"Protest Fatigue"

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Dec 20 2008 19:14
"Protest Fatigue"

I just read an article on my homepage about the Greek insurrections. It was mostly just the usual stuff (they attacked the second christmas tree, they threw garbage on it....lol). But I noticed at the end of the article they mentioned "protest fatigue". My question is, do you think the Greeks will be able to keep their momentum going, will they be able to take this farther? Would it be possible for a full out revolution to be born from this insurrection? Or, as the corporate press mentioned, will this so called "protest fatigue" set in, and will the insurrection die out? I'm asking these questions because the events that are taking place in Greece are only the second instance of a major revolt taking place in a country, in which anarchists are heavily involved, and all of it happening within my lifetime. The only other instance of revolt that has occurred in my lifetime were the WTO protests in 1999, in Seattle, but I was only 7 when that happened. I don't want the Greeks to give up, I don't want to see this fade out into nothingness.

Thoughts?

....And yes I'm aware of the fact that the WTO protests and the Greek Insurrection aren't the ONLY revolts to take place in my lifetime, but they are the only two that have garnered massive attention from anarchists, I maybe wrong though.

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Dec 20 2008 19:17

Oh, and the RNC/DNC protests too, but they didn't really accomplish much. sad

Free the RNC 8!!! w00t w00t! red n black star

tsi
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Dec 20 2008 19:34

Well, we can only really expect the street protest & molotov stuff to go on for so long. If the demonstrators can do whatever they can in the meantime to cripple the ability of the state to stop the movement, that will be the most that we can realistically hope for.

What is really going to determine the future of the movement in greece is the expansion of assemblies & occupations, and the broadening of these dimensions of the movement to include greater numbers of workers, the unemployed, their families etc.

We're all (obviously) rooting for them though. And it's really premature to talk about any sort of revolution, but I think that they have really opened up a lot of people's eyes as to what is possible, and that moments of collective strength for our class (if albeit somewhat unconscious) are not unreachable.

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Dec 20 2008 19:49

I suppose calling for a revolution, or even expecting one is a bit naive. But the insurrections have the potential to live up to the student revolts in the 70's, the polytechnic occupation and whatnot. It would be incredibly disheartening to see this fade out and lose its momentum, so to speak.

I agree that the occupation of various institutions: universities, factories, hospitals, government buildings etc, would increase the fertility of the resistance movement (I didn't mean to reference crimethinc, I swear!).

Then of course there's the big question of whether or not the insurrectionary mood will spread over to America and the rest of Europe. Probably not, but it's nice to hope for things!

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Jan 1 2009 04:28

Why is calling for revolution naive?

Jacob Richter
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Jan 1 2009 04:41

The failure of this spontaneist mass strike strategy should have been obvious to most leftists a long time ago. sad

http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/495/marxism.html

Quote:
By the middle 1890s it is possible to distinguish five different trends in the international workers’ movement:

(a) Right syndicalists or ‘non-political’ trade-unionists. The most important element was the right wing in the British trade union movement, but the trend was also found elsewhere in Europe, and within Germany under the banner of the SPD, as well as in the catholic and other trade union organisations. The Russian ‘economists’ were ideological representatives of this trend with a Marxist coloration. This tendency held that it was sufficient to defend the immediate economic interests of workers in the direct struggle with their employers - primarily through trade union action, but also through seeking pro-worker legislation.

(b) Non-Marxist socialists. The usual ‘representative figure’ is Bernstein, because he was an ex-Marxist, relatively ‘sophisticated’ in his writings and engaged in argument by the German centre and left. In fact Bernstein is not particularly representative: there were various other forms of non-Marxist socialism, like those of the English Fabians and Independent Labour Party or the semi-Radical trend in France led by Jean Jaurès. This tendency argued, on very various grounds, that the task of the movement simply was to fight within the existing state order for reforms which shifted society towards socialist ‘values’. Its direct inheritors are the modern socialist parties.

(c) The ‘Kautskyan Marxist’ centre, mainly based in the SPD but also found in France (where the most prominent leader was Jules Guesde) and elsewhere; the Russian Iskra tendency around 1900, and hence both the Bolsheviks and part of the Mensheviks, were part of this tendency. This tendency had generally Marxist reference points. It foresaw a decline of capitalism and a revolution at some point in the future, but was ambiguous as to the role in this of the parliamentary-constitutional state. Its main focus in practice was on ‘preparatory tasks’: ie, building up the organised workers’ movement, including trade unions and cooperatives, but particularly building an organised workers’ political party which would take on all political questions posed for the society as a whole.

