“All Aboard! Bolshevik Revolution leaving Trotskyist Platform at 19:17!” Toot toot!

Awesome.

It’s been six months since I updated the Trot Guide, and six months is a long time in Trotskyist politics.

Well… kinda.

Anyway, point is, in May I wrote:

29 1/2) Trotskyist Platform (TP). Status : TP formed in 2006 when no less a person than the editor of the Australasian Spartacist made like a banana… and split. May 2008: He must be hunting wabbits, as he is keeping vewy vewy quiet.

No longer!
Trotskyist Platform has a website!
And a publication!
Two issues of which are available online!
Issue 9 (Feb-May 2008) and Issue 10 (Sep-Oct 2008)!
My favourite article is ‘An Eyewitness Account from The Canberra April 24 Pro-Peoples Republic of China Rally: From The Bright Depths of The Sea of Red’: “There has not been such a huge show of support for a pro-communist flag in this country in at least the last 30 years, perhaps ever.”

How excitement!

TP stands in the tradition of the early years of the Communist International (CI) that was formed in the wake of the October 1917 socialist revolution in Russia. The CI would soon unite together revolutionaries from China to Russia, from France to the U.S. We look forward to the future regrouping of sincere worker militants and leftist youth into a party based on the principles that the Communist International was founded on. We look forward to a future world where there will not only be no subjugation but where every person will be able to, depending on their own interests, reach their full creative, cultural, scientific and artistic potential.

Trotskyist Platform: PO Box 1101, Fairfield, NSW, 1860, Australia
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone (Australia): 0417 204 611
Phone (International): 0061 417 204 611

In other news…

http://www.labortribune.net/ is “Under [Re-]Construction”.

The Communist Party of Australia has had to bid farewell to its General Secretary (1972–2008), Peter Symon, following his death on December 18, 2008. “Peter’s contribution to the Australian and International communist movement was considerable. He ranks with other great Australian Communists such as JB Miles, Dick Dixon and Lance Sharkey.” Lance Sharkey, ‘Stalin — The Lenin of To-day’, Foreword to Foundations of Leninism (1945) by ‘Uncle’ Joseph Stalin:

The trotskyite fascist agents tried to deny Stalin’s theoretical ability. They claimed that their defeat was brought about by organisational measures directed against them. But the struggle against the traitorous trotskyites was, in the first place, a theoretical and political struggle of decisive importance. The question involved was one of life or death, the continued existence of the Soviet Republic, the problem of whether Socialism could be built in one country.

Stalin brilliantly defended and elaborated Lenin’s teaching on the possibility of building Socialism in one country and, with a profound grip of Marxism-Leninism, refuted the “theoretical” arguments of his opponents, who, defeated, later sold themselves as Quislings to the Nazi and Japanese espionage services.

Worryingly, Vanguard, the publication of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist), does not appear to have been published for some twelve months — or at least, not online. Vanguard Online in 2008! “In its political work, the Party takes into account the hostile position of the pro-imperialist state power and the activities of its repressive agencies. Except for a few leading figures and spokespersons, the majority of Party members do not reveal their association. The current Chairperson is Bruce Cornwall.”

The Democratic Socialist Perspective Socialist Alliance held its Sixth National Conference in Geelong over the weekend of December 6-7, 2008. Without having read any accounts, I can assure readers that it was A Great Success, A Big Step Forward, and that, while The Struggle Ahead is Long and Difficult, The Future for SA is Very Promising.

http://www.fightback.org.au/ is a website which is The Marxist Voice of Labour and Youth. In plain English, that means that one of the Trotskyist Internationals — in this case the International Marxist Tendency (IMT: formerly the Committee for a Marxist International or CMI) has a handful of followers Down Under.

In Australia, Revo appears to have disappeared… but may just be unwell. The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), on the other hand, is still kicking seven months after its birth. And while the DSP may lay claim to Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific (ASAP), the RSP has its own Asia Pacific Solidarity Network (APSN). Members of the two parties happily work together in the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network, however.

Finally, revolutionaries face a tough choice come Easter, 2009. On the one hand, in Melbourne, Socialist Alternative is hosting ‘Marxism 2009’ (April 9–12); on the other, the DSP/Resistance will be critically examining a ‘World at a Crossroads’ (April 10–13) in Sydney. John Pilger will be a special guest at Marxism 2009 and based on his performance at the 2008 London Anarchist Bookfair, at which he reportedly declared himself an ‘anarchist’, chances are he’ll declare himself a ‘Trotskyist’ in Melbourne…

wsws.org awesomeness: Australia: The DSP split and Socialist Alliance—another opportunist debacle, Laura Tiernan, December 6, 2008.

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 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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55 Responses to “All Aboard! Bolshevik Revolution leaving Trotskyist Platform at 19:17!” Toot toot!

  1. grumpy cat says:

    Hi All,
    I met some Trotskyist Platform comrades when they were in Brisbane for Lex Wotton’s trial. I was really impressed with how sincere, hard-working and comradely they were. But then again I have had excellent experiences this year working with comrades from the RSP and Solidarity too.
    @ndy it would be great if you could make more substantive critiques of Leninist politics as part of building a culture of debate amongst the class. This whole ‘Trot Guide’ concept is getting very old and lets down this otherwise excellent blog.
    But I guess there are bigger questions here. Facing what we face, how are we going to rebuild viable revolutionary politics? It seems pretty clear to me that none of the revolutionary tendencies or tiny groups (anarchist, socialist, whatever) have really many, let alone all, the answers. Rather we are going to have to form something new, and this is going to involve real engagement with each other.
    rebel love
    Dave

  2. Peter Neylon says:

    In short ‘Council Communism’ was/is the critical and theoretical reflection of the revolutionary mass struggles of the working class in Western Europe – especially those in Germany – following the I. World War.”

    “was/is” – wow – such profundity. I love these theoretical improvements on ML – where do I sign up?
    Who are the Council Communists of Australia?

  3. grumpy cat says:

    I am not sure where your quote comes from Peter (is it a reference to an old comment I made?) but there are no overt council communist groups in Australia. Council communist ideas do have some influence amongst the small handfuls of ultraleft commies – along with operaismo, Debord, Dauve etc etc.
    Also I have often purchased heaps of council communist stuff from anarchist book shops, so I assume that their ideas have some influence there (Jura has an awesome cupboard full of ultraleft stuff from the 70s; also I remember Barricade Book volunteers sneering at a pile of Enrageds – being the zine of Revolutionary Action – as we were donating them to the shop. Apparently it was full of ‘Marxist Crap’. Funnily enough I was purchasing from them a handful of Marxist, ultraleft and council commie stuff they stocked!). Though this influence would not be as strong as say in the UK or USA.
    rebel love
    Dave

    [@ndy: The quote is from the Council Communist site to which I linked: http://www.kurasje.org/arksys/archset.htm I’m also unaware of any extant council communist groups in Australia; on the other hand, such ideas have been in circulation in Australia since at least the 1940s, if not before. Steven Wright, ‘Left communism in Australia: J. A. Dawson and the Southern Advocate for Workers’ Councils’, Thesis Eleven, No.1 (1980), pp. 43-77, provides further background information.]

  4. @ndy says:

    In 1937, when the first German prisoners were assembled on the Ettersberg to cut down the beech forest, the system of the corrective labor camps, the Gulag, in other words, the great hurricane of that terrible year, was about to be unleashed on the USSR.

    There have been different stages of the terror in the USSR. Certain thresholds were crossed before the terror reached its heights under Stalin. The year 1937 is undoubtedly one of those thresholds.

    Shalamov’s book, which I was reading yesterday — I mean, the day before the day that I am now reconstituting through writing, that day in 1969, in London, when I suddenly found myself opposite a building where Karl Marx had once lived, which gave rise to this apparent digression — the chapter in Kolyma Tales that I was reading yesterday, and whose title was ‘How It All Began,’ deals specifically with the threshold crossed in 1937 in the historical world of the terror, in the very history of the Gulag.

    ‘In the whole of 1937,’ Varlam Shalamov writes, ‘two men, out of an official work force of two to three thousand, one prisoner and one free man, met their death in the Partisan mine (one of the mines in the Kolyma zone). They were buried side by side, under a tumulus. Two vague obelisks — a slightly smaller one for the prisoner — were erected over their graves … In 1938, an entire brigade worked permanently digging graves.’ For the whirlwind struck the Kolyma camps, and the whole of Soviet society, at the end of 1937. On orders from Colonel Garanin, who was eventually shot as a ‘Japanese spy,’ just as his master, Yezhov, who replaced Yagoda (also shot) as head of the NKVD, was eventually to be shot, and replaced by Beria, who, in turn … Colonel Garanin, as I was saying, unleashed over the Dalstroy, the concentration-camp zone of Kolyma, the insane whirlwind of 1937.

