In a recent debate between, Lars T Lih, Paul Le Blanc, and Pham Binh(1) there is agreement that, it was not the formal aim of Lenin to proclaim the birth of the Bolshevik Party in 1912 in Prague at the conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Nor was it the formal aim of Lenin to create a separate Bolshevik Party. Again the debate clarified, that in 1912 there was not the birth of a party of a new type, free of opportunism, but the birth of a myth of such a party. Yet for all practical purposes, the RSDLP that emerged from Prague, in 1912, was a Bolshevik Party, in all but name.
Barry Biddulph replies to Bob Goupillot and Allan Armstrong on communists and Scotland’s referendum.
Bob Goupillot and Allan Armstrong of the Republican Communist Network (RCN), want to create a new global order. Yet their starting point for a communist transition is a national territorial framework in general, as they acknowledge, and Scotland in particular. They argue that they are not nationalists, but internationalists, with a strategy of internationalism from below, in which small nation nationalism can be transformed into internationalism. This is a paradox. What is their tactical and strategic standpoint? Continue reading “The paradox of Nationalism as Internationalism from below”
A guest post by Mark Kosman. Every attempt to go beyond capitalism has ended in failure. But are capitalism’s present problems putting anti-capitalist revolution back on the agenda? To answer this question, this article looks at past revolutions, with particular emphasis on class struggle, while rethinking aspects of the Marxist, anarchist and feminist traditions.
In the 20th century, every attempt to go beyond capitalism ended in failure. Either people looked to socialist politicians, whose reforms made capitalism even more secure, or they supported revolutions that degenerated into repression and mass killing. Consequently, today, few people have much hope that humanity could ever successfully transcend capitalism.
But are capitalism’s present problems putting anti-capitalist revolution back on the agenda? And could a future revolution liberate humanity in ways that past revolutions failed to achieve? To try to answer these questions, I am going to look at past revolutions with particular emphasis on aspects that are rarely considered in conventional left discourse. These include humanity’s origins, gender and military history and the revolutionary transcendence of work and democracy. Continue reading “is capitalism’s crisis putting revolution back on the agenda?”
Opposition to the military intervention in Libya has been muted in the UK, and positions on the left have been exposed by the tension between support for democratic struggle in the Middle East and a deep distrust of Western motives. This is an edited version of an online discussion between Commune members between 20-25 March, which aimed not at expressing a final position but exploring some of the contradictions.
On 22nd May The Commune and the Republican Communist Network (Scotland) co-hosted a Global Commune day school in Edinburgh. The day had sessions on politics after the election, internationalism and communist organisation. Full reports on each to follow.
The session on communist organisation was led off by Chris Ford, who produced this paper on the subject. We then broke up into two groups for further discussion. Ellenor from Liberty and Solidarity was unable to give her presentation due to illness. Follow link for Chris’s paper, and see below for feedback at the end of the workshop. Continue reading “report of ‘communist organisation’ session at global commune”
On January 16th Edinburgh played host to the ‘Global Commune’ day school, hosted by Scotland’s Republican Communist Network and supported by The Commune.
Although we are faced with the greatest crisis of capitalism for decades, the majority of socialists today are not prepared to make the case for a viable alternative social order to get us beyond the ever-deepening capitalist crisis.
The objective of the day school was to develop communist thinking on what kind of society we want to create and how that relates to our activism and our slogans in the context of today. Continue reading “the global commune: communism for the 21st century”
A paper by Nathan Coombs for Sunday’s Communist Theory Forum
Wherever we look in the history of communist politics we see states which in one form or another have become dictatorships; the economic and political structures reduced to stifling bureaucracies. Can this be explained merely by recourse to contingent factors: the fact that revolution did not break out in Europe in the 1920s, imperialism against the socialist states during the Cold War, and so on?
The tempting answer for communists is to focus on these facts, lump the blame at the feet of Stalinism, or the leaderships of the Communist parties. This way guilt is apportioned and we can rest secure that the fundamental idea is fine; it is just the flawed implementation at the source of the problems, or the external pressures at work. Such an approach can be surmised by the optimistic refrain: ‘never mind, things will work out fine next time!’ Continue reading “beyond the party-state, beyond the big bang”
The Communist Theory Forum, hosted by The Commune, takes place from 2pm on Sunday 14th February at the Lucas Arms, Grays Inn Road, near London’s King’s Cross.
