Marxism and Anarchism

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afraser
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Mar 30 2008 16:43
Marxism and Anarchism

[Just wrote this draft, comments would be very welcome...]

What is the difference between Marxism and anarchism? Both are socialist ideologies, with many aims in common, and both are generally on the same side in the class war.

Both anarchists and Marxists believe that ultimately there should be no government by the state, that there should be free socialism. Anarchists believe that should be implemented at once, while Marxists believe it should be done in stages. In the first stage after the revolution, Marxists believe there should continue to be government by the state. Only after a transitional period, possibly a long transitional period, should the second stage be reached, when the state would gradually wither away and free communism be achieved.

Because the transitional state government would not rule over a capitalist system, it would not be a capitalist state but instead a 'workers state' or a 'dictatorship of the proletariat'. The idea is that that would gradually wither away over time, leading to the eventual anarchist style future society.

The withering away mechanism is not clearly explained, and there seems a great risk that it will not happen, and that the transitional workers state will become permanent. That was certainly the case in the historical record, and it was also warned of by anarchists such as Bakunin during Marx's own lifetime - warnings which unfortunately were not accepted. Millions of lives, along with the reputation and chances of success of the socialist movement, could have been saved had the anarchist fears and warnings been taken seriously.

It seems curiously naive for otherwise serious and knowledgeable revolutionaries to believe that a structure of centralised state power would voluntarily wither itself away over time. The experience of history is that the powerful never relinquish control except when forced to through revolution or the threat of revolution from the people they control. The various state socialist countries proved no exception. Recognising this, would leave no pragmatic option for socialism than libertarian socialism.

Marx's 'dictatorship of the proletariat' had a sinister ring to it even in his day, more so now given the terrible history since then. But in fact many Marxists, including Marx himself, did not intend it to mean an actual 'dictatorship'. They were only using exaggerated language to describe a minimal system of defence of the revolution - which anarchists do not disagree with. In that case, there is only a difference in terminology. But some Marxists really do want full blown dictatorship, replete with secret police and state terror. And unfortunately those have tended to be the types of Marxists who seized power in different places and times.

Also, although I stated above that "Both anarchists and Marxists believe that ultimately there should be no government by the state, that there should be free socialism", for some Marxists that ultimate end state is downplayed to such an extent as to mean that it is effectively removed from their programme. In that case, state socialism, as opposed to libertarian socialism, is genuinely their ultimate aim.

But it is important to note that there is continuity stretching from anarchism to left Marxism - the two ideologies in fact merge into each other. Autonomous Marxism and Council Communism have negligible differences with class struggle anarchism. And at least some modern Trotskyists are genuinely sympathetic to the need for democracy and freedom within socialism. In cases like those, it would be sectarian to fail to ally with fellow socialists over minor differences.

Organisational structures now are based on the desired structure of society after the revolution. Marxist-Leninists organise in centralised top-down parties, which are meant to be the vanguard of the working class, because after the revolution they want to see a centralised workers state. Some Marxist-Leninist parties (but by no means all) even resemble miniature versions of the worst Marxist-Leninist state dictatorships: with secretive leadership cliques, intrigues, denunciations, and cult-like uniformity of though. Anarchists organise themselves in decentralised autonomous local groups, federated from the bottom up through conferences with mandated delegates, because they want to see that sort of structure of government after the revolution.

Further reading - Anarchist FAQ, Section H, Why do anarchists oppose state socialism?

mel
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Mar 30 2008 16:46

it's very clear for a article with no signposts. but i'd be more interested in the differences with anarchism and left marxism, and the idea that organization structures now and their link to dictatorship of the proletariat.

petey
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Mar 30 2008 17:01
afraser wrote:
What is the difference between Marxism and anarchism? Both are socialist ideologies...

Both anarchists and Marxists believe that ultimately there should be no government by the state, that there should be free socialism.

you need to be precise about the sense in which anarchism is 'socialist'.

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Chilli Sauce
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Mar 30 2008 17:27
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The idea is that that would gradually wither away over time, leading to the eventual anarchist style future society.

"that the state would gradually.."?

Just out of curiosity, is this for a pamphlet, a website, a class essay?

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darren p
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Mar 30 2008 17:47

1. There is no single "Marxism" or "Anarchism"
2. A revolution involves more than the abolition of the state and happens over a period of years and decades, not in a split second, as the diagram suggests.
3."Dictatorship of the Proletariat" doesn't equal "Workers State" or any party dictatorship over the proletariat.
4. Centralisation doesn't equal "top-down" hierarchy and neither does local autonomy guarantee democracy.