    On orders from Colonel Garanin, the prisoners in the camps of the Great North were shot in the thousands. They were shot for ‘counter-revolutionary agitation.’ And what exactly does counterrevolutionary agitation consist of in a Gulag camp? Varlam Shalamov tells us: ‘To say aloud that the work was hard, to murmur the most innocent remark about Stalin, to remain silent when the crowd of prisoners bawled out: ‘Long live Stalin!” … shot! Silence is agitation.’ One was shot ‘for committing an outrage against a member of the guard.’ One was shot for ‘refusing to work.’ One was shot ‘for stealing metal.’ But, says, Shalamov, ‘the ultimate offense, the one for which prisoners were shot in waves, was for not meeting the norms. This crime took entire brigades into a common grave. The authorities provided the theoretical basis for this strict regime: throughout the country the five-year plan was broken down into precise figures for every factory, for every work team. At Kolyma, requirements were drawn up for each placer, each barrow, each pick. The five-year plan was law! Not to carry out the plan was a counterrevolutionary crime! Those who failed to carry out the plan were soon got rid of!’

    The Plan, then, the tangible proof, it was said, of the superiority of Soviet society, the Plan that made it possible to avoid the crises and anarchy of capitalist production, the Plan, then, an almost mystical notion, responsible not only in civil society, so to speak, but also in that quite uncivil case of a despotism of unremitting labor — because it bound the worker to his place of work, whether this was a factory or a penal colony — the Plan was simultaneously the cause of a refined doubling of terror within the Gulag camps themselves. The Plan was as lethal as Colonel Garanin. In fact, you couldn’t have one without the other.

    But, Shalamov tells us, ‘the eternally frozen stone and soil of the merzlota rejects corpses. The rock has to be dynamited, hacked away. Digging graves and digging for gold required the same techniques, the same tools, the same equipment, the same workers. An entire brigade would devote its days to cutting out graves, or rather ditches, where the anonymous corpses would be thrown fraternally together … The corpses were piled up, completely stripped, after their gold teeth had been broken off and recorded on the burial document. Bodies and stone, mixed together, were poured into the ditch, but the earth refused the dead, incorruptible and condemned to eternity in the perpetually frozen earth of the Great North …’

    Yesterday, when I read those lines — that is, not yesterday, but the day before that spring ten years ago in London — when I read those lines yesterday, that image burned itself into my eyes: the image of those thousands of stripped corpses, intact, trapped in the ice of eternity in the mass graves of the Great North. Graves that were the construction sites of the new man, let us not forget!

    In Moscow, at the Mausoleum at Red Square, incredible, credulous crowds continue to file past the incorruptible corpse of Lenin. I even visited the mausoleum myself once, in 1958. At that time, Stalin’s mummy kept Vladimir Ilyich company. Two years before, during a secret session of the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Party, Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev set fire to the idol, which, like all his peers, he had worshipped and venerated. And in 1960, in Bucharest, Khrushchev suggested to Peng Chen that Stalin’s bloody mummy be taken to China. It was finally removed from the mausoleum after the Twenty-second Congress of the Soviet Party. But in the summer of 1958, Stalin was still in his red marble tomb beside Lenin. I can testify to that. I saw them both. At peace, intact, incorruptible: all they lacked was the power of speech. But, fortunately, they did not have the power of speech. They just lay there, the two of them, silent, lit up like fish in an aquarium, protected by members of the Guards, standing motionless like bronze statues.

    Ten years later, in London, after reading that passage in Varlam Shalamov’s book, I remembered the tomb in Red Square. It occurred to me that the true mausoleum of the revolution was to be found in the Great North, in Kolyma. Galleries might be dug through the charnel houses — the construction sites — of socialism. People would file past the thousands of naked, incorruptible corpses of prisoners frozen in the ice of eternal death. There would be no guards; those dead would not need guards. There would be no music, either, no solemn funeral marches playing in the background. There would be nothing but silence. At the end of the labyrinth of galleries, in a subterranean amphitheater dug out of the ice of a common ditch, surrounded on all sides by the blind gazes of the victims, learned meetings might be organized to discuss the consequences of the ‘Stalinist deviation,’ with a representative sprinkling of distinguished Western Marxists in attendance.

    And yet the Russian camps are not Marxist, in the sense that the German camps were Nazi. There is a historical immediacy, a total transparency between Nazi theory and its repressive practice. Indeed, Hitler seized power through ideological mobilization of the masses and thanks to universal suffrage, in the name of a theory about which no one could be in any doubt. He himself put his ideas into practice, reconstructing German reality in accordance with them. The situation of Karl Marx, vis-à-vis the history of the twentieth century, even that made in his name, is radically different. That is obvious enough. In fact, a large segment of the opponents of the Bolsheviks, at the time of the October Revolution, claimed allegiance to Marx no less than did the Bolsheviks themselves: it was in the name of Marxism that not only the Mensheviks, but also the theoreticians of the German ultra-left criticized the authoritarianism and terror, the ideological monolithism and social inequality that spread over the USSR after the October victory.

    The Russian camps are not, therefore, in an immediate, unequivocal way, Marxist camps. Nor are they simply Stalinist. They are Bolshevik camps. The Gulag is the direct, unequivocal product of Bolshevism.

    However, one can go on a little further and locate in Marxist theory the crack through which the barbaric excesses of Correct Thought — which produces the corrective-labor camps — were to flood, the madness of the One, the lethal, frozen dialectic of the Great Helmsmen.

    On March 5, 1852, Karl Marx wrote to Joseph Weydemeyer, who published in New York Die Revolution, a periodical of uncertain frequency, because of financial difficulties, like most of the socialist journals of the time. It was for Weydemeyer’s journal that Marx was finishing, in those rainy days at the end of the London winter, his articles on the Eighteenth Brumaire, which were to appear in an issue of Die Revolution under the title slightly altered by Weydemeyer — Der 18te Brumaire des Louis Napoleon, instead of Bonaparte — published at the Deutsche Vereins-Buchhandlung von Schmidt und Helmich, at 191 William Street.

    So, on that March day in 1852, Karl Marx was writing to Weydemeyer. Two days before, he had received five pounds sent him by Frederick Engels, from Manchester. The Marx family must have eaten more or less their fill that week, after paying off their most pressing debts to the grocer and doctor. Now Karl Marx glanced out of the window of his flat. He looked absent-mindedly over at the narrow doorway of the building across the street. He saw nothing of particular interest. Indeed, there wasn’t anything of particular interest at that time: the film company had not yet moved in. He went down to sit at his desk. In his almost indecipherable writing, he wrote the date at the top right-hand corner of the sheet of paper. Under the date, he added his address, 28 Dean street, Soho, London.

    It was in this letter to Joseph Weydemeyer that Marx explained his own contribution to the theory of classes and of the class struggle. After admitting that bourgeois historians had already described the historical development of this class struggle, and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of classes, Marx went on to explain what was new in his contribution: was ich neu tat. ‘What I did that was new was to prove: 1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, 2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.’

    This is an extremely well-known passage, one that has been interpreted this way and that, which generations of learned commentators have dissected, which brilliant polemicists have thrown in one another’s faces for over a century. And yet one can still come back to it. It still provides matter for reflection. One can still find something new in it: etwas Neues.

    What, then, is the contribution that Marx declares he has made in this theory, at the concrete level of history and of the class struggles that make history? It is to have shown (or demonstrated: Marx uses the verb nachweisen, which may be interpreted in both senses; but in both senses it is used wrongly by Marx, who never showed or demonstrated what he advanced, as we shall see) a certain number of points.

    Let us leave to one side the first, that concerning the historicity of the very existence of classes. This question belongs to a philosophy of history with which I am not concerned for the moment. The idea that mankind, in order to pass from a classless society, to that of primitive Communism, to another society of the same kind, but in a developed form, swimming in the butter of abundance, is destined to go through a long historical purgatory of ruthless, indecisive class struggles — always producing, moreover, real effects different from those that Marxist theoreticians, beginning in this case with Marx himself, had foreseen — such an idea leaves me completely cold. It no longer excites anybody, the idea that there was once, and that therefore there will be again, in the depths of history, ideal idyllic societies, communities without states. I am well aware that to set this idea, expressed concisely enough in Marx’s first point, to one side is somewhat arbitrary. I am well aware that the sub-Hegelian philosophy of history that underlies the idea contained in Marx’s first point also underlies the other two points. But one may, nevertheless, for purely methodological reasons, exclude this first point from our present analysis, temporarily bracket it out.

