My fellow Australians…

lest we forget
Feb 11th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

g’day fellow australians. andy, i’m not overly familiar with current anarchist doctrine, so i leave myself open to ridicule, but isn’t the underlying theme one of shared responsibility and communalism, without the need for a centralised authority dictating forms of law and commerce? if so, isn’t this a form of tribalism which merely encourages xenophobia? also, just like communism, it seems to forget that humans will be humans, meaning, some will take advantage of others. others will refuse to cooperate, and others will want to exploit the inherent weaknesses in the system to advance themselves and their allies. what occurred in soviet russia is a perfect example of this. i know anarchism isn’t communism but the point remains the same. it is an unavoidable paradox, therefore, that to create a utopian society you must create a police state to ensure it’s survival. finally, as a nonconformist, andy, where would your place be in an anarchist society? mate, i’m not trying to be a smart-arse, i just would like to hear your views.

Q. Is the underlying theme of current anarchist doctrine shared responsibility and communalism? That is, the creation of a society without the need for a centralised authority dictating forms of law and commerce?

A. I would suggest that notions of communalism and the sharing of responsibility are one of the themes which have animated anarchist theory, but that these are not unique to anarchism, nor what makes anarchism distinct from other political philosophies. For example, the idea that individuals have social responsibilities — that is, ethical obligations towards others — is the cornerstone of any moral or social philosophy. Beyond this, I think that the relationship between communalism, authority, the law, and commerce, is complex. So: communal forms of living vary considerably; not all forms of authority are illegitimate; economic modes and social norms do not always require — or do not always proceed from — clearly identifiable sources of centralised authority; “commerce” — insofar as this term denotes economic exchange, and also production — may be considered fundamental in terms of determining the central characteristics of any given society, but the relationship between what some Marxists sometimes refer to as the economic base and the cultural or political superstructure upon which it rests is also — complex. See : Karl Marx, Preface to ‘A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy’ (1859/1977).

Q. If so, isn’t this a form of tribalism, one which merely encourages xenophobia?

A. No, I don’t think so. But of course, the nature of the relationship between communalism, tribalism and xenophobia varies according to circumstance, and the nature of our understanding of such terms. Googling the terms ‘communalism’ and ‘anarchism’ for example, throws up Murray Bookchin’s essay ‘What is Communalism?: The Democratic Dimension of Anarchism’. Bookchin makes a number of distinctions in the essay (between ‘communism’ and ‘communalism’ for example), complains that in English-speaking societies anarchism has been shorn of its socialist component in favour of some variant of individualism/bourgeois liberalism, and argues that ‘democracy’ is not a form of rule to which anarchists should object, but the realisation of anarchy. Suffice it to say that: a) logically speaking, there is no requirement for any — and every — human community to be ‘xenophobic’ and; b) in terms of historical practice, the kinds of relationships that have existed between one human community and another, as well as the attitude these collectivities have displayed towards strangers, has varied considerably.

Q. Doesn’t anarchism, like communism, forget that human beings are essentially selfish, competitive, exploitative?

A. Leaving aside the distinction between anarchism and communism: no, I don’t think so. In fact, I’d argue the contrary. That is, proponents of anarchism, and similar doctrines, have almost invariably had to face such objections, and have been doing so for probably over 150 years. At the very least, I would suggest that what human beings are, essentially, is far from settled, but that in any case, the realisation of anarchy does not require human beings be angels.

Ken Knabb:

Some common objections

It’s often said that a stateless society might work if everyone were angels, but due to the perversity of human nature some hierarchy is necessary to keep people in line. It would be truer to say that if everyone were angels the present system might work tolerably well (bureaucrats would function honestly, capitalists would refrain from socially harmful ventures even if they were profitable). It is precisely because people are not angels that it’s necessary to eliminate the setup that enables some of them to become very efficient devils. Lock a hundred people in a small room with only one air hole and they will claw each other to death to get to it. Let them out and they may manifest a rather different nature. As one of the May 1968 graffiti put it, “Man is neither Rousseau’s noble savage nor the Church’s depraved sinner. He is violent when oppressed, gentle when free.”

