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What is vanguardism and why do anarchists reject it?

News ArchiveSubmitted by Reverend Chuck0:

H.8 What is vanguardism and why do anarchists reject it?



Many socialists follow the ideas of Lenin and, in particular, his ideas on vanguard parties. These ideas were expounded by Lenin in his (in)famous work, What is
to be Done?, which is considered as one of the important books in the development of Bolshevism.

The core of these ideas is the concept of "vanguardism," or the "vanguard party." According to this perspective, socialists need to organise together in a party,
based on the principles of "democratic centralism," which aims to gain a decisive influence in the class struggle. The ultimate aim of such a party is revolution and
its seizure of power. Its short term aim is to gather into it all "class conscious" workers into a "efficient" and "effective" party, alongside members of other classes
who consider themselves as revolutionary Marxists. The party would be strictly centralised, with all members expected to submit to party decisions, speak in
one voice and act in one way. Without this "vanguard," injecting its politics into the working class (who, it is argued, can only reach trade union consciousness
by its own efforts), a revolution is impossible.

Lenin laid the foundation of this kind of party in his book What is to be Done? and the vision of the "vanguard" party was explicitly formalised in the
Communist International. As Lenin put it, "Bolshevism has created the ideological and tactical foundations of a Third International . . . Bolshevism can serve as a
model of tactics for all." [Collected Works, vol. 28, p. 292-3] Using the Russian Communist Party as its model, Bolshevik ideas on party organisation were
raised as a model for revolutionaries across the world. Since then, the various followers of Leninism and its offshoots like Trotskyism have organised
themselves in this manner (with varying success).

The wisdom of applying an organisational model that had been developed in the semi-feudal conditions of Tsarist Russia to every country, regardless of its level
of development, has been questioned by anarchists from the start. After all, could it not be wiser to build upon the revolutionary tendencies which had
developed in specific countries rather than import a new model which had been created for, and shaped by, radically different social, political and economic
conditions? The wisdom of applying the vanguard model is not questioned on these (essentially materialist) points by those who subscribe to it. While
revolutionary workers in the advanced capitalist nations subscribed to anarchist and syndicalist ideas, this tradition is rejected in favour of one developed by, in
the main, bourgeois intellectuals in a nation which was still primarily feudal and absolutist. The lessons learned from years of struggle in actual capitalist societies
were simply rejected in favour of those from a party operating under Tsarism. While most supporters of vanguardism will admit that conditions now are
different than in Tsarist Russia, they still subscribe to organisational method developed in that context and justify it, ironically enough, because of its "success" in
the totally different conditions that prevailed in Russia in the early 20th Century! And Leninists claim to be materialists! Perhaps the reason why Bolshevism
rejected the materialist approach was because most of the revolutionary movements in advanced capitalist countries were explicitly anti-parliamentarian, direct
actionist, decentralist, federalist and influenced by libertarian ideas? This materialist analysis was a key aspect of the council-communist critique of Lenin's
Left-Wing Communism, for example (see Herman Gorter's Open Letter to Comrade Lenin for one excellent reply to Bolshevik arguments, tactics and
assumptions).

However, this attempt to squeeze every working class movement into one "officially approved" model dates back to Marx and Engels. Faced with any working
class movement which did not subscribe to their vision of what they should be doing (namely organised in political parties to take part in "political action," i.e.
standing in bourgeois elections) they simply labelled it as the product of non-proletarian "sects." They went so far as to gerrymander the 1872 conference of the
First International to make acceptance of "political action" mandatory on all sections in an attempt to destroy anarchist influence in it.

So this section of our FAQ will explain why anarchists reject this model. In our view, the whole concept of a "vanguard party" is fundamentally anti-socialist.
Rather than present an effective and efficient means of achieving revolution, the Leninist model is elitist, hierarchical and highly inefficient in achieving a socialist
society. At best, these parties play a harmful effect in the class struggle by alienating activists and militants with their organisational principles and manipulative
tactics within popular structures and groups. At worse, these parties can seize power and create a new form of class society (a state capitalist one) in which the
working class is oppressed by new bosses (namely, the party hierarchy and its appointees). As we discuss in section H.8.9, their "efficiency" is a false economy.

