Thursday, 28 March 2013

Very Interesting-Chomsky on Anarchism.

Noam Chomsky On Anarchism - Interviewed by Barry Pateman
 

Chomsky on Rightwing Libertarianism and Libertarian Socialism.

Chomsky on Ron Paul -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAt1ySNF6yg





Noam Chomsky on Ron Paul Model of Libertarianism.



Noam Chomsky Libertarian Socialism and Economics


He disagrees with Par-econ.
He says work could be enjoyable if it's empowering and worker controlled. Chomsky says Adam Smith has been misunderstood.




 

Chomsky on why Obama is no Hero.

On how Obama is a warmongerer and not very different from Bush.

 

Chomsky against Leninism.


Chomsky on Lenin,Trotsky and the Soviet Union.

He says Lenin was rightwing.He's not afraid to criticize Lenin.He says we need to remember the actual marxist socialist criticism of Leninism. He denounces Opportunistic vanguardism.

He opposes the Bolsheviks.Socialism is workers control over production Chomsky says and Leninism was nothing like that. He says Lenin was involved in a Coup not a revolution.

He says Lenin and Trotsky's first moves were to destroy worker councils.

Chomsky says Lenin/Trotsky acted opportunistically like any politician and spraffed what he thought people wanted to here but that they became a new managerial class. They became the new ruling class.

Lenin had authoritarian ideas/tendencies.

Rosa Luxemburg, Emma Goldman, Antonie Pannekoek, Paul Mattick Vs Lenin,Trotsky,Bolsheviks.

 http://www.chomsky.info/articles/1986----.htm - This article also explains the situation well.

 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Anarcha-Feminism.

Why I'm an anarcha-feminist

by Natalie Dzerins // 24 January 2012, 12:35
a white woman's forearm and fist holding up a necklace with the female symbolDisclaimer: This article will discuss my personal feelings about anti-capitalism, anarcho-communism and their relationships with feminism (and other systems of oppression). Because of this, I will not be discussing the histories of the movements. If you wish to learn about these, the origins section on the wiki-page for anarcha-feminism will point you in the right direction.
When I was about seven years old, I asked my mother why everyone couldn't just do what they were good at and share everything equally. This was my first foray into anti-capitalism, and my opinions haven't changed much in the past fifteen years.
It has always been very important to me to strive for social equality, and capitalism simply does not provide that. I could wax lyrical all day about the oppressive and unjust nature of the capitalist society, in which we are told that the only value of a human being lies in their ability to make profits for a CEO, but this is a feminist website, and I have a 700-word limit. So I will merely outline why I believe that capitalism is inherently anti-feminist and that the solution to smashing patriarchy will necessarily involve smashing capitalism.
It is in capitalism's best interests to oppress women. The main reason for this is that by devaluing and denigrating 51% of the population as useless and inferior, it seems legitimate to pay them less, or to not pay them at all, for their work - no matter how good it may be for society. Childcare and housework are two prime examples of this. They are services essential to humankind, yet we expect women to a) be the sole or primary providers of these services and b) perform them for free as well as generating capital by holding down other jobs. This is what is known as the "double burden" on women. In a truly equal society, not only would these roles be seen as suitable for everyone, they would be seen as equally important to other work. As it stands, "Women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, produce half of the world's food, but earn only 10% of the world's income and own less than one percent of the world's property" (Global Poverty Project).
Another way in which capitalism exploits women is by creating problems for them to worry about, then offering to sell them a solution. This usually takes the form of making women feel disgusted about their own natural bodies, and convincing them they must change - see pantyliners, douches and pretty much the entire make-up industry. If we smashed capitalism, we'd smash the need for people to sell us things by making us ashamed of who we are.
There are many more examples of this, but once again, I am writing a blog post, not a doctorate. So - why do I believe that once we have smashed capitalism, anarchism is the solution?
Honestly, it's mainly because I don't believe in anything else. Any hierarchical system of government or community, be it feudalism, the current parliamentary system or party-led communism will necessarily contain inequality. The needs of the few who make the decisions will outweigh the needs of the many who have decisions made for them. We can see this with the current coalition, whose members have both simultaneously claimed £35,000 on a "second home" when their first home is literally down the street and demonised people with severe disabilities wanting to live normal lives as "scroungers". Four legs good, two legs better indeed.
However, people in the anarchist movement have been brought up in the same prejudiced, patriarchal societies as the most rabid capitalist, and that has to be overcome. Whether it's women's needs not being taken care of in an anarchist environment, or silencing women in group discussions, manarchism seems to constantly rear its ugly head, and we need a feminist movement-within-the-movement to counter it, and that movement-within-the-movement is anarcha-feminism.
So, that's a very short version of why I am an anarcha-feminist. I'm not claiming to be 100% right, or to speak for all anarcha-feminists(!), but this is what I believe we need to do to create a fair, just and equal society for all.
For more on anti-capitalist feminism in the current UK climate, this article is a very worthwhile read.
Image by K. Sawyer Photography, shared under a Creative Commons licence

