Smashing the Orderly Party: an Anarchists Critique of Leninism

  • Posted on: 28 September 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href=" Indymedia</a>


I would like to write down some thoughts regarding Leninism as a historical and theoretical position. I am writing to those who are willing to listen in hopes of refining a critique of authoritarian socialism. I do not have delusions that this short essay will convince anyone of something drastically outside of what they already believe or, at least, that is not my intention.

Recently, there has been much debate on list servs and social media sites about an upcoming "Bash Lenin Pinata Party" being hosted by some local Atlanta anarchists. In response to this, Leninists and other authoritarian socialists (including Maoists from other parts of the country) have responded with vitriol, homophobic slanders, and multitudinous critiques of anarchy, "sectarianism", and "trolling." I am writing this because I believe that anarchists and anti-authoritarians in other parts of the country have had similar encounters with Leninists. The responses I have seen are usually limited to poking fun or reverting to listing-off familiar historical bloodbaths of the Leninist project. I hope to bring a humble contribution to the discussion with the intention of increasing our capacity to meaningfully engage in ideological debate with the Party of Order - be it Leninists, bosses, police, liberals, misogynists or anyone else who seeks to impose discipline on our bodies.

For a wild, uncontrollable, rebellion without object or measure.
For anarchy!</td><td><img title="i like the sound of that. Without object or measure." src=""></td></tr></table>


