Friday, December 19, 2008

John Peterson: The Spanish Revolution 70 Years Later



On November 13, 2008 at Mayday Books in Minneapolis, Graeme and I, attended a forum on the Spanish Civil War. The speakers included this blog team member John Peterson, talking about the Trotskyist position on the war. In addition an anarchist and moderator spoke.

A good movie to see about the Spanish Civil War is Ken Loach's Land and Freedom, based on George Orwell's Homage To Catalonia. In addition Bertolucci's 1900 deals with lessons similar to those of the Spanish Civil War.


RENEGADE EYE

87 comments:

The Pagan Temple said...

I just can't see anything like that working here. Americans view socialism as anti-prosperity, and limiting the potential to rise higher in life. They don't want to erase class distinctions, they want to climb the class ladder. That's just the way we are. It's in our blood.

Maybe twenty or thirty million illegal immigrants from now things might change, but it definitely won't come from native born Americans, who would probably form their own country at that point.

American workers might want a lot, and they might and certainly do rail against the inherent unfairness within "the system", but they don't really want to do away with it either. They want to make it more fair.

So when John Peterson talks about the mistakes made in finding common ground with what he calls liberal capitalists, if I remember right, he misses the whole point. That was probably the only chance the socialist movement had of ever finding wide-ranging support to begin with. Without the liberal capitalists, there probably never would have been a Spanish Civil War, because there would have never been enough people willing to fight it.

He also oversimplifies what people are and are not willing to fight for. There were slave-owners in the US border states who willingly fought for the Union in the Civil War. There were slaves in southern states who were willing to fight for the Confederacy.

Does he really think American soldiers fought World War II in order to keep Stalin in check? Wow! I bet most of them never gave Stalin a second thought. In their minds, they were fighting Hitler and fascism. Maybe he meant to say they were being manipulated to contain Stalin, but if so, he kind of flubbed the point.

He is wrong at any rate. Hitler was obviously the main target, whether of the "farm boy" soldiers or their leaders. He had to be stopped. If the goal was to rein in Stalin, why did we not go that extra mile and overthrow the bastard when he was at his weakest ebb? We could have marched on to Moscow and he probably would have toppled.

There is a current theory that George Patton was murdered precisely because he advocated that policy. Back in those days people tended to look at "Uncle Joe" through rose-colored glasses.

Larry Gambone said...

"Homage to Catalonia" was the book that broke me away from an increasingly-Maoist "Third Worldist" New Left and led me to discover anarcho-syndicalism, libertarian communism and groups like Socialisme ou Barbarie. "Land and Freedom" is a modern classic and is good also because it emphasizes the POUM, which often gets overlooked - overshadowed by its larger ally, the CNT-FAI. Another good film is "Libertaria" which deals with the Mujeres Libres movement.

And while the POUM was not Trotskyist, there was Trotskyist influence and the POUM-CNT-FAI alliance (in spite of its obvious failure to complete the revolution in Spain by seizing power when they had the chance) is for me the model to follow.

Larry Gambone said...

"I just can't see anything like that working here. Americans... don't want to erase class distinctions, they want to climb the class ladder. That's just the way we are. It's in our blood."

I know that is the dominant view among those who uphold the system, and it is the ideology pumped out day and night by the media, but do you have statistical proof of this in terms of polls, interviews etc. The academic version of this is called "American exceptionalism", by the way...

The Pagan Temple said...

Gambone-

Why did you cut this part out?

"Americans view socialism as anti-prosperity, and limiting the potential to rise higher in life."

Do you deny this, or do you accept that this is the mainstream American view of socialism?

The majority of Americans opinions of socialism, communism, etc., is why there is not a portrait of President Hall in the White House.

Larry Gambone said...

I cut it out because it isn't important. By itself, without the other parts of your statement, it would be just pure ideology. But if Americans really do believe they can "climb the class ladder" and "don't want to erase class distinctions" socialism would be a very difficult thing to achieve.

The other problem is that 99.99% of USians don't know what the word means, and AT BEST confuse it with social democracy. Using such standards, the fact is where there is a significant amount of such "socialism" (Canada, Western Europe.) workers are better off than they are in the USA.

The Pagan Temple said...

But it wasn't an ideological statement. The operative phrase was "Americans view". That's not an ideological statement, that's a statement of fact. Well, it might not be completely accurate because it was a blanket statement. It would have been more accurate to say most Americans view it that way.

We're dancing around the main point of my disagreement with Peterson. Why does he think a socialist revolution would have been more successful without the alliance with liberal capitalists, for want of a better name? I say it would have never gotten off the ground without their support.

Face it, things have to get pretty damn bad before people throw their support whole heartedly behind a movement like that. As long as things are relatively good, they just won't do it.

Now I don't have any idea how good or bad things were in Spain at that particular time, but I'm going to go out on a limb and propose the average Spaniard wasn't exactly living like Ferdinand and Isabella, in all probability. So why did the revolutionaries need the support of "liberal capitalists" to begin with?

Oh, and while I'm on the subject, I just remembered another area where he's far off the mark. He claims that if the Allies were really out to defeat Hitler, and fascism, they should have been willing to go into Spain and overthrow Franco while they had the chance.

Well, the simple fact is, Franco never declared war on the Allied nations. He stayed neutral in the conflict. Nations traditionally respect the neutrality of other nations, for the most part.

Hitler tried to get Franco to align with him, but Franco refused, which kind of pissed Hitler off. Their last visit together ended on a cold, sombre tone.

See, Peterson isn't even considering the extra hardship that would be involved in yet another extension of an already overly extensive, costly, and bloody war, to him it's just "proof" of anti-communism on the part of the allies. The reality was, the Allies didn't want to create another ally for Hitler.

Everything in life isn't about pro or anti-communism or socialism. Sometimes, believe it or not, it doesn't even enter the equation.

Renegade Eye said...

I'm not visible on this video.

Pagan: Pardon the word soup response of my writing, mixed with Alan Woods.

Cambodia was neutral, and we know what happened. Franco was a terrible general, but a shrewd politician. He was able to play both sides.

Spain was saddled with a dictator, who opened up his markets to world capitalism, and provided slave labor. His political oppenents were slaves.

This again shows the fight wasn't against fascism.

The Spanish Civil War clearly showed Stalinism's main enemy was independent socialists, not bourgeoise democracy or fascism.

The Republicans lost because they put so much effort putting down socialists and anarchists, Franco was able to defeat them.

The Republicans catered to capitalists so much, they opposed autonomy for Morroco. Franco offered them autonomy, and they fought with him. Franco had many North African troops.

They should have followed Trotsky, who recommended factories to the workers and land to the peasants.

This is from Alan Woods writing about WWII: The conflicts between Churchill and Roosevelt on the question of D-day were of a political and not a military character. Churchill wanted to confine the Allies' war to the Mediterranean, partly with an eye on the Suez Canal and the route to British India, and partly because he was contemplating an invasion of the Balkans to bloc the Red Army's advance there. In other words, his calculations were based exclusively on the strategic interests of British imperialism and the need to defend the British empire. In addition, Churchill had still not entirely given up the hope that Russia and Germany would exhaust themselves, creating a stalemate in the east.

The interests of US imperialism and British imperialism were entirely contradictory in this respect. Washington, while formally the ally of London, was all the time aiming to use the war to weaken the position of Britain in the world and particularly to break its stranglehold on India and Africa. At the same time it was concerned to halt the advance of the Red Army and gain control over a weakened Europe after the war. That explains the haste of the Americans to open the second front in Europe and Churchill's lack of enthusiasm for it. Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt's main diplomatic representative, complained that Churchill's delaying tactics had "lengthened the timing of the war."


In August 1943 Churchill and Roosevelt met in Quebec against the background of a powerful Soviet offensive. The Soviet victories at Stalingrad and Kursk forced the British and Americans to act. The remorseless Soviet advance obliged even Churchill to reconsider his position. Reluctantly, Churchill gave in to the insistent demands of the American President. Even so, the opening of the second front was delayed until the Spring of 1944.

I believe the rank and file soldier as my father, fought in WWII to defeat Hitler period. Roosevelt and the idiot Churchill were thinking about colonies and stopping socialism. England didn't care that Hitler took a portion of Czechoslavakia.

Stalin told Roosevelt, he wouldn't fight the Japanese in China and Korea, until the Germans were defeated. The US couldn't beat the Japanese alone.

The defeat of the Germans in Russia came, contrary to Churchill's expectations, even with the weight of the Stalinist bureaucracy, it had a planned economy, and could quickly go into war footing.

I want to post about Churchill sometime. He was a reactionary antisemite. Highly overrated.

Bottom line is the rank and file soldier fought the war to stop Hitler. Their patriotism is based on defending their home and family, not fighting colonial wars.

Larry: The other speaker was a young anarchist, raised by ex-Communist Party parents. His parents are involved in solidarity work and the Democratic Party.

Orwell's description of socialist Barcelona is great writing.

Somewhere in this post I must get in the line about being a socialist with a hole in my pocket.

Té la mà Maria - Reus said...

a very good story about our civil war, thanks friend

The Pagan Temple said...

Ren-

I won't disagree with your overall general assessments of the war, but I will make one minor point. Cambodia, while it might have been technically neutral, was a country through which supply lines ran. That made it a valuable strategic target. There was no such situation involving Spain in World War II.

Again, Hitler and Franco had a falling out, as Franco refused to align himself and Spain with the Axis during the war. There was no reason, ideologically or strategically, to attack Spain.

Spain was not a threat to British or American interests, nor were they of value to Germany. Your comparison of Spain to Cambodia is therefore invalid.

CB said...

These ideas will never work because they are total nonsense! Reformism, revolution, tensions between factions, trying to relegate people to artificial classes. Leadership of what? Ideas no one believes in?

Here's an example of this guy's logical paucity. He says that "the workers" won't defend the landlord's property or factory but they will defend their own (he slips here and then catches himself to then say) their collective property. But why would collective property be defended? It's collective! Why would a sense of propriety emerge from the revolutionary?

The Mexican Revolution was fought, in part, as a reaction to Spanish feudalism and in response, the ejido system or collective land ownership was implemented. Did it bring about utopian collectivism? Why are 20 million illegal immigrants in the US, where we have private property rights?

