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Kautsky in Libcom library outrage!!!

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Barry Kade
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Aug 6 2005 04:18
Kautsky in Libcom library outrage!!!

WTF?!!!

I know its probably intended to be a fairly eclectic collection and not restructed to pure libertarian communists -

- but including Kautsky, the 'pope' of the second international? roll eyes

Mike Harman
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Aug 6 2005 09:10

Barry. We've inherited a large selection of articles from the (now closed but soon to be something else) endpage.org archives - over 2000 texts. As such the library has changed quite a lot in terms of coverage, and yes it contains some things that it wouldn't have if we'd continued building it from scratch - this goes both ways.

We've just about finished putting the endpage stuff on - should be finished by the end of this month. We'll also be putting additional material on from elsewhere on the web, and hopefully be digitising some stuff that's currently not out there ourselves. We plan to organise the material with stuff like reading lists, tendency guides, maybe personal highlight sections, and to write introductions to most of the material - which will be critical when they need to be. That's going to take a while though.

Nice to see people using it!

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 8 2005 12:50

Is the Kautsky thinkg rare, or part of an agreemend to upload everything in a particular batch? Otherwise I can't see the need to have it there. If we lose the libertarian-communist focus we'll just be uploading everything in sight...

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the button
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Aug 8 2005 13:11

..... on a similar theme, I saw Hegel's Philosophy of Right was on there. And these young 'uns bitch & moan on about post-structuralism being incomprehensible. roll eyes

tongue

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Volin
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Aug 8 2005 13:12

yeah, I also hear Stalin wrote a few things on socialism.

Kautsky?! angry

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Volin
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Aug 8 2005 13:29

^ why the fuck not? I'd much rather read the ramblings of a mad libertarian clown than an authoritarian one.

redyred
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Aug 8 2005 13:34
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Is their no editorial measures for the library and if not can we look forward to the Wombles and CIRCA being added?

Stop being a drama queen revol, it's not that bad. Endpage is the only thing that the library is transferring wholesale, and yeah there are going to be a few things we'll probably get rid of, although now the priority is just getting it done. If it was simply up to the people adding the stuff what went in and what didn't, there would doubtless be disagreements, but once it's all up we can take some time looking through it and come to some group decisions.

In the future, we'll just be taking bits from here and there, and obviously we'll be more discerning.

We've also been doing a few tongue-in-cheek intros to some of the worse texts, for example:

http://libcom.org/library/condition-english-working-class-engels

I still can't believe the others made me add that stupid poem by Makhno though.

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Volin
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Aug 8 2005 13:48
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Whenever a district is distinguished for especial filth and especial ruinousness, the explorer may safely count upon meeting chiefly those Celtic faces which one recognises at the first glance as different from the Saxon physiognomy of the native, and the singing, aspirate brogue which the true Irishman never loses.

...another reason I love the Celtic peoples and find Engels to be a Wanker. 8)

Eirichibh!

gentle revolutionary
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Aug 9 2005 21:50
Catch wrote:
Barry. We've inherited a large selection of articles from the (now closed but soon to be something else) endpage.org archives - over 2000 texts. As such the library has changed quite a lot in terms of coverage, and yes it contains some things that it wouldn't have if we'd continued building it from scratch - this goes both ways.

We've just about finished putting the endpage stuff on - should be finished by the end of this month. We'll also be putting additional material on from elsewhere on the web, and hopefully be digitising some stuff that's currently not out there ourselves. We plan to organise the material with stuff like reading lists, tendency guides, maybe personal highlight sections, and to write introductions to most of the material - which will be critical when they need to be. That's going to take a while though.

Nice to see people using it!

Thanks for the good work! I actually think there should also be a special section on the website dedicated to presenting the most serious marxist (and other) criticisms of anarchism/elements of anarchism - like http://www.marxists.de/theory/whatis/syndic.htm, a very interesting critique of syndicalism (not completely correct of course) - which I'm able to admit as a libertarian socialist (and a somewhat informed, non-dogmatic syndicalist). The aim wouldn't be to turn libertarians into Leninists, but to sway (a little bit) the religious approach to anarchist doctrines.