    Whatever one may think, therefore, of the question of the historicity, of the relativity of classes, it is easy to see that the next two points listed by Marx do not belong to historical science — if science it be — but to prediction. Or even to prophetic teaching. That the class struggle should necessarily lead to the dictatorship of the proletariat is no more than a hypothesis, perhaps a pious wish. But neither the hypothesis nor the pious wish has been verified or fulfilled anywhere by real history. The dictatorship of the proletariat, in the Marxist sense, has never existed anywhere. A century after Marx’s letter to Weydemeyer, it still hasn’t come about.

    At this point, of course, I can hear the indignant cries from the distinguished Marxists at the back of the hall. (There are only two or three fools in the whole world who haven’t realized that when one writes, one always puts oneself on public display, whether one likes it or not. And if one is putting oneself on public display, one can imagine the hall in which it takes place.)

    The Marxists all squawk at once.

    ‘What about the Paris Commune?’ someone yells out. I was waiting for that one. In a tone suggesting that nothing more is to be said on that matter, someone quotes Frederick Engels: ‘Well, gentlemen, do you want to know what a dictatorship is like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the dictatorship of the proletariat.’ Well, gentlemen, look at the Paris Commune, but look at it carefully. You will see some very fascinating, very instructive things, but you will never see the dictatorship of the proletariat. Forget Engels and the high-flown words with which, twenty years after the events, he ends his introduction to Marx’s The Class Struggles in France, forget Engels’s literary fabulations, come back to the harsh truths of history, and you will not find the dictatorship of the proletariat. Read the writings of the period, beginning, of course, with the contemporary accounts of the sessions of the Commune itself, and you will see that the attempted coup of the Paris Communards, at once grandiose and pitiful, heroic and petty, seeped in a just vision of society and shot through with the most confused ideologies, has got nothing to do with the dictatorship of proletariat.

    But I am not allowed to continue my demonstration (Nachweisung, Marx would say: yet I have the advantage over him of speaking with my back to history, of trying to explain it; I have no need to fantasize, and can therefore demonstrate, or show, what history has demonstrated). I am interrupted: voices rise up on all sides.

    Very well, I shall continue at another time, perhaps in another place. But above the din of Marxist voices, I shall say just a few words, even if I have to raise my voice, on Marx’s third point, namely, that the dictatorship of the proletariat is a mere transition — a state that would be already an antistate — toward a classless society, toward the suppression of all classes.

    Here, too, we are confronted with a mere postulate: a petitio principii. Real history has demonstrated — nachgewiesen — quite the contrary. It has shown the continual, implacable reinforcement of the state, the brutal exacerbation of the struggle between the classes, which not only have not been suppressed, but, on the contrary, have crystallized still further in their polarization. Beside the veritable civil war unleashed against the peasantry in the USSR in the early 1930’s, the class struggles in the West are gala dinners. Compared with the stratification of social privileges in the USSR — functional privileges, certainly, bound up with the status and not, or not necessarily, with the individual — real social inequality, that is to say, relative to the national product and to its distribution, is in the West nothing but a fairy tale.

    In brief, what Marx claims is new in his contribution to the theory of classes and of the struggle between them has nothing theoretical about it, nothing that throws light on reality and enables one to act on it. It is no more than prediction, wishful thinking, an expression that must have been used quite often at 28 Dean Street.

    And it is here, on this precise point of the Marxist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat as an inevitable transition towards classless society, that the lethal madness of Bolshevism took root and nourished the terror. It was in accordance with these few points dryly listed by Marx one day in 1852 — listed, moreover, as if they were self-evident — that all the Great Helmsmen have begun to think — and, worse still, to dream at night — as if inside the heads of the proletarians. It was in the name of this historic mission of the proletariat that they have been crushed, deported, dispersed, through labor — free or forced, but always corrective — millions of proletarians.

    An idea underlies these points — these theoretical novelties — which Marx pedantically enumerates: the idea of the existence of a universal class that will be the dissolution of all classes; a class that cannot be emancipated without emancipati[ng] itself from all other classes of society and without, consequently, emancipating them all. One might have recognized the trembling voice of the young Marx announcing, in 1843, in an essay that he wrote, not on Dean Street, but on the Rue Vaneau in Paris, ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction’; the epiphany of the proletariat. But this universal class does not exist. The lesson of the hundred years that separate us from Marx is, if nothing else, that the modern proletariat is not this class. To continue to maintain this theoretical fiction has enormous practical consequences, for it paves the way for the parties of the proletariat, the leaders of the proletariat, the corrective labor camps of the proletariat: that is to say, it paves the way for those who, in the silence of the gagged proletariat, speak in its name, in the name of its supposed universal mission, and speak loud and clear (to say the least!).

    So the first task of the new revolutionary party that would not speak in the name of the proletariat, but would regard itself only as a temporary structure, constantly disintegrating and being reconstructed, as a focus of receptivity and awareness which would give organic weight, material strength, to the voice of the proletariat — its first task would be that of re-establishing the theoretical truth, with all the consequences that this involves, about the nonexistence of a universal class.

    But this blind spot in Marx’s theory, through which it is linked to the aberrational realities of the twentieth century, is also its blinding spot: the focal point at which the entire grandiose illusion of the revolution shines. Without this false notion of a universal class, Marxism would not have become the material force that it has been, that it still partly is, profoundly transforming the world, if only to make it even more intolerable. Without this blinding, we would not have become Marxists. We would not have become Marxists simply to demonstrate the mechanisms of the production of surplus value, or to reveal the fetishisms of mercantile society, an area in which Marxism is irreplaceable. We would have become teachers. It was the deep-seated madness of Marxism, conceived as a theory for universal revolutionary practice, that gave meaning to our lives. To mine, in any case. As a result, there is no longer any meaning in my life. I live without meaning.

    But this is no doubt normal enough. In any case, isn’t it dialectical?

    Jorge Semprun, What A Beautiful Sunday!, Translated from the French by Alan Sheridan, Abacus, London, 1984. Originally published in French under the title Quel beau dimanche! in 1980 by Editions Grasset et Fasquelle.

  5. Peter Neylon says:

    Hey ‘grumpy cat’, nah, nothing to do with you, just a quote from the website the slack bastard linked to on the Comintern.

    I’m envious that you snavelled “Marxist, ultraleft and council commie stuff” from Barricade books- we get nuthin like that here in Qld. I love reading all that way-out stuff. Much better than a stack of Picture or People magazines!

    Andy has posted some spiel about Stalin – couldnt be arsed to read it. Stalin built socialism in one country and smashed nazism. Russia/USSR had the wooden plough when Lenin died and atomic weapons by the time Joe Stalin died.

    Between the wooden plough and the atom the USSR lost over 20 million people to fascism but still overcame.

    Here’s a few articles that set the record straight –

    http://www.tiac.net/users/knut/Stalin/book.html
    http://www.plp.org/cd96/cd1026.html#RTFToC22
    http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/politics.html#STALIN

    Peter

    “Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
    We’ll keep the red flag flying here”

    http://www.dcu.ie/~comms/songs/rf-t-jk1.mp2

  6. grumpy cat says:

    That is a pretty interesting article.
    If there is not a revolutionary class, if working class is at best a sociological category describing stratifications but not something that can transform and emancipate itself, and thus humanity, is there any possibility for revolutionary politics (of any label)?

    I find some of the current nonclass theorists (Critchley, Badiou, Brown) at some level really wanting…

    How does anarchism(s) attempt to deal with apparent non-existence?
    rebel love
    Dave

  7. @ndy says:

    “Andy has posted some spiel about Stalin”: alternatively, in reality, an extract from a novel by Jorge Semprun:

    “Spanish writer and activist Jorge Semprún was born in Spain but raised in exile in France during the reign of Francisco Franco. Active in the Communist Party and the resistance movement, he was arrested by Nazis and imprisoned at Buchenwald during World War II. After the war he became an acclaimed author, best known for his autobiographical novels Le Grand Voyage and Quel beau Dimanche, and an outspoken advocate of freedom and peace. He was twice Oscar-nominated, for his screenplays for La Guerre est Finie (The War Is Over) and Z. He was Spanish Minister of Culture from 1988 to 1991.”

    In other words, a bona fide Stalinist — at a time when Stalin was still kicking.

    1923: born in Madrid.

    1942: joins Spanish Communist Party.

    1943: arrested by Gestapo and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp.

    1945: returns to Paris. Until 1952, works as translator for UNESCO.

    1953: coordinates the activities of clandestine resistance to the Franco regime on behalf of the Central Committee of the Spanish Communist Party in exile; later joins the Central Committee and Political Bureau.

    1957–1962: using the pseudonym Frederico Sanchez, supervises the clandestine work of the Communist Party in Spain under Franco.

    1964: expelled from the party because of differences over the party line.

  8. @ndy says:

    http://www.tiac.net/users/knut/Stalin/book.html

    Dead link.

    Grover Furr the Stalinist Apologist? Sounds like he oughta be in a Kurt Vonnegut novel named ‘Uncle Joe’s Cadillac’.

