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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #243 - About the book Olivier Besancenot and Michael Löwy: Libertarian Communists vs. Communist authoritarian (fr, pt) [machine translation]

Date Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:39:02 +0200

In a small recent book, Revolutionary Affinity. Our red and black stars, Olivier Besancenot and Michael Löwy revive an all-out debate with libertarians. The stakes are high internally by the NPA and the unitary construction of a wider anti-capitalist force. Here is a first response point means some contradictions or silences a book that will, hopefully, advance "solidarity between Marxists and anarchists." ---- Who knows a bit Olivier Besancenot, not dogmatic activist before the media asset LCR knows his sincere interest in the history of the libertarian movement. Open by this little book that touches debate thousand subjects must be taken seriously even if its construction makes it difficult for him to get to the bottom of things. We will here the opposite choice: focus our review on some limited points.

Approximations and confusions

The book addresses historical or political questions with a fruitful caution easier for the possibility of debate and joint action. Each episode of the past, each biography mentioned deserves debate. But note that the reflections on the individual, federalism, self-management are often close to the visions that our organization (then UTCL) was carried by editing a draft libertarian communist society in 1988.

Serious lack of characterization of the different currents of Marxism and from different currents of anarchism from the authors distribute good and critical points "anarchists" or "Marxist" a bit like it suits rarely specifying which stream the Anarchism is concerned, failing to make clear that the current is that of Olivier Besancenot is a minority within the international Trotskyist current itself a minority within the Marxist tradition.

Our authors and fall into the libertarian ranks pell-mell individualistic and anarcho-syndicalists, revolutionary syndicalists and autonomous movements... Activists who between them have many theoretical and practical differences with a Maoist Communist refounder a Pabloist with Lambertist! Finally cut a caricature between Marxists and anarchists can not understand how the current libertarian communists claim them as their basic Marxism.

The issue of elections

So the election issue. The authors extol the virtues of participation in the electoral game then bombard: "Of course, none of these practices is not acceptable by the libertarian principle of abstention... this is not realistic", though they themselves remember that In 1936 the Spanish CNT called for a vote for the candidate of the Popular Front. But they "forget" that the FCL attempted a legislative campaign (calamitous incidentally) in France in 1956.

Many of the libertarian communist leaders have denounced the current parliamentarist cretinism cretinism and abstainer, especially on the occasion of the referendum. Alternative libertarian and participated in the campaign for the single "No" to the Constitutional Treaty in 2005.

To put all the "anarchists" in the same bag the authors forget that the LCR called for a boycott of parliamentary elections in 1968, contributing to the overwhelming victory of the Gaullist... But the real problem lies elsewhere. And it is not so much the "dangers of electioneering" and individual elected officials who drifts us away from the electoral field, but first the time-consuming aspects of election campaigns which in effect "helps to separate us in action everyday politics " when the NPA comrades reject our proposals after the election...

And then systematically participate in the circus "Vote for me and my promises" of fact and credibility to strengthen bourgeois institutions and the heist representative; strengthens the political passivity of the masses called to entrust their future to "the professional politicians."

Otherwise the election grows tendentiously presentation deriving from "the forum of" to the frantic search for alliances (even succumbs LO!) To get elected, alliances in which a revolutionary organization was quick to waste time his soul... and some of its activists.

The Manifesto of AL elections made a tactical issue to be addressed case by case. Thereby avoid dogmatism failing to save difficult debates. For between 2% systematic presentation and accompanying a motion background rooted in a territory, the question arises already otherwise. Frankly, that debate divides AL recursively. To date, recognize that AL activists who tried experiments in municipal (Montreuil, Toulouse, Noisy-le-Sec...) draw a lukewarm review. In contrast the presence of "autonomous" militants on the list "left" elected Tarnac is an experiment to monitor.

Avoid the hard questions?

While not forgetting to point out the origins of the differences between the state libertarian communists and communist authoritarian within the First International, is finally on this crucial issue, however that the book is weakest and quiet with two problems Related: should destroy the state or to seize for an indefinite period of transition; and which organization should I build next to the goal that we remember? We know that Lenin in What to do at the beginning of the twentieth century drew to a Marx ultra-authoritarian version that frightened Rosa Luxemburg and Leon Trotsky (what the authors fail to remember).

To summarize: to seize a state (always remember the phrase of Engels: "Ultimately, the state is a band of armed men" ), to seize and therefore turn to put at the service of the dictatorship of the proletariat, we need a more disciplined party, more militarized than is the state itself under threat of further failures. This is the balance sheet effect that Lenin takes the Commune or populist attacks against the tsar. But also the balance of a social democracy in Europe mired in a class collaboration announcing the bloody betrayals to come. An army of permanent funded in part by the gangsterism of professional revolutionaries able to educate and direct uneducated masses, "spontaneously reformist" Lenin said.

This Bolshevik mold terribly effective and deadly, is the common mold of Stalinist Trotskyists, Maoists, of Guevara and post-Stalinist. It paves the way substitutionism and bureaucratization. As then denounced Trotsky himself, he prepares a relentless drift: the dictatorship of the proletariat on the company becoming party dictatorship over the proletariat and the dictatorship of the party leadership on its own militants...

It is worth recalling here that Trotsky join the Bolshevik Party that during the summer of 1917. This late rally after years of polemics against Lenin cost him dear in Russia, as in all sections of the Third International at the time of face Stalin. In an attempt to erase the late rapprochement, Trotskyists also eager to be baptized "Bolshevik-Leninist". And they will forget for a long time warnings of the "Old" at dawn red years taking shape as the "true" heirs of Lenin.