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fnbrill
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Mar 30 2008 17:54

*snip*

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darren p
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Mar 30 2008 20:04

Pulled this from another thread but is kind of relevant..

Communard wrote:
Joseph K. wrote:
so while i'm an anarchist, with marx and against you i'd say that the root problem is not the state per se, but capital as a social relation, encompassing both market and state aspects. hence i'm a libertarian communist.
.

totally agree with this point of view.... the root problem is the social relation....THAN the State, that is a consequence of class society and NOT the cause.

anarchism vs marxism.... nowadays it's a matter of semantics.
unfortunatly leninists call themselves "marxists"....so i understand why anarchists have some bias against Marx smile

booeyschewy
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Mar 30 2008 20:37

There's too many divisions depending on which direction you come from. In general I think whether you need a state or not is a pretty clear division. There are anti-state marxists though, and there are marxists who are thoroughly confused and call things like workers' councils a state (either they are confused or disingenuous, since if you know anything about state decentralized power structures ain't it).

One thing that I think is sometimes missed is that marxist and anarchist movements have been in coevolution for over 100yrs. At this point there are so many points of coinfluence it's damn near impossible to pull them apart neatly, and not honestly that useful. Mao was an anarchist. Lenin stole from anarchists in state and revolution. Left communists defect to anarchism. Anarchist defect to leninism and left communism. Bakunin used das Kapital. Marx got an intro to socialism in part from Proudhon. etc etc.

Some other relevant poles would be:
-economic reductionism vs. multiple forces producing hierarchy/oppressive (not all marxists are reductionist though, and some anarchists are though less so)
-determinism (many if not most marxists have believed that the revolution is a determined product of class relations in history, some anarchist think this but less so)
- an analysis of power (anarchists) vs no analysis of power or a solely economic analysis of power (damn near all marxists...)
-marxism tended to focus only on the urbanized proletariat, and had a derisive view of the peasantry and lumpenproletariat, anarchism has been more open to broad struggles of all the oppressed.
-organizationally marxism falls into only a few camps: substitutionism of the party (leninist or putchist/blanquist), social democracy, or spontaneism (connected to determinism, basically workers will do it themselves, it's unclear what if anything revolutionaries do). There's a smattering of weird marxist-anarchist hybrids like marxist-syndicalists and councilist parties, but they are essentially an aberration historically, and haven't lasted.

Anarchists have a totally distinct orientation organizationally based on the idea of a decentralized federation of free parties in a few forms: syndicalism (mass organization with revolutionary politics), synthesism (all anarchists together in one organization irrespective of differences), specific organization (organization based on shared politics), and then anti-organizational tendencies.

dave c
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Mar 30 2008 21:23

Booey:

Quote:
There are anti-state marxists though, and there are marxists who are thoroughly confused and call things like workers' councils a state (either they are confused or disingenuous, since if you know anything about state decentralized power structures ain't it).

How do you deduce from your definition of "a state" that other people are confused or disingenuous? Do they misunderstand your definition?

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darren p
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Mar 30 2008 22:05

This article is useful:
http://libcom.org/library/philosophical-roots-marx-bakunin-conflict

booeyschewy
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Mar 31 2008 00:20

The question is why would you call something like a workers' council a state? The state is a historical entity that has coevolved with capital, but evolved out of conditions specific to europe at the time. Whatever your definition of a state (monopoly of violence, centralization of coercive power, etc) things like workers' councils don't meet them. The only reason I can see for calling it a state is to save Marx from the errors in his own thinking. But in reasonable terms we could ask what similarity there is between the state as we know it and the worker's councils? Next to none. The only reason to make that analogy is ideological, and it masks a deeper critique of centralized power (which some marxists aren't comfortable with).

mikus
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Mar 31 2008 01:20
booeyschewy wrote:
Whatever your definition of a state (monopoly of violence, centralization of coercive power, etc) things like workers' councils don't meet them. The only reason I can see for calling it a state is to save Marx from the errors in his own thinking.

I should think that the type of organization envisioned by those who advocated "All power to the worker's councils" would have involved the centralization of coercive power into the hands of the worker's councils. Unless I'm unaware of a second part of the slogan that reads something like "except for a little bit of decentralized power located elsewhere."

The same goes for "monopoly of violence."

