Tag Archives: Ideology and stuff

( An online poll organised by United Russia, the ruling party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. suggests there is strong support for burying Lenin’s body. Of more than 250,000 people who have voted in the poll, two-thirds so far say Lenin should now be buried. The revolutionary leader’s embalmed body has been on display in a mausoleum in Red Square in Moscow since his death in 1924. It is believed that Lenin’s personal wish was to be buried alongside his mother but Stalin decided on mummification and diefication.

The Socialist Standard obituary from 1924 of Lenin can be read here 

SOYMB not only concurs with the majority opinion of this poll but adds that we also wish to bury Lenin’s political legacy with him. Lenin’s elitism was consistent with the outlook of the Second International. The difference between Kautsky and Lenin here was over who was to lead the workers beyond “trade-union consciousness”, though historically Lenin’s interpretation that this should be a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries has been more influential. By contrast, the Socialist Party repudiated leadership as a political principle and insisted that the emancipation of the working class really had to be the work of the working class itself.

Marx’s theory of socialist revolution is grounded on the fundamental principle that “the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself”. Marx held to this view throughout his entire forty years of socialist political activity, and it distinguished his theory of social change from that of both those who appealed to the princes, governments and industrialists to change the world for the benefit of the working class (such as Robert Owen and Saint Simon) and of those who relied on the determined action of some enlightened minority of professional revolutionaries to liberate the working class (such as Buonarotti, Blanqui and Weitling). At first the movement of the working class would be, Marx believed, unconscious and unorganised but in time, as the workers gained more experience of the class struggle and the workings of capitalism, it would become more consciously socialist and democratically organised by the workers themselves. The emergence of socialist understanding out of the experience of the workers could thus be said to be “spontaneous” in the sense that it would require no intervention by people outside the working class to bring it about. Socialist propaganda and agitation would indeed be necessary but would come to be carried out by workers themselves whose socialist ideas would have been derived from an interpretation of their class experience of capitalism. The end result would be an independent movement of the socialist-minded and democratically organised working class aimed at winning control of political power in order to abolish capitalism.

Lenin’s greatest positive achievement was getting Russia out of the bloody futility of World War One, something that the Socialist Party acknowledged at the time. The Socialist Party was the only British organisation to publish the Bolsheviks’ anti-war declaration during the war.The Bolsheviks promised peace and – to their highest credit- established it. That this peace has been broken and they have been compelled to take up war again is due entirely to the imperialist aims of the capitalist class of Europe. The trouble really started when claims about the “socialist” nature of Russia began to be aired, first within Russia then in the Communist parties being formed around the world. The false claims about Russian “socialism” are largely derived from Lenin’s opportunism as he distorted Marxism – working class socialist theory. In this country, the Socialist Party always denied that socialism existed in Russia (or anywhere else) or that Russia was on a transition towards socialism.

For its anti-democratic elitism and its advocacy of an irrelevant transitional society misnamed “socialism”, in theory and in practice, Leninism today deserves the hostility of workers everywhere. Lenin seriously distorted Marxism and thereby severely damaged the development of the socialist movement. Indeed, Leninism still continues to pose a real obstacle to the achievement of socialism. The Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia put the clock back in the sense that before the First World War the radical wing of the international Social Democratic movement was making progress towards positions similar to those of the Socialist Party in Britain but, after 1917, most of those involved were side-tracked into supporting the Bolsheviks. For many this was only a temporary dalliance, but the damage had been done. Crucially, when they were to break with the Bolshevik regime they did not entirely break with the Bolsheviks’ ideas, regarding themselves as “left-wing communists” as they called themselves; in particular they accepted that the Russian revolution had been some sort of “working-class” revolution which had gone wrong but which still had some positive lessons for workers in the rest of Europe.

