user preferences

New Events

International

no event posted in the last week

Book Review: "Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution?" by Wayne Price

category international | anarchist movement | opinion / analysis author Tuesday October 26, 2010 17:59author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D. Report this post to the editors

Book Review of Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution?, Wayne Price, Ed. Thought Crime Ink, 2010. The book can be ordered from www.thoughtcrimeink.com

book.jpg


Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution?

by Wayne Price,
Ed. Thought Crime Ink, 2010

Thought Crime Ink Ed., have done a great job in putting this interesting and thought-provoking book together in a stylish and sober presentation. Most of the material in this book I have already read, although the versions finally published in the book have been polished and have some changes. A lot of them had previously been published as essays for www.anarkismo.net. But all of them put together gives a new dimension to the overall work: this is not a simple collection of “selected writings” on disparate subjects. All of these articles have themes in common and create a consistent unity, defining a particular approach to anarchism and to the problem of revolution, influenced by the author’s personal reflections and experiences.

The Politics of Revolutionary Anarchism

The whole point of the book is to make a case for a revolutionary anarchist communist alternative. This is no ABC of revolutionary anarchism, however: it deals with problematic issues in a way that leaves doors open and Wayne Price does not feel compelled to have all of the answers. But it argues a strong case for organisational class struggle anarchist communist to confront capitalism and help bring about a radical change of our civilisation in a libertarian and socialist direction–not only taking over the means of production and smashing the State, but adapting the existing technology to the needs of society rather than capitalist accumulation.

The first thing that strikes me of the book is Price’s ability to be very didactic and pedagogical in his way of posing problems and then developing his argument; you can easily see the skill of a teacher in this. It uses very down-to-earth, simple language, which can appeal to an audience that is not familiar with anarchism. But at the same time, he deals with important theoretical issues that make the reading relevant to experienced militants as well, such as the economic crisis, alienated-capitalistic technology or the interaction between exploitation and other forms of oppression – this is an issue of particular cause of concern, and Wayne Price has been consistent over the years in linking questions such as national liberation or the degradation of the environment to a class-struggle, revolutionary approach.

Another remarkable feature is that, while defending a revolutionary line of argument and explicitly rejecting reformism, he does not fall into the trap of “ideological extremism” that is so alluring to certain elements within the anarchist milieu. Wayne 's arguments are sensible, in the way that he defends the need to fight for reforms without renouncing revolution. Furthermore, he does not attempt to be as radical as can be, an elitist form of doing politics that appeals only to the “chosen ones”; instead, he puts forward the case that anarchism makes sense and is down to earth, that it is indeed desirable and possible, and that most people can grasp it and would prefer it, if properly explained, to capitalism. This no-nonsense approach is also very welcome.

Just as in his previous book, The Abolition of the State, I also think it is quite important the way he emphasises links within the revolutionary socialist family, if I may call it that way. Instead of taking the approach of stressing the differences, as if the points in common did not exist or indeed mattered little, he starts by defining the common elements, the similarities between different socialist currents and then moves to the differences. This approach has many values, one of them being the ability to tell the substantial from the superfluous differences, strategic from tactical differences – what are the real issues at stake behind the different socialist schools, something that is obscured by the often polarizing turns of debate in revolutionary circles. Subsequently, this approach enables us to see in what ways it is possible to cooperate with others, how to build revolutionary unity without renouncing our programme or without making the case that we “leave the differences behind”, either. But it is also an important approach because we can indeed learn an awful lot from others, from their experience and ideas, from their successes and failures!

He deals extensively, for instance, with Hal Draper and Paul Goodman, two thinkers from diverging tendencies (critical Marxism and reformist anarchism) who, no matter how many differences we may have with them, have great contributions to make in order to re-think a revolutionary alternative to capitalism. He also deals, in lesser detail, with Parecon and some others, stating at all times that, without necessarily having to agree on every issue, we need to address seriously those attempts to subvert the system and learn whatever is useful in them. No one has all the answers and developing this culture of critical engagement is a good way to start getting at least some of them right.

Another touchy issue the book deals with is the issue of power, which is often treated in a metaphysical way in anarchist circles. Here Price tackles the issue from the perspective of class antagonism and from an explicitly anarchist perspective – how can the working class take away economic and political power from the bourgeoisie without confusing this with the conquest of the State, which is merely an exchange of one dominant class for another. Power and State are not synonymous as Wayne rightly points out, and even though the term can be confusing out of context, it is not so when explained in the crystal-clear terms Price employs. By the very nature of the proletariat (its economic and social position, as well as its majority condition) it is not possible for it to have power unless is in a direct democratic form: Price argues the case, explaining why there’s no middle ground here. One may decide to call it this or that – the important thing is not the label but the content. I think this issue is remarkable, particularly in times such as those we live in, when there is a deep crisis and a disempowered working class unaware of its potential. There is great merit, therefore in proving to the workers and the people that they have power, and that they should have, collectively, all power!

