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  • Anarcho-Syndicalism versus
    Maoism Debate

    Vol. 2: On Organizing the
    Free World

    Discussion Three
    Between Punkerslut
    and Selucha

    On Maintaining the Power
    of the Workers and the People

    From WikiMedia Commons
    Image: USSR Poster, From Wikimedia Commons

    Date: June 22, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Post #01



    Punkerslut writes...

    "The Anarchists had an undefeatable front, but they were only broken when Leninist and Marxists attacked, and subjugated them."

         Doesn't sound too "undefeatable" Andy.

         Andy, much of your argument is written in absolutes; a "perfect" system, an "undefeatable" front, a "miserable" life, etc. No system is perfect, no front is undefeatable, and the capitalist systems of China and Vietnam, and the feudal system of North Korea, are much more complex than just a bunch of people living miserable lives.

    (b) By using strikes and boycotts, we are not applying violence, so this contributes significantly to social harmony — if you can make someone change, without torturing them, arresting them, is imprisoning them, then they certainly can't have many hard feelings against you (at least, they certainly will have no incentive to use violence against you)

         I could go off for hours of all the times violence has been used by reactionaries against non-violent protests and revolutions. Their incentive is the maintenance of state power; they are in control, they don't need any "incentive" other than that.

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    Date: June 23, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Post #02



    Greetings, selucha,

    "Doesn't sound too 'undefeatable' Andy.

    "Andy, much of your argument is written in absolutes; a 'perfect' system, an 'undefeatable' front, a 'miserable' life, etc. No system is perfect, no front is undefeatable, and the capitalist systems of China and Vietnam, and the feudal system of North Korea, are much more complex than just a bunch of people living miserable lives."

         If you take the members of a union, those who are active and participate, and throw them into a political party, what change have you really accomplished? There is a direct link between the individual worker and their labor union — every worker must work and eat, and labor unions have a way of better providing that to the laborers. Every day, when the laborer goes into their place of work, they find themselves surrounded by their comrades. They are working together for the Capitalist, but by unionizing and striking, they are also working towards the free, stateless, classless society.

         Compare this, instead, with the relationship of the worker to the political party. The worker receives nothing of material interest, in fact, they are drained by membership dues. They listen to a lot of boring people regurgitate the phrases of Marx. There are no mind-opening ideas, or critical thinking, or analysis. There is the one party line, and everyone else is serving the Capitalist system in some way. Effectively, the political party has formed a church with its credo. It is professing to this creed, and your chairman's interpretation of this creed, that makes up the majority of work in political parties. It's about what needs to be accepted as absolute truth, the proper methods for accomplishing this according to Marxian thinkers. In one way, they switch the secretariat with a street pamphleteer, and the next month, they switch them back. There is nothing that can compel the worker to go to these meetings, to listen to these sermons, to bow their heads and pray in what they are told they cannot understand. This is the political party, and in every way, it has worked to alienate and confuse the common workers.

         Take a political party, of maybe twenty or thirty individuals, each thoroughly dedicated to the Social Revolution, and turn them into an affinity group. It was affinity groups like this that led the 1936 resistance against a Fascist coup, [*1] or those that convinced workers to strike in France, 1968. [*2] They led massive strikes against Fascist invaders, like in the Netherlands, [*3] or led strikes against the Capitalist system, like the Seattle General Strike. [*4]

         The laborers organized into the political party are working at their own decay. But the radical unionist actually receives sustenance and life by cultivating the revolution. All morality aside, which method do you think will bring the common people to a situation where they can overthrow Capitalism and the State?

         Anarchism is a perfect philosophy, in my view, but its application doesn't create the perfect world. If it can only make people into the best that they could be, then it is certainly a philosophy worth adhering to.

         Also, workers in Korea are miserable, because if I was a worker there, I'd be tortured and executed, no doubt. Without redefining anything using hollow Marxist terminology, could you please explain to me how there is no relationship between torture, execution, and misery?

    "I could go off for hours of all the times violence has been used by reactionaries against non-violent protests and revolutions. Their incentive is the maintenance of state power; they are in control, they don't need any 'incentive' other than that."