Monday, 25 March 2013

What's Situationism?

Situationism in a nutshell

The Situationist International (SI) was formed in 1957 by a merger of Guy Debord’s Lettrist International and Asger Jorn’s International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus (IMIB), two post-war continental art groups. The IMIB could claim descent from the COBRA art group. A third art group, the London Psychogeographical Society, was claimed to have joined at the time but was invented to add to the internationalist claims of the SI.

For the early part of its existence the SI continued with the artistic work of the Lettrist International, but moved to being a group of political theorists and agitators following a split in 1962. The SI form part of a utopian anti-art tradition that goes back to Futurism, Dada and Surrealism.

The group had approximately 70 members over the course of it’s history, but due to frequent expulsions the number of members at any one time was never more than about 10 to 20.

The SI has a reputation for scandal and subversion. Its political theories made popular by punk rock were a blend of Marxism and anarchism. In spite of this the SI condemned both communism and anarchism for their failings. They criticised modern consumer society for alienating people and turning their lives into meaningless pursuits of commodities.

The SI lasted until 1972 when it disbanded with only two members, and it published 12 issues of its Journal ‘Internationale Situationiste.’ Guy Debord was the only member to stay with the group throughout its existence.

The SI’s Artistic Phase

The first important action of the SI was its attack on the ‘International Assembly Of Art Critics’ in Belgium. This attack took the form of disrupting the press conference and handing out abusive flyers, a tactic that had served them well as the Lettrist International when they disrupted a Charlie Chaplin press conference and when one member, dressed as a priest, denounced God and the church from the pulpit of Notre Dame cathedral.

The first exhibition of the SI’s ‘Industrial Painting’ took place in Turin in May 1958. Developed by Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio and his son Giors Melanotte, Industrial Painting was painting in the style of abstract expressionism on giant rolls of canvas 70 to 90 feet long. The name was intended to highlight the scale of production of the paintings as opposed to their methods of production, which remained traditional. The rolls of canvas were sold by the yard and were meant to be sold to the public in retail shops. At the first exhibition of Industrial Painting models wore dresses made from the canvas.

The SI held three exhibitions in prestigious galleries 1959, one of Industrial Painting, one of Asger Jorn’s Detourned ‘Kitsch’ paintings and one of Constant’s architectural models. These made use of the SI’s theories of unitary urbanism and were models for buildings suspended from wires. Constant also made plans for a city made of a single labyrinthine building, a model for a gypsy encampment and for a concert hall for electronic music. Some of the SI’s artistic theories are discussed below.

Psychogeography, Unitary Urbanism And The Theory Of The Dérive

The SI’s theories of urbanism and architecture originate from an essay by the Lettrist Ivan Chtcheglov called ‘Formulary For A New Urbanism’ In it Chtcheglov envisions that a new form of urban life can be created, a new city built – ‘we are bored in the city, there is no longer any temple to the sun’ – ‘You’ll never see the hacienda. It doesn’t exist. The hacienda must be built.’ In this new city ‘every man will live in his own cathedral’ and ‘the principle activity of the inhabitants will be the continuous dérive’ through zones designed to alter the inhabitants’ moods and perceptions.

The Situationists coined the phrase unitary urbanism to describe their experiments with creating a new city that would allow the inhabitants to play and realise their desires. Architecture, detourned collages of maps, art installations and the dérive were all used by the SI in these experiments. The dérive was an experimental practice of unitary urbanism and is translated as ‘drift’ in English. The practice is effectively to wander aimlessly and without destination through the city, soaking up its ambiences. Psychogeography was used to describe the study of the urban environment’s effects on the psyche. The SI produced psychogeographical reports based on the results of their dérives.