And when Marx does talk about working class self-government in any detail, he always seems to have some kind of directly democratic working class structure in mind. So to say that this is "sav[ing] Marx from the errors in his own thinking" is rather bizarre. It seems much more sensible to say that the idea of worker's councils is a clear continuation of Marx's thinking on working class self-government.

Mike

mikus
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Mar 31 2008 01:25
booeyschewy wrote:
Some other relevant poles would be:
[...]

-organizationally marxism falls into only a few camps: substitutionism of the party (leninist or putchist/blanquist), social democracy, or spontaneism (connected to determinism, basically workers will do it themselves, it's unclear what if anything revolutionaries do). There's a smattering of weird marxist-anarchist hybrids like marxist-syndicalists and councilist parties, but they are essentially an aberration historically, and haven't lasted.

I think you could say the same thing of anarchists that you say of Marxists. Bakunin came very close to a sort of Blanquist putschism, you have your fair share of essentially social democratic anarchists today, and you have quite a few spontaneist anarchists too (although it is true that they generally are connected to ultra-voluntaristic insurrectionalist ideas rather than ultra-deterministic ones that Marxists favor). And from what I know of platformists, I don't see a huge difference between them and some Leninists (as regards working class organization, obviously not as regards their end-goal).

Anyway I'm not trying to criticize anarchism as a whole. I have a lot of respect for certain historical anarchist movements and persons, in many cases moreso than Marxist movements/persons. But talking about "anarchism" and "Marxism" in general makes honest appraisal of either current virtually impossible.

Mazen Kamalmaz
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Mar 31 2008 06:20

i conceive the difference between marxism and anarchism that it is mainly about authority..that means for me that marxism , as it was shown in ex-soviet union , is insisting to keep the reprressive power of atate in the new sociaty , while for anarchism it is mainly a free self-organised and managed one

booeyschewy
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Mar 31 2008 06:21
mikus wrote:
I should think that the type of organization envisioned by those who advocated "All power to the worker's councils" would have involved the centralization of coercive power into the hands of the worker's councils.

This is where the contradiction lies in my mind. A workers council is a decentralized organ, since decision making lies at the base. Either it stays that way, or is it centralized into some body which has authority beyond the councils. If the latter, I'd say it's a state, but also probably not what we'd want to see.

I think what is meant by workers councils being a state is that they do things marxists think a state should do (repress enemies of the revolution, organize society, etc). But fulfilling the same function is distinct from being the same thing, otherwise the state becomes an ahistorical entity.

I agree with your second reply. At this stage it's a mixed bag with anarchism and marxism. Ultimately I'll be quite happy if the two merge ditching the worst baggage of both.

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Devrim
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Mar 31 2008 07:23
booeyschewy wrote:
This is where the contradiction lies in my mind. A workers council is a decentralized organ, since decision making lies at the base. Either it stays that way, or is it centralized into some body which has authority beyond the councils.

I think that a workers' council is by definition a centralised organ. It is a central body that represents a group of mass assemblies. To say that it is decentralised because 'decision making lies at the base' is playing with semantics as much as you seem to be accusing others of doing earlier.

Devrim

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darren p
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Mar 31 2008 10:07

To repeat myself "Centralisation doesn't equal "top-down" hierarchy and neither does local autonomy guarantee democracy."

Workers Councils ARE centralised bodies as Devrim said "a central body that represents a group of mass assemblies" but since they are composed of mandated and recallable delegates they are in no way "hierarchical".

Inversely, "decentralisation" in the sense that local groups can do what they like regardless of what the wider community wants, is "non-democratic". Some decisions will have a global ramifications...

Mazen Kamalmaz wrote:
...marxism , as it was shown in ex-soviet union...

Unfortunately you're just mouthing Capitalist ideology here. The Soviet Union and the other "Communist" countries ended up having nothing to do with the theories of Marx. Whilst not to downplay the importance of the revolutionary wave of 1917, the failure of the world revolution to establish itself lead to the victory of the largest counter-revolution in history. Something which the workers movement has yet to recover from.

BlackStarNorth
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Mar 31 2008 10:50
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But it is important to note that there is continuity stretching from anarchism to left Marxism - the two ideologies in fact merge into each other. Autonomous Marxism and Council Communism have negligible differences with class struggle anarchism. And at least some modern Trotskyists are genuinely sympathetic to the need for democracy and freedom within socialism. In cases like those, it would be sectarian to fail to ally with fellow socialists over minor differences.

If you really believe that Trotskyists could ever be anything more than a 'Bolshevik-Leninist' ruling caste you are very naive indeed.