<p><em><br /> </em><strong>A BRIEF GLOSSARY OF TERMS:<br /> <br /> </strong><em>It is almost never the case that serious disagreements stem from simple miscommunication. With that said, I would like to avoid misunderstandings stemming from an imprecise lexicon.</em></p>
<p><strong><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Authority: </em></strong><em>The difference between your mother or your kindergarten teacher and a police officer or party hack is that the first kind of authority undermines the basis for its own existence over time and the second kind <strong>creates the material and social relations which discipline your body and mind in a self-duplicating relationship of domination, </strong>or attempt to do so. When anarchists talk about "authority", we are nearly always disparaging the domination of the latter. Marxists following the Leninist tradition are often intentionally unclear about their definition of authority, bouncing back and forth between the two listed above when it is expedient for them. Some Leninists even go as far as to say that they don’t even know what the word “authority” means. Here, I have laid bare a coherent, nuanced definition that I believe reflects the lived experiences of contemporary human reality. Note: an "Authoritarian" is simply someone who believes that authority-as-domination is necessary, desirable, or inevitable. This includes the "authority of the majority" espoused by democrats (lower-case "d"). </em></p>
<p><strong><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Autonomy: </em></strong><em>The freedom to decide for oneself about things involving ones own body (See also: "Individual"). The limits of autonomy under capitalism are clear - it's not enough for us to simply negotiate a peace treaty with Power, we must attack! Regardless, most anarchists see autonomous self organization as an absolute prerequisite to any emancipatory project.</em></p>
<p><strong><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Discipline: </em></strong><em>It is always rewarding to accomplish a goal or to overcome an obstacle in one’s life. More often than not, this requires patience and dedication or, some would say, discipline. There is obviously nothing wrong with this undertaking. When I talk about "discipline" in this piece, I am referring to the historical, social, and institutional use of force, guilt, and coercion to conform human behavior to existing social morals or expectations while subsequently pathologizing or imprisoning all behaviors or biologies that do not fit the values of the social order. For anarchists, the problem of prisons, asylums, and courts is not only a problem of administration but of the entire world order attached to their development and application. </em></p>
<p><strong><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Individual: </em></strong><em>Throughout the text, I may refer to the social category of the "individual." In liberal Enlightenment philosophy, the individual was a free roaming monad who entered equally into voluntary contract with other free persons and developed mechanisms of ensuring security, even at the expense of autonomy and freedom. In anarchist philosophy, as in the Marxist tradition, "individuals" do not truly exist outside of the context they are socialized in. Many anarchists are avid readers of the Postmodern and Poststructuralist marxists (i.e. Critical Theory, Autonomia, "post-68" literature, etc.) who offer accurate and meaningful critiques of the metaphysical "individual" described in classical liberal thought. However, it is important to account for the real subjective experience of memory and&nbsp;the body as continuous nodes of interaction with other persons, places, and systems over time (meaning that all people experience themselves as singular organs of sense experience in space-time). The individual is a being in the world who experiences itself in a limited social context and who shapes its destiny in an ongoing creative process, one way or another. </em></p>
<p><strong><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The State:</em></strong> For Marxists, the State is a centralized tool of class oppression. For Marx, the State is simply a compulsory apparatus for maintaining class distinctions. It is never really defined too strictly, which benefits anyone who wants to be in power. A useful definition of the State is either “a body which maintains a monopoly on the <em>legitimate</em> use of force” or “a body which maintains a monopoly on <em>legitimate</em> decision-making.” The economist definition of a State put forward by Marxists doesn’t really tell us anything about <em>how</em> states have worked. Instead, it simply locates the State in its role in a market. It is possible, however, to conceive of governing bodies which do not impose themselves as economic actors, but simply exercise disciplinary control over human bodies. Such is the domination of the concentration camp.</p>
<p><em><br /> </em>I am going to begin with a few thoughts on anarchists and our collective inability to meaningfully respond to the theoretical maneuvers of Leninists. I believe most of these critiques are obvious to those inside and outside of the anarchist space. Since my intention with this piece is to contribute to anarchist critique of Leninism, with my intended audience being anarchists, I feel like it may be tasteful to begin with some humble self-criticism.</p>
<p>It has been my experience that many anarchists have regularly and compulsively presented themselves as victims of a global historical conspiracy. By and large, the anarchist space rejects the logic of submission and victimization often expressed by liberals and activists on the Left. We prefer to see ourselves as active partisans in a social clash waged inside of societies or between worlds. It is surprising, then, that anarchists would be so reluctant to critically analyze the historical failures of anarchism. Of course, we have faced off tyrants, capitalists, and political opportunists of the Left; we have fought wars against fascism; we have made ourselves the enemies of rapists and homophobes. In short: we have declared war on the Existent and find ourselves with few comrades. Because of this, we stand against tremendous odds. However, anarchists have not simply failed because of outside forces. If this is the case, we must analyze the significance of this reality and develop holistic strategies for defense. It is not enough to be the purest ideology in the marketplace of ideas.</p>
