bristol reading group on state socialism, sunday 28th march

10 03 2010

The third Bristol reading group session will be on Sunday 28th March at 6pm in Café Kino on Ninetree Hill, Stokes Croft, Bristol.

The session will discuss state socialism and its critics. Suggested background reading below. All welcome: email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more info. Read the rest of this entry »





26th october london reading group: what are trade unions for?

19 10 2009

The next of our London discussion meetings on workplace organising is to be held from 7pm on Monday October 26th at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near Old Street. We will be looking at the questions:

cwumarch

- Why should unions remain independent from the state?

- What are the limitations of negotiating better conditions of employment?

- In what ways have unions become integrated into the administration of capitalist relations, and how can this be resisted? Read the rest of this entry »





reading for 5th october london discussion group now online

1 10 2009

The next of our London discussion meetings on workplace organising is to be held from 7pm on Monday October 5th at the Lucas Arms, near King’s Cross. We will be looking at the questions:

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- Are unions an expression of the self-organisation of the working class, or bodies which seek to win improvements on their behalf?

- What is the difference between ‘trade unionism’ and the revolutionary class struggle?

The recommended reading material and a map of the venue appear below. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com or phone 07595 245494 for more details. Read the rest of this entry »





5th october london reading group: two views of trade unionism

23 09 2009

The next of our London discussion meetings on workplace organising is to be held from 7pm on Monday October 5th at the Lucas Arms, near King’s Cross. We will be looking at the questions:

- Are unions an expression of the self-organisation of the working class, or bodies which seek to win improvements on their behalf?

- What is the difference between ‘trade unionism’ and the revolutionary class struggle?

The recommended reading material and a map of the venue appear below. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com or phone 07595 245494 for more details. Read the rest of this entry »





tonight’s london reading group on communist organisation

13 07 2009

The last in our current series of London reading groups on ‘communism from below’ will take place on Monday 13th July from 7pm at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near Old Street station. It is on the subject of ‘communist organisation today’. We will be discussing the issues:

- Can communists with different ideas and perspectives co-exist in the same organisation? Is ‘forgetting our differences’ and ‘leaving past baggage at the door’ a precondition of left unity?
- Should we organise for specifically communist positions, or establish a broader ‘left’ presence filling some of the political space abandoned by Labour?
- Should we concentrate on propaganda and ideological struggle, or workplace and community activism… or can we integrate both?
- What useful role can communists play in solidarising with resistance to the recession? Read the rest of this entry »





13th july reading group: communist organisation today

8 07 2009

The last in our current series of London reading groups on ‘communism from below’ will take place on Monday 13th July from 7pm at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near Old Street station. It is on the subject of ‘communist organisation today’. We will be discussing the issues:

- Can communists with different ideas and perspectives co-exist in the same organisation? Is ‘forgetting our differences’ and ‘leaving past baggage at the door’ a precondition of left unity?
- Should we organise for specifically communist positions, or establish a broader ‘left’ presence filling some of the political space abandoned by Labour?
- Should we concentrate on propaganda and ideological struggle, or workplace and community activism… or can we integrate both?
- What useful role can communists play in solidarising with resistance to the recession? Read the rest of this entry »





jan waclaw machajsky: a prophet unhonoured in his own time (and rightly so)

2 05 2009

by Ernie Haberkern

The rise of a new bureaucratic rul­ing class in Russia in the thirties and forties of the twentieth cen­tury has artificially inflated the stock of several opponents of the social democratic movement who attacked it on the grounds that it was preparing a dictatorship of ‘intellec­tuals’ or men of ‘science’ over the untutored working class.

The subject of this study – Jan Waclaw Machajsky – is one such figure. Read the rest of this entry »





texts for 13th april reading group

31 03 2009

The next of The Commune’s London reading group series on ‘communism from below’ is to take place on Monday 13th April. The subject of the discussion, taking place from 6:30pm at the Old Red Lion, near Angel tube, is “workers’ self-government vs. state socialism”.

We will be looking at the questions
- To what extent is it possible to use the existing state’s structures to force ‘socialist’ reforms?
- Should we refuse to make any demands on bourgeois governments?
- What arguments could be made for and against the slogan “nationalisation under workers’ control”?
- Does William Paul’s “industrial executive committee” reflect our idea of working-class power?
- How can self-managed workplaces relate to the needs of society as a whole?
- Does the idea of a “workers’ party” imply an elite counterposed to grassroots activism and workplace democracy, and does it really allow a broader programme of social revolution?

The suggested reading material is:

- William Paul – The State: Its Origins and Function, Chapter 11
- Marx – Critique of the Gotha Programme
- Hal Draper – The Two Souls of Socialism

All are welcome to come and take part in the discussion. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more info.





hal draper’s “independent socialism: a perspective for the left”

18 01 2009

The following pamphlet was published in 1964 as an outline of the ideas of the Independent Socialist Committees in the USA, which involved such figures as Hal Draper who represented the left trend which emerged from the old Workers’ Party.  Along with a group in Chicago led by Kim Moody and comrades in New York they formed a national organisation which later became the International Socialists.  They sought to preserve the idea of the third camp of independent working class politics.

