Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Useful Debate: Notes on Martin Thomas' "Solidarity"/Alliance for Workers' Liberty critique of "Black Flame"

The British Trotskyist group, Alliance for Workers' Liberty (AWL), in 2011 published a 3 part review/ critique/ discussion of Black Flame in their paperSolidarity. Written by Martin Thomas, it appeared in three parts:

Part 1 here
Part 2 here
Part 3 here

There are many points with which to disagree, but let us stress first that the AWL was absolutely comradely and non-sectarian throughout. The Black Flame authors, several times offered a platform in Solidarity to reply, and engagement in the "Comments" sections was also friendly. Regrettably time commitments made the formal reply impossible, although some responses were posted online by Lucien (see below).

Meanwhile, Iain McKay, author of the Anarchist FAQ (vol. 1 book edition here and online edition here), also participated extensively in the debate, with systematic responses in the "Comments" section of each part - detailed responses that by-and-large refute much of the 3-part review.

Thomas then invited McKay to debate the issues at the AWL's annual "Ideas for Freedom" event, which in 2011 ran from 8-10 July. The AWL agreed to McKay's terms that the event be free and that an anarchist stall be permitted.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Michael Schmidt talk at DIRA, Montréal, 18 March '10: "The Relevance of Anarchist and Syndicalist History for Today’s Struggles"

Michael Schmidt (co-author with Lucien van der Walt of the book Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, AK Press, USA, 2009)

Talk at DIRA bookstore, Montréal, 18 March 2010, part of Black Flame tour, Canada

Thanks to Marie-Eve Lamy of Lux Éditeur, Montréal, for the transcription
"The Relevance of Anarchist and Syndicalist History for Today’s Struggles"

Thank you so much, especially to the Union Comuniste Libertaire [UCL], Common Cause, AK Press and everyone else who has made it possible for me to come out. I think it's very important for militants who live in different parts of the world to compare ideas and practice. Hopefully that's what we're all about – putting ideas into practice, and being very pragmatic about the way we exercise our politics. I come from a very strange country, and it's nice to see one of my countrymen here. One of my comrades from South Africa has just moved to Montréal, temporarily, but nevertheless. And hopefully you'll make him feel at home as you have made me feel at home.

It's been really fantastic over the last couple of days to have been speaking to people who come from many different walks of life, many of whom are working class but have a very clear understanding of politics, and a very clear class line. And certainly after the collapse of the Berlin Wall 20 year ago, I think we are really starting to see the necessity around the world for class-line politics. Politics which draw a line in the sand and say we will not adopt bourgeois culture or bourgeois values or a bourgeois way of living, and says in fact we will establish a new way. A new method of politics – which in fact isn't that new, but it's new to a lot of people – in the here and now, in order to construct a physical and real future.

I've been going around and doing a variety of different talks depending on the type of audience. My audience last night was quite mixed, maybe not as experienced as some of you are. Hopefully I'm judging things right, and not talking beyond what you know. But some of what I will talk about hopefully will be beyond what you know, because of all the political philosophies in the world, all of the big practices of the working class, the excluded, the poor, the peasantry, anarchism has been the most misrepresented. I believe this is largely because it has conformed very closely to proletarian practice.

The book, Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, which I wrote with Lucien van der Walt, did not start out as a book; the book started out as a pamphlet that somebody else had written, that I read and realised very quickly suffered from the main errors of our understanding of the world, and that is it was very much derived from a North-Atlanticist way of seeing things; to call it Eurocentric would be too kind to it! The standard anarchist histories written by anarchists themselves are notoriously centred on Western Europe and portions of North America.

There is a bogus theory, but very current amongst academics and even militants, of “Spanish exceptionalism,” that is, that it was only in Spain that anarchism achieved anything of a mass working-class presence. A Marxist historian like Eric Hobsbawm, who has quite a nice eye for the colour and detail and texture of class struggles – in many respects I actually like him as a writer – is sadly very crude on such matters, simply because it doesn't conform to his politics. And he ascribes what he thinks of as this “Spanish exceptionalism” to some weird deviation in the Spanish character, which if anything is a bit of an unfortunately chauvinistic attitude.

What I want to talk about is a different kind of practice to that of which some of you are accustomed to – I know a lot of you are accustomed to it – a practice which has largely been “disappeared” from the historical record, but is still traceable certainly in the police record, and in the records of all the authorities who have oppressed us over the last 150 years.

I like to joke that the book was a little monster living in my basement that ate scraps that I threw from my table from time to time, and eventually became this huge thing that outgrew the house.

So today it is two volumes, Black Flame is the first, and the forthcoming volume is Global Fire. The reason that it is two volumes is that as the re-writing of this history to try to reorient it towards the massive Latin American in particular and East Asian anarchist movements got underway, it became very apparent that we – my co-author Lucien and I – as anarchists needed to define what the hell anarchism was, because there is a heck of a lot of confusion on this topic.

This confusion is generated in part because many of us as anarchists have accepted bourgeois definitions of who we are. And there is one very specific bourgeois definition – we will leave aside the obvious calumny of anarchism equals chaos, an immature response of the declining artisanal classes as it is usually painted by most, but not all Marxists... We'll leave aside that, but the primary way in which anarchism is misrepresented is as something that was a brief spark, that was essentially disconnected from daily struggle, that it was born in some philosopher's head, and died in some foolhardy experiment in Spain in 1939.

The anarchist movement has currency primarily because it was, and remains, a proletarian practice. We do not corner the market on reality; anarchists don't have the final word on, for instance, the key question which faces all revolutionaries, which is how do you transmit communist ideas – the ideas of a free society – from a militant minority to the mass in a way that the mass makes those ideas their own and in fact moves beyond the origins of those ideas. To be honest, we all face that idea whether you're a Maoist or a Trotskyist or whatever – we all have to grapple with that issue.

So I think it is worthwhile to take a look to see what anarchism had to say about that. Because based on the historical record, anarchism was quite different to the way it has been represented in the bourgeois press. It is ironic that many anarchists conceive of themselves – outside of certain movements, and within that I include my own, your own, and our comrades in several places in the world, Chile, Argentina, Italy, Ireland and elsewhere, people who are clear about who we are – most anarchists’ idea of themselves is in fact derived from a German judge. It was a judge named Paul Eltzbacher who 1900 wrote a book in the period in which anarchism was a global movement that was challenging the order of the day. He said anarchism was solely anti-state: but its not, its anti-capitalist, class-struggle-based, anti-authoritarian, and it comes from the oppressed classes. But Eltzbacher’s view remains influential, and that’s a problem, as it distorts our history and our praxis.

