The Commune

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Devrim
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Aug 30 2008 11:50
The Commune

Has anyone noticed this group? It seems to be influenced by Solidarity.
Devrim

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Devrim
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Aug 30 2008 11:51

Link is probably helpful:
http://thecommune.wordpress.com/
Devrim

posi
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Aug 30 2008 12:09

5 of the articles in Ideas, and one on the front page, are by two members (I believe) of the Alliance for Workers Liberty - you can also see the influence in the article by Draper, and in the choice of links to 'organisations and campaigns' (Labour Representation Committee, Feminist Fightback, Education Not for Sale).

I don't think this is a bad thing, fwiw, I'm just saying - I don't think it's a councilist project springing out of nowhere. I will be getting in touch to express my interest in the discussions.

Mark.
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Aug 30 2008 12:26
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“the commune was therefore to serve as a lever for uprooting the economic foundation upon which rests the existence of classes, and therefore of class rule.” - karl marx

draft platform of the group of international communists

we are communists: we fight for a new self-managed society based on collective ownership of the means of production and distribution and an economy organised not for value production but for the well-being of humanity and in harmony with our natural environment. communism will abolish the system of wage-labour so that our ability to work will cease to be a commodity to be sold to an employer; it will be a truly classless society; there will be no state, no managers or organisations superior to those of workers’ self-management.

we are internationalists, we seek the greatest possible collaboration with communists in other countries; we build solidarity with workers’ movements around the world; we are opposed to all borders and immigration controls; and we unconditionally support the right of nations to self-determination.

we know that communism can only come from below, through the organisations of the workers themselves. this conception of communism has nothing in common with the fake “socialisms” of the stalinist state planning of the former ussr, of the sweatshops of china, and social-democratic “humane” capitalism. no nation in the world today is communist, nowhere is the economy managed by the workers. these models of “socialism” have all proven to be complete failures, maintaining and in many cases aggravating the working class’s lack of self-determination. there is no particular connection between socialism and nationalisation by the state, which merely replaces one set of managers with another; alongside fighting day-to-day battles we advocate a struggle for vestiges of workers’ control in the here and now as preparatory steps towards real workers’ self-management and collective ownership.

we are the most consistent advocates of social liberation in all its forms. we fight sexual repression, sexism and homophobia and advocate sexual liberation; we champion anti-racist and anti-fascist struggles; we oppose all limits to freedom of speech and free cultural expression. these struggles are not just some adjunct to working-class struggle but are the cornerstone of democracy and human freedom.

we know that it is impossible for the working class to fight for and create a communist society if it is unable to control its own organisations; we support rank and file movements against the bureaucrats who lord it over the unions and parties of the left; we are for openness and democracy in the workers’ movement.

we have no gods, not even revolutionary ones. we reject the practice of using the works of this or that socialist of decades past as sacred texts from which “revealed truths” can be read off as gospel. the “traditions” to which the traditional left groups appeal are universally ahistorical and anachronistic, used for the sake of feigning historical legitimacy rather than to critically examine and draw lessons from the past.

we believe that the defeats of the workers’ movement in the last three decades; the decay of the left and the absolute poverty of its ideas and slogans; its abandonment of class politics; and the sectarianism of the groups vying for supremacy with their own front campaigns and so-called unity projects; are all evidence of the need for ground-up rethinking of the left’s project and the re-composition of the workers’ movement.

They list some of the old Solidarity pamphlets so as you say that seems to be an influence. Otherwise it's new to me. They do seem to have taken the radical step of abolishing capital letters though. [edit: I hadn't seen posi's post which probably helps to explain where they're coming from. It's interesting if people from groups like AWL are flirting with councilist ideas.]

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Aug 30 2008 12:43
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and we unconditionally support the right of nations to self-determination.

Councilism + national liberation?

Still, if this means that certain AWL members are starting to move away from their obsession with defending bourgeois democracy thats a good thing.

Mark.
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Aug 30 2008 13:01
Django wrote:
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and we unconditionally support the right of nations to self-determination.

Councilism + national liberation?