    Here’s some musick!

  9. J C says:

    But wait there is more –

    A split from the IBT – and yet another rebirth of the fourth international.

    http://www.regroupment.org/

    Stupid fuc**n trots.

  10. @ndy says:

    I know! The Sparts are tops! I think we’ll have to wait for Unkle Leon to return from Outer Space before we sort out who’s the real Fourth International but — and why. If I were his spirit guide, I’d suggest he avoid the polemics, and, like Captain Picard, simply say: ‘Make it so!’

  11. @ndy says:

    Dave : “How does anarchism(s) attempt to deal with apparent non-existence?”

    Dunno… well… right now I’m dealing with a really bad cold, so maybe later. In the meantime, I thought the editorial from the latest # of AJODA was interesting (altho’ only slightly related):

    Like other people, anarchists love to take sides. Whatever the issue (or non-issue) is, we can be counted on to express our opinions, to open our big mouths and spout some rhetoric—trite or funny, searing or banal, a century old or made up on the spot. One of the sides we frequently take publicly is against other anarchists. All anarchists agree that there are limits to anarchist practice—we just don’t agree on what those limits are or should be. Often it seems as thought the only thing two anarchists with different opinions can agree on is that a third one with different opinions isn’t an anarchist at all.

    Many anarchists who don’t like other anarchists (and their projects) use the curse word sectarian as an emotionally satisfying and sophisticated-sounding way to condemn them. Used this way, sectarian is a short-cut term that almost always means an anarchist who doesn’t agree with me. But the term does have an actual meaning, and can be used properly and accurately rather than as a quick dismissal.

    When anarchists disagree with each other, there are (other than ignoring it) two main ways to proceed:

    The partisan way

    A partisan espouses and promotes a particular perspective. This means taking sides—advocating analyses, goals, and strategies as part of a critique of the status quo. Comparing one’s own perspectives to others’ is understood to be part of a wider critical engagement. A partisan believes that excluding others from being considered anarchists is not usually consistent with that engagement, and that a continuing (critical) relationship with other anarchists makes for a stronger, more relevant (anti-)political tendency. An anarchist partisan examines and exposes the contradictions and tensions between theory and practice (her own as well as those of others), perhaps invoking a provisional excommunication on anarchists who engage in clearly contradictory practice (voting being a continually exasperating example). Partisans try to convince others, and can be convinced by them; a partisan knows that her perspective can change.

    The sectarian way

    A sectarian takes a limited (and limiting) view of what can legitimately be labeled Anarchist, and excludes other anarchists from being so considered based on these self-referential boundaries. Doctrinal differences are outlined (and perhaps inflated) in order to create and/or maintain what amounts to an Anarchist Orthodoxy (true/correct belief). A sectarian has little or no interest in basing exclusions on contradictory practice—the theoretical or ideological parameters of anarchist analyses are what matter. The result is that certain ideas and subjects are off-limits, and the presence or absence of certain code-words and/or jargon is sufficient evidence of heresy. If an analysis doesn’t conform to the positions of one’s favorite anarchist theorists, then that analysis must be incorrect, and the person holding such a perspective needs to be banished from the club. The sectarian thrives on the ability and the need to exclude/expel. Rather than the courage of conviction, the sectarian has the smugness of certainty. Sectarians only change their minds when they change sects.

    It is easy to label a particular anarchist sectarian when she argues strongly for a particular position; while all sectarians are partisan, not all partisans are sectarian.

    When AK Press refuses to distribute Green Anarchy they are being partisan, but they are also being sectarian. What makes this a sectarian decision is the larger context of AK producing and distributing explicitly non-anarchist (and in some cases anti-anarchist) titles and paraphernalia. AK is taking a side of course, which is their prerogative, but what might be the motivation for excluding one explicitly anarchist project, while tirelessly supporting non-anarchists (Alexander Cockburn, for example)? The logical conclusion is that the kind of anarchy GA promotes is unacceptable to the folks at AK. So too with AK’s recent decision to ban Anarchy; their citation of Bob Black’s letter in #65 is merely the convenient excuse. As they say, they’ve “had many political disagreements with its contents over the years.” Implicit is their cumulative annoyance with us, which, in the absence of any other information from them, we must assume is because those of us involved in this journal are different kinds of anarchists.

    We at Anarchy publish all the letters we get, regardless of their source; we do not edit them. We often engage with the substance of the complaints and criticisms of the letter-writers in the letters section, especially if the criticisms are sincere. In that context we are able to clarify and expand on our opinions and analyses, and discussions can be on-going, since people are encouraged to continue them. We do not exclude or censor ideas that may not be popular in the anarchist/radical mainstream. In that, Anarchy is a partisan, and not sectarian, project.

    Sectarianism, based on whichever criteria the sectarians choose, is clearly detrimental to the growth of the influence of anarchist ideas and practices, and creates unnecessary animosities between and among various anarchists. Animosity should exist because of actual substance and apparent contradictions in practice rather than subjective (and often personal) rivalries between the ideas of various individuals and factions. If what we’re after is a larger, more inclusive, and diverse anarchist presence, then wouldn’t it be better to be clear and explicit about our disagreements—debating them honestly and with integrity—rather than just condemning and excluding anarchists with different opinions? And if we are able to debate with clarity and good faith, we may discover that we don’t hold such irreconcilably different perspectives after all.

  12. grumpy cat says:

    Hi all.
    I actually think it is a crucial question. For me, communism is possible because within the material substance of capitalist society exists antagonisms that offer the potential for rebellion and other forms of social relationships. For me this is a question of class: that as much as we are exploited for our labour-power (both within wage-labour and outside of it) we can also reassemble our creativity is ways that negate capital and affirm collectivity and cooperation. In our current period the production of value no longer ‘lives’ solely in the work-place proper, so the entire field of society is a field of struggle (no base and superstructure division for me!). Since capitalist production puts to work increasing amounts of the historical and biological human experience (emotions, science, desire, etc) – and exploits the nonhuman- every revolt of the multitude is an attempt to free this collective experience: thus we are really a ‘universal class’.

    Without being able to locate rebellion in the ‘stuff’ of everyday life – school, home, work, music, etc – I feel all you are left with is sterile ideology…

    rebel love
    Dave

  13. Tyutchev says:

    Trotskyist Platform loves the PRC? Would Trotsky have really been supportive of an autocratic capitalist state justifying its brutal excesses via socialist sloganeering and a (pretty hazy now) connection with a revolutionary past?

    This is exactly why I dropped out of far-left politics in Australia. If it wasn’t idiots like TP supporting the PRC, it was dumb-ass kids in the Socialist Alliance telling me that supporting Hamas was good for the revolution (!?!?) or that Cuba is an example of “perfect democracy” (!?!??!?!).

    Great site though, @ndy.

  14. Paul Justo says:

    The PRC must be the only autocratic capitalist state with a CP running it then?

    Moreover with thousands of megatons of nuclear weapons pointed at it, ringed in by hostile states (of which Australia is one).

    “WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

    come all you good workers
    good news to you I’ll tell
    of how the good old union
    has come in here to dwell

    which side are you on boys?
    which side are you on?

    my daddy was a miner
    he’s now in the air and sun
    he’ll be with you fellow workers
    until the battle’s won

    which side are you on boys?
    which side are you on?

    they say in Harlan County
    there are no neutrals there
    you’ll either be a union man
    or a thug for J. H. Claire

    which side are you on boys?
    which side are you on?

    oh workers can you stand it?
    oh tell me how you can
    will you be a lousy scab
    or will you be a man?

    which side are you on boys?
    which side are you on?

    don’t scab for the bosses
    don’t listen to their lies
    poor folks ain’t got a chance
    unless they organize

    which side are you on boys?
    which side are you on?”

    – as sung by Natalie Merchant

    Great that you “dropped out” mmmaaannn. There is always the Labor Party.

  15. Lumpen says:

    Would Trotsky have really been supportive of an autocratic capitalist state justifying its brutal excesses via socialist sloganeering and a (pretty hazy now) connection with a revolutionary past?

    Is that a trick question?

  16. @ndy says:

    Loadsa tricksy questions!

    “…as sung by Natalie Merchant”?!? Yeah, I guess. Written by Florence Reece but.

    “Trotskyist Platform loves the PRC?” Truly madly deeply. With so much red, how could you not? Capitalist running-dog.

    Dave : “I actually think it is a crucial question.”

    The question being, I take it, the existence of a universal class? I think there’s a number of important distinctions to be made in this context. The first is whether or not the argument Semprun presents in his novel is accurate. That is, first, based on Marx’s claims as to his novelty in 1852:

    ‘What I did that was new was to prove: 1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, 2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.’

