In that last few years there have been numerous mass demonstrations which lead to changes of government, including in Egypt and the Ukraine. During this period the United States has been a major player in attempting to destabilise democratically elected parliaments or presidents.
The recipe for destabilisation of a democratically elected government can be seen from documents regarding Venezuela and the Ukraine 1 2 3
a) Build up a narrative of general discontent based on real grievances of the population – (ironically many of these grievances are directly the result of capitalist policies).
b) Facilitate mass demonstrations using NGOs and funding of various mobilising groups to give voice to these grievances in order to delegitimise the government.
c) Use press releases and connections in the media to create a barrage of sympathetic media.
d) Use paramilitary or military connections to ensure sufficient “hard” backing to the soft power, increasing the likelihood of the current government stepping down.
e) Have a shadow government in waiting for the replacement of the current one.
AC:TM is a crowdfunded project to produce radical theatre in Ireland. If you’d like to donate, their funding page is here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/anti-capitalism-the-musical
Tell me about Anti-Capitalism – what is it and what is it intended to accomplish?
AC:TM is an acrobatic musical theatre piece – a fairytale set in a near-future political reality that is similar to our own.
It’s intended to give a particular spin on a lot of events that have been kicking around the world lately, to inspire a little lateral thinking about how we interact with power structures, and ways in which we could restructure.
Give me an outline of the plot and setting.
Without giving away too many spoilers – the play is full of plot twists and turns, assasinations and intrigue, agent provacateurs, trials, and tribulations! The world is one where the line between magic and advanced technology is indistinguishable. There’s a trimvirate of powerful Fairy Godmothers who act as a narrative voice, a Superhero Group who double as minions, and of course – the Emperor Group.
Puerta del Sol in Madrid during the 2011 Spanish protests
Podemos is a new political option in the Spanish state. For now it is not much more than an idea, and it will go for elections for the first time for the European Parliament, a contest wherein–for reasons I will discuss later–the left has certain advantages. It’s been compared to other movements in different countries, such as the Italian Five Star Movement or SYRIZA. However, these comparisons are not adequate to characterise what I will argue is a new strategic approach to organisation.
In order to understand Podemos, one must understand some facts of the spanish economic and political conjuncture, so I’ll have to describe some of the key differential factors at play.
In The Death of Tragedy (1961), George Steiner argued that tragedy was not possible in the modern world. The liberal worldview, he argued, is incompatible with tragedy, circumscribing the irrational and unjust suffering with an optimism for reform and justice. The combination of the brutal and the fickle found in Ancient Greek and Jacobean theatre became impossible for writers imbued with the sense of progress typical of post-Enlightenment thought.
Marxists, he thought, were typical of this tendency, citing Soviet Commissar for Education Anatoly Lunacharsky’s assertion that in Communism there would be no tragic drama. “The tragic theatre,” Steiner says, ” is an expression of the pre-rational phase in history; it is founded on the assumption that there are in nature and in the psyche occult, uncontrollable forces able to madden or destroy the mind.” It can be treated as an historical relic because “tragedy can occur only where reality has not been harnessed by reason and social consciousness.”
In this article I wish to write down some of my thoughts on socialist organization, more specifically on spontaneity and control within the working class and how this relates to socialist organization(s). The thinking underlying this article starts with the realization I had some time ago that no matter how much socialists claim or have claimed to truly represent or even be the working class, there is a sort of universal tendency within left-wing history to be outmanoeuvred precisely by this same working class. This socialist lack of control over the workers is an interesting starting point for some notes on the positioning of socialist organizations in relation to the ebb and flow of spontaneously erupting politics.
Is there a clear path to a better world? All too often, the route is set from a single fork in the road; the old polemical division – reform or revolution. For those who emphasise immediate reforms, we go via policy, driven by a competent and committed party, skilled at crafting reforms and winning support for them. For revolutionaries, the vehicle is a movement powerful enough to overthrow capitalism and institute a new society in its place, accompanied by a party to guide them there. For this camp, reforms are, at best, waystones in the development of a revolutionary movement; at worst, dangerous diversions that instill a false faith in the malleability of capitalism.
This statement has been drawn up by the following recently resigned members of the Socialist Party: Andrew Phelan, Megan ni Ghabhlain, Richard O’Hara, Pamela Rochford, Stephanie O’Shea and Jimmy Dignam.
Tragically, Rob Ryan passed away before this statement was completed but he played an important role in the debates that took place around the process of its writing. He repeatedly expressed agreement with the key issues contained within this statement and we feel it is vital that we acknowledge his contribution. We have included links to articles that elaborate further on some arguments made within this document as many of the topics described have been written on extensively before.
After our recent resignations it became clear to us that whilst differing on some issues there were some core reasons behind all our resignations. We hope that this document can be a contribution to the debates currently taking place around what kind of mass Party is needed to rebuild the workers’ movement and play a crucial role in overthrowing Capitalism. While not claiming to have the answer to this question we feel it is important for us to offer our criticisms not just of the Socialist Party or the Committee for a Workers International but Trotskyism4 as an ideology.