I particularly like the attempts to put the record straight on Marx, on his strengths and weaknesses. Without idealizing his thought as “infallible truths”, Wayne Price certainly makes a case for the importance of Marx' thought for anarchism: I found particularly witty the quotes of Marx followed by “anarchist revolutionaries would agree with this” (unfortunately, so many of them are completely ignorant about Marx and often base their judgements on crude caricatures – and Marxists' judgements of anarchism are equally ill-founded!). It is indeed underestimated how important Marx was for the development of early anarchist thought at the time of the International, particularly to Bakunin, in spite of the latter's genuine quarrels with his authoritarian side. There is this mythology in anarchist tradition as if anarchism developed harmoniously, without outside influences and without any contradictions, from Proudhon to Bakunin, then to Kropotkin, then to Malatesta and then to us. In Bakunin’s thought, Marx was probably as important as Proudhon and in spite of this attempt to portray him uni-dimensionally as the quintessential arch-enemy of Marx, let us remember that the so-called Bakuninists opposed the Proudhonists within the International before they opposed the Marxists!

I don’t think it to be mere chance that anarchist revolutionaries owe to Marx and Engels at least three all-time favourite slogans: “down with the wage system”, “the emancipation of the working classes must be at the hands of the working classes themselves” and “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”.

Indeed, it is a late development that anarchists tried to get rid of “Marxist” baggage, rejecting materialism and class struggle and some (such as Diego Abad de Santillán), ultimately rejecting the very idea of revolution. Late Malatesta was key, to some extent, to this voluntaristic and idealistic turn as he complained at some point of the Marxist influences on anarchism (Vernon Richards, “Malatesta, Pensamiento y Acción Revolucionarios”, Ed. Utopía Libertaria, 2007, p.137 & p.200). He didn’t live long enough to see the implications of this line of argument, particularly during the Cold War, but others, such as Rocker, moved progressively from his book “Anarchism & Marxism”, where he voids anarchism of its class-struggle basis (as Marxist elements), to praising in another book the “Pioneers of American Freedom: Origin of Liberal and Radical Thought in America”, thus turning anarchism into a mere radical version of individualist liberalism (capitalism). By denying those elements common to Marxism and anarchism, these “revisionist” writers ended up draining anarchism of its revolutionary character.

While Wayne Price does justice to the enormous contributions of Marx in the struggle for a better world, he does not go to such painful lengths as to invent an “anarchist” Marx or as some critical Marxists (sometimes called libertarian Marxists) who hold a “revisionist” view in which Marx was right at all times, but everyone after him got it wrong somehow. Instead, Price explores the specific aspects of Marx thought that eventually became dominant in the socialist school founded by him that led to all forms of authoritarian deviations, in the face of what were, without a doubt, good revolutionary intentions. Moreover, he does not intend anarchism, either, to be immaculate: he rather argues that the “divide between authoritarian and libertarian-democratic tendencies runs through (inside) Marxism as well as through anarchism”, although “overall, anarchism is more consistent with the development of a liberating socialism from below”. (p.133)

The debate on “State Socialism (Capitalism)”

The last chapter of the book is dedicated to an issue that has been the subject of intensive debate within some Marxist circles, but that, oddly enough, remains elusive and little discussed among anarchists: the nature of the Soviet Union (and other regimes of the so-called “Socialist Bloc”). This is odd for anarchists because this experience should be central to proving our case, but unfortunately, the prevalent attitude has been to reduce the whole issue to self-evident statements such as “State socialism does not work” or “the dictatorship of the proletariat is the dictatorship of the party”, all of which may be quite true, but general slogans do not equal an understanding of reality or understanding of the specific mechanisms why these revolutionary experiences ended up the way they did (beyond slogans, condemnations and emotional accounts there is very little research – even though the Delo Truda group developed a theory of the USSR as State Socialism in the late ‘20s, those debates remain largely ignored and untranslated). “State socialism”, “Stalinism”, “Leninism” or even “State capitalism” can become a mantra that obscures rather than expands our understanding of reality. In the case of this book, there is a good conceptual framework to approach the subject and there is good (but insufficient, in my opinion) discussion of some socialist perspectives on the nature of the Soviet Union .