There is a wide chasm between the views of Marx and those of Lenin in their understanding of the nature of socialism, of how it would be achieved and of the manner of its administration. Marx’s vision is a stateless, classless and moneyless society which, by its nature, could only come to fruition when a conscious majority wanted it and wherein the affairs of the human family would be democratically administered. A form of social organisation in which people would voluntarily contribute their skills and abilities in exchange for the freedom of living in a society that guarantees their needs and wherein the poverty, repression and violence of capitalism would have no place.

by ajohnstone


(wikipediaState capitalism has various different meanings, but is usually described as a society wherein the productive forces are controlled and directed by the state in a capitalist manner, even if such a society calls itself socialist.[1] Corporatized government agencies and states that own controlling shares of publicly listed firms, thus acting as a capitalist itself, are two examples of state capitalism. State capitalism has also come to refer to an economic system where the means of production are privately owned and the state exerts considerable control over the allocation of credit and investment. State capitalism is a term that is also used (sometimes interchangeably with state monopoly capitalism) to describe a system where the state is intervening in the markets to protect and advance the interests of Big Business. This practice is often claimed to be in sharp contrast with the ideals of both socialism and laissez-faire capitalism.[2]

Within Marxist literature, state capitalism is usually defined in this sense: as a social system combining capitalism — the wage system of producing and appropriating surplus value in a commodity economy — with ownership or control by a state. By that definition, a state capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts like a single giant corporation.[3] Friedrich Engels, in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, states that the final stage of capitalism would consist of ownership over production and communication by the bourgeois state.[4]

There are various theories and critiques of state capitalism, some of which have been around since the October Revolution or even before. The common themes among them are to identify that the workers do not meaningfully control the means of production and that commodity relations and production for profit still occur within state capitalism. Other socialists use the term state capitalism to refer to an economic system that is nominally capitalist, where business and private owners reap the profits from an economy largely subsidized, developed and where decisive research and development is undertaken by the state sector at public cost.[3]

This term is also used by some advocates of laissez-faire capitalism to mean a private capitalist economy under state control, often meaning a privately owned economy that is under economic planning. Some even use it to refer to capitalist economies where the state provides substantial public services and regulation over business activity. In the 1930s, Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini described Italian Fascism’s economic system of corporatism as “state socialism turned on its head.”[5] This term was often used to describe the controlled economies of the great powers in the First World War.[6] 

Origins and early uses of the term

The term itself was in use within the socialist movement from the late nineteenth century onwards. Wilhelm Liebknecht in 1896 said: “Nobody has combatted State Socialism more than we German Socialists; nobody has shown more distinctively than I, that State Socialism is really State capitalism!” [7]

It has been suggested that the concept of state capitalism can be traced back to Mikhail Bakunin‘s critique within the First International of the potential for state exploitation under Marxism, or to Jan Waclav Machajski‘s argument in The Intellectual Worker (1905) that socialism was a movement of the intelligentsia as a class, leading to a new type of society he called state capitalism.[8][9][10] For anarchists, state socialism is just state capitalism, hence oppressive and merely a shift from private capitalists to the state being the sole employer and capitalist. [11]

During World War I, taking as his cue Vladimir Lenin‘s idea that Tsarism was taking a “Prussian path” to capitalism, the Bolshevik Nikolai Bukharin identified a new stage in the development of capitalism, in which all sectors of national production and all important social institutions had come under state management; he termed this new stage ‘state capitalism.’ [12]

After the October Revolution, Lenin used the term in a positive way. In spring 1918, during a short period of economic liberalism prior to the introduction of war communism, and again during the New Economic Policy (NEP) of 1921, Lenin justified the introduction of state capitalism under the political control of the dictatorship of the proletariat to further central control and develop the productive forces:

Reality tells us that state capitalism would be a step forward. If in a small space of time we could achieve state capitalism, that would be a victory. (Lenin 1918)[13][14] 

Read more:

(anarkismo) This article responds to criticisms of the broad anarchist tradition inInternational Socialism, an International Socialist Tendency (IST) journal.[1] I will discuss topics such as the use of sources, defending revolutions and freedom, the Spanish anarchists, anarchism and democracy, the historical role of Marxism, and the Russian Revolution.

