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Anarchism in the Oppressed Nations

category international | history of anarchism | review author Monday May 30, 2011 14:52author by Wayne Price - personal opinionauthor email drwdprice at aol dot com Report this post to the editors

Book review: Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870—1940;

Book review: Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870—1940; The Praxis of National Liberation, Internationalism, and Social Revolution

Hirsch, Steven, & van der Walt, Lucien (eds.). (2010). Leiden, Netherlands/ Boston: Brill.

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It is widely believed on the radical left that anarchism has been solely a movement of Europe and North America. Marxists and liberals state that anarchism has never had anything to offer the majority of humanity in the oppressed and impoverished nations (the so-called “Third World”)—unlike Marxism or pro-Western liberalism. This is not just a historical argument. Today there is a great expansion of international anarchism. The assertion of anarchism’s supposed irrelevance to the exploited nations in the past is an assertion that anarchism cannot be relevant to most of the world today. The contrary claim that anarchism as a movement was once significant for colonized peoples is a claim that it may be significant now and in the future.

That claim is made by the papers in Hirsch and van der Walt’s book. It covers the period from the last quarter of the 19th century up to World War II, although some chapters only include shorter periods (such as up to the 1920s). Within this timespan, the papers cover the historical impact of anarchism in several countries throughout the regions of the earth.

For Eastern Asia, chapters discuss anarchism in China and in Korea. For Latin America, it covers Peru, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, and Brazil. For the Arab East, it has a paper on Egypt. Subsahara Africa is represented in a paper on South Africa. There is a chapter on Ukraine. This is a brilliant, brief, summary of the Ukrainian movement led by Nestor Makhno during the time of the Russian Revolution.

The only Western European country discussed is Ireland, which was a colony of Britain. Ireland did not have much of an explicitly anarchist movement, but it had a significant syndicalist movement (radical unionism, which overlaps with anarchism).

The writers do not deny that anarchism and syndicalism began in Western Europe. Capitalism and industrialism began there and, therefore, so did the reactions to them: liberalism, nationalism, Marxism, as well as anarchism.These ideologies then spread over the world, interacting with and merging with local conditions.

In particular, anarchism was spread by the international circulation of workers and others. Many Spanish-speaking anarchist workers went to the Western hemisphere. They went mainly to make a living but they spread anarchism and built syndicalist unions in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the U.S.A. Italian anarchists worked in Egypt, and spread their ideas to Egyptians and workers of other countries. Chinese and Korean workers and young intellectuals traveled to Japan, to learn from Japanese anarchists, as well as a few going as far as Paris, to bring back radical ideas. European workers settled in South Africa and spread anarchist ideas to the Africans. International networks of anarchists were central to the spread of anarchism.

Throughout the world, class-struggle anarchist ideas merged with ideas of the IWW and with Marxist syndicalism (such as DeLeonism), as well as with “native” traditions of struggle against oppression. Anarchist-influenced syndicalist unions were built throughout the oppressed nations, even more than in Western Europe.

Anarchism and National Liberation



As anarchist ideas spread to the countries exploited by imperialism, anarchists had to deal with the problems of national oppression and the local people’s struggle against it. It could not be ignored; the issue had to be faced. “In China, Cuba, Korea, Ireland, and Ukraine, [anarchists] played an important role in ‘independence’ wars” (p. xxiv).

Of course, all anarchists were against imperialism and white supremacy, and they did not think that the solution to these evils was nationalism (the creation of new national states, with new national ruling classes). This is what made them anarchists. But what then?

As the editors state, in an opening chapter (pp.xxxi—lxxiii), there were three main approaches taken by anarchists. The first was to reject independence struggles altogether as useless and pointless, as inevitably dominated by nationalism, and therefore totally undeserving of support. This was the view of a significant minority of the Cuban anarchists during the Cuba fight for independence from Spain. Today this view is held by many U.S. and European anarchists and anti-statist Marxists.

A second approach took the opposite tack. Desiring to be on the side of the oppressed, it endorsed nationalism without criticism. Like the first model approach, it saw nationalism and national liberation as inevitably going together, but saw this as a positive argument for nationalism. Examples can be found in the Korean movement as well as among the Chinese anarchists, both of which had trends which capitulated to rightwing, anti-Communist, nationalists (e.g., joining the bourgeois Goumingdang in China).

A third approach is “the most sophisticated and arguably the most important historically” (p. lxiv). National liberation struggles were seen as legitimate and real contributors to the project of human emancipation. The program of nationalism was only one possible program for providing national liberation. It was not inevitable that nationalism would win dominance in every national struggle. It was not inevitable that the national bourgeoisie or other would-be new rulers would take over every such effort. Not if anarchists participated in the national movements and struggled for their program of international proletarian revolution.

Nationalist and elitist forces could be displaced, with the intervention of anarchists and syndicalists pushing national liberation struggles directly towards internationalist and anti-statist social revolution….This position…centered on contesting the national liberation struggle within a larger movement that included nationalists. At its heart was a conceptual distinction between nationalism (merely aiming at a new state) and national liberation in general (potentially able to move to social revolution); and, from this, a determination to achieve leadership of the national liberation struggle. From this perspective, anarchists and syndicalists must participate in national liberation struggles while remaining skeptical of the nationalists and their plans for statehood….” (pp. lxiv, lxv).

There is a counter-argument that all national liberation movements have, in fact, been led by statist nationalists, with limited real gains for the people. This is true, obviously, but it is only another way of saying that we have not yet had the international anarchist revolution.

