"Enforcement" of "rules" in anarchism, and what defines a state.

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appledoze
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Apr 29 2011 19:05
"Enforcement" of "rules" in anarchism, and what defines a state.

So yesterday I was reading Homage to Catalonia and I got into a little debate with my dad about anarchism, but I didn't try much knowing debating with him is hard. But he generally takes the bourgeois view of anarchism that it naively assumes that everyone will respect each others' rights and that it would become chaos without authorities or institutions to enforce rules, and the problem of human nature, yadda yadda yadda. I tried to explain him that anarchism would have institutions but not like modern ones of course, being made from the bottom up, and explaining that anarchist models have been proposed in high detail like in The Conquest of Bread, but well, I didn't get too far.

Then yesterday a comical but rather embarrassing thing happened. We went to Bahrain and we went to this tree in the middle of the Bahraini desert full of life, aptly nicknamed the Tree of Life. And I was thinking about climbing the tree and having a photo taken with me on it but we were not sure whether it was allowed. I then looked around and commented that "well, there doesn't seem to be any authorities to prevent it." Quickly he called me out on it while laughing, and I admit it was incredibly ironic and funny.

My point is that this led me to consider some things: I have read The Conquest of Bread and a ton more on anarchist models of society, but even so, the question of enforcement bothers me because even in a society that's organized from the bottom up and established by mutual agreement, how would such agreements be put into place? And even if certain rules are enforced in order to protect the rights of citizens, wouldn't that result in it being enforced in the usual manners of modern bourgeois society? In that case, how can we tell the difference between what is a state and what is not one? Of course, there's a lot more behind the concept of the state, such as the protection of class interests but as anarchists, authority and the enforcement of it is a big concern, no matter what its purpose. And even though there is definitely an acceptance that practice will never be exactly like theory, how do we assure that a future anarchist society doesn't take up state traits?

Harrison
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Apr 29 2011 21:48

imo, (i'm probably stepping on a few toes here) an anarchist society would still contain a state, a worker's state (not in the leninist vanguard sense), because it is using class power to repress another class (which is not just done through killing bourgeois, but stuff like educating people, preventing accumulation of power to unnaccountable individuals, strengthening mutual aid etc).

so yeah, a future libcom society's assembly/council federatives would exhibit state-like traits as there would be moments when a larger group of people need to force something upon a smaller group to ensure the survival of the whole society.

IMO, the way to ensure that it remains libertarian is to focus on empowering the assemblies as much as possible and use the councils only when they are absolutely necessary, and crucially ensuring that the militia used to win the war against the capitalists do not have a separate military hierarchical command structure.

also, i think in an advanced libcom society the worker's state would have as marx said 'withered away' over time as it is needed less and less.

btw i am only viewing the assemblies and councils as a state, i certainly would not advocate the centralisation of power to any leninist bureaucracy!

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 29 2011 21:57

No, the state is a body which exercises specific executive and monetary powers. Powers which will be redundant in an anarcho-communist society.
If you play intellectual gymnastics in the way many trots are want to, you can imagine any act of co-ercion or authority to be a state, but this is ahistorical and when measured against the vast mass of human interactions is patently absurd.
If the word ''state'' means anything it refers to an executive model of government, largely as within a capitalist society financial decisions and military ones need to be made by a contained bodies of people. Everyone making their own decisions in a capitalist society would be chaos as conflicts of interest over individual profit would overide any long term rationality.

Harrison
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Apr 29 2011 23:07

consider this:
liberalism, social-democracy, conservatism, leninism, fascism
... all of these made use of the bourgeois state model. ie. states that managed a working class through some form of capitalism. (it is irrelevant that leninism operated with a bureaucracy instead of bourgeoisie)
they were all states in which the working class was not in control of society.

we know that the only known method through which the working class can be in control of society is through assemblies and federated councils of delegates without any external form of power within that society.
in my opinion, 'being in control of society' is something a state does, and since it is the working class in control of society, a worker's state is being used.

however, i'm only really playing devils advocate, and i agree that talking of worker's states amounts to a certain degree of confusionism. the concept of the worker's state is what allowed to lenin to distort marx so much.

