report: anarchist meeting on the capitalist crisis

by David Broder

On the evening of 22nd April the London branch of the Anarchist Federation and the NE & South London Solidarity Federation held a joint meeting on the subject of “World Economy in Crisis: Who Pays the Price? And How Can We Resist?”. Some 30 people managed to tear themselves away from Manchester United vs. Portsmouth and episode 5 of The Apprentice to make it to the Calthorpe Arms for the meeting.

The speakers leading off the discussion were Bonnie from AFed and Neill from SolFed. Bonnie’s talk was largely on the background to the crisis and how it had come about, and she delved a few times into Marxist analysis and Marx’s categories in order to tell the story of the movements in the world economy. She was near-apologetic for doing so, although it very much seemed to be the ‘meat’ of her talk’s theoretical underpinning: she said she was talking about Marxist economics rather than Marx’s politics, although I fail to see much separation between the two, whatever the state-socialists have done to poor old Marx…

Although the AFed speaker stressed the importance of struggle at the point of production, i.e. in the workplace, she did not discuss at significant length how this might be possible or what opportunities exist for the workers’ movement at this point in time, and in her introductory speech she made only a superficial reference to the problems of the slogan “British Jobs for British Workers” and the danger of ignoring environmental concerns when people’s minds are more on the question of resisting redundancies. Her invocation of the idea that for want of a revolutionary alternative the working class is structurally tied to the success of capitalism seemed to encourage others in the room who advocated creating ‘space’ outside of capitalism rather than gradually amassing workplace strength.

In the discussion following her talk, I argued that we need to make concrete steps forward at a practical level in terms of building workplace strength and restoring some basic level of confidence in the movement, while also making clear that we do not go round demanding state intervention at a time when the ruling class is attempting to shift onto that same political terrain. Fortunately, no-one argued back against the various criticisms made of the G20 Meltdown ‘spectacle’ and the stunts which greeted this month’s summit, although on the point of building a movement to transcend capitalism, a couple of the audience limited their comments to advocating various forms of sharing goods, free software exchange, and so on. Bonnie’s talk was a quite typical left explanation of what is going on in capital, but said less about the response needed.

Neill from SolFed argued the importance of collective organisation, saying that his group’s anarcho-syndicalism just meant applying anarchist principles to workplace organising. This sounded like an appeal to other anarchists to support his group’s class-struggle orientation. He – quite rightly – argued that there needs to be unity of political and economic organisation, that we ought not blindly follow ‘left’ union leaders, and teased out some ideas about how to take part in rubbish ‘reformist’ – or indeed, pro-New Labour – unions, although he did not seem to be on very steady ground when making a general or abstract case for establishing revolutionary unions instead. Again it is hard to see how these would come about in the course of the living class struggle, and I think Lindsey shows it quite possible to assert control in the workplace and break anti-union laws if there is sufficient self-organisation and militancy even if the union for the industry in question is bureaucratic.

One man raised the old chestnut that the working class has been ‘outsourced’ from Britain since the manufacturing base has been slashed, an understanding of ‘working class’ which several activists in different jobs made short shrift of. Some people in the audience also made rather abstract arguments about how we ought to seek to organise a general strike like in France, or how Visteon workers could take over their factories, without much reference to the real difficulties of any effective organising at the moment. For my part, I argued that the main problem was not how to copy our European cousins – whose struggles are not always the most successful, anyway – chasing pie in the sky, but rather building on the small progress made and defending jobs, even if the class fight is currently of a largely defensive character. 

All in all it was a good thing that the two groups had organised a joint meeting, although the very general character of the discussion meant that the subject was almost more like ‘Is there a class struggle today and should anarchists support it?’ rather than ‘What should the workers’ movement do?’ But the fact is, the likes of the Communist Party of Britain, Socialist Workers’ Party and Socialist Party have already unfurled their charters and programmes for the workers’ movement, leaving us the urgent task of resisting their influence and their hobby-horses (like the dead-end No2EU election campaign) and instead looking for practical and meaningful steps forward.

44 thoughts on “report: anarchist meeting on the capitalist crisis

  1. Yes, aren’t these anarchists dim! ! But fortunately along comes David Broder with all of the answers to enlighten us in characteristic egotistical fashion. Have you really broken with Trotskyism? I very much doubt it.

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  2. Us socialists are pretty stupid as well. I wish David Broder would come to our meetings, guide us away from our hobby-horses and reveal to us the way forward :(

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  3. Charlie – I didn’t say anyone was “dim”, that’s totally over the top. I have every right to disagree with people, and if you don’t like the politics of the article, why not write back about the politics rather than just saying disagreements ought not be discussed…? Criticising others’ positions is not “Trotskyist” – some libertarian society it would be without being able to say what you think.

    Duncan – I too would love it if No2EU had held public meetings where its politics could have been discussed and everyone could have said what they thought. There should be more such debates on the left. No2EU as it stands is both totally undemocratic in its organisation, and a waste of RMT members’ money and the union’s efforts. I recommend you take a trip to a tube station and ask RMT members what say they had in this latest project by the CPB and SP.

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  4. “I didn’t say anyone was “dim”, that’s totally over the top. I have every right to disagree with people, and if you don’t like the politics of the article, why not write back about the politics rather than just saying disagreements ought not be discussed…? Criticising others’ positions is not “Trotskyist” – some libertarian society it would be without being able to say what you think.”

    But it’s a shame that you are cutting off what could be a constructive dialogue by utilising such a patronising tone. A lot of your commentary shouldn’t be couched in such personal terms. It isn’t helpful. I think you’ll find this will alienate more people from your ideas than bring them closer to them.

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  5. Perhaps there’s a bit of a culture clash here. Large sections of the left would take it as given that speakers at such a meeting would be speaking on the record, and that post-event critique was part of a process of dialogue on the left. I understand that for some parts of the anti-capitalist millieu that assumption doesn’t persist – but this is hardly an aggressive article (trust me, if you’d ever been near a Trot group, you’d know what I mean).

    The article is not couched in “personal terms” in any normal sense. Contrary to some left reportage, there is no comment on the mannerisms, personalities or biographies of the speakers. All that’s addressed is the politics of what they’ve said. Their names are used – personally I would tend to avoid this – but I can hardly see how this could be described as focussed on anyone’s person. I also don’t see that it’s patronising. The article is rather impressionistic (so doesn’t go into detail to establish critiques of, for example, anarcho-syndicalist unionism), but it is hardly patronising.