This issue deserves to be dealt in more depth. First, because of the extraordinary diversity among “State Socialisms”: in this book, we mainly face the debate around the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union, in spite of having some common elements with the rest of the “Socialist Bloc”, is quite a different reality to, let’s say, Poland and then again to China, Angola, Korea, or Cuba. To put blanket categories on these regimes can have the benefit of grouping together experiences that shared certain basic premises. But it can also obscure objective differences. By studying North Korea over the last while, I am increasingly persuaded that a term such as “Stalinist” has little or no explanatory potential to really understand the nature of that regime in particular.

Secondly, it is an important debate because as Price rightly puts it in his book, if we discuss the nature of these regimes, we are actually discussing our understanding of socialism as such! It is no coincidence that if there is one thing on which both the Neoliberal cheerleaders and the nostalgic comrades of the good old days of Stalin agree, i.e. that the Soviet Union was socialist, that that’s what socialism looks like! At this point it is important to enter into the debate, both to recover the meaning of socialism and to shout loud and clear that there is more to life than bureaucratic or market dictatorships. In fact, the thesis of “State Capitalism” that Wayne Price argues for and develops in this book, shows that, irrespective of what the elites want us to believe, there was far more in common between the Soviet Union and the Western type of Capitalism than most suspect. But before dealing with “State Capitalism”, let’s look again at the meaning of Socialism and how it became so distorted.

In another remarkable and thought-provoking book I recently read (“Humanitarian Imperialism –Using Human Right to Sell War”, Ed. Monthly Review, 2006), Jean Bricmont argues that there is a serious misunderstanding about the nature of “socialism” developing in the 20th Century, particularly after the Russian Revolution:

“Before 1914, all socialist movements, whether libertarian or statist, reformist or revolutionary, envisioned socialism, that it, the socialization of the means of production, as an historic stage that was supposed to succeed capitalism in relatively developed Western societies (…) All this disappeared with World War I and the Russian Revolution. After that, the libertarian aspects of socialism withered away, most of the European socialist movements became increasingly incorporated into the capitalist system and its main radical sector, the communists, identified socialism with whatever policies were adopted by the Soviet model. But that model had almost nothing to do with socialism as it was generally understood before the First World War. It should rather be understood as a (rather successful) attempt at rapid economic development of an underdeveloped country, an attempt to catch up, culturally, economically and militarily, by whatever means necessary, with the West (…) if one recognizes that aspect, the whole history of the 20th Century can be interpreted very differently from the dominant discourse about ‘socialism that was tried and failed everywhere’” (pp.12-13, my emphasis)

This quote, not only sheds light on the whole debate on socialism, it also sheds a very different light on the abominations of “socialism” over the past century, or at least on the “official” version of them.

Whatever we may think of these regimes, is intrinsically linked to what we think of our “Western Democratic” regimes. The way we make our criticism and what we criticise do have consequences in our politics, as Wayne rightly demonstrates with the Schachtmanites' move from being critical of the Soviet Union (by insisting on its “totalitarian” nature as opposed to Western liberalism), to becoming enthusiastic supporters of US imperialism and its aggressions (such as Vietnam back in the days), with eventually some of them moving openly to Neo-conservatism. But, unfortunately, the Schachtmanites were not an exception, as today we have a myriad of ex-far left-wingers who have become public apologists for the Iraqi and Afghan adventures on the grounds of opposing so-called “Islamo-fascism”. Numerous far-left groups and individuals, ranging from Maoism, Stalinism and Trotskyism to anarchism, have become veiled or open apologists of imperialism, which they often label as “Western” or “Liberal” Democracy, and in extreme cases, they have even become apologists of proto-fascist movements. To deal with one case, let us remember that during the Cold War some anarchists took their justified opposition to the Soviet model to unjustified endorsement of capitalist democracy (This was analyzed in detail in two great books, one by Jorge Solomonoff “El Liberalismo de Avanzada”, Ed. Proyección, 1973 and Frank Mintz “El Anarquismo Social” http://www.fondation-besnard.org/IMG/pdf/El_anarquismo_...l.pdf ). Let’s take for instance the following quotes from Gastón Leval in the ‘60s to have a clear example of what I’m saying:

“Today’s dictatorship in Russia is worse to those of Mussolini and Franco (…) In Russia , the system is the result of the conscious application of political and government principles. In the USA, and generally in the West, those principles do not constitute the philosophical and judicial bases of the system (…) We may criticize the imperfections of the capitalist and parliamentary systems (…) but it would be a mistake and a falsehood to concentrate all of our efforts in the criticism of capitalism, and not to denounce, at least with the same energy, the regime at the other side of the iron curtain.”