Actually the three main approaches to national liberation are also the three main approaches of anarchists to any type of popular struggle. Just as an example, the struggle to establish unions can be approached, first, by deciding to ignore it as useless because of its domination by pro-capitalist bureaucracies. Or, second, anarchists could throw themselves into it, acting as apolitical organizers for the union leaderships. Or, third, anarchists could participate in the union movement, work to build unions, while finding ways to raise their program for militant, democratic, and revolutionary unions.

The first approach is held by many anarchists and anti-statist Marxists; it is sectarian, passive, and “ultra-leftist.” The second position has been held by many anarchists and others who dissolve themselves into the unions; it is “opportunist” and “economist.” Whatever your subjective motives, if you do nothing but act like a reformist then you are a reformist. The last position attempts to avoid both sectarianism and opportunism. It calls for participation, while finding ways to raise the revolutionary program in opposition to that of the bureaucrats. The same three possible approaches apply to all struggles.

Lucien van der Walt makes a further comment on the revolutionary approach when he discusses the history of South African anarchism (pp. 33—94). It was not enough for revolutionaries to have an abstractly correct but passive opposition to racial oppression. By itself, this could mean asking Africans and other people of color to subordinate themselves to white workers, saying: Don’t make special demands which might antagonize the whites and break up “class unity.” This may sound very left but is really a de facto capitulation to racism.

Instead the original white anarchists had to learn to reach out to the majority of the South African people. They had to make “…active, and specific, efforts to mobilize African, Coloured, and Indian workers around both their class and national grievances” (p. 33). This approach resulted in a multinational syndicalist popular movement, based in unions, periodicals, and specifically anarchist organizations. It was committed both to fighting against the white supremacist oppression of the South African majority and against the exploitation of the whole, multi-racial, South African working class. Over time people of color became leading militants in the anarchist and syndicalist movement.

Anarchist agreement with nationalists is negative: both are against imperialism and foreign domination. But for anarchists, “The aim of the working class revolution was not to constitute an independent national state. It was…to constitute a self-managed libertarian socialist ‘Industrial Republic’…” (p. 35), as part of an “International Industrial Republic.

An Excellent Book but an Expensive One

This is a superb book. At times it is too academic for my taste, but it is supposed to be an academic book; it began as a panel at a 2006 history conference in Amsterdam. Mostly it tells a series of fascinating stories. For example, the chapter on Ukraine may be the best brief account of the Makhnovist movement.

After this volume it should no longer be possible for Marxist-Leninists to claim that anarchists have never had anything useful to say or do in the oppressed nations. Nor should it be possible for any anarchists to argue that anarchists have always opposed national liberation movements.

The book opens up many further questions, as the editors know. Given the book’s focus, naturally it does not discuss how anarchists in imperialist countries have related to the struggles for liberation in oppressed nations—and how they should relate (that is, besides opposing their own country’s imperialism.) In my opinion, to be consistent with the “third approach,” anarchists in the oppressor nations should find ways to be in solidarity with the mass movement without giving political support to the nationalist leadership.

However, I would have liked discussion of why anarchism and syndicalism declined in these countries after the 1920s, or by the 1940s at the latest. There is a Preface by Benedict Anderson which suggests, “In an age of mass militarization, vastly enhanced police power enhanced by technological innovation, and militarized nationalisms, anarchism appeared to have less and less relevance” (p. xxv). I would think that such developments made anarchism ever more relevant!

“Neo-Platformists” and others would say that at least one factor in their decline was the failure of the anarchists to organize themselves into special revolutionary organizations, inside and outside of unions. But anarchists did do this in some countries, so this is not the whole story. More generally, the (temporary!) decline of anarchism was associated with the worldwide defeat of the working class in the 30s and 40s, with the rise of fascism, Stalinism, and imperialist world war—Stalinism benefitting by its identification with the Russian Revolution. This is briefly discussed by the editors in the last chapter, “Final Reflections” (pp, 395—412). But much more needs to be said, if anarchists are to repeat the successes and avoid the failures of the past.

There is one major problem with this book: its price. It has a list price of $155.00. It is an academic book, volume 6 of “Studies in Global Social History,” published in the Netherlands. Presumably it is meant to be bought by university libraries. Its price puts it way beyond the reach of working class people or even “middle class” college students.

I understand that there will eventually be a paperback version. If this should happen, we will have to see what price is being charged. Until then, anarchists should read chapter 10 of Black Flame (Schmidt and van der Walt, 2009), on anarchism, racism, and national liberation. This is disappointing. At the current price, this book can have only a limited impact in educating and building a movement.


References

Schmidt, Michael, & van der Walt, Lucien (2009). Black Flame; The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism; Counterpower; Vol. 1. Oakland, CA: AK Press.

author by MBpublication date Mon May 30, 2011 19:03Report this post to the editors

(In the distant past Godwin's book was expensive but nevertheless bought by workers class people! They made subscriptions to purchase it collectivelly!)
Nowadays, any anarchist group can do the same, purchase it collectively, and use the photocopy/scanner to distribute copies at a very low price, among their members...
Cheers!
Manuel

author by notrichpublication date Tue May 31, 2011 23:35Report this post to the editors

look very interesting but it is shameful the price of the book. at that price no anarchist especially those of the 'opressed nations' will afford it and will be a curiosity for the bookshelfs of academic people. militant anarchists should think on this, because the price is a rip off. we could buy it among a lot of people but with 150 dolars we could start our own magazine over here so we prefer to use our money to something more useful!

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Wed Jun 01, 2011 14:46Report this post to the editors

Hi all

I agree - the price is ridiculous, and in fact beyond my reach as an author! Neither Steve nor I had any say in it.

