An Anarchist in Love with Mao’s China - Herbert Read’s ‘Letters from China’. Plus a list of dubious accounts of ‘successful’ revolutions, from Russia to Rojava

  • Posted on: 25 June 2015
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

In the second year of the Great Leap Forward famine – in which perhaps 30 million died – Herbert Read visited China on an official delegation.

Read’s acceptance of a knighthood for his literary achievements had already discredited him amongst many anarchists. But, at the time of his visit in 1959, he was still the most prominent anarchist in Britain and his published writings had considerable influence on, amongst others, Murray Bookchin.

His ‘Letters from China’ show how easy it is for a radical intellectual to get it completely wrong. The nearest comparable episode was in 1967 when Noam Chomsky used phrases like ‘mutual aid’, ‘popular control’ and ‘nonviolence’ while referring to Mao’s collectivization policies. (Later, in 1977-79, Chomsky was also reluctant to acknowledge the full horror of Pol Pot’s version of these policies.)[1]

These extracts are a timely reminder to be sceptical of any account that claims that the new revolutionary society is being constructed outside of a global working class revolution:

EXTRACTS FROM HERBERT READ’S ‘LETTERS FROM CHINA, 1959’

The afternoon was devoted to the Forbidden City [in Peking]. … Everywhere the people are wandering around, free & happy. Delightful children, amused to see foreigners. There is an extraordinary air of happy-go-lucky contentment everywhere, but everyone is working (there is no unemployment, but a shortage of workers). …

[The Chinese] are extremely moral, in fact puritanical. Crime has, apart from occasional 'crimes of passion', practically disappeared. Each street has a committee which settles all disputes, and there are women’s associations that look after the morals of the inhabitants. Theft, which used to be frequent, is now almost unknown. … Food is plentiful & cheap. …

To-day began with the most interesting event so far – a visit to an agricultural commune. These communes have come into existence spontaneously during the past 12 months (previously there were various types of collectives, where work & implements were only partly shared). There are now 24,000 of them, covering practically the whole country & having 450 million members. It is my idea of anarchism come into being, in every detail & practice. …

The commune is divided into five brigades – we were in the Peace Bridge brigade & had then to listen to all the statistics for the brigade. Then a description of how it all works, most interesting – but the most important fact is that these communes are autonomous, which makes them anarchist from my point of view; and they are successful – Production has gone up by leaps & bounds, earnings of workers have doubled, schools & clinics have been provided (33 doctors in this one commune – ten years ago there was none). Many other improvements. …

But everywhere there was pride in their achievements & a feeling that the wicked landlords had gone forever. I forgot to ask what had happened to their wicked landlord – no doubt he was in charge of one of the five piggeries. All this sound dull, but I found it fascinating – a dream come true. …

I wish you could see what is going on here socially & economically – it is the biggest & most successful revolution in history, & very inspiring. We spent this morning at Peking University & there too (in education) they have there own completely convincing methods. …

I remarked to the interpreter that I had not seen a policeman, & he answered as I expected, that they were not needed since the Liberation.

There is still a lot of poverty, though the average income [increased] fourfold since the liberation – from £15 a year in 1949 to £65 now – but now they also get free food (for which they pay 18/- a month). Again much evidence of the moral revolution – as the [commune] Chairman said, in the past much fighting, quarrelling, selfishness, now ease of mind, poetry & song. …

All these communes are virtually self-supporting – the only things they need to get from outside are heavy machinery like tractors & perhaps coal & minerals like cobalt. It is the complete decentralization of industry advocated by Kropotkin in ‘Fields, Factories & Workshops’. …

I warn some of them [about the technological destruction of natural beauty], but they smile & say it will be different with us – our workers will be educated, they will want beauty & leisure & we shall not repeat the mistakes of the capitalist world. You get the same answers everywhere, & it is not indoctrination, but a faith that moves mountains. …

There are slogans & posters everywhere, and party literature in every hotel lounge: but like the professor this afternoon, however firm their faith, they are willing to discuss it in a free & friendly manner. …

(From 'A Tribute to Herbert Read', 1893-1968, p44-49.)