If you take a look at the origins of Interpol, you will see that before Interpol itself was established, there were two conferences, the first one in Rome, and the second one in St-Petersburg in the 1890s, that laid the groundwork for what would become Interpol. And these conferences were specifically aimed at crushing these specific anarchist movements. This was in a period that was remarkably similar to our own. I mean, it was very different in many ways, and very similar. It's very different in that today we live in a world of nano-technology, space tourism, and other nonsense.

Our movement today lives in a world which is very different to the gas-lit origins of the movement, and yet we find remarkable similarities. In the period of what you might call the “short twentieth century” – the century between the First World War and the collapse of the Berlin Wall – we find that the state form actually locks its populations down quite significantly, both mentally and physically. The nation-state and nationalism become the dominant ideology throughout much of the world – even in the welfare states – and this dramatic movement of working-class people around the world that you see in the period of the 1880s and 1890s to the 1920s is largely absent. But now, since the fall of the Wall, we've seen that start to open up again.

Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876) at
 the  the First International
 So the origins of the anarchist movement was not in some philosopher's head, but in the international revolutionary socialist trade unions and workers’ groups of the First International who were banding together on very pragmatic grounds; the grounds of solidarity, to try to stop French workers being undercut by British scabs and vice versa, and it grew out from there. It was a world in which the telegraph had started connecting people across the world at the very same time that barbed wire had just been invented and was being rolled out across the world and being used to cut them off from their own resources.

In this world, there was the consolidation of financial capital, and this massive push into Africa and Asia by the imperialist powers. Imperial wars were being fought (and this sounds familiar) in the Middle-East and Central Asia. The working class, which was all of a sudden very mobile in this environment – part-time sharecroppers coming from repressed and depressed southern Italy going off to Argentina for a season, where they had no vote, coming back to Italy where again they had no vote, this great cycle, this great global movement of workers – responded in several different ways in this period to the pain that they were feeling.

This was a really globally mobile, but very excluded and flexibilised labour force. They responded, some of them, by turning to religious fundamentalism and fanaticism. Others started to consolidate ideas around revolutionary class struggle. So I think you might agree with me that there are some remarkable similarities between today's section of flexibilised, precarious, continually moving, and excluded labour – people who are cut off from any means of real participation in the political process in their own countries, or in the countries into which they are drafted to be the underpaid subject class of labour.

What was remarkable about the early anarchist movement was that despite its militancy, it was deliberately building a lot of educational institutions along the way. It was building popular universities in Cairo, in Cuba, in Peru, in Argentina, and in China. The reason for this is the same as the reason why we had the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa: it was necessary to cut the mental bonds that attached the rape victim to the rapist, the oppressed to the oppressor. And the anarchists shocked bourgeois sensibility by educating not only freed slaves alongside white people, but of all things, educating women alongside men, and girls alongside boys. This kind of stuff just wasn't done back then. I mean, who knows what kind of ideas they might get when you get them out of the kitchen.

On that note, I would like to say that gives us a little hint that the direction in which we need to be organising needs to be determined by our real conditions. In Brazil in 1930, there was an industrial working class of 1-million, but there was a maidservant class of 3-million. Perhaps the anarchists should have been organising among the maids. We need to be connected to where our people are at.

One of the reasons that the anarchist movement spread so dramatically around the world, establishing trade unions, what we call syndicalist unions (in other words, directly democratic and overtly revolutionary rank-and-file unions, anarchist trade unions) in Cuba, Mexico, the USA, Uruguay, Spain, and arguably (although the record is a little slim) in Russia, in the period of the 1870s and early 1880s – the reason this kind of thing spreads into Egypt and Uruguay and Cuba – these places which are under colonial or imperial control (Uruguay was free of the Spaniards, but not free of their own comprador capital) – is because in this period I think, if we are to be honest, up until Lenin in Marxism, in classic Marxism, you don't really find a serious Marxist engagement with the peasantry and the colonial world. By contrast, Bakunin was asking “What happens when 800 million Asiatics wake up from their sleep?”

The anarchist focus, right from the beginning, is saying you don't need to jump through a series of stages, like a poodle in a circus going through flaming hoops to get to the right time to stage your revolt. What you really need is to realise that you're at the stage now where you need to start fighting back. That doesn't mean that revolution is going to happen on Tuesday, starting at sharp. We all know that revolutions require a massive confluence of historical circumstances.

But it's because of this very early and very radical challenge to gender, race, colonialism, and imperialism that the anarchist movement made some incredible penetrations into parts of the world that Marxism doesn't even reach until much later, in the 1920s in fact. The Profintern (the communists' Red International of Trade Unions) then had to come knocking at the doors of the syndicalist trade unions, saying “Please, may we have a few workers? We don't really have any of our own. We need a couple to pretend that we have an International”. Sorry, I'm being rude.

It's probably unknown that there was a syndicalist survival in Southern Rhodesia, what is now Zimbabwe, up into the 1950s. That, pictured in Bulawayo, 1930 is Masotsha Ndhlovu, who in the 1920s was a ader of the Industrial and Commercial Union of Rhodesia. This union had suffered defeat in South Africa in the 1920s, but in what became Zimbabwe, it continued into the 1950s. It had been founded roughly on IWW or ndustrial Workers of the World principles, even if it wasn’t a pure syndicalist union, and I'm hoping that many of you know who the IWW are because it is a significant part of Canadian labour history. It's an incredibly powerful model that spread around the world.

The Korean movement - pictured: members of the Korean Anarchist Federation and Chinese comrades, 1928 - is generated primarily by the invasion of Japan in 1910. This generates a whole range of different responses, including syndicalist trade unions in port cities like Wonsan. But eventually a lot of the militants are forced out into exile, and they consolidate just across the border in this broad river valley, ringed by mountains, called the Shinmin Prefecture.

 And in Shinmin, during the period of 1929 to 1932, they establish this autonomous zone in which peasants, workers, and revolutionaries essentially run their own lives. This is the rather unknown anarchist Manchurian Revolution, driven by the response to Japanese imperialist aggression. It was destroyed in that place, that particular geographical experience, by the Japanese invasion proper, which happened a couple of years later. The curious thing about the Korean movement is that its finest hours really occurred outside of its own national territory, in defence, originally, of their own national freedom, but eventually in defence of Chinese freedom as well.