    It’s quite possible to maintain, on the one hand, that there is a revolutionary class, and that this class is the working class, while at the same time deny Marx’s thesis. Or, that the proletariat is one among a number of potentially revolutionary classes. It’s also possible to maintain that radical social change in the direction of a classless society is both possible and desirable, while conceding that the overthrow of capitalism may generate still further social antagonisms, ones which might be termed ‘struggles between classes’. I think this is the point at which Marx as prophet, or the critique of Marx as prophet, becomes most relevant.

    More later…

  17. @ndy says:

    From the top…

      “I met some Trotskyist Platform comrades when they were in Brisbane for Lex Wotton’s trial. I was really impressed with how sincere, hard-working and comradely they were. But then again I have had excellent experiences this year working with comrades from the RSP and Solidarity too.”

    And therefore…?

      “@ndy it would be great if you could make more substantive critiques of Leninist politics as part of building a culture of debate amongst the class. This whole ‘Trot Guide’ concept is getting very old and lets down this otherwise excellent blog.”

    I’m not sure that I have anything more to add to the already-existing critiques of Leninism, which are available quite widely. The ‘Trot Guide’ thing will continue in the spirit of the blog as a whole. That is, as an amalgam of some of my interests, including the use of humour.

    “Andy has sort of an ongoing hilarious documentary on the weird, wild world of Marxist-Leninist splinter sects. It’s kind of like a form of neo-surrealist theatre in which the actors don’t realize that they’re part of a show.” ~ Charles Johnson, Rad Geek People’s Daily, February 28, 2006

      “But I guess there are bigger questions here. Facing what we face, how are we going to rebuild viable revolutionary politics? It seems pretty clear to me that none of the revolutionary tendencies or tiny groups (anarchist, socialist, whatever) have really many, let alone all, the answers. Rather we are going to have to form something new, and this is going to involve real engagement with each other.”

    Briefly, I’m reminded of some the debates that individuals involved in the (original) Love & Rage network/federation had, especially around the time of its dissolution in 1998. One of the questions many apparently canvassed was whether or not the various theoretical and practical issues the organisation had confronted could be answered from “within anarchism”. At the time, and still now, I find this approach problematic. That is, ‘we’ are constantly in a process of (re-)building, of (re-)engagement with the world. I identify as an anarchist because ‘anarchism’, as I understand it, as a political philosophy and as a social movement, is something with which I feel a greater sense of affinity than any other tendency of thought. But my understanding of the the world hardly proceeds from “within anarchism” in the sense in which this concept is usually employed, and in reality I think that this is an impossible, which is to say absurd, task. So: it’s a matter of perspective, and my perspective is an anarchist one.

    More later…

  18. grumpy cat says:

    @ndy wrote

    And therefore…?

    Well, that just as much as they might have something silly in their zine, or be plagued by tragic organisational follies (which I believe stem, in part, from the failures of the Leninist model) they also, on the ground, do good work. This should be considered as part of the critical evaluation of a group.
    rebel love
    Dave

    p.s. I was going to say something disagreeing with the notion of Marx as a prophet and then I remembered something Tronti (I think) once said: that prophets only talk about the future to talk about the present, as a way of bursting open the potentials submerged by the dominant notions of temporality (I am paraphrasing awfully here). In this sense I find Marx a useful prophet.

  19. @ndy says:

    …Not so long after Negri’s real trials and tribulations were over, he suddenly became an international bestseller with the book Empire, co-written with Michael Hardt. A timely book in an attempt not just to analyze globalization, but to see it as an opportunity for communism. This is partly from the rather orthodox Second International Marxism argument that capitalism, as productive forces, must develop itself on a world-wide scale, but also from an analysis of the new class composition that emerged in the ‘free market’ era which happened to coincide with significant developments in those productive forces in the communications and computing sectors.

    Since this time he has become something of a Prophet as David [Graeber] described him. Not, I should say a guru which would be truly banal, but a Prophet proclaiming the possibility of a new world. This is not in itself something derisory, and he is special in adopting this role. Its greatest quality is a powerful optimism. “We need to insist on the perspective of common right; we are on the verge of a new civilization.” It is a real contrast to a bourgeois pessimism that is prevalent also in what he calls ‘the Left’. A ‘Left’ he defines as “the profound marriage between reformist socialism and bolshevism,” and which he repeatedly condemns. It is a rebuff also to a mirror-image pessimism which, armed with tick-boxes, talks of and emphasises only the imperfections of various struggles. Thus his celebration of the Seattle actions against the WTO while at the same time arguing that this was the beginning of a short cycle of struggle…

  20. grumpy cat says:

    This is partly from the rather orthodox Second International Marxism argument that capitalism, as productive forces, must develop itself on a world-wide scale, but also from an analysis of the new class composition that emerged in the ‘free market’ era which happened to coincide with significant developments in those productive forces in the communications and computing sectors.

    Negri does not argue this. This quote seems (perhaps I am mistaken?) to say that Negri sees capitalism as being driven by the development of productive forces. He argues the reverse: that capitalism is driven by the struggle of labour against capital. Technological innovation is a reaction to rebellion. Marx makes a similar claim in Capital.

    rebel love
    Dave

  21. Paul Justo says:

    Negri has been analysed to death by the Sparts of all people in a recent edition of their theoretical magazine.

    Anyway this is far better –

    http://splinteredsunrise.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/citizen-tommy-does-big-brother/#comments

  22. @ndy says:

    Empire, Multitude and the “Death of Communism”
    The Senile Dementia of Post-Marxism
    Spartacist English edition No. 59
    Spring 2006
    http://www.icl-fi.org/print/english/esp/59/empire.html

    The November 1999 “battle of Seattle” protests against the World Trade Organization made “anti-globalization” a household word. The publication shortly thereafter of Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000) turned its authors, a young American academic named Michael Hardt and his mentor, veteran Italian New Left intellectual Antonio Negri, into self-appointed media spokesmen for anti-globalization activists. Loaded with arcane post-modernist jargon and paragraph-length sentences, this dense, often impenetrable opus was far more widely talked about than read. But its promise of providing some theoretical coherence to a disparate protest movement made Empire and its sequel, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), a focal point in a larger debate about globalization, class and social change in the post-Soviet era.

    In Empire and Multitude, Hardt and Negri seemed to synthesize the ideas of a layer of “post-Marxist” intellectuals who maintain that the structure and functioning of world capitalism has changed fundamentally over the past few decades. Because we now live in a “post-industrial, information-based” economy, they argue, the industrial proletariat is no longer the uniquely revolutionary social force that traditional Marxist doctrine holds it to be. Transnational corporations and banks have effected a complete globalization of production. States and other forms of centrally organized power have been superseded by an intangible network of global interconnections, “Empire.” Hardt and Negri conclude:

    “The current global recomposition of social classes, the hegemony of immaterial labor, and the forms of decision-making based on network structures all radically change the conditions of any revolutionary process. The traditional modern conception of insurrection, for example, which was defined primarily in the numerous episodes from the Paris Commune to the October Revolution, was characterized by a movement from the insurrectional activity of the masses to the creation of political vanguards, from civil war to the building of a revolutionary government, from the construction of organizations of counterpower to the conquest of state power, and from opening the constituent process to establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat. Such sequences of revolutionary activity are unimaginable today.”

    Multitude

    Claiming to update Marx, Hardt and Negri jettison the programmatic core of Marxism: proletarian revolution to overthrow the capitalist system. They dismiss the lessons distilled from the 1871 Paris Commune, the first proletarian insurrection, and the subsequent history of the revolutionary workers movement. They deride class war and proletarian power as “old, tired and faded” notions (ibid.). But far from proposing anything new, Hardt and Negri offer up an amalgam of anarchistic lifestyle radicalism and utopian reformism reminiscent of the “counterculture” trend in the 1960s New Left: “As we will argue in the course of this book, resistance, exodus, the emptying out of the enemy’s power, and the multitude’s construction of a new society are one and the same process” (ibid.).

    Noting that Negri “has learned nothing and forgotten nothing” since the 1970s, reviewer Tony Judt captured something of the dreary quality of Empire and Multitude in his “Dreams of Empire”:

    “This is globalization for the politically challenged. In the place of the boring old class struggle we have the voracious imperial nexus now facing a challenger of its own creation, the decentered multitudinous commonality: Alien versus Predator…. With the American left reading Multitude, Dick Cheney can sleep easy.”

    New York Review of Books, 4 November 2004

    After some 900 tortuous pages of Empire and its sequel, Hardt and Negri allow that they cannot, in a “philosophical book like this,…evaluate whether the time of revolutionary political decision is imminent,” adding: “A book like this is not the place either to answer the question ‘What is to be done?’” (Multitude). This frankly know-nothing conclusion corresponds to the vaunted diversity of what’s called a “movement of movements,” of “one no and a million yeses.”