Mike Harman
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Aug 9 2005 22:34

gentle revolutionary, that's a good idea. I'll have a look at the marxists.org page you linked to.

As to Kautsky. If we were to discuss whether we put up every text in the endpage archive, that'd be over 2000 discussions, if we discussed every author, it'd be over 100 discussions. So deciding not to put something up is going to take way longer than actually uploading it - we decided better to get it there so we can all have a look at it (and wince in some cases, the "manarchy debates" aren't there yet, although they may go in a special parody, witting or not section!), and take it down later if it's shit, or just slag it off in the introduction - especially if it's not easily available.

redtwister
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Aug 12 2005 16:08

As one of the two main endpage people, I wanted to drop a line on this, even though the thread is quite old now.

We included a variety of materials from a range of people, some of it was intended to be directly libertarian communist stuff, some of it was intended to offer people access to some material that may be valuable to understanding that material, and some of it was critical of various tendencies.

As a result, we put Hegel in because Marx's theoretical work makes a lot more sense if you seriously engage with Hegel. Even Bakunin, Proudhon and Stirner developed their ideas in a direct engagement with Hegel. Not to mention the simple fact that many libertarian communist Marxists in the 20th century were serious students of Hegel (Lukacs, Korsch, the Frankfurt School, the post-68 Germans, CLR James, Raya Dunayevskaya, The Situationists and more recently the Open Marxism tendency, Cyril Smith, Aufheben, Paresh Chattopadhyay, C.J. Arthur, Loren Goldner, and others.) Hence, Hegel was on the site for people who wanted to do the work, not simply to piss off the Deleuzoguattarians. Removing it to suit current anarchist-autonomist taste for post-structuralists is not a very good reason. But hey, its your site...

We also included Kautsky's thing on imperialism because no one can find it easily elsewhere and it seems to be a touchstone for critical responses ranging from Pannekoek to Luxemburg to Lenin.

Some stuff we included exactly because it was insipid, but from our own milieu, as a reminder of how not to proceed.

Between us, we also had divergent views on material. IMO, Deleuze, Guattari and Derrida aren't worth wiping my backside with. Tom was rather fond of Deleuze and Guattari (and Hegel gave him a headache.) So there was compromise.

We hope not too much of the stuff is cleansed out, but frankly the best collection of Marx and Engels is on Marxists.org anyway, so if you don't like Engels (and there are reasons for and against), it really shouldn't matter.

Do you really need to completely reproduce what everyone else does?

The more important stuff is from the living people and providing a comprehensive repository of substantive libertarian communist ideas from the broad spectrum, and older texts that would otherwise be unavilable.

BTW, complaints about how hard someone is to read are irrelevant as to whether it is valuable or not. Rather, the question is whether or not the effort is worth it and whether, as a reader, you are willing to make the effort. Intellectual laziness is no excuse.

Comparing Deleuze to Hegel in terms of 'readability' is irrelevant, as well. Depending on what tradition you spend your time reading, making the shift in language and concepts can be very difficult and making them talk to each other can be even harder. Rather, what do we get conceptually from each that make one or the other, or both, worth reading? And ultimately, if all you are looking for are authors with 'good politics', there are a lot of people you shouldn't bother with. Of course, that is a pretty shoddy, anti-intellectual approach and maybe theory is something best avoided then...

cheers,

Chris

Mike Harman
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Aug 12 2005 18:05
redtwister wrote:
As one of the two main endpage people, I wanted to drop a line on this, even though the thread is quite old now.

We included a variety of materials from a range of people, some of it was intended to be directly libertarian communist stuff, some of it was intended to offer people access to some material that may be valuable to understanding that material, and some of it was critical of various tendencies.

That was my impression of endpage, and it's a great selection of work. To develop useful politics it's important to read stuff you disagree with as much as things you think you ought to agree with.