<p>In the last two decades, anarchists and others have written countless essays and pamphlets critiquing the <a href="">Spanish Civil War</a> and the Paris Commune, as well as other mis-steps within the anarchist current. Still, many anarchists are unfamiliar with these critiques or have not developed their own theory regarding the events.</p>
<p><br /> This brings me to my next point: anti-intellectualism in the anarchist space. This is a problem that has influenced nearly every human grouping since the dawn of symbolic thought. I don't care about most of those groups-- I want to talk to anarchists for a moment longer. It seems that Marxism, as an essentially idealist philosophy from the Hegelian tradition (despite all claims to the contrary), has primarily produced an endless cast of academics, intellectuals, published authors, professors and other paid thinkers. On the other hand, anarchism has developed primarily as an evolving <em>practice of revolt</em>. The existential differences between Marxism and anarchism are not by chance and are not without consequence. In light of these differences, and perhaps in a sense of arrogance or even resentment, anarchists have not often meaningfully engaged with theoretical texts. Worse, many anarchists have avoided <a href="">useful insight published by those pushing hardest at the barricades</a>! Explicitly anarchist independent distribution networks of all sizes exist internationally, and that is beautiful. There are anarchist study groups and publishers. Still, the role of engaging with strategic or tactical considerations, let alone theoretical engagements, has been somewhat specialized in the anarchist space. This is unacceptable. We must develop a culture of praxis in the anarchist space-- not so that we can abstractly bloviate on panels or in the university, but so that we can effectively spread social rebellion and disorder!</p>
<p>In recent years, the problem of anti-intellectualism has become less and less relevant. The crisis has given rise to several waves of anarchist activity all over the country – <a href="">particularly on the west coast</a>. In the current climate, even more so after the spontaneous developments of the #Occupy movement, anarchist networks have sprung up where they were previously lacking, including here in Atlanta. This is a perfect opportunity for many to begin with a proper footing.</p>
<p>With that said, let us begin…</p>
<p><em>"And since commodity production is less developed under bureaucratic capitalism, it too takes on a concentrated form: <strong>the commodity the bureaucracy appropriates is the total social labor, and what it sells back to the society is that society’s wholesale survival</strong>. The dictatorship of the bureaucratic economy cannot leave the exploited masses any significant margin of choice because it has had to make all the choices itself, and any choice made independently of it, whether regarding food or music or anything else, thus amounts to a declaration of war against it. This dictatorship must be enforced by permanent violence. <strong>Its spectacle imposes an image of the good which subsumes everything that officially exists, an image which is usually concentrated in a single individual</strong>, the guarantor of the system’s totalitarian cohesion."&nbsp;<br /> -The Society of the Spectacle, Thesis 64</em></p>
<p><em><br /> </em>Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Che, Kim Jung Il, Pol Pot…</p>
<p>Many people associate Leninism, or even Marxism generally, with the type of totalitarian cult of personalities surrounding the leaders of nearly every "successful" socialist regime. Leninists typically respond that, sure, cults of personality exemplify an obvious cultural shortcoming in the nation-states in question, but the leaders themselves usually did their best to actively combat obsession.&nbsp; According to the Leninists, critiques that reference the pattern of cults of personality lack a historical materialist understanding of the conditions surrounding the culture. Thus, the beloved leader's hands are washed of the cult surrounding them. Although some such critiques are obvious results of American propaganda, <a href="">there is still a clear issue of obsession over leadership within the Leninist tradition</a>-- and not every critique can or should be reduced to its "McCarthyist" or "rightist" origins.</p>
<p><br /> Socialism seeks to radically reform the legal regime of property (more on this later). A part of this process involves what leftists, including some anarchists, call "seizing the means of production." By this, Leninists mean something like "universal nationalization of wealth" or "socialization of all resources and industries." I could say this another way-- I could call this "concentrating the power to distribute goods and food into the hands of a small group of people."</p>
<p>It is simply intellectually lazy to critique cults of personalities without addressing the material conditions out of which they developed. Marxists should be very familiar with this process.</p>
<p>I would argue that any regime or government that consolidates forces of production and distribution into a single apparatus (whether Party or People's Army) is only able to reproduce slavish citizens. The centralization of production holds everyone dependent, against the alternative of certain war and famine, on the central apparatus. This daily existence in bureaucratic state capitalism, of the Leninist persuasion, <a href="">can only reproduce itself</a>. The citizen-worker-subject is trapped in an infinite cycle of subjectivization.&nbsp; Outside of this process stands only the sovereign: the patriarch who represents everything that could ever be free, the only thing that could ever meaningfully impact reality, the only individual left in a sick, dead world of work, poverty, misery, and obsession. Production, distribution, trade, security, Nation, and then dependence are wrapped up in a single concentrated spectacle: the Big Brother who accounts for all of one's needs.</p>
<p>Security and dinner came with Stalin's face branded on the packaging, so to speak.</p>
<p>In this way, the Leninist strategy of "seizing state power" <em>had</em> to have a Stalin.</p>