    As Marxists and Leninists we do know what is to be done. We are fighting for new October Revolutions: the overthrow of the capitalist system by the proletariat, allied with other sections of the exploited and oppressed. The victory of the proletariat on a world scale would place unimagined material abundance at the service of human needs, lay the basis for the elimination of classes, the eradication of social inequality based on sex and the very abolition of the social significance of race, nation and ethnicity. For the first time mankind will grasp the reins of history and control its own creation, society, resulting in an undreamed-of emancipation of human potential…

  23. Paul Justo says:

    Ah – you can cut and paste as well!

    I get the ‘SPARTACIST’ hard copy – such a delicacy requires a nice pot of Earl Gray to be savoured in its entirety.

    I read a few ‘Rebel Worker’ in .pdf over the holidays – a bit disappointing in terms of its coverage. Why don’t you write for it? Why isn’t it distributed at any rallies I’ve ever been to?

  24. @ndy says:

    Saying ‘get fucked’ repeatedly

    “Why don’t you write for it? Why isn’t it distributed at any rallies I’ve ever been to?”

    I don’t write for it because I don’t want to write for it. It’s a very boring publication, consisting of: a) tedious interviews with anonymous workers in the transport sector in Sydney asking “what’s happening with x?”, “what’s happening with y?”; b) re-published articles from other media; c) rants and raves from the editor, saying exactly the same thing, over and over and over again, in a thoroughly humourless and lifeless manner; d) occasional, bad-mannered reviews by Graham Purchase.

    RW is a publication of the ‘Anarcho-Syndicalist Network’, which is in large measure a bloke from Sydney called Mark. Mark has been editor of RW since it began publication, and will remain its editor until his death. It usually isn’t distributed at rallies because a) very few people support it and b) it’s largely distributed via mail. The ASN in Brisbane is a bloke called Nev — Nev is an OAP and doesn’t get out much I guess…

    It’s all good clean fun.

    Rebel Worker was first published as the paper of the IWW in Feb-March 1982. Mark Maguire and Jim Couch did most of the content collection and editorial work for the initial issues. However, the paper was clearly published under the purported editorial control of the IWW Sydney Group, as stated in the General Organising Bulletin.

    On September 11 1982, six weeks after the division of Jura Books, there was an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) meeting in the Jura meeting room attended by Sid Parissi, Jim Couch, Michael Goodman, Mark McGuire (Chairing & Secretary of the Group), Greg Platt and John Englart. Platt raised issues of content and editorial accountability of the magazine, Rebel Worker, to the local Group. After a heated exchange, Jim Couch lunged at Greg Platt and started violently shaking him. Mark Maguire stood up and started also advancing on Platt. I stood up to intervene and Mark McGuire punched me in the face. Sid Parissi and Michael Goodman observed but did not intervene. Goodman said he could not apologize for Maguire’s actions but “it was most regrettable”. Maguire stormed out of the room saying ‘get fucked’ repeatedly.

    Ten days later I sent a letter to the Secretary of the Sydney Group IWW describing the events at the meeting and requesting apologies from Couch and Maguire for their acts of violence and intimidation: no response was ever received. These acts of violence effectively ended the meeting and the Sydney Group of the IWW. After seven years membership of the organisation in Sydney I allowed my membership of the IWW to lapse after October, as I could no longer work with most of the current members. I had been instrumental in restarting the IWW in Sydney in 1975 and 1976. In a matter of months the remaining members would discontinue their syndicalist activity under the IWW banner.

    Rebel Worker was published as “paper of the Australian IWW” from the first issue in February 1982 under the auspices of the Australian General Organising Committee. The April-May 1983 edition changed the masthead to “anarcho-syndicalist paper”, and contained an editorial collective comment explaining the change from being a paper of the IWW to an anarcho-syndicalist propaganda group. In essence, the Rebel Worker group did not want to be accountable to a wider organisation, and they effectively closed down the local group of the IWW to achieve this.

    In 1986 over the January long weekend a conference of anarcho-syndicalists was held in Sydney, with people primarily from Sydney and Melbourne groups, at which the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation was formed.

      The paper Rebel Worker will henceforth be the organ of the ASF as a whole. The responsibility for production of Rebel Worker was entrusted to the ASF Sydney Group. A “Rebel Worker Charter” was adopted defining the general editorial guidelines and practical mandate for those members of the Sydney Group engaged in the production of the paper – the “Rebel Worker Committee”.

    The Melbourne ASF had members active in public transport:

      The Melbourne local of the Anarcho Syndicalist Federation (ASF) published the first issue of Sparks in May 1986. In February 1987, the Public Transport Workers Association was admitted to the ASF and continued to publish Sparks which became the most popular publication in Melbourne’s public transport industry with a circulation of over 5,000. A core group of four to seven people published and distributed Sparks, with many more contributing news and donations to cover its free distribution.

      The influence of anarcho-syndicalism became most apparent during the 1990 tramways occupation where workers occupied their depots and ran the service for free before the government cut the power to the system. The Anarcho Syndicalist Federation (ASF) initiative of establishing passenger support groups was another major innovation which allowed members of the community to show their support for the trammies.

    An Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation dispute eventuated at the June 1992 congress between Sydney and Melbourne groups…

    In February 2002 Rebel Worker celebrated twenty years of publication. Rebel Worker continues to be published as the paper of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Network. It has remained the tool and voice of Mark McGuire and people he agrees with, from its inception to the present. Attempts to make it accountable to larger organisations it purportedly speaks for have been consistently sabotaged, from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) to the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation (ASF). While the commitment of Mark McGuire to publishing Rebel Worker on a regular basis since 1982 cannot be doubted, it is important that if it speaks for an organisation that it also be held accountable to the organisation. While Rebel Worker does provide a valuable outlet for discussion and reporting of industrial issues from an anarcho-syndicalist viewpoint, the turgid and ideologically combative style of much of Maguire’s own writing turns many people away.

    ~ John Englart, ‘Rebel Worker and Accountability’, July 2002

  25. Paul Justo says:

    OK I see your point. Except that to be taken seriously any political tendency has to have a paper publication – hell even the Marxist Workers Party in Melbourne manage a May Day edition of Red Flag.

    “I don’t write for it because I don’t want to write for it. It’s a very boring publication, consisting of: a) tedious interviews with anonymous workers in the transport sector in Sydney asking “what’s happening with x?”, “what’s happening with y?”; b) re-published articles from other media; c) rants and raves from the editor, saying exactly the same thing, over and over and over again, in a thoroughly humourless and lifeless manner; d) occasional, bad-mannered reviews by Graham Purchase.”

    Is it the case that if better articles were submitted to RW they would publish them?

    I remember Direct Action from the UK back in the early 90’s – didn’t agree with them but always found interesting bits to read, likewise with the ICC – I regularly read ‘World Revolution’ long before the internet existed. Even Class War was bought!

  26. Lumpen says:

    Hey Paul,

    Except that to be taken seriously any political tendency has to have a paper publication – hell even the Marxist Workers Party in Melbourne manage a May Day edition of Red Flag.

    A statement like that begs the question “taken seriously by who and why?” There are much better reasons to do a publication than the pursuit of serious recognition, although it can be argued that the internet has addressed some of these issues effectively – just look at the function the comments on this blog, not to mention the posts themselves, play in dialogue.

    I also don’t think that publications are only the province of the more organised political tendencies. In Melbourne in the last decade, print publications have arisen out of campaigns, movements and ideas rather than around single groups of affinity. Anarchists, including myself, have contributed to these publications (I’m thinking of things like Desert Storm (c. 2002), Bite (c.2005) Unless You Are Free (c.2007-8) and a bunch of others whose names escape me). There’s also zines put out by individuals, articles published in mainstream magazines and, of course, blogs and BBs.

    That said, anarchists in Melbourne have dropped the ball in this regard IMHO. We owe it to each other to articulate and record our ideas and leave them open to critique and I think print is still the best way of doing this. These things tend to arise out of necessity, so we’ll see what happens over the next 12 months.

  27. Paul Justo says:

    Yeah I’m aware of the whole ‘zine/counter cultural ‘scene’. It seems pretty incestuous and cut off from the day to day life.

    Blogs are an amazing development and some of them are excellent especially where a number of people contribute but again the whole thing is ethereal. I can never find anything on this blog for example – once a thread is gone, the search function returns next to nothing and I have to sift through reams of shite.

    “We owe it to each other to articulate and record our ideas and leave them open to critique and I think print is still the best way of doing this.”

    I agree – then us reds can really get stuck in to you! Seriously – let 100 flowers blossom and 100 schools of thought contend.

  28. Dr. Cam says:

    “I can never find anything on this blog for example – once a thread is gone, the search function returns next to nothing and I have to sift through reams of shite.”