However, a paperback will come out soon-ish - anyone who wants to know more about this can email me at lucien.vanderwalt(at)wits.ac.za

Lucien

author by Jan Makandalpublication date Tue Jun 07, 2011 18:10Report this post to the editors

The problematic of the concept of Oppressed Nation
Many Marxists and Anarchist, as correctly pointed out by Wayne, use the concept of Oppressed Nations to define the relations of two or more social formations, especially the relations of imperialist social formations with other social formations. The concept of Oppressed Nations defines the relation of these social formations at different historically determined moments such as colonialism, at the period of hegemony of industrial capital and nowadays at the period of the hegemony of finance capital. With finance capital, the relations of imperialist countries with nations they dominate are becoming more brutal and more inhuman. In fact, these relationships, for me, are more than oppressed and even go beyond the spectrum of oppression. The concept of oppression is related to the political structure and principally connected to a physical act rather than a structural act. Its not to say that there are no structural contents of oppression, indeed there are, but the structural content of oppression is limited to the definition of that act and all the practices coming from that oppressive act. The relations of imperialism with dominated countries are oppressive, but to look at it simply at that angle is limited and will lead to a definition of a political line not suited the best interest of the proletariat. The concept oppressed is a political concept that is related to institutional ideologies or judicial institutions of a state while we need to look at the relations of imperialism to dominated countries that will profoundly question the effect of that relation on the internal transformation and development of the dominated social formation as well as that of imperialism and imperialist institutions, mainly corporations.

The erroneous interpretation will lead to an erroneous theory and erroneous theory will lead to an erroneous political line and political action, even if we find in those actions some positive elements, but these positive elements are subordinated to the general negative impact of an erroneous political line guided by an erroneous theory. The underpinning elements in our struggle to defeat capitalism is the constant effort, even if these efforts should no be viewed as permanent but constant, to strive to fuse our theory to the objective reality. The demarche to strive to fuse our theory to the objective reality is the underpinning element of the history of the proletarian movement. We should not be striving to defend the truth, or to come with the truth, but rather for the truth to triumph. The only history that is the truth is the history of its revelation and of the dynamic of its growth process.

The concept of Oppressed Nations is empirical and fundamentally flawed.
A] Two types of contradictions regulate the relations of imperialism to dominated social formation 1] the internal contradictions of these social formation 2] the contradiction of imperialism to these social formations. In these relations the internal contradictions of the dominated social formations are the determining factors. The form and types of that dominations are determined and regulated by the internal dynamics of these social formations, especially at the levels of class interests and class struggles and the relations of these class interests defined by class struggles and the relations of power of these classes, the historical construct of these social forces. To look at one aspect, in this case, the relation of imperialism to these social formations and conclude the relation is to draw a conclusion looking only at one aspect, but more importantly at a secondary aspect and draw a conclusion from there. This is what is empirical, drawing conclusion from an external and secondary element of a complex phenomenon will lead to empiricism, and will eventually lead to the development of the wrong political line and orientation.

B] The concept of domination is more suited for the relation of imperialism to dominated countries. Imperialism dominates these social formations at the level of the economy, politics and ideology and the economy is the determinant element fueling that domination. Even if in that domination these levels exist in their own relative autonomy but in the final analysis, that domination is determined by the economy. [See my posting on Haiti and imperialist domination]

C] The dominant classes in these dominated social formations are not oppressed. It is basically their anti national and anti popular orientation that are favoring the type and form of imperialist domination over these dominated social formation.

D] The form of imperialist domination is determined by the internal class struggle within these social formations.

E] Imperialism affects the form of capitalist development and as well as pertinent effects of the struggle of the capitalist mode of production, and in most cases, to the feudal mode of productions, allowing atrophic and dependent forms of capitalism but at the same time restricting or eliminating the role of the bourgeoisie in the anti-feudal struggle, creating the condition of the reproduction of an ever growing dependency.

F] The anti imperialist struggle has to be combined with anti capitalist struggle. Not combining them will give us the reformist results achieved by the National Liberation Movement or will lead to a class collaborationist, pseudo reactionary nationalist class or fraction in the dominant classes in secondary contradictions with imperialism. By not understanding the determining factor of the internal contradictions as the main source of imperialist domination, we will get the same opportunist and reactionary result of the anti fascist front in the second inter-imperialist war.

G] Workers of the world unite should not be a simple slogan, a formula to be tagged at the beginning of a leaflet but a political position, a guideline for autonomous practice of the working class in the struggle against imperialism and capitalism in imperialist or dominated social formations.

The constant sweeping under the rug of potential lessons of struggle.
There is a strong tendency in our movement, in the relation of theory and practice, to constantly put under the rug some struggle inset of learning from these struggles and objectively contribute in the rectification and/or the consolidation of our interpretation of these struggles. This demarche is not allowing any innovation of proletarian theory and sometimes our “innovation” is old practice covered with new terminology. For me, the National Liberation Movement, an objective advancement but limited one in the struggle against capitalism, is reformism. The root of this lack of innovation and it reproductions with sometimes new terminology is the social classes as actors of their own struggle, the prolonged effect of internal struggle that history has not yet abolished or resolved and the limitation and reflux of proletarian autonomous struggle and the role of autonomous struggle in resolving these struggles of tendencies and terminologies.

The unilateral support of many struggles in the Caribbean, in Latin America and now in Africa is the new reproductions of “innovation” in old practice without systematic learning of the old one. Creating a constant dogmatic hoping from struggle to struggle without learning any viable lessons of any prior struggles. The Sandinista revolutions turn out to be a re-structuration of capitalism, we have never learned of these lessons and now to a new venture; the” revolution” in North African’s social formation with new terminology.

