On "Smashing the Orderly Party"
The article we just read was the thinky-thinky that went with the smashy-smashy on Saturday. My goal is to introduce (hopefully) a more respectful and substantive handling of some topics.
First of all, what is a Leninist? And shouldn't we really be talking about Marxism here? Because it seems to me that the points anarchist seek to make in critique of Leninism could also be applied to Marxism, and, he being the founder of the political tradition bearing his name, it might do well to deal with the ideas there, divorced from the context of early 20th Century Russia. I say this not because I seek to shield Lenin, but because I think the actual arguments become occluded when many interwoven events and theories are discussed all at once.
To take a point of departure from the text, it is argued that Leninism is basically a welfare state on steroids, and that from the anarchist position what is needed is a qualitative change in the human's relationship to the world, corresponding to the erasure of the line between work and life. Freedom means not doing what someone else says just because they said to. This is wrapped up with an "authoritarian" critique, which is an indictment of the small-scale organizing style of (some) Marxists, as well as what they would do if they actually seized state power.
Lucky, the article already parsed the concept of authority for me, so that it will be familiar to the reader that there is legitimate and illegitimate authority. Legitimacy is tied to authority serving another end, and to its being able to be removed if those who answer to it choose to get rid of it. Now I want to talk about the praxis of organizing and getting things done.
In the article, it is briefly mentioned that anarchists believe in organizing to meet physical, spiritual, emotion, mental needs. This is honorable, and it would be nice to see something like that actually happen. The reason that I am flabbergasted by the flippart and arrogant tone of the article is that anarchists clearly do not have all the answers. ASIDE CRITIQUE OF ANARCHISM ---->
1. Anarchists don't have an organization in the sense that there is no sense of them moving forward as a group in real time. WE ARE ALL STILL STUCK IN THE EVERYDAY.
2. Anarchists can be infantile and supercilious in their dismissal of Marxists, when they obvious owe a huge intellectual debt to Marx and those who theorized in his wake. Where would we be without the concepts of alienation, commodity fetishism, surplus value and the dialectic? (that last one was a joke)
3. Anarchist "direct action" consists of being antogonistic to forces we should be trying to get to be internally divided. It is good to have a more provocative section of the Resistance, but we need to reconsider whether sending "signals of disorder" is a viable end in itself.
4. Anarchist behavior towards the masses is disdainful, and anarchists seem to love the idea that they have crucial insights toward revolution, but they hate the idea of actually putting those ideas to the corrolary use: i.e. expressing their ideology in a relatable and non-insulting way. Anarchists are stuck in the teasing of the school yard, and the principal laughs over their childish insolence.
5. At the end of the day, Anarchists seek to dismantle all forms of oppression. For this they are to be lauded, and their theory is some of the best in the business. Unfortunately, they conflate oppression with all that exists, so that there is no positive action thry can commit to at all. They hate order, want to break order, but they don't have any idea of what order they themselves want to create (order just in the sense of consiously chosen productive action, possibly harmonized with a group).
END CRITIQUE OF ANARCHISM
So I think we have a problem here, and the problem is 1) how do we get along? and 2) what organizational structure do we use which is sufficiently "non-authoritarian" but also effective?
This problem is colored by our context: we live in a world at war, and the stakes are high. We should know better than most how unstable the regime is and how soon we could have to fend for ourselves. Given this, that we spend more time adding style to our criticisms of one another than actually compiling relevant infrastructure and developing social bonds is pathetic. DON'T BE PATHETIC.
To give my own article some substance, I want to give some potential points of unity, and suggest some ways forward.
I drew the distinction between Leninists and Marxists because Lenin carried the ideas of Marx and added his own. Let us not dismiss Marx as quickly as conservatives do- in any event, there are many different kinds of Marxists and some are probably anarchists who call themselves Marxists. With the diversity of my audience in mind, I offer the following:
Point of Unity #1: our nomenclature is divisive as it applies connotatively loaded categories. I'm a DeBordian, you're a Leninist. My thinker's theories fail to take historical material reality into account, your thinker's theories are elitist and authoritarian etc etc etc. WHO CARES DON'T GET SO WRAPPED UP ABOUT A BOOK. We spend way too much time asking ourselves why people like Lenin and too little asking those people themselves.
Point of Unity #2: we are confronted with a totality. Marxists might call it a supersturcture, anarchists an empire, integrated spectacle. Suffice to say it that it is not totally clear who "The enemy" is. The state is involved, and corporations are in on it too. More discussion is needed to parse out our various ideologies about how these forces interact with each other and with the socio-cultural (please let us collapse these categories into one ASAP).
Point of Unity #3: both anarchists and Marxists/Leninists want discourse to become radicalized over time, and we are both seeking strategies to do this. The article pooh-poohed the Marxists, but Anarchism isn't exactly selling like hotcakes, either. Do we even need to use these words? My sense is that what we are trying to COMMUNicate is not "meaning" in the sense that specific words must be used, but a whole perspective, a tipping of the scales, an unbridling. Anarchists may be too careless in their expression of the love of freedom, but Marxists can understand that we cannot let our minds be bound by what the state permits us to think- what some would call "waking up" is the experience we need to find a way to share, with millions, billions.
Point of Unity #4: We are thinking WAY TOO SMALL. It is so easy for us to get down on ourselves, bicker over local shit, tease each other etc. When this plays into the Totality's power strategy, which is to make us forget that we are always historical agents, not only able to discern and analyze history, but to shape historical and material reality. The imperative of organization should never be for organization's sake (authoritarianism), but because we need to dramatically realize our collective social power and fight back in this social war.
Although we call it social war I think our main weapon is love. Building solidarities get us support as we support others. Together we gather infrastructure, together we show the world what is possible when you destroy the policeman in your head, and destroy the social NORM. In all of our actions, we need to bust out of the norm, which means being radical but also being more radical than radical.
Anarchists: when you see a marxist, think "I could shit on this person, but that would be inappropriate given my own lack of [discipline/cogent theory/revolutionary praxis]. Perhaps I will see what we can learn from each other."
Marxists: when you see an anarchist, think "I could shit on this person, but that would only compound the social alienation inflicted by the societal division of labor."
Why can't we all just get along again?