Methods of Detournement

Detournement is usually translated into English as ‘diversion’ and was the method of artistic creation used by the situationists. It was, in effect, plagiarism where both the source and the meaning of the original work was subverted to create a new work. In the SI’s own words ‘there is no Situationist art, only Situationist uses of art.’ Detournement is distinct from ‘theft’ plagiarism, which only subverts the source of the material and post-modern ‘ironic quotation’ plagiarism which only subverts the meaning of the material, the source becoming the meaning. The SI used detournement in films, art, graphics for their journal and in posters that detourned comics during the events of May ’68.

The Split And The Second SI

The roots of the split in the SI date from the fourth conference in London when the German section, Gruppe Spur attacked the French and Belgian sections over their political beliefs. Gruppe Spur had joined the SI at the third conference in Munich in ’59, having been discovered by Asger Jorn in 1958. Asger Jorn resigned in 1961, which left control of the SI solely in the hands of Debord. Also Raoul Vaneigem joined in ’61 which increased the French section’s radical atmosphere. The issue of the political leanings of the SI rose again at the fifth conference in Göteborg, Sweden in 1961 when debates at the conference degenerated into personal insults. As a result of this the French section tried to impose it’s own editors onto Gruppe Spur’s Journal, and when Gruppe Spur put out an issue without the editors’ consent, they were excluded. The split in the SI came about in March 1962 when the six members of the artistic faction broke away from the politically minded faction of Debord, Vaneigem and Michele Bernstein (Debord’s Wife). The artistic faction were excluded in turn and formed the second SI, working with the now independent Gruppe Spur. The second SI continued the artistic work of the SI and is known for putting up graffiti in Copenhagen and decapitating the statue of the little mermaid in Copenhagen harbour.

The Society Of The Spectacle

With the help of Vaneigem, Debord began to turn the SI into a political organisation. In constructing his political theories Debord built on the work of the Socialisme Ou Barbarie group, Marx, Hegel, Lefebvre, Baudrillard, Lukacs and Korsch. The SI was also influenced by anarchism which it regarded as the ‘most advanced form of proletarian revolution’ in the form of the anarchists of the Spanish civil war.

Guy Debord had briefly been a member of the Socialisme Ou Barbarie group in 1960. The group broke away from the Trotskyist Fourth International after becoming disillusioned with the USSR’s Bureaucracy and the lack of any revolution after World War II as Trotsky had predicted. Marx had predicted that the communist state bureaucracy would dissolve into a utopian society, but that hadn’t happened either, which lead Socialisme Ou Barbarie to question orthodox Marxist thought. The group advocated a system of workers councils instead of a state bureaucracy (where the bourgeoisie had been replaced by a new class of ‘masters,’ the bureaucrats.) Karl Korsch was also an advocate of workers’ councils along with Rosa Luxemburg.

Debord and Vaneigem had attended a course of lectures in 1957-58 given by Henri Lefebvre, who was aided in giving this course by Jean Baudrillard. Lefebvre was the author of ‘The Critique Of Everyday Life’ in which he argued that people’s everyday life (i.e. what was left after work) was taken up by meaningless and trivial wastes of time such as commuting and the consumption of commodities. He was interested in how to free people from the alienation of work, commodity fetishism and money and let them experience everyday life without alienation – ‘man must be everyday, or he will not be at all.’

Georg Lukacs gave the SI the idea of reification which he meant to mean a form of objectification where the relationships between things replaces the relationships between people. Commodities take on a mind of their own, turning humans into robots mechanically worshipping them.

Guy Debord took all this to write ‘The Society Of The Spectacle’ which was published in 1967, the same year as Raoul Vaneigem’s ‘The Revolution Of Everyday Life’ which was written, unlike ‘The Society Of The Spectacle’ to present the SI’s theories to a mass audience.

The spectacle is an extension of the idea of reification where what ‘was directly lived has moved away into a representation,’ all real relationships having been replaced by that of relationships with commodities, and where commodities have a life of their own – ‘the autonomous movement of the non-living.’ The spectacle exists where there are ‘modern conditions of production’ and has only existed since around the 1920s when commodities became abundant.

The spectacle is not the domination of the world by images or any other form of mind-control but the domination of a social interaction mediated by images. Reification separates people from one-another but the spectacle is a unifying principle of society where it ‘reunites the separate, but reunites them as separate’.

