Do I want to wish Voltairine de Cleyre a happy birthday?

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Boris Badenov
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Nov 20 2011 22:10
Angelus Noxious wrote:
Boris Badenov wrote:
neither sided with the state on any issue (well Rocker may have given vocal support to the Allied war effort, but then Kropotkin was guilty of the same and no one would accuse His Beardness of not being a proper anarchy).

So remember, kids, when the Bolsheviks crush a sailors' uprising, it's because they're evil statists, but when Rocker or Kropotkin support the allies, they still aren't "siding with the state on any issues."

I love the consistency of principles of big-tent anarchism. As long as somebody calls themselves an anarchist, they get a pass on anything. Oh, if only Lenin and Trotsky had just circled their As!

Absolutely ridiculous comparison.
Lenin and Trotsky were typical political opportunists; their involvement in labour disputes was usually with the purpose of making a strike into a platform for their poxy Party. Can't say I know much about de Cleyre's activities, but Rocker organized immigrants in the East of London for pretty much no profit to himself at a time when no one else would. He got sweatshops unionized, made solidarity campaigns with local striking dockers possible, and gave shelter to radical fugitives from all over Europe under pain of exile or imprisonment.
That in old age he made the mistake of seeing the Allies as the only force capable of stopping Nazi Germany (even though as a German he was imprisoned in Britain during the war) in no way invalidates his championing of working class causes.
What did Trotsky do except squirm his way through the Petrograd soviet's chain of command and became a repulsive autocrat and opportunist?
Lenin and Trotsky waged AN ACTUAL WAR on the working class in Russia. Rocker and Kropotkin merely expressed certain opinions, which stupid and misinformed though they are, are nothing compared to Kronstadt and the destruction of workers' democracy by the Bolsheviks.

Angelus Novus
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Nov 20 2011 22:28

Uh, Trotsky was elected vice-chair of the Petrograd Soviet as far back as the 1905 revolution. So either the soviets were working-class institutions, and you thus have to account for working-class support of those eeevil party-based Marxists within the soviets, or all those evil party-based Marxists were mere chair warmers who never got their hands dirty with "real" working class politics, but in that case you also have to forgo any criticism of the later Bolshevik suppression of the soviets, since by your own assessment they weren't "real" working-class institutions anyway.

And my broader point is still valid: counter-revolutionary activity by self-proclaimed anarchists can always be excused as a "betrayal" of anarchist principles, while counter-revolutionary activity by party-Marxists is somehow always a fulfillment of sinister intentions.

Boris Badenov
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Nov 20 2011 23:24
Angelus Novus wrote:
Uh, Trotsky was elected vice-chair of the Petrograd Soviet as far back as the 1905 revolution. So either the soviets were working-class institutions, and you thus have to account for working-class support of those eeevil party-based Marxists within the soviets, or all those evil party-based Marxists were mere chair warmers who never got their hands dirty with "real" working class politics, but in that case you also have to forgo any criticism of the later Bolshevik suppression of the soviets, since by your own assessment they weren't "real" working-class institutions anyway.

And my broader point is still valid: counter-revolutionary activity by self-proclaimed anarchists can always be excused as a "betrayal" of anarchist principles, while counter-revolutionary activity by party-Marxists is somehow always a fulfillment of sinister intentions.