“It is to easy to pretend to be above the two contending blocks, under the pretext of being faithful to anarchist principles (…) the USSR since 1917 has been expanding its political empire (…) while the US has abandoned the Philipinnes, has given back Mexican oil to the Mexicans (…) our movement managed to grow in France, Italy, in Germany, wherever the Allied Armies triumphed (…) the dilemma of anarchism and that of all humanity is the election between freedom or slavery”
(Mintz, op.cit., pp.3-4)

In fact, Western capitalism is keen on showing a “clean face” while pointing at the abominations of “socialist” totalitarianism, which are denounced as “evils”, alien to lofty capitalist liberalism. In fact, whatever happened in “State socialism” is no exception to this particular model of development, but also happened in a more or less protracted period of time under traditional capitalist development. Let me quote Bricmont at length on this issue because I do think he opens up good space for debate on the issue of “socialist” vs. capitalist development, which is not necessarily in contradiction with Wayne Price’s thesis, although he deals with it from a different angle:

“Just imagine a mafia godfather who, as he grows old, decides to defend law and order and starts attacking his lesser colleagues in crime, preaching brotherly love and the sanctity of human life –all this while holding on to his ill-gotten gains and the income they provide. Who would fail to denounce such flagrant hypocrisy? And yet, strangely enough, scarcely anyone seems to see the parallel with the West’s self-anointed role as defender of human rights, although the similarities are considerable (…) Wars, colonialism, child labour, autocracy and pillage are (…) very much part of the roots of our present civilization (…) To start with, our Mafioso would not be wrong, in the abstract, to defend respect for the law and brotherly love. But he would be hypocritical. The same reproach can be addressed to the Western discourse of human rights and for exactly the same reasons” (Bricmont, pp. 73-74)

“If the Russians have done with the Chechens what the white Americans did with the Amerindians, there would be no conflict in Chechnya today (…) If Yugoslavia or China had enjoyed a long period of modern economic development allowing them to reach a dominant position on a world scale, the situation of Kosovo or Tibet might well be similar to that of Brittany or Wales, or, at the worst, Corsica or the Basque country.

(…) If you really stop to think about all these aspects of the modern economic development of various countries, you cannot help but be struck by the quantity of suffering involved, and that the first countries to undertake that adventure have had the means to prevent those who came later from really following the same course. The first major industrialization, that of Britain, was linked to the conquest of a vast empire providing raw materials, markets, and space for its own population expansion. All the major European powers proceeded to carve out colonies as they industrialized, causing untold suffering to the conquered peoples. In the second wave of industrialization, the United States , Germany and Japan all practiced protectionism to build the strength of their industries. The United States had the further advantage of enormous territorial expansion, at the expense of the indigenous population, followed by a Monroe Doctrine ‘closed door’ policy in Latin America and ‘open door’ policy elsewhere in the world, ensuring the United States the advantages of imperialism beyond its actual colonies (the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawaii). As for Germany and Japan , the drive to catch up with the Atlantic powers by gaining their own colonial empires was a major factor leading to the two world wars. The next great power to industrialize was the Soviet Union . There, it was the internal population who bore the brunt, in the absence of tropical colonies to exploit. It was all the easier for Western intellectuals to stigmatize Soviet development in that they could compare the situation there with contemporary Britain and France, rather than with their colonies or with the conditions marking their own industrialization.”
(Bricmont, pp.79-81)


Talking about the “death toll” of so-called “communism”, an all-time favourite subject of capitalism’s apologists and an issue which Wayne Price does not study detail in this book, Jean Bricmont rightly states that Western obstruction to progressive measures in Third World countries (with its long-standing tradition of support to dictatorships, autocracies and neo-colonial puppets of all shapes and forms):

has cost not millions but hundreds of millions of lives destroyed by hunger, disease and poverty. To give a simple example, in 1989 the economists Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen estimated that, starting from similar basic conditions, China and India followed different paths of development and that the difference between the social systems of the two countries (notably in regard to health care) resulted in 3.9 million more deaths annually in India. This means that India seems to manage to fill its cupboard with more skeletons every eight years than China put there in its years of shame, 1958 to 1961 [ie, the so-called Great Leap Forward] Of course, the Chinese famines are regularly blamed on communism, but it would not occur to anybody to blame extra Indian deaths on capitalism or democracy” (p.39)