The main international Trotskyist currents continue to implement the recommendations of Lenin. In the ancestor of French POI, the OIC of the great years 1970-1980, the secretary cell was not elected by the members but appointed by the Central Committee. Number of reviews are still called What to do. The closest international centralism still applies, causing the explosion organizations regularly when the chief decreed a political turn... or die!

Basing the Fourth International just before his assassination, Trotsky stated that the crisis of humanity boils down to a crisis of revolutionary leadership while the objective conditions for a successful world revolution are met long ago. Certainly, the LCR has long questioned on these issues and answer thought institutionalizing operating trends, inventing a detestable Trotskyist parliamentarism.

Olivier Besancenot consider beautiful formula on the "crisis management" obsolete, it is clear that it is unlikely that explains the war trends that undermined the LCR and that is transposed as such in making the NPA stuffy and grotesque inner life.

Because the mold is intact claiming that the revolution depends first party (and ultimately its direction). While we consider the need for libertarian communists to organize seriously but so far we think it is for people to do (or not...) revolution that is to say, not to take but to destroy the State and federally required weaving between communities living and working links.

We strive to suddenly build an organization in the image of the future society, self and federalist, where the Marxist-Leninist continue building a forged steel in the party or in the case of an NPA collection of fractions of steel.

So, using the formula of Olivier Besancenot, it does not seem enough to take a "libertarian bath" to Marxism. We recognize a real literary proximity since it opened experiences "self-management" in Yugoslavia in the 1950s Trotskyist current, a current which in the 1970s theorized a joint dictatorship of the proletariat / self. But on many topics in the book, the libertarian bath is not enough to wash the original spots.

And it will be many detergents for the NPA, admitting that its majority wants, break the mold, it is the product. The account lukewarm review of the book in the Journal of NPA leaves about it thoughtfully.

A debate with that?

If the book has the merit of making more widely known in France American anarchist Murray Bookchin also became the inspiration for Ocalan (leader jailed Kurdish PKK), a question remains: Does the book really for goal of opening the debate with libertarians, or first well was there an internal function to the NPA?

How to understand that the book evokes the international gathering of libertarians around TIA (totally small-group) when he mentions neither the IFA (International which is the current FA member) or Anarkismo (including current AL involved)? How to interpret the lack of critical targeted towards a particular organization? And what would the score part of Kronstadt, rather interesting, if it was subject to a congress of the NPA?

The research displayed a "libertarian Marxism" is enticing but the risk is great and fade and Marxism and anarchism. A bit like the vain attempts Freudian-Marxist ended in a stalemate by trimming the claws of psychoanalysis and those of Marxism in favor of a slurry forgotten today. The approach proposed by Guerin [1] seems otherwise successful: keep the best traditions of the two currents in a healthy and creative confrontation.

These issues will be discussed already scheduled between AL and the NPA. Therefore too early for a conclusion. However, in practical terms, we are still waiting for a clear and concrete positive response to our proposed "anti-capitalist fronts," open to all revolutionary organizations, where everyone keep his identity but which all together would strike proposal.

Jean-Yves (AL 93)


Olivier Besancenot and Michael Löwy sociologist recently co-authoring a book which bears the subtitle: For a solidarity between Marxists and libertarians. The project can not fail to interest the members and supporters of Alternative libertarian whose founding manifesto says the project to build a new trend of convergence between libertarian and revolutionary Marxists.

So it is close to that of Alternative libertarian project, but from activists from the Trotskyist current, we propose the two authors. They begin to do this by revisiting the classic moments in the history of the labor movement with emphasis on the convergence of views between anarchists and Marxists: The Story of the First International, the origin of May 1, the Charter of Amiens, Spanish Revolution, May 68 and the anti-globalization movement. The authors emphasize the fact that these episodes could not have the historical weight that they have been without the convergence of libertarian and Marxist militants.

The book continues with a series of portraits of historical militants could embody their practice by this proximity between aspirations for a libertarian spontaneity and a commitment to the class struggle: Pierre Monatte Rosa Luxemburg, Emma Goldman, Buenaventura Durruti Subcomandante Marcos.

Among this series of portraits, both are subject to a more personal treatment puisqu'Olivier Besancenot writes a letter to Louise and Michael Löwy supports the text dedicated to Benjamin Peret on the personal recollections of his meeting with the poet. We could probably play the game historiographical disputes between Marxists and libertarians in this report, but I deliberately refrain because it would actually hurt to go about dealing with a book that aims to bring Marxist and libertarians.

Especially that despite their willingness to ecumenism authors do not ignore the bones of contention between libertarian and Marxist Trotskyist persuasion: the 1917 October Revolution, the uprising in Kronstadt, Makhno's epic... The attitude of the Leninists in Kronstadt is well qualified, despite some nuances of "error and misconduct".

These historical developments are terminated by a second series of portraits dedicated to intellectuals who could also be included in the pantheon of libertarian Marxist authors: Walter Benjamin, André Breton and Daniel Guerin.

The last part of the book is devoted to a series of thematic to the most current issues: individual and collective, without revolution or takeover, direct democracy and representative democracy, federalism and autonomy, planning and self-management, unions and party, ecology. Two points may probably continue to fuel tensions particularly between open and Marxist libertarian tradition: that of the political struggles led and therefore the participation in elections.

Irene (friend of AL)

[1] Daniel Guérin does not belong to anyone. But as the authors do not mention it, still remember after a complicated course he campaigned in UTCL until his death.
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