The difference with libcom.org is it's as much intended for people new to libertarian communist politics as it is for people reading seriously into it, and we're concerned about providing stuff we disagree with to people uncritically and without comment though. If people read Kautsky or Manarchy as the first thing they see on the site (bearing in mind a lot of our traffic is from search engines), then they could go away with funny ideas about libertarian communism. My personal view on that is that short intros placing things in historical and theoretical context fix that issue. I think we'd only clean stuff out if we really hated it AND it was duplicated extensively elsewhere on the web.

Quote:
Removing it to suit current anarchist-autonomist taste for post-structuralists is not a very good reason. But hey, its your site...

I personally reckon it's well worth having the Hegel in there, and nearly everyone on this site

Quote:
really

doesn't like post-structuralism. See the responses to a thread someone just started for examples. Nothing will get removed for that reason I can assure you.

Quote:

We also included Kautsky's thing on imperialism because no one can find it easily elsewhere and it seems to be a touchstone for critical responses ranging from Pannekoek to Luxemburg to Lenin.

Some stuff we included exactly because it was insipid, but from our own milieu, as a reminder of how not to proceed.

Again, I think that's very valid, and again the best way (for me) to deal with it is to simply point out the reasons for inclusion in introductions rather than expunge it from the record.

Are you Chris Wright then? If so, the revolutionary reading list is great (if daunting to this 24 year-old, at least I've got a few years left eh?).

redtwister
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Aug 16 2005 21:09

Yep, I'm Chris Wright. Hi!

The reading List is really meant as a reference. I never entertained any hope of reading all of it and I hope people don't see it as a "Reading List". Heck, i can barely manage to maintain it and am backlogged by about 2 years on that (I have a few dozen, if not more, items to add.)

On the idea that you want this to be a site for people new to libertarian communism, (IMO a good thing to have as, in spite of much good work by Andy Blunden and a few others, Marxists.org is terriblly Leninoid, esp Troskyoid, in its topic areas and intro texts) that's great, but the problem is more with what new people get to see in the way people interact with each other that matters.

In that case, you might want to consider what discussions like the one about "independence movements" appears like to new people. Its a wretched mess that should likely make anyone with a shred of common sense and decency and no stomach for intra-Leftist cock waving kinda sick, if not make them run screaming. Its that kind of stuff that drove me, and many others, off of aut-op-sy and keeps me off of other list serves in general now (the few I inahbit I simply do not publicly promote in Left spaces.) Its a good example of what the Left is like, a nasty morass of self-indulgent, isolated flatulents.

And do you want to attract the kind of people who find that an "exciting" conversation? Then again, i am surprised that Good Soldier Svjek has kept up with it. He must be kinda pissed, if Good Soldier Svjek is the guy I knew from aut-op-sy, as he has always been a decent sort.

Anyway, it may be unavoidable, but it isn't very appealing to non-wanks. I do not intend that as a criticism of the people who run the site, but it certainly makes me want to run away, and i have a hardier stomach than most. Its hard to tell how it sounds any different, in tone, manner and level at least, from right wing or religious rantings. At least no one is getting their e-mail filled with it and can ignore it without ignoring the whole site, I guess.

Cheers,

Chris

Mike Harman
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Aug 22 2005 18:03
Quote:

On the idea that you want this to be a site for people new to libertarian communism, (IMO a good thing to have as, in spite of much good work by Andy Blunden and a few others, Marxists.org is terriblly Leninoid, esp Troskyoid, in its topic areas and intro texts) that's great, but the problem is more with what new people get to see in the way people interact with each other that matters.

In that case, you might want to consider what discussions like the one about "independence movements" appears like to new people. Its a wretched mess that should likely make anyone with a shred of common sense and decency and no stomach for intra-Leftist cock waving kinda sick, if not make them run screaming.

Yes, the forum culture isn't the politest, and the mixure of in-jokes and cock-waving is pretty impenetrable, you won't be surprised to hear you're by no means the only person who's said that. The introductory thought forum is supposed to allay some of that, although it's not perfect. We're trying to tighten up our moderating a bit, but speaking for myself, I'm crap at moderating and rarely do it. Believe it or not things have improved a fair bit over the past few months, but it will only really change with an influx of posters who are prepared to stick around for a while - forcing the rest of us to excercise a bit more restraint. This has been happening a bit recently, and hopefully it'll continue.