Others contend that, whatever the ultimate causes may be, people are now so screwed up that they need to be psychologically or spiritually healed before they can even conceive of creating a liberated society. In his later years Wilhelm Reich came to feel that an “emotional plague” was so firmly embedded in the population that it would take generations of healthily raised children before people would become capable of a libertarian social transformation; and that meanwhile one should avoid confronting the system head-on since this would stir up a hornet’s nest of ignorant popular reaction.

Irrational popular tendencies do sometimes call for discretion. But powerful though they may be, they are not irresistible forces. They contain their own contradictions. Clinging to some absolute authority is not necessarily a sign of faith in authority; it may be a desperate attempt to overcome one’s increasing doubts (the convulsive tightening of a slipping grip). People who join gangs or reactionary groups, or who get caught up in religious cults or patriotic hysteria, are also seeking a sense of liberation, connection, purpose, participation, empowerment. As Reich himself showed, fascism gives a particularly vigorous and dramatic expression to these basic aspirations, which is why it often has a deeper appeal than the vacillations, compromises and hypocrisies of liberalism and leftism.

In the long run the only way to defeat reaction is to present more forthright expressions of these aspirations, and more authentic opportunities to fulfill them. When basic issues are forced into the open, irrationalities that flourished under the cover of psychological repression tend to be weakened, like disease germs exposed to sunlight and fresh air. In any case, even if we don’t prevail, there is at least some satisfaction in fighting for what we really believe, rather than being defeated in a posture of hesitancy and hypocrisy.

There are limits on how far one can liberate oneself (or raise liberated children) within a sick society. But if Reich was right to note that psychologically repressed people are less capable of envisioning social liberation, he failed to realize how much the process of social revolt can be psychologically liberating. (French psychiatrists are said to have complained about a significant drop in the number of their customers in the aftermath of May 1968!)

The notion of total democracy raises the specter of a “tyranny of the majority.” Majorities can be ignorant and bigoted, there’s no getting around it. The only real solution is to confront and attempt to overcome that ignorance and bigotry. Keeping the masses in the dark (relying on liberal judges to protect civil liberties or liberal legislators to sneak through progressive reforms) only leads to popular backlashes when sensitive issues eventually do come to the surface.

Examined more closely, however, most instances of majority oppression of minorities turn out to be due not to majority rule, but to disguised minority rule in which the ruling elite plays on whatever racial or cultural antagonisms there may be in order to turn the exploited masses’ frustrations against each other. When people get real power over their own lives they will have more interesting things to do than to persecute minorities.

So many potential abuses or disasters are evoked at any suggestion of a nonhierarchical society that it would be impossible to answer them all. People who resignedly accept a system that condemns millions of their fellow human beings to death every year in wars and famines, and millions of others to prison and torture, suddenly let their imagination and their indignation run wild at the thought that in a self-managed society there might be some abuses, some violence or coercion or injustice, or even merely some temporary inconvenience. They forget that it is not up to a new social system to solve all our problems; it merely has to deal with them better than the present system does — not a very big order.

If history followed the complacent opinions of official commentators, there would never have been any revolutions. In any given situation there are always plenty of ideologists ready to declare that no radical change is possible. If the economy is functioning well, they will claim that revolution depends on economic crises; if there is an economic crisis, others will just as confidently declare that revolution is impossible because people are too busy worrying about making ends meet. The former types, surprised by the May 1968 revolt, tried to retrospectively uncover the invisible crisis that their ideology insists must have been there. The latter contend that the situationist perspective has been refuted by the worsened economic conditions since that time.

Actually, the situationists simply noted that the widespread achievement of capitalist abundance had demonstrated that guaranteed survival was no substitute for real life. The periodic ups and downs of the economy have no bearing on that conclusion. The fact that a few people at the top have recently managed to siphon off a yet larger portion of the social wealth, driving increasing numbers of people into the streets and terrorizing the rest of the population lest they succumb to the same fate, makes the feasibility of a postscarcity society less evident; but the material prerequisites are still present.

The economic crises held up as evidence that we need to “lower our expectations” are actually caused by over-production and lack of work. The ultimate absurdity of the present system is that unemployment is seen as a problem, with potentially labor-saving technologies being directed toward creating new jobs to replace the old ones they render unnecessary. The problem is not that so many people don’t have jobs, but that so many people still do. We need to raise our expectations, not lower them.