Angelus dear, do take a break from this sophistic gymnastics or you'll tire yourself out.
The thing is I'm not talking about "anarchist principles" or "marxism," you, and you alone, are. Ideas are fine and grand on paper, and some are finer and grander than others (in this sense yeah, I do think most strands of anarchist communism will always trump political marxism), but it's deeds that matter the most. The fact is Rocker, through his solidarity work, improved the material conditions of many workers. He never had any political ambitions of any sort, as far as I know. That he became a war apologist later in life is something which definitely cannot be reconciled with his earlier work as anarchist organizer, and I'm not trying to do that. Pro-war Rocker was not the Rocker of Arbeyter Fraynd. People are different things at different stages in their lives, depending on what conditions they find themselves in. I would've thought that was painfully obvious to anyone with even only a quasi-materialist understanding of history/society.
Trotsky was at best a leftist agitator who "helped" stoke a revolutionary fire that was already burning quite intensely without him (he comes close to saying as much himself in his History of the RR).
The fact that he and other professional partyists were "seat warmers" does not mean soviets per se were anti-working class. This is a ridiculous way of looking at anything; soviets were both organs of working-class self-organisation AND (esp. after the October events) embryonic vehicles of the Party's dictatorship. The latter tendency won out in the end (because of specific historical circumstances).1 The soviets were never just one thing; no organ of class struggle is (see "occupy" events for contemporary examples).

  • 1. (Yes, this means there were rank-and-file Bolsheviks, at least before the purges became status quo, that worked for actual socialism, and whom I don't consider "evil Marxists," because their structural role was not the same as Trotsky's or Lenin's.)
Angelus Novus
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Nov 21 2011 17:23

Yadda yadda yadda.

Translation into English: what anarchists do is "improve the material conditions of many workers". What Marxists do is always a "party dictatorship in embryo".

Truisms of anarchist sectarianism, episode #308. Tune in next week for more.

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Arbeiten
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Nov 21 2011 17:36

jeez Angelus, way to alienate the crowd wink.

Translation to English" What Marxists do 'explain how Trotsky really was a nice guy and how things could have all been different*'

*if the bastard hadn't have implemented Taylorist working conditions SOMETHING NEITHER ROCKER NOR KROPOTKIN WOULD HAVE EVER DONE! Mr. T

Angelus Novus
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Nov 21 2011 18:06
Arbeiten wrote:
Translation to English" What Marxists do 'explain how Trotsky really was a nice guy and how things could have all been different*'

Nope, that's the thing, I really don't things would've been all that different if, say, Trotsky had been in power rather than Stalin. Maybe there wouldn't have been show trials directed against upper echelons of the party, but there probably would have been a party dictatorship and some variant of forced accelerated industrialization.

I'm not a moralist who thinks good intentions have some sort of magical ability to transcend material conditions.

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*if the bastard hadn't have implemented Taylorist working conditions SOMETHING NEITHER ROCKER NOR KROPOTKIN WOULD HAVE EVER DONE! Mr. T

As long as we're talking about who our favorite superheros are, I think Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko's mid-60s creations for Marvel comics are still the best.

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Arbeiten
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Nov 21 2011 18:18

well, that was was actually meant in jest (the post that is). But its nice to know that the stereotypes of comms having no sense of humour bares some relation to reality wink . Still Rocker is to Trotsky what Superman is to the Green Lantern!

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flaneur
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Nov 21 2011 18:36

What's that then, shit?

Arbeiten's picture
Arbeiten
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Nov 21 2011 18:40

swings and round abouts really. All comics are shite. I just always thought the Green Lantern looked particularly bad wink

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flaneur
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Nov 21 2011 19:47

It has a ring that can make anything you imagine. ANYTHING. Even your smutty deeds with Scarlett Johnansson a reality.

Battlescarred
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Nov 21 2011 22:40
the button wrote:
Fuck, I've got a book by her. Glad I haven't read it now. cool

So rather than read a book you've yourself selected and bought, you'd rather believe nine lines on the Internet from FallBack rather than forming your own opinions from your own reading and subsequent judgement. What independepence of thought.

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Reddebrek
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Jun 1 2016 02:01

This is an old thread, but I've been reading old copies of Mother Earth and I have to say Voltairine de Cleyre who was one of the main contributors is pretty sound in it. Her's an article on the Mexican Revolution she wrote.