What the ejido system did was turn formerly arable land into desert. Poor use, fear of confiscation, no incentive to plan...that worked out well.

The feckless critiques of capitalism completely miss the mark because what they conflate collectivist intrusion (representative government) with free exchange and property and contract rights, the former being the real problem.

It is arrogant and I'm going to stop here before I get nasty and out of respect for my leftist friends.

The Pagan Temple said...

CB-

I noticed that as well, about the workers supposedly not being willing to defend landlord's properties. John gave us a lot to work with, didn't he?

People that take up arms usually do so either for mercenary reasons, or to protect their way of life, out of fear of invasion and subjugation, among other things, including but not limited to defense of property.

True, nobody gets all fired up over defending their bosses factories or other holdings, but they are willing to take up arms in a heartbeat to defend self, family, etc. Even Ren recognizes that. Note here where he said to me-

"Bottom line is the rank and file soldier fought the war to stop Hitler. Their patriotism is based on defending their home and family, not fighting colonial wars."

CB said...

PT,

We could sit and feast on this until our national debt is satisfied.

Larry Gambone said...

PT – Liberal capitalists, as capitalists, are opposed to socialism. They will accept social democracy, but workers cooperatives and self-management, other than the very rare individual (like Robert Owen or Fred Engels) they will never accept. They cannot accept it because it would mean the end of their control. Abolishing capitalism with the aid of capitalists is a bit like abolishing coke addiction with the aid of the Colombian cartels

- Defeating Franco would have also helped defeat Hitler. Spain was a big test for the Nazis. Had they been driven out, Hitler's image would have been tarnished at home and a democratic victory would have bolstered opposition to Hitler's intended grabbing of Austria and Czechoslovakia.

CB - Collective property is not statism. Much of the industry and farm land of Catalonia and Andalusia was collectivised. It was done so by the workers and farmers. They died protecting it from the Stalinists and fascists. These collectives were like worker coops and hence the property belonged to the workers. Obviously you have never belonged to a cooperative, CB to think that its members wouldn't defend it. I also suggest you tell this to Native Americans who died by the thousands defending their collective property. As for Mexico's problems, it does not relate to the ejido, but rather to the creation of a parasitic corporate state economy beginning with the Aleman government's “right-turn” undermining the progressive reforms of the Cardenas period. (Though some would say that Cardenas lay the ground work for this corporatism.)

The Pagan Temple said...

Gambone-

- "Defeating Franco would have also helped defeat Hitler. Spain was a big test for the Nazis. Had they been driven out, Hitler's image would have been tarnished at home and a democratic victory would have bolstered opposition to Hitler's intended grabbing of Austria and Czechoslovakia."

Granted, but that isn't even what Peterson was talking about in the video. Did you even watch it? He said that the Allies, during the war, after they pushed their offensive against Hitler into Europe, should have taken the time to divert resources to fight and overthrow Franco. He then goes on to make the curious assertion that the fact they did not is some kind of "proof" that what they were really doing was trying to contain socialism-or maybe just the USSR.

I say he is flat out wrong. Again, Franco refused to align with Hitler and Mussolini during World War II. The fact that the Allies did not attack Franco only proves they made better military strategists than John Peterson would have been, and pretty much nothing else.

Larry Gambone said...

You are right CB, I didn't watch all of it. Too much buffering drives me nuts.

While Franco refused to join with Hitler in WW2 he was sympathetic to his brother fascists. A genuinely democratic anti-fascist war would have knocked him out of power after defeating Hitler and Musso. But the UK and USA did not do this because they knew the CNT-FAI and the POUM would - in spite of having hundreds of thousands of their members murdered - would have regained the upper hand and socialism would have again been on the agenda.

Larry Gambone said...

Sorry, that last response was for Pagan Temple, not CB...

The Pagan Temple said...

Gambone-

I recommend you download the new Chrome browser. Google just recently released it from Beta. I used to have that problem with videos on Firefox. With Chrome, I haven't had that problem even once, and this was a thirty-one minute video. Give it a shot, I think you'll be pleased. Of course, that's provided you aren't on dial-up, which is a bitch with any browser.

As for Franco, all I know for sure about him is he's still dead.

Larry Gambone said...

Thanks PT, I will give Crome try. Be nice to watch videos without cursing. (thankfully, I don't have dial-up.)

Renegade Eye said...

Té la mà Maria - Reus: Thank you for visiting. I'm sure your family has stories to tell.

CB: Trotskyists as a group, don't glamorize rural life in any manner.

I have no nostalgia for any remnant of feudalism. Today most people live in big cities, or will move. It's a straw man argument to talk about old style Mexican farming.

Politically rural movements face extinction, if they are not aligned with the urban working class. All the land reform in the world wouldn't bring socialism.

Socialism means the best things in life, the highest culture. It means taking the best of everything.

Pagan: The talk of defending home and family, is paraphrasing Trotsky from "The Transitional Program."

The bombing of the civilian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when Japan was near surrender, was done as a threat to the Soviet Union, which could have marched through Japan.

Churchill on Bolshevism: "This movement among the Jews is not new. It is part of a world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, envious malevolence, and impossible equality." He was referring to Marx, Luxemburg and Trotsky.

From an article about Churchill: "In his rather stupid book Great Contemporaries in 1937 Churchill poured out his puerile invective, throwing every conceivable insult at Trotsky, then concluding with the question "Who was Trotsky? He was a Jew."

Larry: did you see "1900" yet?

The Pagan Temple said...

"Socialism means the best of everything".

If you had ever lived in a rural area for any length of time, rural life would more than likely make your top ten list of the best things in life, and may well be near the top of the list. City life has its advantages, but by and large I would ten times prefer to live in a non-congested rural area as in a stinking city surrounded by millions or even hundreds of thousands of human beings. And yes, I have lived in both.

So, if this is a typical socialist attitude towards rural life and farming, that's just one more strike against socialism, and one more reason why it will never work.

One of the things you will have to move past if you ever expect any degree of socialism to work or last for long is your collective allergic reactions to private property. There is no reason for it, and your insistence on adhering to it is why some view your movement as a pseudo-religious cult. You have to evolve from this. That's just the way it is.

Who wants to live on and be tied down to an area of land that is owned by a group? This is a kind of slavery, whether its a democratic slavery of mob rule or state sponsored feudalism, as in the Soviet Union without the royal pretensions.

Even people with an attraction to city life prefer, if they can manage it, to live outside the inner confines of cities. For example, I would love to have access to all of the advantages of life in Louisville, but if I had my choice, I would prefer to actually live just outside of Bardstown, which is within close proximity to Louisville but without the bullshit.

In other words, you don't have to be a wealthy landowner to prefer rural life, or to detest city life.

The Pagan Temple said...

"The bombing of the civilian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when Japan was near surrender, was done as a threat to the Soviet Union, which could have marched through Japan."

I'm sure that was taken into consideration, but I don't believe for a minute that was the main reason, which was to force Japan to surrender in order to keep us from having to undertake a prolonged invasion of the island which would have required further years, at much greater expense, and ultimately at far greater loss of life on both sides than resulted from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Additionally, post-war relations between American and Japan would have suffered greater difficulties throughout the years and even on to today had we gone the invasion route and not bombed with the nukes, which ended the war quickly. Plus, such a strategy might have tied us down so completely it might have enabled the Soviet Union to take over the entirety of Europe.

People need to move past their collective Post Traumatic Stress Disorder involving the Cold War threat of nuclear annihilation so many endured through the fifties through the nineties, and some still today.

Larry Gambone said...

PT, an economy that is owned and controlled by the people, (socialism) rather than owned and controlled by a sociopathic minority, (capitalism) will reflect the desires and needs of the people. Statistically, for most of us, living in a smaller community and growing a lot of your own food is simply a better way to live, period. This is not a return to some romanticized past but involves a progressive change of consciousness – towards cooperation and inter-relatedness, and the use of sustainable contemporary technologies.

Need I add, that I live in a relatively small town and grow much of my own food?

Far from socialism turning the world into an urbanized hell, it will allow the vast majority of people to live as they really want to.

Where I live, the people who promote farmers markets, local production, small farms and protection of agricultural land are not right-wingers, indeed the wingers hate this sort of thing, loyal Walmarters, all. My friends and I are at the forefront of local self-sufficiency, which means small producers and cooperation. Agribusiness is economically and environmentally unsustainable. Huge population agglomerations are socially, environmentally, and economically unsustainable. In the coming years
we are going to see population decentralization in the form of a return to smaller, genuine communities, and increase in the number of people involved in food production. This is not a matter of choice. Peak oil and climate change will force these changes upon us.


The main reason Americans have been leaving the city centers is because of gross mis-management on the part of the authorities. Everything is geared to property speculators and the auto industry, hence the ghastly suburbs and urban decay. Elsewhere, Europe, and Canadian cities like Montreal and Vancouver, the city centers are the most vibrant place to live.

Larry Gambone said...

As for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, your views on this are simply a restatement of war propaganda.Every war that has ever been fought gives rise to a lot of excuses for doing so and for the inevitable atrocities. Educated people generally realize they are being propagandized and search for the real reason for the war or why an atrocity was committed. You can virtually guarantee that the reasons given by the authorities are never the real ones.

The Pagan Temple said...

Gambone-

So if I live in a small town and on a small farm, do I get to own that small farm, or even a mid-sized one, or do I have to put up with a "democratic" committee telling me what to grow and when to grow it, and also what part of what parcel of land I can live on and farm at any given time? Do they get to move me around at whim, or take my farm away from me if I have a bad year or two? Can I charge what I want for my produce, or do I have to charge what this committee tells me to charge? Or is the pricing equation out of my hands all together? Does the money go then to the committee who pays me a stipend for my work? Am I obliged to invest in the farm at my own expense? Or, if the committee tells me what I can grow, and when and how much I can charge, do they also shoulder the burden the expense on their collective shoulders? What is my incentive to make this farm truly profitable and productive over and above what I am told I have to produce?

As for the war, what can I say? If I had lived back then and had my way about it the US would have concentrated on Japan and left Hitler and Stalin to rip each other apart, and otherwise limited ourselves with arming Britain with weapons, food, and maybe a small regiment of observers and technicians solely for defensive purposes.