But also, the East Asian movement is barely disrupted by the Second World War, because these guys had been fighting since 1910. For a lot of Western movements, and you could even look at your conventional trade unions, the rise of the Nazis and of Fascism in Europe was quite a breaking point. But in the Far East you find this continuous arc of struggle which is completely uninterrupted by the War because these guys had been fighting their war since 1910. And this movement continues with significant power right into the 1950s.

Johannesburg, my hometown: pictured is Industrial Workers of Africa in a strike movement, Johannesburg, 1918.The Industrial Workers of Africa: established in 1917 on IWW lines – very explicitly industrial, revolutionary trade union lines was part of this strike movement.

What happened in South Africa is that the IWW had gone in there and established itself in 1910 in an environment that was kind of similar to Canada at that time in that so-called “white labourism” dominated. This was essentially white working class people saying “we're protecting our own asses”, against capital and against other workers, without seeing the obvious: that an injury to one is an injury to all, right?

The IWW came in with an entirely different program that was anti-racist. They organised on the trams in Johannesburg, and railways in Pretoria, and in the port city of Durban. At first they failed to break through the colour bar, but they established a generation of militancy that was further radicalized by the anti-war movement during the First World War, and eventually in 1917 established the Industrial Workers of Africa. And in fact they adopted the IWW constitution, lock stock and barrel. They based themselves squarely on the IWW. That's the irony – the Transvaal Native Congress – the movement was so significant in that period that several leading members of the highveld [inland high plateau] branch of what is today the ruling party of the country, what became the African National Congress, were very influenced by syndicalism in this period.

And just to show that we're not all talking about history: pictured is a poster of the Spanish Confederación General del Trabajo, 1999. Here are the descendents of the historic Spanish CNT who fought the Spanish Revolution (there are several factions, as some of you no doubt know, and this is the largest faction), they are currently representing 2 million workers.

Ōsugi Sakae, pictured here with Itō Noe and the editors of Rōdō Undō, Tokyo, 1921:  the Japanese labour movement, a small movement in a country that certainly in the period between the wars, didn't develop much of an industrial base. Many of the shops and plants were very small. But a very significant, radical, egalitarian trade union movement developed there.

It was anarcho-syndicalist, and included (again, shocking the bourgeois sensibility) very strong women leaders, many of whom would be murdered for their opposition to the state. The Japanese trade unions, worked alongside Korean trade unions, who again were working within the heart of the beast which was the developing Japanese Empire, sliding into militarism.

Shin Ch’aeho, pictured, was a leading Korean anarchist theorist and militant. His Korean Revolution Manifesto of 1923 really united all of the disparate anti-Japanese revolutionary forces, some of them within the Korean Anarchist Federation, some of them within the Korean Anarchist-Communist Federation, some of them within the Revolutionist Federation, basically all of them anarchist, but working alongside nationalists and communists to try to beat back the Japanese. He died in a Japanese jail in fact in '36.

Lala Har Dayal pictured here, the primary Indian revolutionary of his age. You guys probably know about Mohandas Gandhi. Why the hell do you know about Mohandas Gandhi, and not about Lala Har Dayal? The reason is because you're learning your history from the bourgeoisie. You're being fed this shit; you're being fed this pacifism, right? You're being fed all of this lame stuff. What this guy did (and he was also influenced by the IWW), he was a worker, an Indian chap working in San Francisco.

He became the secretary of the San Francisco branch of the IWW. He became a convinced anarchist, a hardliner, a Bakuninist. He believed that you needed a specific organisation to maintain clarity, but that organisation has to live, eat, sleep, and breathe within the class – within mass class organisations – and acts as that organisation's historical memory, tactical toolbox, and first line of defence. In other words, they will put their bodies on the line.

This guy's party, the Ghadar (“Mutiny”) Party, established in 1913, established branches in the United States, Canada, British-occupied East Africa, and many other parts of the world where Indian exiles and migrants found themselves. Crucially they establish bases within India itself, in Punjab and Hindustan, and launch an armed uprising in 1915.

What is interesting is the social base of the Ghadar Party in India is primarily made up of peasants and of returning British army veterans who know how to fight, but suddenly realised, “What the heck! We fought for this British Empire, but we've been treated like second class citizens in our own country!”

The last traces of this movement that we've managed to discover (and of course, the records are not entirely complete) are in East Africa in the 1940s and in Afghanistan in the 1930s. What is interesting for those of you in the room who might be communists is that those particular regions in which the Ghadar Party was organised in India, were the most trenchant regions of peasant resistance, and the seed-beds of the later radical grassroots communist parties of the 1940s and ’50s. So we are kind of cousins after all, right?

Also, crucially, we need to bear in mind that this idea (and not only the idea, but the mass organisational practice of anarchism) did not die on the barricades of Barcelona in 1939 [when the Spanish Revolution fell]. I believe, based on what I've studied (and the book has taken us ten years to write so far), that if there is a “dark ages” of the anarchist movement, which to a degree means if there is a dark ages of working class knowledge and understanding of the class's own fighting history (not that the anarchist movement represents the entire fighting history, that is false; but I think the anarchist movement has been a key repository of those fighting techniques), that dark ages is in fact the late 1970s and early 1980s.

This is when a lot of the organisational memory that had been transmitted for decades since the 1860s, by generation after generation of militants – many of whom who died on the barricades, died on the gallows, succumbed to tuberculosis, gone down into the grave early because of the strain of their fight – was lost. There is a reason that a lot of North American movements don't have the faintest clue what happened in their own countries in the 1970s, and don't even know what their own ideological antecedents were as little as three decades ago. Instead we're all looking back to the 1920s and saying “It must have been great back then!”

The period of the 1940s and 1950s poses a huge set of challenges to the proletariat as a whole, and to the anarchist movement that works within that proletariat. Quite clearly, the history of the Second World War and Fascism is well known, as is the rise of nationalism, which as I said earlier had locked down so many people's minds in so many countries into a very narrow paradigm of what it meant to be free.

But when you look at, for example, a year like 1956, you have the Cuban Revolution underway (I mean the real one); the syndicalist dockworkers in Argentina embark on what is still to this day the largest ever general strike; in Chile, the dictator, Paco Ibañez, is forced into a position where he basically hands over the power to the syndicalist and communist unions. He says “Enough already! Just take the country! You've won!” Sadly, in one of the dumbest moves ever, the communists break ranks and that collapses. But what I'm saying is that we have these mass working class movements, these peaks of struggle occurring in Latin America, in a period when, if you read the standard histories, it's all McCarthyism, grim and grey, Stalinism, the Cold War, and nothing is happening – everyone is defeated. But it's not so. I think maybe it's my generation, or maybe the people slightly before me who were defeated, and we've forgotten our own history.