Q. Isn’t what occurred in Soviet Russia a perfect example of the intractability of human nature, and hence the impossibility of anarchism?

A. No, I don’t think so. Of course, much depends on what you believe actually happened in ‘Soviet Russia’. Generally speaking, the anarchist version varies considerably from that of the Bolshevik, and where the successful capture of state power by the Bolshevik (later Communist) Party is regarded by Leninists and others as constituting the essence of the Russian revolution, from an anarchist perspective it was the beginning of the end: the crushing of the Kronstadt rebellion in 1921, undertaken under the close instruction of Trotsky, constituting not a rupture but rather the final nail in the coffin in a logical and entirely predictable train of events. See, for example, Maurice Brinton’s (Christopher Agamemnon Pallis, December 2, 1923–March 10, 2005) The Bolsheviks and Workers’ Control: The State and Counter-Revolution (1970). There are many other sources of infos on the period, including accounts of anarchist activity, and the counter-revolutionary role of the Bolsheviks. See also : Anarchism & Marxism Part 666 (May 11, 2009).

Q. Given these facts, to sustain the existence of a utopian society, isn’t it necessary to create a police state?

A. No.

Q. What is the place of a nonconformist in an anarchist society?

A. That depends. I think some forms of conformity, like some social norms, are good and proper. A prohibition on the abuse of children and other animals, for example, is, I think, something to which individuals should, in fact, conform. Most of what is referred to as examples of ‘non-conformity’ is generally harmless, and concern matters of aesthetics, not ethics. As for my own place, you’d have to elaborate.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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18 Responses to My fellow Australians…

  1. BestGuitarSoloEVER says:

    What if you’re just a normal run of the mill bloke working in an office enjoying his job? What does Anarchism provide for him? Aye?

  2. @ndy says:

    An opportunity to complain on my blog that you’re just a normal run of the mill bloke working in an office enjoying his job?

  3. Qwazil says:

    Actually, the situationists simply noted that the widespread achievement of capitalist abundance had demonstrated that guaranteed survival was no substitute for real life.


    Great post! I’ve recently started watching this blog. Real good.

  4. lest we forget says:

    g’day andy, just realised there was a link. ta for the reply. in regards to the tribalism bit, i would tend to think, if communalism was widespread, that a sort of city-state structure would predominate. wouldn’t this just be a reversal of social evolution, albeit, without the poisonous influence of christianity. how would the overseers (for lack of a better word) of these communities define their areas of interest, how would they enforce them. how would these entities resist the urge to merge with others for any number of reasons…efficiency, geographical convenience, defence. what would be the limits of each community, ie; population, land area, natural exploitation. who are the arbiters of such limits. it is fine to laud the virtues of man and savage the society in which we live, but it is this very society that is most naturally akin to man. it is true that man is not a noble savage or depraved sinner but to say “he is violent when oppressed and gentle when free” is a convenient over-simplification. what man is, is an opportunistic coward, who has an extraordinary capacity for great and virtuous deeds that rarely sees opportunity for expression. a very few seek this opportunity…in the military, emergency services, politics etc, but most are happy to participate in society at the minimum level, the minimum risk to themselves. this is why our society is perfect for us. not perfect to be sure, but perfect for us because it wasn’t created or forced, it just grew.

  5. lest we forget says:

    in regards to the russian question, you stated correctly in that it was “a logical and entirely predictable train of events”. if you had the russian revolution a hundred times over, you would always end with the same result. when a coalition is formed of different ideologies or even different factions of the same ideology, unity can only be expected for as long there is a common foe. once this foe is defeated or neutralised, the result is indeed predictable. for a revolution to work in a utopian sense, all revolutionaries must have the exact same interpretation of a given doctrine. this, of course, is impossible. what did the russian revolutionaries do as soon as they had rid themselves of the hated tsarist regime? the various factions each tried to consolidate power. in doing so, they became reactionary. the actions and utterences of the various power players made the now deposed tsar look like bob brown.