Had we done so, we might have defeated Japan much quicker without having had to use nukes. Then we could have gone on to do what we had to do, if anything, about Hitler or Stalin. So now, as you can see, I do not buy into the US government's "propaganda". I have my own, thank you.

By the same token, it is what it is. We nuked Hiroshima. The Japanese said WTF was that? We bombed Nagasake and they said, OK, we think we get it now. Result-war over.

Do you propose that if we had not dropped the nukes the war would have ended as quickly? Are you saying we would not have been obliged to invade the island, resulting in further and unfathomable casualties and expense, on both sides?

If you are actually telling me this, I am curious as to where this idea comes from, and whether you might concede that this is itself a bit of "propaganda".

The Pagan Temple said...

I think I should add, I agree with you in spirit about Agribusiness, though I don't want to do away with them. I am not exactly conservative when it comes to farm issues. I am generally supportive of Farm Bills, though not necessarily in every particular. I believe family farmers should have to pay no taxes, but that's about the extent of my conservative farm views. I also think farmers should have to pay minimum wage to farm workers (American farm workers, that is), a position which I'm sure would give FJ and CB fits. I also support farm subsidies, but only for growing food, not letting farm land stay idle. Bottom line, if you don't have food, you're up the shit creek, and without subsidies to small and mid-sized family farmers, soon we would be a nation of Agribusinesses.

And one more point about the war and propaganda. If I had anything to say, we probably never would have been at war with Japan to begin with, because they probably never would have attacked Pearl Harbor, for the simple fact we would have never interfered with their activities in Asia, so long as they stayed away from the Philippines.

Larry Gambone said...

PT, I don't know where you get your ideas from. When the farmers of Andalusia, Aragon and Catalunya formed collectives, they did so voluntarily. Farmers that didn't want to join, didn't join. For most crops large scale mono cropping is an environmental disaster and is dependent upon cheap oil, so an economic disaster in the making as well. Some things, such as most forms of farming, are best left small scale. To make things easier for themselves farmers band together in cooperatives for equipment etc. Some may also choose to form farm cooperatives (collectives) In both cases these are voluntary associations. No one is going to tell you where to grow, how to grow or what to grow. Such policies have nothing to do with socialism but everything to do with agribusiness, which farmers, socialists, and intelligent consumers hate. If socialism had anything to do with such top-down, authoritarian and retrogressive policies, I would be the greatest enemy of socialism.

Remember the key element of genuine socialism is self-management.

Larry Gambone said...

There has been a huge debate over the bombing of Japan almost from the day it happened. I am surprised you are not aware of this. (Maybe we are more cognisant of such things in Canada.) See
http://www.colorado.edu/AmStudies/lewis/2010/atomic.htm

and also, http://www.mukto-mona.com/Articles/Brian_Mitchell/hiroshima_reason.htm.

Note I am using the term "debate". I come down on the side of those who refuse to believe the official story because 1. There are enough holes in the official story to make it a question for debate - ie it is not an open and shut case 2. Official stories are almost without exception, precisely that, "stories."

The Pagan Temple said...

Where do I get my ideas? I don't know, I guess I just see another USSR fiasco in the making. You all keep insisting this is the wave of the future like its preordained from on high, which explains why you can't conceive of the need to allow for any dissenting views. Such as, there will be no capitalist class, no bourgeosie, etc. You won't even answer my question about private property.

So what kind of safeguards do you propose to prevent another Stalin, Castro, Mugabe, etc. That's the value of dissent, it allows for checks and balances. You are accepting too much on faith. Even Lenin could see the value in the NEP. He at least could adapt to changing realities, for all his other faults.

This war thing is just something we'll never see eye to eye on. You seem to have a hard time accepting that people die in war. Here's a question for you. How is it worse for 100,000 people to be killed in an instant as opposed to 200,000 people to be killed over the course of a three year period at greater expense and resulting in greater and longer-standing enmity?

I don't know what you mean about stories. Anybody can spin fables. I am going by recognized history. Like I said, if I had been around and had the power, the war would never have happened in all probability, but since it happened, how is the way it ended more tragic than if it had ended any other way?

Larry Gambone said...

PT, Do you really think you have “private property” now? Yes, we have our little houses – if you are lucky enough to have paid off your mortgage and an ever-diminishing number of folks have their little shops – sadly almost entirely in rented premises. The family farm continues to go under – despite the efforts of people like me. The vast bulk of property is collectivised – some is governmental but most is the authoritarian collectivism called corporate capitalism.

As for private property – those few of us who have it – and that includes myself – can keep it. Socialists have never worried about Mom and Pop, it is those vast agglomerations of wealth accrued though state-granted privilege that concern us.

Safeguards? What safeguards do you have now? A feeble, truncated, rigged democracy and a constitution castrated and twisted. As well as economic democracy, we are proposing the broadest and deepest form of political democracy. (I have written about this before on this blog.) Despots take over due to a limitation of democracy and a centralization of power, not because of the opposite.

Where indeed have either Ren or I said that dissenting voices would not be allowed or that everything was pre-ordained? Socialism – or what ever you want to call economic democracy – is not inevitable, even old Marx said “Socialism or barbarism”. Ren is more optimistic than I (This is due to our different natures) for I think barbarism has the upper hand. (But there is no point in acting defeated – it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.)

What I mean by stories is that states when they go to war invent high-falutin excuses for doing so. If they – as they always do – commit atrocities they also invent excuses for these too. These stories become part of the party line or the official history.

Larry Gambone said...

PT, If you are worried about another USSR, have you actually read anything other than conservative or liberal works on how the Russian Revolution was perverted? Have you read either Trotskyist or anarchist views on this subject? (We differ quite a bit on this, I should add, but not being a dogmatist, I suggest the truth lies somewhere between the two perspectives.)

The Pagan Temple said...

Well, it is at least a little reassuring that you don't seem to condemn all private property. I just want to know what the limits are. What I meant by you seeming to infer all this is preordained is all this talk about dialectical materialism and these different evolutionary stages that you seem to think is leading for example from feudalism to capitalism to socialism. The danger in having such dogmatic beliefs is that many will not see the need for dissent, because they honestly hold that everybody will be happy except for what you might call a few psychotics. I think you like to call them social Darwinists, if I remember right.

Sort of the same principle behind the Islamic fundamentalist line "there is no coercion of religion", which means of course that once everybody is converted to Islam, by whatever means, everybody from that point on will be born into the sect, at which point conversion will be unnecessary, and paradise will abound. It's a fantasy, of course.

I still believe that the world does not evolve along parallel lines in that way. One man's garbage is another man's treasure. The world won't all magically transform into one big happy family at some point. It just won't happen.

That's another problem, the internationalist aspects of this philosophy. Internationalism sucks. I don't care what cloak it wears, because that's really irrelevant anyway, whether it comes in capitalist or socialist garb.

Again with the war, I don't know what you mean about stories. You're talking about the reasons for the war, the beginning of it, and I'm talking about the ending of the war. The reason for it ending the way it did is blatantly obvious. Truman wanted it over with and Japan refused to surrender. The bomb gave him the means to end it quickly and with finality where no other method seemed to hold any remote promise of success.

So what exactly are you saying, that in reality the Japanese were ready to surrender but Truman wanted to test the bomb? I don't believe that, but if that's what you're getting at, at least we can make some headway towards you explaining what you're getting at.

Like I said, the reasons for the war may be somewhat murky. I happen to believe the story I've been told, which does not by any means put the US in a good light. Roosevelt was interfering with Japan's foreign policy, specifically regarding Manchuria. Nobody looks good really, but that's what I've always thought it was about.

I've heard that Roosevelt knew the attack was coming and allowed it to happen in order to create a pretext for entering the war. Is that what you're saying? If so, I don't know whether I believe that or not, but I certainly have no quarrel with that view. It damned sure wouldn't surprise me, put it that way.

Regardless, that has nothing to do with how the war ended, and the dropping of the bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I made a statement about that and you replied with a statement that seems to be about the validity of the war itself from the beginning.

Bottom line, a forceful response to a provocation is always preferable to a "proportional response" which is just guaranteed to keep the shit going ad infinitum.

I find it incredible that you do not see that, and yet I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that you would be among the first to lambast the "military industrial complex", which feeds off the philosophy of proportional response more so than the strong response which holds the greater promise of quickly ending hostilities.

By the way, and this is OT, but the third post on my blog, about the Greenland Ruby, has a link (highlighted in blue) to an article you might find of some interest.

Renegade Eye said...

PT: Marxist Alan Woods wrote this, as part of an essay about WWII. The Japanese had a powerful land army in Manchuria, the Kwantung army. Its total strength was up to a million men. It had 1,215 tanks, 6,640 guns and mortars and 1,907 combat aircraft. This formidable fighting force was faced by 1,185,000 Soviet troops stationed in the Soviet Far East. These were reinforced with additional forces after the surrender of Germany and when the offensive began on August 9 totalled 1,747,000 troops, 5,250 tanks and self-propelled guns, 29,835 guns and mortars and 5,171 combat aircraft. In a campaign lasting just six days the Red Army smashed the Japanese forces and advanced through Manchuria with lightning speed. The Soviet forces entered Korea and the South Sakhalin and Kurile Islands and were in striking distance of Japan itself.

On August 6, the Americans had dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, the very day the Soviet army began its offensive, they dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki. They did this despite the fact that these were civilian cities with no military value and the Japanese were already defeated and suing for peace. The fact is that these atom bombs were intended as a warning to the USSR not to continue the Red Army's advance, otherwise they could have occupied Japan. The use of the atom bomb was a political act. It was intended to show Stalin that the USA now possessed a terrible new weapon of mass destruction and was prepared to use it against civilian populations. There was an implicit threat: what we have done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki we can do to Moscow and Leningrad.

Once Japan had surrendered, Washington's attitude to Moscow changed immediately. The whole shape of the post-war world was now determined. The world would be dominated by two great giants: mighty US imperialism on the one hand and mighty Russian Stalinism on the other. They represented two fundamentally opposed socio-economic systems with antagonistic interests. A titanic struggle between them was inevitable.