The Mexican Revolt

By Voltarine De Cleyre

Quote:
At last we see a genuine awakening of people, not to political demands alone, but to economic ones, -- fundamentally economic ones. And in the brief period of a few months, some millions of human beings have sprung to a full consciousness of a system of wrong, beginning where all slaveries begin, in the sources of life. They have struck for LAND and LIBERTY. And even if their revolt shall be crushed by the mailed hand of the United States Government (for I do not believe the present nondescript thing calling itself a government, in Mexico, has craft or power to pacify or crush all the seething elements of rebellion), yet it has set a foremost mark upon the record of human demand, from which hereafter there will be no retreat. From now on, when an oppressed people revolt, they will not demand less.

"Events are the true Schoolmasters," I hear the justified voice of my dead comrade Lum calling triumphantly from his grave. For years and years the brothers Magon and their coworkers in and out of Mexico have been voices crying in the wilderness which some few thousands at best have heard. But in the storm-wind of popular revolt, rising, no prophet could have foretold when, nor gazer at the aftermath just why it was the chosen hour, in that strong clean-sweeping of the psychic atmosphere, millions of unlettered and otherwise ignorant people saw, as with lightning sharpness cutting a black night, the foundation of all their wrong, and heard the slogan "Land of Liberty" to which their ears were so long deaf, -- heard it, raised it, acted on it, are acting on it. With that clear and direct perception of the needful thing to do which lettered men, men of complex lives, nearly always lack, being befogged by too many lights, they move straight upon their purpose, hew down the landmarks, burn the records of the title-deeds.

So do the plain people. Temporizing men, sophisticated med, men of books and theories, men made timid with much mind, Hamlets all, -- they devise solemn in-directions; they figure on compensation schemes, on taxation fooleries, on how-to-to and how-not-to-do at the same time. The simple man says, "No: you have told us, an truly, that this land was filched away from us by a paper-title scheme. Its power lay in our admitting its right. Well, we no longer admit it; we destroy it. The land is ours; we take it." And they have driven off the paper-title men, and are working the ground on hundreds of ranches.

It is true there are other millions asleep in the storm; true that many of the awakened have been quieted with political hocus-pocus; true that a hundred and one reactionary forces are battling on the same ground. It is true that the world at large, outside of Mexico, is but little informed as to the real struggle. But that does not alter or diminish the truth that the Slaves of Our Times, in a nation-wide revolt, have smitten the Beast of Property in Land. And once a great human demand is so made, it is never let go again. Future revolts will go on from there; they will never fall behind it.

At present the great press is saying little of the chaos in the Mexican situation, though for the last few days, since as news purveyors they cannot keep entirely silent, small hinting editorials are creeping in, pointing interventionwards, "in case disturbances are not pacified." No doubt the United States Government would prefer to preserve its hypocritical pretense of abstinent impartiality. It hopes its catspaw will safely pull the chestnuts out of the fire. It is comfortable to pose as the disinterested friend of peace in our sister republic, so long as American landlord powers in Mexico are undisturbed, or so long as the Mexican branch of the Capitalistic Defense Association is able to tend to its division. But one this has been pretty plain since the provisional government assumed its functions: "Barkis is willin'," — but not effulgently able. People who have once taken up arms and felt the satisfaction of ridding themselves of one tyrant, of doing rude justice in opening prison doors, or seeing a whole confraternity of office-holders and office-seekers in anxiety to placate them, are not so unready to take up arms again; especially when the whole mass of discontent is leavened with conscious revolutionists who are crying the means of social regeneration in their ears.

It is very plain now that the provisional governors are treading on thin crust, and the elections instead of steadying the human subsoil down to mortuary rigidity, may prove the prelude to more violent eruptions. In that case, the reluctant (?) hand at Washington may be forced to play — clubs! on its own responsibility.

Meanwhile, what have the revolutionary elements of the United States to say about it? I almost sneered as I wrote "revolutionary elements," for candor compels us to inquire where they are. Time was when some people thought the Single Tax was based on a fundamentally revolutionary idea, the final expropriation of the landlord by the people. The Single Tax papers, however, have said as little as possible about the great Land cry of the Mexican revolutionists, have laid all stress upon the political mirage-chasing by which Madero and his coadjutors side-tracked the uprising of May, and have refused to print the Manifestoes and Appeals of the Mexican Liberal Party, to afford the Publicity of their columns to the read demands of the revolutionists, that their readers might give their sympathy and support and the influence of their understanding. They were waiting, they said, for Madero to pronounce himself upon the land in question! I opine they have still quite some wait coming.

