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Connecting the dots: Anti- Bolshevik

Thursday, April 15, 2004
5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Event Type:
Panel Discussion
Luther Blisset
Location Details:
Flor y Canto
3706 N. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90065

Connecting the Dots: Anti-Bolshevik Communism

This discussion will give a brief overview of those traditions left of Lenin that were denounced in his 1921 pamphlet “Left-Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder. Also called ultra-left and left communist—or anti-state communism, libertarian socialism, and also incorporating class struggle anarchism—this tradition provides the most relevant methodological tools for the revolutionary project today. It draws on the uncompromising internationalism of Rosa Luxemburg, the theories of organization contributed by the German/Dutch left (people like Anton Pannekoek, Karl Korsch, Herman Gorter, Otto Ruehle, Paul Mattick Sr.), many of whom participated in the revolutionary wave coming at the end of WWI and continuing till 1921—later theorizing council communism—and the lucid critique of political economy of the Italian left around the theorist Amadeo Bordiga, best remembered as the last revolutionary to tell Stalin to his face, in 1926, that he was the “gravedigger” of the revolution and who lived to tell the tale.

The strengths and weaknesses of these group’s ideas and practice will be presented, as well as those who followed after them, like the European group Socialism or Barbarism around the theorist Cornelius Castoriadis—who in turn had been influenced by inspiring Greek revolutionary Aghis Stinis—and the North American group they collaborated with around C.L.R. James, the Johnson-Forest tendency, that broke with Trotskyism—as well as the concept of the vanguard party—in the 1940s. Both groups had members working and organizing in factories and documenting the wildcats they were participating in, as well as theorizing the changes in the mode of production that were going beyond the Fordist factory. They also articulated the spontaneous, leaderless revolutionary potential of the working class confirmed in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution where within 48 hours workers’ councils took control of all production in the country, before being brutally defeated by Soviet troops. Johnson-Forest broke into the News & Letters faction around Raya Dunayevskaya and the Johsonite faction carried on by Martin Glaberman in Detroit, and later influencing 1960s groups like the League of Black Revolutionary Workers through his participation their Marx study groups. Out of Social or Barbarism came Guy Debord, who went on to help found the Situationist International, whose ideas prefigured and whose members participated in the 10 million strong wildcat general strike of May/June 1968 in France. Jacques Camatte, at nearly the same time, continued the spirit of Bordiga with the journal Invariance before fading away.

Today, writers that can be connected to this tradition include Gilles Dauve in France, Loren Goldner in the U.S., and groups like the one around the British journal Aufheben, Wildcat—and a spin off Kolinko—in Germany, as well as the British Wildcat and Antagonism groups. In France, the councilists around Henri Simon’s Echanges et Movement and the French/Belgian group Mouvement Communiste. Here in North America the ideas are carried on by Red & Black Notes in Canada, Internationalist Perspectives in several places in the U.S. and Canada, the U.S. Workers’ Voice here in LA and us, the INSANE DIALECTICAL POSSE, in both LA and the Bay Area.

The presentation will segue to an open discussion of how we can use the above ideas to reinvigorate the working class movement for communist revolution, rejecting not only the mainstream There Is No Alternative dogma, but also the dead-ends of leftism, which is often the barely veiled continuation of the reformism of social democracy, as well as the academic justifications for capital dressed up as post-modern discourse.

No holds will be barred as we discuss dictatorship of the proletariat, trade unions as the merchants of labor power, the working class for itself—as opposed to in itself, race/nationalism/gender in relation to class struggle, uses for Hegel, the relevance of the anti-globalization movement, fictitious capital, and the moral militant activist vs. the consciously dialectical revolutionary—and their theories and practice—today.

Guy Ford for SF Bay IDP
Added to the calendar on Sat, May 8, 2004 2:28PM
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