Local/International Organization

OpenSentence Type Foundry typefoundry at opensentence.org
Sun Nov 2 10:26:36 MST 2003

> Date: Sat, 1 Nov 2003 23:25:52 EST
> From: Waistline2 at aol.com
> Subject: Re: Local/International Organization
> In a message dated 11/1/03 5:42:45 PM Pacific Standard Time,
> typefoundry at opensentence.org writes:
>> I believe the Fourth International was a bad idea altogether,
>> but if it had been a good idea, it would have had to base itself in a real
>> social movement. This means that the Fourth International would have become
> a
>> formidable force in the colonial world because that was the curve of the
> direction
>> of the fight.
> <I don't agree with that, I think that's coming to be true today, though.>
> Comment
> My meaning is that the Fourth International was formed during the era of the
> revolt against the direct colonial system, as opposed to proletarian
> revolution in the imperial centers of world capital.  These revolts reached their high
> point with the emergence of the "Third Way" or Third World Movement and the
> war in Vietnam. This era of history is gone and very few direct colonies exist
> in the world political equation. If the Fourth International was a fighting
> organization of class engagement the front of the struggle was in the colonial
> world for the last fifty or so years.

Indeed, and during this time the "Fourth International" (really just an idea
thrown around by a lot of people) was not a fighting organization.  Although
Trotsky was a fine mind, I am very skeptical of the political efficacy of
Trotskyist ideas and always have been.  The syndicalist (student)
organization was founded as an "alternative" to the ISO; it was really First
International politics, which is an often-neglected source of good feeling
but practically limited.

> The fight today in the less developed countries is proletarian revolution -
> flat out.

Well, a lot of what's going on in South America sounds revolutionary enough
in a good way, but I think it really shouldn't be too "flat" (on pain of
another generation of strongmen); organizers (and usually they're not
proletarians, although proletarians can serve this function in good
conscience) are a necessary social formation, and people who think otherwise
(not you) are kidding themselves.

> My own point of view is that the heroes of the Third International - brave
> troopers, were simply historically limited, especially in America. No one could
> overcome the anarcho-    syndicalism of our history, until the third
> generation of communists had the industrial rug pulled from under our feet. Today it is
> fairly obvious where industrial concentration lead - the dustbin of history.

This is excellent language today there are not supposed to have been "heroes
of the Third International", and in a way nearly all of its leaders showed
exemplary bravery and intrasigence.  But my feeling is that the "Twenty-One
Conditions" imposed a non-trivial ideology on communist parties which
compromised their ability to utilize tactics appropriate to their situation
rather than serve as defense-mechanisms for the Soviet Union: this began
almost immediately (which see the CLP/Worker's merger) and continued for the
rest of the existence of the Soviet bloc -- in a very definite way the KPD
of the immediate post-war period was more "reformist" than the SED imposed
on East Germany by the Soviets, in that several major figures were
interested in doing basically Popular Front politics in united Germany
rather than having the rump DDR serve as Soviet client.

So there is actually some question in my mind whether the "immediate need"
to defend the Bolshevik revolution crippled communist politics in other
countries; but this is important because social-democratic (and "libertarian
socialist") movements actually have a lot to answer for as well.
Anarcho-syndicalism doesn't run that deep in US history -- the founders of
the IWW, De Leon *and* Haywood, were regular old social-democrats (real
Marxists, that is), and doesn't have a distinguished role, either.
Haymarket is a "black spot" on the US left which *need not be emphasized*,
as it was payback for the *genuine* massacre (unarmed people shot) at the
McCormick Harvester plant north of Chicago a little while before, but it's
real enough and all these Lucy Lawless types singing the praises of people
like Czologosz cost everybody else more than they're willing to own up to.
But there is a lot to like: contemporaneous with the International
Workingmen's Association was the International Working People's Association
or "Black International" (syndicalists, not Bakuninites) and I think people
can be forgiven for seeing a relatively contemporary thread to follow there.

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