As people consume the commodities or image-objects of the spectacle they become part of the spectacle, making rebellion against it hard. ‘Even the most radical gesture’ gets recuperated into the spectacle and turned into a commodity, negating its subversive meaning – ‘It is a question not of elaborating the spectacle of refusal, but rather of refusing the spectacle’ Everything becomes a commodity in the spectacle, even TV, radio, the internet, books, ideas, thoughts and desires. Rebellion is sold back to us as an image that pacifies us.

The Spectacle generates passivity in its spectators, highlighted by the SI’s essay ‘The Spectators Of Suicide’ in which the SI report that members of the public yelled to a suicidal man to jump for their entertainment instead of trying to coax him down. The spectacle forces people into stereotypes and roles especially through the specialisation of labour (you are your job and the things you consume) The spectacle presents a false view of the world where ‘the liar has lied to himself.’

As well as defining the concept of the spectacle Debord investigates commodity fetishism more closely, looks at the spectacle’s manufacture of dissatisfaction which then also becomes a commodity. He also looks at the history of the workers’ movement and world history in general, the commodification of time and he returns to the concepts of unitary urbanism and detournement.

Throughout the book Debord places workers’ councils at the heart of revolutionary practice, something he would try to put into effect during the events of May 1968.

The British Section And King Mob

The British section of the SI were excluded in 1967 after refusing to break off contact with the New York based ‘Black Mask/Up Against The Wall, Motherfuckers!’ group, a ‘street gang with an analysis.’ The British section consisted of Tim Clark, Chris Gray, Donald Nicholson-Smith and Charlie Radcliffe and they went on to form the King Mob group. The name came from the Gordon gin (sic) rioters, who daubed ‘His Majesty King Mob’ on the walls of Newgate prison in London in the 18th century. The plans of King Mob included blowing up a waterfall in England’s Lake District, blowing up the poet Wordsworth’s house with ‘Coleridge Lives’ graffiti and hanging peacocks in London’s Holland Park, though they were never carried out. The plan that did get put into action was based on Black Mask’s ‘mill-in at Macy’s.’ King Mob turned up at the Selfrige’s store in London with one of them dressed as Santa Claus and proceeded to give away all the store’s toys to children. The police were called and the children made to give the toys back. King Mob also produced the ‘King Mob Echo’ which celebrated killers like Jack The Ripper, Mary Bell and John Christie. Their graffiti got everywhere, including the memorable ‘Same thing day after day – tube – work – diner – work – tube – armchair – TV – sleep – tube – work – how much more can you take? – One in ten go mad – one in five cracks up’ and ‘I don’t believe in nothing – I feel like they ought to burn down the world – just let it burn down baby’.

May 68

The events of May 1968 for the SI started at Strasbourg university in 1966 when the student union approached the SI to write a critique of student life, which was published using the union’s funds and was even given away at the university’s official opening at the beginning of the academic year. The student union was closed down by court order and a court case ensued giving international publicity to the SI. The pamphlet, called ‘On The Poverty Of Student Life’ called for a revolt by students similar to the actions at Berkeley and elsewhere. ‘On The Poverty Of Student Life’ influenced student leaders such as Danny Cohn-Bendit and Jean-Pierre Duteuil who helped to circulate it. The occupations of 1968 started at the university of Nanterre and spread to the Sorbonne. The police tried to take back the Sorbonne and a riot ensued. Following this a general strike was declared with up to 10 million workers participating. The SI originally participated in the Sorbonne occupations and defended barricades in the riots. The SI distributed calls for the occupation of factories and the formation of workers’ councils but disillusioned with the students left the university to set up the C.M.D.O., The Council For The Maintenance Of The Occupations which distributed the SI’s demands on a much wider scale. The government and the unions agreed a deal but no-one went back to work. It was only after President de Gaulle had threatened to start a civil war and the army was deployed on the streets of Paris did the general strike fizzle out. The police retook the Sorbonne and the C.M.D.O. disbanded.