(d) A ‘Hegelian Marxist’ and semi-syndicalist left tendency within the International. Prominent leaders or writers included Antonio Labriola in Italy, Herman Gorter in the Netherlands and Rosa Luxemburg in Poland and Germany. This tendency argued that the International should not merely prepare for the revolution, but should fight for it by promoting strike action and the general strike, which was seen as the means by which the proletariat escaped from the dynamics of commodity fetishism and began to emancipate itself; it tended to deprioritise or reject electoral and parliamentary activity. Luxemburg’s pamphlet The mass strike is part of the ongoing polemics of this tendency against the right and centre round the ‘strategy’ of the general strike. Trotsky seems to have been intermediate between this position and the centre.

(e) Outright left anarcho-syndicalists were outside the International, but, as can be seen from (d), their ideas had significant indirect influence within it; they were strongest in Italy, Spain and France (another Hegelian Marxist, Georges Sorel, was a theoretician of revolutionary syndicalism in France). They were also present in the USA and Britain (International Workers of the World and De Leonist Socialist Labour Parties).

Only four of those five tendencies have a solid existence, even if marginalized (the spat between Trotskyists and Left-Communists is little more than a right-left schism within Tendency D). One of them needs to be rebuilt from scratch... badly. sad

Spikymike
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Jan 1 2009 16:18

Jacob,

Be more explicit as I am missing your point here.

Within these limited definitions I see myself as part of an insubstantial, if more modern, tendency under 'D' but could not agree that trotskyism sits within this.

I note that the quote at the end refers incorrectly to the International Workers of the World rather than the Industrial Workers of the World.

The Greek 'riots' may see some development if linked to the growing rebellion of workers currently constrained by the trade unions (see Lib Com/ICC/CWO posts on the Union HQ occupation) but we are a long way from any revolutionary trigger.

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prec@riat
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Jan 2 2009 06:23
Bisc wrote:
Oh, and the RNC/DNC protests too, but they didn't really accomplish much. sad

Free the RNC 8!!! w00t w00t! red n black star

They accomplished a decent waste of our limited resources (what with court costs and all) and allowed the cops to gain another opportunity to perfect their crowd control techniques (and the FBI to experiment with getting better infiltrators/ informants). I'd say 4, 8, or 12 years ago more interesting things happened at DNC/RNC protests that I would think of favorably.

To name just a few other revolts of potentially more significance than the Greek events... (within your lifetime)
Chiapas 1994
Argentina 2001
Oaxaca 2006

RedHughs
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Jan 2 2009 20:10

LOL!

While, JR's post and reasoning is apropos of nothing, the language and logic is ridiculous enough to inspire me to reply.

Jaboc Richter wrote:
The failure of this spontaneist mass strike strategy should have been obvious to most leftists a long time ago.

From his link...

Quote:
As to why the strategy failed, the answer is equally clear. The Hegelian Marxist left neglected the preparatory work, especially the construction of a workers' political party under the existing regime, which the Kautskyan centre insisted on. They did so due to their over-reliance on the spontaneity of the mass movement to solve political problems. Their radical-left refusal of the struggle for political leadership in relation to pre-revolutionary political problems left them politically disarmed when revolutionary crisis actually broke out.

<SARCASM>And yes! This "Hegalian Marxist Left" prevented all the other syndicalist and anti-state communist folks from forming a political party and winning. That's why the revolution failed! It's "obvious". Luxemburg or Gorter or Trotsky or someone just ideologically disarmed all those others who would have otherwise built an alternative to Kautsky. So it is "obvious" that the strategy for anti-state communist revolution in the German Revolution, which these great thinkers spearheaded, failed because of "their over-reliance on the spontaneity of the mass ", whereas if these power thinkers had listened to the SPBG and mobilized their Hegalian power thoughts using its strategic insight ... then the revolution they controlled could just have succeeded. </SARCASM>

In general, I find it rather rather repugnant to analyze historical events as a series of "failed strategies" rather than looking at their overall historical trajectories. In the case of the linked article, this approach is notably ridiculous and ham-handed. In the situation that the linked article analyzes, the German revolution, the mix of all tendencies and the historical conditions together added up to a failed revolution. Gorter, Luxemburgs and others (but not Trotsky) managed to be on the side of the revolution but even here these individual had substantially different politics. As far as I know, Luxemburg did not reject parties as such but simply split from the German Social Democratic party at the point that it became counter-revolutionary. Gorter's rejection of party organizing was strong tied to the way that the German Social Democratic Party, which previously was seen as the party of all revolutionaries as well as Lenin's Bolsheviks, became parties of counter-revolution. The inclusion of Trotsky in the mix is simply embarrassing. The politics and activity of all these actors can't be crudely reduced to a "strategy" but rather needs be seen is the result of historical Marxism's development (for good and ill, naturally) - at least if we're going to have a useful analysis of these events.