HERE ARE SOME OTHER ACCOUNTS INSPIRED BY VISITS TO VARIOUS 'SOCIALIST' REGIMES:

Victor Serge, 'Year One of the Russian Revolution'
– in which Serge, a former anarchist exiled in Russia, defends the Bolshevik Party, saying the Party ‘must know how to stand firm sometimes against the masses’ and ‘to bring dissent to obey’.

Sidney and Beatrice Webb, 'The Truth about Soviet Russia'
– This pamphlet summarises the book, Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation, which was inspired by a visit to the USSR during the devastating Ukrainian famine. In the pamphlet, these influential intellectuals overlook the famine while claiming that ‘Stalin is not a dictator’ and that the USSR is ‘not only a political but an industrial democracy’.

Simone De Beauvoir, 'The Long March'
– in which De Beauvoir claims of Mao that ‘the power he exercises is no more dictatorial than, for example, Roosevelt’s was.’ De Beauvoir visited China with Jean Paul Sartre, who, after his earlier visit to the USSR, had concluded that ‘the Soviet citizen has, in my opinion, complete freedom of criticism.’[2]

Paul M.Sweezy, 'Cuba: Anatomy of a Revolution'
– in which Sweezy says that there is no sort of ‘totalitarian dictatorship’ or dogmatic ‘line or ideology’ in Cuba.

Joan Robinson, ‘The Korean Miracle’
– in which the influential Keynesian economist says that Kim Il Sung ‘seems to function as a messiah rather than a dictator.’[3]

‘Statement from Black Panther Delegates to North Korea’
– in which North Korea is described as a ‘paradise’.

Noam Chomsky, ‘In North Vietnam’
– in which Chomsky says ‘there appears to be high degree of democratic participation at the village and regional levels.’

Dan Burstein, ‘Exclusive Eyewitness Report from Kampuchea’
– in which Burstein says he saw ‘not a single sign of coercion’ in Pol Pot’s Cambodia. In another article he wrote that a ‘very broad democracy exists in the cooperatives’.

Michel Foucault, ‘What are the Iranians Dreaming about?’
– in which Foucault says that ‘by Islamic government, nobody in Iran means a political regime in which the clerics would have a role of supervision or control.’ Foucault also seemed to believe that under such an Islamic government, ‘between men and women there will not be inequality with respect to rights.’

Alex Mitchell, 'Come the Revolution'
– This book includes an account of several Workers’ Revolutionary Party trips to Libya to obtain funding from Gaddafi’s ‘revolutionary’ regime.

Tariq Ali, 'Revolution from Above'
– in which Ali recounts how he tried to convince Piotr Suida, a survivor of the 1962 Novocherkassk massacre, to join the Russian Communist Party. Ali dedicated his book to the Moscow Party leader, Boris Yeltsin, in the hope that the Party leadership would revive Soviet socialism.

Michael Albert, ‘Venezuela’s Path’
– in which Chomsky’s colleague, Michael Albert, praises Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution for a ‘vision that outstrips what any other revolutionary project since the Spanish anarchists has held forth.’ In 1980, Albert was similarly naive about China’s Maoists, claiming that they may have genuinely wanted ‘greater worker and peasant power’.[4]

David Graeber, ‘No. This is a Genuine Revolution’
– in which Graeber explains that the Rojavan ‘security forces are answerable to bottom-up structures’ and that they intend to ‘ultimately … eliminate police’. See also his ‘I Appreciate and Agree with Ocalan’ interview.

Janet Biehl, ‘Impressions of Rojava: a Report from the Revolution’
– in which Biehl says that ‘women are to this revolution what the proletariat was to Marxist-Leninist revolutions of the past century’ and that although ‘images of Abdullah Ocalan are everywhere’, there is nothing ‘Orwellian’ about this.[5]

(It may seem unfair to include anti-Stalinists like Chomsky and Graeber in the same list as those who had real illusions in Stalinism and Maoism. But critical thinking is essential for working out how to make a revolution that actually works. It is therefore important to show how a neglect of critical thinking can affect any of us.)

