[OPE-L] the state, self-defense, and power

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Tue May 24 2005 - 18:57:51 EDT

>  [...] --- what are you going to do about capitalist power-- 
> police, army, courts, etc if you renounce the idea of taking 
> power (which means taking power away from them)? 

Michael L,

The police and army can be won over to the side of the revolution
or, if necessary,  involuntarily disarmed by the people without "seizing 
state power".    There can be workers' councils (such as Soviets) which
are popularly elected and represent workers.  Perhaps, also, there
can be "autonomous zones" outside of the control of the state. 
I know of no tendency on the Left that it opposed to the principles
of *self-defense* and *collective organization*.   Should the working 
class be attacked, they have every right to defend themselves,
their organizations, and their autonomy.   Without the armed might
of the police and the military, whatever orders issued by the courts
lack muscle.  Indeed, if  the courts were to issue orders to the police
or military etc. which they refused to obey (for example after appeals
from workers'  organizations) then that would demonstrate to all that
they know longer can maintain power.

The power that the capitalist state has ultimately comes from capital.  One
doesn't have to "seize the state" to expropriate capitalist property and
power.  Workers can do it themselves and, again, if they are attacked
they can organize to defend themselves.  Similarly land reform can 
happen without the initiative of the state (as it did in 1917 when the 
peasants themselves,  without 'permission' from the Bolsheviks) seized 
the holdings of many of the large private landowners. 

To quibble a bit with the title of John's book:  one can take and make 
power without seizing  _state_ power.  The Zapatistas in Chiapas truly 
have power even though they don't have state power, don't they?  The 
Soviets had power before they were disbanded, didn't they?   Isn't the
identification of power with state power (i.e. that the only legitimate
claim to power is by the state)  the state perspective on power?  

In solidarity, Jerry

> If there are matters of theory which separate us, [Mike L and John H] 
> let's battle them out in HM where there's the opportunity to develop 
> arguments rather than soundbytes.

Taking into consideration how quickly _HM_ can and will  print such an exchange
and allowing for a back-and-forth exchange of perhaps 3 contributions each,
there could well be either global socialism by that time or human 
extinction.  In either event, that would make such an exchange moot.
Expressing the matter in less of a tongue-in-cheek fashion:  *If* you think that 
these issues are important *now*,  the Internet is the best medium for such an 
exchange, imo.

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