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ocelot
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Apr 29 2011 23:05

Agree with cantdocartwheels. The trots always construct this argument - the state is a body of armed people - we need a body of armed people to defend the revolution - by (false) syllogism, hence we need a revolutionary state. Rubbish.

The state is not a body of armed people. The state is a body of waged people (some of them, usually a tiny minority in modern times, armed). The notion of the "chain of command" can help us out here.

What is command? Command is the ability to tell people, "obey my orders or else you will lose the ability to feed yourself and your children". Simple as. Well perhaps not quite so simple. That presupposes that you are deprived of any alternative means of feeding yourself or your children, except via the wage. The wage is not money, the wage is a relation. A relation of command.

The wage relation is a relative novelty in the history of human civilisation. But one that nowadays is so dominant that it limits our imagination so much that we forget that most of human history has managed without it.

Why do secret policemen kidnap revolutionaries and shoot them in cellars? (see Berkman & Goldman's memoirs of their time in revolutionary Russia). Because they get paid to do as they're told and people tell them to do it.

Communism is the end of forced labour (which is all the abolition of the wage means). Of course that entails the abolition of money and distribution according to authoritatively measured contributed labour (and how else could it be measured, other than authoritatively, at a scale larger than the kibbutz/commune?). Social measure is different from the SI measures of physics. Social measure, in a context of competitive distribution, is necessarily a relation of force, a relation of dominance.

Abolish forced labour and all you have left is cooperative labour (that is, genuinely contractual labour - stick that in your pipe and smoke it, an-caps!). And that is no basis for state authority. The state exists as a body of social power alienated from the body of society from which it is recruited. It's autonomy is based on money, taxes and the wages of the tax-extractors and "order-givers".

Harrison
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Apr 29 2011 23:20

Ocelot, i believe you did not properly read my posts. i am not advocating ideas of 'command' or a 'body of armed people' or 'order-givers'.
i am advocating sovereign worker's assemblies and federated councils of worker delegates with no other external form of power (read: no leninist party in charge of an army), just the same as you.
the working class can only exercise power through direct and delegate democracy otherwise it is not the working class in power, but another class.

PS. wink

Harrison Myers wrote:
however, i'm only really playing devils advocate, and i agree that talking of worker's states amounts to a certain degree of confusionism. the concept of the worker's state is what allowed to lenin to distort marx so much.
mons
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Apr 29 2011 23:29

Ocelot wasn't saying you advocated a chain of command I don't think, they were arguing that the chain of command'is a fundamental part of the definition of a state. With the abolition of wage labour, the federated bodies of assemblies, councils, etc. would not be exercising that same kind of chain of command.
It does seem to be all semantics though, and I wonder with these definitions whether left-communists, etc. would support a state as candtdocartwheels and ocelot define it?

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RedEd
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Apr 29 2011 23:40

To take a different tack and pick up on appledoze's concern (I think) about anti-social behaviour, I agree that libcom has no magic bullet for it. But neither does capitalism. And when you consider how much anti-social and violent behaviour is related to poverty more or less directly, I think its fair to predict that libcom would do a good job reducing it. Much better than capitalism ever does through the police and courts which make very little difference to the amount of crime about. Also, in an alienated society, why give a toss about smashing stuff, nicking stuff and so on. It's not your problem, or the problem of anyone you care about. Under libcom, hopefully people would feel a bit more like the stuff around them was part of the same community they were and treat it with respect: respect that the property of bosses doesn't deserve.

Harrison
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Apr 30 2011 00:03
mons wrote:
I wonder with these definitions whether left-communists, etc. would support a state as candtdocartwheels and ocelot define it?

ICC have a bit of a complicated position. basically, they are not stupid, and know that communism cannot function like that, but i think as bordigists and bolsheviks they would be happy with that kind of state being used to fight a civil war.