Any theory, especially the theory of history, will not be able to fusion with that history if we do not bring it, relate it to the material conditions in which that theory is being produced. It is not a simple act of creation, a theory in search of an objective reality to adapt to, but a materialistic one base on social process, defined by the law and principles of contradictions….

author by Wayne Price - personal opinionpublication date Tue Jun 07, 2011 22:57Report this post to the editors

If I understand you, Jan, you do accept that there are imperialist countries and other countries which the imperialist countries dominate and exploit. You do not like to call these countries "oppressed" for some reason, but you agee with this basic distinction. However, you think that the main problem (major "contradiction") of these countries (the imperialized ones) lies in their internal class structure, rather than in their conflict with the imperialists. You think that there is still an "anti-feudal_ struggle in these countries and that the ruling classes of these countries are not oppressed. Yet after all this, you come to the same conclusion as van der Walt and myself, namely that "The anti imperialist struggle has to be combined with anti capitalist struggle." Right. This is the historical position of anarchism, as this book makes clear. I do not understand your comments on "innovations."

In my analysis, imperialism is not a country by country thing, but is a world system, the way the classes of modern capitalism are internationally organized. Of course each country is affected in its own way, as you note, but they are all part of one world system (which is why I do not like the phrase "Third World"). All precapitalist formations (semi-feudal, even hunter-gatherer "tribal") are incorporated into this world-wide system. of capital/labor relations of production.

You deny that the local ruling classes are "oppressed," but they are mostly kept subordinate to the imperialists, given a small cut of the superprofits squeezed out of the nation's workers and peasants, and may even be militarily attacked. This does *not* mean that we are for them, give them political support, or whatever, although we may defend them against the imperialist armies. On the contrary, revolutionary anarchists denounce them and propose a real program for freeing every oppressed (exploited) country, namely the international proletarian revolution. I assume you agree?

author by Jan Makandalpublication date Wed Jun 08, 2011 06:03Report this post to the editors

We may theoretically differs on Imperialism and some other points in your response but I will insist the dominant classes in dominated countries, in our times are all reactionaries classes even if in some aspect, some fraction of the dominant classes seems to resist imperialist dominations. This resistance is connected to their reactionary’s class interest. The tendencies, in dominated countries, are there undeniable will to collaborate with imperialism and imperialism objectives and interest. The dominant classes and their sycophants asked for all of the occupations in Haiti. We must also recognize inter imperialist struggle for conquest of new territories and hegemonic control of territories. I have unity with you on the question of Third World and the concept of the Three World elaborated by the Chinese. Both, for me, are bourgeois concept. If time permit I will respond to your other post.

author by Wayne - personal oinionpublication date Thu Jun 09, 2011 05:06Report this post to the editors

The ruling classes of the oppressed-and-exploited countries try to balance between the imperialists and the workers and peasants of their own countries. The rulers generally seek to get a bigger slice of the profits which the imperialists suck out of their country's workers and natural resources. Sometimes they do, as the rulers of Saudi Arabia do, with their close partnership with the US. Other times they are have to fight wars and may be overthrown as was Saddam Hussein (after years of being a good friend to the US imperialists). It depends on local and international factors.

Of course, our solidarity is with the workers, peasants, and petty bourgeoisie of these countries, the "people," not with the rulers (whether nationalist, Marxist-Leninist, or religious). We may defend the PLO against the Israeli state, not because we are for the leadership of the Palestinian nationalist rulers, but only because we are on the side of the Palestinian working people against the imprialist capitalists and the colonial settler state of Israel

In my opinion, there is very little, if anything, to learn from the Maoist tradition. The Chinese Stalinists turned the liberating theory of Marxism into a ideological defense of state capitalism.. There are liberating aspects of Marxism (along with authoritarian aspects) but they are not in the body of Marxism-Leninist-Maoism.

author by Jan Makandalpublication date Sat Jun 11, 2011 09:54Report this post to the editors

I am not a Maoist, I am not in the habit of defending tendencies, even if I think all these tendencies and their ongoing struggles are for the correct political line. I tend to stay away from these types of struggles because of their typical sterility, dogmatism and sectarianism. I am not a Maoist, expressed many times here and on other sites, because I think Maoism is a deformation of Mao’s contributions, positive or negative, but most importantly I fundamentally disagree that Mao’s contributions represents a new stage of Marxist-Leninism due to its limitations and its populism. I have expressed openly positions that our new stage has to radically rupture with personality cults and needs to adopt the collective position of the working class, especially at a time where most of the theoretical contributions by previous militants are in our times need to be deepened. This deepening is a proletarian theory not to be tagged with any individuals’ ownership, even of their important contributions, but to be the collective property of the working class.

Again, I will not enter any sterile debate on Mao, but I do believe the Chinese revolution is a social experience, a reality and we need to look at critically, outside any emotional bias, to fortify, rectify our theory, to strengthen and deepen the theory guiding our struggle.

For me, the contradictions of the dominant classes with their masters are secondary contradictions, and the contradictions of the popular masses with their dominant classes and imperialism are a fundamental antagonistic contradictions that could be only resolved violently.

The PLO, a united front, is the result of that same failed line of unity with our fundamental enemy. Theory is to be validated. The theory guiding the political line of united front in Palestine has failed as well as any part of the world where it was implemented. One of the most important failures is the capitulation of the Left and their recycling of reactionary political organizations or simply reformist organizations recuperated by the dominant classes of respective social formations. In my case, I do support the political orientation aiming at overthrowing the dominant classes of Palestine, under the leadership of the Palestinian workers and the overthrowing of the dominant classes of Israel, under the leaderships of the Israeli workers, and the unity will be addressed in the process of that struggle. Again, Workers of the world unite is not a mere statement but an urgent political question. The workers of Palestine and Israel have much time demonstrated their capacity of unity against their common enemy in many struggles already, in particular against structural adjustments. Only proletarian revolutions in both social formations could really address the questions of peace, not any struggle waged under the leadership of reactionary classes. HAMAS was a political organization set up by the reactionaries to undercut the opportunist and class collaborationism of the PLO. I really don’t know if the PLO represents any social force as it once did as a result of its own opportunism and unprincipled unity in its midst.

