Question for ICC members

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boomerang
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Feb 20 2015 15:09
Question for ICC members

Hi… I hope there are some ICC members on here!

Recently I read the ICC pamphlet “The Period of Transition” http://en.internationalism.org/pamphlets/transition

It says that during a revolution, in the immediate period after the state has been overthrown, there will be a dual organizational structure. On the one hand, the workers councils. On the other hand, the “territorial soviets” which include not just the working class but all the non-exploiting classes. (But capitalists and the old political class are excluded.)

This raises a couple questions…

1. What is the division between what the workers councils are in charge of and what the territorial soviets are in charge of? (It says the workers councils are in charge of the economic program. Are the territorial councils allowed to be self-governing in all other areas? What exactly do the territorial soviets have control over?)

2. The pamphlet says that the workers councils have a monopoly of armed force. However, I found a couple old threads on the libcom forums where members of the ICC seemed to be saying that there would be two militias – a militia of the workers councils to protect working class interests, and another militia that included revolutionaries of all non-exploiting classes to fight a civil war against the bourgeois counterrevolution. So I’m confused – which of the two is the ICC position?

Thanks a bunch!

boomerang
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Feb 20 2015 16:43

And even if you're NOT in the ICC, but have an opinion on the above, I'd be glad to hear your perspective, too.

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Feb 20 2015 18:16

Not an easy question because we are "peering into the mists of the future", and in some ways it has become even harder in the last few decades in which many of the old centres of working class struggle - at least in the 'central' capitalist countries - have been dismantled, and the working class is having a great difficulty in finding its sense of itself, its class identity.
But fundamentally, the problem is still posed: the revolution will be led by the working class, but it will also need to bring with it all the other non-exploiting layers of the population, such as small independent producers, or vestiges of those layers who have never been integrated into the working class. To talk only of workers' councils in the transition period means either denying the distinction between the working class and these others layers, which would weaken the autonomy of the working class, or it would mean brutally suppressing any attempt by these layers to participate in an organised way in the revolutionary process.
The question is then how do the specific organs of the working class relate to the 'general' organisations of the population; through discussion, debate, persuasion, through the effort to integrate all the other lays into the proletariat, but the latter "disdains to conceal its aims" and thus doesn't hide the fact that we are talking about a dictatorship of the proletariat which has to take overall charge of the political and economic programme of the transitional period.
Regarding the question of armed force: in the best of situations, the workers' militias are the armed wing of the workers councils and a 'general army' will not be necessary. But there could be situations of intense civil war where forming such an army would be necessary.
In our view, such a body would be precisely a 'necessary evil', ie a state organ which would have to treated with considerable care and even distrust. The same applies to all organs which don't directly express the interests of the proletariat, such as the structures made up of the "territorial soviets" because they would be the first to become vulnerable to the pressures of capital.

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plasmatelly
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Feb 20 2015 18:42

I dunno.. I don't really want to open up old wounds, but I have serious problems with the separation of the political with the economic. CWO coms at least see themselves as working class Party members agitating within the context of councils. Just who are going to be the first few workers to set up such politically shaped unions as a works council who isn't already an anarchosyndicalist, council communist or other such similar type and yet not a Party member is not nearly as clear as could be..
Left-communism's complete lack of faith in the revolutionary potential of the working class without the guidance of the Party is something that should stick in the craw of all anarchosyndicalists and anarchists; are we to suppose that it is ICC/ICT members that hope to set up works councils in their workplaces to be guided by their Party? Are the ICC/ICT proposing unionising action? Of course not. Someone else does the graft, they do the thinking.
Anarchosyndicalists see the union as a political structure, one in which workers will develop revolutionary self-organisation experience from the real world of fighting for the small stuff, and self-organisation means exactly that - not being led by a separate Party of (with respect) overly serious intellectuals.
And although it is a reflection of their politics, personally, I think the ICC don't do themselves any favours when they describe revolutionary conditions and structures (councils, soviets, the coming Party, etc) in such a predetermined manner, and especially seeing as they aren't playing any decernible part in building those conditions.
Certainly the left-communists can knock out some excellent analysis - not that I agree with everything they say; and much of how they see the world and how it should be reorganised is shared with libertarian communists, but imo there can be no rapprochement between anarchosyndicalism on the ground and left communism - self-organisation means just that, leaving no space for Party directives or influence.

boomerang
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Feb 20 2015 18:45

Thanks for your reply, Alf.