  6. @ndy says:

    If things were different, they wouldn’t be the same / The more things stay the same, the less it changes / Wherever you go, there you are.


    What happened in ‘The Russian Revolution’ — like ‘The French Revolution’, or ‘The Enlightenment’, or ‘The Sixties’, or any other historical epoch, for that matter — is A Big Question, about which lots and lots and lots has been written. When I refer to “a logical and entirely predictable train of events”, I’m referring to the anarchist critique of the state (embodied in, for example, Bakunin’s prescient warnings concerning the development of a ‘scientific’ form of ‘socialist’ despotism), not the impossibility of overcoming capitalism (leaving aside the question of what sort of society Russia was in the early twentieth century, and the challenge to Marxist orthodoxy that the Bolsheviks actually came to represent).

    That said: there was no ‘coalition’ of the sort you imply: the Social Democrats (Bolshevik and Menshevik), Social Revolutionaries, anarchists, and numerous other ‘left-wing’ political (which is to say, organised and in a sense republican) forces played a role in the events of that era, obviously, but they were hardly the only players. Leaving aside the various pro-Tsarist forces, what constituted the essence of ‘The Revolution’ was in fact the self-activity of the masses, proletarian and peasant, organised largely independently of these groupings. Many leading Communists, including Trotsky, made note of the fact that, in general, in terms of such revolutionary movement, the masses were almost invariably ‘ahead’ of their putative leadership. For example, the soviets/workers’ councils — which the Bolsheviks/Communists first subverted and then destroyed as independent, non-state centres of activity — were not the brainchild of any of these forces but a ‘spontaneous’ product of the revolt of 1905, which large numbers of workers, in particular, revived as such in 1917, and prior to the Bolshevik ascendancy.

    By the same token, the development of the Bolshevik-led counter-revolution cannot simply be reduced to a matter of some ‘coalition’ breaking down, nor can it be explained in purely ‘ideological’ terms. The view you express is crude and crudely mechanistic. When Voline wrote his account of ‘The Russian Revolution’ he titled it The Unknown Revolution, precisely because, as far as he was concerned, what mattered was not so much the jockeying for power of the various groups struggling to seize control of the government (and to re-consolidate the state through which that power would be exercised), but the activity of the masses in constructing new social relations, and hence new forms of life.

    Every revolution — even when studied closely by many authors of various tendencies, and at different times — long remains, fundamentally, a great Unknown. Centuries pass, and from time to time, men turn up new facts and unpublished documents among the remains of old uprisings. These discoveries upset our knowledge and ideas which we had supposed to be complete. How many works about the French Revolution of 1789 already existed when Kropotkin and Jaures unearthed from the ruins elements unknown until then, which threw unexpected light on that period? And didn’t Jaures say that the vast archives of the Great Revolution were hardly tapped?

    Generally, it is not known how to study a revolution, just as it is still not known how to write the history of a people. Moreover, authors, even when experienced and conscientious, commit errors and negligences which prevent the reader from getting a clear understanding of their theme. They take the trouble, for instance, to examine meticulously and explain in detail the striking facts and phenomena, those which unfold in the light of day, in the burning “revolutionary furnace”. But they mistrust and ignore those developments which occur silently, in the depths of the revolution, outside the “furnace”. Or, at best, they accord them a few words in passing, basing their comment on vague testimonies, with interpretations which are frequently erroneous or biased. And it is precisely these hidden facts which are important, and which throw a true light on the events under consideration and on the period.

    Too, the scientific keys to the phenomena of revolution — economics, sociology, psychology — are at present incapable, by reason of their rudimentary state, of explaining adequately what has happened.

    And this is not all. Even from the point of view of pure “reportage”, how many gaps there are. In the terrible whirlwind of revolution, a multitude of facts, engulfed by crevices which open and shut at every instant, remain undiscovered, perhaps forever. Those who live through a revolution, those millions of men who, in one way or another, are carried away by the storm, are, alas, very little concerned with noting down, for future generations, what they saw, thought, or experienced.