The articles I am engaging with are marked by commendable goodwill; I strive for the same. Paul Blackledge’s article rejects “caricatured non-debate”.[2] Ian Birchall stresses that “lines between anarchism and Marxism are often blurred”.[3] Leo Zeilig praises Michael Schmidt’s and my book, Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, as “a fascinating account”.[4]

It is important to note where we converge. The IST states it is for socialism from below through revolution. If Marx, Lenin and Trotsky are invoked here, it is because the “essence” of their works is taken to be “working class self-emancipation”.[5] The term “dictatorship of the proletariat”, Leo insists, means merely “the democratic defence of working class power” through “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc”.[6]

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( Duane Rousselle: Post-anarchism has come to mean different things to different people. In the anglophone world, Saul Newman has described a Lacanian/Stirnerian “post-anarchism,” Todd May has called for a practice-oriented “post-structuralist anarchism,” Lewis Call has described a time of “post-modern anarchism,” and Hakim Bey has called for a reinvention of traditional anarchist discourse in his 1987 essay “post-anarchism anarchy.” In my own research, I have noticed that there is a striking difference in the way post-anarchism has been conceived in the non-anglophone world. I would like to ask you a bit about what post-anarchism means for you and for your audience.

Antón Fernández de Rota: To answer your question, Duane, I think that we can not avoid the place from where post-anarchism’s voices are heard. And that place is the Academy and its boundaries. Basically, post-anarchists understand to some degree that the collection of post-anarchists are related in one way or another with the University, with the Human Sciences, Philosophy and the Arts; many of us are university students – usually studying for doctorates. But there is also a reduction of the number of young professors born from the children formed within the crisis of the left, or, at least, during the boom years of “alter-globalization.” I do not cite the political trauma of the left by coincidence. Neither do I ignore that inside the anarchist milieu, the critics of “post-anarchism” have often reproached it for being limited to an academic phenomenon (or worse yet, a merely discursive movement, and a practice nothing more than textual, elitist, an elusive writing without any relevance or contact with the “street”).

My objective is not to argue. I also do not think that a polemical response is the best way to relate. Jürgin cited Foucault who dedicated a good part of his work to devising an ethics of the thinking subject. The polemicist, said Foucault, approaches the battle ready to debate; he does not have before himself a speaker with whom to seek the truth, but rather he has an adversary. In this fight, armed with the rights that authorize the war, the polemicist fights by suppressing the dialogue and annulling his counterpart. Paradoxically, far from putting an end to the word, what the polemic does is multiply it through debates wrapped in hostilities that become a repetitive performance – where time and again the same orders and the same phrases are exchanged. For the polemicist, the proper existence of the adversary signifies a threat that should be caught, but when the new adversary is consolidated in the demand of his space, the polemic functions like a ritual in which nobody listens and each speaks for his or her part by reaffirming his or her respective identities.

“Post-anarchists” have wanted to introduce new debates into anarchism. Post-anarchists have imported discourses, intending to create bridges between distinct traditions in order to elude the methods of the polemic. In this way, they have unfolded vectors that moved from the classical authors and from the large exploits and anarchist organizational experiences of the first third of the 20th century toward the “long sixties” and such authors as Foucault, Deleuze or Derrida. Post-anarchism has also offered a series of analysis on the contemporary transformations today’s social movements, where the content and the possibilities of anarchism are redefined. David Graeber speaks of anarchists with a little “a” to portray the thickness of the activist networks of the North American alter-global experience. A short time before the socialist Manuel Castells expressed it in the same terms, he considered that two powers were growing in the world: “new anarchism” (alter-global and post-Cold War) and “fundamentalism” (of the religion that was). Also Barbaric Epstein verified the increasing importance of the “anarchist,” in detriment of the political Marxists in the left in the USA. None of these authors are “post-anarchist,” but all these ideas agree broadly speaking with the general lines of its political diagnosis. The questions that emerge here do so with a certain optimism and are of vital importance for the anarchist tradition and the left in general: Has the Era of Revolutions happened already? And if it is so, what alternative is there to the 19th century logic of reform/revolution? Has the old political subject and the forms of its political organization arrived at its end, and if it is so how should the subject, politics, and the relation that occurs among both be thought? Is there a “beyond” to the crisis of the left and the prison of the “politics of identity” exist?