<p>In contemporary American society, with its <a href=" spectacle</a>, all of life is reduced to the consumption of competing, fluid and meaningless images that only specialists can understand. Americans create and participate in their own becoming-false. They are alien in their own bodies and see themselves as reflections of images. Under bureaucratic state capitalism, however, this was not so. Since all commodity circulation was centralized, the images of those commodities were also centralized. Everything was mediated by the image of the leader who was the only real actor in the entire social factory. There is no reason to believe that this will not happen again every single time production is organized this way.</p>
<p><strong>**I am not going to address the famines caused by forced industrialization or forced collectivization. It must be mentioned, however, that the centralization of power destroyed the Russian ecosphere and caused millions of deaths over several decades from famine and drought. Many Leninists today still view industrialization as good and view the reluctance of the peasants/sailors to send all of their food to Moscow for War Communism and redistribution to have been “individualist.” This comes, I believe, from a profound disregard in the Leninist tendency to consider environmental devastation as well as rampant authoritarianism. I am also not going to discuss Stalin’s forced labor and extermination camps because most Leninists understand that Stalin was a horrible bastard.**</strong></p>
<p>I'd like to spend the least time here because I think many people are aware of the deaths dealt at the hands of Lenin and other Leninist dictators. Of note is the suppression of the Kronstadt Commune and the Ukrainian Black Army. Both of these groups helped to overthrow the Tsar and collaborated with the Bolsheviks for years leading up to their deaths. Also noteworthy is the Stalinist repression of the Spanish anarchists and the Maoist beheadings of anarchists during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.</p>
<p>Leninists are often frustrated when anarchists bring these things up, and for good reason. Leninists (whether as strict Marxist-Leninists or as Maoists or Trotskyists) identify with a very particular historical moment. They see themselves as reflections of these leaders. They locate themselves in the theory, behaviors, and lives of these Great Men. To question the legitimacy of this his-story calls into question how they see themselves. Although they would argue that they are not dogmatic followers of their leaders, it is yet to be illustrated that they wouldn’t follow similar orders to maim and kill political opponents if they were made today. After all, there were many smart, independent, comrades who gladly persecuted political opponents under socialist governments.</p>
<p>When Leninists are confronted with the betrayals of the Kronstadt, don’t they always justify it? "It was a historical necessity." If it’s not a divine/objective necessity, like the colonization of the New World was thought to be, then it’s the fault of the anarchists. Why weren’t they sending grain to Moscow? Why weren’t they submitting to the orders of the Bolshevik leadership? Why did they oppose class collaboration with the national bourgeoisie? These excuses mimic the justification for virtually every imperialist or totalitarian venture in history.</p>
<p>The most insidious justification is that it was a sad thing that had to happen. This way, modern Leninists are able to distance themselves from behaviors that they see as wise and, besides being unfortunate, completely legitimate. They can maintain airs of radicalism while preserving their loyalty and commitment to the Party-line.</p>
<p>The final justification they offer is some form of disassembling. They insist that “Lenin wasn't a superhero” who could just do whatever he wanted. This is dishonest in full. Aside from the fact that the Bolshevik party was totally hierarchical and Lenin could have literally retracted the order to murder if he wanted, it is also an inconsistent distribution of agency. They laud Lenin for the good thing he does and divert blame for the bad things. <strong><em>Furthermore, anarchists know the problem wasn’t just Lenin. </em></strong>We are very much aware that the problem was totally structural. That is why we are against the State. People shouldn’t have the authority to make decisions like that. When people are able to dominate others, they usually do. Lenin could have been anyone…and that’s what scares us about his followers.</p>
<p>One thing I’d like to bring up before moving on is some context and appropriate understanding of anarchist temperament. Anarchists are not innocent activists and in none of these circumstances were they quietly trying to build up State power. Anarchists are rebels and in most of these circumstances they were actively moving forward with revolutionary maneuvers against domination. Because the Leninist Strategy of "seizing State power" involves establishing a new "revolutionary government", an equivocation is made whereby the "State" is substituted for "Revolution" and the phrase "enemy of the revolution" is subtly transformed into the Hobbesian/monarchist "enemy of the state." It is no surprise that enemies "on the right as well as the left" are opposed with tyrannical force. The State is to blame for anarchist deaths. That much is clear. This was not the oppression of legitimate citizens in an otherwise quaint society. The anarchists killed by Leninists and Maoists were casualties in a social war.</p>
<p><em>"Hence, our task, <strong>the task of Social-Democracy</strong>,<strong> is to combat spontaneity, to divert the working-class movement</strong>....and to bring it under the wing of revolutionary Social Democracy."<br /> -"What Is To Be Done?", “The Spontaneity of the Masses and the Consciousness of the Social-Democrats”</em></p>
<p><em><br /> </em>Perhaps the defining characteristic of Leninism as a distinct political philosophy is his revolutionary strategy developed in his text <em><a href="">What is To Be Done?,</a></em> published in 1901. In the text, Lenin describes the repressive conditions of the political situation in Tsarist Russia at the turn of the century and the potential vectors of revolt at that point, from his perspective (which, it turns out, is "objective" and "scientific"! How lucky!). The text describes a backward feudal society completely controlled by the Tsar and his police. Surveillance is near total and any attempts at economic blockades or even passive demonstration are met by brutal repression by the royal police force. Furthermore, there was little to no revolutionary momentum or theory coming from Russia at the time, outside of the Nihilist movement.</p>