However, before discussing why anarchists reject "vanguardism" we need to stress a few points. Firstly, anarchists recognise the obvious fact that the working
class is divided in terms of political consciousness. Secondly, from this fact most anarchists recognise the need to organise together to spread our ideas as well
as taking part in, influencing and learning from the class struggle. As such, anarchists have long been aware of the need for revolutionaries to organise as
revolutionaries. Thirdly, anarchists are well aware of the importance of revolutionary minorities playing an inspiring and "leading" role in the class struggle. We
do not reject the need for revolutionaries to "give a lead" in struggles, we reject the idea of institutionalised leadership and the creation of a leader/led hierarchy
implicit (and sometimes no so implicit) in vanguardism.

As such, we do not oppose "vanguardism" for these reasons. So when Leninists like Tony Cliff argue that it is "unevenness in the class [which] makes the party
necessary," anarchists reply that "unevenness in the class" makes it essential that revolutionaries organise together to influence the class but that organisation does
not and need not take the form of a vanguard party. [Tony Cliff, Lenin, vol. 2, p. 149] This is because we reject the concept and practice for three reasons.

Firstly, and most importantly, anarchists reject the underlying assumption of vanguardism. As we discuss in the next section, vanguardism is based on the
argument that "socialist consciousness" has to be introduced into the working class from outside. We argue that not only is this position is empirically false, it is
fundamentally anti-socialist in nature. This is because it logically denies that the emancipation of the working class is the task of the working class itself.
Moreover, it serves to justify elite rule. Some Leninists, embarrassed by the obvious anti-socialist nature of this concept, try and argue that Lenin (and so
Leninism) does not hold this position. As we prove in section H.8.4, such claims are false.

Secondly, there is the question of organisational structure. Vanguard parties are based on the principle of "democratic centralism" (see section H.8.5). Anarchists
argue that such parties, while centralised, are not, in fact, democratic nor can they be. As such, the "revolutionary" or "socialist" party is no such thing as it reflects
the structure of the capitalist system it claims to oppose. We discuss this in sections H.8.6 and H.8.10.

Lastly, anarchists argue that such parties are, despite the claims of their supporters, not actually very efficient or effective in the revolutionary sense of the
word. At best, they hinder the class struggle by being slow to respond to rapidly changing situations. At worse, they are "efficient" in shaping both the revolution
and the post-revolutionary society in a hierarchical fashion, so re-creating class rule. We discuss this aspect of vanguardism in section H.8.9.

So these are key aspects of the anarchist critique of vanguardism, which we discuss in more depth in the following sections. It is a bit artificial to divide these
issues into different sections because they are all related. The role of the party implies a specific form of organisation (as Lenin himself stressed), the form of
the party influences its effectiveness. However, it is for ease of presentation we divide up our discussion so.

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What is vanguardism and why do anarchists reject it? | 34 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
comment by profrv@etc
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 29 2002 @ 05:45 AM CDT
Its all very well to reject \'vangaurdism\' out of hand as hierarchic,authoritarian,inequitable etc,etc,yet defacto \"vangaurdism\" is a feature of the Ukraine and Spanish experience.Sometimes a charismatic leader like Mahkno and Durruti come to the forefront and inspire amazing deeds.Rotational and revolving,devolving direct democracy is difficult under attack from left and right.Is the age of heros over? I hope so,yet human nature does not rule out defacto vangaurdism and the chestnut that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance might apply here.
Also maybe the one about the will to obey being more wicked than the urge to command.
comment by Craig Stehr
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 29 2002 @ 11:58 AM CDT
What I find lacking, is the entire subject of spiritual life. Human beings are spiritual at the core, as opposed to being automatons. Without this realization as the basis for all action, no worthwhile society is possible.
comment by Circuit
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 29 2002 @ 12:09 PM CDT
I have no interest in spirituality. I\'m agnostic, I reject any theory of existance or non-existance of anything until it can be proven.

That doesn\'t mean that I don\'t know what love, anger, fear, romance, etc. feel like. A rejection of spirituality is not a rejection of emotion, and emotion equally mixed with rational thought is all that is necessary for an anarchist society.

