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(en) Italy, MARXISM AND ANARCHISM - Anarchist Communist (FdCA)* Criticism of "Real Socialism" II. (2/2)

Date Fri, 05 Aug 2005 08:12:04 +0300


Anarchist Communist ideas survives
If the Spanish Civil War seemed to have sounded the death
knell for Anarchist Communism, the Second World War
appeared to bury it for good. Revolution and Communism were
not seen to arrive by means of the struggles of the partisans
(whose ranks thronged with Anarchists from all countries) but
at bayonet point, imposed by the Red Army. Instead, the
communist regimes set up in the areas under Soviet influence
were in reality degenerate forms of State Socialism which in
many cases swamped the positive experiences that the
proletariat in some countries had developed. Indeed, Stalinism
was responsible for eliminating some of the most able and
autonomous leaders and militants, and was accomplice to the
wiping out of many class-struggle movements in areas which
were outside its direct control. The installation of socialism in
many European countries was therefore part of the expansion
of Russian imperialism which did not hesitate to make use of a
policy of annexation in the Baltic, Balkan and Asiatic areas.
The "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" had inherited the
imperialist policy of Catherine II and Peter the Great to the
cost of the peoples, the ethnic groups and the nationalities of
Europe and Asia.

The operation was carried out under the ideological cover of
internationalism whose true meaning was distorted into aiding
and guaranteeing the power of the Russian Bolshevik party
over the international Communist movement.

But Anarchism had warned of the dangers of pan-Russian
ideology and Russian imperialism, using the Slavic question as
the level of debate, and had come up with concrete proposals.
Bakunin had studied the Slavic question deeply and with a
re-working of the concept of federalism, had laid the basis for
an original vision of the State tending towards its progressive
negation and eventual dissolution. The Anarchist proposal
could have actually been achieved through a radical change of
ownership of the means of production, which would have
passed to direct management by the producers (economic
self-management) and through a new system of political
participation. The basic points of this new institutional
framework were:

1. the creation of elected soviets in the workplaces and
neighbourhoods;
2. the ever-present possibility of recalling the mandate of
delegates by those who delegated them;
3. the establishment of organisms of delegated democracy for
higher levels of representation up to the point of structures
meeting the needs for the management of ethnic, linguistic
and cultural matters;
4. the "cement" for this "society of autonomies" was the
common vision of the liberation of man from capitalist
exploitation and need, and of internationalism understood as
the overcoming of the enmity between nations fomented by
capitalism. The federalist structure was in order to avoid the
ever-present possibility of the domination of one ethnic group,
people or nationality by another. This collective participation in
social life would be held together by political pluralism and
therefore the continuation of political and party associations
and of organizational pluralism in the field of labour,
conditional on acceptance of the institutional structure that
society had given itself, thanks to the revolutionary break with
the domination of capital. In this delicate phase, where society
as a whole is moving towards communism and towards the
"new humanity", the Anarchist Communist organization
would have the delicate task of guaranteeing the development
of the revolutionary process, safeguarding and strengthening
the institutions created by the proletarian revolution, keeping
alive the dialectic tension between the domination of capital
(always lying in wait to rise up once more) and the attempt by
the workforce to build a communist society. It was not (and
Anarchist Communists were well aware of the fact) a linear
process or one without obstacles. But the proposed strategy
was the only one by which communism could have been
achieved in liberty, beginning by building an alternative to
capitalism which would not be reduced into the more of
Stalinism or Social Democracy.





Crisis and restructuring in the Russian empire

For several months now, the crisis in the USSR's satellites in
Europe have been occupying all the papers, in a stream of
anti-communist propaganda of an intensity never before seen.
What is taking place could be used to discredit any type of
communism and presents the long sought-after opportunity to
eliminate any opposition to capitalism. However, not much is
being said about those (and there have always been those) who
say that there has never been much communism about those
regimes that are now collapsing.