Post-anarchism, as a chiefly academic phenomenon, appeared to promote these types of questions. Likewise, it arose as a reaction from this discomfort. Eluding the polemic does not signify yielding to complacency. The discomfort has to do with the evident desertion of “expert thought” from the rows of anarchism. Post-anarchism has wanted to rectify this problem through the actualization of theory. It remains to be seen if this is the best approach. There still lacks a thinking through of the implications of the role of the academic.

This is part two of an ongoing conversation about post-anarchism with Jürgin Mümken, Süreyyya Evren, and Anton Fernendaz de Rota. It has been translated from Spanish to English by Jake Nabasny with adaptations by Duane Rousselle


( Writing in The American ConservativeWilliam Lind bemoans the tendency revealed by current upheavals in the Middle East. “[T]he worst possible outcome … is the disintegration of states and their replacement either by statelessness — as we see in Somalia — or by fictional states, as in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

But what’s so bad about that? Let’s look at a couple of Lind’s objections:

“Within the territories that were formerly real states,” he writes, “power devolves to many non-state entities.”

Color me clueless, but isn’t that exactly what “limited government conservatives” usually claim to be for?

Isn’t that, in point of fact, precisely the goal Lind himself pursued as Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation? That institution’s “Declaration of Cultural Independence” swears off state politics and commits its adherents to “the creation of a complete, alternate structure of parallel cultural institutions.” Moreover, those “parallel cultural institutions” are of a specifically “Judeo-Christian” variety. But these days Lind lists, among his fears, the possibility that power will devolve to “religions and sects.”

“Internally, war becomes a permanent condition,” he warns. To which I can only reply, “was it not ever so?” Hobbes’s “war of all against all,” if ever that war truly raged, didn’t end with Leviathan’s appearance on the scene. The modern state merely armed the political class at the expense of the productive class, then proceeded to systematize the slaughter and — with spectacular exceptions like Hitler’s Holocaust, Stalin’s reign of terror, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Pol Pot’s “Killing Fields” — regulate its domestic intensity to a more bearable and sustainable level than that of all-out war between states.

It’s questionable, though, whether the “war of all against all” ever took place, at least at any thing like the level of horror Hobbes claimed. Lind invokes Somalia as a modern-day equivalent, but the most notable characteristic of Somalia is how peaceable the place is when foreign states and their domestic quislings aren’t trying to impose themselves in place of its loose non-state clan social structure.

The real nut of Lind’s objection to anarchy seems to be that “externally there is no one with whom other states can deal.” He treats this as a bug. I consider it a feature.

What kind of “dealing” takes place between states? The least onerous form of trade between states — the baseline — is a continuous barter, between their political classes, of wealth stolen from their productive classes.

From there, it only gets worse, up to all-out war that makes any conceivable stateless “war of all against all” look like a friendly game of flag football: Massive armies (cajoled or even conscripted from among the productive class, of course — if you’re looking for the political class, consult your directory of “undisclosed locations”) arrayed against each other, brandishing terrible weapons that only acolytes of the state could manage the psychosis necessary to imagine, or work up the hubris to invest the massive amounts of unearned wealth required to develop.

Do I really need a state to “deal” in my name? Here’s a little bit of that Judeo-Christian lingo for Lind:

“Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves …” (Isaiah 28:15)

That’s the bargain Lind proposes as a bulwark against good, clean anarchy. Thanks, but no thanks.