Quote:
Regarding the question of armed force: in the best of situations, the workers' militias are the armed wing of the workers councils and a 'general army' will not be necessary. But there could be situations of intense civil war where forming such an army would be necessary.

This clears up question #2. But I'm still as confused as ever about question #1. What do the territorial soviets have control over? Are these self-governing in all other areas besides the economic program?

boomerang
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Feb 20 2015 19:00

Hi Plasmatelly. I'm not into there being a party, either. I don't know a lot about the ICC's politics, although I've learned a lot from some of their history articles. My interest here is in the position of the classes who aren't workers but aren't exploiters or class enemies, either. In my search for different ideas about this, I came across the ICC pamphlet I linked in my OP. I'm trying to keep an open mind about different ideas on this issue... "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" is a saying I've long appreciated. (The bathwater in my opinion being the party and the state, but there might be a baby somewhere!) My politics have often been enriched by those with different views from mine.

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Feb 20 2015 19:50
plasmatelly wrote:
Left-communism's complete lack of faith in the revolutionary potential of the working class without the guidance of the Party is something that should stick in the craw of all anarchosyndicalists and anarchists

I don't think this is accurate. While perhaps applicable to the Italian communist left, certainly the German-Dutch current emphasized the revolutionary potential of the proletariat without the management of some party--I think this comes across pretty clearly in Pannekoek, Mattick, etc. Even the ICC, which I think traces its roots more from Bordigism, views the role of a "revolutionary party" as a center of education and agitation IIRC rather than something that directs events Bolshevik-style. Rather than an indication of a lack of faith in the working class, it's based more on a recognition that inevitably some people--like libcom posters, for example--will have a greater sense at an earlier point of class consciousness and communist militancy and that it makes sense for such people to work together to encourage revolutionary movement.

I do share the skepticism of what seems like a somewhat rigid view of the series of organizational forms and events that socialist revolution would entail, though.

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Feb 20 2015 20:33

Tyrion - is there a current of left-communism that is opposed to the notion of the Party? Point taken that much of the ideas of the role of the Party is about education, and iirc more so in the ICC than ICT - though this isn't something I would split hairs over, being fundamentally opposed to outside influence on what could possibly be libertarian councils! But to illustrate what I'd say was a complete lack of faith in the revolutionary potential of the working class, I'll quote from the ICT who in their words are from the Italian tradition:

Quote:
The overthrow of capitalism is only possible through a revolution, i.e. the conquest of political power by the proletariat, outside and against all bourgeois pseudo-democratic channels (elections, reforms, etc ...) mechanisms which are specially designed to avoid any radical change in society. The forum of our "democracy", the bodies of power of the revolution, will instead be the workers’ councils, mass meetings in which delegates will be entrusted with specific mandates and will be recallable at any time. But these organizations will never become real bodies of proletarian power, without the approval of a clear programme aimed at the abolition of exploitation and, therefore, the elimination of classes, for a society of "freely associated producers" who work for the human needs. This programme does not fall from the sky, but is articulated by that section of the working class which tries to grasp the lessons of past struggles, regrouping themselves at an international level to form a party that fights within the workers’ councils against capitalism for socialism. This is not a party of government that would replace the class, but a party of agitation and political leadership on the basis of that programme. Only if the most advanced sectors of the proletariat recognise themselves in the political leadership of the party will we be on the road to the revolutionary socialist transformation.

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Feb 20 2015 20:36

I posted this before I read plasmatelly's last post. I will have to come back to this later - busy couple of days ahead.

I didn't want to be too 'predetermining' in talking about the organisational forms of the future and tried to avoid any definite schema. But the basic question remains: how to understand the difference between the unitary organisations of the working class, and the organised expressions of other classes? This was easier to answer in Russia in 1917 where there was a sharper divide between the working class and the main other non-exploiting social force - the peasantry.

But even then there were many transitional layers (poor peasants, day labourers who owned a small amount of land, etc) and in general there can't be an absolute separation between the working class and the other layers. Today, in regions of capitalism where there are no longer many large industrial units, the forms of self-organisation will not be exactly the same as the soviets of 1917, which were most importantly councils of delegates from workplace assemblies. The workers' councils of the future will have to incorporate the considerable sectors of the class which aren't concentrated in big workplaces or in any workplace (the unemployed, retired, precarious, etc etc). Probably neighbourhood assemblies will play a bigger role in such regions - we saw glimpses of this during the Indignados movement in Spain - but there you are immediately faced with the problem that such assemblies would be more likely to have a mixed class composition.

