Anarchism, & MIM's Comments

Jamal Hannah jamal at bronze.lcs.mit.edu
Tue Sep 19 19:33:18 MDT 1995


> On Tue, 19 Sep 1995, Jamal Hannah wrote:
> (chris's quote:)
> > > And as far as capitalists TRYING to gain
> > > monopolistic control -- this too, cannot be achieved without some form of
> > > political intervention.  By the way, the Austrians are as critical of
> > > monopoly as they are of "socialism" in that to the extent to which each
>
> MIM replies: Is their being "critical of monopoly" able to prevent
> monopoly or is this criticism more like unrequited love--ineffective?
> There is a strong streak of idealism in both anarchism and libertarianism.
> Here we see a case of someone (Sciabarra) substituting the invisible hand
> for God  finding it sufficient for those who want results
> to wait till the next life.
>
> We agree with Jamal Hannah's criticism of Sciabarra, but would say
> much of the criticism applies to anarchism as well. For example,
> how can one criticize Gonzalo as "opportunistic" until one has
> "a bird in the hand"? What makes one assume the focoist group is better?
> Or the IU? Or is it just wishful thinking?

Hmm. My apologies for that one, MIM.. when I said Gonzalo was
"oppertunistic" I meant that he saw an opportunity and used it.
(Though I know that "opportunism" has a negative connotation)
My point was that Gonzalo had the opportunity to take a more
radical [and extreme] position which other sections of the left in
Peru had not adiquitely addressed.  I would have preferred a group like
the EZLN.  I'm not going to bitch about Gonzalo so much as to say that
it is unfortunate that there are no better alternatives.  If
it is true that the United Left [IU] in Peru supported
Fujimouri's election in 1990, than this was like supporting Mittarand
in France.. the guy started out seeming "leftish" but turned
out, like Clinton, to be as bad as any government bureaucrat
defending capitalism.  Both Mittarand and Clinton will call out
the cops when the people revolt...  and the Republicans called
Clinton "left-wing" and Mitterand "Socialist".  Are Republicans
really that stupid, or do they simply see that like our own Chris
Sciabarra, they must constantly trick the people into thinking that the
"left" is always either authoritarian or reformist, and obscure/hide
the examples that do not fit into these bogus categories.

> Could Jamal Hannah tell us which of the great anarchist theorists
> were really theorists and not social artists? Which ones told us
> of realistic strategies and which ones succeeded somewhere? (By
> the way there is definitely a place for liberation poetry, music
> etc., just not in place of the political-military reasoning
> necessary to defeat Hitler for instance.)

I feel that Errico Malatesta was a great anarchist theorist.. and
the 2nd 2/3rds of his book "On Anarchy" are dedicated to his steadfast
socialist position and his solidarity with the working class of
Italy (which was quite proletarian in the early 1900's).  Unfortunately,
many of the translations of this text leave out the socialist part, and
give one an impression of a bland, do-nothing anarchism.. much like
the present day non-radical image of the Black Panthers which MIM described.

> We at MIM are willing to jump with the oppressed from horse to
> horse midstream. We aren't willing to jump into the stream hoping
> a horse will come along and catch us, but this is what anarchists
> and Trotskyists typically ask us to do.

Perhaps anarchism is a meaningless, irrelevant force to-day, but I
feel this can change (and I dont think a dose of Marxism would
hurt anarchism either, though I would not expect (or want) it to
dominate it.)  As I said, I would like to see a more libertarian
marxism.  To say that one cannot respect freedom and liberty and not
oppose capitalism effectively is to tell others that they are
not in control of their own bodies and minds.  I feel that
it is well worth a try.  Any advice MIM wants to give (or any
other leftist group) is more than welcome.  Anarchists (libertarian
socialists) have a lot of organizing and hard work ahead of them.

> Capitalists are strong enough to win one-on-one fights. The oppressed must
> unite to win. For this reason, it is important to TAKE SIDES and
> criticize Marxism-Leninism-Maoism from within. When we split from the
> victorious tradition of the proletariat, we weaken the movement and
> make Stalin-like repression more likely as a necessity of history.
> The anarchist position has always been to call  for the white knight
> to rescue it from coercive Marxism-Leninism, as a "third" or
> "alternative" course, but the knight never comes. Communist anarchism
> takes up firm proletarian goals, but it attaches petty-bourgeois methods
> that cannot succeed.

If this is true than anarchist communists will learn it sooner
or later.  I'll always keep an open mind, and encourage my comrades
to as well.  I'm getting tired of blatant attacks on Marxist Leninists,
rather than specific, reasoned arguments and criticism.  For instance,
at one point a book came out 2-4 years ago talking about how
"Mao never bathed or brushed his teeth".  Various anarchists
joined in the slam-session.  I did not see any reasonable
point in this type of criticism.  MIM's right that a large amount
of criticism from the pretty-borgeoise on the internet and
elsewhere is masked (but still blatant) pro-capitalism... or fear
of actual revolutionary change.

Also, so many [possibly legitimate]
leftists are terrified of being associated
with Stalinism (because the right persistently propagandizes
this way, as Sciabarra is doing on this list) that they see
the only solution as that they must openly demonize Stalin, Lenin and
Mao (wasting time trying to prove who hates Lenin, Stalin or Mao more
than the other).  I do not see what is wrong with simply and clearly
stating ones beliefs, ones goal, and where one disagrees with other
people and their political positions, rather than shrill, sweeping
denouncements and fear-mongering hysteria.  I will not be forced
to "dance on my head" by capitalists.. wasting my time attacking
Maoists, Leninists, even Trotskyists, when I could be _building_
something.  (I will still criticize, but not to destroy: only to
improve the left.)

I want to make it clear that I do not "hate" MIM or Maoists. I
disagree with them on a number of points, which I have already spelled
out.  I have no more reason to criticize MIM at this point, until
I have read more books.  As for MIM's criticism of anarchism, I already
purchased the issue of MIM Theory [#8] that went into this (a number of
other anarchist comrades are very interested in reading it too)
I accept the criticism and at this point there is little that can be
said except that the anarchist movement needs to change and improve
itself.  That said, I hope MIM will choose to spend more of it's
time criticizing other aspects of the left which are pretty screwed up.

(MIM's criticism of anarchism is only matched by the criticism by
George Walford.  Both had many very good points.)

 - Jamal H.

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