    I also think Duncan’s contribution is rather rich, given that The Commune is not hostile to class struggle anarchism as such, and has published anarchist material (David translated a transcript of a discussion between anarchists Charles Reeve and members of the Venezuelan group El Libertario which you can find on this site). By contrast, the Socialist Party literature makes a habit of superficial off hand dismissals of anarchist theory.

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  6. I’m sorry but you really cannot see how patronising you are in your article, something that has made a lot of people bristle. The fact that you cannot see that is the saddest thing about it.

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  7. Hi,

    Shame I couldn’t make it to the meeting as I had no babysitter. Anyhow, after linking to this report from the libcom thread I was expecting something worst but maybe its me, the tone doesn’t sound patronising. Maybe its because I had no stake in or organised the meeting.

    Anyway, its good to see the AF/SolFed working together and that you got a decent turn out for the meeting.

    cheers

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  8. This prima Dona over reaction to the slightest criticism of the anarchists is very revealing of the shallowness of their claim to be ‘libertarian’, ‘non elitist’ etc etc. In fact the whole tradition of anarchism in the UK, but for some rare exceptions, has been precisely one of elitism and middle class sectarianism. They adhere to a doctrinaire and inflexible set of dogmas set up as sectarian principles against the actual movement of the workers. Whilst Marxism as a philosophy of liberation has constantly sought to renew itself in the face of historical change, producing a wealth of thinkers – anarchism has produced next to nothing since the classical pioneers of Proudhon and Bakunin.

    The history of insurgency, industrial unionism, workers committees, shop-stewards movements and similar initiatives in the UK have all been built by movements of radical socialists and Marxian communists, such as the old Socialist Labour Party etc. Not anarchism. A hallmark of anarchism has been a theoretical sloth, happy to appropriate a Marxist critique of capital but utterly unable to conceptualise a vision of communist society short of a land of milk and honey. This is a millenarian communism not one to be created by real people of today whose movement forged through centuries of struggle is arrogantly dismissed as not coming up to scratch and as such to be abandoned to the bureaucrats and labour lieutenants of capital.

    The anarchists tell us that to reach the new society “we must relinquish power over each other on a personal as well as a political level.” How then we organise to impose collective discipline over such people as scabs without exercising power. This is symptomatic of what can only be seen as not serious politics.

    The actual working class and the movement it created is not rrrrevolutionary enough for the currents of anarchism, rather than relate to the living workers movement as it actually exists in an outburst of tempestuous impatience we are expected to run off and create “spaces”. For the over 29 million wage workers in the UK that is not really an option. As Hal Draper once commented the anarchists don’t as much want a free society as to be free from society. His Two Souls of Socialism is instructive:
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/draper/1966/twosouls/4-anarch.htm

    Communists should work in unity with anarchists on actions which progress working class interests where possible. But we should expose the false promise of unrealisable Anarcho-Communism which is historically a hindrance to the actual struggle for human emancipation a communist society. Anarchists who want communism should recognise their organisational weakness and lack of historical influence or accomplishment is largely not the fault of others or circumstances but of their own failed ideology which has long passed its sell by date.

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  9. Chris, that’s nonsense. Just two anarchists have posted above saying they found the report patronising. This tells us nothing about anarchism as a movement, or as political theory, any more than the behaviour of the SWP or the ICC, or the independent Marxist next door, tells us about Marxism. Alessio, who posted above saying that he did not find the report patronising, is an anarchist. Duncan, who did find it patronising, is a Trotskyist. Personally, I thought the report was fairly inoffensive, but if some people found it problematic the appropriate response is to find a way to provide clear analysis in the future which doesn’t make people feel patronised.

    I think Chris’ above comment is an example of exactly the attitude we don’t need to recompose the communist movement. I, for one, am happy to recognise the theoretical contribution of anarchism on a number of points (the general strike, prefigurative politics, for instance).

    I’m not going to give a comprehensive reply to Chris here, but to pick up a few points:

    1. The greater theoretical range and development of “Marxism” is a historical product of a) the geographical lines of influence which were drawn as a result of manouvering in the first international, and b) the Russian Revolution which allowed the language of Marxism to become the theoretical vocabulary and required reading of the ‘revolutionary’ left throughout the world, through the official communist parties.

    (I’d agree that there’s no original anarchist critique of political economy to match Marx’s, and I think many modern anarchists would accept this, but this hardly invalidates the rest of anarchism’s theoretical work.)

    2. It is dishonest to characterise anarchism as holding that “we are expected to run off and create “spaces””. Clearly this is one current of anarchism. But the comrades of SolFed and AFed are (generally if not exclusively) committed to the practice of the mass class struggle. They are active in their workplaces, often as stewards, and as participants in the Shop Stewards’ Network.

    3. This old chestnut –

    The anarchists tell us that to reach the new society “we must relinquish power over each other on a personal as well as a political level.” How then we organise to impose collective discipline over such people as scabs without exercising power. This is symptomatic of what can only be seen as not serious politics.

    – is a nonsense caricature of anarchism, not one arrived at by serious study of anarchist writers. Here is Malatesta:

    To fight our enemies effectively, we do not need to deny the principle of freedom, not even for one moment: it is sufficient for us to want real freedom and to want it for all, for ourselves as well as for others.

    We want to expropriate the property-owning class, and with violence, since it is with violence that they hold on to social wealth and use it to exploit the working class. Not because freedom is a good thing for the future, but because it is a good thing, today as well as tomorrow, and the property owners, be denying us the means of exercising our freedom, in effect, take it away from us.

    We want to overthrow the government, all governments – and overthrow them with violence since it is by the use of violence that they force us into obeying – and once again, not because we sneer at freedom when it does not serve our interests but because governments are the negation of freedom and it is not possible to be free without getting rid of them . . .

    The freedom to oppress, to exploit . . . is the denial of freedom: and the fact that our enemies make irrelevant and hypocritical use of the word freedom is not enough to make us deny the principle of freedom which is the outstanding characteristic of our movement and a permanent, constant and necessary factor in the life and progress of humanity.

    4. The idea that there is sufficient historical evidence to demonstrate that “Anarcho-Communism which is historically a hindrance to the actual struggle for human emancipation” is utterly preposterous.

    5. This is a millenarian communism not one to be created by real people of today whose movement forged through centuries of struggle is arrogantly dismissed as not coming up to scratch and as such to be abandoned to the bureaucrats and labour lieutenants of capital.

    Any evidence for that at all? This is just slurs, not argument.

    6. Draper’s analysis in Two Souls of Socialism is terrible.

    For the record, I’m not an anarchist, but I don’t particularly care about being a “Marxist” either. Communism, libertarian communism if you like, is the interesting category. That is what we should be about.