Mikhail Gerdzhikov, pictured, of Bulgaria .. one of the leading lights in the Bulgarian Anarchist-Communist Federation, established in 1919. What's interesting about them is that they're very pluralistic. They are a very diverse organisation. They have an industrial base, a very strong syndicalist industrial base. To be fair, they are the third-largest force on the left, after the agrarians and the communists in Bulgaria in the 1920s. But they are strong and coherent – they have their issues, like everybody else – but they have this really interesting and diverse movement. They organise amongst students, intellectual workers. They have their armed detachments.

They learnt through this guy, Gerdzhikov, that you've got to defend your gains, physically, by force, in an organised fashion. He earned his chops fighting against the Ottoman Turkish empire in the 1903 Macedonian Uprising. A huge section of the Bulgarian anarchist movement basically learned how to fight by fighting on behalf of someone else's freedom in 1903: this is principled internationalist anti-imperialism, from below!. About 60 of these Bulgarian anarchists lost their lives in Macedonia – a relatively small skirmish in the bigger picture of things. But in that period they established free communes that replicated the Cantonalist Communes – the cities which the anarchists had run in 1873 in Spain – plus Lyon, Paris, those sort of examples, from a few years earlier as well.

The fact that this movement was so diverse, but at the same time coherent, enabled them to fight off two fascist coups d'etat, one in 1923 and one in 1934. Eventually, they had to fight the Red Army itself in 1948, because the Red Army had allied with the indigenous fascists to form the so-called Fatherland Front, to try to impose a disciplined dictatorship – no doubt “of the proletariat”! – on the Bulgarian people.  And it's remarkable that Bulgaria, almost alone of all nations, did not allow a single train to go to the death camps – despite the fact that they were a Nazi ally, on the bourgeois level.

Moving a little bit forward in time, the late Wilstar Choongo is pictured at left with members of the Socialist Caucus, Lusaka, 1998, who I befriended a little while ago, in Zambia. These movements are often, particularly in my part of the world in Africa, ephemeral. They rise up, and then they die. Very difficult circumstances in Africa, and yet when you look at the history of the anarchist movement, the anarchist movement was built by bitterly poor people in extreme conditions of poverty, oppression, and prejudice, and yet they were able to build mass movements.

When you take a look at Argentina, which in 1900 was actually, based on its meat exports – certainly for the bourgeoisie, they were smiling – it was the fourth wealthiest nation by some measures in the world at that stage, but everybody who produced that wealth was excluded. It was very tiny elite that even had the bourgeois vote. If you look at that world, the anarchist movement that develops in those conditions becomes so strong that eventually the two main labour federations in the country by 1919 are two slightly tactically, slightly ideologically different anarchist trade union federations. The debate within the organised labour movement is a tactical and strategic debate between anarchists – in rather significant numbers; mass organisations built across race lines, and certainly across gender lines, at a time of incredible duress.

And the women who come out of these movements are a force to be reckoned with. In Latin America alone, we can look at people like Juana Belém Gutiérrez de Mendoza in Mexico. She manages to establish a feminist newspaper called Vespa. This paper survives and publishes for 36 years, despite the fact that she's continually in and out of jail. She wasn't a pushover.

Kanno Sugako, pictured, in Japan ... There were lots of manufactured plots against the Emperor but she really was guilty; she really did plan to take out the Emperor, to prove that he wasn't a living god; to prove that the god in our heads could in fact be killed; to sever that mental link that the oppressed majority had with their oppressors.

Juana Rouco Buela of Argentina, and Virginia Bolten of Uruguay – they set up probably one of the earliest feminist journals in the world in Argentina. They get quite a bit of flack originally from the men. The men say “You're dividing the movement!”.

But they hold out, and they establish a line of thought that is still transmitted today in the Latin American movement. I'm really glad to see you have Maria Lacerda de Moura on your wall over there. This is one of the ways in which Francophone and Hispanophone movements are superior to English-speaking movements – there is a much deeper appreciation of history and theory. She was Brazilian, and she was the premier labour educator of her age. She would go on speaking tours right across Latin America, as far up as Mexico. She preached rationalist education – reason against an education system dominated by the Church that taught mysticism and respect for one's abusers.

Petronilla Infantes is pictured, third from the left in front, with the Sindicato de Culinaria, La Paz, 1935. Here's a young woman heading up the anarcho-syndicalist culinary workers’ syndicate in Bolivia in 1935. She becomes the leading labour leader in Bolivia right into the 1950s. If you go into the streets in Bolivia right until today, they will know her name. And we can go on.

We can look at Luisa Capetillo in Puerto Rico, who dared to wear pants. And boy did she ever wear them, in defiance! She led the trade union movement in Puerto Rico. We can look at Maroussia Nikiforova leading the Makhnovist detachments fighting the White armies in the Ukraine during the Ukrainian Revolution, eventually being executed in 1919 in Sevastopol. The list goes on and on.

There was Spain, which had a revolution: pictured is CNT-FAI collectivised tram, Barcelona, 1936. Its movement wasn't exactly all that insignificant! But really in context, proportionately, by head of population, the anarchist movement in nearby Portugal was much more powerful than in Spain. It was much more integrated into daily life generally across the country than in Spain, where it was more located in certain regions, such as Catalonia.

The Iberian anarchists ran daily newspapers which were as large in circulation as your city newspapers today. Certainly as large as the mainstream newspapers that I as a journalist have worked for. I can only wish that we had radical newspapers of that kind of reach, but maybe we'll build that again.

Mexico in '68: here, pictured is a mass demonstration shortly before the Ttatelolco Massacre, Mexico City... again jumping forward in time. You're probably aware that my country is about to host the FIFA Soccer World Cup, and there are massive contradictions in our being able to spend billions building beautiful gleaming football stadiums when we supposedly cannot build houses for the poor.

This massacre occurred just prior to the World Cup in Mexico in 1968. And what the student leaders were asking, many, many decades after the Mexican Revolution, was “Was the anarchist revolutionary leader Ricardo Flores Magón wrong? Did he misunderstand what we were all about? Did he misunderstand the solution?” And 50,000 voices shouted back, “No! He was not wrong. He understood. We understand”. And then the troops opened fire.

Our own small little effort is pictured: the anarchist-founded Phambili Motsoaledi Community Library, Soweto, in 2005. We're part of a much bigger story, and South Africa is not an easy environment to work within. The working class is lured by all sorts of promises of pie-in-the-sky from all sorts of religious and political elites.