Circuit
comment by Kame504
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 29 2002 @ 12:52 PM CDT
Though I am someone that carries a critique of science and tech, I also have no interest in spirituality aka the kinder gentler face of religion. I have real problems with the whole pagan-anarchist thing\" RTS today, right circuit? good luck.
comment by a sim
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 29 2002 @ 01:55 PM CDT
i haven\'t nearly read all of the anarchist faq. but i have to say this is one of the best sections. several of the sections are somewhat uneven. but this one gives a fair, clear and undogmatic critique of vanguardism. even tho it\'s really long. =)

comment by not in mourning
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 29 2002 @ 02:04 PM CDT
Define \"spiritual.\"
comment by Durruti's Love Child
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 29 2002 @ 02:33 PM CDT
That\'s not what is meant by \'Vanguardism\' in this article. The authors are referring to the type of organizations advocated by Leninists which operate along the lines of \"democratic centralism\" and view workers as too dumb to lead their own revolution. This is different from having heros like Makhno.
comment by efbdtynrtun
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 29 2002 @ 06:00 PM CDT
Well nothing can be \"proven.\" It\'s not possible to have \"all the facts\" all you can do is look at what works for the goals you\'ve set. If prayer chips through your conditioning better than psychoanalysis - all power to you. If feeling powerfully affirmed in a pagan ritual allows you to move with greater confidence in your organizing - good for you! If forest creatures come to you in your dreams and give you advice - and it works - right on!
comment by Steelhead
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 29 2002 @ 06:13 PM CDT
I\'ve always thought of spirituality as the non-hierarchical mirror of religion rather than a differnt from of the same beast. Just like an economy of gift is transformed (by authority) into an economy of commodity and coercion, spirtituality is transformed to religion by the imposition of authoritarianism. Also, spirituality is self-defined whereas religion is handed down to you. Direct relationship with whatever you call this strange experience of being versus institutionally mediated experience.
comment by Craig Stehr
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 29 2002 @ 06:39 PM CDT
I agree with Steelhead\'s comment fully, regarding the defining of \"spirituality\". It works for me.
comment by Dave Antagonism
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 30 2002 @ 08:35 AM CDT
I find much of anarchism is vanguardist too. The standard critique of Bolshevism focuses on its attachment to Democratic Centralism and Marxist-Leninism, not specifically the concept of the relationship of the revolutionary to the wider class context. In fact much anarchist writing at present focusing on \"out reach\" replicates the leninist idea the revolutionary ideas are brought to the class from without. In fact the harsh critiques of Leninism are a case in point. Rather than listening to the real experiences of the multitude who are leninist are engaging in dialogue as equals, they are dismissed as either a new class in waiting or as dupes. Thus abstract ideas are more important that lived class reality.
cheers
Dave
comment by anarcho
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 30 2002 @ 09:56 AM CDT
\"Rather than listening to the real experiences of the multitude who are leninist are engaging in dialogue as equals, they are dismissed as either a new class in waiting or as dupes.\"

I find this ironic for two reasons. Firstly, it is
the Leninists who are dismissing the \"real experiences\" of the activists in the anti-globalisation movement (e.g. the way they organise, for example, tactics, and so on). Secondly, the \"multitudes\" are *not* Leninists! Quite the reverse.

\"Thus abstract ideas are more important that lived class reality.\"

I find it funny that \"lived class reality\" is equated with Leninism, whose \"class reality\" is less than it could be...
comment by Dave Antagonism
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 30 2002 @ 10:24 PM CDT
Sorry if my post seemed to be a justification of Leninism. What i wanted to say was that often in its critiques of Leninism much anarchist thought actual replicates vangaurdist praxis. My post was badly worded: i did not want to infer that the multitude as a totality were Leninists, only of some individuals are, and that much class struggle globally is expressed in Leninist language. sorry for the confusion
cheers
Dave
comment by Midwest anarchist
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 01 2002 @ 06:21 PM CDT
If \"the masses\" (whatever that is supposed to mean) do not need revolutionary leadership, ideas, etc--if they have all they need already, and anyone who says otherwise is an elitist who thinks people are \"too stupid\" to run their own lives--then what the hell are we all doing anyway? Why does the world need anarchists, socialists, Leninists, or whatever? I think sometimes we anarchists talk in circles--we don\'t admit we have meetings and events--those would have to be \"organized\", and that would entail \"authoritarian\" methods. Instaed, we claim to have \"convergences\", which makes it all sound spantaneous and unplanned. Or, we do not have \"organizations\", we have \"affinity groups\". What a bunch crap. If it is \"vanguardist\" to plan, to organize, and to offer some kind of leadership, then we are all vanguardists. And if we do not believe in planning, organizing, and offering some kind of leadership, then what @#$% good are we anyway?
comment by Dave Antagonism
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 01 2002 @ 08:53 PM CDT
I think that we should just see anarchism as one expression of the class struggle, and that the struggle is bigger than any single reified dogma. Anarchist praxis like all class struggle is generated from the contraditions and antagonisms with capitalism and thus has lots to offer. what is important is opening up dialogue within the class, to circulate the experiences of struggle, to talk to encourge others to talk, to struggle to increase the room from struggle. If the product of this is that much of the trappings of anarchism as a dogma have to be dropped , good
cheers
Dave
comment by security risk
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 01 2002 @ 09:20 PM CDT
Well,im with you with the ideas and etc...but ledarship?Define that please?
comment by Midwest anarchist
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 01 2002 @ 10:47 PM CDT
What I mean by leadership is this: If you put forward your ideas and opinions, there is a chance people will agree and go along with what you say. Now what are anarchist supposed to do at that point? Are they supposed to say, \"Thanks, but please don\'t ask us to lead--that would be elitist?\" That is nothing but an abdication of responsibility. I guess my point is that maybve not all leadership is bad per se. Maybe there is a difference between someone following someone\'s lead because they think that person is right, and following because they are forced, tricked, or cajoled into doing so.
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 02 2002 @ 12:36 AM CDT
Midwest, I think you are right with that last part.