Anyway, I think that most leftists reject "spontaneism", so there is hardly anything to worry about concerning this "strategy" - those few who do articulate "spontaneism" are not the most active enemies of the left's effort to create parties and "lay foundations". However, both "organizingism" and "spontaneism" will remain equally "failed strategies" until one or another of them succeed in creating communism on a world scale.

Finally, aside from the events in Greece not having strikes as their central focus, I haven't heard about there being a huge contingent of "spontaneists" represented in the events. There is the simple fact that the movement appeared spontaneously (which by definition shows that the movement was not a "strategy"). This may hearten the small group of "spontaneists" who previously were non-organizing there. But I don't think these "spontaneists" had much of any effect on the efforts of SPGB affiliates or anyone else to organize or "build foundations". Perhaps other factors were at work.

Jacob Richter
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Jan 3 2009 06:09
Spikymike wrote:
Jacob,

Be more explicit as I am missing your point here.

Within these limited definitions I see myself as part of an insubstantial, if more modern, tendency under 'D' but could not agree that Trotskyism sits within this.

Direct action, mass protests, mass strikes, general strikes, etc. only work when considered on the level of tactics. As a matter of strategy (the strategy of "D" and "E"), they just plain fail. The "protest fatigue" that is the title of this thread illustrates this point succinctly.

Quote:
but we are a long way from any revolutionary trigger

What I am advocating on the basis of strategy for building up this "revolutionary trigger" is something that is slowly being rediscovered by the class-strugglist left: the Kautskyist strategy of "C."

RedHughs wrote:
<SARCASM>And yes! This "Hegalian Marxist Left" prevented all the other syndicalist and anti-state communist folks from forming a political party and winning. That's why the revolution failed! It's "obvious". Luxemburg or Gorter or Trotsky or someone just ideologically disarmed all those others who would have otherwise built an alternative to Kautsky. So it is "obvious" that the strategy for anti-state communist revolution in the German Revolution, which these great thinkers spearheaded, failed because of "their over-reliance on the spontaneity of the mass ", whereas if these power thinkers had listened to the SPBG and mobilized their Hegalian power thoughts using its strategic insight ... then the revolution they controlled could just have succeeded. </SARCASM>

Despite your note of sarcasm, what you've explicitly said here contains more truth than you think. The syndicalists and anti-state communists ALSO employed the same strategy, albeit in a more overt form. The "Hegelian Marxist Left," as best exemplified by today's Trots and ultra-lefts, continues to prevent the worker class AS A WHOLE from forming its own MASS party.

Quote:
As far as I know, Luxemburg did not reject parties as such but simply split from the German Social Democratic party at the point that it became counter-revolutionary.

Check out the history of one SDKPiL: this was the circle-sect she belonged to long before the Russian Revolution. This circle-sect refused to fold into the RSDLP.

Quote:
Gorter's rejection of party organizing was strong tied to the way that the German Social Democratic Party, which previously was seen as the party of all revolutionaries as well as Lenin's Bolsheviks, became parties of counter-revolution.

Lenin once remarked that a very revolutionary Kautsky himself warned that a split with opportunism would be necessary should it become more formalized.

Quote:
The inclusion of Trotsky in the mix is simply embarrassing. The politics and activity of all these actors can't be crudely reduced to a "strategy" but rather needs be seen is the result of historical Marxism's development (for good and ill, naturally) - at least if we're going to have a useful analysis of these events.

Trotsky's earlier works, his ineptitude at party-building within the RSDLP, his waffling back and forth, etc. all indicate his position between "C" and "D" (a bit inclined towards the latter, IMO, given the "transitional" strategy of the Fourth International re-hashing Rosa Luxemburg).

dave c
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Jan 3 2009 06:36

Neither Luxemburg nor Gorter can be meaningfully described as "Hegelian Marxists." I don't see the point. Also, Gorter never rejected "party organizing."