    Finally, there exists still another reason, which I particularly want to emphasize. With very few exceptions, the rare witnesses who leave notes, and also the historians, are disgustingly partial. Each one deliberately seeks and finds, in a revolution, the elements which will support a personal thesis, or will be useful to a dogma, a party, or a caste. Each one carefully hides and discards all that might contradict his own theory. The revolutionaries themselves, divided by their theories, try to dissimulate or distort whatever does not agree with such and such a doctrine.

    We of course are not speaking of the disconcerting number of books which simply are not serious.

    In the last analysis, who then can seek to establish the real and only truth? No one — or practically no one. And it is not astonishing that there exists, on the subject of a revolution, nearly as many versions as volumes, and that the fundamental truth of the real revolution remains unknown.

    However, it is this hidden revolution which carries within it the seeds of future upheavals. Whoever wants to live meaningfully, or who wants to understand events clearly, must discover and scrutinize this Unknown. And the duty of the author is to help the seeker in his task.

    In the present work this unknown revolution is the Russian Revolution, not the one which has been treated many times by politicians and bought-and-paid writers, but the one that has been either neglected or adroitly hidden, or even falsified by such people.

    Leaf through a few books on the Revolution in Russia. Until now nearly all have been written by more or less biased individuals, and from a doctrinal, political, or even personal point of view. According to whether the writer is a White or a Red, a Democrat, a Socialist, a Stalinist, or a Trotskyite, everything differs in appearance. The reality itself is adapted to the design of the narrator. The more you seek to establish it, the less you succeed. For authors [of histories of Russia in 1917] have all too often passed over in silence facts of the highest importance, if they did not conform to their own ideas, did not interest them, or were inconvenient.

    A fundamental problem has been bequeathed to us by the revolutions of 1789 and 1917. Opposed to a large extent to oppression, animated by a powerful breath of liberty, and proclaiming liberty as their essential purpose, why did these revolutions go down under a new dictatorship, exercised by a new dominating and privileged group, in a new slavery for the mass of the people involved? What will be the conditions which will permit a revolution to avoid this sad end? Will this end, for a long time still, be a sort of historical inevitability, or is it due to passing factors, or simply to errors and faults that can be avoided from now on? And in the latter case, what will be the means of eliminating the danger which already threatens the revolutions to come? Is it permissible to hope to avert or surmount it?

    In the opinion of the author, it is precisely the elements that are unknown — or that have been deliberately dissimulated — which offer us the key to the problem before us and supply material indispensable to its solution. And this volume is an attempt to clarify that problem with the help of incontestable facts.

    The author actively participated in the Russian Revolution of 1917, as well as in that of 1905. And he wants to examine, with complete objectivity, the available authentic facts [about the overturn in 1917]. Such is his only concern. If he did not have it, he never would have bothered to write the pages which follow.

    This concern for a frank exposition and an impartial analysis of that revolution is favoured by the author’s ideological position. Since 1908 he has not belonged to any political party. By personal conviction, however, he sympathizes with the libertarian idea. So he can permit himself the luxury of being objective, for, as an Anarchist, he has no interest in betraying the truth, no reason to deceive. He is not interested in power, nor in a high position, nor in privilege, nor in the triumph, “at any cost”, of a doctrine. He seeks only to establish the truth, for only the truth is fertile. His passion, his only ambition, is to explain the events of 1917 in the light of exact facts, for only such an explanation permits one to formulate correct and useful conclusions.

    Like all revolutions, the Russian Revolution involved a wealth of unknown and even unsuspected facts.

    The present study is offered in the hope that some day it will take its modest place beside the works of authors who have wished, been able, and known how, to explore those great riches, honestly, and in complete independence.

  7. lest we forget says:

    jeez mate, that’s a long winded way of saying an objective and comprehensive history of an event is a near impossibility. again, you’re right, but that doesn’t dismiss the fact that, the final outcome remains the same and will always remain the same no matter what language you choose to read it in. this is why history is always best taught as an objective monologue. when people read history as a narrative they inevitably come to conclusions that are subjective in nature, and quite often irrelevant. when one reads of the russian revolution or the spanish revolution or any revolution and says to themselves, “if only we did this, if only we didn’t do that” they miss the point entirely. a revolution, by nature, is a very chaotic and amorphous beast. in this atmosphere, it is usually the more base nature of man that dominates. because this is irrefutable by all except the most, umm, flexible, it is quite logical to presume that the only conclusion to a revolution is a reactionary system or failing that, perpetual revolution. and let’s face it, that wouldn’t be much fun at all.