The period of transition between our current capitalist economic and social system and a socialist economy is a very controversial subject among socialists. Maintaining an active dialogue and critique of this period is absolutely critical to our strategic and tactical understanding of how to achieve a socialist society. Nothing springs from the naked void fully formed5. We need to examine the best avenues open to us for changing our current social direction into a society we would like to bring into existence.
Capitalism is like a hot ember placed on a flammable object – the fire consumes the body in patches and gulps, some areas taking longer to catch, some areas exploding with flame and some areas quickly charred and brought to heel. Yet capitalism smouldered for a long period before catching fire. An economic, social and political regime can appear to remain stagnant while an apparent marginal economic activity moves towards dominance and finally erupts. Capitalism, which was once a marginal approach to economic activity, exploded onto the scene of history with dynamic force; a force which in a few centuries almost completely eliminated feudalism. A theory of social change will have to take into account the conditions which allow new social systems to ignite. It must also recognise that societies can exist in an admixture of various different economic systems. For this reason studying the entrance of capitalism onto the political scene is deeply important. Its genesis can give us clues to its demise.
The Third Turning of the Dharma Wheel.
Movements are never uniform. Where humans meet to achieve a common purpose, more likely than not, divergences exist: on ends and means, on commitment and focus, on vision and motivation… Even the sort of movement Nechayev proposed in his mad catechism6 is composed by different tiers, and if in all other aspects it is an insane elucubration, at least in this aspect it correctly arrives at the inevitable necessity for heterogeneity.
The workers’ movement, and its scientific manifestation, Marxism, are no exception. The distinctions which bedeviled religious and political movements through the ages–Monophysites and Orthodox, Counter-remonstrants and Armenianists, Jacobins and Girondines, and so many others–have not and will not evade us on the sole basis that we constitute ourselves as a materialist movement. On the contrary, the tension between bourgeois power, as firm a hegemony as has ever existed, and the attempt to rid ourselves not of a particular oppression, but of oppression altogether, not of a particular form of class rule, but of class society altogether, inevitably results in the known dialectic of sectarianism and opportunism. Is there a synthesis that may lead us to victory?
Negation of the Negation
In classical philosophy, the dialectic was a method of interrogating truth in its full complexity. Rather than collapse questions into a stark binary resolution of propositions into true or false, we would take a more nuanced view. The Socratic dialogues by Plato popularised the idea that we could obtain a closer understanding of reality through a discursive method, exploring and teasing out meaning from reasoned discussion. The method was very flexible and allowed for the shades of complexity that were inherent to problems in philosophy.
In modern scientific disciplines, the dialectic has largely been purged, along with another principle of classical provenance, teleology. However, it has not merely been removed as a tool in investigations of the sciences, but it has also acquired such a damaged reputation that this has extended out into philosophy itself.
There’s a certain story that can be told about popular participation in government. It begins with Athens, glorious and bright, yet outnumbered and besieged by the sinister forces of oriental despotism. It continues with Rome, a mixed constitution where power was achieved through merit and the rule of law. Then, a tragic period of darkness and ignorance–add here a dash of anticatholic prejudice if desired–transitioning into several forms of revolution whereby monarchs shared power with the popular classes, shaking the yoke of aristocracy and the church. Finally, the monarchical principle is made either purely symbolic or anulled altogether, resulting in liberal democracies led through universal–at first, sadly, male–suffrage. There are two fundamental problems with this story: the first one, of course, is that it is scarcely true; the second, that it leads us to think that democratic participation is an unalterable reality, a conquest already in the past. I will attempt to make the case that, contrary to this view, democracy has not fully been attained, and, inasmuch as it has, we find ourselves at serious danger of losing much of its scope.
This is our second audio interview, this time with a young cadre from the CPC. We hope you find it as interesting as we do, and that this won’t be our last. Hopefully we will keep bringing you diverse communist voices from all over the world.
Here’s the direct link to the interview with a CPC cadre. Introductory music provided by Ton under a Creative Commons Licence.
The old collapses, the new arises
credit: Propaganda Posters of the Great War
As the First World War progressed, the Kaiserreich’s ambitions for German military domination of Europe became clearer and clearer: the fate of Europe was to become satellite states of a highly militarised Germany, a strategic goal known as Mitteleuropa.
Rather than causing the SPD leadership to recoil from their close co-operation with the government as this sober reality was unveiled, they became more rabid in their defense of Germany’s alleged historical mission.
It was in this context that Kautsky engaged in a series of polemics with socialist supporters of the burgfrieden, as the co-operation between the socialists and the government was called.
One such pamphlet is Die Vereinigten Staaten Mitteleuropas (pdf), to date untranslated into English. We present below a translation by Noa Rodman of its concluding three pages.
Since everyone is welcome aboard the train of life, don’t we all deserve a ticket?
I was walking toward the central transit hub of my town recently, when, shortly prior to passing over the railroad tracks that the train I may or may not have intended to catch would cross on its way to the train station, I noticed something strange: the pizza shop on the corner of the tracks had shut down. This in itself would not have been so unusual had I not noticed moments prior an Irish pub around the corner with a similar fate. What became of the owners? I wondered. Was the economy this poor? What of the value these places generated?, and other similar thoughts crossed my brain as I continued onward to the transit station. Continue reading