Rosa Luxemburg is difficult to place.... on the one hand she violently critiqued lenin for breaking up soviet democracy, and she wrote an article Militia or Militarism . But i think she would still support a combo of soviets and a CP.

pannekoek, otto ruhle, sylvia pankhurst and all the council communists have a much better position: they would never touch any form of statism with a barge pole, and in fact even they refuse to use the description 'worker's state' because of how lenin abused it.

Kinglear
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Apr 30 2011 03:01

In another article elsewhere on Libcom, called 'Fight the Cuts - Fuck the Elections' Deezer gives a definition of anarchism saying: 'Anarchism is not a system of 'no rules', but rather a system of 'no ruler'.' I hope it's alright to quote that here,as I thought it could help. But people posting on this thread seem to agree that the workers would somehow have to 'rule' over whatever kind of state was left after capitalism was finally beaten and the working class seized control. This seems to be a bit of a problem for anarchism. Harrison Myers thinks that the class will exercise power through 'direct and delegate democracy', but that this will not be a 'workers' state', as it was this idea that allowed Lenin to mess up Marx. But let's remember that before Lenin took control of the state, in the name of the workers, he had urged All power to the Soviets' which were sovereign workers assemblies and federated councils of workers delegates, as advocated above by Harrison Myers! So maybe Lenin got it right to start with but messed up later, perhaps because of the general failure of the revolution internationally. But in the end, it looks like we've got to have somebody in charge enforcing some rules, and will even have to put up with a mini-state till libertarian-communism becomes the way of life. Can't hardly wait!

cobbler
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Apr 30 2011 08:55
Kinglear wrote:
In another article elsewhere on Libcom, called 'Fight the Cuts - Fuck the Elections' Deezer gives a definition of anarchism saying: 'Anarchism is not a system of 'no rules', but rather a system of 'no ruler'.' I hope it's alright to quote that here,as I thought it could help. But people posting on this thread seem to agree that the workers would somehow have to 'rule' over whatever kind of state was left after capitalism was finally beaten and the working class seized control.....

But in the end, it looks like we've got to have somebody in charge enforcing some rules, and will even have to put up with a mini-state till libertarian-communism becomes the way of life.

I'd take issue with your interpretation that workers would somehow have to 'rule over' anything. In a libcom society they would not, they would self manage and take control of resources. I think there's a world of difference between these two concepts.

There also does not need to be 'somebody in charge' as if raised up on a separate throne holding responsibility dishing out orders and commands. In fact if there is we will, just as in Russia, have lost the way to a libcom society. The community itself will be responsible for maintaining order, through whatever representative assemblies and federations it sees fit. A significant factor in these is that representatives will be mandated, and if they don't represent the wishes of those who mandated them they will be withdrawn and replaced.

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Goti123
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Apr 30 2011 09:53

Thom Holterman, Dutch former academic and jurist, has written extensively about anarchism and law, though I doubt any of his works have been translated to English.

Customary law relied heavily on 'voluntary enforcement' and reciprocity behavior (which can be seen as a form of mutual aid I suppose)....

Maybe this is helpful: http://mises.org/daily/2542

(yeah I know mises, but who cares).

LBird
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Apr 30 2011 10:05
appledoze wrote:
And even if certain rules are enforced in order to protect the rights of citizens, wouldn't that result in it being enforced in the usual manners of modern bourgeois society?

Well, there are plenty of pre-capitalist societies which 'enforced rules' which were not 'enforced in the usual manners of modern bourgeois society'. Some were class societies, which used 'manners' far more brutal than the 'usual bourgeois' way. But some were pre-class societies, which 'enforced rules' through kin or community measures, like 'tradition', disapproval, gossip, ostracism and expulsion.

So, it is not correct to characterise all forms of 'rule enforcement' as necessarily 'bourgeois'.

Harrison Myers wrote:
so yeah, a future libcom society's assembly/council federatives would exhibit state-like traits as there would be moments when a larger group of people need to force something upon a smaller group to ensure the survival of the whole society.