The End Of The SI And After

After the events of May ’68 the SI went into decline. They seemed to be unable to deal with the infamy that their activities had brought them, unable to come up with a coherent strategy once the failure of the ’68 rebellion had become apparent. The beginning of the end came with the resignation of Michele Bernstein in December 1967. After May ’68 the French section of the SI expanded with ‘pro-situs,’ fans of the SI who appeared to take no part in its activities. The core supporters of Debord – Vaneigem, Mustapha Khayati and René Viénet resigned, those who did not were excluded until only Debord and Gianfranco Sanguinetti could be said to be active members. Their last act as the SI was to produce the book ‘The Veritable Split In The International,’ a history of the SI and a critique of it’s failings and successes.

The SI are known to most people through their supposed links to punk rock. However these links are at best tenuous and at worst spurious. These links have come about through Malcolm Maclaren and Jamie Reid being members of King Mob, which they weren’t (though Reid provided graphics for ‘Heatwave’ the journal of the SI’s British section) and the plan formulated by Chris Gray for a totally unpleasant rock band, which some try to pretend is the blueprint for the Sex Pistols.

What the punk rock connection actually represents is the recuperation of Situationist theory, using it to sell bondage trousers, seven inch singles and tiresome pseudo-academic theories like those of Greil Marcus.

Surprisingly, given Debord’s scorn for anarchists, they have been the people who have taken most to the SI’s political theories, including the ‘terrorist’ group The Angry Brigade (they weren’t strictly terrorists as they never killed anyone) and many of the SI’s books have been published by anarchist publishing groups.

Karen Elliot, Oct 1999. No copyright. No rights reserved

Monday, 18 March 2013

Lad culture in universities.

I have to say my experiences of encountering  'lad culture' as a man is not good.It's everything I hate.Everything that makes me as a man look bad.   It's misogyny, it's women seen as sex objects, it's dismissal of equality, it's a false and exclusive image of masculinity, it's homophobia, it's anti-feminism... I'm not saying all groups have these qualities or it's obvious but I can tell it's there and sometimes it's explict.


I guess the term 'hegemonic masculinity' best expresses it or in more traditional terms an exclusive gender role of masculinity/manhood.

