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Anarchists who became Marxists

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Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
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Aug 3 2011 23:25
Anarchists who became Marxists

or vice versa.

Paul Lafargue is maybe the prime example.

Judah Grossman-Roshchin (1883-1934) is an interesting case. From what I've gathered he was an anarchist from his teens up to and until working with Makhno in the Ukraine. Afterwards he critiqued anarchists such as Kropotkin and was in general busy with the history and theory of anarchism, but also literature from a Marxist perspective. Hopefully someone like battlescared could put up a biography in the library.

piter
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Aug 4 2011 07:41

you have also Grandizio Munis, trotskyist leaders in Spain becoming an opponent to leninism, but maybe he became more a kind of libertarian marxist than an anarchist (but it is very close to anarchist with the same conception of capital and classes and etc.,)

ajjohnstone
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Aug 4 2011 08:16

Victor Serge

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Entdinglichung
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Aug 4 2011 08:39

Joaquín Maurín, Herbert Wehner, Sepp Oerter (became later a Nazi), Alfred Rosmer, Daniel Rebull, Kostas Seirinidis, Pierre Monatte, Murray Bookchin, Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, Daniel Guérin, Johann Most, Clara & Paul Thalmann ...

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Serge Forward
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Aug 4 2011 11:20

Lucy Parsons.

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ocelot
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Aug 4 2011 11:32
Entdinglichung wrote:
Joaquín Maurín...

On what grounds? I'm not aware the Maurín was ever an anarchist. I hope you're not assuming that because he was a member of the CNT that made him an anarchist?

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Steven.
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Aug 4 2011 12:07

A few here, who became Bolsheviks:
http://libcom.org/history/anarchists-who-turned-bolsheviks-nick-heath

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Rob Ray
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Aug 4 2011 12:51

In that link: some very good reasons not to switch sides late on.

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Aug 4 2011 21:02

Peter Arshinov

Makhno on Grossman-Roshin . Two of his texts, another is a review of a book by Preobrazhensky:

Roshin wrote:
The final chapter of his beautiful sketch the author speaks of the inevitable withering away of all the class rules, including enforcement of law. That's good. But here's the strange thing. The author recalls this only at the end of his book. It would seem that, after Lenin's book, it became clear to everyone that collectivism is associated with the state, and communism - the proletarian statelessness. I will be told, but we are now building a state and a government moving towards anarchy. Let it be so. But we are now giving way to the NEP, is there no longer a reason to speak, gloss over communism. On the contrary. The fact that the proletarian state is now under construction, does not cancel, but emphasizes the need to fight state fetishism, the ideology of the state, which is so sweet, "which became a platform for Soviet" gentlemen Smena-Vekhists and fattened bureaucrats.
Comrade Preobrazhensky's book must be on the desk of every class-conscious worker.

He's mentioned in this debate around LEF.

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Aug 4 2011 19:08
Quote:
Noa Rodman wrote:
Judah Grossman-Roshchin (1883-1934) is an interesting case.

The Soviet historian S. N. Kanev in his 1974 book The October Revolution and the Downfall of Anarchism in Russia tried to quantify this phenomenon. He found that in 1922 the Bolshevik Party included 633 former anarchists, despite that fact that 221 members had been expelled in 1921 for previously belonging to anarchist organizations.

Like many Russian ex-anarchists, Grossman-Roshchin wrote a public denunciation of his former views. His appeared in Pravda, February 14 1926 issue. His sincerity might be open to question when one realizes it was necessary for him to earn a living as a literary critic, following the line of the vulgar-Marxist RAPP (Russian Association of Proletarian Writers).

In 1928 the OGPU tried to speed things up a bit by organizing an “All-Russian Anarchist Congress” at which prominent anarchists would announce the “final bankruptcy” of Russian anarchism. An organizing committee was set up which included the former anarcho-syndicalists Ablonsky and Yarchuk, and the anarcho-communist Basheyev. However this bizarre idea was abandoned when it was discovered that no one would attend such a conference (which would probably have ended with them being arrested).

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Aug 4 2011 20:53
piter wrote:
you have also Grandizio Munis, trotskyist leaders in Spain becoming an opponent to leninism, but maybe he became more a kind of libertarian marxist than an anarchist (but it is very close to anarchist with the same conception of capital and classes and etc.,)

I don't think that Munis would have ever describe himself as a 'Libertarian Marxist' let alone an anarchist.

Devrim

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Aug 5 2011 00:50
Devrim wrote:
piter wrote:
you have also Grandizio Munis, trotskyist leaders in Spain becoming an opponent to leninism, but maybe he became more a kind of libertarian marxist than an anarchist (but it is very close to anarchist with the same conception of capital and classes and etc.,)

I don't think that Munis would have ever describe himself as a 'Libertarian Marxist' let alone an anarchist.

Devrim

He would have had a job calling himself a Trotskyist considering Trotsky denounced him.

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Aug 5 2011 07:46
flaneur wrote:
He would have had a job calling himself a Trotskyist considering Trotsky denounced him.