But beyond the repercussions of this propaganda (important as
they are), on an ideological level the crisis of these regimes
introduces a situation of instability into Europe which merits
careful attention by the very people, like us, who care about the
class struggle and the problems of peace.

In analysing the new situation, we Anarchist Communists can
hold our heads high, having unceasingly and from the very
start criticized the "real socialism" of those countries, starting
with the Leninist solution to the problem of the transition to
socialism. Today, our criticism finds its confirmation in
history, criticism which was paid for with the blood of so many
Anarchist Communist comrades during the Russian
Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, in Bulgaria, Germany, Italy
and every country where Anarchists were active in the class
struggle. But it is poor consolation, as there can be no doubt
that our struggle is all the more difficult now thanks to the
mud thrown at the idea of communism itself, to the mistrust
sown among the people, for the consciousness which now
pervades the masses who are driven to think of the
"Communism" that existed but is now defeated and the
Anarchist Communism that we promote as one and the same
thing. It may require a generation before what has happened
can be objectively analysed, before the causes of what has
happened and the need to continue the struggle for
communism can be understood.

But the events of these past months also offer another
important lesson: nothing remains the same and things can
change in a short space of time if they are supported by a
desire for structural change and if there is mass support. It is
during phases of crisis in accumulation that a transformation
of social and productive relationships can be sparked off and
today we are going through a particularly intense crisis. It is a
crisis which effects not only the Soviet empire, certainly a
spectacular crisis, but also an equally profound, though still
partially obscured, crisis of the American empire. A battle is in
progress, with no holds barred, where Japan and Western
Europe are bent on conquering increasing proportions of the
market and the centre of gravity of the planet's history is
revolving once more around Europe after many years.

In this situation it is the task of the most conscious elements
(the vanguard) to work towards developing the consciousness
of increasing sectors of the workers of their strategic
objectives, by adapting their political strategy according to the
changing situation, by stimulating an updating of their theory
together with the evolution of the economic structure and
technological innovation which, above all in the field of
communications, has overturned the old rules. And one
essential tool to achieve this is analysis. The notes which
follow are therefore aimed at contributing to this.



Yalta and the balance of powers

At the end of the Second World War, the division of Europe
into spheres of influence satisfied the appetites of the warring
powers while at the same time putting an end to a situation of
perennial instability in Central Europe. Geographical isolation,
linguistic differences even to the point of the impossibility of
communication, religious differences, different traditions,
elements which in other parts of the continent had been the
basis for the construction of national identities and the
definition of borders were absent in Central Europe on
produced only vague borders. Hence the indeterminate nature
of frontiers which allowed Hitler to dream of a Greater
Germany and to find no shortage of allies among the fragile
monarchies and little tyrants who ruled in the countries of the
Balkans and along the Danube. Yalta replaced German control
with the hegemony of Russia, accepted by the Americans and
strongly desired by the British (and later by the French) as an
anti-German device. Borders became strong and well-defined,
cemented by the ideology of Stalinist Communism and
supported in some cases by popular enthusiasm. The reasons
for this consensus, which was certainly limited to some areas
only but was nonetheless vast and deeply felt in its earliest
phase, are to be found in the existence in these countries of
strong, well-established left-wing parties and labour unions
whose upper echelons were used by Stalin during the years of
the Cominform dictatorship, at least as far as the Marxists
were concerned (it is significant to note the massacre of
members and leaders of the Polish communist party). Stalin
had already seen to the elimination of the leaders of the other
political organizations as the Red Army advanced (a clear
example being the liquidation of the Bulgarian Anarchist
Communist movement, an event which has been ignored in
every historical reconstruction).

The history of the role of COMINFORM in Eastern Europe
and the persecution of leftist opposition in those countries
needs to be completely re-written if we are to understand the
reasons for the early popular support, which is only partly
explainable by the anti-Nazi struggle and liberation at the
hands of the Red Army, or to understand why this popular
support gradually diminished, and not through an entirely
painless process at that.