From all which, it seriously appears that the expropriation of the landlords by the people, the restoration of the land to the people, is not the object of the single tax movement; on the contrary, the object is the establishment of the single tax itself, -- not as a working means to a great end, the establishment of the equal right of all to the use of natural resources, but at neat sleight-of-hand method for collecting revenue; at best, a way of getting rid of landlords by fooling them into getting rid of themselves, not because they are robbers to be got rid of, but because it's such a clever trick to play! Men are to demand the land, not that they may get the land, but that the demand may serve as an excuse for instituting Single Tax!

If this is not the interpretation we are to put upon it, then how else are we to read the conspicuous silence of the Single Tax press concerning this great agrarian revolt? Millions of people have been demonstrating their appreciation that The Land for All the People is the primary foundation for a better economic structure. They have taken a more direct route than the singe tax. And the land agitators are silent!

Time was when Socialism was a revolutionary word. And there are still some Socialists who are international revolutionists. But the official political Socialist Party, -- bah! If ever the vitiating influence of the marriage of Socialism with Politics (that old Bluebeard husband of so many fine young wives) was demonstrated beyond disputation, it has been in the official attitude of Socialists towards this spontaneous manifestation of the Mexican people.

The utterances of Victor Berger, "the Socialist Congressman" (we receive this information as to his status with painful reiteration at least once a column in every issue of the Chicago Daily Socialist), concerning "the bandits of Mexico" were enough to make the authors of the Communist Manifesto repudiate their name. Those strong souls who asserted that "the communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things," and appealed to "Workingmen of All Countries to unite," — what would they have in common with a smug occupier of a congressional seat, who in a strongly marked German accent makes anti-immigration speeches against Slavs and Italians in the name of protection to American Labor (?) and who directs his secretary to say, "concerning the Mexican revolt, that "the Socialist Party can afford to have no connection with this movement" (?). In the light of this and similar utterances in the Socialist Press (I have even learned on good authority that one Socialist editor really desires United States annexation of Mexico, but dares not advocate it yet, "because it would be unpopular" with Socialist readers) it would appear that the distribution of the Communist Manifesto by the Socialist Party is about of a piece with the distribution of the Christian Gospels by the Christian Church; in both cases, it is traditional literature, which nobody is supposed to take seriously.

Instead of giving even the news of international revolutionary movements (often one looks in vain for any), or the economic ground-plan of Socialism, we have columns of vice-crusading, sporting pages, and veritable hot-air balloons of self-inflation for having assisted in some relatively trivial petition. Only in their correspondence columns is there some occasional evidence of the indignant spirit of a true Socialist, outraged by all this trimming to suit the wind, this flunkeying to the respectable element, this suffocation of revolutionary principle and sentiment under a time-serving mantle of political prudence and cheap catering. Yes; Politics is nicely bluebearding Socialism. How far away is all this from the serious, intent spirit which watches and welcomes the manifestations of the people themselves — no matter what their degree of development or enlightenment — as the real indications of how the race will come into its own! Not according to any men's preconcerted program, not by any carefully selected route, not by anybody's plan of campaign to make an "educated, class-conscious," etc. ad nauseam vote-casting machine; but in their own unforeseen and unforeseeable, unpredetermined, by-the-hour-and-circumstance-decided way, as the peoples always move, -- as Life, which is greater than the peoples, always moves.

And the business of the revolutionist, the seeker for the Changes of Old Forms, the dreamer of Liberty and Plenty, is to be with them in their struggle, in their victory, in their defeat, whenever, wherever, the people rise.