I have witnessed in my experience of struggle some pretty authoritarian Anarchist organizations as well, some by their own dogmatism and sectarianism. To think that tagging something libertarian gives us immunity from bureaucratism is metaphysical. The fight against bureaucraticism is not in the tagging, but in the dynamic of the struggle. I do not agree with any such thing as authoritarian socialism or libertarian socialism. The tagging in both doesn’t resolve the problems. Socialism is neither authoritarian nor libertarian. Socialism is the politics of the working class to rid society of classes. Socialism cannot be authoritarian or libertarian. No competition exists between two types of socialism, one authoritarian [to use your concept, with all my disagreement] and the other libertarian. Socialism is a social form of an organized social formation to produce and reproduces a collective form of social organization in the process of achieving two tasks: the collectives appropriation of the means of productions, the questioning of the form of property on which is based the existing social formation.
State Capitalism is not socialism, anyone defending this form of social organization, as socialism, must be exposed.

I do not wish to engage in a battle of trenches to protect a backyard, whether it is Anarchism with all its denominations or Marxism with all its denominations. I am, however, determined to engage in struggle to solidify a proletarian alternative to capitalism. All of the points around Stalin are not of my concern. But I am in the struggle to debunk all the errors, theoretical or political errors, produced by Stalinist militancy, without compromising. I have criticized Stalin’s mechanical view on the development of different modes of production. I think Stalin’s mechanical views opened the door for the theory of peaceful co-existence and unprincipled alliance with our fundamental enemy, like the line guiding the PLO, and that you seem to be in unity with.

I really did not see the political and theoretical importance of your last statement. I am not in the business to venerate dead political militants either I am not in the headstone business and if I was in the veneration of headstone I can guaranteed you some heads would not be carved in my stone. Again these innovations, the dogmatic innovations are to reproduces the same old failed practice that resulted in the reconstruction of capitalism not socialism. I am, again, however, in the practice of learning of any historical social event to reinforce the theory to defeat capitalism. A theory that is a constant mode of rectification, questioning and consolidating.

The concept of the “semi” elaborated Mao in which I am in total disagreement with the theoretical content of the usage of that concept. For me, two antagonistic modes of productions feudalist and capitalism can’t exist in a social formation as semis in their relationships. One will either dominate, or will have the tendencies to dominate as an emerging alternatives, even if that domination, or that emergence is being expressed in a deform way. A characteristic of many social formation dominated by imperialism.

One of the errors of the Maoist movements is to dogmatically reproduce/ textually duplicate Mao’s analysis of the Chinese social formation to their own. In this case reproducing the same mistake committed in China in their own social formations, but in totally different periods and most of the time misinterpreting the objective reality of their own social formation. The consequence is the incapacity to fuse theory with their objective reality. For example, In Haiti the peasantry is not a principal force due to the deterioration of the feudalist mode of productions and the implementation of structural adjustments. It is our task as Haitians proletarians revolutionaries to understand that objective reality and define the correct political line. But also, I think Mao refusal to apply the line of the anti fascist United Front was totally correct, since this line was a blanket line to be applied by all and not taken into account the reality of specific social formation. In contrast, The Haitian Communist party dissolved to facilitate the anti fascist front, and most of the Latin American Communist party entered unprincipled alliance with their fundamental class enemy in the name of anti fascist unity, contributing to their transformation to bourgeois political organization.
I will argue a lot lessons are to be learned in order to move forward in our struggle against capitalism.

author by Wayne - personal opinonpublication date Tue Jun 14, 2011 04:29Report this post to the editors

Jan,

We probably agree on many points. This includes, as you wrote, "The anti imperialist struggle has to be combined with anti capitalist struggle." Also (despite your jargon), " the contradictions of the dominant classes with their masters are secondary contradictions, and the contradictions of the popular masses with their dominant classes and imperialism are a fundamental antagonistic contradictions that could be only resolved violently."

My problem is that you use a lot of this sort of jargon, which comes out of the post-twenties Communist Parties (that is, Stalinism), and from its derivative, Maoism. Yu do not agree with all of it, but you take it seriously, analyzing whether its ideas are true or false. In my opinion it is mostly gibberish, developed as false ideology, to cover up the state capitalist nature of the ruling bureaucracy in the Soviet Union and Maoist China. Stalin and Mao were not just revolutionaries who made mistakes, they were totalitarian mass murderers of workers, peasants, and revolutionaries. This is not merely a historical issue, but a quesstion of what you want to create riow, in the name of "abolishing classes."

You deny that there is a distinction between "authoritarian socialism" and "libertarain socialism." The point is not the labels but the concepts. The first concept is for using either the existing state or a new revolutionary state to change society. In fact it will set up the rule of a minority class to maintain the capital/labor relationship within an *apparently* collectivist economy. But libertarian socialism (or libertarian communism or anarchist-communism) aims to overthrow the existing state and replace it with a federation of workers and popular councils and an armed people to self-manage the collectivized economy and society. Thee are very different concepts, whatever you call them.

As you say, anarchist groups can in fact be authoritarian, dogmatic, and sectarian. I do not deny it! I would even add that there has been a libertarian-democratic trend within Marxism, which rejects both reformism and Leninism---although always a *minority* trend. This does not change the basic need to approach national liberation and other issues from the viewpoint of a libertarian-democratic, proletarian, and revolutionary viewpoint.