We would do well to remind those who have forgotten about
the disturbances in Berlin in 1953 which were inspired by left
communism, the Hungarian and Polish revolutions in 1956
which, alongside the minority pro-Western elements, were
largely the result of the workers' councils, and a similar
movement in Poland against in 1970. These experiences
ended in bloody repression, a limit certainly not desired by
those who had promoted them. However, the ways in which
the repression was carried out provided greater space for
right-wing forces, to the point that there spread throughout the
masses a mistrust in the notion that there could be an
evolution from Moscow's brand of "communism". The
so-called Communist governments were increasingly seen as
occupation regimes and existed under the shadow of their big
brother, whenever they did not turn into personal dictatorships,
as in Romania. In fact, it was this very character of regime that
prevented the internal dialectics necessary for any sort of
change from within, resulting in the stagnation of the party and
its members. Where conditions did, instead, permit it, as in
Czechoslovakia in 1968, the rigidity of the system built by
Stalin imposed the armed repression of a vital communist party
which had mass support, resulting in the party's credibility
being irreparably damaged. It wasn't long before the
leaderships of the Eastern European countries (like that in the
USSR, and in some cases even more so) found themselves
beset with difficulties relating to the question of their
succession, understandable given the extreme difficulty in
selecting new members of the leading class.



The Polish crisis and the domino theory

In 1978 a new element arrived onto the international scene
which was already feeling the strain of a profound phase of
restructuring of the productive relationships and of division of
the markets on a worldwide scale.

The election of a Polish pope suddenly shifted the balance of
power. This man, inspired by the same political vision as
Gregory VII and supported by Catholic finance through often
murky dealings (an example being the IOR-Calvi affair), has
acted boldly on all fronts and his policies aspire at a restoration
of the temporal power of the Catholic Church. He has thus
supported the right-wing elements fighting against the regime
in his own country, not only in an attempt to change the
situation in Poland but also as a way of sparking off instability
throughout Central Europe. To do this, it was necessary to
create a system of alliances which could bring about war
within the Russian empire. And to do this, he has gradually
transformed ecumenical dialogue into a political alliance of an
anti-Russian nature. And in order to achieve this goal, he has
even established an entente cordiale with every other force on
the sole condition that they be anti-communist (see for
example the exchange of messages with Khomeini,
characterized by the common struggle of Islam and
Christianity against atheist Marxism).

While the Roman Catholics within Solidarity carried on the
battle in Poland and Lithuania, the Lutheran Church has taken
on the task of being a point of reference for the opposition in
the German Democratic Republic, Estonia and Latvia, and
among that vast minority of Germans spread throughout the
plains of the Danube. The area of Eastern Europe and the
USSR has been subjected to a concentric attack.

Thus, when events came to a crisis in Poland, we witnessed
the effects of the so-called domino theory advanced by
Kissinger in the Vietnam War, whereby if one country falls, all
the others in the area would inevitably follow.

In any event, the situation on a structural level lent itself
perfectly to this operation. If one examines the data on the
performance of the economies in the countries in the area, the
crisis in the planned economy is perfectly evident, as is the
growth in the cost of the apparatus necessary to sustain
consensus in ratio to the available resources. There has been
no change of a structural nature in the countries of Eastern
Europe, though it might be appropriate to deal separately with
the productive structure in the GDR and perhaps also in
Hungary. The failure of COMECON and the inability to
achieve an integration of the productive systems in the
associated countries was caused by the hegemony and greed of
the USSR in assigning sectors of development and of the
division of labour, and by the very structure of COMECON,
which did not allow for the sort of effective economic and
monetary integration that would have ensured equal status
with the USSR. It was therefore inevitable that there would be
recourse to foreign debt and to each single country entering the
international market. This introduced into the area the
dictatorship of the World Bank and was responsible for the
inflation which was necessary to pay off foreign debt. This led
to the structural causes of the frightening economic crisis
which has hit Eastern Europe. Back in 1980, the Soviet
economy had begun to react to the crisis through increased
concentration, creating a series of "groups" of businesses,
effect oligopolies which, by reason of their size and their
structural characteristics, had an interest in changing the
economic system and in the introduction of the market.