Quote:

Anyway, it may be unavoidable, but it isn't very appealing to non-wanks. I do not intend that as a criticism of the people who run the site, but it certainly makes me want to run away, and i have a hardier stomach than most. Its hard to tell how it sounds any different, in tone, manner and level at least, from right wing or religious rantings. At least no one is getting their e-mail filled with it and can ignore it without ignoring the whole site, I guess.

Cheers,

Chris

Well yeah, it's quite a bit different to an e-list, in that it's easy to pick and choose what to read on the site (and the forum is by no means the majority of the site). If you have a problem with the tone of particular discussions, please let one of the admins know because we don't always keep up with everything.

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Bodach gun bhrigh
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Aug 22 2005 20:48
redtwister wrote:
Yep, I'm Chris Wright. Hi!

The reading List is really meant as a reference. I never entertained any hope of reading all of it and I hope people don't see it as a "Reading List". Heck, i can barely manage to maintain it and am backlogged by about 2 years on that (I have a few dozen, if not more, items to add.)

On the idea that you want this to be a site for people new to libertarian communism, (IMO a good thing to have as, in spite of much good work by Andy Blunden and a few others, Marxists.org is terriblly Leninoid, esp Troskyoid, in its topic areas and intro texts) that's great, but the problem is more with what new people get to see in the way people interact with each other that matters.

In that case, you might want to consider what discussions like the one about "independence movements" appears like to new people. Its a wretched mess that should likely make anyone with a shred of common sense and decency and no stomach for intra-Leftist cock waving kinda sick, if not make them run screaming. Its that kind of stuff that drove me, and many others, off of aut-op-sy and keeps me off of other list serves in general now (the few I inahbit I simply do not publicly promote in Left spaces.) Its a good example of what the Left is like, a nasty morass of self-indulgent, isolated flatulents.

And do you want to attract the kind of people who find that an "exciting" conversation? Then again, i am surprised that Good Soldier Svjek has kept up with it. He must be kinda pissed, if Good Soldier Svjek is the guy I knew from aut-op-sy, as he has always been a decent sort.

Anyway, it may be unavoidable, but it isn't very appealing to non-wanks. I do not intend that as a criticism of the people who run the site, but it certainly makes me want to run away, and i have a hardier stomach than most. Its hard to tell how it sounds any different, in tone, manner and level at least, from right wing or religious rantings. At least no one is getting their e-mail filled with it and can ignore it without ignoring the whole site, I guess.

Cheers,

Chris

Christ, you're on a high horse

redtwister
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Aug 23 2005 18:04

If by high horse, you mean I refuse to spend my time wallowing in crap, well, yes I am on my high horse, but I'm there after my fair share of wallowing.

But more to the point: at what point do we find hours of wrangling with someone with whom we share no discernable common ground more important than doing any of a million other things? At what point does it seem, having made our point, having seen their point and having wrangled over something at least to a point of some clarity, that our stubborn refusal to not get the last word in, to not find some minutae through which to show the other person wrong (and a counter-revolutionary phrase-mongerer to boot), is exactly what i called it: self-indulgent cock waving? When does our ego gratification stop?

At what point are we more concerned about our ideological purity than about creating an interesting and intellectually and politically stimulating space for people who have no idea what we are on about with Leftist in-jokes, name-dropping, etc., or to whom such an approach to politics and ideas is wholly unappealing?

I'm not saying that we don't all do it sometimes. But if you want to know what the single largest poison to a good listserve or blog or whatever, is, I vote for extended, almost unfollowable, bitter, nasty, insular, extremely long rants that pass as some form of debate, especially when they are utterly unintelligible to all but the initiated into your little club, whether it be Leninists or Maoists or Autonomists or Situationists or biologists or physicists.