****


That's what she said: Lad culture in universities

Through their report on lad culture in higher education, the National Union of Students is calling for action on sexism in universities. Kelley Temple discusses the extent and impact of lad culture on women students
Kelley Temple, 18 March 2013
On the occasion of International Women's Day, the National Union of Students (NUS) released the report, 'That's what she said', to voice the need for the government, universities and students' unions to stand up, take responsibility and accept that things need to change for women students in higher education. It's time to recognise that the issue of lad culture in higher education has a detrimental (and often quite far-reaching) impact on women students that is not addressed by higher education or gender equality policies.
In 2010 NUS published the 'Hidden Marks' report which produced the staggering statistic that 68% of respondents had faced one or more kinds of sexual harassment on campus during their time as a student. 'That's What She Said' builds on this revelation with an exploration of the depth of feeling surrounding the phenomenon of lad culture and how this can lead to negative student experiences.
When NUS commissioned research on lad culture and women students' experiences of it in higher education, it was anticipated that the body of evidence about offensive banter websites aimed at students (such as the infamous Uni Lad), sexist promotions of student nights at clubs and disturbing initiation practices that feature homophobia and misogyny would be recounted as a matter of course.
Student Women's Association.jpgThe researchers have indeed uncovered evidence along similar lines. Crucially, their sound research methodology means that it will be harder than ever for universities, students' unions and government to deny that this is a serious problem that is affecting women students up and down the country.
The report contains analysis of data from interviews and focus groups with 40 women students from England and Scotland, exploring how lad culture affects every area of student life to a greater or lesser degree. From nights with friends to classroom discussions with peers, from forming romantic relationships to joining student societies; lad culture is pervasive and is restricting women students' choices and doing real damage to women students' university life.
Universities seldom take action in relation to sexist incidents, often suggesting that women need to take responsibility for keeping themselves safe
Sexual harassment and groping was described by participants as part of a 'normal' night out. Most women students would easily identify with this, but seeing it come out of the research findings so strongly is still appalling. "You kind of stay away from certain bars on certain nights... I'd go to more, I hate the word 'alternative,' but the smaller bars that you're less likely to bump into sports teams in," one woman at a university in Northern England said.
The research participants reported their universities seldom took action in relation to such incidents and cited advice and communication from their institutions that suggested that women need to take responsibility for keeping themselves safe, conveying an attitude of acceptance.
Another student, from a university in the Northwest, told of how this culture had translated into a classroom setting: "I have been silenced in a classroom environment by someone who is one of the lads, if you like, because I didn't agree with something he said. He essentially did a repeat of what David Cameron did, the whole 'calm down dear' thing. Even the teacher didn't challenge it. She just looked at her papers, shuffled them, looked really awkward. I knew she had heard, everyone had heard."
There are also many examples of how lad culture affects women students' personal lives and relationships, with a student in the Northeast describing how her relationship with an ex-boyfriend deteriorated because of the way he engaged in lad culture with his friends, though he had tried to hide this aspect of his identity from her for as long as possible.
'Banter' and harassment was reported by many respondents, but it is particularly disturbing to read of several cases where students' involvement in feminist societies had made them targets of abuse.
The research findings recount a story from a student at university in the Southeast of England about a sports team locking up a member of the feminist society in a coach toilet during a trip and then pelting her with pornography magazines. Another student who was president of the gender equality group at her university had taken time off from her studies due to mental issues as a result of the negative treatment she had received because of this role.
That lad culture punishes those women students who step up to lead the struggle for women's equality is proof that it contributes to women's continued oppression
"Several close friends from our Feminist Society have been violently verbally attacked by a group of lads while having a drink in the student union bar for simply being from the feminist society," another student from the Southeast said.
If there was any doubt as to whether lad culture is actually contributing to women's continued oppression, the fact that it finds ways of punishing those women students who step up to lead the struggle for women's equality surely quells it.
While it is disheartening and disturbing to hear about women students' experiences of lad culture, abysmally, it is not surprising. Interestingly, as part of the literature review, the authors link the myth of women's success to the roots of lad culture.
The idea that women have 'made it', at least in educational terms, is a common one. It is certainly true that women now make up the majority of students in higher education. They appear to have higher attainment than men students. This fact has contributed to the so-called crisis of masculinity which posits that there is an attack on men as society's understanding of gender and gender roles changes.
The Clothesline Project.jpgThe research found that lad culture can be seen, in part, as a response to this crisis of masculinity, as a culture that seeks to defend what were perceived to be masculine spaces, such as higher education. Having this context is incredibly important in order to understand the emergence of lad culture, and of course in order to understand that while we do not claim that all men participate in lad culture (or indeed, that no women do), it is still fundamentally a gendered issue.
And although it is not exclusive to university settings, it is very much a student issue as well, both because of the way that women's statistical presence in higher education contributes to the myth of women's success and campus culture's inclusion of many elements (sports teams, student bars, online social networks) where lad culture seems to be able to thrive.
There is a danger that women students will slip through the gaps in higher education and gender equality policies
As the literature review points out, "There is no mention of women's issues in current higher education policy, and gender equality policy, including the most recent framework around violence against women and girls, also makes no specific reference to women students."
There is a danger that women students will slip through the gaps in these policies and that the myth of women's success in higher education will continue to mean that the very real issues facing women students are not addressed.
NUS, the Everyday Sexism Project, Equality Challenge Unit and relevant Higher Education organisations - Universities UK (UUK), the Association of Manager of Student Services in Higher Education (AMOSSHE) and the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) - are calling on Women and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson to convene a summit on lad culture and how government and the higher education sector can respond to it.
Ultimately, all those who have had a role to play in allowing lad culture to thrive in higher education -- including universities, students' unions, and even NUS -- need to be involved in figuring out how we can respond to it. We hope to work with all stakeholders to develop a national strategy that will lay out a clear path to tackling lad culture and creating a safer, more positive, more empowering culture on our campuses.
The letter to Jo Swinson urges her to convene a summit of relevant organisations to create an action plan to tackle lad culture. It's not big, it's not clever; it's demeaning, it's sexist and it's going to change.
First image of two female students at a Student Women's Association stall, uploaded by Flickr user UMaineStudentAffairs. Second image of a campus clothesline project, showing one of the t-shirts. T-shirt reads: "HE HITS ON GIRLS. HE HITS GIRLS." Image uploaded by Flickr user UMaineStudentAffairs.

Some Critical thoughts on Leninist parties.

 I've come to be a libertarian socialist. I'm not an anarchist but on the scale of socialism I'm nearer to Emma Goldman than Trotsky or Lenin or the Bolsheviks. I have more affinity with broader anarchist values than 'traditional' socialist values which often fail to take hierarchy etc as an issue.