<p>Lenin proposes that the spontaneous self-organization of the working class has as its limit "trade union consciousness" which can only negotiate conditions inside of market society and cannot develop the force necessary to overcome it. The only solution to this problem, Lenin believes, is to form secret, conspiratorial bands which will intervene in the struggle of the working class to beat back liberalism and to help develop an insurrectionary fervor. These groups, called cadres, would be federated with nuclei in the factories. Cadres would report back to the central committee of the Bolshevik Party, which would consolidate the information brought back and decide the strategic course of action at that point. When an insurrection begins, the Party will team with the advanced layers of the working class and their most revolutionary organizations and groups to "seize state power" with which to launch a "dictatorship of the proletariat."&nbsp;Remember that the State, according to Lenin, is simply an instrument of class oppression. Thus, once it is used by the Party to obliterate class distinctions, state functions will become totally redundant. The State will "wither away," bringing us to full Communism.</p>
<p>I do not believe that I have straw-manned the position of Lenin, although it is likely that I am inaccurate about some of the details. I have not thoroughly read <em>What is to be Done?</em>, but I have read several sections and I've discussed the text with self-described Leninists many times. Furthermore, I have read online overviews and watched short introductory videos. In short, I do not claim to be an expert-- so excuse any inaccuracies. Regardless, I believe this to be the basic position Lenin holds.</p>
<p><strong>Cadres vs. Affinity Groups: Similarities and Differences</strong></p>
<p><strong><em>Cadres</em></strong><br /> A cadre is a tight-knit group of professional revolutionaries who intervene in social movements and working class organizations according to the needs and recommendations of the larger coordinating body (i.e. the central committee). While cadres have relative autonomy because they are federated, they are not expressions of legitimate self-organization. Their membership guidelines preclude free association, while the party structure that governs them enforces ideological hegemony and conformity. Although in "democratic centralism" debate is encouraged, individuals are expected to go along with the majority decision. How this is distinct from contemporary bourgeois democracy is unclear to me.</p>
<p>In the post-Soviet socialist movement, many cadres do not attach themselves to central committees or parties at all. In either event, they have no first-person political development. They still see themselves as actors in a revolution "for the people". Cadres, I am attempting to establish, see themselves as separate from the rest of the population, in the service of the interests of the population (but not necessarily the desires.)</p>
<p><strong><em>Affinity Groups</em></strong><strong><br /> </strong>The affinity group is the basic unit of most anarchist organizing, especially from currents directly or indirectly influenced by Italian and North American insurrectionary anarchism. Affinity groups are essentially small, closed, informal groups of people who share a common goal, common knowledge and who have come together to directly achieve their goals. "Common goals" can be anything from "smash the windows out of the Niketown" to "make some leaflets before the march" to "hold the banner together." Affinity groups coordinate and organize themselves autonomously. They intervene however they see fit, but usually with some level of consideration for the plans of larger formations. "Common knowledge" means that each person in the affinity group has a general idea of everyone else's expectations, temperament, and how they will feel about the action they take following its execution, especially in the event of repression or failure. Affinity groups are normally between 3 and 10 people and come together only for a particular set of actions (i.e. informally).</p>
<p>Affinity is developed through discussion and shared experience. Affinity is not short-hand for "friendship," although it is often the case that people form affinity groups with those they are closest to socially. There are certainly limits to affinity-group organizing, especially in periods of open insurrection when it may be necessary to involve upwards of 100 people in infrastructural attacks (as happened in the December 2008 uprising in Greece), but they are still the basic unit of an autonomous uprisings. Organizing by affinity allows wide sectors of the population to develop critical thinking skills, the confidence to take initiative, and higher capacity to organize and coordinate combative activity, as well as providing for each person's material and emotional needs.</p>
<p><strong><em>Self-Organization vs. Substitutionism</em></strong><br /> Anarchist affinity groups, and affinity groups in general, are expressions of autonomous self-organization. They do not seek to represent the "interests" of any group of people and they act purely according to the desires of those involved.&nbsp; Affinity group organizing does not seek to over-determine the field of legitimate human activity, nor does it succumb to the liberal traps of democracy or formalism. Affinity groups are formed any time groups of people come together to act. This is the type of self-organization seen in <a href="">Montreal 2011</a>, <a href=" 2005, Italy 1977, Algeria 2001</a> and, of course, Seattle 1999.</p>
<p>On the other hand, cadre organizations see themselves as the legitimate agents of a social clash. They need to control, oversee, and defend the movement against capital which, unfortunately for them, is overrun with "unconscious" masses. Cadres seek to perform a specialized task so that they can substitute themselves for the revolting people. For cadres, unruliness and ungovernability are problems that must be overcome. Cadres must build up legitimacy in working class organizations, usually without revealing themselves, so that they can exercise disproportionate influence over decisions. In this way, they are authoritarian and destructive to any liberatory project.</p>