NOTES
1. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1970/aug/13/a-special-supplemen... http://www.chomsky.info/debates/19671215.htm; http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/09/324051.html; https://stevenlukes.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/lukes_chomsky_debate_198... Noam Chomsky, 'After the Cataclysm', vol.2.
2. http://www.sartre.ch/URSS.pdf
3. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=MzFmAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA50&dq=%
4. Michael Albert, 'Socialism Today and Tomorrow' p129-30.
5. For a variety of views on Rojava, see https://libcom.org/library/rojava-revolution-reading-guide

Most of these books and articles are on the web and can be found via the version of this article at:
https://libcom.org/library/anarchist-love-mao%E2%80%99s-china-herbert-re...

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Comments

I tried to warn all the naive noobie anarchists about the Rojavan hypocrisy and use of sexist PR but no, I was called the troll! I was called the sexist! I was called the moron! Here's proof, so where are the apologies?!

So somebody was wrong half a century ago about China, and that makes your moronic sexist trolling about Rojava praiseworthy? Somebody get this sexist moron an apology and a medal! Sheesh.

I abhor Rojavan politics as much as ISIS brutality, both sides need a cerebral enema!

I love ISIS !

Man, that is telling. You rate what is going on in Kobane as no less abhorrent than what ISIS is doing. Fascinating.

Next time you whine like a little baby about being called a sexist, racist, reductionist troll, it should be clear to everyone what is going on.

As a truly individuated anarch I abhor any political organization for whatever reason. So you are a false anarch, and most likely the inverted troll entity who lurks on this site posing as an indignant good guy whilst slandering genuine rebels? Very cunning, I suppose your IGTT is 8, maybe 9/10?

If your IDEOLOGY has rendered you incapable of discerning the difference between ISIS and the quasi-autonomous resistance facing off against them, then you are neither "individuated" nor "critical," you're just a self-deluded fool who can't see through the opaque screen of your own half-digested ideas. This is not to say I endorse the things going on in Rojava, either--but your ideological screen is absolutely useless here. No one should listen to your tripe, to the fake bullshit you try to pass off as thoughts. Ever since you appeared on this site, you repeat the same behavior: basically, you take for granted what might as well be the Fox News version of events overseas, then presume to tell us what is going on, based of course on your tremendous erudition (i.e., on one cursory reading of a book on egoism) and nothing else. You are a fucking idiot, a sexist piece of trash, and so long as you show up here, people like me will continue doing everything we can to shut you down. You deserve a hell of a lot worse, so be grateful.

Hi Frothy, I've missed you! How about more of your dirty talk, or does that get your comments deleted. Until later ;)

look everybody, biceps think he made a friend.

ISIS MULTIPLE ATTACKS: DEATH TOLL RISES TO AT LEAST 42 IN KOBANÊ

25 June 2015

Kurdish Question News Desk

According to reports from journalists in Kobane the multiple and co-ordinated attacks by ISIS gangs who crossed into the city from the Turkey border has left 42 people dead and 55 wounded.

22 civilians were massacred in the city centre and 55 were wounded while over 20 people were executed in their homes in the village of Berx Botan 30km to the south of Kobanê. There is no information about the 5 families kidnapped by the gangs to use as human shields.

The operation carried out against the attackers by by the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Asayish (security) forces is ongoing. 11 gang members were killed in the Azadi square in the centre of Kobanê.

Claims that the ISIS gangs crossed over from Jarablus rather than the Turkey border have been refuted by the Kobanê Canton administration. There is no crossing from Jarablus into Kobanê because the bridge that connected the two areas was blown up by ISIS gangs recently.

A second attack was carried out later in the morning (5.15am) at Turkey's Mursitpinar border gate to Kobane and a truck was blown up.

Source: ANHA

I kinda pity Victor Serge though. He became increasingly hostile towards soviet communism through the 20s, eventually opposing both Stalin and Trotsky, spent some time in soviet prison, and died in exile/poverty in Mexico, after facing assassination attempts.

Not really a defense but I kinda pity Victor Serge. He started out as a illegalist and Bonnot affiliate before he got swept up in dumbass enthusiasm for the russian rev. He became increasingly hostile towards soviet communism through the 20s, eventually opposing both Stalin and Trotsky, spent some time in soviet prison, and died in exile/poverty in Mexico, after facing assassination attempts.

Is that one should remain within negation mode even during a revolution that might be going well initially. Good anarchists say no to elective positions and proposed solutions not yes.