However, the objective causes to which we have referred are
not sufficient to explain the speed of the changes, whose
reasons should also be sought in the strategic project that lies
behind the policies of Gorbachev and the political class to
which he belongs, made up of the new managers, the most
important directors of the State oligopolies, many of whom
come from the ranks of the army. This class is supported by a
middle class made up of intellectuals, highly professionalized
workers and technicians with a high level of education.



Gorbachev's difficulties

At the time of his rise to power, Gorbachev inherited a
situation which had greatly deteriorated.

The morass of the Afghan war was devouring resources,
accentuating the reasons for the crisis in the republics along
the border whose populations are of Muslim religion and
tradition. The winds of Islam, fanned by Khomeini, have
blown all the way into the Russia and have been feeding the
expectations of ethnic groups undergoing demographic growth
and who are eager to have a greater say within the country or
at any event to gain autonomy from the ruling classes, made
up for the most part of European Russians. This has given rise
to the rebirth of centuries-old ethnic rivalries such as the clash
between the Georgians and Armenians, each with their own
strong traditions and a deep national consciousness.

This situation can be contrasted (though the demands are
similar) with the desire for autonomy felt in the Baltic area
which has seen notable economic development. In fact, many
of the oligopolies we spoke about are based in this area, and
the computerization of the productive system here is also
notable. This has facilitated communications (think, for
example, of the members of the National Fronts who
communicate by means of the computers in the companies
where they work!), an exchange which has enabled the rigid
incommunicability imposed under the planned system, to be
overcome and which gives hope to the possibility that these
republics, once they become even partially autonomous from
Moscow, can join the Scandinavian area of production where
they would undoubtedly be able to integrate. National, ethnic,
linguistic, historical and religious reasons have seen to the rest.

This instability extended to the Slavic area, with similar
problems arising in republics which are part of the USSR and
are important both strategically and economically, such as
Ukraine, to whom the reborn autonomy of Eastern European
states is undeniably attractive. The borders between the states
in these regions have always been uncertain. Pan-German
claims over the Danube area and the Baltic have caused in the
past and still continue to cause worry, as have Polish claims on
Lithuania and Ukraine, Hungarian claims on Transylvania and
Romania's interest in Moldavia. Equally intense are the various
claims and counterclaims in other parts of the region, not least
in Yugoslavia, which is in danger of falling apart.

There is, in effect, a real risk that the demands of neighbouring
countries are tending towards the restoration of the borders
preceding World War II, thereby introducing in the region an
instability which would have negative implications throughout
the continent to the point that it could once again be the cause
of armed conflict (not forgetting that unrest in this area
sparked off two world wars!).



The reasons for a strategic choice

Awareness of the crisis affecting it in the Soviet Union today is
of a clarity rarely seen among the leadership in Moscow. And
they are equally aware of the crisis hitting the United States.
Hence the successful policy of disarmament and
disengagement which has brought about a definite shift in the
role of these global superpowers. There are thus certain areas
which are not covered, in which there is a great risk of
instability with the possibility that other powers will move in.
Both the USSR and the USA are worried about the growing
economic power of Japan and Europe. It is commonly felt that
1992 will see the start in Europe of a solid process of
integration that the USA has always (but vainly) tried to
obstruct through the policies of the United Kingdom, which
has paid for this attempt with an irreversible de facto
integration of the EEC and a reduction of its role as a military
and economic power.

For the USSR, the choice has been whether to take an
antagonistic position towards the countries of the European
Community or to build a partnership with them on the basis of
common interests. It is well known that the USSR needs the
technological innovation that Europe can easily provide. And it
can offer unlimited raw materials, an enormous potential
market and a qualified workforce which can quickly adapt to
the new technology. In fact, the USSR has the highest number
of engineers, mathematicians and scientists of any country in
the world. Some sort of union is therefore possible, provided
any potential causes of conflict are eliminated and the political
unity of the European agglomeration is weakened, leaving a
more markedly economic union.