These are real problems and the solutions to them are not merely sociological - they are in essence political. The working class will define itself above all by its struggle and its programme, i.e.the development of a conscious project for revolutionary transformation.

I agree with Tyrion on the underlying issue of class consciousness. Revolutionary organisations are the product of an 'advanced' level of thinking in the class, of an avante-garde which can take different forms. They arise because class consciousness arises in an uneven manner, initially being expressed most coherently by very small minorities. The function of these minorities is to elaborate this coherence as deeply as possible, and to spread it as widely as possible; they would be deluded if they thought they could do this from a position of command or power.

Anyone posting on this forum is already putting themselves in this 'front line' position to a greater or lesser extent.

boomerang
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Feb 20 2015 21:33

It's cool to have a general debate about ICC's politics, but I have a feeling this could easily explode into one of those monster-sized threads. Which is fine, as long as my OP doesn't become a casualty of the war! wink

Alf, I hate to be a pain, but could you take a crack at my question? (question 1 in my OP, which I also restated in post #5)

Edit:

Quote:
I do share the skepticism of what seems like a somewhat rigid view of the series of organizational forms and events that socialist revolution would entail, though.

Just as an FYI, I'm just trying to find some clarity on the issue of the non-exploiting classes, something I have a lot of confusion on... I wouldn't say I'm searching for a rigid view, but I am trying to gather a variety of perspectives from people with revolutionary politics.

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Feb 20 2015 21:40
plasmatelly wrote:
Tyrion - is there a current of left-communism that is opposed to the notion of the Party?

Well, it depends on what we mean by "party." If an organization rejects parliamentary engagement and rejects more insurrectionary methods of seizing control of the state or otherwise asserting itself in a managerial position over the proletariat, should it still be viewed as a political party and warrant the same attitude we have toward parliamentary parties or Leninist groups? The ICC's conception of a revolutionary party sounds to me more comparable to the FAI and its role in the CNT.

It's unfortunate that non-Bordigist left communists even seem so attached to the use of the term party to describe a militant, explicitly communist organization that arises during the process of socialist revolution, since this seems so unlike what a political party is generally recognized as that I think it causes more confusion that anything.

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Feb 20 2015 23:44

Boomerang - not sure how much the question can be answered, since we can only have very general outlines. The idea is that the specific organs of the working class - centralised on a global scale - are 'in charge' of the whole process of transformation, and as they carry this out, they are interacting with the organs of the other classes, trying to integrate the general population into the proletariat. In this context there can be any number of forms of delegation of specific tasks to local bodies (eg, perhaps many of the tasks of present-day local councils would be taken up by neighbourhood assemblies and the delegate bodies they create). But I don't think we can get into the kind of diagrams that Cardan produced in his text 'On the content of socialism'.

boomerang
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Feb 21 2015 17:45

Thanks Alf. I take it then that the ICC doesn't have an official position in answer to my question, but just sort of a general principle that whatever the territorial soviets do have authority over cannot overlap with or interfere with the "process of transformation", as you put it. But I guess this means the territorial soviets could get involved in things like choosing what services were needed in the area, how to deal with environmental issues, deciding on health regulations for food production, safety regulations for transportation, figuring out what should be done with an empty lot (to just name some random examples).

If that's all it is, I'm not at all sure why you would call this a state? It just sounds like the self-management of communities.

If the territorial soviets are only dealing with things as innocuous as this, that couldn't interfere with communisation, then why not also let the former (and I stress former) bourgeoisie get in on this, too? These territorial soviets have no militia, and they aren't authorized to involve themselves in anything that could interfere with communising, they don't have the power to do any harm to the revolutionary process. Am I missing something?

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Feb 21 2015 11:05

Tyrion wrote -

Quote:
Well, it depends on what we mean by "party." If an organization rejects parliamentary engagement and rejects more insurrectionary methods of seizing control of the state or otherwise asserting itself in a managerial position over the proletariat, should it still be viewed as a political party and warrant the same attitude we have toward parliamentary parties or Leninist groups? The ICC's conception of a revolutionary party sounds to me more comparable to the FAI and its role in the CNT.