Serge got swept up in the Fervor and succumbed. Most revolutions end badly from an anarchist perspective. That's why there never has been an anarchist revolution in at least modern history.

Always remain latently cynical in interesting times and actively cynical in bad and normal times. Anarcho cynicalism as Bob Black would say. ALWAYS deface currency, both non-revolutionary AND revolutionary. You never end up with egg on your face that way after Mao and the like break them for their civilized omelets.

Shut the fuck up. Nobody cares what you say. You want cynicism, I have it right here for you: a healthy dose of cynicism about the value of you spewing your repetitive shit here. You're right about Serge, of course--a stopped clock is right twice a day, and yours stopped in the 1920s, when Novatore got killed. But if your answer is to feel really really good about sitting in your plush armchair doing nothing while the rest of us fight and die because many of us straight up don't have a choice, then fuck you. When a stray bullet takes you out, that's a much more humiliating death than if you had stood for something.

Just go somewhere else, please. Seriously, who gives a fuck about you always saying the same stupid fucking shit? QUIETISM, that's what all your drivel adds up to. Gross.

NO

Quietism: "acceptance of things as they are without attempts to resist or change them."

How does that *not* describe ZIggy? What are you doing to resist or change anything, Zigs? You might have just found your new calling! Nihilo-quietism!

And how do I accept things as they are exactly you stunted shit for brains? I reject resistance as well as change rhetoric, however that does not imply acceptance you dunce.

I've already mentioned proactive things that anarchic people can do that does not feed into the recuperation of power.

Really? Where? I don't recall you ever doing so.

You pathetic, stupid, cowardly vermin.

Via relations of affinity within your own sphere of existence dunce cap. Basic union of egoist/affinity based stuff. No elective positions or proposed solutions necessary.

Keep being the 'struggling' and 'resisting' anarchist ideologue that you are.

Yeah, you have some hot air verbiage to justify yourself, taken directly out of one of the books that are your only substitute for human companionship, but what--in concrete reality--do you actually do? Or even endorse when others do it? Besides internet grandstanding and insulting people with slurs, I mean.

It's like I'm talking to a miserable bot, that is only programmed to engage in abstract denunciations, and its wires cross when I talk about activity in the real world.

Yeah, like I thought: crickets. Poor bot.

is it really fair to demand of someone who has given most of his life over to a sort of contra mundum war in the comments section of this website that he embark upon projects additional to that? i think that's plenty of real-world activity for one person, especially of his caliber.

Your pretty obsessed over what I do on my offline time aren't you. I do me. That's what I can tell you and that's all that matters. If you want some political-economic activist cred, then I have nothing to give you.

Plus this is just a deflection from the low hanging fruit deficiencies of anarchism that I and others are pointing out.

I agree completely with the OP who said that to expect anything more, anything at all, like something in real life, for example, from a half-witted specimen like "Sir Einzige," is to expect way way too much. I'm surprised that he can even manage to troll this site!

It had been a long day. Day, night? He glanced over at the time on the monitor, it said 1.12 PM. 'What happened to the last 3 hrs, oh well, I suppose trolling 5 different forum sites took up all the time' he mused. A supercilious smirk cracked his face, he looked at the snide comment he was just about finished completing and entered in the last few words on the keyboard. 'e.v.e.n. m.a.n.a.g.e. t.o. t.r.o.l.l. t.h.i.s. s.i.t.e.!' entering the exclamation mark with a dramatic downward strike of his calloused index finger. He completed the send code and and moved the mouse cursor over to the send box. He hesitated, opened his fly, and reached over to the almost empty vaseline jar on the computer desk and applied some to his flaccidity. He thought how this was the only way he could get off now, somehow the power to call other people trolls and not be accountable for it gave him a bit of power over someone, which in turn sexually aroused him. Freud had mentioned something about it, all he needed now was for the voice of his mom to call through the basement door, then he would be satisfied for another day. He felt himself harden as the sounds of footsteps approached the locked door. "What are you doing in there young man?" He began to rapidly massage his 3 inch (that's erect) penis with one hand and with the other readied to press the left button of the mouse to send his comment out into cyberspace at exactly the same time he ejaculated and his mom asked if he wanted some lunch. To have all these things happening simultaneously required a genius which very few people acknowledged or complemented him for. 'I'm feeling a tad peckish mom'. Would she utter the magic words he thought? He brought himself to the edge of climax and then. "Would you like some lunch honey?" she said. He furiously vibrated his right and and with his left pressed the left mouse button. He turned his groan into a query "Aauurgh mom, awww its meatloaf, aaahhh not too much aaarrrr sauce this ttttime oooookay?" Alright sweety she replied. He slumped in the chair and reached for the tissues. Another successful interrelationship with someone one loves and with someone one hates he thought. A well balanced life for sure. A cruel smirk appeared on his face. Its great how when you are a master of trolling you can call even people with intelligent comments trolls.

