Friday, 21 March 2014

The Valley Forge





We are now very far from the discourse of the communists even as we still try to glimpse communism. We have for a long time now found ourselves in an uncomfortable situation best understood on these terms: there is disjunction between the non-existent life-world of communism and the practices of presently existing, self-professed communists. In short, there is a life-world of communists and a life-world of communism, and we find the non-reciprocated connection that is alleged to exist between them (the objective content of communism transported by a ‘real movement’ and analysed by the communist subject) to be problematic. 

It is more than that. We are troubled. We are perturbed by the discrepancies that are located in what is called the question of ‘means and ends’ and more precisely by what is called 'leninism'. We find leninism everywhere in the milieu, in all its projects. It seems that every project which aims at communism produces a sort of primitive loyalism amongst its participants. It seems that the project is at first identified by the participants with achieving the state of communism and then somehow psychologically and practically supplants it. 

At the risk of tedious repetition, we think there should be a reconceptualisation of the communists’ relating of activities with goals; of types of existence in relation to the impossible state of communism; and of sets of relations amongst communism. At present, the milieu continues to be dominated by the same attenuated psychological type which has for 150 years reproduced a very conventional political representation of the communist sphere. This representation is sustained even though there is absolutely no evidence that this psychological type is more suited to communist relations - quite the contrary. The revolutionary type seems singularly incompatible with communism. 

Evidently, we have now drifted very far from communist discourse - our good ship, Valley Forge has passed out of the leninist gravitational field. We have cut ties and have also been cut off, but even so, something remains, something shared. The basic analysis of capitalism, of the world as it is, is not in dispute. And so it is almost with relief that we encounter those who are fluent in conventional communist-speak but who similarly extend the critique of capital to the internal dynamics of communist projects. The text below is an example of this and was posted on the Libcom discussion forum

The text identifies the path by which participants in communist projects adopt banal and technocratic euphemisms both as a defence for their projects and to attack the projects of others. The apparent ease by which the ideological framework of instrumental rationality appears (associated with the denunciation of others) within small groups in the name of ‘communism’ is, once again, more than problematic. We have at length conjectured upon this tendency towards abstraction, depersonalisation, objectivity within such small groups, and it is still a mystery how this might relate to communism. 

Agreed. The logic of councillist positions (rejection of mass organisation and specific political organisation) leads to self-liquidation of any groups in fairly short order.’
‘This tradition coming from Kaio Brendel it shood be liquidated as one of the most terrible traditions in the history of revolutionary movement’
The 'logic of councilism' didn't reject mass organisations, on the contrary, the name denotes broadly the councilists' belief in mass workers' councils, backbones of a labour republic. Within the world economy, this labour republic would be a fragment of the global division of labour. Invariably, this national economy (a 'bastion' sounds more heroic) will have a low rate of surplus value, reflected in labour-vouchers, allocated among 'equal producers'.

This totally administered utopia could display imposing statues of Anton Pannekoek and Jan Appel, to decorate the main avenues. The central temple-observatory could be named after Joseph Dietzgen, or William Morris, where stirring poems by Roland-Holst and Herman Gorter will reverberate in matins. There may be even a revival of shamanism within its frontiers (presumably a mild, Dutch form, not an Aztec version). The 'bastion' could become a quaint tourist spot, the income would shortcut some brutish primitive accumulation. Although it wouldn't be a Stalinist state, more like a workerist Switzerland, it would need, like all good bastions, strict immigration controls, to keep out parasites and foreign spies.

However, the councilists' rejection of political rackets, aka 'specific political organisations', was refreshing. This didn't mean that they avoided rackets themselves. They did not, with the usual 'exposés' of rivals as secret agents or informers. This is an old tradition, upheld by Marx, Engels, passing through Lenin, Luxemburg and naturally Stalinism.