I missed that - also

Quote:
we support rank and file movements against the bureaucrats who lord it over the [ ... ] parties of the left

I'd be interested to know what this means in practice

posi
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Aug 30 2008 13:09

EDIT: apparently the people concerned are no longer in the AWL.

See here: http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/the-awl-israel-and-iran/

My mistake.

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Aug 30 2008 16:01
Django wrote:
Quote:
and we unconditionally support the right of nations to self-determination.

Councilism + national liberation?

Yes, it was one of the first things that I noticed. It isn't something that is in the traditions of either 'councilism' or 'Solidarity'.

Devrim

davidbroder
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Aug 30 2008 17:16

I am not interested in just reviving some "tradition": I think we should decide our politics by analysing the interests of the working class. That said, I for one do not support bourgeois nationalists in any circumstances. This does not mean I am indifferent to national oppression, which is something real.

No nationalisms are more progressive or reactionary than others. All nationalism is reactionary. I reject any sympathy or support for "anti-imperialist" despots.

But it does not follow that we should not be for self-determination. The denial of self-determination by, for example, an occupying power, overlays the 'local' class struggle, distorting class relations and making it harder for workers to unite against the ruling class/the ruling classes in various nation states. Look at Israel-Palestine. You can be, in principle, in favour of the Palestinian nation having the right to self-determination, up to and including secession if most people want it, without supporting Hamas or Fatah. It is abstract to abstain from having to say about this: if we were in Iraq, it would be bizarre to refuse to demand that the troops leave (like the AWL does) and let the Islamists make out you acquiesced to national oppression.

davidbroder
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Aug 30 2008 17:17

but anyway, please do look at stuff on the site and comment

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Devrim
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Aug 30 2008 18:07

Dave,
You are right in that we shouldn't only be interested in 'reviving some "tradition"'. That isn't to say that 'traditions' aren't at all important. In a way, political ideas fit together into a coherent world view. Your approach seems to be a little more 'eclectic'. Some things which seem to be influenced by 'councilism' and 'Solidarity', and others which seem to be influenced by the Trotskyism, which I presume you have come from.
Anyway, I would like to comment on some things, includingy the national issue, but won't be able to for a week as I am going on holiday tonight.
Devrim

davidbroder
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Aug 30 2008 18:11

'Solidarity' themselves weren't exactly keen on setting up heroes and a "tradition", particularly given that - like SouB - they themselves had come from Trotskyism.

I see no contradiction between opposing bourgeois nationalists and supporting the right of self-determination.

davidbroder
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Aug 30 2008 18:12

(Or, should I say, several leading people in those groups had come from Trotskyism)

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Steven.
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Aug 30 2008 18:15

Hi David welcome to libcom. Just a technical tip for you, you can add stuff to a previous post you've made by clicking edit.

radicalgraffiti
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Aug 30 2008 18:34
davidbroder wrote:
I see no contradiction between opposing bourgeois nationalists and supporting the right of self-determination.

What do you mean by the right of self-determination? Who's right?
It can't be the people of these nations because they do not have control over 'there' nations, so who is it if its not the bourgeois?

davidbroder
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Aug 30 2008 18:50
radicalgraffiti wrote:
davidbroder wrote:
I see no contradiction between opposing bourgeois nationalists and supporting the right of self-determination.

What do you mean by the right of self-determination? Who's right?
It can't be the people of these nations because they do not have control over 'there' nations, so who is it if its not the bourgeois?

I think that's rather simplistic. In any concrete historical example, we can presume that the working class in the nation denied self-determination would be oppressed and exploited both by the bourgeoisie of the country denying it self-determination, as well as by the 'local' bourgeoisie.

In such a scenario, if most people subjectively wanted independence, then on what grounds would you say they shouldn't have the right to get it? For example, without question, the vast majority of people in Kosova want independence from Serbia. Obviously the working class is not in power in Kosova, and won't be even if Serbia recognises its independence. Perhaps lots of people's heads are full of all sorts of religious and nationalist hang-ups. I would argue vociferously against chauvinism. I would love to see a communist federation of the balkans (something which neither the continuation of the Titoite Yugoslavia, nor Serb control over its neighbours, would bring closer). But do you not think that if most people there want independence now, they have the right to it?

radicalgraffiti
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Aug 30 2008 19:23
davidbroder wrote:
I think that's rather simplistic. In any concrete historical example, we can presume that the working class in the nation denied self-determination would be oppressed and exploited both by the bourgeoisie of the country denying it self-determination, as well as by the 'local' bourgeoisie.