He was a frikkin closeted Syndicalist up to his ears in sentimental Xtian bullshit! He deserved to die in Catholic Mehico!

"These extracts are a timely reminder to be sceptical of any account that claims that the new revolutionary society is being constructed outside of a global working class revolution."

Maybe this "critique" does have some merit, but does this mean we should also be permanently skeptical? I mean, there's never been a global working class revolution to begin with besides in the theories and slogans of radicals, hahahaha, so I guess we'll be forever waiting for something to be optimistic about according to notions like this. Even if there was, it probably wouldn't resemble anything like what the class struggle anarchists want it to, rather than being the practical realization of those bureaucratic nightmares they've been arguing with the Leninists over for the past century. Should we also be skeptical of those agitating and organizing for better wages while masquerading as revolutionaries, contributing to the overall perpetuation of class relations?

Any notion of socialism today is reactionary and so is much of the working class itself, the much of it having become a conservative being that has fully integrated itself into society in which their actions against capital and the state are nothing but mere reactions to preserve themselves, to which some anarchists go chasing after to encourage and submit to themselves. Camatte was probably onto something when he talked about the domestication of the working class, even if I don't share his extreme pessimism about the possibility of gradually overcoming the all of this. It's a matter of going beyond the limitations of class and the state-form among those who are still willing to, in which much of the working class isn't and that you'll eventually find yourself in opposition to. Their will to power is the will to manifold forms of obedience, which prevents the would-be revolutionaries from realizing their own wills in collective practices so long as they don't yet know how to say "No" to the conservative elements, i.e. the silent majority, of the working class itself.

I may not be informed of all the finer details, but I don't see much of an issue of what's going on in Rojava, other than it not conforming to many preconceived notions of what it is a revolution is supposed to look like despite being a currently ongoing process. It's not necessarily my idea of anarchy, but neither is syndicalism, workerism and the protestant work ethic that just wants to replace who manages this society with all the various, idealized shit fucks produced by this society, in which there's hardly a distinction between them and the police.

It is kinda ironic when Americans think Rojava is just an extension of imperialism in the Middle East though. The rejection of the reconstruction and transformations of nation-states in national liberation struggles is still valid, but a lot of what took place on the ground with the yet non-aligned forces that emerged out of the dynamics of conflict in those countries, i.e war machines, could have had potential before being captured by the state to become functional to it.

David Graeber, ‘No. This is a Genuine Revolution’
– in which Graeber explains that the Rojavan ‘security forces are answerable to bottom-up structures’ and that they intend to ‘ultimately … eliminate police’. See also his ‘I Appreciate and Agree with Ocalan’ interview.

I genuinely believe you....they'll just wither away....Oh and a genuine revolution is hardly an anarchist revolution. Most of the time it isn't.

And this is resolved by arming the entire populace as has been argued by the insurrectionary anarchists since forever, so as to prevent a military or police class from forming and breaking off from everyone else as means of future control of the population, either as a new state itself or as an apparatus for a newly constructed state. Maybe Kurdish anarchists need to start making a point out of this in their assemblies or whatever, if history can indicate anything at all of what exactly it is that can eventually go wrong.