I think we both agree that the term Party is misleading inasmuch it isn't a parliamentary party - however the difference still stands that the left-communist concept (and let's not be picky - the word organisation would do) of the Party is a one of a cadre in political agreement with a program of education and organisational leadership - or as you put it, in a managerial position over the proletariat.
Having said this, I really wanted to respond to your comparison of the FAI within the CNT. I'm not sure this is a fair comparison; the FAI was set up as a specific organisation in a time of both massive CNT expansion and oppression. All members of the FAI were CNTistas and were engaged in building the union and organising workers, and afaik membership to the FAI was more on the basis that comrades were approached to join (or certainly so in the early days) - certainly something quite unlike building the Party. What I think would justify your comparison would be if the ICC was comprised of members of a radical union that wanted to expand its membership whilst retaining a developed core in political agreement - this is possibly the key issue; ICC are not remotely engaged in building councils/unions, and so remain a political party very much separate from any ambition of base economic power, instead suggesting to lead/influence those base unions.

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Feb 21 2015 15:32

There will be no ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ because the social revolution will be the abolition of all classes. The combative organs through which the working class launches its struggle against capital and the state, becomes, upon the immediate seizure of the means of production and distribution, the same organs through which production is held in common and consciously guided according to collectively determined needs and desires.

Prior to the decisive break (“immediate seizure”) from the old world, it is important that the working class becomes self-organised. However, it is not important that the peasantry and the petite-bourgeoisie becomes organised by the working class. The working class cannot organise these “non-exploiting and non-exploited” classes; it cannot direct them to take part in the revolution. It can only open up its organisations to those classes, during the revolutionary process, so long as they acknowledge that this process itself is a struggle against themselves as “peasants” and “petite-bourgeoisie”. The burden is on the latter to “do something” about themselves, not the working class.

Because once the working class seizes control over all means of production, relinquishes itself and all other classes, there can be no “peasants” without their “plot of land”. There can be no “petite-bourgeoisie” without capital, commodity production, exchange, money, etc. For those elements that fail to acknowledge the revolution, it would seem as if everything was swept away under their feet. Because it did, without their participation. They will have two choices; act as if they are still “petite-bourgeois” or whatever and attempt to re-claim what they’ve lost, or join the revolutionary formation of the ‘single human community’, which is not a “dictatorship of the proletariat” but open to all. Once again, burden is on them.

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Feb 21 2015 15:26

No offense, I think the reason the ICC still talks about the "dictatorship of the proletariat", "party", "economic program", separate from "politics", "state", as well "transition", is because their still under the sway of the bourgeois radicalism known as "Leninism". They have to shake it off somehow. Perhaps by going back to Marx's critique of political economy.

boomerang
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Feb 21 2015 17:46

Plasmatelly: Let me just check if I understand you correctly....

I think you're saying that while the FAI and ICC both intended/intend to be a leading influence for the working class (in terms of "leadership of ideas"), these same intentions or goals should be judged very differently, because while the FAI was immersed in working class organizations (the CNT unions) and did their agitating/organizing/educating work within them, the ICC is not immersed in working class organizations, so the only way it could exert its desired influence would be as a separate and external leadership.

So I take it you don’t have a problem with a political organization that tries to exert an influence or promote a leadership of its ideas, but what you do have a problem with is when that organization is disconnected from the class struggle?

(By the way, I know very little about the ICC, so I have no idea whether it’s true that the ICC isn’t involved in class struggle… I’m not trying to make accusations, just trying to understand my comrade’s insights on the “leadership of ideas” by a political organization, which is an important issue I’d like to develop my own ideas on.)

boomerang
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Feb 21 2015 17:46

Agent of the Fifth International: I like your take on this! Ideally, this is how I see it, too. That a person’s class position in the “old society” (capitalism) shouldn’t matter, and what matters is whether they’re in solidarity with the revolution.

A couple questions, though…

Quote:
there can be no “peasants” without their “plot of land”. There can be no “petite-bourgeoisie” without capital, commodity production, exchange, money, etc.

Do you see any problem with “peasants” keeping a plot of land which they work on, as they did before, just with their family? (rather than collectivising) And do you see any problem with the “non-exploiting self-employed” continuing to work alone, with their personal tools or whatever?

I personally don’t see the problem with this. The problem is private-ownership, not private-use… right? As long as we are abolishing the market, profit, and money, then I don’t think it matters whether someone works alone with a personal sized portion of the means of production, or whether they work as part of a collective.

Next question…

Quote:
They will have two choices; act as if they are still “petite-bourgeois” or whatever and attempt to re-claim what they’ve lost, or join the revolutionary formation of the ‘single human community’, which is not a “dictatorship of the proletariat” but open to all.

