fajardos at fajardos at
Fri Dec 10 23:40:36 MST 1999

I have been following this discussion wih some interest and have wanted
to respond but have been pulled away by the rigors of Teaching
Credential coursework  and family life.   Originally my intention was to
jump in sort of on Jamal's side insofar as I agree that anarchists have
something to teach Marxists about descentralizing power and authority
and running movement and organizations democratically, especially for
Marxists who claim to want to move away from democratic centralism and
related methods.

Also, in terms of distributing tasks after the revolution it would not
hurt to take a look at the notion of the "revolt against work" which
George Woodcock spoke of.

When I try to imagine a communist society, I look to anarchist models.

That said, however, I am begining to find Jamal falling into to the
ludicrously ingenous when starts asking questions such as the following:

Jamal Hannah wrote:
> I still dont get it.. why does it matter even if there are more "marxists"
> involved in social movments, when all these marxists belong to totaly
> different marxist factions who's only simmilarities are that they call
> themselves "marxist".

Well, it matters because if you want a movement to go in a particularlr
direction you must have relative agreement on the direction of the
movement and the means by which it is to be made.  If that programmatic
unity is there, it in fact does not matter much what people call
themselves.  But until then, labels serve to encapsulate the
programmatic identity of the bearer and help people identify the choices
that are laid before them.  So, if we want the world to go socialist, it
does matter how many Marxists there are in various movements.

> I think that Marxist-Leninists should be
> open to criticism when you consider their total and utter failure in the
> recent past.

I agree, but in light of anarchists' failures historically --and in the
same time period and indeed the same places, by the way, as Marxists's
failures-- they too ought to take some criticism without reaching into
the little bag of epithets.

> I do not think that trying to "beat" the anarchists by stealing away young
> people makes much sense. You should aim for quality, not quantity.

Hm...maybe you have read Lenin.   But in any case, a revolution is a
social upheaval by which one class overthrows another.  As such it is
the result of a mass movement, and a mass movement requires masses, of
course.  As obvious as that is, it must therefore be equally obvious
that one must aim for quantity as well as quality, unless one is content
with creating discrete, ideologicaly-pure, propaganda circles.

> You need to figure out how to unify all marxist factions, diminish
> authoritarianism, strengthen democracy, and escape from dogmatism.


> That is the only way the left will win. It doesnt matter what we call
> outseleves, though I think naming yourself after a specific persona causes
> problems. you start sounding like so many liberals I've run accross who
disdain labels because they want to be able to bounce from affinity
group to affinity group with no baggage and no responsibilities and
without having to ever, ever, ever read anything.

But it does matter what we call ourselves because our names encapsulate
what we stand for and part of understanding the world is the process of
naming it.  You yourself have said that Marxists are split into myriad
little grouplets.  Well, how can you tell them apart or explain them to
anyone else, or even communicate anything about any one of them without
resort to their names.

Even anarchists recognized that even in the shining glory days of
anarchist organizig which won the eight-hour day in so many countries.
The nomenclature of anarchism, libertarianism, and anarchosyndicalism
mattered because they represented very different ideas about oranizing
the movement and organizing society, and very different economic and
social goals.  That's why the names mattered, and they knew it.

One of my closest comrades some years ago was an anarchist who insisted
on precisely naming things and movements, yet he was willing to sleep in
the foyer of the University of California at Santa Cruz Library for 64
nights as part of a sit-in to get the University to divest from South
Africa, and in helping striking workers in Watsonville, Californa, he
accepted $10,000 in fines which he would be paying off for many years to
come because the deal meant that workers with families would get their
fines reduced to only a few hundred dollars.  When we did Central
America work he never stopped to bitch that the FMLN was "statist."  The
people of El Salvador wanted them, and that was enough for Ron.

I don't see that kind of commitment in most anarchists I run accross
today, nor that kind of connection to the movements and aspirations of
real workers and real people.  Needless to say, Ron had no more patience
for middle class kids with circled A's talking about how workers are
stupd and shoplifting is a revolutionary activity, than he did for the
irksome attitude-laden kids of the RCYB.

Maybe Marxists haven't done so well, but anarchists have to face the
fact that the trades guilds which provided them with their heyday are
gone, and anarchists have to put down their Chomsky beads and decide if
they're going to work within the movements of workers and peasants or
stick with shock slogans and token tantrums. Which do you chose?

- Juan

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