There have been very few examples of explicitly anarchist revolutions in history, but that doesn't mean social revolutions or organizational forms that aren't necessarily authoritarian (lol, communalism) should always be outright rejected. In both insurrectional and revolutionary contexts, anarchists and other non-authoritarian radicals need to consciously attempt to prevent the ossification of new power structures disembodied from the populace or the appropriations of the old ones to the best of their abilities, and their praxis is obviously going to be most effective at the local scales. Maybe this means getting organized with the anarchistically inclined portion of the populace while declaring war on the authoritarian elements of the revolution and the portions of the populace who support them, in addition to the more overt reactionary ones, instead of going after those united fronts that have always contributed to the downfalls of anarchist movements and organizations in revolutionary contexts.

There's a lot of cool shit going down around the world right now, especially in Central and South America, and once again with potential ruptures in Greece. It makes me fucking envious. Anyway, you should read Malatesta's "The Anarchist Revolution" if you already haven't, it's still somewhat relevant today.

I think that this should all be resolved by sending a suitably cynical post-left anarchist to Rojava to report back to us all about what is REALLY going on out there.

Several points:
1. Sir Herbert Read was always an arsehole; the fact that he called himself an anarchist says a lot about the nature of British anarchism. The term "anarchist", whilst often adopted by those genuinely opposed to this society, is, like all "ists", also something adopted by very conventional people (eg Terry Jones, Russell Brand, Bill Oddie - celebrity-comedians in the Uk who never take risks - have all at times defined themselves as "anarchists"). Despite Sir Herbert's "To Hell with Culture" he in fact supported modern culture as much as any other modern art establishment figure (he was a trustee of the Tate Gallery, a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum and a co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts with Roland Penrose). He had no notion of the realisation and suppression of art, and was merely opposed to some of its more archaic forms. Even within the framework of art he never did anything innovative like the surrealists or lettrists, though in the archaic culture of the UK merely supporting the surrealists might have seemed a little daring.

2. When this article says "possibly 30 million died" during the Great Leap Forward into mass starvation and brutal primitive capital accumulation that seems to be a fairly conservative estimate. The Chinese state itself, which still treats Mao as a national God, estimates 15 million. Others, less implicated in such hero-worship, have suggested at least 45 million. The probable figure is round about 35 million. The man in charge of agriculture at that time was Tan Zhenlin, who in 1958 said, “Communisation is the communist revolution”. Theoretically, communisation meant forcing the merging of small collectives into huge communes, involving the immediate breaking down of the separation between production units, the abolition of property, wages and individual land patches. In practice this meant squads of Communist Party cadres went round smashing up peasant cottages, burning down villages, confiscating all peasant tools and cooking utensils. Peasants were forced into collective slave labour camps. Any independent means to collect, store or even prepare food was taken away and the cadres imposed a monopoly of food supply in the communal dining halls, used as a weapon of social control. Those who didn’t co-operate were deliberately starved to death. In Henan, for instance, from the winter of 1959 to the spring of 1960, at least one million people starved to death – 12.5% of the population. For Read to have said that these communes came into existence "spontaneously" is about as close to the truth as saying Nazi Concentration camps came into existence spontaneously.

3. Ocalan used to be a Maoist. As far as I know he has not denounced Mao publicly, which you would have thought would be the case if he'd decided to re-model himself in the image of Bookchin. The cult of the personality that was intrinsic to Mao's China, is reflected in the cult of the personality of Ocalan also, even down to the similarity of some of the artistic depictions of Ocalan (him appearing in the sky with beams of sunlight behind his head, for instance). What's absurd is for anarchists to hail Kobane as the revolution, with Graeber comparing it to Spain '36-7, when there's probably only 5% of the original population living there in the most dire of circumstances, just trying to get through the day and night without starving or freezing to death. How desperate does one have to be to so clutch at straws that one can dress this up as some anarchist experiment?

4. Victor Serge was almost invariably a fence-sitter. During the Kronstadt uprising he despaired over the calumnies of Lenin and Trotsky but still justified putting the revolt down because the alternative was "chaos". How often have we heard that before? Because of his international reputation, he was probably the only person in Russia at that time who could have denounced the Bolsheviks publicly and lived to see another day. During the Bonnot gang trial he very carefully distanced himself from the others, who felt betrayed by him. Which is not to say that he didn't write some excellent things, merely to say that someone's writing is not the sole or primary focus for judging someone.