Some anarchists advoate a leadership of ideas, not a leadership of authority. We (anarchists) obviously think we have some good ideas about how we (as a class) can revolt against capitalism and the state. We should advocate and agitate for those ideas. If enough folks agree, we take action. But just because a single anarchist, or even a group of anarchists had good ideas in the past shouldn\'t put people under any obligations to agree with those ideas in the future. Further, to impose our ideas on others through coercion (like violence, like the state, like deciet) would be authoritarian.

Some folks like to say \"we have no leaders\", I prefer \"we are all leaders\".

An active anarchist minority (or several of them for that matter) agitating for alot of ideas that aren\'t imposed on people, but simply advocated, that doesn\'t claim a monopoly on struggle; is a very different thing from the Leninist vanguard.

comment by Sven
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 02 2002 @ 11:32 AM CDT
>>Some folks like to say \"we have no leaders\", I prefer \"we are all leaders\". <<

Exactly! That\'s the point! :)

The real problem might be, however, that many people are not educated to feel themselves and act as \"leaders\": that\'s a *big* problem, which IMO can only be solved by some form og libertarian education, i.e. being oneself with one\'s talents and competences and freely \"giving the example\" (is this correct English?) and \"donating\" one\'s skills to others...
comment by Midwest anarchist
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 02 2002 @ 11:33 AM CDT
But in what way can \"vanguardist\" groups \"impose\" their will on others? It is not as if they have their own private army to keep people in line. And, to be honest, I have seen plenty of groups denounced on here as \"vanguardist\" (the much-hated ISO in particular) willingly cooperate with others without trying to \"impose\" anything.

As far as leadership goes--I have yet to see an anarchist group that did not have de facto leaders, no matter how reluctant we may be to admit it. Again, I am not saying this is bad--most of the anarchist \"leaders\" I have seen are serious, decent, honest people. They are looked to as leaders by others because they have more experience. The only problem with the de facto leadership situation is that de facto leaders, because they are not \"officially\" leaders, are in fact not accountable. This may not be a problem now, when most of these leaders are cool, but what about later? It seems to me that we might do well to admit we have leaders, and have some formal structure for making them accountable to the rest of us. I cannot see how that could be authoritarian.
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 02 2002 @ 12:09 PM CDT
Actually, imposing their will on others is exactly what vanguard parties (the \'successful\' ones) do. They try sieze state power through ballot or bullet. The Red Army wasn\'t setup for tea parties. The Cheka was quite busy disposing of the enemies of the Bolsheviks (which included Bolsheviks).

Until they have some sort of atleast proto-state formation, like a guerilla army; there are real limits to what imposition vanguard parties can do. That said, they can try to use whatever structures exist for their own purposes, like say expelling those who don\'t agree with them from a labor union, negotiating permits with the police as a way of taking over a demonstration, deploying their own thug squads.

The ISO doesn\'t make any secret that they are a vanguardist party, in the tradition of Lenin. They want state power. The goal of such influences their internal structure, and how they interact with others.