On the whole, I agree with Harrison, though I think the use of the term 'state' needs careful consideration.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
No, the state is a body which exercises specific executive and monetary powers. Powers which will be redundant in an anarcho-communist society.
If you play intellectual gymnastics in the way many trots are want to, you can imagine any act of co-ercion or authority to be a state, but this is ahistorical and when measured against the vast mass of human interactions is patently absurd.
If the word ''state'' means anything it refers to an executive model of government, largely as within a capitalist society financial decisions and military ones

Again, I agree with cantdo about 'ahistorical' uses of the term 'state', but I think cantdo misses out at least one vital function of the present 'state' which is a social need, that of judicial authority. We can all see that the state's 'executive, monetary and military' functions will have to be broken entirely, but all societies throughout history have contained a 'social authority' of some sort, even primitive communist ones, to settle disputes between individuals and compel adherence to social norms, rule, laws, traditions, etc.

So, it seems that even Workers' Councils will have to take on this role of social arbitration, which means some sort of sanctions against those refusing to accept a democratically-arrived-at decision. As Communists, we're talking about our control of society, how we ensure that 'social authority' is under our democratic control, through revokable delegates, etc.

We're not talking about every individual doing as they please - it's LibCom, not FreeForAll.

ocelot wrote:
The state is not a body of armed people.

I think ocelot is wrong here - at the centre of the state is coercive power. I sympathise with what ocelot writes about 'command' and the 'wage relationship', but neither of these are freestanding - they both require a monopoly of 'armed force', and without that, they can't be sustained.

mons wrote:
It does seem to be all semantics though...

Yeah, I think you're right, but it's important that we talk this through, since this issue is fundamental in bringing together both streams of LibCom thought. Personally, I think far more unites than divides Class Struggle Anarchism and non-Leninist Marxism.

I'll leave it at that for now, though I also agree with what other posters, like RedEd, have said, too.

Let's be generous to each other in this discussion - don't assume the worst, ask questions for clarification, try to learn - I'd rather it didn't descend into a name-calling session, as it has so often in the past, in my experience, when I've tried to broach this subject.

Harrison
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Apr 30 2011 11:01

yes, apologies for kind of derailing this thread, and thanks RedEd for attempting to steering it back on track. Kinglear, if you read my posts you will see a very great difference between my thought and lenin's - even pre-destruction of the soviets -, specificallly i assert that there should be no external power structures (ie. hierarchical Red Army or vanguard party) and that there should be great empasis placed on assembly democracy as well as councils.

mons wrote:
It does seem to be all semantics though

agree with this.

however, i think that grasping the idea that the assemblies and councils are the worker's state helps to show us that we should not be afraid of vesting them with the powers needed to destroy capital. it is my belief that the individual will have to be largely at the behest of the community until the world has been fully re-constructed along lib communist lines. (not to say they shouldn't play a major part in all democratically arrived at decisions)

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Apr 30 2011 13:16
H Myers wrote:
consider this:
liberalism, social-democracy, conservatism, leninism, fascism
... all of these made use of the bourgeois state model. ie. states that managed a working class through some form of capitalism. (it is irrelevant that leninism operated with a bureaucracy instead of bourgeoisie)
they were all states in which the working class was not in control of society.

Er, you missed one out in that list - anarcho-syndicalism, Spain 1936 - where the state apparently "ceased to be a force of oppression" or "a body that divides society into classes".

appledoze
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Apr 30 2011 14:01

It's because of problems and issues like this that I am slightly reluctant to adopt the title of "anarchist" because of the implications of how a stateless society can establish order, even though I know better than to think that way. But regardless I just stick to being a general libertarian socialist, which sometimes I end up interpreting as a socialist version of a minarchist. But as long as the practice is close enough to the theory I'm fine with that, certainly there will be a lot of issues to address.

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Apr 30 2011 17:30
Harrison Myers wrote:
ICC have a bit of a complicated position. basically, they are not stupid, and know that communism cannot function like that, but i think as bordigists and bolsheviks they would be happy with that kind of state being used to fight a civil war.