 And this is what we can do to walk alongside the masses, and help keep connected, help them keep their eye on the prize. This is developing class consciousness, solidarity, and building popular organisations of counter-power. We build that counter-power, by which I mean structures, directly democratic structures, organisations.

But those organisations become impossible if you don't have a counter-culture that goes along with them. And what I mean by counter-culture, I don't mean a particularly weird shade of green in your hair, or a piercing on a part of your body. By counter-culture, I mean a fundamental oppositional working-class culture, which means when you're walking downtown and you need to purchase something urgently at the chain store and there's a picket there, you know – it’s in your bone marrow and blood – that you would never cross a picket line. You've got that working class culture engraved in your skin. It is a part of you.

That is our biggest challenge. That is where we need to start to rebuild, by changing consciousness in order to create the mental space in which to build counter-hegemonic institutions; by building organisations that are of the class, by the class, and for the class. And I think I'll just stop there and leave it open for questions.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Graham Purchase's review in "Anarcho-syndicalist Review"

An interesting review of Black Flame appeared in ASR/ Anarcho-syndicalist Review no. 53, 2010, by Graham Purchase. Purchase is an Australian writer on anarchism (especially on its relation to ecology), and his ideas had an important impact (among others) on the (South African) Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF), as a look at their Position Papers on environmental and other issues shows (see here).

Given Purchase's important contributions to anarchism, such as Anarchism & Environmental Survival (1994/ 2011), his review was naturally of particular interest. Therefore it is pleasing to see Purchase commend the book for its "extensive" sources, its global coverage, its stress on the working class roots and project of anarchism and syndicalism, its examination of issues of race and gender, and its critique of crude identity politics.

Purchase does note that the book pretty much ignores environmental issues, which is perfectly true, but it should be stressed that this not due to disinterest on the authors' part. The absence was keenly felt, but it is mainly the result of the absence of a decent examination of this thread in anarchist and syndicalist history in most sources - with Purchase's work an important exception - and we are reliant on our sources. In any case, no book can be entirely comprehensive.

Purchase adds that the book accepts, rather than supersedes, some of the "sectarian" divisions in anarchism/ syndicalism (p. 39). True again, but is this a problem? The book does not aim to artificially synthesise anarchism into a unified movement, nor to sidestep its rich debates, but to survey and analyse the debates within the movement. This is necessary for any real history - and also useful for current discussions of tactics, analysis etc.

Such differences arise mainly from very real and sincere disagreements on tactics and strategy, and differing contexts, and not from sectarianism. Whether it is useful to supersede differences in the first place - as opposed to allowing success or failure to measure which approach is better - is itself an issue of some debate. Black Flame certainly leans towards some positions, but it also presents the rival positions and criticisms at some length: the book is an overview, not a manifesto.

Naturally, some of Purchase's comments are more political in nature, and to be welcomed as such. For example, he disagrees with the Bakuninist / Platformist / especifist / Malatestian approach of building specific anarchist political organisations, in addition to mass formations like unions etc. Since he notes that Black Flame demonstrates a "long historic precedent" for the centrality of dual organisationalism in anarchism/ syndicalism (including Bakunin's Alliance and the Spanish FAI), and since he fails to dispute the historic fact of such bodies, let alone their critical historic achievements, its unclear on what basis he then sweepingly confidently asserts that this approach is "certainly unachievable and probably undesirable" (p. 40).

Perhaps it is the assumption that this approach seeks to meld all anarchists into one unified group, with a common political position? However, the aim of the Alliance, the FAI etc. was something else: to form strong, specific, anarchist/ syndicalist political organisations, based on theoretical and tactical unity and collective responsibility, with a real influence (a leadership of ideas) in mass organisations of the popular classes. Naturally, the larger such a formation, the bigger its impact, but since the strength itself lies in political and organisational unity, it would be rare indeed that formations could include everybody who identified with anarchism or syndicalism - and so, such all-inclusiveness was never an aim.

Purchase is also less convincing where he claims Black Flame neglects "the Commune" i.e. the anarchist commitment to the "self-governing suburb, quarter or region" (p. 39). This is rather a misrepresentation - or perhaps, we misunderstand Purchase? -as Black Flame stresses that syndicalist unions immersed themselves in community struggles (e.g. p. 21, 185), shows that anarchists / syndicalists favoured community activism and took various approaches to such activism (pp. 124, 190 onwards, 330 onwards), and that the movement generally envisaged "Democratic local groups at the workplace and in the neighbourhood" as "the nucleus of the social movement that would create libertarian socialism" (p. 68).

This supposed neglect of the community is, for Purchase, caused by Black Flame apparently treating anarchism and syndicalism as identical. This claim, too, is simply wrong, as the book explicitly differentiates anarchism and syndicalism, and treats syndicalism as an anarchist strategy, not accepted by all. This position is made upfront in chapter 1 (p. 21) and at great length elsewhere. It is surely not too different to Purchase's view that anarchism is the "tree", syndicalism a "branch" (p. 39)?

Overall, a stimulating review, with much food for thought, but with some room for engagement!

'Black Flame' and the Marxist tradition/s: Comments on Wayne Price's review of "Black Flame"