Hail to the Mexican strikers, who likely are too ignorant to pursue a course in the "Evolution of Class-consciousness," but who are apparently very alive to the fact that Now is the hour to strike for better conditions —the hour of governmental weakness and popular strength. Hail to the Mexican Revolution, victorious or defeated. And hail to the next that rises!

Zeronowhere
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Jun 1 2016 21:13

Seems a bit cheap to valourise a Mexican revolt which is blatantly ambiguous about being identified with anti-capitalism or the capitalistic attack on landed property, to attack socialist movements generally. The marriage of socialism with capitalism is of course the apotheosis of forms 'without adjectives,' but otherwise not much. Other than that, seems often to be vaunting about things without really any clear ground-work to elaborate why, and then throwing around buzz-words to attack others without clarifying where from. Surely the reader isn't expected to get excited about the text's exclamations when its overall orientation between capital and communism, for instance, is left unclear. It's a bit like an empty shout where the 'revolt' could lead to anything, as one might expect say from a banshee. The Marxist elements come across as without conviction and appropriated to some kind of strange agenda quite foreign to their original meaning, although we are presumably to consider that the writers of the Manifesto would have looked kindly on such altered borrowings from an anarchist, whom they could have little patience for usually. The polemic is hollow, and the rest phrases.

The writers of the Manifesto were not, of course, known for their appreciation of Mexicans - however much the 'Manifesto of the Communist Party' could be accused of hypocrisy on Mexican issues, and strangely it receives quite faint praise in comparison. Needless to say, some further predictions of the notability of the struggle from then have not always panned out, and the tendency of earlier socialists to feel the need to say such things about every struggle might have led to disillusionment later on among movements that kept doing this, which kind of thing generally hastened the incorporation of the 'left' into lax liberalism.

Bit of a strange thread. Seems to be a swathe of repetitions of the same misunderstandings by different people - people finding it inconceivable that communists dislike someone who apparently doesn't mind or advocates ('without adjectives') opposed forms, etc. - and also this:

Battlescarred wrote:
the button wrote:
Fuck, I've got a book by her. Glad I haven't read it now. cool

So rather than read a book you've yourself selected and bought, you'd rather believe nine lines on the Internet from FallBack rather than forming your own opinions from your own reading and subsequent judgement. What independepence of thought.

Slightly weird case. As if they were refusing to read it due to someone expressing their opinion on it - in which case their 'independent judgement' of this person is that they believe them - rather than having de Cleyre's position clarified briefly and opting to skip reading that.

In any case, it's been a while since people talked like 'the button' there as much, in as it were a heyday for such fora. Nowadays all that communists can seem to agree with each other on is whether something is 'fun' or not.

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The Pigeon
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Jun 1 2016 22:05

Why shouldn't she have supported the Mexican Revolution, which actually had anarchist elements in it? And why shouldn't I have valorized the Arab Spring when hundreds of thousands of people confronted brutal police states?

Zeronowhere
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Jun 1 2016 23:16

Because the real Mexican revolution is immigration...

More seriously, I didn't particularly say that they were wrong to support the Mexicans, because I wasn't generally just commenting on their position in abstraction. I'm sure Murray Rothbard or most 'market anarchists' could also be 'acceptable' by such criteria, at times. Plenty of liberals valourised the 'Arab Spring,' the point is why. In this case, a liberal supported the Mexican Revolution, but in saying that their support of this generally involved a fair amount of noise which was neutral in nature between communism and (rather fervent) capitalism, and hence problematic, need not be too far astray from their actual trajectory.

Battlescarred
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Jun 2 2016 10:04

Sorry chum, but you come over as a pompous ass.

Zeronowhere
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Jun 2 2016 10:37
Battlescarred wrote:
Sorry chum, but you come over as a pompous ass.

Not a battlescarred one, then.

factvalue
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Jun 3 2016 20:57

Here's a myosin protein dragging an endorphin along a filament to the inner part of a human brain's parietal cortex to create happiness:

Happy Birthday big V.