That both during the Moscow Trials as well as during the period of purges opened by the Cultural Revolution in China many dozens of thousands were killed is a monstrosity. Yet, there are dubious grounds to speak of millions executed around that time – most of the millions attributed to so-called State socialism are a result of their industrialization and economic development-related events of famines. Yet, this is the unavoidable result of capitalist development, whether in its liberal or statist variety, and the Western “democracies” are quick to hide their own skeletons in their closet by pointing out to Stalin’s or Mao’s victims. In those cases, neither China nor the USSR were exceptional but rather the rule, following the example set by Britain, the US and France among others, but over a shorter period of time and with their own populations carrying the bulk of the burden instead of distributing it to their colonies (the USSR would only have the benefit of doing so after the ‘50s, but at that point the bases of industry had already been laid). Let us remember: in today’s US-dominated world, 23,000 people die daily just of hunger (let alone preventable diseases, lack of safe access to water, etc.). They are no less victims of the system as those who died during the Great Leap Forward or the years of forced collectivisation and industrialisation in the USSR .

Finally, it is important to remark on the State Capitalism argument that the State not only became a cradle for a new ruling class, as Wayne Price rightly asserts, but also an asylum for elements of the former, pre-revolutionary, ruling class, who often made their way into the State apparatus as technicians, experts and bureaucrats where they managed to subsist with new privileges in the new circumstances and reproduce themselves as a distinctive class within the new bureaucratic ruling class. This is looked into in some detail, and from his own peculiar perspective, by Charles Bettelheim in his classic two-volume book, “Class Conflict in the USSR”. This, by the way, was nothing new to a revolution – from the times of the French Revolution, the old aristocracy found ways to hold key positions in the revolutionary state, even at the peak of the terror in 1794, and more so after Thermidor (for this experience, which gives a long-term perspective on the problem of the state divorcing the revolutionary power from the direct bodies of the people, there is nothing like Daniel Guerin’s classic book “Class Struggle in the First French Republic”).

*******

This is a remarkable book and an excellent follow-up to The Abolition of the State, and I would argue it is mandatory reading for anarchist communists – this is a book that is both enjoyable reading and thought-provoking. At least it made me think a lot, particularly the last part, where I think there’s far more to be discussed; this is not, of course, up to Wayne Price alone but can only be the product of collective theoretical production, but he has done a big favour by kick starting this debate in the libertarian milieu.

It is welcome and refreshing to read a book presenting a clear and consistent theoretical framework for revolutionary anarchism in the 21st Century that can appeal to people outside our ranks with its simple, no non-sense approach.

José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
24th October, 2010

Related Link: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/17415
author by Ilan S. - AAtW; ainfos; Matzpenpublication date Tue Oct 26, 2010 22:39author address Tel AvivReport this post to the editors

Marx was active in the European revolutionary left at the 19th century. However, people tend to give him credit for things he is not worth of.

He did not originate the concept of surpluss value as the core of capitalism.
He was not originator of the concept "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need".
He deffer its application to a far abounded future like the Christian originators
He was authoritarian and vanguardist with out respect to the common working people.

Even if he had some eye opener effect on some anarchists he is still best described as "red fascist".

(Those who regard the processes that lead the developed of fascist state terror in countries authoritarian communist parties took power as a mystery - can find in Mao text of 1950: "correct handling of contradictions among the people" - the uncenzored version....).

Even if some Marxists and other authoritarians of the left had some theoretical contributions, politically we better treat them in public as "red fascist". The objection of most working people for revolution will decrease if the association between our revolution and that of the authoritarian will diminish.

Related Link: http://ilan.shalif.com/anarchy/glimpses/glimpses.html
author by Waynepublication date Wed Oct 27, 2010 13:41author email drwdprice at aol dot comReport this post to the editors

Thanks to Jose Antonio for his positive review of my book and for exploting thoughts to which it led him.

Jose Antonio cites my inclusion of insights from Marx into my anarchism. Withiut reading my new book, Ilan responds with abstract generalizations about the errors of Marx, who he calls a "red fascist."

May I suggest a different approach to Ilan? Let him look at some section of my writings, as they appear in the book, and show how the influence of Marxism has had a bad effect on my coverage of the subject.

For example, there are the first two chapters, which cover the role of the working class and its relationship to nonclass oppressions, or the final section, which discusses the nature of the Soviet Union and the theory of state capitalism. If Ilan is correct about the total evil of Marxism (that there is nothing at all which anarchists can learn from Marx), then he should be able to demonstrte how Marxism has led me astray on these topics.