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  10. Whilst Marxism as a philosophy of liberation has constantly sought to renew itself…

    Marxism is not a subject, it has not sought to do anything. It is an abstract noun.

    Anarchists who want communism should recognise their organisational weakness and lack of historical influence or accomplishment is largely not the fault of others or circumstances but of their own failed ideology which has long passed its sell by date.

    Exactly this argument was used by the official Communists against the Trots in the thirties, and by the Trots against the libertarian left fron the seventies until today (when the SP or SWP real it off with some regularity). i.e. “your weakness in numbers shows the weakness of your conceptions.” Not true!

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  11. Communard thinks my commentary is based on a single report on a meeting however the report just confirms what years of xperience as well as historical analysis has taught me.
    To recognise a theoretical contributions you need to find one, in the case of anarchism it is scant to say the least after the initial pioneers of the early 19th century. Anarchism did not make the contribution to theory on the general strike it was the English radical William Benbow, then developed by the precursor of Marxism in England Julian Harney in 1839 and later the Polish Marxists.
    Anarchism has not produced anything that can come up to the boot straps of such schools of thought as Austro-Marxism, Classical Marxism, Western Marxism, the Marxist humanists etc.
    The idea that the greater theoretical range of Marxism is based on maneuvering in the First International and Russian Revolution has simply no basis in history and conveniently ignores the entire period of the Second International between the aftermath of the Paris Commune’s defeat and World War One.
    Marx gained influence of his philosophy of revolution and his vision of communism by strength of ideas, international influence was already there in the Communist League, and the Fraternal Democrats during the 1848 revolutionary period. There was no ‘Marx Party’ of anarchist myth; Marx was asked by the Communist League to write the Communist Manifesto, Harney the Chartist leader recognised the importance of the Manifesto and Marx’s ideas publishing them in 1850 in English it was then published widely thereafter. In the First International Marx did not establish a secret organisation in the International it was Bakunin. Marx did not attempt to organise a separate Marx party.
    In the period of the Second International Marx’s ideas gained strength in the many organisations because of the strength of ideas, there were sections of the movement then who were not explicitly Marxist who increasingly became so due to engagement with those ideas not because they were imposed. There was no deliberate exclusion of the anarchists – the IWW for example was founded by the De Leonist SLP and other Marxists with the anarchists – who later tried to claim it was their initiative. In Eastern Europe populist Anarcho-Socialists also evolved towards Marxism i.e. Drahomanovism. Marxism as such was already widespread indeed hegemonic before the Russian revolution and the Communist International.
    Anarchism lost influence by itself due to it theoretical and organisational weakness a reflection of this position. It is not just about a Critique of Political Economy, as if that can be taken on its own and as if Marx lifetimes work was just abut economics. If anarchism has not produced anything of theoretical worth equal to Capital is that not reflection a deeper problem with anarchism.
    No doubt there are some individual anarchists who are good shop-stewards, though obviously numerically weaker than Marxists. It’s not about individuals but politics and a self-declared commitment to mass class struggle is no particular hallmark. So are the Stalinists, Trotskyists and many labourites at a formal level, but in practice, overall anarchism is a sectarian middle-class current in relation to that struggle. History shows rank and file movements in this country have not been constructed by anarchism which is indicative of its whole approach.
    Though most of anarchism in the UK is not about rank and filism but a lifestyle milieu that looks down their noses at workers. But rank and filism is not an end in itself, communism is not militant trade unionism and anarchism has historically shown itself incapable of developing a philosophy of revolution able to forge a vision of communism to go any further in realizing the communism latent in the workers struggles.
    Anarchism is historically redundant in the sense of the utopian socialists like Owen, though this is a much exaggerated comparison and unfair to Owen. Anarchism survives and has attracted some activists on the basis of perceived opposition to centralised forms of organisation of capital and some of the left and such things as its emphasis on spontaneity – none of which are unique to anarchism. They are aspects which have been encapsulated in communist, Marxist theory from Marx, to CLR James to name but a few and far better within a more total and rounded theoretical framework.
    Those similar to anarcho-communists in the First International, like Podolynsky and the Belgium communists did not go with the wrecker Bakunin but were very close to Marx, similarly those who joined the Communist International the highest point of the communist movement over the last century.
    On the level of ideas anarchism offers no way forward for human emancipation, organisationally in the main it has taken a sect form, from the Communist International to today, in terms of theory it has nothing new to offer to renew our vision of communism – which is the crisis of Marxism.
    It defies reality to say that “Marxism is not a subject; it has not sought to do anything. It is an abstract noun.” Marxism has never claimed to be a subjective force, unlike more conspiratorial anarchists. For Marx the subject is labour, the working class – Marxism grew out of that struggle as a philosophy of liberation. Marxism has an organic connection with that subject which anarchism has never historically achieved and has always resented.
    Marxism is the communism of today and was a hegemonic position achieved over other communism not by force or manipulation but strength of ideas. Overcoming the crisis of Marxism involves renewal of its emancipatory vision and reconnecting with the impulses from below which inspired it, as has been done at various points of history. Despite the crisis of Marxism, it has not been locked in the dustbin of history and even the capitalist pundits recognise the todayness of Marx, constantly pointing to his views on globalisation and capitalist crisis. Anarchism hold no such position.
    Overcoming that crisis of Marxism does not justify an eclectic appropriation of anarchist doctrines. The Stalinist argument against the Trotskyists in the 1930’s had nothing to do with numbers; they simply lied about them as “fascist agents”. The best of the Marxists reconnected with the humanist and emancipatory ideas of Marx’s Marxism in the 1960s and 1970s, their criticism of anarchism in that time was entirely valid. That period of the upsurge saw a revival of anti-Stalinist Marxism on a remarkably broad front, they started from tiny numbers. Pretty much at the same numerical level of the anarchists – the question then is why anarchism remained as it was if not its inbuilt weakness.

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  12. In spite of what Chris says it is still just as problematic to tar all anarchists with ‘anarchism’ as it is to tar all Marxists with ‘Marxism’. This approach is not unlike the the CPGB who call for ‘unity of Marxists as Marxists’ while we all know that in practice this means ‘unity of Marxists in the CPGB’. The reality is that most people seem to pick and choose and as such there is a measure of convergence.

    Bakunin was wellknown as an anti-Semite, just as Engels was wellknown as a homophobe, how many anarchists and Marxists view those little intellectual bankruptcies as essential to their worldview today, my point being, how many anarchists today actually fit with the picture Chris has painted above?