The ICC are not 'Bordigists and Bolsheviks', and their ideas on the state are not some mishmash of Leninism and anti-Leninism where the former is Ok for fighting civil wars and the latter at other points. The ICC position is that the dictatorship of the proletariat is not a form of state power, because they believe that the state is inherently conservative. The dictatorship of the proletariat is accordingly something excercised outside and, if necessary, against the state which will still exist in the transition period and mediate between the proletariat and other non-exploiting classes (I apologise to the ICC if I've butchered their position here, and clarification from a member would be nice).

And I see that the mythos of Rosa Luxemburg is again being peddled:

Quote:
Rosa Luxemburg is difficult to place.... on the one hand she violently critiqued lenin for breaking up soviet democracy

No, she violently critiqued Lenin and Trotsky for breaking up the Constituent Assembly, that is, she defended republican democracy and universal direct suffrage as opposed to the Soviets. In this she was reiterating the views she acquired from Second International orthodoxy.

Quote:
and she wrote an article Militia or Militarism .

...as did probably every major Second International theorist. Or at the very least, those that didn't write articles supporting the militia system would have agreed with it, it was after all a part of their party programme.

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Apr 30 2011 18:22

Zanthorus: that's a pretty good summary of our view of the state in the transition period. The transitional state, even if it's a commune-state, is a necessary evil; we can't wish it away because class society does not disappear the day after the revolution. But neither should we identify ourselves with it. Communism is the social movement towards communisation, and can't be fixed in a political state form which can at best defend the gains of the revolution, but will always tend to turn against it the moment the movement stops going forward.

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Apr 30 2011 18:45

Thanks for clarifying smile

Harrison
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Apr 30 2011 21:08

ok i'm abandoning my position on the state and reverting to anti-statism if i have to argue with authoritarian crap like this.

LBird
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Apr 30 2011 21:55
Zanthorus wrote:
The dictatorship of the proletariat is accordingly something excercised outside and, if necessary, against the state which will still exist in the transition period and mediate between the proletariat and other non-exploiting classes...

But... if the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' is the workers' state, embodied in elected, revokable, delegate Workers' Councils, which will have supreme democratic power to control any coercive apparatus (however defined)... who or what is this other 'state'?

As far as I'm concerned, there won't be any other 'state' than democratically-controlled organs - any vestiges of the bourgeois state will have been either already destroyed (the coercive elements) or put under close workers' control (welfare or perhaps specialist departments, like crime detection), for only as long as is necessary to replace them with our own socio-economic organisations.

And any 'mediating' that has to be done will be done by workers' delegates...

Alf wrote:
...because class society does not disappear the day after the revolution.

Class society? No. But the state organs of the ruling class? Yes. That's why we need some form of workers' state, to repress the remnants of the old exploiting class - from day one.

Harrison Myers wrote:
ok i'm abandoning my position on the state and reverting to anti-statism if i have to argue with authoritarian crap like this.

I may be joining you soon, mate.

Would Zanthorus or Alf care to clarify this position? Perhaps I've missed something.

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Apr 30 2011 22:49

The commune state isn't the bourgeois state; it's something that arises after the old bourgeois state has been destroyed. The problem for the working class is that it will not be the whole population, even after the bourgeois class has been expropriated economically and politically. The workers' delegates have to 'mediate' not with the bourgeoisie but with the non-exploiting classes left over from capitalism. In many parts of the world, they are a majority of the population. It would indeed be authoritarian to deprive these layers of the population of the right to 'democratically' organise, and it's this general organisation of post-revolutionary society that generates the commune state. Obviously things have changed a lot since 1917 but this is precisely what happened in Russia, where the state based on the all-Russian Congress of Soviets emerged organically out of Russian society, and these were soviets of soldiers and peasants as well as workers. The Workers Opposition, in 1921, saw the problem rather clearly in some respects: it considered the Soviet state to be a 'heterogeneous' organ rather than a purely proletarian one, although its solution - placing the management of production in the hands of the unions - was inadequate. The key issue is whether the specifically working class organs, from the workplace assemblies to the councils of workers' delegates - can maintain their independence from such heterogeneous organisations. And LBird is also right to point to the problem of organs like 'crime detection' which might reappear in a period of civil war. They are extremely likely to escape the control of the workers councils and would have to be very tightly supervised. That too is the problem of the state - the real danger of an organ that emerges out of society but which has an inbuilt tendency to alienate itself from it