On top of all that, it tends to play to our own worst tendencies, which e-mail and blogging already does: saying things without editing them and thinking them through; sending them out as is; responding while still upset or hurt or whatever (while not always bad, is also not always good); sloppy use of language, terms, ideas, an so on.

Is that me being on my high horse? Hey, so be it. You don't like how I said it, fine. Seeing a good site getting bogged in that kind of crap presses my buttons, for better or worse. I would rather be on my high horse and promote thoughtful, reflective, respectful engagement which thinks about the other people on the other end of the discussion and the people who may read what I am saying, than be wallowing in crap with the pretentious delusion that this is how "real" discussions happen or that this in any way benefits anyone.

Nuff said.

Chris

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Aug 23 2005 19:12

Fair enough

lem
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Apr 28 2006 00:13

Could someone explain the problem with Kautsky - according to wiki he criticised Lenin for being a dictator. The stuff I'm reading on im at the moment is a little, simple minded maybe, but I haven't seen anything that I would recognize as counter/revolutionary maybe some authoriatarianism over pwr of party but see above - is it the nationalism? Could someone eplain, cheers?

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Apr 28 2006 08:43

Kautsky was part of the workers' movement during the period when the Second International was an organisation of the proletariat. Some of his more general contributions -such as his book on early Christianity - are definitely worth reading. In his younger days he held some quite radical positions, such as the idea that the workers would need to establish the Commune instead of the existing state.

He degenerated as the Second International degenerated. Luxemburg saw this far quicker than Lenin, through the debate on the mass strike at the beginning of the 20th century. At this point Kautsky was an expression of 'centrism', balancing between the openly opportunist right and the left wing elements like Luxemburg, Pannekoek - and Lenin.

War and revolution tipped the balance. Kautsky ended up as a 'renegade' -an open apologist for capitalism and parliamentary democracy against the idea of the councils. His criticisms of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, of the Russian revolution, are worthless because he sided with the bourgeoisie against the revolution, unlike Luxemburg, whose criticisms of the Russian revolution were made from a position of fundamental solidarity.

Kautsky isn't some ahistorical demon, but a product of our own history, and can only be understood rationally from that starting point.

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Apr 28 2006 11:32

Bullshit decadence theories=ABC of marxism

- capitalism is not an eternal system

- it is condemned to plunge into barbarism by its own inner contradictions

- the proletariat will have to pose the question of destroying the system because it will become a danger for humanity's survival, and cannot be reformed.

How else could you have answered Bernstein's theories?

Luxemburg's political positions were entirely consistent with her economic/historical theories. Her opposition to national liberation, or her analysis of the mass strike, were premised on the understanding that capitalism was entering a new epoch.

redtwister
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Apr 28 2006 14:31
lem wrote:
Could someone explain the problem with Kautsky - according to wiki he criticised Lenin for being a dictator. The stuff I'm reading on im at the moment is a little, simple minded maybe, but I haven't seen anything that I would recognize as counter/revolutionary maybe some authoriatarianism over pwr of party but see above - is it the nationalism? Could someone explain, cheers?

There is a good biography of Kautsky by Massimo Salvadore.

While I disagree with Alf, he is right that Kautsky needs to be put in context with the Second International. The 2nd International was the coming together of several socialist parties, mostly in Europe, esp the French and Germans. The Germans were considered the theoretical leaders and Kautsky in his time was referred to as "the Pope of Marxism", an ironic title if there ever was one.

From its inception, the 2nd International stood more in the camp of Fedinand Lasalle than Karl Marx, even though they expelled the anarchists in the early 1890's and becmae formally the first "Marxist" organization. They put a premium on parliamentary and trade union activity and their social base was in the more skilled sections of the working class, especially in Germany, France and Austria.

Politically and theoretically, the history of the 2nd International's leadership is dubious. Kautsky was a centrist politically, blowing with the winds, sometimes towards Luxemburg, other times towards Bebel and old Liebknecht and Plekhanov. I think his real opposition to Bernstein was not to Bernstein's anti-revolutionism, but to the unmasking of the pretence of revolutionariness that Bernstein proposed. Kautsky's critiques of Bernstein were quite weak, but Kautsky stood on the ground of the Erfurt program, published in English as The Class Struggle. Engels was quite critical of it and it contains everything that showed the theoretical character of the 2nd International.