He split from the Trotskyists, and ended up setting up a small organisation called 'Fomento Obrero Revolucionario', which ı think was quite clearly part of the communist left.

Devrim

Dannny
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Aug 5 2011 08:50

I don't think Trotsky did denounce him, fwiw.

piter
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Aug 5 2011 12:13
Quote:
piter wrote:

you have also Grandizio Munis, trotskyist leaders in Spain becoming an opponent to leninism, but maybe he became more a kind of libertarian marxist than an anarchist (but it is very close to anarchist with the same conception of capital and classes and etc.,)

I don't think that Munis would have ever describe himself as a 'Libertarian Marxist' let alone an anarchist.

Devrim

maybe, I don't know him that much.

but I don't think we can find many marxist renuncing all of their marxism to embrace "classical" anarchism (and would such people be so interesting for us?). so I understood going from marxist to anarchist as something for going from leninism to a marxism "somewhat" closer to class struggle anarchism.

but I admit that it's a bit lazy...

but I didn't say Munis called himself a libertarian marxist but that he became "a kind" of libertarian marxist. and is it really so far from some "left communist"? can't we describe for ex. Anton Pannekoek as a kind of "left communist" and also as a kind of "libertarian marxist"?

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Aug 5 2011 15:15
piter wrote:
but I don't think we can find many marxist renuncing all of their marxism to embrace "classical" anarchism (and would such people be so interesting for us?).

You seem to be under the misapprehension that classical anarchism was based on a rejection of all of Marx's contributions to the critique of capitalism. Not so. Virtually all the classical anarchists welcomed the publication of Capital in the late 1860s.

In fact it was a point of sarcastic comment (by James Guillaume, iirc) that the supporters of the General Council in the International they were fighting with, could hardly be called "marxists" because none of them had read Capital, whereas all the "anarchists" had.

Although Bakunin never did produce that Russian translation, Carlo Cafiero (previously Marx's secretary in London, dispatched to convert the Italian bakuninists to marxism - they converted him) did produce the first Italian translation of Capital.

Cafiero's old school mate, Emilio Covelli had also come across Marx's ideas (while at university in Germany) before converting to anarchism - Covelli's manifesto of the Puglian Federation was the first written statement of libertarian communism (as opposed to the brief mention in the proceedings of the abortive 1876 Florence conference, which, couched as it was as a mere extension of the principles of collectivism, was not well understood at the time - see the Nuncio Pernicone book).

In fact, of the four central figures of the Italian International who crystallised libertarian communism*, two of them were ex-Marxists - Cafiero and Covelli and only Malatesta and Costa came directly from Mazzinian/Garibaldian insurrectionist republicanism, to anarchism.

In more recent times, since WW2 up to present day many, many people have come to anarchism from marxist backgrounds, such as trotskyism in particular, without necessarily rejecting their marxist analyses of capitalism. NEFAC's Wayne Price is one example off the top of my head, but there are many others. There are also many other anarchists (such as myself) who have never been anything but such, who have found much to mine from Marx directly without having had to have gone through the trauma of a leninist past and the legacy of the orthodox reading of Marx that tends to impart.

* leaving aside the role of Elisée Reclus and one or two of the other post-Commune French exiles (e.g. Paul Brousse) in Switzerland

piter
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Aug 5 2011 16:19
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You seem to be under the misapprehension that classical anarchism was based on a rejection of all of Marx's contributions to the critique of capitalism. Not so. Virtually all the classical anarchists welcomed the publication of Capital in the late 1860s.

Yes, I know that. anyway dealing with "isms" is always dealing with approximations...with all the problems that goes with it...

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Aug 5 2011 19:40
Entdinglichung wrote:
Joaquín Maurín, Herbert Wehner, Sepp Oerter (became later a Nazi), Alfred Rosmer, Daniel Rebull, Kostas Seirinidis, Pierre Monatte, Murray Bookchin, Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, Daniel Guérin, Johann Most, Clara & Paul Thalmann ...

Actually, iirc, Nieuwenhuis and Most went the *other* way, i.e., marxist to anarchist.

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Aug 5 2011 20:05
piter wrote:
but I didn't say Munis called himself a libertarian marxist but that he became "a kind" of libertarian marxist. and is it really so far from some "left communist"? can't we describe for ex. Anton Pannekoek as a kind of "left communist" and also as a kind of "libertarian marxist"?

Personally I think that the whole idea of 'libertarian Marxist' is little more than anarchist shorthand to say 'Marxists that we like'. It is something that very few people have used to charecterise themselves, and that most of the people that it is applied to would have rejected vehemently.

I don't think that it is wrong to draw on other tendencies politically, but to then try to imply, and I am not suggesting that you are doing this deliberately here at all, that they were something politically that they were not, comes across to me as a bit like political grave robbing.

An example the other way round would have been the 'Friends of Durutti' group. There are many Marxists who end up sort of saying "yes, but they weren't really anarchists, but really in a Marxist tradition" despite the fact that they were anarcho-syndicalists and would have been deeply opposed to being viewed as Marxists.