    Liberty & Solidarity is an ‘anarchist’ group which basically has an organisational structure based on the principle of democratic centralism. The Commune is a ‘Marxist’ group which operates on the basis of consensus decision making. I’m sure there are ‘anarchists’ out there that view the Commune as ultraleft, abstentionist and not very ‘politically serious’ in Chris’ words. Likewise, a Trot such as myself might make the allusion to the third-campism shared by both the Commune group and Bakunin. As nice as it would be if we could all draw the lines clearly I think we may as well realise that is not going to happen very soon.

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  13. I haven’t got the time to give a comprehensive response; again I can just pick up a few things.

    I’m sure someone thought of the general strike even before Benbow, the point is that it was a mainstay of anarchist theory in a way that it clearly wasn’t of Marxist theory before 1905. If it did come from Benbow to the anarchists, it certainly passed through them to the second international.

    No one claimed Marx made a secret organisation in the International, so I don’t know why all that has come up. (Of course, he didn’t have to anyway, because he was on the general council, and was perfectly able to do his manouvering using that position, including wilfully sectarian moves like moving the seat of the International to New York.)

    I talked about the first international and the Russian Revolution as giving historical impetus to Marxism’s spread. If it was just about the right ideas, then Marxism would have become most influential everywhere. As it is, Anarchism was more influential in Spain and Italy (for organisational reasons) before Fascism wiped its activist base out. It furthermore seems odd to deny that the intellectual hegemony of Marxism on the 20th Century left was characerised by the influence of the Communist parties, and then Trotsky’s followers, each of which camp was orientated toward the Russian Revolution. In the case of the former, they were both resourced and lent ideological credibility by Moscow. Marxism aquired academic respectability and credibility in the universities through this ‘brand’.

    Anarchism is historically redundant in the sense of the utopian socialists like Owen, though this is a much exaggerated comparison and unfair to Owen

    This is bare assertion, not argument. There’s no way to respond to it. It’s completely impossible to know whether it’s ‘historicaly redundant’ or not at this stage, whether as ideology or as political culture. The same goes for this sweeping bravado: “anarchism has historically shown itself incapable of developing a philosophy of revolution able to forge a vision of communism to go any further in realizing the communism latent in the workers struggles.” There is not the least shred of demonstration or argument here.

    Most of Austro-Marxism, Western Marxism and Marxist Humanism is obscure and very vague; there are many things that are appealing in the abstract but which could be, or have been, put much better – sometimes by anarchists, who have historically had more grip among the class than proponents of any of these schools.

    History shows rank and file movements in this country have not been constructed by anarchism which is indicative of its whole approach.

    It is no such thing. Again, I ask: historically, haven’t rank and file organisations in this country have been constructed by Stalinists and Trotskyists (and not, in any significant degree, by De Leonists or Marxist Humanists)? What does this tell us about the “approach” of Stalinists as against that of Marxist Humanists? In my submission, nothing. It tells us that, for historical reasons (as already discussed, Russian Revolution etc.), Stalinists and Trots have had the numbers, the resources, and the influence to give their conceptions grip. (And re: the thirties, of course the fascism slur against ‘Trotzkii’ was one argument used, but it was not the only one. And you don’t take up what I say about the ’70s to today, anyway.)

    All this ‘my movement is bigger than yours’ business is a substitute for dealing properly with arguments. Chris’s posts on this thread have hardly contained a single argument, and to be honest David’s original piece didn’t either. Is this the way to deal with fellow communists? Just keep on asserting that history is on your side, and hope others accept it? This is not a serious approach, and it is certainly not comradely. As I indicated with my quotation of Malatesta above, the version of anarchism taught as gospel in Trot groups is not the version of anarchism held by (the more theoretically sophisticated) anarchists.

    It defies reality to say that “Marxism is not a subject; it has not sought to do anything. It is an abstract noun.” Marxism has never claimed to be a subjective force

    If it has never claimed to be a subjective force, how does it defy reality to say that it is not a subject? Or is it just an extremely modest subject?

    For Marx the subject is labour, the working class

    And so it is for the anarchists of AF and SolFed, obviously. So what’s the point of raising it?

    I’m leaving this til last, because it’s the most important argument:

    Anarchism survives and has attracted some activists on the basis of perceived opposition to centralised forms of organisation of capital and some of the left and such things as its emphasis on spontaneity – none of which are unique to anarchism. They are aspects which have been encapsulated in communist, Marxist theory from Marx, to CLR James to name but a few and far better within a more total and rounded theoretical framework. … The best of the Marxists reconnected with the humanist and emancipatory ideas of Marx’s Marxism in the 1960s and 1970s

    They may be aspects which have existed at the fringe of the Marxist tradition, but they have been at the centre of the anarchist current. (They’re there implicitly in Marx, but very rarely formulated explicitly, and often to be found in letters, or in the early writings.) Since, as I say, Marxism and Anarchism are overlapping communist currents, there is much in common – some of which has developed independently as common responses to the class struggle, and some of which has fed off each other.

    The fact is, that if you look for opposition to the dominant authoritarian, statist socialism in the twentieth century, you will find, before the ’60s and ’70s, heterodox Marxists here and there. But for large parts of the last century, let’s be honest, the torch of internationalism, opposition to statism, etc. was carried by anarchism as much or more than it was by the heterodox Marxists. To grasp on to the humanist revolution in ’60s-’70s Marxism while forgetting that this current never died in Anarchism is… ungenerous at best and sectarian at worst.

    For what it’s worth, I personally find Marx much more interesting and insightful than any anarchist writer. There’s a depth and breadth there that is unmatched, in terms of a picture of human nature, of historical development, of capitalist economics. It is unmatched in anarchists, and it is pretty much unmatched among Marx’s followers too.

    Bill Butlin – you misquoted me, look up the page and read it again. In any case, I meant specifically in relation to anarchism. Whatever else anarchism is, it is clearly not ‘socialism from above’. Draper is too hard on Bakunin (an overly enthusiastic anarchist defence is here, still worth reading if you’re interested: http://www.infoshop.org/faq/secJ3.html#secj37) and way too soft on the Bolsheviks.

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  14. Yes I did misquote -sorry it was a mistake. Gramsci analysis of italian anarchism was far more nuanced than Drapers but cant find a link to it.

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  15. “Bakunin, a third campist, you having a laugh? He supported pan Slavism for crying out loud.”

    He argued later against the International giving support to the Fenians and of course the Polish national liberation movement.