This one’s more complicated. Like I said, this answer is ideal to me… it makes sense, it appeals to me ethically and logically. But I also have doubts and concerns about it.

First of all, the period before the state is overthrown. Class will still exist. Should we be building neighbourhood assemblies that include people of the “non-exploiting, non-exploited classes” and should these multi-class bodies be electing delegates to councils and forming federations?

We can also assume that we’d need to be building militias to overthrow the state and fight against the counterrevolution. And as the Friends of Durruti pointed out, its important for militias to have central coordination. FOD said the people coordinating this should be elected from the unions, ensuring working class control. Do you think we should have such people elected from both workers councils and the “territorial councils” (for lack of better world) which are rooted in neighborhoods and include all the non-exploiting classes?

And then after the state is overthrown. If people who used to be members of classes other than the working class are able to have equal democratic rights within the councils, etc., how can we trust that they wouldn’t just vote against our communizing measures, to try to preserve some sort of market society? (Personally, I think the former working class could just as easily want to preserve market society, the self-managed capitalism kind, and that the way to prevent such a thing isn’t to exclude the non-exploiting classes, but for anarchists/communists to press for the leadership of ideas. On the other hand, I bring this up because other revolutionaries I talk to keep telling me this would be a problem, and that the former petite-bourgeoisie and peasants can't be trusted the way workers can.)

I guess you could say that we would just exclude people who didn’t support the revolutionary/communizing program. This is sort of how I think. But then, I realize this could lead to some really tyrannical shit. If we start excluding people based on their ideas, that can get ugly very quickly. Who’s to say what the revolutionary program is? Who’s to say who should be excluded? If it doesn't lead to tyranny, it could also lead to several factions fighting each other in a civil war.

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Feb 21 2015 17:47

To all: I know a lot of these questions are about things I most likely won't ever deal with personally, but these issues stump me so much I sometimes feel very pessimistic that revolution could ever work. Sure, it's not my job to solve the problems of the future, but I like to at least have an understanding of how things could work out, so I can have some peace of mind in imagining a better future for life on this planet.

And hey, who knows? They say that when revolution breaks out, the ones most surprised are the revolutionaries! Maybe I will live to be part of one. (*wishful thinking*)

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Feb 21 2015 18:00

boomerang wrote -

Quote:
So I take it you don’t have a problem with a political organization that tries to exert an influence or promote a leadership of its ideas, but what you do have a problem with is when that organization is disconnected from the class struggle?

I'm speaking as an individual here. There's a difference between political organisation and what the FAI were trying to do. If you are strictly talking about a political organisation like the ICC (one where it has no economic involvement) then I most certainly do have a problem with exerting influence on other peoples struggles. However, the FAI were - for the purposes of differentiating - more of a caucus within the workers movement that was the CNT in the 30's. I have no problem whatsoever with the idea of a specific group within a council/union federation, providing the group joined on honourable terms as opposed to entryists (shared political program; joined as fellow workers; built the union). Again, I speak as an individual, but personally I welcome the idea of specific group/s. (It's just a tad ironic that the leadership of the CNT were typically FAIistas, and that during the revolution they accepted governmental positions - but this is more of a failure of federal democracy IMO)

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Feb 21 2015 19:01

To clarify, I was comparing this theoretical "revolutionary party" that the ICC writes about with the FAI, not the ICC itself. As I understand, the ICC doesn't view itself as the "revolutionary party" that it talks about. But perhaps an ICC member should address this issue.

Interestingly, on a different note, the FAI often didn't occupy leadership positions in the CNT for much of its history. According to Stuart Christie's book, FAIstas usually preferred to avoid being put in a position where their own views and militancy might come into conflict with the duties of a mandated delegate. This made it easier for the regional and national committees to become dominated by a reformist faction and brought about the conflict with Angel Pestana and his supporters.

boomerang
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Feb 21 2015 19:11

Thanks Plasma. Your position on this sounds reasonable to me! BTW, as you might have guessed, when I used the term "political organization" I didn't mean it like how you describe, I meant an organization with a particular political program, such as anarchism.

petey
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Feb 21 2015 19:37
Tyrion wrote:
It's unfortunate that non-Bordigist left communists even seem so attached to the use of the term party to describe a militant, explicitly communist organization that arises during the process of socialist revolution, since this seems so unlike what a political party is generally recognized as that I think it causes more confusion that anything.

i've also been confused by this use of the term, but ever-longer exposure to the milieu makes it less confusing. i'm assuming this is why the terms 'current,' 'tendency,' 'organization' are used in the names. but perhaps you mean that when the party comes, it will then too not look like what is thought of as a party by most.