People everywhere are subject to exploitation by the local and the national bourgeoisie, does this change when the local bourgeoisie claim to be of a nationality that is the same as those they exploit and separate from the larger nation?

davidbroder wrote:
In such a scenario, if most people subjectively wanted independence, then on what grounds would you say they shouldn't have the right to get it? For example, without question, the vast majority of people in Kosova want independence from Serbia. Obviously the working class is not in power in Kosova, and won't be even if Serbia recognises its independence.

I don't know enough about kosova and serbia to comment on that example but I would imagine that the people of any 'oppressed nation' would have been exposed to a considerable amount of propaganda in favour of 'there' nation and blaming the 'oppressor nation" for all the problems which they experience, so there opinion is hardly something they came up with themselves, but rather something impressed on them.

davidbroder wrote:
Perhaps lots of people's heads are full of all sorts of religious and nationalist hang-ups. I would argue vociferously against chauvinism. I would love to see a communist federation of the balkans (something which neither the continuation of the Titoite Yugoslavia, nor Serb control over its neighbours, would bring closer). But do you not think that if most people there want independence now, they have the right to it?

If they want there nation to be ethnically pure do they have a right to it?
I do not deny that maintaining Yugoslavia or Serbia does nothing to bring communism closer, but nether does creating many little states, so why should we support it? Also it will kill a lot of people.

tigersiskillers
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Aug 31 2008 22:38

Hi David,

I'm genuinely interested in your group and will probably come along to the discussions you'e putting on. I think my issue with the reference to self determination in the way that you have explained it is that it seems to be a strange point to bring up in a platform. Kind of like saying 'and we will support residents when they want speed bumps put in to stop people running over their kids'.

You say

Quote:
if most people subjectively wanted independence, then on what grounds would you say they shouldn't have the right to get it?

I don't think anyone's particularly arguing against that. it's more a case of so what? If people want to follow a particular political course that's up to them. I don't see why you need to declare 'unconditional support' for that.

In your palestinian example, I wouldn't say I'm in favour of the palestinian nation having self-determination. I'd like to see palestinian people not get fucked over. Obviously if I could wave a magic wand I'd create a 'no state' solution. Can't do that. Maybe a two state solution will work. I can't see that happening in a situation where palestinians aren't being fucked over by Hamas or Fatah - leaving aside it still being a bourgeois nation. Perhaps a one state solution is possible. Whatever 'solution' works, I can't see why it's that relevant to me or my political positions.

Lots of things would make people's lives better. I don't see that it's my role to go out and advocate for them. I'm interested in creating a genuine alternative to capitalism. If it was just about making some people's lives better I'd spend all my time raising money for Oxfam. Doing that wouldn't be a bad thing in itself, it's just that it's a short term limited response, and I'm a bit more ambitious than that.

Probably Your C...
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Sep 1 2008 01:48

why do people get so upset about national liberation anyway?

tigersiskillers
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Sep 5 2008 08:15
Probably Your Class Enemy wrote:
why do people get so upset about national liberation anyway?

Bit old, but the main arguments still stand - Solidarity article on national liberation in the libcom library.

davidbroder
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Sep 5 2008 20:24

For a report on the first of our discussion series on class struggle in the '70s click here. The next meeting will be at 6:30pm on Monday 15th, on the 1970 Leeds clothing workers' strike, with a film and guest speaker Liz Leicester (look at 'events' on the commune's website)

I think the 'Solidarity' article you have there is good enough in terms of combatting illusions in "anti-imperialist" despots and supporting one bourgeoisie against another, but really it says very little about national oppression, which is something concrete and does matter. Not only does national oppression mean military might but also cultural oppression, eg forced "Russification" in the USSR, where kids from most other republics had to take their school classes in a language other than their own. We should stand against that. That of course does not imply any form of support for any bourgeois forces or "national liberation" movements.