These are reproduced from the discussion at anarkismo, here

Comment 1: Some responses from an author
Hi Wayne
Thanks for all the positive comments, and for what I think is a fair summary of the book. In the same spirit of comradely engagement, I'd like to perhaps mention two areas where I disagree with your assessment. Again, I stress that I do this in an open spirit; like you, I despise petty squabbling, in favour of clear (and clarifying) debate.
a) on labels and 'sectarian' issues: I agree labels can be a bit tricky, but I don't really agree that insisting that anarchism = class struggle anarchism 'seems' 'pointless,' raises 'a terminological dispute which makes us look sectarian.'
We defined anarchism historically, and as accurately as possible. Without doing this, it is simply impossible to do a general history and analysis of anarchism (and syndicalism); this is why works like that of Peter Marshall tend to ramble, to have huge gaps and peculiar choices (in his case, including both Thatcher and Che in his history of anarchism...). To change the definition would radically change the book (and the book to follow).
I agree, of course, that the approach will offend some people, but I'd also insist that accuracy and terminology cannot (and should not) be shaped by current day political considerations (or by the confusion in the ‘anarchist’ milieu). That, I think that is tending a bit towards unprincipled opportunism. That is obviously not your intention, but I think it’s the logical consequence of your suggestion.
Conversely, I really don't think using the ‘anarchist’ label in a particular way prevents a discussion and a serious debate with people with whom anarchists disagree. In the English-speaking milieu, levels of debate are often extremely poor (I mean debate, not rants, labeling, etc.) and this is partly due to the fuzziness of many concepts deployed. It is difficult to debate if there is no clarity on what is being debated in the first place.
b) on Marxism: as the book states, there are tensions in Marx's own thought, and there are radically democratic elements, and there are also radically democratic traditions of Marxism e.g. Councilism.
However, to claim, as bluntly as you do, that 'Marx did not believe in a specific “strategy of the dictatorship of the proletariat” (p. 99) to create a state ruled by a centralized party,' as he merely meant 'the rule of the working class as a class, such as in the radically-democratic Paris Commune' is not accurate.
That is a very one-sided reading of Marx but its a-historical and misleading; it relies on a single text as the definitive statement of Marx's views and praxis, and ignores a host of materials that say something quite different. Many of these are cited in Black Flame, which does not rely on Lenin et al to paint the picture of Marxism.
On numerous occasions, Marx specifically called for precisely a 'state ruled by a centralized party' (Black Flame, p. 99), not least in the resolutions he forced through the rigged Hague Congress of the IWMA in 1872 after trying to 'expel' the anarchists. That is, the very year after he wrote The Civil War, he insisted that 'the proletariat can only act as a class by turning itself into a political party', aimed at the 'conquest of state power', with a 'proletarian dictatorship' based upon ‘centralisation' and 'force' (Hans Gerth, ed., The First International: Minutes of the Hague Conference of 1872, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1958, pp. 216-17, 285-86).
This was quite in line with the Communist Manifesto – which no one would dispute is the canonical Marxist document – which proposes as ‘generally applicable’ the following measures: ‘abolition of private property in land’, a ‘heavy progressive or graduated income tax’, ‘centralisation of credit in the hands of the state’, ‘centralisation of all means of communication and transport in the hands of the state’, ‘factories and instruments of production owned by the state’, ‘industrial armies, especially for agriculture.’ Moreover, the Marxists ‘always and everywhere represent the interests’ of the working class, because they ‘understand the line of march’ better than ‘the great mass’ (see Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1954, Henry Regnery, pp. 40, 55-56).
The overall outline of socialism in The Civil War was, moreover, never seriously proposed or implemented by the groups that Marx set up, going back to the Communist League, and carrying through to the German SDP, nor the Labour and Socialist International (after the anarchists were expelled) nor the Communist International. Nor was it the policy of any mass Marxist party or formation in the 19th, 20th or 21st centuries.
As you say, 'Despite his defects, Marx did not at all aim for the murderous totalitarian state capitalism of Soviet Russia or Communist China': we agree, and in fact say pretty much this on p. 24: 'The creation of the gulag system in the USSR, which placed tens of millions into concentration camps based on forced labour, was an integral part of the Soviet system, but was probably not part of Marx’s plan. The harsh circumstances under which the Russian Revolution and the establishment of the USSR took place obviously also left a profound imprint. The features of the USSR and the later Marxist regimes cannot, then, simply be reduced to Marxist politics.'
That does not, however, exonerate Marx himself, because the predominant element in his thought, his movement and (though we do not go into this third part in Black Flame), his personal political behaviour (e.g. the struggle against Weitling, Proudhon, Bakunin, his role on the IWMA etc.) was centralist and authoritarian. Just as we need to discuss anarchism (and syndicalism) historically, we need to discuss Marxism historically; just as we cannot reduce a history of Christianity to a study of the original gospels, but must look at its history, and which interpretations mattered historically, we must judge Marxism historically.
In no sense can the history of Marxism be delinked from, say, Communism, and in no way can Marx and the Marxist mainstream's stress on 'a highly centralized state, headed by a communist party, controlling labour and the other forces of production and claiming to be the sole repository of “scientific” truth,’ be sharply divorced from the ‘evolution of Marxism in the twentieth century into an ideology of dictatorship after dictatorship' (Black Flame, pp. 24-25).

The fact is that 'The history of Marxism in the third of the world once ruled by Marxist regimes is a part—the major part—of the history of Marxism' (p. 25). When we are discussing Marxism, we are not discussing hypothetical Marxisms that could have been, but an actual movement.
I agree with your insistence on breaking with the crude understanding of Marxism so common in the anarchist milieu, but equally, I cannot that Marx is basically radical-democrat maligned by the misreadings of posterity.
PS. you insist that 'Marx did not think that commodity prices were directly due to the labor-time invested in the commodity (its value)' because he purportedly 'thought that the relation between labor-time values and prices was indirect and complicated (what has been called the ‘transformation problem.’).’
Black Flame's formulations are rather more qualified: that 'Marx, like Proudhon, used a labour theory of value; he argued that only living labour created new value, and that value underpinned prices. All things being equal, and given the operation of a competitive market system that equalised prices for given commodities, the price of a commodity must correspond closely to the “socially necessary” or average labour time used to produce it... Marx spoke of the exchange values of commodities, set in production by labour time, as determining prices' (p. 86). Moreover, 'Marx admitted that prices could vary somewhat according to supply and demand ...' (p. 89).
I think this is a fair summary of Marx. In Value, Price and Profit chapter 2 Marx states that, in a situation of market equilibrium, market prices correspond to 'natural prices,' which are 'determined by the respective quantities of labor required for their production.' In Capital III, chapter 9, Marx insists that prices are still obtained from values, but this 'general law' only applies at the level of combined capital in given spheres of production (as alluded to Black Flame p. 88).

Comment 2: Marx and the DOP
Wayne, as always, I appreciate your thoughtful comments and comradely style. But I do not agree with your claims regarding Marx and the "dictatorship of the proletariat" (DOP).

There is a direct link between the Marxist regimes, and the thought of Marx.

Admittedly, there are "many tensions and ambiguities in Marx’s thought," including democratic elements, but, equally, there is a very clear, central "authoritarian and statist" thrust as well (Black Flame, p. 24).

Draper placed the most democratic, feel-good spin on Marx's authoritarian and statist elements, but that does not make them vanish; they can't be vanished by waving Draper. And whatever Draper may have thought, the fact is that 99% of Marxists did not (and do not) agree with him, and there are libraries of Marxist literature to this effect. These views - this reading of Marx's work - is by the way very much in line with what Bakunin viewed as the core project of Marxism (admittedly Bakunin did not read Draper, but he knew and directly debated, both formally and informally, with Marx and Engels).

Nor is Draper's scholarship unimpeachable, as his calumnies against Bakunin, his mispresentation of the Commune, his presentation of Lenin as a radical democrat, his defence of Trotsky's terrorism against the popular classes etc., all attest.