LBird
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May 1 2011 07:10
Alf wrote:
... the Soviet state to be a 'heterogeneous' organ rather than a purely proletarian one... The key issue is whether the specifically working class organs, from the workplace assemblies to the councils of workers' delegates - can maintain their independence from such heterogeneous organisations.

Alf, I'm confused here.

You're counterposing a 'Soviet state', which is not 'purely proletarian', to a 'purely proletarian' one ("the specifically working class organs, from the workplace assemblies to the councils of workers' delegates").

But under Communism, of any level or stage, there will only be a structure (whether termed a 'state' or not) composed of proletarian organs (whether urban or rural proletarians). There won't be any other structure with any sort of coercive power, only perhaps temporarily some specialist ex-bourgeois-state departments with highly complex functions, which will be kept on a tight rein (they'll be 'dictated to', by workers, for their own purposes)

Alf wrote:
It would indeed be authoritarian to deprive these layers of the population of the right to 'democratically' organise

Well, even now, we don't accept the right of the BNP to 'democratically organise', because their politics are detrimental to our class interests, not because we are 'authoritarian'.

Under the 'dictatorship of the proletariat', I can't see a Workers' Council anywhere in the world allowing a mixture of bourgeois, peasantry (ie. landholding class, not rural proletarians), ex-state personnel, royalists, etc. to form oppositional 'Soviet organs', under the banner of 'democratic freedom', within the domain of that Workers' Council.

This would be either suicide or, at least, the cause of renewed class fighting, rather than any sort of ahistoric, non-class-based, 'freedom to organise'.

I don't know, perhaps I'm the 'authoritarian lunatic' - I need some help from other posters on this issue, to help clarify.

Harrison
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May 1 2011 10:00
LBird wrote:
Under the 'dictatorship of the proletariat', I can't see a Workers' Council anywhere in the world allowing a mixture of bourgeois, peasantry (ie. landholding class, not rural proletarians), ex-state personnel, royalists, etc. to form oppositional 'Soviet organs', under the banner of 'democratic freedom', within the domain of that Workers' Council..

Yes i agree. The assemblies, councils and militia systems are the only media through which the workers can wage the proletarian rev.

Even though we know that counter-revs will try to form councils in order to save their skins (eg. social-democrats in germany 1918), this is not a reason to form an external state. It will be the job of the truly revolutionary workers to break them up and form new ones. Everything for the proletarian revolution that can be done with a state can be done with worker's assemblies and councils, provided the working class has communism set as it's goal.

Also, as much power as possible should sit in the worker's assemblies, to lessen the ability of demagogues to do much damage inside the councils.

I really don't see the need for some state other than the assemblies and councils.

LBird
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May 1 2011 10:08
Harrison Myers wrote:
...to lessen the ability of demagogues to do much damage inside the councils.

This is easily dealt with, institutionally. No individual, whether charismatic or not, is allowed to hold any elected post for more than a set period or task (or some other defining point).

As the delegates will be mandated, there will be little room for 'demagogues' to insert their poisonous 'charisma' into the proceedings anyway.

Short post, got to go.

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May 1 2011 12:11
LBird wrote:
under Communism, of any level or stage, there will only be a structure (whether termed a 'state' or not) composed of proletarian organs (whether urban or rural proletarians).