The councilist recognition of the impotence of rackets, and thus the implicit advocacy for their dispersal (see Sam Moss in http://www.lettersjournal.org/moss.html) would be a most beneficial advice for members of any modern racket (but more so for the ageing leaders who control the kitty -- this could top up their pensions). Still, the outcome would be positive, because rackets are useless for the social objectives they claim to express. In any case, councilism followed its own prescriptions and disappeared, a rare case of political consistency.

Councilism in history could be criticised pertinently for its workerism. And, in the case of Cajo Brendel, for his apologetic waffle about Mao's 'peasant revolution' in China, as if the brutal imposition of a factory-asiatschina in 1949 by the CCP/PLA had a 'bourgeois character'. Mao Zedong, incidentally, was a major 20C genocidist, greater than Hitler, Stalin and the holy trinity of Lenin-Trotsky-Dzerzhinsky. For Brendel, the 'struggles of the colonial peoples' were linked to endless 'bourgeois revolutions', all wonderful because they were against 'the West'. Councilism confirms that 'revolutionary' rackets conceal the dynamic of the value form, behind Marxist or anarchist ideologies.

According to the ICC, Brendel's racket supported leftist 'Third Worldism': "... Daad en Gedachte, in its March 1988 issue, finally declared itself in favour of an implicit support of the South African nationalist ANC, by opening a public subscription for the benefit of this organisation." (1) But Internationalist Perspective, a micro-racket that left the ICC, and originally formed by some of its top honchos, proclaims the opposite in a panegyric to Brendel: "In practice, Cajo and his comrades enthusiastically and energetically defended and propagated revolutionary positions all their lives." http://internationalist-perspective.org/IP/ip-archive/ip_48_brendel.html No mention by Sander, the author of the kitschy tribute, of Brendel's ANC faux pas, or his penchant for 'bourgeois revolutions' in saecula saeculorem.

But returning to the initial point. The term 'liquidation' comes straight from the gangster cellars of the Cheka. It means political murder, nothing more. If councilism is a target for 'liquidation', who will carry this out, why and who would be the first victim? As is well known, councilism is no more, Brendel is in a Maoist heaven, and Chekism, fortunately in Western Europe, is a lost art. It survives, as mental projections of hatred for the 'petty bourgeoisie', in Bordiguists and ICC apparatchiks, who even today, in 2014, retain this manual for liquidation online: http://en.internationalism.org/ir/94_parasitism 

This, more than the ICC's moth-eaten Platform, captures the essence of this sworn enemy of councilism. Finally, councilism is hardly "one of the most terrible traditions in the history of revolutionary movements". That Guinness Record belongs exclusively to Bolshevism & Sons (meaning left communists mostly, whilst the Trotskyist rackets implode as havens for rapists and their apologists).

(1) The Dutch and German Communist Left, London 2001, page 354 This 1990 book, saturated with a heady left communist partiinost, clearly targets councilism as a 'most terrible tradition' as well. We read: "... the ideology of councilism expresses a movement away from the conceptions of revolutionary marxism ... this ideology, close to anarchism, can be particularly pernicious [almost as 'parasitism'?] for the future revolutionary movement, because of its rejection of the revolutionary organisation [ie, political rackets] and of the Russian Revolution, ... It is an ideology which disarms the revolutionary class and its organisations." (page 384) But isn't anarchism equally pernicious, being that it is so close to councilism, especially to its Rühle tendency?

The ICC proclaims its rejection of workerism-ouvriérisme, but this is only demagogy. In reality, its visceral loathing for intellectuals comes through in the mentioned self-serving, mendacious work: "... the presence of 'intellectual fellow travellers' in the KAPD was of short duration, as seen by the departure of the 'anti-authoritarian' tendency around Ruhle [sic] and Pfemfert, which certainly did express the impatience and distrust towards organisation characteristic of the individualist psychology of this 'intelligentsia'." (page 372) The modules of the 'anti-parasitism' campaign were already in place in 1990, especially the targeting of 'petty-bourgeois individualism', a phobia left communists share fully with Trotskyists and Stalinists.

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