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  16. Just a few points

    – c0mmunard is right to say the original piece is impressionistic, and, no, it doesn’t ‘deconstruct’ anarcho-syndicalism argument by argument. That was not its intention – it is just a few comments about a meeting I happened to go along to. A piece about anarcho-syndicalism in general could be very worthwhile, but not if it was just based on notes from one meeting!

    – I very much agreed with the Solidarity Federation speaker at our last forum who said something like ‘non-sectarian class struggle anarchists have more in common with non-sectarian Marxists than either do with other anarchists and Marxists’. Obviously some of our members (including me) would call ourselves Marxists and there are plenty of Marxist-influenced texts on this site… but being a ‘Marxist’ is hardly a precondition for joining our group, and the purpose of our group is not to defend ‘Marxism’ in general against ‘the anarchists’! As c0mmunard mentioned, amongst other bits we translated and published a long anarchist (El Libertario) piece on Venezuela as a pamphlet.

    – The question is the practical politics you commit to, the culture of the group and the way in which you have arguments out, and this is made clear some of the best trends of the ’60s and ’70s alluded to above – which for me would in particular mean Solidarity and Socialisme ou Barbarie. For all their faults, these groups advocated a libertarian, humanist socialism opposed to statism and substitutionism but also heroes, dogmas etc. I hope we can do something similar. Sometimes they did draw on Marx – so for example, Solidarity’s excellent critique of Trotsky’s terrible work on the Paris Commune is very much based on Marx’s Civil War in France – but the pieces on industrial struggles tend not to have a lot of ‘tradition’ behind them in that sense. They critically engaged both with Marx and anarchist thinkers. Others among the best groups of the time did define themselves as specifically Marxist, but it is not the case that ‘Marxism’ reinvented itself (only certain groups did) and the bulk of our criticism of the contemporary left is of people who call themselves ‘Marxist’.

    – I do think, however (I’m sure others will agree) that it is worthwhile to use Marx both because of the depth of his ideas – even if his over-arching project with Capital was unfinished – and because other people claim him as their own and so it is a useful tool in debates. E.g. the fact that in Civil War in France Marx constantly avoids using the term “workers’ state” and talks about self-governing communes instead, “the revolution against the state as such”. That does not mean The Commune quotes him chapter and verse, as if what we wanted to do was clean some of the muck left on the “Holy texts” by subsequent Trotskyist and Stalinist groups. His thought is important nonetheless.

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  17. Chris, you write

    “It defies reality to say that “Marxism is not a subject; it has not sought to do anything. It is an abstract noun.” Marxism has never claimed to be a subjective force, unlike more conspiratorial anarchists. For Marx the subject is labour, the working class.”

    I think c0mmunard’s point was that you had said “Marxism as a philosophy of liberation has constantly sought to renew itself in the face of historical change” and the implication is that Marxism “did” something – it sought to renew itself – and so is portrayed as having some sort of ‘subjectivity’. When in fact only certain groups renewed the ideas of the left.

    That is not the same question as ‘subjectivity’ in terms of which social actor should effect change/take power or whatever. And, indeed, it is the case that lots and lots of anarchists do think that that should be the working class, not some conspiratorial clique or pseudo-vanguard-party.

    As was displayed at the meeting described above, the sort of eco-anarcho-grow your own life sort of thing is not the position of anarcho-syndicalists, who do not “look down their noses at workers” and with whom we could have a perfectly constructive dialogue. It’s silly to make the sweeping assertion that they’re all just aloof middle class types (certainly a characteristic of much of the left) – look, for example, at the LibCom threads on the oil refinery strikes and compare them to the Trot groups who turned their noses up at the wildcats. We ought to have a higher level of debate than this, without the sniping.

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  18. Billy said; “Liberty & Solidarity is an ‘anarchist’ group which basically has an organisational structure based on the principle of democratic centralism.”

    No, speaking as an L&S member we are not democratic centralist at all, DC is not a very useful method at anything other than a very limited, local level.

    L&S is actually a democratic federalist organisation, day to day decisions are made by branches which feed into each other via a monthly delegate committee, each branch has one voting mandated delegate. The ultimate decision making body is the twice yearly delegate conference, at which all members are entitled to attend.

    Thanks, this has been a political broadcast for L&S ;-)

    Nothing else to add, other than I agree with all the replies to Chris.

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  19. I think Chris is more or less right here. And we can think of Marxism as a movement; it is that historical sequence of subjects who have continually sought to renew, renovate and respond to changing times and the experiences of revolutions (successes and failures) in the 20th century; whereas anarchism has always been more of a petulant philosophy of the ‘free spirits’ well alluded to in David Border’s description of a meeting in which is was advised that we should all go off and ‘create spaces’. The aim is *not* to create new space, outside the system, but change the system itself.

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  20. But Nathan – hasn’t been the point been well made that this is one strain of ‘anarchism’, and not even one which was not strongly represented at the meeting? Would it be fair to go to a CPB (or CPGB-ML) meeting, and thereby draw conclusions about ‘Marxism’?

    I think this is untrue –

    Marxism as a movement; it is that historical sequence of subjects who have continually sought to renew, renovate and respond to changing times and the experiences of revolutions (successes and failures) in the 20th century; whereas anarchism has always been more of a petulant philosophy of the ‘free spirits’

    Firstly, it expresses the thoroughly idealist and non-materialist idea that Marxism as ideology has a monopoly on reactions to the world, while all other ideologies are stuck in a sort of time-warp. Compare the work of Proudhon, to Bakunin, to Kropotkin, to Rocker, to Goldman, to Makhno, to Malatesta, to Bookchin, to the contemporary Brighton Manifesto produced by Solidarity Federation (http://libcom.org/library/strategy-struggle-anarcho-syndicalism-21st-century), and you see a current which is constantly changing and developing, and which is not static at all. (And for the record, the modern ideology which has most lauded the Brotherhood of the Free Spirit is Situationism, which – at the time, anyway – was avowedly ‘Marxist’.)

    Be honest, how many Marxists have ever made a serious study of anarchism, which doesn’t start and end with the official Marxist critiques of that school?

    The aim is *not* to create new space, outside the system, but change the system itself.

    But wouldn’t you agree that this is common currency in, for example, the work of Emma Goldman, Errico Malatesta, Rudolf Rocker and Nestor Makhno?

    Mat – I have heard two L&S members specifically advocate ‘democratic centralism’ during the period when the organisation was under construction.

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  21. Just a short one – Communard – plenty Marxists, including Marx have published criticism of anarchists. Draper being one of them. The fact is there is as much writings relative to the subject and its place and influence in the relation to the woking class movement and its struggle – and that is very little especially in the UK.

