Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nice review in "Ideas and Action" by Nate Hawthorne (and a response or two)

Nate Hawthorn, writing in the most recent Ideas and Action, a North American anarcho-syndicalist paper, says the following in a a review with the wonderful title "Let’s Talk About Another Burning Color: Black Flame vs. Red Fire Extinguisher?"

"The book is so good that every anarchist should read it and set up discussion groups on it. The organization I belong to, the Workers Solidarity Alliance, and our sister organizations should hold speaking events for this book, where we present its main arguments and encourage people to read it. We should also discuss the book more in our movements’ publications, both carrying out further analysis using the book’s framework as well as debating the framework. I mean all this sincerely: go read the book".

Every rose has some thorns, of course, and here's some from Nate's paper: "At the same time, in this article I’m going to talk about one area where the book is not as good, which is Black Flame’s treatment of marxism". He argues we need to engage with libertarian Marxists, and treat Marxism too harshly and crudely.

A small reply:
We will do a formal response in Ideas and Action soon (ish), but its worth stressing that we do agree that libertarian Marxists have a lot in common with anarchists, and that there should be a discussion - although not a synthesis - between the two. However, there is no getting around the fact that the "classical Marxism" that Black Flame discusses is far and away the the main current in Marxism, comprising most of Marxist history, most Marxists and (of course) every single Marxist regime. And Marx's "public persona" (Black Flame, p. 93) stressed precisely the determinism (pp. 93-4) and statism upon which these regimes drew (pp. 23-24, 88). We're for a historical - which means properly balanced - view of Marxism, not the view that all Marxisms are equally worthy of discsussion.

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