As an Anarchist Communist myself it seems fair enough to me that you may seek to encourage anarchists and anti-authoritarians to work productively together with libertarian Marxists and communists. However, I wanted you to know that having personally experienced the poison of 'intellectual' elitism, the stranglehold of cynical hierarchy and the near religious/messianic hysteria of Trotskyist parties in Britain, your estimation of them is thoroughly mistaken.

booeyschewy
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Mar 31 2008 16:29
Devrim wrote:
I think that a workers' council is by definition a centralised organ. It is a central body that represents a group of mass assemblies. To say that it is decentralised because 'decision making lies at the base' is playing with semantics as much as you seem to be accusing others of doing earlier.

It is possible to interpret centralization two ways in what you're saying:
a. It is centralized because of it's duties, but must carry out the decisions of the base (i.e. it is delegated authority, not representational). In this case it's not really centralized since the decision making power stays decentralized in the hands of the workers councils, and the committee or whatever only carries out those orders.
b. There is a body elected to represent the councils on their own authority.

I think you mean b. which is actually centralized. But if so, I'd say its a real state in all the worst sense, and fail to see how it would be significantly different from say electing senators and whatnot. Likewise that makes the deviation of the russian soviets harder to explain. Whereas if we have a critique of centralization and the role of the parties, a critique makes sense.

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Devrim
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Mar 31 2008 16:35

Well, it depends how you want to use the words centralism, and decentralism. I think your usage is quite novel. It is not like you are Humpty Dumpty.
Devrim

posi
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Mar 31 2008 18:32
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A little before writing the Critique of the Gotha Programme – in 1874 or possibly the beginning of 1875 – Marx had set down these ideas in a rather cryptic form, which we can now understand more easily. This was in the privacy of his own notebook and for his own eyes only, as he worked out a long “conspectus” (summaries, paraphrases, quotations) of Bakunin’s 1873 book Statism and Anarchy.

Toward the end he began interpolating some acid comments of his own. Following is the most relevant section of his notes. (Bakunin’s part of the “dialogue” is in italics).

BAK.: “What does it mean – ‘the proletariat organized as ruling class’?”

MARX: It means that the proletariat, instead of struggling against the economically privileged classes as individuals, has gained enough strength and organization to employ general means of coercion in the struggle against them; but it can employ only economic means that abolish its own character as a salariat [wage-earners] and hence as a class; therefore, with its complete victory its own rule is ended too, since its class character has disappeared.

BAK.: “Will perhaps the whole proletariat stand at the head of the government?”

MARX: For example, in a trade-union does the whole union form its executive committee? Will all division of labour in the factory cease, and [also] the various functions which arise from it? And in the Bakuninist structure, “from below to above”, will everyone be “above”? Then there is no “below”. Will all members of the Commune likewise administer the common interests of the Region? In this case, no difference between Commune and Region.

BAK.: “The Germans number about 40 million. Will all 40 million, for example, be members of the government?”

MARX : Certainly! Since the thing begins with the self-government of the Commune.

* * *
BAK.: “Then there will be no government, no state, but if there will be a state, then there will also be people who are governed, and slaves.”

MARX: This simply means: if class rule has disappeared, and there will be no state in the present political sense.

BAK.: “In the theory of the Marxists, this dilemma is solved simply. By a people’s government they”

MARX: – that is, Bakunin – [ beardiest grin ]

BAK.: “understand the government of the people establishes a small number of administrators selected (elected) by the people.”

MARX: YOU ass! This [would be] democratic rigmarole, political drivel ! Election – a political form, in the smallest Russian commune and in the artel. The character of an election does not depend on this name but on the economic foundations, on the economic interrelations of the voters; and as soon as the functions have ceased to be political, there exists (1) no governmental function; (2) the distribution of general functions has become a businesslike matter entailing no rule; (3) the election has none of its present political character.

In response to Bakunin’s argument that a worker, once elected to a post, ceases to be a worker and becomes only a bureaucrat seeking his own aggrandizement, Marx refers to “the position of a manager in a workers’ cooperative factory”, which should rid him of his nightmares about the dangers of such an election. In the context, Marx is plainly assuming a situation where the workers in this cooperative factory elect and depose administrators by their votes. Further down, Marx adds:

MARX: He should have asked himself: what form can the administrative functions take on the basis of this workers’ state [Arbeiterstaat], if one wants to call it that?

It seems to me clear that Marx is not using “workers’ state” with its later connotation, but as a possible term for this administrative authority which has lost its political character: hence his qualification, “if one wants to call it” a state at all. He refuses to argue about the word.