Insofar as the 2nd International was born of the defeat of the Commune, the rise of imperialism and social peace, the colonial carving up of Africa, and Lasallean politics, it was always a mass reformist organization. To that extent, it never changed its stripes and 1914 was less a betrayal than the logical concusion of the 2nd international.

However, having been a guinuinely mass organization in the working class, it housed many communist tendencies that pretty much composed the Social Democratic Left, itself a mixed bag, but to which Kautsky never, ever belonged, theoretically or politically. Kautsky really was the embodiment of the tension between radicalism in words and parliamentarism and unionism in practice.

However, the Left was also not some uniform body, as is occasionally protrayed in council communist hagiography. It contained at any moment Lenin and the Bolsheviks, Luxemburg and the Polish section, Pannekoek, Gorter and their wing of the Dutch section, the Bremen and Hamsburg sections with Karl Radek, etc. While Luxemburg was alive, there were three tendencies: the Spartakists and their inability to break with the USPD of Kautsky and their eventual absorption by the Leninist KPD; the Bolsheviks who broke completely with the 2nd International organizationally, but who would become the vanguard of counter-revolution; the Left Communists, like the IKD and eventually the KAPD, British Communist Workers Party, the majority of the PCI, the Dutch Communist Workers Party, and small Bulgarian and Russian groups.

With the formation of the KPD mostly out of the USPD and Spartakists, ie out of the centrists of social democracy, the independent Luxemburg position disappeared and played the role of right-wing parliamentarists and unionists against the KAPD.

But on that, I recommend these three overviews:

The Revolutionary Movement in Germany, 1917-1923 in the ICG section of the Library

and

Origins of the Movement for Workers' Councils in Germany

and

An Introduction to Left Communism in Germany from 1914 to 1923 by Dave Graham

They are excellent examinations of the period, IMO, with the proper degree of critical appraisal of Luxemburg and her limits, unlike the normal parading of her as the always-already perfected anti-Lenin.

I also deal with this in a book review I wrote 2 years ago that is to be published in Historical Materialism, but on the Libcom library too

Review of "What Is To Be Done? New Times and the Anniversary of a Question".

Hope this helps a bit.

Chris

lem
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Apr 28 2006 16:16

Thanks. I don't know how anone manages to get started with so much theory...

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Apr 28 2006 21:05

For a response to "what is wrong with kautsky" i would check out the following short article:

"The "Renegade" Kautsky and his Disciple Lenin" by Gilles Dauvé

available at:

http://prole.info/articles/kautsky_lenin.html

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Apr 28 2006 22:03
Jack wrote:
and fucking 'The Fight Agaisnt Fascism Begins with the Fight Against Bolshevism'.

What's wrong with that? That's a great pamphlet! Or am I just missing the irony?

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Apr 29 2006 14:10

Jack just hates the title

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Apr 29 2006 18:11

But you have to put it in context: written in the 1930's, by a leninist-communist. It said what had to be said.

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Apr 29 2006 19:07

Yeah but anti-Lenin in a fucked-up way - I.E. since there were so few proletarians in Russia they were doomed to failure. What kind of communist position is that? Sounds like the flip side of nationalism.

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Apr 29 2006 19:18

If one's line is that communist revolution is only possible in countries which have large urban proletarian populations, does that make one a communist in europe and a 'national liberationist' in asia?

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Apr 29 2006 19:59
revol68 wrote:
OliverTwister wrote:
If one's line is that communist revolution is only possible in countries which have large urban proletarian populations, does that make one a communist in europe and a 'national liberationist' in asia?

a) who said anything about "urban"? there are proles in the countryside.

b) where does feudal relations remain the dominant form of production?

Before you ask questions which will make you look impatient, please note that I was referring to Otto Ruhle's conception of the proletariat and the possibilities for revolution outside Europe, not my own.

Thank you and have a great day.