To do this, Gorbachev, having noted the crisis affecting the
countries of Eastern Europe, is trying to face the problem with
the cooperation of these countries, if only because to do
otherwise would mean losing them altogether. The fall of the
East German regime was therefore welcomed and if they want
to talk about German reunification then so be it - that way
West Germany will be less concerned with the political
integration of the EEC as it will be focusing on reunification.
Apart from ensuring the unity of the German people,
reunification has the added bonus of creating an internal
market of 80 million consumers and bringing together the
productive capacity of the world's fourth and tenth biggest
economies. Once an injection of West German capital has
bailed out and re-launched the economy of the other Germany,
who knows what will happen to the German populations lying
outside the borders of the two states? And what interest will
Germany still have in European political unity?

Here then are the first positive reactions. Poland is continuing
with its attempts to re-introduce the market while still
swearing loyalty to the Warsaw Pact. Neither will it be long
before Czechoslovakia does likewise, unwilling as it is to repeat
the experience of the Sudeten Germans. Hungary is more
liberal, but even here there are German sections of the
population and a Greater Germany would hamper
collaboration with the Austrian area and the Danube, which
Hungary views as vital (see for example the recent political and
commercial agreement between Hungary, Austria, Italy and
Yugoslavia). Then there are the Baltic republics who will have
to keep in mind the loving attention they were lavished with by
Germany during the twenty years which preceded the Second
World War.

So, is it not better to stimulate change in Bulgaria before it
occurs spontaneously? Or promote change in Romania by
forcing the international Masonic clique to abandon
Ceaucescu, who is no longer even useful to the West as an
opponent of Soviet policy within the communist countries?
And it is better for this change to occur before an opposition
class can be formed there and before this opposition produces
the political class that will decide the changes, as has
happened in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

If this is Gorbachev's general policy (and it is), then it matters
little if such-and-such a leader of the old regime was a thief
(are our own Christian Democrat or Socialist rulers any less
so?) or if they had collections of pornographic films or splendid
villas. It matters little if General So-and-So is or was friendly
with the Russians, or if some party official or factory manger
studied in Moscow in such-and-such a period. It would be like
saying that anyone who studied at Oxbridge or Ivy League
colleges is part of a political plot among Western countries,
given that anyone in Eastern Europe who wanted access to the
very highest levels of education inevitably went to Moscow.
Our attention needs to be focused on the general political
project.



Restructuring in the East

The USSR is today offering the countries of the EEC the
internal Soviet market - 250 million potential consumers to
which we can add the 100 million in Eastern Europe. But for
investments and the markets to be secure, the Central
European area requires political stability which can only be
guaranteed by the re-confirmation of the USSR's hegemony.
The first significant evidence of the validity of this statement is
the request by the West that the USSR intervene in Romania
and the role that the USSR has played there in enabling the fall
of Ceaucescu and set about the work of restructuring to bring it
back into a politically homogenous area. The USSR thus
achieves the first result of seeing its role in Eastern Europe
recognized by its long-time rivals and, more importantly, it
gains the chance to provide structural support in the future of
its dominant role in the area.

But in order for the restructuring which has begun to have a
real chance of success, it is necessary to correlate the
economies of the USSR and the Eastern European countries to
the Western economy and to do this, Gorbachev will be forced
to put an end to the anomaly that is (what remains of)
post-revolutionary Russia. Thus, he has definitively liquidated
the Leninist "third way" and Russia is returning to the Social
Democratic family from which, if the truth be told, it had never
really strayed to far.