This is from an article on Marxist.com about Chinese nationalism: At the end of World War II the United States carpet bombed Japanese cities killing some 80,000 civilians. They then dropped nuclear bombs on the civilian population of Nagasaki and Hiroshima killing 300,000 people. This conventional and nuclear holocaust served no direct military objective. The US leadership had considered using a warning nuclear bomb but decided “shock and awe” were reasonable justification for the nuclear holocaust. This was aimed not just against Japan but also against the Soviet Union, then the dominant power on the Eurasian Continent. The United States correctly feared that communist revolutions could sweep across all Asia.

When the United States occupied Japan the fear of social revolution led the occupier to take a very lenient view of the Japanese military caste, although the rulers of Japan dragged Asia through an orgy of slaughter which reached its zenith in Nanjing in 1937 where some 300,000 Chinese people were massacred. After the war, US occupiers imposed the “Peace Constitution” on Japan which entails amongst other things a commitment not to participate in external wars and to maintain purely defensive military forces. The United States left leading figures of Japanese militarism like the Emperor Showa in power. They limited the scope of ‘war crimes’ tribunals to keep a cadre of Japanese capitalism intact, whilst simultaneously persecuting communists and socialists.


My comment about farming was in a reply to Craig (CB). I was mainly saying I'm not going to defend a primitive cooperative farming system, wyhen modern methods are available.

Larry G: I learned a lesson once at Sonia's blog. I called someone a reformist, thinking that everyone knows when a Marxist calls someone a reformist, it's an insult. Everyone thought it was being called a reformer.

The Pagan Temple said...

Ren-

If all this is really true, all it really proves is that we did the Japanese people an even bigger favor than I thought we did.

The Pagan Temple said...

By the way, Larry Gambone-

"PT, If you are worried about another USSR, have you actually read anything other than conservative or liberal works on how the Russian Revolution was perverted?"

Don't have to, I already know how it was perverted, without even reading any so-called liberal or conservative views. A little something called human nature happened. Give people too much power with no checks and balances and no allowing for dissenting views, and that will be your result every time. This was a murderous dictatorship from the beginning. It was already corrupted. All that was left was the power struggle to decide who would run the engine of corruption. If Trotsky had won it would have ended the same, I promise, at least in the long term.

If you have a country where political parties are outlawed, the only way that will work is if ALL parties, including socialists and communists, are outlawed. Then you might have something the people can work with. Otherwise, you might as well have some rigid Middle-Eastern style theocracy for all the good it will do you. One party domination is never going to produce anything but corruption.

Larry Gambone said...

PT, nothing is pre-ordained in the broad, sweeping sense that vulgar Marxism portrays. In the 19th Century there was a belief among many Marxists that the logic of history had been found in this rigid, mechanistic, formulaic sense you mention. This was due to the influence of Comte's Positivism. Politically, a negative influence of Positivist Marxism was a tendency toward evolutionary reformism. Although Positivism had some influence upon anarchists such as Kropotkin, anarchists in general, while philosophical materialists, did not accept the teleological ramifications found in this sort of Marxism. Twentieth Century Marxism spent a lot of time jettisoning this Positivist baggage.

“Dialectical materialism?” Marx never used the term. Really refers to “Diamat” which is a Stalinist concoction.

Stories. OK. “Blacks don't have souls, they aren't really human like we are” (rationalizing enslaving them by the millions.) “The Chinese navy fired on British ships” (Even though they were only trying to stop opium smuggling, but it was a good excuse for forcing China to take British opium and steal Hong Kong harbour.) “Indians are blood-thirsty savages.” (allowing the US govt. to massacre them and steal their lands) “The Boers were oppressing British miners” (a good cover for stealing the gold and diamonds of the Transvaal) “North Vietnamese ships attacked US ships at the Gulf of Tonkin” (Of course it never happened, but made a good cover for bombing North Vietnam.) I suggest the view that it was necessary to “nuke the Japs” is one of those cover stories.

The Pagan Temple said...

All right, but you can point to examples for the reasons things happened and the cover stories provided, but you can't do it in this case? I don't think anyone said it was "necessary" to nuke the "Japs". My only point was that it made it a lot easier than an invasion which would have undoubtedly cost more lives in the long run on both sides, taken more time, cost a lot more money, and may even in the long run have led to even more strained relations.

Another thing, about this whole, let's do this to keep the Russians out of Japan bit. First, like I said, if true, we did them an even bigger favor than I thought we did.

If the Soviets had taken them over, assuming they stayed in control of Japan until the Soviet Union finally dissolved, how long do you think it would have taken for the Soviets to have killed 300,000 or more Japanese? How many Japanese would have eventually become oppressed, political prisoners in slave labor camps or gulags? What would the life of the average Japanese person have been like throughout that time.

You'd better put some thought into how you explain things, because your claim here just makes for an even better excuse to nuke Japan when we did.

Some might consider it a good cover "story".

Larry Gambone said...

PT states,
“Don't have to, I already know how it was perverted, without even reading any so-called liberal or conservative views .”

Not to mention anarchist or Trotskyist views. I can't tell you how much this goes against the grain with me as a life-long scholar! I have read the conservative, liberal, Left-SR, anarchist, council communist, Trotskyist, Stalinist, and Bordigist, views on the Russian Revolution. This is the only way you can get a perspective on such a monumental event. Your a priori view would get you a big “F” in any history course.

“Give people too much power with no checks and balances and no allowing for dissenting views, and that will be your result every time.”

There is a large element of that, especially after Brest-Litovsk when the Left-SR's and Maximalists broke with the Bolsheviks. But the decay of the October Revolution cannot be reduced solely to it. (I am sure Ren would have lots to say about this.) Let's just say that the German invasion, the Allied invasion, the famine and the White armies played a major role in pushing the Bolsheviks in an authoritarian direction. It eventually boiled down to a simple fight for survival. War, and especially wars of this kind always brings out the worst in people.

As for banning parties, in a war situation, treasonous parties are always banned. What do you think happened to the British Union of Fascists (Mosleyites) in the UK and the German American Bund in the USA in WW2? What do you think my fellow anarchists did to Fascists in Spain, held love-ins with them? The Makhnovist Army (anarchist) in the Ukraine executed many a White, and a few Bolsheviks too. A revolution is an actual or potential war. Allowing counter-revolutionary forces free reign during a revolution is a suicidal act.

Larry Gambone said...

PT,
“We had to destroy the village in order to save it”

“Mussolini made the trains run on time”

“Oh, yes, Hitler was mean to the Jews, but he brought us out of the Depression.”

“For sure, Stalin was a despot, but don't forget, he industrialized Russia”

“Too bad about fryin' them Japs, but it scared the bejeezus outa Uncle Joe.”

All the same, “ends justify the means amorality.”

The Pagan Temple said...

"All the same, “ends justify the means amorality.”"

WRONG, Gambone. You're comparing one orange to a bunch of rotten apples here. Bear in mind, I am not saying that the idea of nuking two large cities resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, all the destruction and nuclear contamination resulting in many birth defects was an occasion for joyous celebration.

All I said was, and I hold to this-it was better than any other option at the time. It is especially true that it would be preferable to allowing Japan to fall under the domination of the Soviet Union, an entity the memory and history of which you yourself have claimed to dislike, if not despise.

Also, assuming the cover story as you call it was true, that it would have required us to invade Japan to end the war, nuking them was also a better option than that.

I repeat, just in case you didn't catch it the first time-it's not the idea that it's a good idea to nuke people, it's the idea that in that particular case, it was better than any available alternative.

As for political parties being allowed dissent, of course I can understand such war-time measures, but what was the excuse after the Revolution successfully concluded?

There was a whole decade, or more, after it was concluded, in order to allow for dissenting views? What happened? Was the Soviet system so universally beloved among it's subject peoples that nobody even considered the idea of putting forward an opposing view?

Larry Gambone said...

For it to be the “better of two options” you would have to be assured that 1. Japan would not surrender without being A bombed 2. Russian entry into the war would have automatically meant Russian occupation of Japan Furthermore, why couldn't the US govt ,if they really wanted to scare the Japanese and the Russians, not have picked a much less inhabited place – say an island, and said “Watch this. If you don't do what we want we will use it on you!” These first 2 points are items of historical debate.

The Russian Revolution was concluded by 1922, in the sense that the Civil War was over. Lenin introduced the NEP at this time, a realization that the European revolution that was to have aided the Russian revolution was not about to occur. At the same time, groups such as the Workers Opposition and the Democratic Centralists were told to disband and the last anarchist public event - the funeral of Kropotkin – was held. I don't remember why it was thought necessary to tighten up politically. (Perhaps Ren can fill us in on this) But it was precisely this ban that allowed the Stalin faction to worm its way into power.

Larry Gambone said...

It should be mentioned the the Bolshevik Party – as it existed from 1903 to 1922 was far from being a the totalitarian party that Stalin created with the CPSU. It held a range of opinions from near anarchists on its left to near social democrats on its right. They would have the most amazing quarrels, yet this was considered right and normal.

The Pagan Temple said...

You're forgetting something. Nobody really knew for sure that the bomb would work. That would have been pretty stupid to announce their intentions by telling them to watch. Especially if it had turned out to be a big dud. That would have been cause for considerable mirth and would have been a real morale booster for the Japanese. We would have looked pretty damn stupid.

And do you really think that if the Soviets had marched through Japan they would have handed it back? Come on.

Keep this stuff up Gambone and you might well cause agreement with nuking Japan to be a majority opinion-among the Japanese, that is. Especially if you insist it was done to keep the Soviets from taking them over.

Japan was an industrialized and yet feudal military power and empire. They were a proud nation with a warrior caste who believed and held to a sense of honor that was as rigid as that held by the ancient Romans-probably more so, actually.

To submit to such as the Soviets would have been a fate worse than death to them. They actually had fairly good relations with the US up until Roosevelt unconstitutionally interfered with their foreign policy in Asia, but despite this, defeat by us was a hard pill to swallow for them, for the leaders and for the people as well.

The atom bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki actually helped them save face, when you stop to think about it. After that, their people felt no need for the same type of abject shame they would have felt at a foreign invasion and conquest. That would have felt like a rape to them. What happened looked like a preordained supernatural event in all probability, one they need feel no shame at being unable to overcome.

That's also the reason we didn't bother Hirohito after the war. We went out of our way to repair our relations with the Japanese and help them rebuild their society. You're taking this nuke thing entirely too far. People die in war, including civilians. If you are against war, that's fine, but you need to concentrate on dealing with the problems that causes those wars to begin with.

