The IBRP

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RedHughs
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Mar 21 2009 18:39

I am not in the ICC but I would say that a couple different distinctions can be draw between a "full" communist position and the anarcho-syndicalist position.

I would see three position:
1. The vaguely "syndicalist" position: workplaces, as they are now, are taken over and run within an exchange economy, usually the present economy, with the result being a gradual conversion to communism.
2. The "minimalist" vaguely council communist position: in the context of an overthrow of the capitalist class, each workplace is run democratically and becomes the smallest unit for managing the new, communist society.
3. The vaguely "Maximalist" communist position: workplaces are only taken over as a tactic for the destruction of the present, capitalist system (and tactics other than workplace take overs will likely also come into play). The entirety of a society is organized in a communist fashion with the workplace being only an incidental unit of organizing whatever production takes place. Much of the production of the present capitalist society may be transformed (or not).

I'd say there's a fairly wide gap between position 1 and position 3.

These are "didactic" or idealized positions. They don't necessarily fully reflect any groups articulated position.
Edit: Added "vaguely" each numbered point to reflect that, again, these are idealized possible positions rather than the positions of existing groups.

Battlescarred
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Mar 19 2009 09:16

I am not an anarchosyndicalist, but this seems to me to be a gross and ill-informed travesty of anarchosyndicalist strategy, but I'll leave it to the anarchosyndicalists here to defend their positions

RedHughs
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Mar 19 2009 18:15
battlescarred wrote:
I am not an anarchosyndicalist, but this seems to me to be a gross and ill-informed travesty of anarchosyndicalist strategy, but I'll leave it to the anarchosyndicalists here to defend their positions

.... sure, it's not like you're using strong language or anything ...

red earlier wrote:
These are "didactic" or idealized positions. They don't necessarily fully reflect any groups articulated position.
Cleishbotham
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Mar 20 2009 22:27

I agree with Alf's last comment. Redhughs, you knew you took on a tough task when you tried to make your three categories but have you not oversimplified the councilist position (your position 2)? Since factory committees are not soviets (and although many self-declared councilists are ignorant of this) they have no political function ( it was actually a confusion which Maurice Brinton aka Chris Pallas also shared from time to time). Most councilists would argue that workers councils are not confined to a single factory and that they are actually part of a pyrimidal political structure of the workers semi-state...

RedHughs
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Mar 21 2009 18:36

Yes, I've simplified all three positions into formulas. Apologizes for hacking slashing.

I suppose I shouldn't given them names but rather said "vaguely similar to". Position 2 might be "Britonist" rather than councilist but I'm sure that's a simplification too.

The idea is to bring some organization to the various positions that are out there. I don't think any organization takes an official position that corresponds to any of these categories.

Cleishbotham
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Mar 22 2009 12:17
Dannny wrote:
Cleishbotham´s statement: "The tragedy is that the very force which the working class created to liberate themselves turned into the motor of counter-revolution" just doesn´t seem to make sense to me. Surely the "force the working class created to liberate themselves" would be the Soviets? The working class did not create the Bolsheviks, even if a significant minority joined them during the revolutionary period. )

I realised that I had not read all the posts here between March 4 and 9 so finally getting a bit of space I have looked back at them and found Danny's comment which I think Alf dealt with well. However I just want to take up the above bit because this is one area where libcoms and leftcoms disagree. I used to think that the caricature that the Bolshevik Party was the "party of Lenin" and given its origins this sems quite convinicng but if you read Rabinowitch's the Bolsheviks Come to power (NLB 1974 or thereabouts) you can see that the party of 1917 was not the same as the party of 1903. The Bolshevik Party went into 1917 with a social democratic programme little different from the rest of the second international but by April ahd realised it was "obsolete" (Lenin). It was the reality of 1917 which inlcuded the actions of the working class which revealed this. The other fact that needs bearing in mind is that the Bolsheviks relative numerical ewaknes in February was largely because, although they were small they were rooted in the working class and this meant that they became an instrument of the wrorking class and much more responsive to its actual demands and needs (See "On the Eve of 1917" by Shlyapnikov for this). Similarly the decline of the revolutioanry working class is reflected in the decline of the Bolsheviks as a class force. What I want to underline here is that the working class needs both class wide organs (of power) like the soviets and an organisation which embodies the communist programme (i.e. the lessons of our struggle for emancipation). The realtionship between them though is something we now know from the Russian Revolution that the party does not take power even if its memerbs are the msot energetic in clas-wide organisations. A longer version of this argument is in the CWO pamphlet "1917"

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JoeMaguire
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Mar 22 2009 21:46
RedHughs wrote:
1. The vaguely "syndicalist" position: workplaces, as they are now, are taken over and run within an exchange economy, usually the present economy, with the result being a gradual conversion to communism.
RedHughs wrote:
The entirety of a society is organized in a communist fashion with the workplace being only an incidental unit of organizing whatever production takes place. Much of the production of the present capitalist society may be transformed (or not).