While in politics there is a return to parliamentarianism and
the rule of law, the huge oligopolies which developed under the
GOSPLAN are importing not only technology but also systems
for company and labour organization so that they can make
Soviet production costs competitive on the market. Significant
accords in this respect have been made (including some during
Gorbachev's visit to Italy) and concern all sectors, from heavy
industry to infrastructure. Alongside these groups which
represent both the present and the future of the USSR's
economy, there are attempts to stimulate private initiative in
order to develop the service sector, to use technological
research on the market through the of goods for large-scale
consumption. This dual path is being reproduced in agriculture
too, where alongside investment in huge areas also in
collaboration with certain multinationals of the sector (see, for
example, the agreement with FerruziMontedison), the
resurgence of medium-sized farms and the creation of
cooperatives are also being encouraged.

This choice undoubtedly represents a victory for the capitalist
mode of production and marks a return to the form of labour
organization and the values that the proletariat of the world
have always fought. So, apart from the great disappointment
felt by those who had thought of the USSR as the home of real
socialism, there is now also an objective strengthening of the
control of multinationals on a global scale.

It is necessary, however, to examine carefully the possible
scenarios that could arise on an international level as a result of
this situation.

It seems clear that the main beneficiaries of this policy will be
the EEC countries. In particular, the Federal Republic of
Germany is destined to see an increase in its GDP by 1995,
reaching the levels of France and the UK. The greater part of
its investment will no doubt be directed at the GDR's
infrastructure and productive apparatus, in an effort to
strengthen economic ties between the two countries and create
a de facto reunification. Western countries in general will be
focused on the Eastern bloc's debt repayments in order to
create trustworthy consumers. In the Pacific area and on the
world's chess board, the clash between the USA and Japan is
destined to become worse and there ban be no doubt but that
poor countries will fall further into debt and will also see less
investment from OECD countries whose attention will be
focused on introducing capital into Central Europe.

The labour movement and the workers of Western Europe
may be able to create struggles aimed at bettering their living
and working conditions in view of the probable growth in the
economy, but at al strategic level, their action will naturally be
affected by the mistrust sown by the failure of Leninism. And
by no means can it be discounted that international capitalism
will not take advantage even more so than before to strangle
any form of organized opposition. Even the Social Democratic
parties will be forced into policies which are more compatible
with the system.



The role of Anarchist Communists

While it is certainly important for class-struggle militants to
understand what is happening, it is even more important to
devise a strategy for what Anarchist Communists can do. The
analysis we make and the discussion of this analysis with other
militants on the left helps us to clarify things further, to get rid
of the Bolshevik myth and any Leninist residuals. We need to
lay the basis for a wide-ranging theoretical debate in order to
establish an organizational project that has as its basis a
common analysis of the situation of those many comrades who
up to now have been under the influence of the Leninist myth.

We need to continue to carry out our work within the mass
organizations and among the workers in our workplaces. We
must make efforts to give our action a strategic dimension and
range, elaborating concrete, alternative political lines to
demonstrate the continuing validity and feasibility of our
political alternative.

We need to develop our theoretical analysis, updating our
elaborations above all in relation to the management of the
future society and the "transitional phase", and organization of
the economy and production. One thing we have learnt from
history is that there is no possibility of change if we do not
provide solutions to people's needs. History teaches us, in fact,
that it is when the crisis is at its worst and the solution to the
problems is uncertain, that the reaction is able to insert itself
and impose itself.

We need to support our comrades in Eastern Europe so that
they can re-build the historical memory which has been wiped
out after years of falsification and re-writing of history on the
part of the Leninist counter-revolution. On our part, we must
intensify our work within the class struggle and make efforts to
give our action of opposition to capitalism and the
multinationals a strategic basis so that we can assist the
struggles of our comrades in the East and in the West, linking
them to the struggles of those in the third world and elsewhere
- anywhere where people fight for a society that is free from the
exploitation of man by other men.

========================================

* (First published by the FdCA (Italian Federation of Communist
Ananarchists) in "Quaderni per la lotta di classe", n°3, CP,
Lucca 1991)

Note: The following document is currently under consideration
for inclusion as a document of Basic Strategy

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