  8. Paul Justo says:

    Andy wrote – “…what mattered was not so much the jockeying for power of the various groups struggling to seize control of the government (and to re-consolidate the state through which that power would be exercised), but the activity of the masses in constructing new social relations, and hence new forms of life.”

    Nice succinct exposition of anarchism there Andy but surely you must realise that your attempt to counterpose the different class forces to the “various groups” is nonsense.

    The “various groups” actually represented different antagonistic class forces. The program of the Bolsheviks accorded with the interests of the revolutionary soldiers and sailors, the working class and the peasantry. Same in China in 1949 when the CPC won mass support against the compromising Nationalist regime.

    ‘lest we forgets’ argument is just another way of saying –

    The Creatures Outside Looked From Pig To Man, And From Man To Pig, And From Pig To Man Again etc etc.

  9. paul justo says:

    Is that Sir David Attenborough at 01:04 – I nearly spluttered my cup of Earl Grey across the keyboard when I heard those plummy tones. With friends like those…

    I was expecting the narrator to burst in to a stanza of –

    “By the moon that shines above us
    In the misty morn and night,
    Let us cease to run ourselves down
    But praise God that we are white.
    And better still we’re English-
    Tea and toast and muffin Rings,
    Old ladies with stern faces,
    And the Captains and the Kings.
    Old ladies with stern faces,
    And the Captains and the Kings.

    The bourgeois defense of anarchism (and indeed Trotsky) recognises that not only right opportunism but also ultra-leftism can serve anti-communism.

  10. lest we forget says:

    a good doco that, but we all know how it ends. a case of nice guys finish last.

  11. @ndy says:

    The doco — The Russian Revolution in Colour — was narrated by the actor Peter Guinness.

    The bourgeois defense of anarchism (and indeed Trotsky) recognises that not only right opportunism but also ultra-leftism can serve anti-communism.

    A non-bourgeois defence of anarchism (but not Trotsky) recognises that Bolshevism was anti-communist.

    Counterposing the different class forces to the “various groups” is not nonsense, but even if it were, it’s not really my argument, which depends not upon such a counter-position but an acknowledgment of the fact that the relationship between class and class conflict and the political mediation of these forces is not straightforward. That the “various groups” actually represented different antagonistic class forces is (largely, but not entirely) correct, but how they did so is the real question. Thus the program of the Bolsheviks changed over time, in accordance with the changing situation in Russia, and the party leadership’s understanding of how best to take advantage of it in pursuit of the party’s primary goal: the acquisition of state power. Although it may be somewhat redundant to point this out, the great advantage a party which forms government has over those which do not is its ability to exercise this power: even, if necessary — or perhaps especially — over and against the claims of “the revolutionary soldiers and sailors, the working class and the peasantry”; and even if — as in the case of the revolutionary soldiers and sailors of Kronstadt — those claims reflect the ostensible program of the Bolsheviks.

  12. Paul Justo says:

    …the relationship between class and class conflict and the political mediation (?) of these forces is not straightforward.

    How various political groups represent different antagonistic political forces is a “real question”.

    Have a read of Lenin’s ‘The State & Revolution’ and you can plainly see that the primary goal is not merely the acquisition of state power as you anarchists contend.

    Lenin’s book on the state is very straightforward and deals with the real question.

    The very first sentence in the preface – “The question of the state is now acquiring particular importance both in theory and in practical politics”.

    Further ahead in the preface he says: “The world proletarian revolution is clearly maturing. The question of its relation to the state is acquiring practical importance.”

    Here Lenin moves from the ‘question of state’ to the question of the ‘proletarian revolution’. In other words, he is not viewing the question of the state as an independent question as you are trying to imply.

    The ‘question of the state’ is intimately connected with the question of the proletarian revolution, it has acquired importance only because it is connected with the question of the proletarian revolution.

    To make this clearer – Lenin from the same preface.

    “The struggle to free the working people from the influence of the bourgeoisie…” says Lenin, “is impossible without a struggle against opportunist prejudices concerning the ‘state’.”