    Communism and anarchism are two different things. Communism is by and large the Marxist tradition, which is not uncritical and monolithic. This is something achieved in history unpalatable as it is.

    Final point, as a co-founder of The Commune at no time has it ever been the case that we are an anarchist organisation and it would be a mirepresentation for anyone to portray it as such. Yes we may have published anarchist authors, then so did the IS/SWP.

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  22. But nowhere has anyone said that The Commune is an anarchist organisation. What has been said is that it is not an avowedly Marxist organisation (there is no reference to Marx in our platform, and no principle which could only be held by a Marxist contained within it).

    It has been said that ‘non-sectarian class struggle anarchists have more in common with non-sectarian Marxists than either do with other anarchists and Marxists’. And it has been said that it is worthwhile to engage with anarchist thinkers. I support all these suggestions. Don’t you?

    I would agree that “communism is by and large the Marxist tradition” in the same sense in which “Marxism is by and large the Trotskyist tradition” (or you could say “by and large the Stalinist and Trotskyist traditions” if you accept the Stalinists as Marxists). I think this sense, however – the enumeration of activists identifying this or that way in history – is uninteresting. What is interesting is the definite ideas and practices involved.

    Whether ideas have had less influence in the UK than elsewhere is unimportant, beliefs do not become more or less true depending on which side of the channel they are held.

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  23. So many misguided assumptions against anarchists its hard to know where to start. Its obvious that chris has taken a self-educational journey based on interpretations of a history which have a certain political bias. Anarchism is a broad political term but the central departure from “Marxism” is its complete rejection of the state as a means of achieving communist society. Chris, you say that marxists have evolved and renewed themselves – so how come the same “mistakes” are made in your political campaigns? Support for the Labour Party, Trade Union Structures, United Fronts, Front Groups..etc. There is nothing on the left to suggest that they have changed at all.

    Thats not to say anarchists have been anymore or less succesful. I would say though that what anarchists have been saying for years (centuries), around the despostism of state “socialism”, the authoritarianism of Marxist parties, the parasitical nature of socialist groups have all become apparent. Unless struggles are self-organised without the Trade Union control mechanism, and the dead-road of negotiation with bosses and recuperation, workers will not progress their material interests.

    Anarchism may be a weak current in the UK in this moment but anarchists ideas permeate beyond the relatively small number of comrades. Anarchists ideas are the result of many of the struggles and experiences of working class people – which also include struggles against marxist parties and states.

    Finally a shameless plug. For and by anarchists, the first united anarchist movement conference June 6/7, Queen Mary Uni, London http://www.conference09.org.uk

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  24. Echo-ing mat, we (Liberty and Solidarity) are NOT democratic centralist. We’re federalist. And c0munard, I don’t know what you heard or who you heard but you have now read two people post explicitly saying we aren’t democratic centralist and one of us even explained our federal structure. We’re not democratic centralist. Mat and I know, we’re in the organisation. End of.

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  25. I’d dispute that communism is by and large a Marxist tradition. Historically that is not so, with other people like Weitling, and the majority within the Communist League who didn’t follow Marx’s line, Cabet etc. And that’s without taking into account libertarian communism aka anarchist communism.
    As to Marxism being seen as predominantly Trotskyist, I’d dispute that too. Historically the main current within Marxism was within social democracy, followed by a minority Leninist current and then by an even smaller minoruty around council communism and left communism.
    As to mention of the Socialist Labour Party, further up this thread, that was never a monolithic and homogeneous party, and contained syndicalists and anarchists as well as Marxians/Marxists.

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  26. “As was displayed at the meeting described above, the sort of eco-anarcho-grow your own life sort of thing is not the position of anarcho-syndicalists, who do not “look down their noses at workers” and with whom we could have a perfectly constructive dialogue.” but not just anarcho-syndicalists, that applies to all class struggle anarchists, including the Anarchist Federation.
    “whereas anarchism has always been more of a petulant philosophy of the ‘free spirits’ well alluded to in David Border’s description of a meeting in which is was advised that we should all go off and ‘create spaces’. ” That was a minority position at the meeting and in no way can be used to characterise anarchism. As to the free spirits guff, the Bulgarian , Italian , Spanish, German and French movements ( in the main) anyone? I’m afraid all too often when this chestnut is brought up, those citing such positions speak from a position of total ignorance of the anarchist movement in the last 200 years. A peremptory glance at the biographies on libcom, for example, should dispel such false notions.

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  27. Charlie is in error in his history of communism – it Marx who was commissioned to write the manifesto of the Communist League – The Communist Manifesto – not Cabet or Weitling. Republished by the Chartists in glowing terms. I recommend David Black book on Helen McFarlane or The Chartist Challenge by Schoyen on this period if you missed the more readily available accounts. After 1848 it was Marx’s vision of communism which was on the ascendancy and continued to be so.

    Communard did not say that Trotskyism was the main current but one current from my reading, also Marxism was not the main current “within social democracy” it was social democracy the term was synonomous until the period after 1917. There was only a Leninist current in Russian Social Demcracy never in the Second International where the revolutionary social-democrats were a diverse current of critical Marxists. The council communists did not emerge by that name until at least the late 1920s, the left communists were not known as such until around 1920 were previously separate tendencies within their own national sections of the Second International, the Zimmerwald and the Comintern.