Once they happen though, it's irrelevant by what method people die, whether its bullets, disease through lack of diet and sanitation, conventional bombs, or nukes. The only thing that becomes relevant once a war starts is getting it over with as quickly as possible, in a way that it is over and done with and won't recur. The quicker it is over the sooner a nation can start to heal its wounds and rebuild.

That's what happened between us and Japan. If you can't see that, I just don't know what to tell you.

Larry Gambone said...

The bomb had been tested already, 3 weeks before Hiroshima. See
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/atomictest.htm

So they had evidence that it would work...

Larry Gambone said...

Once again. You would have to show that the USSR could have occupied Japan before the USA. I should also add that it has never been my contention that the bomb was dropped to stop Stalin from getting to Japan, but that it was used as a general threat. Sort of , "don't piss us off Joe, look what we got!"

Larry Gambone said...

(That is Ren's position, not necessarily mine about Stalin being able to take over Japan.)

There is another aspect to this. While you are alive there is still hope. It is a terrible thing to be occupied by a Hitler or Stalin, but I would rather risk my chances with that than be incinerated in an atomic bomb blast.

Renegade Eye said...

Pagan: It's a big leap from the bomb was ok because it shortened the war with Japan, to after learning a few facts about Russia in the war, you have another reason to support the bombing. When you are saying you support a measure that killed >300,000 people, it shouldn't be a flippant decision.

Again Stalinism is about socialism in one country. Stalin had no interest in socialism in Japan. He might have wanted a bureaucracy like Russia. The bureaucracy is the essence of Stalinism.

You should read Lenin's Last Will Testament, where in the final draft, he says Stalin has to be removed. Trotsky didn't act on what Lenin said to do, according to his biographer Isaac Deutscher; 1) He thought Lenin would recover and be back to work. 2) Trotsky underestimated Stalin, because he wasn't intellectual. After Lenin died, Stalin launched a campaign calling the will a forgery. Lenin attacked Stalin about how Georgia was handled as well.

A country like the US, doesn't have conditions like Russia 1917. There won't be 21 invadiing countries. America already has an industrial base. There is already a democratic tradition that didn't exist in Russia.

Lenin banning other parties, provided Stalin, a basis to start the thermidor. Under Lenin abortion was legal, gays had rights, no artistic censorship etc.

Stalin put into power, people who opposed the Bolshevik revolution. The ultimate damning of Stalin as leader of thermidor, and not the continuation of the revolution, is that he had killed every Bolshevik Central Committee person in the revolution.

Larry G: I have to check into that dialectics remark, that Marx didn't use that term.

How about the Maoist dialectics nonsense about antagonistic contradiction.

The Pagan Temple said...

I still haven't heard a difference between killing 300,000 people with nukes and killing just as many people or more by other more conventional methods, especially when you consider the greater length of time the latter takes and the greater expense, and the greater loss of life on the victor's side.

The harsh reality is, when you are at war, you have an obligation to your soldiers and their families to conduct a war in a way that you yourself suffer the least amount of casualties, provided it results in a successful resolution of the conflict, or at least legitimately holds that potential. You also have an obligation to your country and it's citizens in general to do so. After all, it is the average citizen of a nation who is being asked to and is expected to sacrifice.

Prolonging of hostilities tends to benefit the upper classes of both nations, who profit from arms manufacturing. Truman made the wise yet controversial decision to write finis to this affair.

I would also like to say, that yes of course the bomb was tested, but it was still unclear whether the first bomb would work, or for that matter what the overall effect would be. Some feared the destruction would be far worse than what it was. They just didn't know.

The test and the bomb was not exactly the same. Even the two bombs were different. The bomb that destroyed Nagasaki was technically different than the one that destroyed Hiroshima.

Note also, I don't necessarily buy that this was done to scare the Soviets. I think that's a theory. I don't say it's necessarily wrong, but I think even if it is right, it's not necessarily the one reason the bombs were dropped. It just makes the bombings even more legitimate if it was true.

So Japan sued for peace? Okay, but what conditions were they willing to submit to? What were they expecting in return for their surrender?

After the bombings, I have this strange feeling they reduced their demands and expectations considerably. Remember, they were the ones that actually started this thing. They might have felt they had a reason, but regardless, they were the initial aggressors.

Oh, and as a final note, life is worthless is you are forced to live under subjugation. That is just my opinion, of course, but it's as valid as "as long as you're alive there's hope", which is dependent on who you are and what resources you have to rely on as a basis for that hope.

I have an idea the World War II era Japanese would tend to agree more with me, however the current generation feels about the bombings of the cities, which is based on emotion and national pride. At the same time, while they had a high sense of honor and personal integrity, these were not good people as far as their relations with others. These were people who forced women of subjugated nations into brothels for the benefit of their occupying armies. They engaged in brutalizing their prisoners of war to a degree that actually put Hitler to shame as compared to the way the two treated prisoners of war, with the exception of the way Hitler treated the Jews and a few others.

In other words, the Japanese brought their national tragedy on themselves, and it is foolish to feel sorry for them over the long term result of their actions. The point is, we ended it, and as far as I'm concerned, the US deserves far greater accolades than we usually get from the Left at least for the way we helped the Japanese recover in the aftermath of the war.

Yes, I know, I'm probably going to be reading next about how we didn't do them any real favors because we corrupted them with capitalism. Well, I'm sure the Japanese people from then on till today tend to have three squares a day and a relatively good lifestyle compared to what people enjoy in most other places of the world, so I don't think you want to go there with me.

celticfire said...

Renegade Eye:

Coming from a Maoist tradition, I think its problematic to make sweeping statements like “Stalin had no interest in socialism in Japan.” Dialectics is a law, so to speak, and one divides into two. I think Stalin (and Trotsky) played a mostly positive role before the death of Lenin. Both made important contributions to the revolution.

Right down to it: Stalin was right about socialism in one county. If concrete conditions allow for a victory only in a peasant country, then you build socialism there.

Ortho-Trotskyism would have us give up because the peasants were too “backwards” for the Eurocentrist Trots to teach them anything.

Lenin believed that the survival of the Russian revolution depended on the worker-peasant alliance. Clearly, Stalin obliterated that alliance in favor of a lopsided development in industrialization with costly and abusive price to be paid for the neglect of the agrarian sectors. The New Economic Policy was not understood in its full dimensions by a great majority of Bolsheviks, including Stalin, and that’s why he sent it ‘to the devil’ in 1928 (to use Stalin’s words).

After Lenin’s death, I personally think Stalin played the role of ortho-revisionist, both consolidating and defining “Leninism” (on his terms) and revising important Marxist fundamentals and using non-Marxist methods, let’s be clear: excessive violence.

My take is that if the “essence” of Stalinism is bureaucracy, then the essence of Trotskyism is atrophy. Which leads back to Lenin’s Testament.

Trotsky was a no-show or “ill” for every important showdown after Lenin’s death. Effectively he abdicated to Stalin. I think the testament is genuine and Lenin feared Stalin’s abusive methods. But I don’t think that means in some mechanical fashion that means Trotsky was the “better.” Certainly Trotsky had some blood on his hands from Kronstadt, and though more “intellectual” than Stalin, was just as lost on how to handle the set of contradictions before Russia.

All that said, I agree with your assessment that some of Lenin’s mistakes paved the foundations for Stalin’s revisionism. I defend Trotsky only in-as-much as he was, like the rest of the Bolsheviks, a victim of Stalin’s anti-Marxist actions.

Of course, I can forgive Lenin. He didn’t think the revolution would actually work, lest survive….but it did, and it left communists around the world in a whole new international game.

Larry Gambone said...

Celtic, "Right down to it: Stalin was right about socialism in one county."

Except that what he built was not socialism. To have any meaning at all, socialism has to involve worker self management, workers democracy.

Larry Gambone said...

PT, relative to the crimes the US has perpetuated elsewhere, the US occupation of Japan was benign. Of course, they placed most of the Japanese right back in power and worked against the left - that was to be expected.

I don't see where it makes much sense continuing with the Hiroshima debate though as we are going to go around in circles. Academics who have studied this question a heck of a lot more that us have been debating this since it happened and I doubt if we are going to settle it here.

celticfire said...

Hi Garry,

You got it. Stalin built a national-chauvinist line instead of proletarian internationalism, he built an oppressive Party-State apparatus that rigidified class distinctions instead of removing them, and continued the oppression of women and gay folks.

Stalin was however right to battle against Trotsky's erroneous "Permanent Revolution" nonsense.

Further, I would dare, to attack Trotsky personally. He outed reds in various countries in exchange for exile status, and his Clemenceau declaration called for imperialist invasion of the Soviet Union to replace Stalin with Trotsky. None of these are the actions of a Marxist leader.


The great American Marxist Harry Haywood said it best:
"Trotsky made a direct attacked the whole Leninist theory of revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. He denied the possibility (and necessity) of building socialism in one country, and instead characterized that theory as an abandonment of Marxist principles and a betrayal of the revolutionary movement. He published his own theory of “permanent revolution,” and he contended that a genuine advance of socialism in the USSR would become possible only as a result of a socialist victory in the other industrially developed nations."

Trotsky's line meant lopsided reliance on the industrialized countries at the expense of the third world. In fact when it came to the third world, Trotsky advocated a defeatist and class collaborationist line.

But this is very old debate and I think all of us here whether anarchist, trot or maoist need to rethink the whole conception of how revolution is made (and progressed.) The 20th century was full of experiments with a great deal of experience. We need (together - as revolutionaries) sum these experiences up.

The Pagan Temple said...

Gambone-

Academics, though more knowledgeable than average folks, are no less biased, and in fact are probably more so. I am not so easily impressed by them. They serve one purpose-as founts of knowledge, usually specialized knowledge. The best of them are no more or less admirable than a good auto mechanic. You should sift through their knowledge for the facts, and pretty much discard the rest as tainted.

I am as much a "revolutionary" as any here, though not a leftist. I agree the US, like all great powers, have committed shall we say inappropriate actions. That is because they have acted in many if not most cases in an unconstitutional manner. I am one small voice who wants to end the madness. The US was never created to become a player in international affairs, but in fact to be separate from them. We have migrated too far away from the founder's vision.