Then Marx goes on to say that the class rule of the workers “can last only as long as the economic basis of the existence of classes had not been destroyed.” He adds:

MARX: Since, during the period of struggle for the overthrow of the old society, the proletariat still acts on the basis of the old society, and hence still operates in political forms which belong to it [the old society] more or less, it has not yet attained its final structure during this period of struggle, and employs means for its emancipation which pass away [wegfallen] after its emancipation.

From all this, we see the following. Marx is thinking about the administration of social functions when “there will be no state in the present political sense”. Once again, there is no use inventing a “state” with some non-political sense in order to account for his language. As he puts it, one can call it an Arbeiterstaat if one insists, provided it is understood that this social authority has transcended the political forms of the old society, viz. class rule and coercion. But he himself continues to use the formulation that there will be “no governmental function”, no “political character” to the administration.

Source: http://www.marxists.org/archive/draper/1970/xx/state.html#na

Anyway, look, here's how the argument goes:
1. Marx's definition of 'state' is an organisation of total class rule. Therefore, by definition, for Marxists, any instance of total class rule is a 'state'.
2. Therefore, the social revolution, insofar as it constitutes the rule of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, is a 'state' (by the Marxist definition) and also, by the same token a 'workers' state' (or whose else is it?).
3. How long the suppression of the bourgeoisie takes will take is an unknown, but it is necessary, and it is the job of the proletariat to do it.
4. Anarchists agree with 3, except the Proudhonists, putschists, etc.
5. Therefore, under the Marxist definition of a 'state', Anarchists agree with the establishment of a 'workers' state'. Up to this point, it is a semantic debate - at least with Marx. Stalinists shouldn't be blamed on him.
6. After the defeat of the capitalist ruling class we have 'socialism', or 'communism', and a still existing organisation (not necessarily formal) of the revolutionary proletariat...

The real question is what happens next. Marx and Lenin conceived of 'withering away' in very different terms. In Marx's conception, a society organised along the lines of the commune would gradually teach itself to forget demarcations of role, of authority, division of labour, and every remnant of capitalism. In Lenin's conception, a central state, under the control the revolutionary party would go about organising the abolition of the state, bit by bit. (Perhaps that's over-stating the dichotomy, but that's more or less it.) We can see how Lenin quotes Marx an awful lot when he's emphasising the libertarian/democratic character of the revolutionary proletarian organisation, and not alot when he's talking about how there will still need to be 'subordination, control' (State and Revolution), etc. - you don't find this in Marx.

By the by, I think it's bad argument to talk about what 'some Marxists' believe, without talking about what 'some anarchists' believe - we could have a field day! And I think this is about the difference between anarchists and marxists on the question of the state. Even as an introduction, it doesn't touch on other differences.

And as for 'sinister ring'...

Quote:
But in fact many Marxists, including Marx himself, did not intend it to mean an actual 'dictatorship'

He did. The proletariat are the dictator, the ruling class are the subjects. That's the point.

posi
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Mar 31 2008 18:37

Also, what is the anarchist definition of 'the state'? If the Marxist one is wrong - and presumably anarchists say it is, because they don't use it - what is their precise alternative?

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Tojiah
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Mar 31 2008 20:00
posi wrote:
3. How long the suppression of the bourgeoisie takes will take is an unknown, but it is necessary, and it is the job of the proletariat to do it.

And what if the proletarians are unhappy with the wages they get for this job? Do they strike against themselves?

posi
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Apr 1 2008 15:43

the wages are communism. they'll fucking love it. but, actually, yes.

Communard
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Apr 1 2008 17:22

The central point is the huge difference between "marxism"(second/third international) and Marx's though.

"Marxism" as we know it from kautsky and lenin it's just an ideology....
leninists (who call themselves "marxists" of course) are counterrevolurionary crap... anarchists know that so they're against "marxism" as a whole.... revolutionaries* should go over these foolish misunderstandings.

*class-struggle anarchists and marxists (anti-bolshevik/libertarian/councilists)

P.S. some intersting texts:

Jean Barrot: "The 'Renegade" Kautsky and his Disciple Lenin" - http://libcom.org/library/renegade-kautsky-disciple-lenin-dauve

Maximilien Rubel: "Marx, theoretician of anarchism" - http://www.marxists.org/archive/rubel/1973/marx-anarchism.htm

Daniel Guerin: "Libertarian Marxism?" - http://libcom.org/library/libertarian-marxism

Marx himself about the Commune: "The Civil War In France" - http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/index.htm

afraser
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Apr 1 2008 18:27

Thanks for the feedback.