    As for the Socialist Labour Party – it was founded in Scotland by the Marxist James Connolly and others as a more clearly Marxist party than the SDF/BSP. It did – as did others at the time, sell diverse literature including what are claimed now as anarchists. As for the SLP in the USA it was very different in that it prided itself in its orthodoxy and explicitly opposed the anarchists except when setting up the IWW with them.
    It has been said that ‘non-sectarian class struggle anarchists have more in common with non-sectarian Marxists than either do with other anarchists and Marxists’. And it has been said that it is worthwhile to engage with anarchist thinkers. I support all these suggestions. Don’t you?
    No and Yes. This is superficial and demeaning of the importance of ideas to the struggle for communism. Communism, that is the Marxist tradition, has an arsenal of thought developed over many years of class struggle which stand in contradiction to anarchism, with all its petit-bourgeois eclecticism. Theoretically anarchism has little to offer, its best elements constantly appropriate from Marxism usually without acknowledgement.
    There may be agreement, and should be, on issues such as militant trade unionism. But communism is not militant trade unionism and there are important differences between communism and anarchism that cannot be simply brushed over, which go to the heart of the communist project.
    The communist movement has historically always worked with anarchists in unity in areas of common interest to the working class; typified in the policy of the Communist International on the united workers front. The best anarchists have always worked with communists i.e. Serge who passed strong judgment on the sectarianism of the anarchists towards the communist movement. Marx’s advice in the Critique of the Gotha Programme is also instructive on the importance of compromise on principles relative to common action.
    The problem of the myriad anarchists is their own unwillingness to work with others due to their ultra-radical snobbery. No doubt they will protest, but that is their record. There is also the practical problem when you are talking about situations when one body may represent next to nothing relatively and the other body significant forces. There is also an important question of priority – in renewing communist organisation – the perspective of anarchism (and that is generous) is one of doing a political Reggie Perrin and can only invite self-isolation – this is the historical record of anarchism not snipping or abuse. Communism, the Marxist tradition has existed and developed in a far more meaningful organic link with the actual workers movement. Its weakness and fragmentation has arisen from defeats not inherent sectism.
    I would agree that “communism is by and large the Marxist tradition” in the same sense in which “Marxism is by and large the Trotskyist tradition” (or you could say “by and large the Stalinist and Trotskyist traditions” if you accept the Stalinists as Marxists). I think this sense, however – the enumeration of activists identifying this or that way in history – is uninteresting. What is interesting is the definite ideas and practices involved.
    There is a difference between the erection of false traditions, to sectarianise history and actual real traditions. The Marxist/communist tradition is a real living tradition developed by real human, thinking human beings. The above is a caricature of Hegel, imagining these ideas float through history and can be separated from the material force, human activists, carrying them because that is not interesting. (Marx’s 1844 writing on the dialectic dealt well on the unity of materialism and idealism in this regard).
    As for the weakness of the influence of anarchism in the UK this is this merely an illustrative point, but not unimportant. Nor is it about sniping or personal abuse, far from it. Outside of the Iberian cockpit (which is also exaggerated) anarchism has in 200 years represented very little; my point is that this is not unrelated to the problem of anarchist thought. Nothing stood in the way of anarchism after 1871 growing into a mass movement as the diverse and rich Marxism did in the period of the Second International did. Its failure to do so is inherent in itself. Similarly in the revived communist movement which emerged during World War One, it did not re-emerge on the same scale as Marxism – which regrouped in the anti-war Zimmerwald in tiny numbers in 1915-1916.
    It is simply untrue that anarchism carried the flame of anti-statist communism in the period after 1871 and before 1914, there were plenty Marxists espousing other emancipatory views which can be traced from the explicit opposition to state-socialism in the 1891 amendment insisted on by Engels to German party policy, the views of a range of leading Polish Marxists, a wide range of views amongst the many Marxists currents in the Tsarist Empire, The De Leonists SLP in the USA and Australia, Connolly, Paul, Murphy and others in the UK, Pannekoek and Gorter in Germany and Holland to name very few.
    There is no doubt anarchist comrades may contribute to the renewal of communism in the 21st century, but it will be despite themselves and like the old Anarchist Workers Group in England, a step towards Marxism. The flip side is the Anarchist Federation, who at least honestly has dropped the word communist from their name.

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  28. Marxism was not the main current “within social democracy” it was social democracy the term was synonomous until the period after 1917

    No, because there was a Lasallean current within social democracy in Germany for example. There were also currents which were neither Lasallean nor Marxist.

    Also, I’m unclear where you set the boundaries of the Marxist tradition. Are you saying that Bernstein was, in your understanding, a Marxist? And that in your view, therefore, he was a communist, but Rudolf Rocker and Emma Goldman and G.P. Maximoff weren’t? i.e. that you have more real political affinity with someone a yard to your right, than someone three inches to your left?

    There is a difference between the erection of false traditions, to sectarianise history and actual real traditions. The Marxist/communist tradition is a real living tradition developed by real human, thinking human beings.

    But for goodness sake, all traditions involve real, thinking human beings – is anarchism created by little green aliens? Christianity involves real, thinking human beings. So does Stalinism, so doees Trotskyism. And all traditions are developed by their participants, including every religious and political tradition – including Anarchism. A cursory glance at the differences among the writers I listed above is sufficient evidence for that. (The idea that Marxism has a monopoly on reacting to the world, like I say, is clearly contrary to Marx’s own views on the development of ideas in history.)

    The issue with the Trotskyist tradition is not that it is “false” – it after all has an clearly defined material history involving definite persons who identified with it, and who expressed it through definite organisations and in definite texts. The point is that it is followed dogmatically, that it operates a closed circle of theoretical and historical reference texts, and does not deal seriously with alternative ideas. Thus, the critique of those Trotskyists obsessed with their own ‘tradition’, is not a critique which says that such a tradition cannot be identified. The critique is that the tradition is a narrow, sectarian reference point for the development of communist politics.

    The above is a caricature of Hegel, imagining these ideas float through history and can be separated from the material force, human activists, carrying them because that is not interesting.

    No, the opposite. That is why I referred, specifically, to “ideas and practices”. My point was simply that it is not interesting how many people have identified with a tradition, especially not one as poorly defined as ‘Marxism’ – whose boundaries you have left completely unspecified. What we should do is look specifically at particular ideas and practices, and analyse them as such, and in combination. It’s not clear whether you’re defining Marxism as an organisational current, or a set of particular beliefs and propositions or some (what?) mix of the two. It’s not clear whether you’re including Bernstein, or the global apologists for Stalinism.

    Communism, that is the Marxist tradition

    Again, this conflation is false. Communism is a tendency in the proletarian movement going back beyond even Muntzer’s followers, whose slogan was “omnia sunt communia” (everything in common), the Diggers, and the sayings of John Ball during the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt. Communism is a simple idea that emerges in the heat of proletarian struggle: that everything should be held in common, and that class should be abolished.

    There is no doubt anarchist comrades may contribute to the renewal of communism in the 21st century, but it will be despite themselves

    What does this mean? The renewal of communism is necessarily an intentional process. How can anyone be involved in it ‘despite themselves’?

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  29. Why is this debate so important – Has a mass working class Anarchist movement been formed while I was sleeping?

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  30. Also, I didn’t claim:

    that anarchism carried the flame of anti-statist communism in the period after 1871 and before 1914

    I claimed that:

    for large parts of the last century . . . the torch of internationalism, opposition to statism, etc. was carried by anarchism as much or more than it was by the heterodox Marxists.

