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

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Thu May 19 2005 - 10:22:57 EDT


You have made my point.  It is not so simple to just say "which side are
you on".

You give the example of Stalinists in Spain or Germany. I gave the example
here of anarchists (since you mentioned anarchism).  I could have used
your examples. The point is the same.

In the instant case of Venezuela, Michael offered some useful observations
about the complexity of the 'left' of there.  I sense you feel anarchism
is ipso facto on the workers side of the barricades, little discussion


RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY,  Paul Zarembka, editor,  Elsevier Science

On Thu, 19 May 2005 glevy@PRATT.EDU wrote:

> > 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
> anarchists,
> 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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