<p>We could say this another way: Anarchists, as anti-representational catalysts of destabilization and revolt, experience themselves as forms of life incompatible with all domination. The cadre sees itself as the touched-up image of a revolting populace in the theater of political life.</p>
<p><strong>A Few Thoughts on "Armed Struggle"</strong></p>
<p>One particular strategy of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, especially popular in the 1970s, is the strategy of the “armed vanguard.” The idea is essentially that a nuclei or cadre will arm itself, go underground, and levy armed clashes with the State. This specialized activity cannot be done by most sectors of the population and will, therefore, nurture awe and respect for the “Revolutionary Organizations.”</p>
<p>This strategy is a strategy of substitutionism, like many Leninist projects. As has been mentioned <a href=", “the force of insurrection is social, not military.” The question is not quantitative, as in how much damage was done to capitalist infrastructure or how many were killed, but rather qualitative: <em>How deep has the practice of revolt spread in society?</em> Anarchists do not seek to constitute ourselves as a counter-subject, a counter-state, which will wage war with the existing State and eventually overcome it. Anarchists seek to create a livable and endless state of exception whereby society has made itself completely unrulable.</p>
<p>In recent years, anarchists in some places have adopted the urban guerrilla strategy, <a href=", and aesthetic of the Maoists. They insist they are not a vanguard, but <a href=" are not enough</a>. <a href=" has been written on the subject</a> and I will not go further into it here.</p>
<p><strong><em>"Seizing State</em></strong> <strong>Power"<br /> </strong>The State exists for its own reasons. Leninists and most Marxists make the argument that the State is simply a tool of the bourgeoisie and that its functions should be taken over by the Party to repress their political opponents.<br /> <br /> Let's be <em>absolutely</em> clear about what this means, because Leninists always try to avoid the facts about this situation:</p>
<p>In order the repress the bourgeoisie or the "enemies of the revolution/state" - including anarchists and other "infantile" ultra-leftists - the Party wants to <em>become</em> the government. <strong><em>The "dictatorship of the proletariat" needs very specific things to exercise its control: </em></strong></p>
<p><strong><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Police to round up perceived class enemies, </em></strong></p>
<p><strong><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; courts to judge them in, </em></strong></p>
<p><strong><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; prisons to hold them in, </em></strong></p>
<p><strong><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and a centralized military to defend from outsiders. </em></strong></p>
<p><em><br /> </em>It is common for Leninists to critique "the capitalist state", "racist police," and the "privatized prison system." These phrases have the appearances of radicalism. The terms "capitalist", "racist" and "privatized" seem to be modifying the nouns "state", "police", and "prison." But that couldn't be further from the truth. They are using distinct nouns. Leninists are not against the State, like anarchists are. They are against <em>this </em>state. They are not against police. They are against <em>these</em> police. They are against <em>these</em> prisons. The problem of the State, for Leninists, is an administrative question. In their eyes, the wrong regime holds power. In this light ,we can see them for what they are: the most extreme social democrats for a drastically reformed state. The mode of this reform is revolution. That is perhaps the most profound difference between Leninists and Scandinavian-style social democrats who believe in the vote.</p>
<p><br /> In any case, "seizing state power" is an obscene idea in today’s world. The State is no longer the primary impetus of domination in today’s Empire. To add to the directory of "independent countries" only contributes to our current asphyxiation. The enemy today confronts us as a set of <em>governing practices dispensed in a permanent state of global counter-insurgency</em>, not just as a class of dastardly expropriators. The entire project of constructing People's governments failed miserably in every single attempt. Even if it was simply the fault of outside forces, that reality is something Lenin's followers are going to have to account for.</p>
<p><em>“ The true contrary of the proletariat is not the bourgeoisie. It is the bourgeois world, imperialist society, of which the proletariat, let this be noted, is a notorious element, as the principal productive force and as the antagonistic political pole… To say proletariat and bourgeoisie is to remain within the bounds of the Hegelian artifice: something and something else. Why? Because the project of the proletariat, its internal being, is not to contradict the bourgeoisie, or to cut its feet from under it. This project is communism, and nothing else. That is, the abolition of any place in which something like a proletariat can be installed. The political project of the proletariat is the disappearance of the space of the placement of classes. It is the loss, for the historical something, of every index of class. ”<br /> - “Theory of Worlds”, pg. 7</em></p>
<p><strong><br /> </strong>A critique of Lenin can't be made in a vacuum. Lenin is one of the most famous and respected socialists in the world. I'd like to take some time to shit-talk socialism as a political category and as a theoretical system. I'd like to make the case the socialism is not an alternative system to capitalism at all and that its proponents are not even communists. Socialism is a system of distribution inside of a capitalist economy. Socialism preserves the labor-capital relationship and the alienation of human labor. Socialism even preserves the value-form and the general M-C-M' formula of capitalism.</p>
<p><strong><br /> Socialization and the Legal Regime of Bureaucratic Capitalism</strong></p>