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Feb 21 2015 22:00
boomerang wrote:
Do you see any problem with “peasants” keeping a plot of land which they work on, as they did before, just with their family? (rather than collectivising) And do you see any problem with the “non-exploiting self-employed” continuing to work alone, with their personal tools or whatever?

I personally don’t have a problem with individual producers (peasants) carving out a livelihood outside of the ‘single (world) human community’. As long as they don’t get in the way, I guess its fine. The real question is, why would they prefer to remain “peasants”, and not join the new society?

As for the “petite-bourgeoisie”, you have to remember this is a specifically capitalist category, referring to those people whose lives depend on the sale of the products of their labor, not their labor-power. In that respect, they are unlike the working class. But they are also unlike the peasantry in the sense that they don’t produce for immediate use. They do not have the means to provide for their own livelihood. In a capitalist society, they have to sell what they produce in exchange for money, which in turn can be used to purchase means of subsistence. After the revolution, capitalism won’t exist. Where are they going to get the means of subsistence that they can’t produce for themselves?

Do they just trade their products for what they need with ‘the commune’? And how do they upkeep their means of production? Surely, those means don’t last forever? Does the ‘the commune’ have to supply them with fresh materials and tools to work with? Should we just give them free access to whatever they need, like the members of ‘the commune’? And most importantly of all, how long would ‘the commune’ continue to accept what they produce, since what they produce was largely determined by and for a bygone, non-existent "capitalist market"?

boomerang wrote:
First of all, the period before the state is overthrown. Class will still exist. Should we be building neighbourhood assemblies that include people of the “non-exploiting, non-exploited classes” and should these multi-class bodies be electing delegates to councils and forming federations?

At a period of near-revolution (before the abolition of the state), when class-wide mass organisations such as workplace/neighborhood assemblies and delegate councils have been formed, we can only assume the working class has achieved the mass revolutionary consciousness necessary to carry out social revolution. This working class should be able to articulate the goals of the social revolution (i.e. a process of abolishing all classes) it seeks to carry out. This means that the mass organisations they create will be open to other members of society, however they must agree to the revolutionary goals and principles articulated by the working class, i.e. accept their own abolition.

In a way, much like how minority political organisations seek to play the role of ‘leadership of ideas’ within the working class, the working class itself (as a whole) must assume the ‘leadership of ideas’ throughout society.

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Feb 22 2015 07:54

Boomerang, I may have given the wrong impression regarding the territorial soviets. There is no reason to think that they would be restricted to being purely local bodies. If the proletariat needs its own forms of centralisation, the same will apply to the population in general, above all when it comes to planning and negotiations on a regional and global basis. If the territorial soviets in this or that city sent delegates to a further congress of soviets and so on, they would look very much like a kind of Commune state. Why a state? Because Marx defines the state as the "organisation of society" in a situation of class divisions, which can't be done away with on day one of the revolution. The overall function of the Commune state is the same as the state in its pre-historic origins: to contain social conflicts and prevent them from tearing society apart (as outlined in Engels book The origins of the State etc) . The problem for the working class is how to maintain its social and political independence within this general organisation of society - how to exert its 'dictatorship' over it.

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Feb 22 2015 20:19

Why not a state?

Because the revolutionary movement of the working class and its oppressed allies will be building a "new society within the shell of the old".

Why would it be a state?

If, and only if, it prefigures the building of a "new class structure within the shell of the old".

The latter is the aim of authoritarian Marxists, of classical social-democracy and "revolutionary" vanguardism of all stripes.

That really should have been the slogan of groups/parties who are firmly in that tradition.

[Note: I am not saying the ICC is in that tradition. I just think they need to rethink their use of the "state".]

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Feb 22 2015 22:02

Agent FI:
By "building in the shell of the old", do you mean building particular forms of organisation?

Regarding the second point: in the millennia between the dissolution of the archaic community and the definite constitution of class societies, a 'semi-state' emerged from the moving soil of that transition. It was built by human beings, but they were only dimly conscious of what they were building.

