose the apologies for the 'civilising mission' of capital towards the colonies, because that would have made it impossible for them to preserve a revolutionary position for the future. Equally, recognising that capital could still play a progressive role did not mean, for Marx, arguing that workers should give up their defensive struggles. 

The difficulty arises more with the question of giving political support to certain bourgeois fractions or national movements. In Europe this possibility more or less closed after the Paris Commune, but it was still very much an open question as capital spread around the rest of the globe. There was always the hope that the revolts in the colonies could provide the basis for 'proper' bourgeois revolutions, enabling the working class to develop its independent forms of organisation and so on. In practice this perspective never really materialised, but it wasn't till the first world war that it became clear to some parts of the marxist movement that the period of bourgeois revolutions was over everywhere and not merely in Europe.   

Fred
The last post on this thread

The last post on this thread perhaps captures what I want to try and say. "Capitalism should offend our humanity", it does of course enormously, but "objectively", in it's ascendant period it was progressive. There's a clash here between the "subjective" and "objective" points of view, which I think permeates much of this thread.

It starts off with Santiago saying left communists have no respect for youth, and the interests of youth, and their mode of expression. Youth lacks a "political language" he says, and doesn't know left communisms's history, which is embalmed in ancient texts. He later elaborates this a bit by noting the ICC's "scholastic approach to discussion" and it's " group speak" and "assumptions about it's audience," which he thinks puts the audience off. This is challenged by other posters, who don't want either older documents, or older people, or the deceased, disrespected, and don't think words like "decadence" constitute a problem.

But is any of this really what Santiago is trying to get at? Mikail's post may help here. "... obviously comrade Maldoror's questioning and frusturation can also be recognized as the birth pains of this process of formation of a new theoretical link between the experiences of the former generations and the new ones. I think the problem can be solved by developing a new -but also connected- criticism of the contemporary daily life which is different in many respect than the older generations. " And Red Hughes supports this. He says "put our theories in terms that proletarians can understand...and that proletarians use easily."

Yet in his final post Maldoror (Santiago) denies the problem is with words like" decomposition", or even that the problem is "generational". It seems to be much more subjective. He starts by claiming to be a very strange man, and says he doesn't expect everyone to be like him. But he says: "We feel the same dehumanizing effects in this capitalist hell, some people despair and drink themselves to death, some of them pickup crippling drug addictions, some like my friend, try to binge on opiods until you sleep yourself to eternity. One of the things I like about the communist project is that it gives you a conceptual framework to understand your miserable position within this world. To understand sometimes is not to despair. To understand sometimes is to know how to fight back. This was the gift given us by the situationists, even if their politics were kindof shit.  There are certain things in old documents that are part of the universal human condition of our class, but we also live in the 21th century, and I find it a bit ridiculous to use a language and documents that were effective in the early 20th century, but they are not anymore." What I think he is doing here - correct me if I'm wrong - is making a plea for a greater manifestation of the subjective in ICC documents and articles. He wants to know what individual militants actually think and feel themselves about the subjects they analyze so effectively but often from only an "objective" impersonal point of view. He doesn't just want the 'conceptual framework', he wants it related more closely to the universal human condition of misery, to the 'dehumanizing effects in this capitalist hell' which we all feel. He wants more subjectivity.

The bourgeoisie have instilled in us all the idea that 'objectivity' is preferable. They don't want to know about peoples' feelings, ideas, opinions and hopes, especially if they are proletarian. So we are all reduced to alienated, commoditized, fetishized, objectified consumers agape at the bourgeois spectacle. To break out of this we have to work to release our subjective side and start to say what we really think and feel, not what we are supposed to think and feel, and begin to express ourselves, as happened with so many workers in 1917-1919. Open discussion and efforts to develop our thoughts are part of our weaponry. The bourgeoisie hate this, and constantly try to block it, by ideology, the police and the unions, among others. So far they are doing quite well. <> If this is all a rant, then please forgive me. I feel strongly about something in this area of human concern, but may not be altogether sure yet what exactly it is. Maybe someone will help. Maybe not. But thank you Maldoror.