Why exactly we should take Draper's views on the real meaning of "every goddamned incidence" of Marx's views on the DOP as more accurate than, for example, Lenin's views on the exact same matter? Or frankly, than the views on the matter of the historic anarchist tradition, which competed with and debated Marxist mass movements for well over a century?

Draper, then, simply cannot be taken as the authoritative source on all things regarding Marx and the DOP; he does not have that status or recognition among most Marxists.

Secondly, in a world where the history of Marxism rested on Draper's idiosyncratic views, that history would perhaps be very different to what it was; however, we are not dealing in hypotheticals.

Every single Marxist regime, ever, has been a dictatorship; every single major Marxist party, ever, either renounced Marxism for social democracy, or, remaining revolutionary, acted as apologists for dictatorships (that includes all Communists and Trotskyists, including the ISO, which still exonerates the Lenin-Trotsky period - on the same lines as Draper), or actually headed brutal dictatorships.

Debating what Marx "really meant” is vastly less important than what Marxism was (and is) (although of course it fits very well with the almost theological culture of Marx studies, where Marx is always assumed to be right, and where debates are settled by quote swapping). But as I said before, you don't judge Christianity on the basis of the gospels alone.

Marxism, too, must be judged by history; that requires an assessment of its record, rather than on the basis of Draper's opinions.

Thirdly, Wayne, as your own analysis admits, there are elements in Marx's writings that played a role in the Marxist regimes: "there are useful and nonuseful (for anarchists) aspects of Marx's Marxism, and that the nonuseful aspects (determinism, centralism, etc.) played a role in the eventual development of Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism."

I agree: there is direct link between "Marx's Marxism," and "Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism." Therefore we cannot "exonerate classical Marxism from a good deal of responsibility for the oppression and inequities of the old East bloc" (Black Flame, p. 24)

At the same time, you downplay this link, claiming that (for instance) Marx's resolutions in the IWMA were really about "advocating that the proletariat should act as a class and turn itself into a party to conquer power for the working class. That is, the whole class should organize itself into a class-wide party so that the whole class can take over the state." Also, you state the DOP meant would "mean the democratic rule of the whole working class--Marx's original meaning."

Those are two very different claims. A "party" with mass "class-wide" support acting to "take over the state" is very common (PT in Brazil, ANC in South Africa, SDP in Germany ..) , but that is something quite different to "the democratic rule of the whole working class". Even the Bolsheviks, arch-vanguardists as they were, actively sought mass support, despite the fact that they had no interest in "the democratic rule of the whole working class."

The only way you can reconcile these two propositions - a mass party, democratic rule - is to assume that Marx collapses class and party, and that he envisaged a state form in which there is literal "democratic rule" by the "whole" working class.

Do we find either position in Marx?

On the first (collapse of class and party): Marx and Engels clearly reject such a collapse. The "Manifesto" distinguishes "proletarians and communists", with the latter happily understanding "the line of march" better than "the great mass". This is not a "class-wide party," but merely "the most advanced and resolute section" of the many "working class parties" to be found in "every country" (Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1954, Henry Regnery, p. 40).

The party is only identical to the class in the indirect (and vanguardist) sense that it somehow will "always and everywhere represent the interests" of the working class (no matter what "the great mass" may think) (p. 40). The corollary is that all other socialists are non-proletarian: as explained at length in chapter III, they are variously "feudal," "reactionary," "petty bourgeois," and "bourgeois" (pp. 58-78).

This is a clear example of the reasoning later identified with Leninist regimes: Mensheviks, anarchists, syndicalists etc. are by definition ‘bourgeois’ (Lenin, ‘Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government,’ in Selected Works in Three Volumes, p. 599), and party dictatorship is by definition ‘the dictatorship of the class’ (Trotsky, Challenge of the Left Opposition, 1923-1925, Pathfinder, 1975, p. 161).

Only the second (a state form enabling actual "democratic rule" by the "whole" working class): Marx and Engels do not argue this. The communist party's aim is "the same as that of all the other proletarian parties … conquest of political power by the proletariat" (ibid). The aim is "the same" i.e. the party winning state power for the class, not the literal "democratic rule of the whole working class."

And what would the state form be? It would be a centralized under party control, where only one party will "always and everywhere" represent the class.

Wayne suggests that Marx advocated "centralism" only as measure for "overthrowing the feudal divisions of Europe and creating large nations run from central cities by single parliaments." On the contrary: Marx and Engels insisted that economic centralization, including of labour control through "industrial armies," would be "generally applicable" in precisely "the most advanced countries’ as part of the socialist (not the bourgeois-democratic) project (Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1954, Henry Regnery, p. 55). (Wayne suggests that Black Flame makes it case "with quotes from Lenin, Trotsky, and Mao--not Marx." Not at all: the views by Marx and Engels mentioned here may all be found in the book (e.g. pp. 24, 98, 101).

A ruling party that knows alone knows the true interests of the "great mass"; the claim that all rivals are anti-proletarian; the stress on the centralised state, including nationalisation and "industrial armies": these are the elements of "Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism," and they are all easily found in the Manifesto.

Comment 3: The transformation problem
Wayne says: "Lucien defends his interpretation of Marx's derivation of commodity prices from values (socially-necessary labor time)" but his account relies "too much on Value Price and Profit, Marx's little pamphlet. It is not as authoritative as is vol. III of Capital."

I did quote vol III in my response, but to be quite clear: chapter 9 of Capital III is not a retreat from the basic approach that natural prices reflect average labour time: "If the labor time required for the production of these commodities is reduced, prices fall; if it is increased, prices rise, other circumstances remaining the same" (Capital III, chp 9). The "assumption that the commodities of the various spheres of production are sold at their value implies, of course, only that their value is the center of gravity around which prices fluctuate, and around which their rise and fall tends to an equilibrium" (ditto). The problem Marx tackles here is that while prices correspond to values, market prices for given commodities are average prices, rather than prices set by the specific amount of labour time embodied into commodities by different capitals. If such a proposition was granted, the least efficient capitals would be the most profitable, and there would no tendency for a rising organic composition of capital etc.

Wayne adds: Marx "knew that commodity values were greatly distorted by many factors when they appeared as prices, such as the average rate of profit."

Of course, but that is not a refutation of Black Flame. It merely means there is a true price that is "distorted" in some situations. Thus, vol III: "... their value is the center of gravity around which prices fluctuate" , and around which their rise and fall tends to an equilibrium." What is the true price? Labour time is materialised in commodities as the basis of their exchange value and money-price (meaning average prices). Which is pretty much what Black Flame states, "All things being equal, and given the operation of a competitive market system that equalised prices for given commodities, the price of a commodity must correspond closely to the 'socially necessary' or average labour time used to produce it" (p. 86).