Chris Kane

There are many pamphlets and books explaining the general idea of socialism; this is not another one. For present purposes and for the sake of argument, we are assuming you know what the socialist idea is: the idea that the ability of human beings to live like men should not be dependent on the making of private profit; that the community of men can operate our economic institutions under social control rather than under the autocracy of moneyed overlords; that democracy can apply as much to the way we make a living as to the way we make a government, by putting the factories and plants under collective control. Read the rest of this entry »





hal draper, the state and socialism from below

19 11 2008

by David Broder

Recently this site has seen a debate over the question of the state in bourgeois society and after working-class revolution, with comrades from the Trotskyist group ‘Permanent Revolution’ arguing that such a revolution would necessarily have to create a new state which would centrally plan the economy. They call this “socialism”, to be followed by a later classless, stateless era of “communism”. They furthermore argue that state-planned economies such as Cuba’s, despite the lack of working-class power in decision-making, nonetheless represent, in some dilute form, “workers’ states”.

This has little in common with our conception of how working-class power comes about and should be exercised: by the working class itself, democratically, from below and creating its own structures organically. There are no saviours from on high: we do not want a benign régime or enlightened despot to dish out equality of poverty.

With this in mind, we have added three texts to the ‘ideas’ section of our website by the American communist Hal Draper. These argue against state socialist models and for ‘socalism from below’, and see this sentiment as a thread running through the works of Karl Marx.

Click here to read The Death of the State in Marx and Engels; the Two Souls of Socialism; and The Dictatorship of the Proletariat in Marx and Engels.





hal draper: anatomy of the micro-sect

5 09 2008

reproduced with the kind permission of ernest haberkern: available to buy at amazon.com or socialisthistory.org.

There is a terminological problem. “Sect“ is often used as a cuss-word to mean a group one doesn’t like. “Movement” is often used to describe something that does not exist in organized form; as when “the American socialist movement“ is used as an abbreviation for scattered socialist elements that often do not “move” at all. We shall use these terms with more precise meanings. Read the rest of this entry »





links added in ‘ideas’

30 08 2008

today we have added three more links to the ‘ideas‘ page of the commune.

the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ in marx and engels, by hal draper, explains how marx and engels used the term ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ not to mean a specific form of government but rather to denote the class rule of the working class once it has overthrown the bourgeoisie. in this vein draper attacks the understanding of the term elaborated by plekhanov, who proclaimed “when we come to power, we will allow no freedom for anyone but ourselves”.

anton pannekoek’s world revolution and communist tactics, written for an organ of the comintern in 1920, effectively combats statist visions of working-class power and bureaucracy in the workers’ movement, and looks at the new organisational forms workers must use to re-shape society: “the formation by the workers of the soviets, their own organs of power and action, in itself signifies the disintegration and dissolution of the state. as a much more recent form of organisation and one created by the proletariat itself, the trade union will survive much longer, because it has its roots in a much more living tradition of personal experience, and once it has shaken off state-democratic illusions, will therefore claim a place in the conceptual world of the proletariat. but since the trade unions have emerged from the proletariat itself, as products of its own creative activity, it is in this field that we shall see the most new formations as continual attempts to adapt to new conditions; following the process of revolution, new forms of struggle and organisation will be built on the model of the soviets in a process of constant transformation and development”.

ubu saved from drowning: worker insurgency and statist containment in portugal and spain 1974-77, by loren goldner, is of particular interest in that focuses on the struggles of the portuguese working class rather than merely the history of the sects that aspired to lead it (much like mailer’s the impossible revolution). the fact that the portuguese revolution represented the end of an era of class struggle rather than the beginning of a new one, and that the onward march of state capitalism had also petered out by the end of the 1970s, by no means devalues the lessons of the portuguese revolutionary crisis, which saw mass working-class mobilisation, factory expropriations and efforts at workers’ self-management.





revolutionary strategy

29 08 2008

david broder reviews revolutionary strategy, a new book by the cpgb’s mike macnair

There is much of value in any serious attempt to talk about the tasks of the left today, and what exactly the purpose of its existence is: Mike Macnair’s new book, which carries the subtitle “Marxism and the challenge of left unity” is certainly this. The left sects are crying out for some ideas and some definition for their project: what we have at the moment is a maelstrom of sectarian and internally undemocratic groups, with philistine hostility towards discussion and utter disdain for ideas other than those quoted from the holy texts of Lenin and Trotsky. Read the rest of this entry »





crosland’s new social-democratic reformism

28 08 2008

The idea of Gordon Brown writing on the future of socialism will come as a surprise to many, but that is precisely what he invites us to discuss in his foreword to a new edition of Anthony Crosland’s The Future of British Socialism. Read the rest of this entry »








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