    Bit fucking cheeky, don’t you think? Ever heard of Google?

  29. Lumpen says:

    Yeah I’m aware of the whole ‘zine/counter cultural ’scene’. It seems pretty incestuous and cut off from the day to day life.

    I disagree. Unless you define ‘day-to-day life’ exclusively as donning the overalls and heading off to the factory, it’s no less concerned with the day-to-day than any other creative endeavour – the nature of the zine is usually to address something other than the mundane.

    It’s true that the zine scene includes (but is not exclusively) a self-supporting network for swapping, selling and meeting outside of, say, Leftist activist circles or Borders. Zines are still largely fanzines, and so they usually have an audience outside of people who simply enjoy the format or the counter-culture (does that even exist anymore?). What exactly do you mean by “incestuous”? That the audience is small?

    Blogs are an amazing development and some of them are excellent especially where a number of people contribute but again the whole thing is ethereal.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “ethereal” either. If you mean that the information is not always in the same static place (i.e. not on the front page and archived somewhere) then, as Dr Cam recommends, try Google. The shifting, virtual nature of the presentation of the information doesn’t, or shouldn’t, change the information itself. So why does being online make it more ethereal?

    Oh, and I buy the trot papers when I can, more than I buy anarchist ones! The Sparts are my favourite because they confirm my prejudices. Haven’t read the SA magazine for ages because the process of buying it from one of their members is very trying.

    Toot toot!

  30. @ndy says:

    Josh Lees of Socialist Alternative recounts what happened ‘When anarchism was put to the test’ (Socialist Alternative, No.134, October–November 2008): “The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky compared the theory of anarchism to an umbrella full of holes: useless precisely when it rains. The truth of this insight was forcibly demonstrated when anarchism failed the test of the Spanish Revolution.”

    Stoopid anarchists!

    The Sparts also gotta neat-o package of anti-anarchist agitprop called ‘Marxism vs. Anarchism’ (2001). On the stoopid anarchists in Spain, Trotskyism and Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War, Reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 828, 11 June 2004 and 829, 9 July 2004.

  31. @ndy says:

    PS.

    Defend the Palestinian People!
    Israel Out of the Occupied Territories!
    For a Socialist Federation of the Near East!

  32. Ana says:

    “Socialists” in Oz are great at being parasites on other peoples’ struggles. I have watched with disgust one of their minions trying to sell their propaganda about Aboriginal Sovereignty to a long time Aboriginal Activist, fancy the cheek of trying to sell someone’s struggle back to them. By the time the left get their shit together all our land will be stolen and we will all be forcibly assimilated. Time to organise ourselves, in our own communities.

  33. @ndy says:

    Speaking of zines…

    Sticky invites you to “International Literary Conspiracy Week” on Monday, February 9 at 12:00am.

    International Literary Conspiracy Week is a celebration of independent bookshops and zines. There will be in-store launches and events in Sticky Institute throughout the week, a zine fair in the Flinders St subway on February 14th and a tour of the State Library’s zine collection on February 15th. More info pending.

    Event: International Literary Conspiracy Week // “A celebration of independent bookshop culture”
    What: Opening
    Host: Sticky Institute
    Start Time: Monday, February 9 at 12:00am
    End Time: Sunday, February 15 at 5:00pm
    Where: Sticky Institute
    http://www.stickyinstitute.com/

  34. grumpy cat says:

    Lumpen wrote

    Anarchists, including myself, have contributed to these publications (I’m thinking of things like Desert Storm (c. 2002), Bite (c.2005) Unless You Are Free (c.2007-8) and a bunch of others whose names escape me).

    All these three publications were of very high quality too! (Seriously, I am not being sarcastic.)

  35. Paul Justo says:

    Incestuous – really what I meant was – “self-supporting network for swapping, selling and meeting outside of, say, Leftist activist circles or Borders.”

    Sticky Institute – wont be going, more of a provie myself.

    Desert Storm (c. 2002), Bite (c.2005) Unless You Are Free (c.2007-8)… Where are such things available from? I’d buy them if the local anarchists could get their heads out of the bucket bong in time for Labour Day.

    Google doesn’t seem to work properly on this blog, don’t know why but I’ve had trouble when searching for specific phrases/articles? Websites come and go, information gets deleted, archived, edited – I prefer paper.

    The Aust Spartacist can be got for $5 for a year – stick a $5 note in an envelope and wait for the wonders of Spart lunacy – they don’t have enough articles these days in defence of the Man and Boy Love Association and other paedophiles.

    They did name Azlan McLennan (DSP/SAlt) in a recent AS for having punched one of their paper sellers – even issued an A4 leaflet about it!

  36. @ndy says:

    Bite (and assorted others) : http://www.breakdownpress.org/resources.html
    Desert Storm : http://www.antimedia.net/desertstorm/
    Mutiny : http://www.jura.org.au/mutiny

    Re Azlan : That’s awesome… I cannot BELIEVE I missed it either!

    Socialist Alternative: Cheerleaders for Capitalist Counterrevolution
    Defend China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba!
    Workers Vanguard No. 913
    25 April 2008

    We reprint below a March 4 leaflet issued by the Spartacist League of Australia, section of the International Communist League.

    No doubt still high on social-democratic euphoria over [Kevin] Rudd’s newly elected federal ALP [Australian Labor Party] government, a band of belligerent Socialist Alternative (SAlt) cadre, screaming and jostling, tried to prevent two supporters of the Marxist Spartacist League selling outside their 2 February Sydney University “public” event on the Russian Revolution (communists were barred from attending). Our supporters completed their sale, at a distance from the anti-communist SAlt honchos, whose despicable attempts at intimidation and political suppression included threats to call campus security. Confronted with the current issue of Australasian Spartacist [No. 200, Summer 2007/08] headlined “Rudd’s ALP Rules for Racist Australian Imperialism,” what really had these hardened Laborites in a frenzy is our Trotskyist program of unconditional military defence of the deformed workers states—today, China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba—against Australian and U.S. imperialism. A particular target of their hostility is our defence of China and North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons as a necessary deterrent against the imperialist nuclear cowboys in Washington and their Australian junior partners…

    In this deeply reactionary post-Soviet world, the bourgeoisie has introduced draconian racist “anti-terror” legislation that shreds the democratic rights of all and ultimately is aimed against the left and labour movement. Finding its echo on the campuses, in recent years Sydney Uni administration has unleashed its security guards to repeatedly harass, censor and drive leftists off the campus. It is in this context that SAlt cadre threatened to call these private cops of the capitalist administration against our comrades on 2 February. SAlt’s attempted censorship and threats can only serve the interests of the bourgeoisie, which is hell-bent on promoting its “death of Communism” ideology in the service of erasing all memory of the historic significance and gains of the Russian Revolution.

    It comes as no surprise that SAlt has welcomed into its ranks one Azlan McLennan, the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) anti-communist thug who punched a female SL supporter in the face at a 2006 Melbourne trade-union rally! (See “We Will Not Be Silenced!” Australasian Spartacist No. 196, Spring 2006.) In widely exposing and condemning this DSP thug attack we asserted that, in the polemical traditions of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, we will continue to argue program and principle against pseudo-socialists such as the DSP and SAlt in order to clearly expose and defeat their sellout politics. This is part of the struggle to win workers and others from the poisonous grip of Laborism to the Trotskyist program necessary to fight to sweep away racist Australian capitalism through workers revolution. We fight to build internationalist proletarian vanguard parties like Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks, which can lead the working masses in new October Revolutions to open the road to a classless communist future. Workers, leftist youth and all those interested in joining this historic fight should check out our revolutionary Trotskyist program.

    As an aside, Azlan is from the dead heart of Australia: Canberra. In the ’90s, he done cover art for a craptastic Canberra oi! band called Forward Defence, what recommended junkies be hung (‘tho this is not included in his CV). His views have slipped further since then, obviously, poor bastard, while FD has devolved into Bulldog Spirit, what’s got a very bad attitude (and a neo-Nazi on drums): both have transplanted themselves to Melbourne.

    “Insurrection is an art, and like all arts has its own laws.” Leon ‘Shoot them like partridges’ Trotsky

    “It must always be remembered – and remembered well – that revolution does not mean destruction only. It means destruction plus construction, with the greatest emphasis on the plus.” ~ Alexander Berkman, The Russian Tragedy (Berlin: Der Syndikalist, 1922), p. 16.

    “Kronstadt is of great historic significance. It sounded the death knell of Bolshevism with its Party dictatorship, mad centralisation, Tcheka terrorism and bureaucratic castes. It struck into the very heart of Communist autocracy. At the same time it shocked the intelligent and honest minds of Europe and America into a critical examination of Bolshevik theories and practices. It exploded the Bolshevik myth of the Communist State being the “Workers’ and Peasants’ Government”.” ~ Berkman, The Kronstadt Rebellion (Berlin: Der Syndikalist, 1922), pp. 41-42.