That being said, once you are in a particular situation, then you reap what you sew. From that point on, you are in a bind and have to do what you have to do. It's just that simple.

I want to end this by saying, again, I am not the mythological animal known as the isolationist. I believe in bi-lateral treaties and defense pacts with individual foreign nations when appropriate. Most of our treaties and pacts are multi-lateral and/or inappropriate.

I want to end NATO and extend a cordial invitation to the UN to relocate to Brussels, without any further US participation.

Larry Gambone said...

"I am not so easily impressed by them. They serve one purpose-as founts of knowledge, usually specialized knowledge. The best of them are no more or less admirable than a good auto mechanic. You should sift through their knowledge for the facts, and pretty much discard the rest as tainted."

Exactly the way I have always felt and acted!


"I am not the mythological animal known as the isolationist."


I have always had a lot of sympathy for the "Old Right" who were accused of being isolationists by the interventionist right and corporate liberal imperialists.

I also have to tell you that I enjoy discussions with you, even though in most cases we cannot achieve a resolution to our differing opinions. Its too bad most of the other "non-socialist/anarchist people who came here are not as rational and well mannered as you are.

Larry Gambone said...

Celtic, "Further, I would dare, to attack Trotsky personally. He outed reds in various countries in exchange for exile status, and his Clemenceau declaration called for imperialist invasion of the Soviet Union to replace Stalin with Trotsky. None of these are the actions of a Marxist leader."

I always thought that this was Stalinist propaganda, sort of along the line of "Trotskite-fascist Gestapo agents"

Renegade Eye said...

I really like this discussion. It has gone into directions, I never explored before on the blog. I will have a light holiday post. After the holidays, I will change the date on this post, and keep the discussion going. I want to involve more people. Many are on holiday break.

Pagan: The point is that >300,000 people didn't have to die. The argument wasn't over which weapon. Most normal peoople have a sympathy with nuclear pacifism.

In addition next year, I want to post something probably on an immigration issue, to really go after your position on nationalism. Politically it is your Achilles Heel.

Celticfire: I never heard of the Clemenceau Declaration.

As I said earlier, Trotsky wasted his chances of getting rid of Stalin. He underestimated him, and believed Lenin would soon recover.

Is it a Maoist thing to criticize Kronstadt?

What you have wrong, is a common misconception, that Trotsky's opposition to "socialism in one state," is in contradiction to practical matters. Heck Trotsky proposed the NEP a year before it was implamented.

If Trotsky was in power, Hitler wouldn't have come to power. there wouldn't have been third period Stalinism, and no theory of social fascism.

If the Soviet Union had the policy of permanent revolution, after WWII, Greece, France, Italy and maybe Germany would have been socialist.

You're in a tough place politically, too Maoist to be Trotskyist, and too democratic to be Maoist.

Mao caught Stalin by surprise, pulling off a revolution. Mao was forced into socialism, because the capitalists fled to Taiwan. Mao's interest was in having a bureaucracy, not socialism. He broke up workers occupations.

There is no such thing as Leninism. It's a creation of Stalin's to discredit Trotsky. It was a personality cult, that included Stalin having Lenin in a masoleum in the Kremlin.

Socialism can't be built around peasant leadeship. Atleast now in China, a real working class is being created, that can do its historic mission. You couldn't seriously expect a group like FARC or Zapatistas to transform society, without workers support.

Larry G: I will put this post up again in a few weeks. I expect more to join as John Peterson, Sonia etc. We'll start where it let off. Maybe we might talk about Spain.

The Pagan Temple said...

Ren-

You just assume immigration is my Achilles heel, because you think I guess that I'm against all immigration. I am not, I am just against illegal immigration, and in favor of strict controls on legal immigration. That is true of most Americans, I think you'll find. I am not that unusual in that regard.

I am in favor of nuclear power for peaceful purposes. I don't advocate using nuclear weapons in war lightly. We have done it twice in one war, after which it ended.

You say 300,000 people did not have to die. I say if we had not acted the way we did, more than that would have died by other means over a longer, more extended period of time. This is probably an impasse we will never resolve, as Gambone said.

Gambone-

I am a different animal with you and Ren than I am with a great many liberal Democrats, not all of whom are blatant self-serving hypocrites-just most of them are. I have no tolerance for their bullshit. You I can talk to like a reasonable human being. With them, I have no interest in doing so. I try, but it doesn't usually take much before I go off on them. I usually end up acting more like Beak than the way I am with you and most others here.

celticfire said...

I’m disappointed that I veered this discussion away from the important questions of the Spanish revolution.

But I think the peasant questions, which is at the heart of the Permanent Revolution vs. Socialism in one country debate lies.

We can take Spain as example during the time of the revolution 70% of the people still lived on the land.

So what then, was Trotsky’s answer to the Spanish masses?

Guided by racist Eurocentrism the Trotskyists led an infiltration campaign in the anarchist movement in Catalonia and incited revolt against the Loyalist government headed by Juan Negrin, a liberal republican, allied with a coalition of socialists, communists, liberal republicans, and anarchists – against the Franco regime.

I would argue this move is the equivalent of sabotage. Now, I would neither defend Stalin’s commandism in the Spanish revolution. But Trotskyisms role was outright in the incident, ultra-leftist and opportunist.

John Peterson carried this Eurocentrism even further, suggesting “it was _only_ the working class that could resolve the contradictions” completely ignoring the peasantry and ignoring their revolutionary potential.

Trotskyism, like anarchism, suffers from two symptoms of conditions: nostalgia and idealism (and these are now being conditioned in American Maoism as well.)

Eurocentrism is poison to our movement. (BTW, if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Samir Amin’s aptly titled book, Eurocentrism. It is the corner stone of the continued legitimacy of Maoism.) Amin wrote: “all human societies have gone through and will go through stages that, despite their diversity of form, are basically similar. The problem is to correctly identify these stages, on the basis of human history as a whole.”

This is at the heart of why Maoism was a guiding theory in the latter part of the 20th century, because it applied precisely to the national liberation movements that wanted independence from imperialism – some thing Trotskyism had never considered important enough to seriously address, if only haphazardly to say “wait for the European revolutions.”

There have been Trotskyists who have touched upon this problem like C.L.R. James, but ultimately balked at the implications.

I can’t say I have the answers for the failures of the German revolution, but any rate, it did fail and socialism was faced with building socialism in one country or relegate itself back to capitalism. Lenin thought the first.

Contradictorily, you assert that Mao’s interest were in bureaucracy. When then, pray tell, did Mao launch the GPCR against the very bureaucracy and emerging ruling class that were supposedly in his “interests”? That seems counterintuitive, and frankly, wrong.

Essentially Trotsky saw a Nazi invasion of the USSR as a similar set of contradictions as WWI was to the Russian Revolution, ie, Nazi invasion would de facto restore Trotsky’s prominence in the Soviet Union.

This was incorrect, as history showed.

At the core of Trotskyism are the Theory of Productive Forces and Permanent Revolution. The Theory of Productive Forces overemphasizes economic development as a factor in making revolution. According to this mechanical misreading of historical materialism, a society is unable to build socialism if it has not developed an economic base of Western European levels; it is impossible to build socialism unless a nation has already gone through Western style capitalism.

But even in Western style capitalism, say America – Trotsky (and admittedly, almost the entire ICM) missed the integral role the right to self-determination for Black people would play in revolutionary upheaval.

So my friend, I’m not interested in a Trotskyist party here, and a Maoist party there, but rather a united and concentrated movement of communists who concretely analyze concrete conditions, on a refounded revolutionary left. That includes criticism of the commandism/voluntarism of Maoism, the Eurocentrism of Trotskyism, and the ultraleftism of the anarchism. All of these were socialist projects which have ultimately failed, and this calls for something new.

Finally as a small postscript, I would challenge you to take a look at every header graphing from the Ted Grant Tendency websites be it Socialist Appeal, New Youth or the WIL website. NOTICE how at the center of all of them is a WHITE guy? Aside from the obvious racist factors in this, it also speaks to the Eurocentric (and sexist, workerist, etc.) political line of the IMT. I don’t want to draw conclusions from simple website headers, but this is really indicative of their whole program.

Larry Gambone said...

"Guided by racist Eurocentrism the Trotskyists led an infiltration campaign in the anarchist movement in Catalonia and incited revolt against the Loyalist government headed by Juan Negrin, a liberal republican, allied with a coalition of socialists, communists, liberal republicans, and anarchists – against the Franco regime.'

I have been studying the Spanish Revolution since 1968, one of my friends was in Mujeres Libres, and all this time I have never heard a story like that. Us poor little anarchists mis-led by big bad Trots? That takes the cake, Durutti must be spinning in his grave. Read "Homage to Catalonia" if yopu want the truth instead of spinning Stalinist fantasies like this, please.

Larry Gambone said...

Anarchism as “ultra-leftism” Another one of those cliches used to stop people thinking. Yes, some anarchists were, but the mainstream were not. In fact, the CNT-FAI were too moderate for my liking, having joined the government rather than smashing it. The Union Anarchiste in France at this time had formed a revolutionary front with Trotsky, independent socialists and rank and file SFIO members. That is not the work of “ultra lefts” Neither is the current CGT-E ultra-left. I could go on and on...

Renegade Eye said...

Pagan: I've been reading your blog and comments at various blogs, long enough to know your politics.

I like liberals who stand up for their principles, as most who comment on this blog. I would like to see them leave the Democratic Party. If you support the Democratic Party you are a liberal.

Nobody ever accused Larry or myself of being liberals.

I'm expecting the immigration issue to explode again. That's when the debate will come.

Larry G: Celticfire is not liked by Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), the local Maoist group I told you about. He gets points for that. They read this blog, but don't comment.

Celticfire: The IMT is relatively new to the US. This summer we passed at our convention this document, on the Afro American struggle and self determination. It was mostly written by Peterson. Trotsky told the US SWP to support even Marcus Garvey, if he has a significant following. You don't buy the "Black Nation in the South" business? The right to self determination is not an absolute right, if it for example divides the working class. The Maoists here talk about Atzlan Nation etc. Ridiculous stuff.

How about the Maoist International Movement and all heterosexual sex is rape, and white workers are oppressors etc.

The logo of the youth group is multiracial. If the white guy was on the side, it would be OK?