Just because a vanguard party can\'t yet impose their will through a private army (or the state) doesn\'t mean that they don\'t want to do it--rather that they just aren\'t very good at it yet. :)
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 02 2002 @ 12:15 PM CDT
As to formal structures of accountability. Sometimes that\'s good, sometimes it\'s not. There are definately cases where I want to seee that. Any mass organization (like a labor union, or a community group or tenant\'s union) I\'m involved in, I want to be directly democratic as possible. The affinity group I usually run with makes most of it\'s decisions through consensus and we have a pretty fair distribution of tasks that we\'ve tried to rotate. NEFAC tends to place responsibility on whole collectives to accomplish a task, not just one individual.
comment by Midwest anarchist
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 02 2002 @ 01:10 PM CDT
I can see making decision through concensus within a given group--people belonging to a given group are likely to agree often enough to make consensus feasible. However, I have seen people try to run coalitions by consensus, and that is always a disaster. The problem is that any coalition is going to be made up of people who disagree about a lot of things. Majority rule is really the only way to run a functioning coalition, in my experience. Yes, that may not seem as democratic as consensus, but we have to decide--is the purpose of a coalition to maintain total \"freedom\", or to accomplish concrete objectives. Running a coalition by consensus may indeed preserve individual autonomy--however, such coalitions can rarely stop arguing long enough to get anything done.

Just for the record--I was not defending the ISO or any other group. All I was saying was that so far, at least in my city (Cincinnati), I have not seen them act in the thuggish, authoritarian manner people on here have described. That does not mean that they don\'t--just that I have not seen it yet.

As far as putting responsibility on the group as a whole rather than on one individual--I wonder if dividing responsibilities that broadly is not the same as not holding anyone responsible at all. e.g, if flyers need to be made, it is usually better to have a small group of people charged with making them, than to just assume that somehow they will get made.
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 02 2002 @ 01:50 PM CDT
I actually argued against using consensus in the local anti-war coalition. They went with consensus anyway... and one ex-Larouchite marxist-lenist LANDLORD pretty much destroyed the coalition by abusing consensus.

I think you\'re right... with coalition work, you need assemblies with majority (likely super-majority) voting. And if you\'ve got a principled rejection of that majority decision, you break off and go it alone.

The ISO doesn\'t have a thug squad. They got to be sneaky. Good stuff here...

http://www.infoshop.org/inews/stories.php?topic=42
http://www.infoshop.org/texts/iso.html

comment by Midwest anarchist
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 02 2002 @ 04:59 PM CDT
I am glad to see I am not alone in feeling that majority rule can be appropriate in some situations.

I read those docs before. I cannot speak to anything that happened in CA, as I was not there. However, I was at a similar meeting in Chicago, and to be perfectly honest, it did not seem to me that the ISO people \"hijacked\" anything. On the contrary, if anyone attempted a hijacking, it was the pro-consensus crowd. Their attitude seemed to be, \"do this our way, or you can all go to hell.\" When they saw the majority was not going to go for consensus, they got so pissed off they walked out, thus spliting and ultimately destroying the nascant anti-war coalition. It infuriated me that they cared more about getting their way than stopping the war. That was what was so stupid about it: No one disagreed at all about the war! The agruments were not even political-they were over procedure.

Again, I am not defending anyone or arguing for either majority rule or consensus as \"better\". I just think sometimes anarchists accuse every else of being authoritarian and sectarian, when they themselves are some of the worse offenders of all.
comment by kly lyely
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 03 2002 @ 05:53 PM CDT
Maybe the problem was with trying to form a coalition with people who do not want and will not agree to using consensus. I see no problem in walking away if you don\'t agree. I don\'t want a democracy where I have to forfeit my own desires to that of the group. I will work in groups to achieve a certain goal or aim of mine so long as it does not prevent me from taking the direction I want to take.

Maybe the problem just comes down to those people needing to realize they should form a coalition with people who will do things in a way they don\'t like.

Midwest, by saying you think majority rule can be more \"appropriate\" in some situation YOU ARE arguing that it is better in those situations. There are alot of anarchists who don\'t want to do things democraticly, which is what the rule of the majority and that of the group (consensus) is.