I'm not dogmatically anti-political party or opposed to voting for a politician. But I don't want politicians to be part of the society I favour which would involve direct democracy. I'm opposed to systems or institutions or relations which involve or encourage passivity and alienation and are disempowering in the sense that they do not allow individuals as well as groups,power over their own lives.

I've been working with a socialist party recently. I never joined because I'm skeptical of the idea of political parties but since moving back to socialist from anarchist I was looking for a home and a form of action. Well increasingly I'm become uncomfortable with it. It's not the rank and file people.Generally they're pretty cool and sensible and non dogmatic.

It's the spokesman. The party had an issue with a cult of personality in the past and imploded. The current spokesman doesn't call himself a leader but he's granted a undue authority. He's the person everyone is to defer to and he's become increasingly authoritarian. We were handing out leaflets the other day and he was on the mic speaking and it felt like working for a boss and hierarchical. He was telling me where to stand and in a tone of telling not asking said I should be helping out more.
The contrast between the socialist party and Occupy could not be more stark. I oppose the Leninist party structure of 'democratic centralism'.

It's also his politics I take issue with. Other members don't have any specific kind of socialism. The spokesman does. The spokesman is a Trotskyist. He agrees the anarchists got screwed over in Spain.He liked(?) the IWW but thinks it's worthless now. He says syndicalism has had it's day. Trotskyism is a worrying philosophy. It's Leninist and obviously follows Trotsky to some extent. I told him I didn't like Lenin and he said I had to read Lenin or It'd be wrong about him. I read Lenin and I saw the words of a dictator. I read about the Bolsheviks and their words and saw dictators who were very anti-anarchist and who suppressed anyone who disagreed. I read how even from Lenin and the Bolsheviks, dissent was being suppressed. Then course you have Trotsky putting down Kronstadt and other rebellions.

Leninists think it all went wrong from Stalin and that Lenin was a hero. If you bring up Kronstadt to them, they say they were quite counter revolutionary and downplay the whole thing. I don't forgive Trotsky for Kronstadt or Lenin/the Bolsheviks for the suppressions of socialists,anarchists and other leftists. I see little substantial difference between Lenin and Stalin except that the former had more power to repress. I see Trotsky as a self serving little worm who would do what the masters wanted until it made him look bad and he did not apologise for Kronstadt.

I take Emma Goldman,Paul Mattick,Maurice Brinton Etc's view on the Soviet Union. Emma Goldman was criticizing the soviet union from the time she got there, actually witnessed what went on and met Lenin to get him to be less authoritarian. she became extremely opposed to Lenin and the soviet union after that. Leninists try to make her seem like she was more friendly to the USSR than she was. This is lies.

My socialism has nothing to do with Lenin, The Bolsheviks,Stalin,Mao,Castro,Chavez,Che Guevara or any dictator you could name. My socialism has affinity with the dissidents and rebels against authoritarian regimes and will always listen to them first. My Socialism is about empowerment of ordinary people,about direct participation, about the least hierarchy and least government necessary to maintain law. I find the idea of a vanguard party as the leninists suggest deeply offensive and nonsensical. Why do the working class need a set of leaders to lead them to rule themselves. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Ken Knabb against the Leninists.

The Leninist-type “vanguard party,” so widely acclaimed at present, was one of the major reasons for the defeat of the classical workers movement. Consciously or not, by setting itself up as a separate, independent force, it prepares the way for its own “revolutionary” power over the people, as in the state-capitalist regimes of Russia, China, Cuba, etc. Any organization aiming to bring about the destruction of class society must begin by refusing to emulate this example of revolutionary “success.” A revolutionary organization must abolish commodity relations and hierarchy within itself. It must effect the direct fusion of critical theory and practical activity, precluding any possibility of petrification into ideology. Just as the councils will control and transform all aspects of liberated life, the revolutionary organization must embody a critique of all aspects of presently alienated life. At the revolutionary moment of the dissolution of social separation, it must dissolve itself as a separate power.

The last revolution in human prehistory will realize the unity of the rational and the passionate; the unity of work and play in the free construction of daily life; the game of the fulfillment of the desires of everyone: what Lautréamont called “poetry made by all, not just by one.”

Ode on the Absence of Real Poetry Here This Afternoon



— A Poem in Dialectical Prose —
 Read by Ken Knabb at an open poetry reading in Berkeley, 27 October 1970