<p>Capitalism is a set of social relations whereby wealth is extracted from human activity. The general formula for this relationship, one that is vague enough to account for many types of capitalist management and distribution, is Money-Commodity-More Money (M-C-M'). In this set up, everything is subjected to the demands of the economy. It's also important to remember that capitalism developed in the terrain of many other imbalanced social relations, including patriarchy, white supremacy, and heteronormativity. I am not going to go too much into the details about capitalism here, but others have offered compelling and full analyses of the revolutionary <a href="">mode of production.</a></p>
<p>Capitalism as a mode of production is composed of different parts. The most obvious parts include the working humans and those who oversee the extraction of value from their behavior (these people almost always profit from that behavior, but I suppose that's not necessary). Capitalism is reproduced because people keep behaving in ways that produce value. This is, of course, a tautology. The community of capital is why there is capitalism. Everyday life under capitalism <em>is</em> capitalism. The only way to destroy capitalism is to destroy the <a href="">value-form</a> and all relations of exchange through the negative projects of collective self-negation and <a href="">communization.</...
<p>What does all of this mean?<br /> First, let me back up.</p>
<p><strong>Socialism as Radical Reformism</strong></p>
<p>Socialism is a system of government that radically re-defines the legal regime of property (most obviously from "private" to "public"). Capitalists are no longer allowed to hold property and they are repressed for trying. The representatives inside of the Party control the property. <a href="">But we know that there is a huge difference between "public property" and "no property."</a></p>
<p>Under socialism, the M-C-M' equation is preserved and the capitalists are replaced with bureaucrats inside of the Party. This is a well-known critique of socialism even amongst "ordinary people."</p>
<p>If we are still compelled to work by factors outside of our control where we are still producing wealth and value for others to enjoy, and we still must suffer the boredom and misery of industrial metropolitan society, aren't we still living under capitalism? Socialists (including Leninists and other authoritarians) are quick to point out the standard of living of the masses of citizens in socialists countries but this begs a question: is socialism simply a welfare state on steroids? <em>Is this a quantitative question or a qualitative one? </em>All things indicate to me that socialism is, in fact, capitalism in its nicest possible form.</p>
<p>Until it can be illustrated that socialism is something other than a redistribution of wealth, it should still be considered an element of capitalist accumulation and political-economy. Furthermore, it is an apparent strategy of authoritarian politics to equivocate the meanings of “the people”, “the state”, or “the party.” These key words are deeply coded, but they all mean the same thing: small groups of people controlling others, often by pretending to be on their side.</p>
<p>To quote from a <a href="">particularly popular iconoclast</a>, <em>“</em><em>A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: "I, the state, am the people."</em></p>
<p><strong>A FEW TENTATIVE CONCLUSIONS</strong></p>
<p><strong><br /> </strong>Anarchy and Leninism are distinct. There is an ocean between the <a href=" of anarchy</a> and the positive political program of Marxist-Leninism.</p>
<p>Anarchy is the destruction of all authority, the destabilization of all control, the unruly indulgence of lust and passion, the Dionysian explosion of Life and excess. The anarchist sprints forward infinitely past the tyranny of the "possible" and toward living life to the fullest. The anarchist seeks to develop the material solidarities to provide for one another's emotional, mental, spiritual and physical needs in the present tense, so that we may launch a counter-attack against everything that has made us ashamed of our bodies and our dreams and so that we may encounter worlds we never considered before.</p>
<p>The positive project of Marxism-Leninism seeks to impose a new world of Order. They seek to construct a reality of scientific coherence whereby the current categories of society may fully realize themselves. For the Leninist, life is always <em>elsewhere</em>. Although they speak of communism, they aim to build a new socialist government. The Leninist believes so little in the human capacity to self-organize and in the capacity of individuals to take their lives into their own hands, that they command strict adherence to a Party of technocrats and intellectuals.</p>
<p>In any case, the relative irrelevance and lack of traction amongst young people toward Lenin should be relieving for anarchists. <em>In this context, we shouldn't trap ourselves into identitarian ghettos.</em> <strong>Insurrection is a social event</strong>. In the coming years, we may find allies in strange places. That being said, <em>we should collaborate with other groups on our own terms as distinct autonomous partisans with our own ideas about how struggles should move forward. </em>Our collaboration with Leninists should be contingent and relative to our level of affinity with individuals on a limited scope for specific purposes. We should work with them informally whenever possible for the mutual gain of all. This general strategy, of course, rewards the anarchist spirit more than the Leninist tendency, as Leninists tend to hesitate initiating meaningful radical intervention in the social clash.</p>
<p>Although we should not back down from critiquing authoritarian socialists, we should recognize their relative weakness in the current context. It can be important for anarchists to establish the autonomous space for anarchy by distancing themselves from the Left. While that is important, we shouldn't focus too much energy on defining ourselves in a positive sense - the better to recuperate our efforts! There is an entire social terrain to find accomplices and friendships. We should focus on building those necessary complicities in anticipation of the social clash with domination. Once we have established the necessary distance between anarchist spaces and the Leninist Parties, we should shift to a general strategy of ignoring them completely, when it comes to organization, <em>except</em> for when we may be able to work together.</p>