Devrim

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Aug 5 2011 21:23

Noa wrote:

Quote:
Anarchists who became Marxists
or vice versa.

I'm curious what stirred you into starting this thread... anyone's change of mind is inherently interesting but most the people listed where living in more interesting times, where Marxism wasn't so absolutely discredited and many - not all - of it's adherents prone to at least supporting authoritarian forms of organisation.

I wonder who was the last notable anarchist who changed camps - and how unlikely is it to happen today.

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Aug 5 2011 22:43

I did it to talk about Grossman, the title is the excuse. Grossman is the clearest case of someone knowing, understanding and practicing anarchism, but consciously turning to Marxism. I venture to say that's harder to do in 'interesting times' when these currents were sometimes literally fighting with each other. Nowadays changing from Marxism to anarchism (but this also goes partly for "left" communism) is opportune, in the sense that it avoids taking responsibility for the past.

Karetelnik wrote:
former anarcho-syndicalists Ablonsky and Yarchuk

Grossman would have known Yarchuk from way back (member of black banner).

nastyned
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Aug 5 2011 22:56
Devrim wrote:

Personally I think that the whole idea of 'libertarian Marxist' is little more than anarchist shorthand to say 'Marxists that we like'. It is something that very few people have used to charecterise themselves, and that most of the people that it is applied to would have rejected vehemently.

I also think the term 'libertarian Marxist' is mostly used about people who would never have describe themselves as such, so is mostly bollocks.

But on the other hand people often describe the council communists as 'left communists' despite the fact they'd clearly rejected that term, compared to left communists who clearly hadn't.

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Aug 5 2011 23:10

Noa wrote:

Quote:
Nowadays changing from Marxism to anarchism (but this also goes partly for "left" communism) is opportune, in the sense that it avoids taking responsibility for the past.

yeah maybe opportune if you happen to 130 years old and expect to go on living. I get your general point, but wonder just how deeply immersed in a Marxist bubble one would have to be to be unaware of the historical baggage that it carries.

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Aug 5 2011 23:26
nastyned wrote:
But on the other hand people often describe the council communists as 'left communists' despite the fact they'd clearly rejected that term, compared to left communists who clearly hadn't.

Bilan rejected the label because it would imply ordinary-normal communism (i.e. Stalinism et al.) is still communism. They were the only communists left (NO PUN INTENDED) upholding Marxism, so it'd make no sense to refer to themselves as "left" communists.

Jared
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Aug 6 2011 09:39
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Lucy Parsons.

Lucy Parsons worked with Communists late in her life but never actually joined or became one. Worth having a look at this text, which argues this against her first biographer: http://www.zinelibrary.info/fury-justice-lucy-parsons-and-revolutionary-anarchist-movement-chicago

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Aug 6 2011 10:07
Jared wrote:
Quote:
Lucy Parsons.

Lucy Parsons worked with Communists late in her life but never actually joined or became one. Worth having a look at this text, which argues this against her first biographer: http://www.zinelibrary.info/fury-justice-lucy-parsons-and-revolutionary-anarchist-movement-chicago

I'm so glad to hear that smile

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Aug 7 2011 22:57
Noa Rodman wrote:
nastyned wrote:
But on the other hand people often describe the council communists as 'left communists' despite the fact they'd clearly rejected that term, compared to left communists who clearly hadn't.

Bilan rejected the label because it would imply ordinary-normal communism (i.e. Stalinism et al.) is still communism. They were the only communists left (NO PUN INTENDED) upholding Marxism, so it'd make no sense to refer to themselves as "left" communists.

That's interesting. Have you told the ICC this?

bastarx
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Aug 8 2011 00:22
Noa Rodman wrote:
nastyned wrote:
But on the other hand people often describe the council communists as 'left communists' despite the fact they'd clearly rejected that term, compared to left communists who clearly hadn't.

Bilan rejected the label because it would imply ordinary-normal communism (i.e. Stalinism et al.) is still communism. They were the only communists left (NO PUN INTENDED) upholding Marxism, so it'd make no sense to refer to themselves as "left" communists.

This is why I've never described myself as a left-communist even though I can quite reasonably be pigeon holed into the left-commie camp. "Left-communist" made some sense in 1917 but certainly by the 1930s it was redundant.

Cleishbotham
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Aug 16 2011 20:26

I would have thought Victor Serge might have had a mention on this thread?

Just to be pedantic there is a difference between "left communists" and the "communist left" but today from a revolutionary point of view the issue should be a bit redundant as Peter says. The only problem of course being that the Stalinists (or post-stalinists now praising capitalist democracy) and Trots still usurp the term "communist" when they refer to their state capitalist agenda so we have to differentiate ourselves somehow. It's all we have got left (pun intended).

Android
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Aug 16 2011 20:46
Cleishbotham wrote:
I would have thought Victor Serge might have had a mention on this thread?

I could be wrong. But i suspect the reason why some Anarchists don't reference Serge maybe due to the fact that he came from an Individualist-Anarchist background originally IIRC.

piter
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Aug 17 2011 05:43

sorry, Victor Serge had been mentionned in the 3rd post of this thread...