Re: [OPE-L] The Paris Commune, the State, and Venezuela

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu May 19 2005 - 09:12:22 EDT

> I've be out of the country for two weeks and am catching up.

Hi Paul Z,
Welcome back.

> Jerry's remark below caught my attention:
> > > What is most important is not whether one supports Chavez.  What
> > is important is that in the ongoing class conflicts in Venezuela, one
takes the side of the poor and working class against bourgeois forces
and the reaction.  I.e. the critical question is: which side of the
barricades are you on?    I  have no fear that John H or  other
autonomists (or anarchists, for that matter) will find themselves on
the wrong side of the barricades in Venezuela.  Do you really think
that if there was another coup attempt or an imperialist provocation
that John  would be indifferent or on the wrong side?
> In my view, this is much too simple.  Take, for example, the Civil War
in Spain.  Can one really reduce it to "which side are you on"?  I think
not, and the formulation has a danger of dogmatism.  Take the SPD and/or
KPD in early 1930s Germany,  How would you answer your own question?
> Put another way, successful revolutionary politics is extremely complex
and one's subjective intentions can lead to the best or worst of
results. And, yes, I do have fears about anarchism.  Was Emma Goldman
getting Berkman to shoot Frick or Czolgocz, McKinley (I live EXACTLY on
the street where McKinley was shot!),

[and I live a few blocks away from where Emma Goldman lived in NYC]

> a progressive political practice?  not to my way of thinking.

OK, let's take -- for example -- the Spanish Civil War.   You say that you
have fears about anarchism, but the praxis of the anarchists in the CNT
and the anarcho-syndicalists in the POUM was _far more_ progressive than
that in the brigades under the leadership of the Spanish Communist Party.
The CP -- and more importantly, their leadership abroad in the person of
Stalin -- rather than forming a united front with the anarchists against
the fascist threat, sabotaged the anarchists and assassinated much of
their leadership.  In so doing, they led to the military and political
defeat  of the Republican cause  and the ultimate victory of  Franco and
the fascists. The lesson there wasn't that Marxists should fear
but that they should oppose Stalinism (which, btw, to put it in John's
terms was a pro-state authoritarian, bureaucratic political movement ...
in what Alam called "really existing socialism") and form united fronts
with other leftists against fascism.

There was a similar lesson in Germany.  Had the SPD and the KPD  run a
single slate in the election, then Hitler would not have been elected to
power.   Had the KPD and the SPD and other left organizations including
anarchists formed a united front against the Nazis, then they could have
effectively  resisted the fascists and defeated them.  The political line
of the KPD, which was imposed on them from above by a much higher force
within the hierarchy of  the Stalin-led state, prevented this (as they
were in their "Third Period" phase).

These policies by "Marxists" and "socialists" inflicted _far more_  harm
on the international working class than any actions which anarchists ever
took.  *A lesson of history for Marxists is not that Marxists should fear
anarchists but that we should fear and distrust many individuals and
groups who call themselves "Marxist"*.    At least anarchists have a
*healthy* anti-authoritarian impulse; we as Marxists need to develop our
critical and anti-authoritarian sensibilities.

Of course, there are any number of additional historical experiences that
we can look to.

*What are the historical experiences where the working class has been
able to claim victory in a socialist revolutionary  process where before
that revolution they trusted the elected leadership of the state and
where the state then eventually  dissolved as a state and was
reconstituted as a communal or council organization directed by the
popular will of the working class and the poor?*

In solidarity, Jerry

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