the jab of tragedy, the righthook of farce

5 12 2009

David Broder reviews First as tragedy, then as farce by Slavoj Zizek

All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profane (Marx, Communist Manifesto)

As we reach the end of the ‘noughties’ this month, there is much scope for reflection on the events of the last decade. There remains a crisis of alternatives to capitalism, yet together with the current dark spectres of recession and ecological crisis, two events bookmarking the decade disrupted the ideology of ‘the End of History’. The September 11th terrorist atrocities in New York shattered the illusion of the invulnerable American military hegemon, while last October’s financial meltdown has fatally undermined the gospel of free-market economics. George W. Bush’s speeches on each occasion were the same, of course: ‘action’ was needed to defend ‘our way of life’. As Slavoj Zizek acerbically comments, this brings to mind Marx’s quip that “History always repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce” Read the rest of this entry »





the positions of the workers’ communist party of bosnia and herzegovina

11 08 2009

Introduction by Chris Kane

The revolutionary communist movement in the former Yugoslavia has produced some of the most pioneering Marxists: Anton Cilliga, the critic of Stalinist state-capitalism, and the dissident Marxist humanists of the Praxis group in the League of Communists of Yugoslavia who produced figures such as Gajo Petrovic and Mihailo Markovic.  They developed an emancipatory school of communism closely identified with workers self-management, de-alienation and the importance of Marx’s early humanist writings.   Many of these ideas have been lost to West European communism and the insular British left: and with the wars in Yugoslavia the tradition appeared defeated.  But in Bosnia communists are reviving: the internationalist Workers’ Communist Party was founded in 2000.  These comrades have drawn a number of lessons from the experience of state-socialism, which is of particular relevance to our own situation in the UK today.  The Bosnian communists are clear that:

Nationalization of the means of production cannot bring freedom for the working class. State-owned enterprises are under the control of the state, in other words, under control of the ruling party. Exploitation remains. Only socialization of the means of production can produce real changes in the position of the working class. Social ownership is connected with socialist self-management (government).”  They take a clear stand against Parliamentarianism, stating that:  “The political system of socialism will be based on self-government at all levels of social organization. We do not accept a system of parliamentary democracy because it is based on partocracy – rule of the powerful parties and their leaders.” We republish below the basic goals of the Workers’ Communist Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Read the rest of this entry »





yugoslav “self government”

21 06 2009

by Dan Jakopovich

The Yugoslav experiment is a gold mine of experiences. As it is useful to learn about the positive aspects of this experience, it is also good to learn from Yugoslav mistakes and limitations.

Professor Stipe Šuvar humorously depicted the Yugoslav experience, in accordance with its underdeveloped material and cultural reality, as a form of “shephards’ self-government”. About 75% of the Yugoslav population were peasants prior to the Second World War. A leading communist and perhaps the single most important architect of the Yugoslav system of “self-government”, Edvard Kardelj, noted that Yugoslav pre-war electricity production was 59 times below the European average. Read the rest of this entry »





marković on social preconditions of self-management

9 03 2009

intro by Chris Kane

The Commune is pleased to publish below an article by comrade Goran Marković, one of the editors of the magazine Novi Plamen (The New Flame) with whom we have fraternal relations.  This is a democratic socialist publication aimed at audiences across the territory of the former Yugoslavia.   Novi Plamen has been pro-active in developing discussion on the questions of workers’ self-management which has a long tradition in the labour movement in the Balkans.  This article was also published by comrades in Hungary in the journal Eszmelet (Consciousness) in a special issue dedicated to self-government and direct democracy. Read the rest of this entry »





reminder: january 19th reading group on self-organisation and communism from below

16 01 2009

Our series of reading groups kicks off at 6:30pm on Monday January 19th with a discussion on the subject of working class self-organisation and “communism from below”.  Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to find out more info on the central London venue. The texts for this first meeting are:

The Communist Manifesto (click here)

Arguing against different conceptions of “socialism” prevalent at the time, such as paternalistic “utopian” projects, Marx and Engels’ 1848 Manifesto argues that it is the working class must take power in order to revolutionise society. Tracing the development of Western society through the ages, Marx argues that we must get rid of capitalist ownership and the repressive social order and create a new, free and collectively organised system based on the development achieved by humanity thus far.

The Civil War in France - Engels’ 1891 introduction (click here) and chapter five (click here)

Marx’s thundering eulogy to the Communards – the Parisian workers who seized power in 1871 in the midst of France’s defeat in a war against Prussia – and the new order they established, casting aside the state bureaucracy and standing army and taking control with their democratic working-class “commune”. Introduction by Engels traces French history in the intervening decades and summarises the work.

Communism and Society (click here)

This section of British communist William Paul’s 1922 work argues against conceptions of introducting socialism through Parliament, and like Marx in The Civil War in France denies that the working class can take over the existing state machinery. Paul’s piece focuses on the self-organisation of the class and the manner in which the organisation of struggles against capitalism prefigures the society which will replace it.

Socialism and self-management (click here)

Yugoslav Marxist Mihailo Markovic’s piece looks at different aspects of workers’ self-management, with particular reference to post-war Yugoslavia where organs expressing elements of workers’ democracy were in conflict with the state bureaucracy under Marshal Tito. He argues that the state and party should be replaced by organs of workers’ self management whereby the mass of the population make economic, political and social decisions for themselves.






new articles in ‘ideas’

11 09 2008

we have added two more articles to the ‘ideas‘ section of the commune.

both are by the croatian marxist gajo petrović, one on marx’s theory of alienation and another on philosophy and socialism, which not only combat the philistine attitudes of so-called marxists towards large areas of marx’s thinking but also outline his attempts to understand human thought in its totality.

petrović was an ardent advocate of workers’ self-management, and was expelled from the league of communists of yugoslavia on account of his support for the 1968 workers’ and students’ protests against the regime. he then became a leading figure in the praxis school.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,925 other followers