This is a highly confused statement. There will be no 'proletarian' organs under communism because communism will involve the abolition of the proletarian condition. As for the transitional period only being composed of 'proletarian' organs, you then tack on 'whether urban or rural', which could mean that you consider the small-holding peasants to be 'proletarian', but I think this may reveal a deeper confusion:

Quote:
peasantry (ie. landholding class, not rural proletarians)

What do you mean by 'landholding class'? If you mean the small-holding peasantry, then it seems your intent is to crush the small-holding peasants through state force. I've got news for you: Not even the worst 'authoritarians' of Second International Marxism would've considered something as stupid as that. Nor would Marx or Engels themselves. Here is Marx on the peasantry in The Civil War in France:

Quote:
The Commune was perfectly right in telling the peasants that “its victory was their only hope.” Of all the lies hatched at Versailles and re-echoed by the glorious European penny-a-liner, one of the most tremendous was that the Rurals represented the French peasantry.... The Commune would have delivered the peasant of the blood tax – would have given him a cheap government – transformed his present blood-suckers, the notary, advocate, executor, and other judicial vampires, into salaried communal agents, elected by, and responsible to, himself. It would have freed him of the tyranny of the garde champêtre, the gendarme, and the prefect; would have put enlightenment by the schoolmaster in the place of stultification by the priest.

So I think the conclusion would be:

Quote:
I don't know, perhaps I'm the 'authoritarian lunatic' - I need some help from other posters on this issue, to help clarify.

Yes, you're definitely an 'authoritarian lunatic'. Congratulations, I never thought I would actually be the one accusing someone else of being a crypto-Bolshevik statist.

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May 1 2011 15:13

Exactly the point! if there were only proletarians after the revolution, then obviously there would be no need for any kind of transitional phase. When the whole world is proletarian, there is no proletariat, and we just have communism.

LBird: the BNP, royalists, and the rest don't come into it; as I said, the bourgeois class has been politically and economically expropriated; even if it still tries to resist, it has no right to organise inside the new 'Commune'. But the non-exploiting, non-proletarian classes do. Whether you call this structure a state or not, it's not identical to the proletarian assemblies and councils.

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May 1 2011 16:17
Alf wrote:
When the whole world is proletarian, there is no proletariat, and we just have communism.

I disagree with this. When the whole world is proletarian, what you have is the generalisation of the proletarian condition, not communism. Communism is when the existing social form of labour as 'free' wage-labour has been replaced with associated, organised, directly social labour. The main thrust of the transition period in my opinion is that in order to be victorious in the struggle the proletariat needs not to just get rid of the individual capitalists from their positions of power, but fundamentally reorganise production, and the latter cannot possibly happen instantaneously, both because the immediate organisation of production according to a common plan rather than a gradual phasing out would probably cause economic chaos (See for example War Communism) and because even when the working-class has seized political power the majority will not be conscious communists.

MT
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May 1 2011 15:46

Can someone explain what "the non-exploiting, non-proletarian classes" means? Thanks.

Spikymike
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May 1 2011 16:11

It's worth mentioning that the ICC position on the relationship between 'the party', the 'workers councils' and 'the state' in the 'period of transition' to 'communism' is rather unique and is not a standard left or of course council communist position.

See for instance the alternative views expressed by groups such as the CWO/ICT, 'Internationalist Perspective' or the GCI/ICG.

'Zanthorus' is right to reject a view of communism as the generalisation of working class status to the whole polulation as possibly implied by Alf earlier.

Any 'transition' to 'communism' must be a process of taking power and the exercise of that power to undermine and eventually destroy the capitalist mode of production on a world scale.

This discussion overlaps to some extent with the thread on 'the material preconditions for communism' (up to the point it go derailed at least).

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Alf
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May 1 2011 16:38

I don't mean that the whole world become wage slaves! I mean that everyone is integrated into the positive side of the proletarian condition, associated labour. I agree with Zanthorus on this. The process, in my opinion, means that the proletariat both affirms itself and negates itself, as opposed to the notion of the proletariat simply negating itself on the day of the revolution, which seems to be the view of the 'communisation' school.

Non-proletarian, non-exploiting classes: like the small peasants, the artisans, urban 'middle classes' like lawyers, accountants, etc....plus, today, a huge category of people who have lost their property as small peasants but have never been integrated into associated labour: what has sometimes been called the 'sub-proletariat' that makes up a large part of the third world's slums and who survive by all kinds of means from selling to stealing.