Excellent analysis! Your exposure of Ocalans' hypocrisy is a breath of fresh air, and also the British interpretation of anarchism!

"Ocalan used to be a Maoist. As far as I know he has not denounced Mao publicly, which you would have thought would be the case if he'd decided to re-model himself in the image of Bookchin. The cult of the personality that was intrinsic to Mao's China, is reflected in the cult of the personality of Ocalan also, even down to the similarity of some of the artistic depictions of Ocalan (him appearing in the sky with beams of sunlight behind his head, for instance). What's absurd is for anarchists to hail Kobane as the revolution, with Graeber comparing it to Spain '36-7, when there's probably only 5% of the original population living there in the most dire of circumstances, just trying to get through the day and night without starving or freezing to death. How desperate does one have to be to so clutch at straws that one can dress this up as some anarchist experiment?"

Cults of personality are gross and indeed an issue that should be always be combated as they develop, but is what's going on in Rojava necessarily need to be entirely driven by "great personalities" that precludes the self-activity and determination of those participating in it? The revolution in Rojava is an ongoing process that will hopefully go further than what it has, and from what I've seen in various forms of media they've at least made it be known that they still have certain ethical commitments that they desire to realize and approximate in praxis, so it just remains to be seen what will play out in the future rather than outright condemning them as a failed anarchistic experiment from the very beginning. Maybe tensions will develop among those those who genuinely believe in some of the anarchistic and communistic principles to which they desire to approximate and those who are perhaps deploying them opportunistically, which as opportunism would be kinda of self-subverting to begin with given these sort of bottom-up, federated types of democratic structures are in distinct opposition to Leninist organizational forms. They can be co-opted, but delegates can also easily be ousted by the base assemblies if they remain aware of their own circumstances.

Obviously, they feel that there's something worth fighting for within these "most dire of circumstances" in which they're carving out a space for their autonomy and engaging in conflict with ISIS that seems to be receiving support from the Turkish state, regardless of your value-judgements about the conditions in which they exist. I've never really been into Graeber's specific anarchist discourse, but I kind of find myself in agreement with him about this one. Some anarchists themselves have kind of converged towards cults of personality around certain figures, in the past and present, lol, so this isn't exclusive to Leninism. I think there's just as much hypocrisy to point out among various anarchist sects and organizations, which is what I was getting at in my above comment with the praxis of class struggle for better wages.

Talking about the working class as a revolutionary subject in this day and age as mostly just a fucking abstraction and not as specific forms-of-life within a class itself with blatant ethical incompatibilities is yeah, becoming more and more of a dead end to which some people will still sacrifice themselves and their entire potential to, while still having the gall to call people out on not being revolutionary enough for them. People see through the present through a nostalgic lens of the past too often, as if prior organizational forms didn't correspond to the era which gave birth to them to begin with, and as if all we needed for another social revolution like what took place in Spain, was to revive them and organize portions of a class that has mostly been fully integrated into society through its biopolitical apparatuses and its management of subjectivities. There was an article about picking sides on It's Going Down's site recently, this is what it's come down to, the proletarians in wanting something else finding themselves at odds against the respectable, civilized, bourgeois working class that as products of this society support and enable its power structures, many of them no longer having the ability to create beyond themselves, i.e citizens of Empire.

Also, arguing over the past will never redeem it in the way some people want it to be.

Thankyou very much! Nice!

PS. Also, yes, the majority of folk have unwittingly allowed themselves to be programmed into elusive realities created by industrial Fordism production and its consumerist fantasy of endless pleasure. I call it totalitarian hedonism in my CAI manuscript.

Easy to whine when you remove all historical context.

For some unknown reason I can't reply directly to this post, but never mind...

To talk of "The revolution in Rojava" without saying what's precisely going on amongst those 5% of the population who are left there is another abstraction: nice correct words mean nothing, as the use of the word "communisation" to mean mass starvation in China shows. Undoubtedly there's a resistance of some sort to fascism - but then most of the resistance to fascism in WWII had no connection with a "revolution" in the sense of an anti-hierarchical transformation of social relations - submission to leaders and militarisation has nothing to do with the kind of "revolution" I want (and nothing to do with things that are taking place now across the world in various momentary forms in all the riots, occupations, wildcat strikes and other forms of genuine resistance, even if they don't pretend to be "revolutions"). In all the endless cheerleading of "The revolution in Rojava is an ongoing process " or "a space for their autonomy " all I hear are nice-sounding phrases. When people describe what is going on, it almost always consists of just such phrases and references to Ocalan. But maybe I've missed some genuine accounts that don't sound like the Webbs describing the magnificent socialist fatherland under Stalin.