The Communist Theory Forum represents an attempt to establish an engaged research programme to think through the impasses of the left. The forum was established out of a dissatisfaction with most of the academic debates on the left, which rarely transcend scholastic studies. If you think of a journal such as the New Left Review, for all the good academic work contained within there is very little engagement with either the big questions of communist strategy in the 21st century, nor the nuts and bolts of real world praxis today. The debates are very rarely conducted from the point of view of what is needed to reinvigorate communist ideas to assist overturning the economic and political structures of capitalism. Continue reading “communist theory forum, february 14th”
The first of a series of communist discussion meetings in Sheffield. From 7pm on Tuesday 19th January at The Rutland Arms, 86 Brown Street, Sheffield S1 2BS.
Recommended reading for the meeting includes: William Morris – News From Nowhere chapters xii, xv and xvii; Cornelius Castoriadis – On the content of socialism; Karl Marx – Critique of the Gotha Programme parts iii and iv, as well as The Paris Commune from Civil War in France.
by Andrew Kliman
I. Concretizing the Vision of a New Human Society
We live at a moment in which it is harder than ever to articulate a liberatory alternative to capitalism. As we all know, the collapse of state-capitalist regimes that called themselves “Communist,” as well as the widespread failures of social democracy to remake society, have given rise to a widespread acceptance of Margaret Thatcher’s TINA – the belief that “there is no alternative.” Continue reading “alternatives to capitalism: what happens after the revolution?”
Cornelius Castoriadis, aka Paul Cardan, was the most prominent member of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group in France in the late 1940s-1960s, which advocated workers’ self-management in workplaces and society as opposed to capitalism in its private and state-run forms.
Here we present Maurice Brinton’s translation of Castoriadis’ classic On the content of socialism. The work is subtitled ‘From the Critique of Bureaucracy to the Idea of the Proletariat’s Autonomy’
by Moshé Machover: only the introduction is presented below, see the full document here.
The importance of this issue cannot be over-stated: it concerns the very essence of communism. If communism means anything at all, it means a radical eruption of democracy. Bursting its present narrow political confines, where it is allowed to hold truncated and partly illusory sway, democracy is to engulf all spheres of social life. This applies in particular to what is, under capitalism, the alienated sphere of economics: major choices that are now made behind the backs of society – imposed by private owners who monopolize wealth, or left to the chaotic play of blind market forces – will be decided consciously and collectively by the community concerned. The enormous extension of the sphere of collective decision-making will necessarily imply a corresponding expansion and deepening of the scope of public supervision, ensuring proper implementation of decisions. Continue reading “collective decision-making and supervision in a communist society”
November marks twenty years since the fall of the Berlin wall. This event represented one of the high points of a great mass struggle against the tyrannical order in the Eastern Bloc, and led to the downfall of the Soviet Union. But with the defeats of movements opposed to both these statist régimes and the free market, the popular movements of 1989 are now used to prove there is no alternative to capitalism.
Here we present sections of a series of interviews with communists from the former Eastern Bloc focussing on the struggles of the time, what system really existed in the “communist” countries and what has happened to the working class over the last twenty years. Continue reading “twenty years after the berlin wall fell”
A talk by Mark Ellingsen at the recent Bristol Anarchist Bookfair
First of all I would like to make a distinction between utopia and utopianism, or the spirit of utopia. So let’s start with a couple of definitions which I think is close to how I see the two concepts:
Definition of utopia:
“The word describes an ideal community free from conflict which incorporates a clear set of values and allows the complete satisfaction of human needs.” (Burden 2006: 716).
Definition of utopianism:
“Critical and creative thinking projecting alternative social worlds that would realize the best possible way of being, based on rational and moral principles, accounts of human nature and history, or imagined technological possibilities. Utopian thinking invariably contains criticism of the status quo. It aims to overcome social inequality, economic exploitation, sexual repression, and other possible forms of domination that make well-being and happiness in this life impossible” (Kögler 2005: 939). Continue reading “the spirit of utopia today”