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Thu Jun 16, 2011 04:38Report this post to the editors

Jan writes:
"The anti imperialist struggle has to be combined with anti capitalist struggle. Not combining them will give us the reformist results achieved by the National Liberation Movement or will lead to a class collaborationist, pseudo reactionary nationalist class or fraction in the dominant classes in secondary contradictions with imperialism. By not understanding the determining factor of the internal contradictions as the main source of imperialist domination, we will get the same opportunist and reactionary result of the anti fascist front in the second inter-imperialist war."

That was, in fact, exactly the position of the mainstream of most historic anarchist / syndicalist movements - in China, Cuba, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Ukraine etc. etc.

Jan Writes:
"There is a strong tendency in our movement, in the relation of theory and practice, to constantly put under the rug some struggle inset of learning from these struggles and objectively contribute in the rectification and/or the consolidation of our interpretation of these struggles. This demarche is not allowing any innovation of proletarian theory and sometimes our “innovation” is old practice covered with new terminology. For me, the National Liberation Movement, an objective advancement but limited one in the struggle against capitalism, is reformism."

But that is exactly why it is important to understand the history of our movement, to (re)discover revolutionary paths that merged social revolution and national liberation on a revolutionary, class struggle, peasant-proletarian, basis - a tradition obscured by Marxist two-stage theory (esp. in its mechanical, Popular Front forms, but also in Maoism etc.) and by Third Worldism, Three-World Theory, dependency theory etc.

Before we set the tasks of reinvention, claims of new stages of struggle, or dismiss historical references as signs of dogmatism etc,. etc. we need to undertake the task of rediscovery of our history, as the basis for drawing lessons.

To rediscover these pasts is not dogmatism, but a necessary foundation for future work.

I suspect, indeed, that Jan will find much to agree with in the classical anarchist/ syndicalist tradition, and its struggles.

author by Jan Makandalpublication date Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:12Report this post to the editors

I would argue that the task of advancing our struggle to a new stage relies indeed on an uncompromising critique of our past, not in the defense of Marxism or Anarchism.

It is through that approach that we will enter a new stage of deepening of our theory, not bound to private ownership but rather to the collective property of the working class and its movement. One of the fundamental problems with both tendencies is that they are evolving nowadays outside of the working class movement and most of the interpretation is the product of intellectuals totally disconnected and not immersed in working class struggle, the working class movement, the communist of movements produced in the midst of these struggle and our incapacity to construct an emergent dominant ideology capable of offering a real alternative to capitalism.

To understand the history of our movement we need also to recognize that Marx and others did not create or discover anything. They simply gave an interpretation to the struggle of the working class, and from this interpretation an ongoing struggle is ensuing to fuse that interpretation to objective reality. We should not limit our interpretation to commentaries, but really deepen these interpretations to further pursue our struggle against capitalism and at the same time construct our ideology and theory.

My insistence to overcome the backyard quarrels of inter denominations and tendencies is to simply learn from practice, in the relation of theory and practice, in order to construct theory linked to contemporary political problems but not put at the service of a line devised for a specific conjuncture, and /or used as a holding tank of citations, illustrations, baseless accusations and innuendoes that strive to furnish, in the absence of evidence, some sort of guarantee of intellectual integrity and authenticity. The core question is that the working class needs to organize itself to face the problematic of its revolution, and each development will determine the problems, its demonstrations, the constitutions of its concepts, its transformations and inescapable rectifications.

The study of the struggle of the working class is a collective endeavor and the theory produced from that praxis is the collective property of the international working class. It is an uninterrupted task of the movement, as the revolutionary practice that it is part of. To rediscover a revolutionary path is from the start a struggle against its revision, against its deviations, but for its rectification and it’s deepening.

For me, no merging of the national liberation movement to social revolution is possible outside or independent of a working class leadership in these struggles. Many address the question of class leadership, working class leadership, for the revolutionary transformative social relations of capitalism but only remain at the theoretical level as we witness in many “revolutions”, incapable of translating this into praxis. The question of working class leadership to rid society of capitalism is a question to be resolved and implemented.

I think Mao brought some valuable contributions to break with the two stages theory. I hope we do not engage in the sterile debate of Maoism because simply of my recognition of its contributions. With all its limitations, based on populism and opportunism, I think his contributions are to be deepened in the rupture with the failed line of the two stages.

“I suspect, indeed, that Jan will find much to agree with in the classical anarchist/ syndicalist tradition, and its struggles”. I do, indeed, but remain critical, very critical of its shortcoming. One of the shortcomings is the tendency to draw conclusion from perceptual knowledge leading one to reach empirical conclusions reinforced by dogma and sectarianism. For example, I do agree that Russia degenerated into State capitalism, but to conclude that this degeneration is the result of its bureaucratic/authoritarian nature is empirical and not corresponding to the internal reality. I think the degeneration is mostly due to their economist political orientation favoring the historical constitution and reconstruction of the capitalist class, in particular the bureaucratic bourgeoisie. To have capitalism, even in the form of state capitalism is to have the capitalist class historically constituted inside a social formation.
One the principal mistakes of the economist orientation is to define the development of the productive forces as the engine of history and to hold that the development of the productive forces is the necessary condition for social transformations. The Bolsheviks defended this position.

This economist tendency simply identifies the productive forces to the means of production, denying the fact that the productive forces are constituted by the producers. Giving a privileged role to the productive forces in the construction of socialism takes away the leadership and the initiative of the working class. This results in the repression of the working class, facilitating and/or imposing the historical constitution of a class antagonistic to the working class. This also relies, as well, only on the accumulation of new means of productions and of technical knowledge to advance socialist construction. This economist orientation favored the emergence and the reconstruction of the bourgeoisie.