In the far more rapidly shifting soil of the transition between capitalism and communism, a new kind of semi-state will also emerge, just as it did in the early days of the Russian revolution. Far wiser to recognise it for what it is and learn how to contain it and subdue it, than for it to creep up on you unawares.

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Feb 22 2015 22:20
Alf wrote:
Agent FI:
By "building in the shell of the old", do you mean building particular forms of organisation?

Regarding the second point: in the millennia between the dissolution of the archaic community and the definite constitution of class societies, a 'semi-state' emerged from the moving soil of that transition. It was built by human beings, but they were only dimly conscious of what they were building.

In the far more rapidly shifting soil of the transition between capitalism and communism, a new kind of semi-state will also emerge, just as it did in the early days of the Russian revolution. Far wiser to recognise it for what it is and learn how to contain it and subdue it, than for it to creep up on you unawares.

So the mass organisations consciously created by the working class, in their struggle against capitalism and the state, has to be recognized as a "semi-state", before it "creeps" up on them? They will be unaware of the emergence of their own organisations?

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Feb 22 2015 23:41

But we are talking about mass organisations which are not expressions of the working class, but of the "population in general", which is not the same thing

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Feb 23 2015 15:32

Sorry to interpose rather late but I don't come here often. In fact a sympathiser allerted me to plasmatelly's insertion of the ICT into this discussion (#8), He has done us the honour of quoting us at length but drawn a conclusion from the quote that this represents a lack of confidence in the working class, On the contrary it is the working class which will forge the tools of its own emancipation one of which will be an international party. As it happens by highlighting the separation between economic and political struggle (the former he deems working class the ;latter it seems is not) he has stumbled on one of the differences in left communism. The ICT does not believe that the political element can remain separate from the economic which is why we advocate factory groups, workplaces groups and territorial groups which are involved in local struggle and made up of those in and not in the political organisation but essentially their role is political - to do what it says in the Communist Manifesto of pointing out the line of march which includes the necessity to go beyond demands and towards the overthrow of capitailism. Another difference here is that the ICC in its statutes bans members from joining unions unless they have to due to closed shops etc. The ICT is the other way round. We encourage members to be in unions (but not to take official positions in them as the Trots do) if they think as individuals this can put them in contact with more workers. We have no illusions that the unions are anything but state agencies but where the working class is to be found is everywhere dominated by capitalist institutions.

As to Boomerang's original question I agree with Alf's original warning that all this stuff about the future revolution and how we get to communism is highly speculative but on the other hand we have to do it in order to map out for people how we see the new society emerging. We disagree with the ICC's view (or rather one view held in the ICC) that the working class will need to create a separate body that will do all the dirty work of the revolution and be called "the state" which the working class will then have to dispose of when the job's done.(I am sure Alf will correct me if I have oversummarised). we think the working class solved the problem in the last revolutionary wave with the formation of the workers councils (armed and supported by the militias they controlled). These bodes can both be the dictatorship of the proletariat and wither away once the last vestiges of bourgeois rule are crushed so that they cease to be political powers but become the administrative mechanism of a society of freely constituted individuals where class, money, frontiers etc have been abolished. In the Russian Revolution the revolution was lost mainly because it failed to go international but the form of decline was due to a combination of the Bolshevik's social democratic error (the formation of Sovnarkom) and economic and military necessity which meant that the soviets (the Bolsheviks being the only party that stood for soviet power) were undermined and the door to counter-revolution in which the party supplanted a retreating class took place. The conversion of the Red Guards into the Red Army was a state building process which also destroyed the self-activity of the masses. However I have to confess Booemerang that we are just coming back (after years of not discussing it) to discuss all this in the ICT and there are a number of different takes on it. The discussion here (at least until I stepped in!) has been very interesting and it would be good to hear more.

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Feb 23 2015 16:31

I agree that plamatelly's quote from the ICT didn't at all prove what he though it did. I didn't reply because it seemed it could take the discussion away from boomerang's original question.
I agree with some elements of Cleishbotham's reply but it seems to me it doesn't take into account the underlying reasons for the emergence of state forms in the transition period. In Russia it was particularly clear that there couldn't just be workers councils because the vast mass of the peasants (in the villages and in the army) also began to organise through the soviet system. At the same time the growth of the administrative apparatus wasn't something decided in full consciousness by the Bolsheviks but was a product of the chaotic situation that emerged after the insurrection and especially during the civil war. As Lenin put it in 1922: we thought we were driving the car, but in reality it has been driving us.