Then there's just diverging and conflicting accounts of what's going on according to different perspectives. Like I said, it hasn't quite gone far enough, but there is at least somewhat the transformation of social relations premised upon libertarian practices of communalism, which is basically anarcho-syndicalist structures extended to entire communities, regardless of even the cults of personality that these organizational forms can prevent, although not always, from ossifying into a bureaucracy. What is is you want from a revolution will likely never happen at the grand scale that traditional leftists want it to happen at, hell, 1/4 of the global working class in many of the developed countries is probably bordering towards fascistic politics itself, while a 1/4 of it is just straight up liberal-progressive or whatever specifics and unable to perceive the world through any other lens than that of decadence and spectacle, while the other half is just I don't know the fuck what.

Fuck Ocalan, I'm more interested in the potential these forms of self-organization can realize for *themselves* or not. I wouldn't detract from the forms of resistance you described, other than that wildcats strikes are often reformist by either expressing or implying demands, not decoupling themselves from the state of things to go beyond them, locking themselves into the very same relation that you all claim to want to abolish. When exactly? It's now or never, because if it isn't a possibility now it wont be a possibility, and even more so, later. Meanwhile in India, garment workers burn the factories down, fuck up capital and riot in a rejection of the class relations that most of you just want to replace with productivist self-management that inherits the rationale and discipline of capitalism, even if conceptualized as some sort of transitional phase into full communism. Means and ends.

Seems like you have an agenda in attempting to tie "communization" into the practices of Leninism in China, something I think we can both agree was shit, but is not in any way related to how "communization" is used in contemporary times as either as divergent Marxian theory or an immediate anarchistic praxis. Just like the category "working class" can mean basically nothing other than what someone's relationship to the means of production and consumption is, when in reality it's often something entirely different than what people project upon it through their political ventriloquism. We both know that this is what your politics consist of, as once mine did too, even if you wont directly refer to the revolutionary subject. This is regardless of the specific forms-of-life within the class that supposedly creates non-hierchical social relations according to its interests, regardless of the many of them having interiorized hierarchical norms, especially those beyond your friends and the syndicalist unions.

The Spanish anarchists had their own militias which were deployed against reactionary forces, and any revolutionary force will have to create voluntary militias for self-defense in addition to arming its overall populace. Yet the Spanish anarchists also had some bureaucrats which detached itself from the populace, glorified Durruti, joined a popular front with bourgeois forces and Leninists, paternalistically suppressed the women who fought in the revolution and civil war, and imposed self-managed exploitation upon the collectives within the revolutionary regions. Yet so many just want to revive dead forms. The Kurdish are basically living in a real warzone through which they're carving out their autonomy to begin with, unlike bicycle messengers, and despite being justified in caution against Leninism and its opportunism we haven't seen anything like the authoritarian practices that took place China imposed upon its diverse populace, which would be enough to condemn it as anarchists, whatever our differences.

I'm just saying, pots calling kettles black and all. The working class as revolutionary movement is dead, yet revolutionary processes are still possible. That means detaching yourself from the portion of it that not only doesn't give a shit about you, but hardly gives a shit about itself.

Not my best moment in writing after reading over this, been drinking, but you get the picture.

I could agree and/or disagree with much of what you say, but it's largely abstracted from specifics (apart from the bit on Spain, which I essentially agree with). Again, you don't really describe or link to descriptions of what you say is a "transformation of social relations premised upon libertarian practices of communalism, which is basically anarcho-syndicalist structures extended to entire communities" in the slightest concrete detail. What is going on in the daily life of Kurds in that area? And what happens to people who criticise the PKK or Ocalan? What is going on outside these fine-sounding words? Until you answer this it just seems like you're falling for these fine words as meaning something, but historically we know that fine words can hide horrificly unfine social relations.

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