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(en) UK, ACG: Revolutionary Defeatism: Why defeat matters more than victory... - Anton Nilson (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]
Wed, 29 Jun 2022 10:00:12 +0300
Revolutionary Defeatism is a primary principle for anarchist internationalists.
Acting locally and coordinating globally against imperialist war is the
internationalist task and responsibility of social revolutionary militants and
our class everywhere. But what does it mean? The term, coined in the first world
war in 1915, was a response to the capitulation and collapse of the Social
Democratic (Second International) movement in the face national chauvinism and
defending their own nation states, despite their pre-war commitment to class
unity and resistance. ---- Even some of the greatest revolutionaries struggled to
be truly internationalist in conflict. Some favoured conditional support for
their participants as a defencist' need to resist the greater evil' of the
other side. For the anarchist communist Kropotkin that was Prussian militarism.
For most of the German left, Slav autocratic barbarism. In much of Western Europe
(including the British Labour Party) against both, in favour of the progressive'
gains of democracy.
Internationalists recognised the global conflict remained between our class and
that of the ruling class squabbling to defend their respective capitalist
empires. Initially as tiny persecuted minorities, they were the clarion call in
The principle is once again being questioned in the current conflict between
Russia and Ukraine, and for similar reasons, sadly even by some claiming to be
revolutionary internationalists - see statements on our website and social media
by our comrades on either side of the conflict lines upholding defeatism'
despite slander, betrayal and persecution.
What makes the concept of defeatism so challenging? For some it is
misunderstanding of the nature and importance of this as an internationalist
position; for others on the left, being the liberal wing of capitalist democracy
they simply take sides, but for most it is the instinctive moral drive to tell
good from bad leaving them open to the power of state propaganda.
The horror of war projected from afar inevitably produces waves of anger,
sympathy, compassion, and a sense of helplessness which is itself exploited by
our bosses and their states to channel any possible awakening resistance into the
dead end of charity. They manipulate us into false partisan choices in favour of
one belligerent or the other. This is the true fog of war seeking to blind us
from the what should be the obvious - The bosses on both sides are our enemy as
the workers of both suffer and die awaiting our class solidarity in action.
Defeatism is not pacifism, it cannot afford to be whilst each rolling tank and
falling bomb dismembers workers. It is not, as Lenin described it, merely to
"...desire the defeat of your own' government, wish defeat, favour nothing less
than defeat" ushering in the victory of the most militarised and brutal power.
Revolutionary Defeatism is the active mobilisation of solidarity and defence of
community against its forced militarisation and co-option, and resistance to the
idea of a capitalist victory or a capitalist peace - the latter the bloody
breathing space between blows.
This includes blowing away the fog to see revolutionary defeatism in action. In
Ukraine and Russia, revolutionary comrades continue to recognise this as a
conflict on the fault lines of global capital. They continue to work together
opposing nationalist propaganda, coercion and militarisation naming the conflict
for what it is, an attack on our class.
Here we must hammer this message home, not just opposing the war but taking up
our own class struggles, enthusiastically refusing social peace and linking them
in solidarity with our comrades in the global resistance. Strikes are happening
everywhere - soon will follow the accusations of the enemy within' and traitors.
Let them be right! Class war IS the peace movement, the war against all wars.
There is no other non-binary solution, defeatism demands a single outcome, war or
revolution! Our choice is unambivalently clear!
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