         Let's try to break out of that Marxist/Leninist stranglehold on language for a little bit. "Reactionary" could be defined as a broad term, encompassing a lot of people. According to Lenin himself, I'm a Reactionary/Social-Liberal-Leftist Deviation (or some other nonsense). [*5]

         I do not believe that the violence committed by workers and soldiers is done out of their conviction in Capitalism. Troops from the US that slaughter their own people, like the murderous army of the Communist Party of China, do it because they believe it is for their liberty. When Hitler had organized gangs of workers to intimidate Communists, those workers genuinely felt they were serving the workers' cause. Similarly, we see the same thing with workers who followed Mussolini in strike-breaking actions. Scabs who go to work for a Capitalist that slaughters and butchers their laborers with dangerous machinery — they, too, are the common folk, the rabble, the masses, the herd, the proletariat.

         There is no advantage to those workers defending Capitalism — they will be exploited, overworked, beaten, and imprisoned. We know all too well the world they are defending, but we should understand why they are defending it. If we can convince them, through argument and logic and reason and deed, that we are right, then they won't ever leave our side. But if we have to convince them, using prisons and police and secret torture chambers, then they will never join our side. This is my aversion to violence as a means for achieving social justice: instead of bringing people to your side, it will alienate them even more.

         Consider the hypothetical Anarchist-Syndicalist world. If a monarchist or right-winger is offended by society, feels threatened, and isolated — what is going to cement their opposition to the revolution? If we outlaw them, prohibit them from speaking, and leave mass graves of them throughout their homeland? Or if we go to them, let them into our unions, and allow them to participate in their world? Clearly, the only way to bring them to our side is by being honest, open, and fair with them. There is a full opportunity for exchange of ideas, thoughts, and values, especially when neither left nor right has an armed thug threatening the other side. And in the light of Anarcho-Syndicalism, in a world where everyone has a right to work the land and reap its benefits — in this world, I could see the right-wing being offended, but I do not see them being threatened or harassed. It is not likely that being offended will lead you to being killed. Being paid to kill, or being threatened to kill, these are the two things that bring ANY human being to violence. Withdrawing this violence from society, I imagine that Revolutionary Syndicalism will grow and continue to spread. Monarchists who oppose this social order will quickly see how well their lives have improved because of the workers unions. Far from being threatened, we need to tolerate and fully accept them. And if there is a serious armed uprising, that wishes to create another dictatorship, I have full confidence in the many resisting the few. Quoting Étienne de la Boétie, in his book Slaves By Choice...

    Place on one side fifty thousand armed men, and on the other the same number; let them join in battle, one side fighting to retain its liberty, the other to take it away; to which would you, at a guess, promise victory? Which men do you think would march more gallantly to combat—those who anticipate as a reward for their suffering the maintenance of their freedom, or those who cannot expect any other prize for the blows exchanged than the enslavement of others? One side will have before its eyes the blessings of the past and the hope of similar joy in the future; their thoughts will dwell less on the comparatively brief pain of battle than on what they may have to endure forever, they, their children, and all their posterity. The other side has nothing to inspire it with courage except the weak urge of greed, which fades before danger and which can never be so keen, it seems to me, that it will not be dismayed by the least drop of blood from wounds. Consider the justly famous battles of Miltiades,4 Leonidas,5 Themistocles,6 still fresh today in recorded history and in the minds of men as if they had occurred but yesterday, battles fought in Greece for the welfare of the Greeks and as an example to the world. What power do you think gave to such a mere handful of men not the strength but the courage to withstand the attack of a fleet so vast that even the seas were burdened, and to defeat the armies of so many nations, armies so immense that their officers alone outnumbered the entire Greek force? What was it but the fact that in those glorious days this struggle represented not so much a fight of Greeks against Persians as a victory of liberty over domination, of freedom over greed?

    Andy Carloff,


    *1. "Workers Power and the Spanish Revolution," by Tom Wetzel, Aug. 2006, http://www.uncanny.net/~wetzel/spain.html.
    *2. "The Beginning of an Era," from Situationist International No 12 (September 1969). Translated by Ken Knabb, http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/beginning.html.
    *3. "De Bezetting," (3rd ed. ed.). Dr. L. de Jong, 1985, Amsterdam: Querido, pages 135-178. ISBN 9021468980.
    *4. "Strike!" by Jeremy Brecher, revised edition, published by South End Press, 1997, ISBN: 0-89608-569-4.
    *5. "Left Communism, an Infantile Disorder," by Vladimir Lenin.

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