The GPCR was Mao unleashing thugs on his political rivals.

The POUM wasn't Trotskyist. The actual Trotskyist movement in Spain was miniscule. The POUM shared some ideas.

Trotsky made some predictions about after WWII that were wrong. The Fourth International didn't use the dialectical method, and change with the conditions. That has to do with Ted Grant not being in the Fourth Int'l. Nobody would have predicted that Stalin would get big areas of the Baltics at a conference.

Do you think FARC could win by itself, without the help of workers. That group doesn't even call for socialism.

During the election your blog had a vague call for activism, in light of the Obama campaign. Is Obama part of the "block of 4 classes?"

I will repost this after John Peterson returns.

Larry Gambone said...

The Union Anarchiste formed a united front with TrotskyISTS, not Trotsky - sorry for the typo.

I wonder how Tariq Ali and Hugo Blanco would react to being called 'Eurocentric"? I also wonder why a bunch of "Eurocentrists" would have a significant influence in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina (and today Pakistan) ?

I also remember the US SWP was at the forefront of support for the African American struggle. The first pamphlet I read on Malcolm X was by them. They also were the main force in support of the Cuban Revolution - as was the group that I was a sympathizer of in 1967 - the League for Socialist Action (Canadian 4th Int. section)

The Pagan Temple said...

All this talk about Eurocentrists has me confused. If I didn't know better I'd swear you were talking about the liberal wing of the Democratic Party or the moderate wing of the Republican Party, or both.

I should have known you were talking about Trotskyists, though, since Gambone defended them. With the two I mentioned, it's too blatantly obvious for there to be a rational defense.

No, this is not an attempt at comic relief.

Renegade Eye said...

Larry G: I think you'll like reading this. Our document about the Afro American struggle, and how we approach nationalism etc. It includes differences with the SWP. It was mostly written by John Peterson.

It destroys the old Stalinist lines about the Black Nation in the South etc.

I don't think solidarity movements that are third world cheerleaders, have use for anyone.

I can't wait for Celticfire to explain Maoist atitudes toward Chinese national minorities under Mao.

I think the SWP positions were incorrect, but you are correct, they kept alive Malcolm X's ideas better than anyone. After you read JP's document, I think you'll have a new understanding of the SWP line.

The idea of national liberation is obsolete, in a world capitalist economy. What if Puerto Rico didn't belong to the US? It still would need ties to the US. I think Puerto Rico should have the right to do what they want. I also think smart choices should be encouraged as socialism.

Pagan: Trotsky was known to be more European in outlook, as opposed to Russian nationalist or Asiatic.

celticfire said...

Hi Larry,

That’s awesome and very admirable that you have a friend that was in Mujeres Libres. I didn’t say Larry that the Trotskyists were successful, as I said, it was there intention and plan to do so, obviously it did not work out.

Anarchism, generally is an expression of ulta-leftism, and one of the reasons it never produces empirical results. That doesn’t mean there aren’t significant and sharp exceptions – I’m in Portland where Bring the Ruckus is big, and they definitely are an exception. Being a youngin’ myself in SDS there’s a number of them, especially aligned with the ParEcon thinking, that’s essentially an ultraleftist line on economic matters. I’m not saying anarchists are counter-revolutionary or something absurd like that (the opposite, actually) but that anarchism (like all other revolutionary ideologies at this time) suffers from distinct errors. Overall I don't think anarchism offers strategies or organizing methods that can unite broad masses for revolutionary transformation.

(I recommend reading After Winter Must Come Spring) but anarchists to find themselves sparking movements where communists fail to (like right now in Greece where revisionists are denouncing the anarchists and students in ridiculous fashion because the “working class movement” isn’t involved.)

I unite with the anarchists in Greece.

That said, I respect Tariq Ali, but he too reflects Eurocentrism. Not being from the first world doesn't mean de facto you're not Eurocentrist, as beign a woman means you're not automatically not a woman hater. Because as bell hooks will tell you, there are women that hate women.

Renegade Eye said...

Celticfire: I found out the avatar was created by a teen, based on a Soviet poster.

I wouldn't call anarchism ultraleft per se. There are some libertarians, who are rightist as well. Atleast the anarchists, deal with the problem of the state, unlike Maoists in Nepal, or Mao himself.

I don't think it's smart to give blanket solidarity, to hooliganism in Greece. The outrage needs proper channeling. Without a political program and revolutionary leadership, the movement is bound to fail. You know that as well as I do.

There is no such thing as revisionism. It is Stalinism and social democracy that are playing their usual role.

At St. Paul during the RNC we saw both rightist and left errors. The Maoist FRSO leading "Dump McCain" slogans, and the social anarchist adventurism. There was two coalitions. They had an agreement not to attack each other. More democratic would have been for the whole community to agree on one program, with majority rule.

I think its been awhile, since Tariq Ali thought of himself as Trotskyist.

celticfire said...

I’m gonna just go free-style with Renedade eye because we’ve been exchanging shots for years now and I feel comfortable doing so, please don’t interpret it as disrespect, because I have nothing but genuine love and respect for anyone brave enough to discuss revolutionary ideas in these times, that said, I need to point out errors, or I would be a liberal.

“The IMT is relatively new to the US.”
Fair enough. I recommend a much better analysis.

“The right to self determination is not an absolute right, if it for example divides the working class.”

Ahh that old stick Trot groups use to beat up on things that don’t fit into their orthodoxy of the “working class.” Understanding the need to draw in millions is not the same as insisting “you can’t do anything” (because of your class nature, or because of your youth, or because of your distance from the quasi-official, often non-radical, so-called “working class movement,” etc.)

The “Stalinist” French CP denounced the Paris 68 uprising for the same thing and some of the “Communist” groups in Greece are doing it right now to students today.

Revolution, especially and definitely a socialist revolution which aims the overthrow of ALL existing social relations and deep, profound changes to life in general, can not be so narrow as to wait around for some union shop stewards to get their head out of their ass.

“The logo of the youth group is multiracial. If the white guy was on the side, it would be OK?”

I’m just curious. Why is the white guy always in the lead? I could remove the lettering and it would look a hell of lot like Apartied South Africa propaganda. Just a comradely prod to think of something more revolutionary ; )

“The GPCR was Mao unleashing thugs on his political rivals.”
That’s a whole lot of fucking political thugs. In Marxist terms it might be called a revolutionary movement, even wave. Was Lenin just a red gangster too, picking on up standing citizens like Kerensky?

“Do you think FARC could win by itself, without the help of workers. That group doesn't even call for socialism.”

I respectfully concede on this point. FARC is a mixed bag and difficult to fully uphold. Still I defend them from some of the more audacious reactionary lies, but the truth is they have made grace errors.

“During the election your blog had a vague call for activism, in light of the Obama campaign. Is Obama part of the "block of 4 classes?"

Nope. But something like this might be.

There are two organizations with the name Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Fight Back! pretty much takes an orthodox Stalinist position. I would imagine my name would be mud in their company, yet I will have deep respect for their union and internationalism work. In the same regard I respect Ted Grant for his precision analysis of Stalinst decay in the USSR.

You said: “I can't wait for Celticfire to explain Maoist attitudes toward Chinese national minorities under Mao.”

I’m not sure what you’re asking about here—Tibet? Elaborate please.

RE said “The idea of national liberation is obsolete, in a world capitalist economy. What if Puerto Rico didn't belong to the US? It still would need ties to the US. I think Puerto Rico should have the right to do what they want. I also think smart choices should be encouraged as socialism.”

I fundamentally disagree, and would point out that you and Bob Avakian end up on the same page. Avakian doesn’t really support self-determination, but in Stalinist fashion, words of self-determination but not in practice and he pretty much admits this.

Is national liberation “obsolete” for Palestine, or Ireland?

I think unraveling the white-supremacist basis for this country will mean breaking up the basis for that oppression, in this case, national oppression.

Why didn’t the panthers take up Trotskyism? Because it didn’t offer them anything related to their specific conditions of oppression. Trotskyism was a “European” thing.

This is not to say there aren’t some problems with Stalin’s definition of a nation ("a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture") because there are some shortcomings, but in this regard, theoretically at least, he was right. In practice Stalin was a national chauvinism.

We can talk about MIM’s Maoism in the same way we can talk about LaRouche’s Trotskyism – it’s a joke.

Renegade Eye says “Trotsky was known to be more European in outlook, as opposed to Russian nationalist or Asiatic.” All too true. He was an intellectual chic revolutionary who was too cool to hang with the dirty unwashed backward peasants like Mao.

John Peterson wildly claims that the rights of self-determination as they apply the oppressed Black population “represented an abandonment of the Marxist definition of the term” (quoting the terrible Black Struggle and the Socialist Revolution, WIL)

I fundamentally (and I emphasize, fundamentally) disagree. The works of Harry Haywood, Malcolm X, Robert Williams, Huey Newton, and Assata Shakur all identify with the need and DEMAND of a separate Black nation, Azania. Interesting to note also is that all these revolutionaries spoke admiringly of Mao Zedong and his leading role in providing guidance and inspiration to national liberation struggles.

But leave it to Trotskyists to tell them there wrong because it ain’t “European” enough.
Fuck that.

I like Tariq Ali and have a soft spot for him since his interviews with John Lennon about being a revolutionary. But that's nostalgia, and not politics per se.

Larry Gambone said...

Celticfire, Ultra-leftism = sectarianism, refusal to work with those deemed reformist, (often condemning them as worse than reaction) overstating need for militance given existing conditions.

None of the major anarchist organizations are ultra-left by this definition. Not the CGT-E, the CNT-F, SAC, the WI and the USI to mention the largest anarcho-syndicalist groups. Not the International Anarchist Federation with its French (Federation Anarchiste) Italian, Spanish, British, German and Argentine groups. Not the Platformist anarchist communists of Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and about a dozen other countries.

Some of the AIT syndicalists are sectarian ultra-lefts. But the AIT is only a small minority of the syndicalist movement. “Autonomists” and black blockers are ultra left – but they too are only a small fringe of the total movement. The insurrectionist tendency is ultra left, but they are insignificant in comparison with mainstream anarchism. Ultra lefts might make up 10-15% of the total anarchist group membership.

Renegade Eye said...

Celticfire: Unlike FRSO, you don't duck political discussion. Again they rely on procedural maneuvers.