On another note, I agree with the bloke earlier who said that de facto vanguards are certainly in our history and present. I hesitate to use the word leaders for those who take initiative. Sometimes it feels reassuring to work with people who may know more and have better experiences at doing something. Because others go with that person\'s judgements does not mean that person is their leader. If I\'m in a situation like that I will follow whoever\'s judgements about various things as long as it I think it will work best. At any time when I do not agree I can do it my own way and also support others who disagree (solidarity, right?) without having to follow any leaders. As an anarchist I don\'t think the use of majority rule and other democratic methods for working with others is something we should accpet as \"appropriate\" because it negates some of our capacities to act for ourselves.
comment by kly lyely
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 03 2002 @ 05:55 PM CDT
that second paragraph should read: \"Maybe the problem just comes down to those people needing to realize they should NOT form a coalition with people who will do things in a way they don\'t like.\" with the NOT part thrown in as a correction.

comment by Midwest anarchist
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 04 2002 @ 03:39 AM CDT
It seems to me that democracy implies at least some degree of centralization. I mean, if everyone just does whatever they want all the time, that is not democracy--that is just everyone doing whatever they want. Democracy means collective decision making, and that in turn means that we sometimes do not get our own way. Maybe the real key is to know WHEN to take a stand against the majority. Given the fact that the purpose of the anti-war coalition was to stop the war, and that everyone in the coalition essential agreed with that, the fact that it fell apart over procedural disputes is really a shame.
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 29 2002 @ 09:20 PM CDT
Anarchism is not against leadership or legitimate authority
comment by Midwest anarchist
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 30 2002 @ 02:59 PM CDT
Perhaps you are not, but many are. In fact, most of the anarchists I know are fairly confused about the whole question of leadership.

As far as the anarchists at the antiwar conference-they were not confused about leadership at all. They had apparently decided ahead of time that THEY were going to lead, and if they could not, they were going to walk. It was as if they would rather have no antiwar movement than one that they did not control.

I think we need to honestly face the fact that anarchists are every bit as capable of being dogmatic, authoritarian, and unreasonable as everyone else. This idea that sectarian flows naturally out of Marxism is a crock. Look at all the sectarianism that exists in religion, nationalist movements, even @#% block clubs (or are block clubs Marxist?).
comment by the burningman
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 22 2002 @ 12:07 PM CDT
Amen.
comment by the burningman
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 22 2002 @ 12:16 PM CDT
Leninists don\'t view workers as \"too dumb to lead their own revolution.\" In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

What Lenin observed was that spontaneous movements are often stuck at the level of trying to meet immediate demands WITHIN the existing structure of society. That is, \"end the war\" or \"pay raises now.\" That there has never been a revolution anywhere ever without a functioning leadership core is just a plain fact.

The role of a party is raise the strategic interests of the working class to the fore within mass movements and organizations. That Lenin advocated \"democratic centralism\" seems to me mere common sense. You could rename this same idea \"unity of action.\" Because all it really means is that when the collective has come to a decision, members are expected to act together to carry it out.

This is really just a way of saying, \"if you\'re in the group, you have to adhere to decisions.\" I can\'t think of a single functioning organization that doesn\'t believe this. Leninists don\'t just believe it, they take it seriously.

If you\'re going to publish attacks on Marxism, at least tell the truth. At least try to understand why honest activists are drawn to organizational models you may not like. Different questions give rise to different answers. And speaking from personal experience, the anti-leadership and moralistic formalism of the anarchist movement often come up wanting.

Just ask Love and Rage.
comment by the burningman
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 22 2002 @ 12:22 PM CDT
Dave, you hit the nail on the head here. Much of the anti-authoritarian critique is really against the fetishizing of ideology over practice. When anarchists confront the same problems, they come up with the same range of answers.

Anti-communism robs anarchists of investigating the various and thoughtful ways other revolutionary communist trends have dealt with issues of leadership, organization, military questions, and consolidation of insurrections. And anarchists are the poorer for it.

All too often, anarchists believe that being \"anti-dogmatic\" means they are immune from dogmatism. Or being anti-leadership means they are immune from readily identifiably leadership.

By moralizing practical problems, anarchists have yet to develope a coherent, positive theory that helps us avoid the traps of sectarianism masquerading as Leninism. Instead, they reproduce the same problems under the black flag instead of the red.
comment by toasted wheat
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 22 2002 @ 12:28 PM CDT
Flint almost has it. Successful revolutionaries carry out revolutions. That\'s right. Believe it.

After fighting the old ruling classes, we might even dream of such things as IMPOSING housing reform on landlords. Or maybe IMPOSING social reparations for slavery on resistant white people. Or maybe IMPOSING socialization of the media on the current corporate bosses.

Revolutions ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE involve a huge amount of coercion. And from what I see here at Infoshop, a good amount of the anarchist movement from NEFAC to the primitavists believes in very directly and violently imposing their ideas on anyone they perceive as standing in the way of their halcyon utopia.