    “Nor is it only the liberty and lives of individual citizens which are sacrificed to this god of clay, nor even merely the well-being of the country – it is socialist ideals and the fate of the Revolution which are being destroyed.” ~ Berkman, The Russian Revolution and the Communist Party (Berlin: Der Syndikalist, 1922), p. 36.

  37. Asher says:

    “All these three publications were of very high quality too! (Seriously, I am not being sarcastic.)”

    Don’t know the first two, but Unless You Are Free is indeed of a very high quality, especially the first issue (the anti-war themed one). The second one (climate change themed) was less good politically, but still good quality wise (ie – the articles were still well written and it looked nice, but I disagreed with far more). Has there been a third issue yet?

  38. Paul Justo says:

    You’re going to have to send that $5 – only paper is real!

    Azlan was connected with some sort of WP band – that f**kin classic.

    As for the “the death knell of Bolshevism” the hired historians of the monopoly bourgeoisie cant even bury Stalin.

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/46/150567977_da2e7877ec.jpg

  39. @ndy says:

    “…Azlan was connected with some sort of WP band – that f**kin classic…”

    Kinda sorta. Forward Defence featured a bloke called Doug; Doug is now singing for Bulldog Spirit and playing geets for Marching Orders. Both bands distinguished themselves by scabbing on a boycott of a local neo-Nazi venue, The Birmingham Hotel in Fitzroy. However: a) they was just two of several dozen bands who scabbed and b) the boycott was successful. That is, after about 18 months or so, and with a reputation that stank like shit, the fascist-sympathising manager/owner, Gary Something-Or-Other, sold his interest in early 2008. The pub has since re-opened under new management, with new owners, and a new licensee, and is no longer shit.

    As for Bulldog Spirit…

    The drummer, Joel, is a bonehead (neo-Nazi skinhead), who played/recorded with a number of local neo-Nazi bands — Bail Up!, Deaths Head and Ravenous (DH having recorded the classic sing-a-longs ‘More Dead Niggers’ and ‘Swastika Will Fly Again’). The driving force behind Deaths Head/Ravenous, and a handful of other, neo-Nazi muzak dispensers, is a bloke called Jesse Something-Or-Other. He’s gotta really neat-o YouTube channel called ‘genocidal88’ (88 = HH = Heil Hitler).

    As for Canberra, it had a reasonably active bonehead scene in the mid- to late- 80s thru to the early- to mid-90s; the scene in Romper Stomper in which the handsome Canberra boys meet the ugly Melbourne boys (and the film as a whole, in fact) is drawn from real life events.

    One band from that era, ‘White Lightning’, has undergone a semi-resurrection, and now gigs as ‘T.H.U.G.’. Last year, the band toured Melbourne for the first time, and played the East Brunswick Hotel supporting Sham 69. An ironic choice of venue, as Brunswick is diverse culturally, ethnically and racially, the manager of the venue is purportedly a Maori, and bonehead Simon boasted that the best gig he ever played in Melbourne was when he and the boys beat the shit out of some angry Maoris. The gig also took place on the 71st anniversary of the Spanish revolution.

    Oh yeah, Ben, the bassist from Bulldog Spirit, is an odd little fellow. He posted here as ‘Commie Killer’ once:

      “Fuck Stalin, fuck you commies and fuck you stupid fucking anarchist pieces of shit. Fucking die already.

      We would all be better off.”

    Later, he published what he believed to be my work address on my blog. So too did Doug, on another forum.

    Best comment (from Ben) was the following but:

      “must get pretty frustrating this whole boycott thing. all the “punks” that turned up to your little protest thing were all drinking there the next week. most of the bands that said they won’t play there would’ve probably never played there anyway, must’ve been hard convincing them. plus they’re all shit bands anyway. and i’m sure you got a whole army of dreadlocked, stinky hippies to raise their peace-loving fists in the air. shouting their words of rebellion and lack of hygiene. confused as to why nobody takes their profound existence seriously.

      do you feel as though your efforts are being rewarded? because it is business as usual down at the old birmingham hotel. five or six bands practice there every week, playing gigs there and other venues around town.

      so what have you achieved? isd might not be at the birmy this year. but it is going ahead elsewhere. you can remove all buildings that house these meetings but you’ll never remove the hatred from the peoples heads.”

    I think they think they’re playing some kinda weird online game…

    Anyway, here’s a photo of Simon and Chumley, the two boneheads from T.H.U.G. (ex-White Lightning).

    Handsome fellas eh?

      PS.

      Oh yeah. If you haven’t seen it before, a brilliant little doco on the 43 Group.

  40. Paul Justo says:

    What are their hands doing in that photo? The inscrutable look on the wee fellas face implies something?
    Thanks for all the info on the bands I’ll keep an eye out for them in these parts.

    Thanks for the 43 Group video, the Jews were able to deck Mosley’s blackshirt bastards who were cursing them.

    http://www.amazon.com/My-Just-War-Memoir-Soldier/dp/0891416455

  41. Paul Justo says:

    I think the DSP are observers at the CWI:

    http://socialistworld.net/eng/2009/01/0301.html

  42. @ndy says:

    Trot Guide 2008 : Introducing the Leninist Party Faction
    http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=1139

    Leninist Party Faction vs. Democratic Socialist Party Perspective Alliance
    http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=1143

    Get thee behind me Lenin! Resistance/DSP expels a Melbourne member
    http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=1155

    MSN/W&CF/DA/CLASS on DSP/SA versus LPF // also ASAP versus ASPN
    http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=1158

    Resistance : Another one bites the dust
    http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=1165

    Desperately Seeking Lenin
    http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=1178

    Trot Guide 2008: RSP!
    http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=1184

  43. Paul Justo says:

    You should have been a copper!

  44. Lumpen says:

    Hey Paul.
    Where are such things available from?

    Sticky is usually the easiest. Barricade too. They are usually put in Polyester as well.

  45. Paul Justo says:

    From – http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/letters/a_word_on_ecp_ideology

    ***************************************************************

    BEFORE there is any further discussion in support of the rights of prostitutes to organise, I think that readers should be clear about the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP).

    This organisation is identified with the Wages for Housework campaign founded in 1970 by Selma James, widow of Trotskyist theoretician CLR James. Selma James is advertised as the leading spokeswoman for the ECP.

    Wages for Housework is an attention-grabbing slogan for a distorted ultra-left campaign that in practice attacks working women.

    Its convoluted argument is that women’s labour supports the capitalist patriarchy, which is white-dominated, and also exploits the labour of black women in underdeveloped countries. It thus labels women who work and anybody opposed to its ideology as “racist.”

    It demands that the state pays wages for housework, because this would claw back from the patriarchy, conveniently overlooking the fact that such cash would be generated by workers’ taxes.

    In 1987, the ECP mounted a picket on the Morning Star after a report contributed by a delegate from the Greenham Common women attending the World Peace Conference in Moscow.

    It contended that the Soviet Union was a white-dominated patriarchy and that the Morning Star was thus “racist.” The pickets were invited into the chief executive’s office to air their grievance, only to discover that the chief executive was – horrors – a working woman.

    In the summer of 1987, they split the Greenham Common women into “racists,” working women who could not live at camp full time, and “anti-racists,” women who had sacrificed everything to live at Greenham.

    The “anti-racists” then publicly denounced all the other Greenham women. They hypocritically ignored the fact that the peace camp was dependent on donations from working women.

    I was then a working woman who stayed at Greenham during my holidays. I wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Read the Morning Star.”

    ANNE LEE
    Otley

  46. Paul Justo says:

    The IBT has a new issue of 1917 out and the Trotskyist Platform have just published a new 8 page leaflet on job cuts.

    All Trotskyist Platform publications can be got for an annual sub. of $10 from

    TP, PO BOX 1101, Fairfield, NSW 1860

    email – [email protected]

  47. @ndy says:

    Oh dear. Have you finally declared your hand Mr. Justo?

  48. Paul Justo says:

    Lord no, but Trotskyist Platform is an amazing home grown Australian entity. Anything published by the ex-editor of Australasian Spartacist is worth reading. You gotta get over the fact that Trotsky (according to himself) ran the black bloc out of the Ukraine back in the day.

    No sooner had I received their eight page leaflet against the protectionist policies of much of the Australian left, when next day the new Issue 11 of their magazine came through the letterbox.

    All 100 pages of it.

    In further good news for the serious aficionado of Trotskyist minutiae –

    Spartacist – Spring 2009 is out as is Australasian Spartacist #204 Autumn 2009.

    The latter features an article worth the cover price alone –

    Socialist Alternative : God Delusional Opportunists

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