Which syndicalists? A quick check list against anarcho-syndicalism would run like this, "exchange economy" false, "present economy" false, "gradual conversion to communism" false*, "workplace being only an incidental unit of organizing" false, "society may be transformed" yes most certainly would.

*not even sure how a worker controlled workplace, which operates in an exchange economy can move towards communism tbh.

Cleishbotham
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Mar 22 2009 21:57

October_lost, RedHughs has already admitted to a caricatured view of each tendency in the three groups he delineated and probably now wishes he had not started but at least he was trying to throw some light on the issue. What we would want to hear is a reply to Alf's view (about 8 posts up from here) on the differences between the communist left and anarcho-syndicalism. If Alf is wrong then I have misunderstood something. If he is right how do anarcho-syndicalists confront the problem of the destruction of the bourgeois state?

Dannny
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Mar 24 2009 13:55

Hi Cleishbotham, thanks for your reply. I agree with most of it but I´m struggling to see in it a defence of your previous statement that the Bolsheviks were the force the working class created to liberate themselves. Maybe I´m being daft. Are you saying that the working class created the Bolsheviks in 1917 and that the subsequent degeneration was solely a result of working class ´decline´ and had nothing to do with pre-revolutionary characteristics of the party? I wouldn´t say that there´s no truth in this but that it is nevertheless disingenuous and in its way as charicatured as the ´party of Lenin´ line that we both disagree with. Also I´m not sure how your conclusion that the class needs both class wide and programme specific organs follows from your previous analysis. I´ve not made up my mind about this so would appreciate some elaboration if you´ve got time.
Cheers

Cleishbotham
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Mar 24 2009 19:35

Danny

What I am saying is that the Bolshevik Party was not the same force at eaach period of its history and that in the end it was the revolutionary action of the workers in Russia who forced the party to ditch its old programme and adopt a revoutionary programme appropriate to the situation in 1917 (even if Lenin wrote the April Theses they actually reflected what the rank and file of the party including the new workers who joined it in 1917 also wanted. In the course of 1917 the Bolsheviks went from being a party of 8000 to (estimates very) one of six figures. They were rooted in the life of the class, especially in the factory committees. In October the actual takeover of power was achieved with virtually no blood shed because the workign class were orgnaised both in the party and in the councils (both of which bodies it made its own). By September the Bolsheviks had a majority inthe Petrograd and Moscow Soviets and were on their way to getting a majority in other councils in preparation for the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets. There are programmatic failures by the Bolsheviks. One I alluded to in an earlier post to (I think) Intifada which was that the coalition government set up in Nov 1917 was like a bourgeois government (except they called themselves commissars) when in fact the Executuive (VTsiK) of the Soviets elected by the Second Congress should have been the government. This was not however fatal as at first the two tended to coordinate but it was still a weakness. At this point Lenin is going round factories arguing that workers alone can make the revolution because "no-one else can do it for you". This is the "heroic" period of the revolution. However evreyone knew that "without a German Revolution we are doomed" (and a score of quote like it) and we Left communists argue that the fuindamental problem was the isolation of the revolution to Russia. Given that isolation and the civil war imposed on the revoluiton by international imperialism the the revolution inevitably declined. It could have revived had any one of the revolutions elsewhere led to more international support but this did not happen. At this point too the party begins to change character with careerists entering to replace the revolutionaries who are now in the Red Army or in some other part of the state apparatus. And then you get the regression of the Bolsheviks into what some call "substitutionism" (I think it was Zinoviev in 1922 who first clearly says that the party will have to accomplish what the class has failed to do). So I see the Bolshevik Party as having three phases (very cleverly described and analysed by Neil Harding in his book on "Lenin's Political Thought" (c. 1976 Macmillan) and the middle phase is the one in which they become an instrument of working class revolution. It is our tragedy, as Radek predicted in the first issue of Kommunist, that the Bolsheviks won the civil war but left us with a political legacy of defeat. The Soviets begin to die in 1919 but are still showing some life until 1920 but here again it was not a conscious act of the Bolsheviks that this happened - it was a consequence of the civil war. Both revolutionary party and soviet wither at the same time. I have written in haste and very schematically but I hope this clarifies what we are saying. What I am basically arguing is that what appears to be the same body is in fact not and that we have to look closely at the nature of the party and soviet in each phase. For most anrchists and councilists this is just "weasel words" as a member of the AF once said to me . They just idenntify What is to be Done with the Bolsheviks and then go to 1921 when the polices to justify the counter-revolution are being carried out. But it is the bit in the middle that is the interesting bit.

Blackhawk
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Apr 3 2009 20:11

The only thing I was really wrong about was the exact dates of Bordiga's return to political life. As for the ICC version of history, they spend far too much time telling and retelling this political history they have created for themselves, maybe they actually believe it. Unless someone can point out where I was lying such an assertion followed by a link to an ICC article about their own history is meaningless.

Intifada1988
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Jun 21 2015 23:50

Man, I wish I had listened six years ago, Blackhawk. People in your own org were writing you off, though.

Sorry man

Jamal R.