Another effect is the so-called “war communism” that was considering a direct transition to communism, denying the continuation of class struggle, even if class struggle is reproducing under new forms. From that experience we can conclude that the theory of the supremacy of the productive forces, the concept that class struggle simply exists in the new society mainly in the level of its judicial relations is erroneous and not validated in practice if we all agree that a deviation occurred in Russia not resulting in the continuation of socialist construction. To conclude that the deviation in Russia is due to authoritarianism nature is perceptually correct but is limited, rendering the conclusion empirical and objectively not benefiting proletarian theory.

The rediscovery of the past must be done from the interest of the working class, we must combat the illusions of petit bourgeois democracy and bourgeois democracy and the substitution of their class interests to the interest of the proletariat. We have seen this substitutive manifestation in the Anti Apartheid movement, the anti-government struggle resulting in the reproduction of capitalism, not the construction of socialism. We have seen the left giving support to a pro-imperialist such as Aristide in Haiti, just by the fact that he was elected in a bourgeois-led election, meaning under the dictatorship-democracy of the Haitian dominant classes and under the hegemony of fractions of that bourgeoisie.

I will eventually finish reading Black Flame, to learn from it and because of its historical value and if time allows render some critics of it. I was not reflecting on the book.

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Thu Jul 07, 2011 02:28Report this post to the editors

** Jan, I agree with a lot of what you say, but I remain unconvinced by your ongoing assertion of a "new stage." You keep asserting this, but assertion does not establish fact; you need to justify your claim, particularly given that its the foundation for your ongoing assertion that the Marxist/ anarchist debate is redundant, or sterile, or dogmatic etc.

** You assert that "One of the fundamental problems with both tendencies is that they are evolving nowadays outside of the working class movement and most of the interpretation is the product of intellectuals totally disconnected and not immersed in working class struggle, the working class movement." Again, this is just simple (and sweeping) assertion. Where is your evidence? Its easy enough to show that this claim is simply incorrect . It serves rhetorical purposes - painting Marxists and anarchists as middle class, and therefore "disconnected" - but it is a problem to draw political conclusions without a careful study of the social forces at play.

** Jan writes "My insistence to overcome the backyard quarrels of inter denominations and tendencies is to simply learn from practice, in the relation of theory and practice, in order to construct theory linked to contemporary political problems but not put at the service of a line devised for a specific conjuncture" etc. Which serious revolutionary would disagree with this? The problem arises when you assert that debates on the past - and debates that define themselves by reference to historic positions - are necessarily and always merely dogmatic and abstract. That is simply not true. You yourself claim that Mao had some insights on the two-stage theory, that the fate of the Russian Revolution was, to some extent, a consequence of theoretical positions that you label "economism": such arguments cannot be made without recourse to sort of historical study of texts and movements, including an analysis informed by the Marxist/ anarchist debate. There is nothing inherently of "dogma and sectarianism" in this mode.

** Jan states "I do agree that Russia degenerated into State capitalism, but to conclude that this degeneration is the result of its bureaucratic/authoritarian nature is empirical and not corresponding to the internal reality." There is no way to know the "internal reality" without "empirical" study, and such study shows that the "bureaucratic/authoritarian" nature of Bolshevism exemplified the degeneration of the Russian Revolution. Without empirical data - including citations from core texts - it is not posisble to establish your claim that "the degeneration is mostly de to their economist political orientation favoring the historical constitution and reconstruction of the capitalist class..."

** Lastly, you note: "I will eventually finish reading Black Flame, to learn from it and because of its historical value and if time allows render some critics of it. I was not reflecting on the book.": Jan, I was referring to the book "Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World," not to "Black Flame."

Best wishes
Lucien

author by Jan Makandalpublication date Thu Jul 07, 2011 18:49Report this post to the editors

I am not asserting, I am actually militating from a particular minority tendency, in the movement, to enter a new stage free of dogmatic and sectarianism where labels/code words are more important than content. I think the communist organization is the embryonic construct of the new society we aim to build. Inside this communist movement collective ownership is to be implemented. Below is part of a small piece , mass line, posted in Anarkismo and elsewhere in which I further explained my view on the new stage of Proletarian struggle requiring a genuine autonomous proletarian movement at all levels mass, intermediate, and revolutionaries.

“We are in the period of imperialism and proletarian revolution. All stages in proletarian theory must correspond to a new stage to proletarian struggle internationally. It is certain, the Bolshevik revolution, the Chinese revolution, and the Vietnamese revolution are enclosed in a stage and the need to enter a new stage is present. We have enough elements in the struggle of the international proletariat to do so, but our experiences are limited, very limited. Much more needs to be accomplished by the international proletariat to really enter a new stage. One the important contradictions that new stage needs to overcome, is the constant search for an individual, a revolutionary militant to associate, as essential, to associate with that stage. We almost had this with Gonzalo of Peru. The thought process of identifying an individual as representing a new stage is deeply flawed, presenting theoretical positions as dogma, enshrining the positive as well as the negative aspects of their contributions, to be quoted from to validate our arguments…

It is important, from the conception of proletarian internationalism, to work, to develop theory from a collective conception, even if, at times, some ideas do originate from particular individuals. This individual origination is irrelevant, accidental, besides being historically determined by broader social forces. The collective development of proletarian revolutionary theory is what is corresponds to the class nature of the proletariat. This is what is corresponds to communism. We must overcome the form and limitations that all the previous stages took, that corresponded to previous levels of capitalism, and the form proletarian struggles took, and the maturity of these proletarian struggles.”

author by Jan Makandalpublication date Fri Jul 08, 2011 05:50Report this post to the editors

Lucien said:
The problem arises when you assert that debates on the past - and debates that define themselves by reference to historic positions - are necessarily and always merely dogmatic and abstract. That is simply not true. You yourself claim that Mao had some insights on the two-stage theory, that the fate of the Russian Revolution was, to some extent, a consequence of theoretical positions that you label "economism": such arguments cannot be made without recourse to sort of historical study of texts and movements, including an analysis informed by the Marxist/ anarchist debate. There is nothing inherently of "dogma and sectarianism" in this mode.
I do agree.