    This statement shows that Lenin’s main concern is the struggle to free the workers from the bourgeoisie, and a correct interpretation of Marx’s theory of state is only a part of this struggle.

    “The question of the relation of the socialist proletarian revolution to the state”, Lenin says, “… is acquiring not only practical importance, but also the significance of a most urgent problem of the day, the problem of explaining to the masses what they will have to do before long to free themselves from capitalist tyranny.”

    The retention of state power by the Bolsheviks was necessary to ‘crush the resistance of the bourgeoisie’. As long as the bourgeoisie hold state power in any country they use that power to attempt to overthrow the proletarian revolution.

    Lenin’s book is at

  13. @ndy says:

    .org is abandoned.

    Oh, and again, yr quoting/paraphrasing, without attribution.

    Sauce : Rustam Singh, Restoring Revolutionary Theory: Towards an Understanding of Lenin’s “The State and Revolution”, Economic and Political Weekly, 1989.

  14. @ndy says:

    I might write some of my own thoughts on Uncle Vlad’s S&R (which I’ve read, several times over), but in the meantime, I’m gonna return the favour:

    H.1.7 Haven’t you read Lenin’s “State and Revolution”?

    This question is often asked of people who critique Marxism, particularly its Leninist form. Lenin’s State and Revolution is often considered his most democratic work and Leninists are quick to point to it as proof that Lenin and those who follow his ideas are not authoritarian. As such, it is an important question. So how do anarchists reply when people point them to Lenin’s work as evidence of the democratic (even libertarian) nature of Marxism? Anarchists reply in two ways.

    Firstly, we argue many of the essential features of Lenin’s ideas are to be found in anarchist theory and, in fact, had been aspects of anarchism for decades before Lenin put pen to paper. Bakunin, for example, talked about mandated delegates from workplaces federating into workers’ councils as the framework of a (libertarian) socialist society in the 1860s as well as popular militias to defend a revolution. Moreover, he was well aware that revolution was a process rather than an event and so would take time to develop and flourish. Hence Murray Bookchin:

      “Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Malatesta were not so naive as to believe that anarchism could be established over night. In imputing this notion to Bakunin, Marx and Engels wilfully distorted the Russian anarchist’s views. Nor did the anarchists . . . believe that abolition of the state involved ‘laying down of arms’ immediately after the revolution, to use Marx’s obscurantist choice of terms, thoughtlessly repeated by Lenin in State and Revolution. Indeed, much that passes for ‘Marxism’ in State and Revolution is pure anarchism – for example, the substitution of revolutionary militias for professional armed bodies and the substitution of organs of self-management for parliamentary bodies. What is authentically Marxist in Lenin’s pamphlet is the demand for ‘strict centralism,’ the acceptance of a ‘new’ bureaucracy, and the identification of soviets with a state.” [Post-Scarcity Anarchism, p. 137]

    That this is the case is hidden in Lenin’s work as he deliberately distorts anarchist ideas in it (see sections H.1.3 and H.1.4 for example). Therefore, when Marxists ask whether anarchist have read Lenin’s State and Revolution we reply by arguing that most of Lenin’s ideas were first expressed by anarchists and his work just strikes anarchists as little more than a re-hash of many of our own ideas but placed in a statist context which totally and utterly undermines them in favour of party rule.

    Secondly, anarchists argue that regardless of what Lenin argued for in State and Revolution, he did not apply those ideas in practice (indeed, he did the exact opposite). Therefore, the question of whether we have read Lenin’s work simply drives home […] the ideological nature and theoretical bankruptcy of Leninism. This is because the person is asking you to evaluate their politics based on what they say rather than on what they do, like any politician…

  15. Fascist Troll says:

    It[‘]s OK to speak on behalf of the minorities in this country, but you always forget us real Australian’s [no apostrophe]. Why are we neglected by the leftist unit [sic]? Us real Australian’s [no apostrophe] ([n]ot the pretend Australian’s [no apostrophe]) have rights that deserve respecting as well.

  16. Fascist Troll says:

    Show dome respect.

  17. @ndy says:

    Get stuffed. I hate domes, and I’m never gonna apologise for it!

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