Tariq Ali's wife is the owner of "New Left Review," which is connected to Halliday's book "Mao."

The FRSO union and international work, is just tailism. They support FARC and PFLP without criticisms. They control a union at the University of MN, which PL used to control. They led a losing strike. I like how they organize people on welfare, by having free food at all meetings. Actually the FRSO line is no different than the CP, except more "activist." I think MIM would even be healthier than them. They are atleast upfront politically.

If there was a movement for a black nation in the south, or any other similar movement, it should be supported. There is no such movement in the real world. Afro-Americans have the same goals as others. I don't think parties based on race or religion should be encouraged at the same time.

The Panthers were based on lumpen elements. They degenerated into the Democratic Party, after every ultra left and oppurtunist mistake. Why didn't they take up Trotskyism? They had no perspective beyond nationalism in practice.

Both Fatah and Hamas only offer neoliberalism. They will turn Palestine into a haven for cheap labor. Only socialism can solve the national question. How could water rights and energy be negotiated. Most Zionists support a two stage solution, because of birthrate alone, will make Israel as a Jewish state, a joke.

What difference does it make if Kosovo is a country, when its economy is tied with Serbia? Small nations are pocket change for the big powers. Kosovo doesn't have the right to oppress Serbians who live there. Self determination that divides workers, needs to be opposed.

I think even Dem. Rep of Congo is a country. If its called a country, it's until something changes.

Avakian is probably correct about Puerto Rico.

The "Hope from People" group is made up of Obama supporters. They have no strategy, next to mindless activism.

In France68 the Communist Party leadership, worried more about the workers on the streets, than the romantic students. That was the biggest general strike in all of history. Alan Woods was there.

Larry G: You probably have more heat from some who call themselves anarchist, then other tendencies.

Larry Gambone said...

Yes, I have had some real verbal brawls with some of our sectarian comrades. This was especially true years ago when much of what called itself anarchism consisted of fringe types who though rioting was the answer to everything or that we should go back to living in caves. Thankfully, I have lived long enough to see a re-birth of serious movements – the new revolutionary syndicalism and the new platformist anarchist communism. The older forms (rooted in the 1930's) of these tendencies, while focused on class struggle, tended to be sectarian, thinking they had all the answers and treating other tendencies as enemies. But the new formations, the creation of a younger generation of seasoned militants, see themselves as one of the tendencies and believes in the necessity of working with a broad front of groups. (I met with the Int. Secty. of the CGT-E in Barcelona in 2004 and was very impressed by that organization. I also supported NEFAC when living in Quebec and found the young comrades of that group very mature and knowledgeable.)

celticfire said...

I’m not going to cast big stones at the Fight Back people especially when none of them seem to be engaged here to represent their line. But, clearly I am not a member of Fight Back! and have no intention to be.

It’s true that the number of Black nationalist groups asserting the desire for an independent autonomous black nation in the U.S. south has declined since the 1970’s, and will probably continue to do so as the Obama administration moves forward with “change”.

However, there are still sectors calling for an independent nation. The Uhuru Movement, New Black Panthers (I believe do), and the Black Radical Congress as well as small and isolated groups on college campuses, etc. So they do exist.

W.E.B. Du Bois, Robert Williams and Huey P. Newton all traveled to China to receive support from the PRC and this was a profound moment for proletarian internationalism.

Lots of left groups have dissolved (I’ve been in some that have) and more have sold out or become Democrats, or completely apolitical. That’s politics and being a revolutionary is a multifaceted challenge with the horizon of bourgeois right attempting to pull you back in (Obama’s “hope”…) – no ideology completely posses the fortitude from these traps.

The French CP was closer allied to the revisionist forces than the revolutionary ones. The transitional demands method is ultimately an economist one, but there have been some impressive exceptions, like International Marxist Group (IMG) that ralied to defend squatter rights. All over the world in practice, the Mass Line has proven more correct, however.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again – class struggle is inherently larger and more complex then “worker vs. boss” – though there is that aspect, that only makes up a portion of that aspect (certainly in the context of the puny number of unionized workers, and that they are usually white males).

Class struggle has to encompass what the Combahee River Collective (a Black feminist Lesbian collective in Boston) calls Intersectionality, that forms of oppression (race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, etc.) in fact, intersect. This idea is controversial among Marxists because it appears on the surface to contradict Marx and the primary contradiction, when I would argue it does not, because it recognizes the oppression is the primary contradiction in that context. In fact I would say the simple “worker vs. boss” mentality and every other form oppression is necessarily secondary is reductionist and mechanical that cannot fully grasp the terrain of oppression and resistance within which revolution must be grounded.

Foxessa said...

pagan temples declaration that most people prefer to live in a rural community is unfounded by either fact or cultural history.

I grew up as rural as you can grow up in this age, in this nation, and I couldn't wait to get away. Women in particular don't find rural life attractive, which explains why there are all these bachelor agribiz farmers in North Dakota who can't find a wife.

I have lived all my adult working life in Manhattan, and I'd rather live here than anywhere else, unless the nation turns out-and-out fascist, and then I'd have to leave the country.

Love, C.

The Pagan Temple said...

I never said that, or if I did I misspoke. I meant there are many people, not necessarily most, that prefer life in rural communities or small towns than big cities. I'm one, but I don't claim to speak for all, or even most. Cities have their advantages too, as I also said, but if I had to choose between the two, it would be a small town. The best of both worlds would consist of a small town within driving distance of a larger metropolitan area, say within fifty miles or so.

Renegade Eye said...

Foxessa: The discussion was about how rural based movements like FARC or the Zapatistas, are doomed to win even their modest demands, unless they have urban working class support.

Larry G: One of the anarchists who was arrested at the RNC demonstration, said at a rally, he is not going to vote for the prosecutor, when she files for governor. She is losing the anarchist vote.

Celticfire: The various nationalist sects you listed, are groups woefully lost in 1970s nostalgia. Tell me that the Urban League or NAACP are moving towards nationalism, then I would take notice.

The Panthers Maoism brought them down, more than the state. They were reduced to popular front politics, being for good Democrats as opposed to bad Republicans. Contrary to Huey Newton, he didn't live in the third world. Their program was rhetoric. Lumpen elements don't have the stability necessary for revolution.

The French Communist Party was Stalinist, not revisionist. A revisionist is someone like Marcuse.

In real life you work with nationalists, feminists etc. You don't become one.

You'll counter there are revolutionary feminists and nationalists. When they are revolutionary, is when they put on their Marxist hat.

Pagan: Point taken.

Larry Gambone said...

That is exactly my living situation PT, and we chose it deliberately after living for 36 years in big cities. I should add the chief reason I ever lived in a large urban setting was to find work. We also lived for 5 years in the suburbs, (1999-2004) a situation I would not wish on anyone.

The Pagan Temple said...

Gambone, you must have lived in a really shitty suburb. They can't be all that bad. I'd take anything over life in the city, or at least life in the inner city. I've lived in them all. I lived in both the suburbs and the inner city in both Phoenix and Cincinnati. I live now a little more than fifty miles out of Lexington Kentucky, and I admit it's not that great, but in most cases, as long as you have reasonably good transportation, that kind of arrangement strikes me as the best situation.

If you live way out in the rural area, you're all right as long as you have a good storage area and a deep freeze and you can stock up, but you're still at the mercy of too many unpredictable factors, like gas prices for just one example. You're just too isolated in the event things aren't going that great, or your health takes a bad turn, etc. Of course as long as things are going good, you can really get used to it.

Graeme said...

Interesting conversation. I enjoyed reading it.

Larry Gambone said...

Ah, PT, the big cities I have lived in are Vancouver and Montreal - with half-years in Toronto and London UK. Downtown living here is preferable to the boring suburbs where you have to drive 5 miles to do anything. These Canadian cities are more like European cities than US ones with their devastation. (Exception being Portland OR and San Francisco)

Renegade Eye said...

I'm too Bohemian for the burbs.

The Pagan Temple said...

HaHaHaHa FIVE MILES? Wow. There must not be much going on worth anything if five miles is such an ordeal. Hell, rent some movies. Toronto and other Canadian and European cities might be better than most American ones, but they would still grow old to me. I guess I'm just not a people person. I like privacy and solitude too much, and nature.

Gambone, if you move to most American cities and stay for very long you will become a tried and true believer in "Social Darwinism".LOL

Larry Gambone said...

PT, that is why I live where I do. Cities are fine to live in for a while, but a more rural or village environment is better for me at least. I am a 5 minute walk from the woods and sea shore, a 15 minute walk from down-town and have a double lot - space for gardens and trees. Mind you the idiots who run this town managed to almost destroy it by allowing shopping malls and suburban sprawl, so if you want more than food, books and antique shops you have to drive for miles. I like to walk - or at worst a 5 minute bus ride for my needs.

Larry Gambone said...

I should add that I am a person who likes both solitude - for study and writing - and social involvement. My town has a rich cultural and political scene, furthermore some of my old friends from the 60's settled here. So I have the best of both worlds.

The Pagan Temple said...

Okay, I see where you're coming from. Yeah, it does sound like you've got the best of both worlds.

The sprawl has been a big problem here for a while, usually a bunch of numbmuts that want to swallow up as much property as they can so they can increase their tax revenue with strip malls and fast food chains, etc. Everything is about tax revenue, and the more they rake in, the more they manage to waste, and nothing is ever really accomplished.

I was telling somebody earlier he could expect any day for Bull Run Park to become The Ronald MacDonald Bull Run Memorial Park. Do you know what he told me? He said they already tried that, only they was going to attach the Disney name to it. "Disney's America" with no mention of Bull Run, but the Virginia locals raised so much hell they dropped it.

That's what it takes, enough people standing together and saying enough's enough.

Renegade Eye said...

I saw tonight the movie Revolutionary Road. It is about the conformity of suburban life, in late 1950s Connecticut. Word is that Kate Winslett is probably going to win an Oscar. She again teamed up with Leo DeCaprio, who was also outstanding.

I'm in a few weeks, going to repost this.

CHRIS I. G. said...

Quite an interesting speech.I will translate the words to Greek and i will put subtitles on the video.

Renegade Eye said...

Chris I.G. John Peterson would appreciate that. I'm going to tell him.

Anonymous said...

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