But merely repeating abstract complaints about Marx, and noting that Marxism led to Stalinism, is pointless and tedious.

author by Ilan S. - AAtW; ainfos; Matzpenpublication date Thu Oct 28, 2010 01:52author email ilan at shalif dot comauthor address Tel AvivReport this post to the editors

Marx capital I. and texts of Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao introduced me to revolutionary thinking and social science. They also lead me astray towards the authoritarian vangardist elitist (red fascist) point of view that took me 14 years to get over with help by comrades who labeled themselves at the time as kind of "left Marxists".

It took me some more years to treat Marx and Mao as just wise and revolutionary theoretican (red fascists) who contributed to the expanding of my knowledge - disregarding their errors.

Wayne may trace some of his ideas to Marxist influence (more than I trace mine to my first year teacher from whom I learned to read...)

Wayne:
May I suggest a different approach to Ilan? Let him look at some section of my writings, as they appear in the book, and show how the influence of Marxism has had a bad effect on my coverage of the subject.

Ilan
I am not sure what was the part of Marx in the political development of Wayne that took him so long to arrive at anarchism.

Wayne:
For example, there are the first two chapters, which cover the role of the working class and its relationship to nonclass oppressions, or the final section, which discusses the nature of the Soviet Union and the theory of state capitalism. If Ilan is correct about the total evil of Marxism (that there is nothing at all which anarchists can learn from Marx), then he should be able to demonstrte how Marxism has led me astray on these topics.

Ilan

When you do not have a better teacher, even an evil one can contribute to yourr acquiring wisdom. The price though may be high.

Wayne:
But merely repeating abstract complaints about Marx, and noting that Marxism led to Stalinism, is pointless and tedious.

Ilan
I am not academic and not fun of history. I am just stuck with the idea that the farther people will regard us from the "authoritarians of the left" the better.

May be the label "red fascists" for the authoritarians of the left seems too harsh for some people who were not so emotionally moved by the atrocities of the Bolshevics, but it will surely convey to people we are the farthest from the authoritarians of the left as possible, and that our revolution has nothing in common with that of these authoritarians.

Related Link: http://ilan.shalif.com/anarchy/glimpses/glimpses.html
author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Thu Oct 28, 2010 16:08Report this post to the editors

At this stage I'm getting used to Ilan's invectives and really doubt anyone takes them seriously. I agree with Wayne that "merely repeating abstract complaints about Marx, and noting that Marxism led to Stalinism, is pointless and tedious". I would stress "tedious" and add "predictable". I have made my point clear many times and referred to it on the review, so don't think there's any need to expand myself again... but the question posed by Ilan "Why Marx?" can be better replied by Bakunin himself (quotes taken from "Bakunin" Mark Leier, Seven Stories Press, 2006):

About Marx importance in his own intellectual development:

"[When we met in 1844, Marx] was much more advanced than I was, as he remains more advanced and incomparably more learned than I today. I knew nothing then about political economy, I had not given up metaphysical abstractions, and my socialism was only instinctive" (p.134)

In relation to his contribution to the materialistic analysis of society:

"There is a good deal of truth in the merciless critique he directed against Proudhon. For all his efforts to ground himself in reality, Proudhon remained an idealist and a metaphysician. His starting point is the abstract idea of right. From right he proceeds to economic fact, while Marx, by contrast, advanced and proved the incontrovertible truth, confirmed by the entire past and present history of human society nations, and states, that economic fact has always preceeded legal and political right. The exposition and demonstration of that truth constitutes one of Marx's principal contributions to science" (p.256, my emphasis)

In relation to Marx's contribution to the International of the workers movement:

"leaving aside all the foulness he has spewed against us, we cannot ignore, at least I cannot, the great service he has rendered to the socialist cause for twenty-five years. Undoubtedly he has left all of us far behind in this. He is also one of the first founders, if not the creator, of the International. This is of enormous worth, in my view, and whatever his attitude towards us, I will always acknowledge this... Marx is undeniably a very useful man in the International. Up to now he has been a wise influence and has been the strongest bulwark for socialism, the strongest obstacle against the invasion of bourgeois ideas and tendencies. And I could never forgive myself if I destroyed or weakened his beneficial influence for the mere aim of personal vengeance." (pp.249-250)

(This last quote is remarkable, since is a letter to Herzen in the middle of his bitter dispute with Marx on the International, and constitutes a response to Herzen on why he was so benign with Marx himself during the debate. This private reply gives a measure of the man and it is surprising that while Bakunin could remain above the petty intrigues, some of today's anarchists can't help it!)