Lucien said:
Jan states, "I do agree that Russia degenerated into State capitalism, but to conclude that this degeneration is the result of its bureaucratic/authoritarian nature is empirical and not corresponding to the internal reality." There is no way to know the "internal reality” without "empirical" study”
I said:
One of the shortcomings is the tendency to draw conclusions from perceptual knowledge/empirical study leading one to reach empirical conclusions reinforced by dogma and sectarianism

Lucien said:
… And such study shows that the "bureaucratic/authoritarian" nature of Bolshevism exemplified the degeneration of the Russian Revolution. Without empirical data - including citations from core texts - it is not possible to establish your claim that "the degeneration is mostly due to their economist political orientation favoring the historical constitution and reconstruction of the capitalist class..."
I said:
I will only add not only exemplified but accelerated the process. The question of the degeneration of the Soviet Union is not particular to that specific social formation. The Chinese and the Cubans did face similar problems, although not duplicated, in the construction of “socialism” in their respective social formation. Cuba did go to many periods of rectification and the Chinese as well, especially in the Cultural Revolution to finally degenerate to State Capitalism. For me, it was not simply a theoretical question but mainly an economic political line favoring and facilitating the reconstruction of the capitalist class. These points are not new; in the collection, Maspero/Seuil in French Charles Bettellheim did an in- depth analysis of class struggle in the Soviet Union covering different periods. His contributions are valuables.

Mao ruptures with the Two Stages in producing the New Democracy’s political orientation.

An excerpt of response given to a Maoist site:
The ongoing experience in Nepal reconfirms one more time the flaws in the two-stage theory, totally in contrast with the New
Democracy elaborated by Mao, especially at the stage of imperialism. Bourgeois revolution is unlikely to take form and shape under imperialism, and imperialist domination. New Democracy went totally against the two stages and elaborated a proletarian line giving the proletariat 2 intertwined problematic to address in a social formation in which exists two antagonistic modes of productions, feudalism and capitalism, especially when that social formation is under imperialist domination.

One problematic was addressing feudalism, the other was addressing socialism. One was democratic in its social relations, the other was socialist. The insistence on the leadership of the working class, in the New Democracy, was imperative in the definition of the socialist problematic as determinant. In this case, we must point out that even if the line elaborated by Mao was correct, in its implementation he totally neglected the working class and /or defined an opportunist line for the working class in general but most especially toward the National Bourgeoisie.

Again, that is wishful thinking by not understanding that the feudal mode of production and the capitalist mode of production are in a social formation dominated by imperialism. The antagonistic relations imply the incapacity of the bourgeois class, under imperialism, to lead an anti-feudal struggle. The feudal class and the capitalist class are reactionary, anti-popular and pro-imperialist. It is not clear if exists a National Bourgeoisie and what social force that this National bourgeoisie represents in Nepal, if it existed. To unite with one against the other is suicide and will lead objectively to what is going on now, only the proletariat, however quantitatively small, could lead these social formations to socialism otherwise the result will be a restructuration of capitalism.
http://kasamaproject.org/2011/06/30/nepals-crossroads-w...hing/

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Issue #3 of the Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective

Front page

Elementos da Conjuntura Eleitoral 2014

The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes

[Chile] EL FTEM promueve una serie de “jornadas de debate sindical”

Ukraine: Interview with a Donetsk anarchist

The present confrontation between the Zionist settler colonialist project in Palestine and the indigenous working people

Prisões e mais criminalização marcam o final da Copa do Mundo no Brasil

An Anarchist Response to a Trotskyist Attack: Review of “An Introduction to Marxism and Anarchism” by Alan Woods (2011)

هەڵوێستی سەربەخۆی جەماوەر لە نێوان داعش و &

Contra a Copa e a Repressão: Somente a Luta e Organização!

Nota Pública de soldariedade e denúncia

Üzüntümüz Öfkemizin Tohumudur

Uruguay, ante la represión y el abuso policial

To vote or not to vote: Should it be a question?

Mayday: Building A New Workers Movement

Anarchist and international solidarity against Russian State repression

Argentina: Atentado y Amenazas contra militantes sociales de la FOB en Rosario, Santa Fe

Réponses anarchistes à la crise écologique

50 оттенков коричневого

A verdadeira face da violência!

The Battle for Burgos

Face à l’antisémitisme, pour l’autodéfense

Reflexiones en torno a los libertarios en Chile y la participación electoral

Mandela, the ANC and the 1994 Breakthrough: Anarchist / syndicalist reflections

Melissa Sepúlveda "Uno de los desafíos más importantes es mostrarnos como una alternativa real"

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KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 73, February 2013 has just been posted on the site. You can get to the contents here http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/qrfkm1 or read the full pdf here: http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/g4f5zm.

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KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 70-71, July 2012 [Double issue] has just been posted on the site. You can get to the contents or read the full pdf too.

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KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 68, October 2011 has just been posted on the site.

imageAnarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940 Jan 15 0 comments

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