Quote:
i'd be more interested in the differences with anarchism and left marxism

I think the differences are negligible, but maybe others here will disagree or have more detail on that.

Quote:
you need to be precise about the sense in which anarchism is 'socialist'.

I do? Do you mean in order to differentiate with anarcho-capitalism, or to differentiate with state socialism?

Quote:
A revolution involves more than the abolition of the state and happens over a period of years and decades, not in a split second, as the diagram suggests.

Yes the diagram is a simplification with some sort of instant insurrectionary revolution, and it is more realistic and desirable to see revolution as a process happening over a long period.

Quote:
If you really believe that Trotskyists could ever be anything more than a 'Bolshevik-Leninist' ruling caste you are very naive indeed.

For old style Trotskyists, I would agree. But ones ive been in touch with more recently seem to be moving on from that quite some way. The Scottish Socialist Party appears much less Trotskyist than it was in the days of Militant Tendency. Even the SWP seem to have lost a lot of the Marxist and Leninist convictions they used to have, although its hard to judge that from outside.

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Just out of curiosity, is this for a pamphlet, a website, a class essay?

Website to start but hopefully will form part of a pamphlet sometime.

petey
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Apr 1 2008 19:14
afraser wrote:
Quote:
you need to be precise about the sense in which anarchism is 'socialist'.

I do? Do you mean in order to differentiate with anarcho-capitalism, or to differentiate with state socialism?

well, both, to start. then, is it a different thing from communism and mutualism?

Anarcho
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Apr 4 2008 08:08
darren poynton wrote:
This article is useful:
http://libcom.org/library/philosophical-roots-marx-bakunin-conflict

Only if you know nothing about the subject!

Anarcho
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Apr 4 2008 08:13
Devrim wrote:
booeyschewy wrote:
This is where the contradiction lies in my mind. A workers council is a decentralized organ, since decision making lies at the base. Either it stays that way, or is it centralized into some body which has authority beyond the councils.

I think that a workers' council is by definition a centralised organ. It is a central body that represents a group of mass assemblies. To say that it is decentralised because 'decision making lies at the base' is playing with semantics as much as you seem to be accusing others of doing earlier.

Unlike, of course, saying it is "by definition a centralised organ"! And if it is a central body which "represents" a group of assemblies, then it had power over those assemblies. In other words, it is a government of the few over the many. In the anarchist system, the council is made up of mandated delegates and decisions flow from the bottom-up.

The problem with Marxism is not it cannot tell the difference between bottom-up and top-down, so ensuring the creation of a centralised state structure which excludes the mass of the population from decision making. As the state was designed to do from the start.

It flows from their metaphysicial definition and analysis of the state -- anarchism has an evolutionary based one.

Anarcho
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Apr 4 2008 08:45
posi wrote:
Also, what is the anarchist definition of 'the state'? If the Marxist one is wrong - and presumably anarchists say it is, because they don't use it - what is their precise alternative?

Start here, An Anarchist FAQ:

B.2 Why are anarchists against the state?

And for a discussion of the difference between anarchism and marxism:

Section H - Why do anarchists oppose state socialism?

It covers the question of the state, defence of the revolution, and so on. I'm revising section H just now, but this is generally expanding on what is there.

Anarcho
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Apr 4 2008 08:54
posi wrote:
He did. The proletariat are the dictator, the ruling class are the subjects. That's the point.

In other words, he thought that the ruling class, the capitalists, would remain in charge of the means of life? So the proletariat would have political power (i.e., an elected socialist government) but the capitalists would have economic power?

If he said "defend the revolution against counter-revolution by the ex-ruling class" then that would make sense, and be the same as the anarchist position (as expounded by Bakunin who assumed expropriation of capital at the same time as the destruction of the state). But he obviously did not, with the ruling class still in position of economic power and subjected to the political rule by the proletariat...

As Lenin's Russia showed, this simply did not work -- and this forced the Bolsheviks to replace state regulated capitalism with state capitalism. The workers, however, were trying to expropriate the capitalists directly -- and stopped by the Bolsheviks in favour of nationalisation.

Ultimately, the whole notion of "the dictatorship of the proletariat" is confused. If capital is expropriated, then "the proletariat" does not exist. If not, then the proletariat exists and so capital remains and so the ruling class has economic power and so "political power" is limited...