Those opinions I think settle the question on Marx importance and why he should be read and taken seriously, and acknowledge his contribution to socialism in general, including anarchism. It's time to grow up man and leave behind childish and rather pointless debates if he was the first to discover surplus or not. I think his work speaks on its own right and has been fundamental to countless revolutionaries to understand how capitalism works. Any unbiased observer would agree.

ps. I will not refer once again to such a term as "red fascist" that does not explain anything at all, and shows utter ignorance of what fascism really was about. It is just name-calling, something that is alright in school, but not in revolutionary politics. If a term is just not useful to explain reality, then it should just be ignored.

author by Ilan S. - AAtW, ainfos, Matzpenpublication date Thu Oct 28, 2010 20:55author email ilan at shalif dot comauthor address Tel AvivReport this post to the editors

Though I got the Ph.D. in Psychology, I am not really an intellectual. I just can sum nearly 60 years of political activity and can ensure you that the association of revolution with the USSR and the other "state socialist" states is one of the main blocks in education of the people.

Even if Marx contributed as much as the intellectuals and academics say, the less credit anarchist give him the best.

As for the "red fascists" it seems some people are ignorant of the psychological making that bread the tendency for authoritarian elitist opinions on the "less educated" working people.

If you are really interested search for the 'F' scale of the Californian personality questioner (inventar)".

May be "red fascists" is not so scientific wise but for sure when one use it towards the authoritarians of the left - every one get the message that the user really distance oneself from these authoritarians. (And the revolution and alternative to capitalism we suggest is entirely different.)

Related Link: http://ilan.shalif.com/anarchy/glimpses/glimpses.html
 

This page has not been translated into Polski yet.

This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch

International | Anarchist movement | en

Sat 29 Nov, 02:15

browse text browse image

textReport from St. Imier International Congress, 8th-12th August 2012 21:28 Mon 10 Sep by Collective Action 0 comments

This year marks the 140 year anniversary of the first anarchist International held at St.Imier, Switzerland, in 1872. In celebration of the anniversary an international gathering was called in St.Imier in mid-August. A contingent of Collective Action militants attended the gathering along with thousands of other anarchists from around the world to discuss politics, create new international ties and, of course, have some fun.

anarkismotent.jpg imageDelegation returns from International Anarchist Gathering at St Imier 15:13 Wed 22 Aug by Andrew Flood 4 comments

August saw a gathering of a couple of thousand anarchists from all over the globe in St Imier, Switzerland. This small town was the site of the founding of the Anarchist International in 1872, the gathering was organised to commemorate this event and involved dozens of political, organisational & cultural events. As part of this gathering Anarkismo, the international network that the WSM is the Irish section of, held both a European conference and a global gathering. [Italiano]

300_0___20_0_0_0_0_0_5423_popupp.jpg image"Black Flame" blog updated again 20:09 Tue 13 Dec by Lucien van der Walt 0 comments

The Black Flame blog has just been updated. The blog collates news, views and reviews of Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt's book, "Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism".

zababooks_logo_2011.png imageNew Zabalaza Books website 22:25 Thu 08 Sep by Zabalaza Books 0 comments

The Zabalaza Books pages have moved to the new ZB site.

Freedom Bookshop, venue for the event imageConference of European Anarkismo organizations in London 18:02 Wed 23 Mar by European Coordination Committee 0 comments

On the weekend of 26-27 February 2011, delegates representing organizations from the UK, France, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Italy met to discuss how they could work more closely together. [Dansk] [Deutsch] [Italiano] [Ελληνικά] [Nederlands]

videoComunique from A(A)A. Anon Anarchist Action 03:47 Thu 24 Feb by NetAnarchist 0 comments

In the last few years, Anonymous has gained increasing notoriety for its action against websites, agencies and organizations that promote censorship and control. It has helped spread information and supported protestors demanding freedoms and rights. But the popularity of the movement, the attention it brings along, and the structure it has engendered threaten to push Anonymous away from the decentralized, collective movement it has been. As decisions become more centralized and newcomers jump on the bandwagon, Anonymous risks becoming yet another ineffective reformist group, fueled by well-meaning rethoric but subject to third party interests and paralyzed by its fear of authority...

book.jpg imageNew Book: Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution? 02:23 Thu 26 Aug by Wayne Price 0 comments

Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution?
by Wayne Price

From the Foreword by Andrew Flood (Workers Solidarity Movement--Ireland):

"This collection of essays by Wayne Price…will hopefully play a significant part in helping us build the movement we need…..This volume represents a good foundation to this process. It revisits many of the essential basic questions and lays down a coherent position in regard to them. Wayne's insights are important to us because they are based not just on a theoretical study of revolution but on five decades of practical experience in the North American left and the anarchist movement"

organisational_platform_of_the_general_union_of_anarchists_draft1.jpg imageAnnouncing the new Anarchist Platform Archive 05:54 Tue 22 Jun by AP Archive 0 comments