Tigersiskillers says " If people want to follow a particular political course that's up to them. I don't see why you need to declare 'unconditional support' for that."... well, the problem is that it's not really up to them, since if, for example, most Kosovars want to secede from Serbia or most Palestinians want their own state, they're not allowed to do so! The 'unconditional support' is for their right to do so... it does not mean advocating that they should, still less pretending that their nationalism is progressive.

(... you might be interested in the leaflet we have for the stop the war meeting)

Probably Your C...
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Sep 5 2008 21:54
tigersiskillers wrote:
Probably Your Class Enemy wrote:
why do people get so upset about national liberation anyway?

Bit old, but the main arguments still stand - Solidarity article on national liberation in the libcom library.

Thanks I'll read it

Probably Your C...
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Sep 5 2008 21:56

Bear in mind Kosovars dont exist.

davidbroder
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Sep 5 2008 22:24
Probably Your Class Enemy wrote:
Bear in mind Kosovars dont exist.

?

Probably Your C...
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Sep 5 2008 22:37

from the article.......

Any intelligent person can see that the fate of the advanced capitalist countries doesn't depend on the Third World's ability to cut off supplies of raw materials. The Third World's ruling classes will never get together to plan or practice an effective boycott on a world scale. Furthermore, the U.S. and Western Europe are becoming less dependent upon many of the products of the Third World. Add to that the falling prices for raw materials in the world market, the protectionist barriers in the advanced countries, and one gets a picture of imminent barbarism in the Third World. Its bargaining position vis-Ã -vis the West weakens every year. Third Worldists should seriously ponder about these tendencies.

Wow. RealityFail.

Probably Your C...
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Sep 5 2008 22:39
davidbroder wrote:
Probably Your Class Enemy wrote:
Bear in mind Kosovars dont exist.

?

'Fraid so. There is no such thing as the Kosovar ethnic group. Only Albanians who live in Serbia.

Probably Your C...
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Sep 5 2008 22:48
Probably Your Class Enemy wrote:
from the article.......

Any intelligent person can see that the fate of the advanced capitalist countries doesn't depend on the Third World's ability to cut off supplies of raw materials. The Third World's ruling classes will never get together to plan or practice an effective boycott on a world scale. Furthermore, the U.S. and Western Europe are becoming less dependent upon many of the products of the Third World. Add to that the falling prices for raw materials in the world market, the protectionist barriers in the advanced countries, and one gets a picture of imminent barbarism in the Third World. Its bargaining position vis-Ã -vis the West weakens every year. Third Worldists should seriously ponder about these tendencies.

Wow. RealityFail.

Sadly; theres quite a lot of RealityFail in that article

davidbroder
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Sep 5 2008 23:00
Probably Your Class Enemy wrote:
davidbroder wrote:
Probably Your Class Enemy wrote:
Bear in mind Kosovars dont exist.

?

'Fraid so. There is no such thing as the Kosovar ethnic group. Only Albanians who live in Serbia.

In which case they'd still have every right to break with Serbia, and join Albania. I've seen no evidence that they want to join Albania though.

Of course, your idea of "ethnic groups" is an extreme over-simplification of people's national consciousness, what nationality they see themselves as, what "self-determination" means for them, etc. I don't accept that there have to be some sort of "objective criteria" (e.g. ethnicity/race, language) as justification (to whom? some abstract higher authority who arbitrates what is a nation and what isn't?)

Probably Your C...
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Sep 5 2008 23:12
davidbroder wrote:
I've seen no evidence that they want to join Albania though.

Yeah. Right.

Yay for demographic warfare.

Probably Your C...
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Sep 5 2008 23:23

Dave; Cultures exist

davidbroder
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Sep 5 2008 23:25

"Demographic warfare"?

I'm no expert but as it happens I haven't seen any indication that Kosova might be dissolved into Albania. Again though, you don't answer my point that there'd be no problem if most people in Kosova wanted that. And, once again, despite my repeated protests to the contrary you imply that I am some sort of vicarious Kosovan chauvinist... as if opposing Serbian oppression and denial of Kosovar self-determination meant I supported ethnic violence!

If I did mean that, I'd say it. Your method of argument-by-speculation is uncomradely.