    Frankly, anarchism even was more important as a bearer of opposition to statism after 1917 than before it. Anyway, who ever said it was ‘the’ – i.e. sole – bearer? No one. Just that it was as important as Marxism in this regard. This is particularly true not only in Iberia, but in France and Italy, and in Latin America. Even now, there are very few examples of communist organisations existing in between Trotskyism and Anarchism – i.e non-“Anarchist”, anti-state communists. In Britain, it’s The Commune, plus the ICC and the CWO (IBRP). In total, around 70 people or fewer. In contrast, the anarchist groups are probably about 150-200 strong between them.

    there were plenty Marxists espousing other emancipatory views which can be traced from the explicit opposition to state-socialism in the 1891 amendment insisted on by Engels to German party policy, the views of a range of leading Polish Marxists, a wide range of views amongst the many Marxists currents in the Tsarist Empire, The De Leonists SLP in the USA and Australia, Connolly, Paul, Murphy and others in the UK, Pannekoek and Gorter in Germany and Holland to name very few.

    Sure, but be honest, these were a tiny proportion of people identifying themselves as ‘Marxist’. Most self-identified ‘Marxists’ were not espousing emancipatory views. I don’t mind if you want to say those – non-emancipatory ‘Marxists’ – were “not really Marxists”, but then that obviously has implications for your other arguments about numbers and influence: you have to specify what you mean by Marxism.

    So, for example, in the case of the Lindsey strikes, you can either say that the SP are Marxists, and therefore ‘the Marxists’ were influential. But you cannot in the same breath say ‘the Marxists’ are anti-statist.

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  31. I was referring to the Briish SLP not the American one. So Marx was commisioned to write the Manifesto, based on ideas formulated within the League and certainly not just by him. That doesn’t negate the fact that other communist currents existed that did not call themselves communist.
    The glib rejoinder that the Anarchist Federation has dropped the word Communist from our name isn’t really worth an answer. We have always been anarchist communists and we remain anarchist communists.
    Oh and Billy, no a new working class anarchist movement hasn’t been born (yet) in this country but the Commune is at least facing up to developments and is tailending anarchist groups!

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  32. Now Charlie, why did you have to go and ruin a perfectly sensible series of posts with a sectarian jibe like that? Obviously we’re not ‘tailending’ anarchist groups, jeez.

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  33. The Anarchist Workers Group, for gawd ‘s sake. You know where most of them ended up? in the friggin’ RCP . To this day some of them are still big wigs in its avatars like the Institute of Ideas and others of Furedi’s fronts.

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  34. I don’t really want to add much more this it has had a disproportionate amount of space and discussion over more important and relevant matters already. To the 29 million wage workers and 7 million trade union members anarchism is an irrelevance to say the least.

    An anecdotal opinion, for over a decade I was leading militant in CPSA/PCS, I never met in all those years of union activity a single anarchist. This wasa union known as the ‘Beirut of the movement’ because of its left fractiousness. All except one from the ACF who as an ultra-radical considered unions so right wing she refused to join and was friends with all the scabs at the workplace who were obviously so class conscious they also hadn’t joined either. This was a workplace which was a stronghold of the then rank and file group of the union. (Which included the comrades of the Anarchist Workers Group and the old RCP). I have heard other similar accounts. In that regard I have more in common with a moderate trade unionist – yes.

    Of course this is not universal, anarchism has many strands some good and some bad, as typical of middle-class currents, but my point is that anarchism is not that relevant or important. It should not be a big issue for us communists. We need to regenerate communism, in ideas and organisation, take it out of the sectarian gutter and activities of self-isolation.

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  35. Oh Charlie, I was referring to the British SLP, who were actually inspired by the American SLP, partly funded by them and sold their materials. But I am sure you know that already.

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  36. If people don’t want to discuss the subject, they shouldn’t bring it up, still less prolong discussion by making statements like this which need responding to because they’re so off the wall.

    anarchism has many strands some good and some bad, as typical of middle-class currents,

    Wouldn’t you agree that Marxism “has many strands some good and some bad” as well? Is it therefore a “middle-class current” in the same way? What are these glib remarks supposed to show?

    To the 29 million wage workers and 7 million trade union members anarchism is an irrelevance to say the least.

    So is Marxist Humanism. So, for that matter, is communism in general.

    I never met in all those years of union activity a single anarchist. . . . the then rank and file group of the union. . . . included the comrades of the Anarchist Workers Group

    This is not consistent.

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  37. A middle class current, don’t make me laugh!! As I said just take a look at the various bios at libcom to ascertain whether class struggle anarchism is “middle class”
    I still stand by the statement that the British SLP was far from homogeneous and included people who saw themselves as anarchists and syndicalists as any serious investigation will prove.
    “We need to regenerate communism, in ideas and organisation, take it out of the sectarian gutter and activities of self-isolation.”
    This is not consistent.

    I like your modesty by the way, Chris, self-proclaimed “leading militant”.

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  38. “The anarchists tell us that to reach the new society “we must relinquish power over each other on a personal as well as a political level.” How then we organise to impose collective discipline over such people as scabs without exercising power. This is symptomatic of what can only be seen as not serious politics. ”

    The quote is from one of the Aims and Principles. How this relates to opposing scabs I do not know. I must have imagined I was on all those picket lines, I must have imagined being one of those who attempted to block the strikebreakers at Grunwick

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  39. “The anarchists tell us that to reach the new society “we must relinquish power over each other on a personal as well as a political level.” How then we organise to impose collective discipline over such people as scabs without exercising power. This is symptomatic of what can only be seen as not serious politics. ”

    The quote is from one of the Aims and Principles of the AF. How this relates to opposing scabs I do not know. I must have imagined I was on all those picket lines, I must have imagined being one of those who attempted to block the strikebreakers at Grunwick

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  40. This is from another AF member not contributing here

    “”An anecdotal opinion, for over a decade I was leading militant in CPSA/PCS, I never met in all those years of union activity a single anarchist. This wasa union known as the ‘Beirut of the movement’ because of its left fractiousness. All except one from the ACF who as an ultra-radical considered unions so right wing she refused to join and was friends with all the scabs at the workplace who were obviously so class conscious they also hadn’t joined either. This was a workplace which was a stronghold of the then rank and file group of the union. (Which included the comrades of the Anarchist Workers Group and the old RCP). I have heard other similar accounts. ”

    Now, nobody has picked him up on this. At first I thought he might have been refering to (well, lying about) a now ex-AF member who worked in the sector and who was active in the fight against the introduction of the JSA at the time (mid-90s). I asked her if it sounded like she was the target but she said she was in the CPSA and was not aware of anyone other than one SWP member at her office. ”
    So Chris, could you tell me (off-line of course by arrangement) who and where this person was that you mentioned???

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