Wayne continues: “If their interpretation was correct, then why did so many Marxist economists spend so much time on the 'transformation problem' (of values into prices)?"

The fact that there is a "transformation problem" that preoccupies these economists is not a refutation of the arguments made in Black Flame. It is simply that there is supposedly a "problem" of finding a general rule to transform the "values" of commodities (based on labour according to his labour theory of value) into the "competitive prices" of the marketplace. Marx's explanation has been subject to various empirical and theoretical critiques. Hence later work by Itoh, Shaik, Cockshot etc. which tries to fix it (or defend it).
PS. I just wanted to close my responses by reiterating that I appreciate the opportunity to debate with you, and that I, too, have learned a great deal from you.

Comradely yours

Comment 4: Marx and the DOP #2 - last words
Sorry Wayne, it’s not that simple.

You have not shown any reason why Draper (or Mattick) should be taken more seriously than the views and readings on these issues of the entire mainstream tradition of Marxism. (Not to mention the views and readings of the entire mainstream tradition of anarchism on these issues).

Nor have you really addressed any of the Marx-Engels textual material Iain and I provide that refutes Draper's claims, nor refuted it.

Rather, on both counts, your position rests on argument-by-authority.

Insistence on Draper also effectively sidesteps the whole historical aspect of the issues, ignoring how Marx-Engels actually operated politically, the parties and formations they formed and/ or led, and what those show about their views. There is a history of Marxism before Leninism, that shows something rather different to what Draper claims (and in any case, the history of Marxism with Leninism is still part - the major part - of the history of Marxism, and has definite continuities with the earlier history).

Even if Draper's exegeses were correct (which they are not), this effectively means debating in a historical vacuum where the truth of what Marx-Engels meant is all a matter of interpretation, settled by quotation and exegeses, rather like debating theology.

Understanding Marx-Engels and Marxism historically means, on the contrary, that we can easily settle which interpretation is correct by the simple expedient of seeing which one corresponds to the programmes and positions of C19 (and C20) Marxist movements - not least those that Marx-Engels founded.

Thus, the Marx-Weitling class, Marx-Proudhon clash, the Communist League, Marx-Bakunin clash, the expulsion of the anarchists from the Labour and Socialist international, the debates against the Jungen in the old German SDP, also provide a rich field for settling these issues.

Anyway, I will leave matters there.


PS. So Mattick meant the DOP in the most literal sense. Good for him. That does not prove its the mainstream Marxist view, nor Marx's own view. We can find plenty of anarchists saying the exact same thing, but we don't assume this means anything about Marx's views. In 1919,. Eusebio Cardo of the Spanish CNT also stated (meaning DOP in this sense) that "We justify the dictatorship, we admire the dictatorship, we long that the dictatorship come, and we long for it," (Thorpe, Workers Themselves, p. 112). And Malatesta stated that year, too, taht if "the expression ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ to mean simply the revolutionary action of the workers in taking possession of the land and the instruments of labour,” then “the discrepancy between us would be nothing more than a question of semantics" (No Gods, No Masters, vol. 2, pp. 38-9).
Comment 5: Addendums
1. I should have added that the "Marx-Weitling class, Marx-Proudhon clash, the Communist League, Marx-Bakunin clash, the expulsion of the anarchists from the Labour and Socialist international, the debates against the Jungen in the old German SDP" all provide plenty of context for what Marx wrote and what it meant. None of these contexts show a particularly democratic or libertarian bent to Marx-Engels. Draper's bias against anarchism - which you claim is "not the topic in dispute" - is revelant precisely because because Draper, in "discussing" the "context " of Marx-Engels statements, misrepresents the context by misrepresenting the actors and issues.

2. My criticism of your position on Marx-Engels certainly does not make the mistake to which Iain refers i.e. "someone who criticized Stirner or Proudhon after reading Marx's critique of themt, without personally reading either one's actual writings." We are debating Marx-Engels, and my positions all rest on primary texts, not citations of secondary sources (like Draper), although I use a number of secondary texts as well (e.g. Gouldner). Of course Draper comes in, but how can Draper be criticised if NOT by primary materials?

3. I admit that p. 99 does not provide a direct Marx quote. My point (in citing other pages) is simply that you are incorrect to cite this as evidence of misresentation of Marx on these issues.

Comment 6: Draper right, Bakunin and everyone else wrong? Then why anarchism? And why Marxism, for that matter?
Wayne, one last note to a discussion that has tailed off.

If Draper was right, then a whole lot follows; I don't think you have fully considered the implications for anarchism itself of Draper's claims.

- IF Draper was right, and Marx's DOP merely meant the whole working class ruling, directly, then there was no need whatsoever for the emergence of anarchism in the first place. As Malatesta said, that's the sort of DOP anarchists would support.

- IF Draper was right, then all the major anarchists were either fools or liars, because they failed to understand Marxism in the days of Marx, or simply lied. What reason, then, is there why any of us should bother with such a lame and inept tradition?

- IF Draper was right, then Marx was right, and Bakunin wrong, on the central issues in the Marx/ Bakunin debate. If so, by rights, we should side with Marx. But if we side with Marx, then we side against Bakunin/ the Alliance/ the FORE / the anarchist majority in the IWMA and have no place in the anarchist tradition. What then are we doing on anarkismo?

This doesn't imply we should move to Marxism, though:

- IF Draper was right, of course, then Marxism itself is pretty much a movement of fools and liars as well. Draper's claims would render pretty much every Marxist after Marx - including notables like Kautsky, Bebel, Plekhanov, Lenin, Mao, Stalin, Castro, Ho, Machel- as fools or liars, and their movements as movements based on idiocy or ill-intent. Draper does not do Marxism any favours.

- IF Draper was right, too, then there is pretty much no Marxist tradition to speak of, because Draper's claims would render pretty much all of Marxism after Marx a monument to futility. Just as Draper's claims would make of anarchism a lame and inept tradition, it would make of Marxism another.

- IF Draper is right, then Marx himself was a monumental fool, unable to convey his basic ideas in a language understandable to men of real brilliance like Lenin. But this point, like the two that precede it, would make of Marxism (at most) a great historical failure, and of Draper's masterwork an exercise in scholastic futility for the simple reason that Marx and Marxism would evidently have very little to offer anyone. His supposed recovery of Marx would necessarily also imply the necessity of repudiating Marxism.