Announce the new Anarchist Platform Archive. The Anarchist Platform Archive is an archive of texts relating to the publishing of the Organisational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft) by the Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad (“Delo Truda” Group) in 1926.

cover_v_1_b.jpg image"Black Flame" blog updated 20:07 Sat 24 Apr by Lucien 0 comments

The Black Flame blog has just been updated. The blog collates news, views and reviews of Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt's book, Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism' .

start.gif imageZabalaza Books Update - 7 January 2010 15:05 Fri 08 Jan by Griffin 0 comments

As of 7 January 2010 the Zabalaza Books website has just been updated with the following:

more >>

imageA Response to Rojava: An anarcho-syndicalist perspective Nov 14 by Hüseyin Civan 0 comments

We are not fortunetellers, we can't possibly know what will happen in Rojava a month or a year from now. We can't know that this social transformation which not only gives us hope as revolutionaries that struggle in a geographically close region, but also feeds our struggle in the regions that we struggle in, would move towards a positive or negative future. But we are revolutionary anarchists. We can't just sit aside, watch what's happening and comment; we take part in social struggles and take action for an anarchist revolution.

imageStuart Christie's Preface to "Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndica... May 11 by Red and Black Action 0 comments

Stuart Christie's Preface to Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt, "Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism" (AK Press, San Francisco)

imageThe Political Thought of Errico Malatesta Mar 08 by Felipe Corrêa 1 comments

This text is divided into four main parts for the presentation of Malatesta’s political thought: a.) a brief description of the author’s life, the political environment in which he found himself and his main interlocutors; b.) a theoretical-epistemological discussion, which differentiates science from doctrine/ideology and, therefore, the methods of analysis and social theories of anarchism. A notion that will be applied to the discussion of Malatestan thought itself; c.) theoretical-methodological elements for social analysis; d.) conception of anarchism and strategic positions. [Português]

textSpecifism explained Sep 11 by Collective Action 0 comments

In discussing the platform of Collective Action some individuals have expressed confusion at our use of the label "specifism" to describe the tradition of social anarchism we associate with. The following is a short introduction to what we consider to be the most essential concepts within the specifist model. This text is an adaptation of a forthcoming interview with Shift Magazine on anti-capitalist regroupment. [Italiano]

imagePutting the record straight on Mikhail Bakunin (1976) Feb 01 by Alliance Syndicaliste Revolutionnaire et Anarcho-syndicalist 3 comments

This text was a translation from the French, and was published in English in the Libertarian Communist Review, no. 2, 1976. It is an excellent discussion of Bakunin, his method and his views on issues like dual organisationalism and taking power. Therefore it merits more exposure to contemporary militants.

more >>

image"Black Flame" blog updated again Dec 13 0 comments

The Black Flame blog has just been updated. The blog collates news, views and reviews of Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt's book, "Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism".

imageNew Zabalaza Books website Sep 08 Zabalaza Books [ZACF] 0 comments

The Zabalaza Books pages have moved to the new ZB site.

imageConference of European Anarkismo organizations in London Mar 23 Anarkismo European Coordination 0 comments

On the weekend of 26-27 February 2011, delegates representing organizations from the UK, France, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Italy met to discuss how they could work more closely together. [Dansk] [Deutsch] [Italiano] [Ελληνικά] [Nederlands]

videoComunique from A(A)A. Anon Anarchist Action Feb 24 Anon Anarchist Action 0 comments

In the last few years, Anonymous has gained increasing notoriety for its action against websites, agencies and organizations that promote censorship and control. It has helped spread information and supported protestors demanding freedoms and rights. But the popularity of the movement, the attention it brings along, and the structure it has engendered threaten to push Anonymous away from the decentralized, collective movement it has been. As decisions become more centralized and newcomers jump on the bandwagon, Anonymous risks becoming yet another ineffective reformist group, fueled by well-meaning rethoric but subject to third party interests and paralyzed by its fear of authority...

imageNew Book: Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution? Aug 26 0 comments

Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution?
by Wayne Price

From the Foreword by Andrew Flood (Workers Solidarity Movement--Ireland):

"This collection of essays by Wayne Price…will hopefully play a significant part in helping us build the movement we need…..This volume represents a good foundation to this process. It revisits many of the essential basic questions and lays down a coherent position in regard to them. Wayne's insights are important to us because they are based not just on a theoretical study of revolution but on five decades of practical experience in the North American left and the anarchist movement"

more >>
© 2005-2014 Anarkismo.net. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Anarkismo.net. [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]