Is it the 1920s all over again? Kronstadt? Yikes.

Wow this rules

Hey Worker. This is originally from Atlanta IMC. There is a ton of markup, including hyperlinks and italics and bold that is missing here on @news. Can you please fix it? Thanks.

This is the longest trollbait I have ever seen. EMILE???

Some context: Atlanta had a Lenin Piñata Party recently which set off a whole shit storm on indymedia (read the linked comments for just a taste!), Facebook, and listservs. The Marxists remain quite upset.

They should be happy it was a pinata party and not an attack.

Fuck the trots, maoists, and other leninist scum.


The Lenin Piñata Party was an attack.


We ended the night by feasting on Lenin's innards (currently being referred to as Lennards while supplies last) and burning Lenin's corpse (which went up in blue and green flames)

Plus, best vegan mac and cheese in the entire world... seriously is like a bomb on Leninist organizing in Atlanta. No one wants a part of that. Every one wants best vegan mac and cheese in the entire world... seriously.

So much trolling on Atlanta IMC. Here's a taste:

I was putting off reading this because it's clearly tl;dr.  I ended up reading it because it's clearly not tl;dgaf.

After reading it under a very kind tree on this unusually chilly morning I must proclaim: Hahahahahaha, what a sick fucking burn.

All yall Lenin lickers just got served a shit sandwich.  I'd ask you how it tastes, but it's clear that yalls throats were slit and shit sandwiches were stuffed STUFFED down yalls necks and now yalls headless and just overflowing with shit and shitty bread.  Gross.

Since the anon author of the tl;dr piece above somehow failed to mention how yall are incapable of any fun at all without drinking alcohol and how yalls so obviously and painfully sexually repressed, I'd just like to remind your sorry asses of that about yourselves.  We're going to maintain our illegitimate polyopoly on the force of joy by all means unnecessary.  Only anarchists are pretty and don't you try to forget it - WE'LL NEVER LET YOU.

Imagine if we were actually capable of defining ourselves against an enemy that was in some way relevant, rather than the corpse of a particularly shit tendency from 20th Century social democracy.

In my city, Leninists weasel around and destroy movements so...

I know people read the "lenin was a clown piece". It is relevant to critique this shit.

I know a little bearded Leninist clown piece in Montreal who's been doing that shit for years... I dunno if you were referring to him. BUt no names, in respect to Anews principles.

Unfortunately Atlanta has a lot of shit bags who like to talk down on and disparage people who aren't Leninists.
They've tried and failed miserably to cash in on some social capital and run off with our projects and hard work. (that's what they do in Atlanta, they manage while anarchists do the hard work and then they claim the credit. Any Atlanta A-hole knows the dynamic of who does what work on the Howell house park.)
Sure there are more relevant targets but I can't pass up an opportunity to bring massive amounts of butt hurt on a few movement managers.
Watching them squirm and rage is well worth the effort and time if you ask me.

What the fuck did you do? Did you really make a bunch of images in photoshop and then export them together as a PDF? It looks all shitty on my screen. The text is blurry and hard to read. The circle on the front is all jaggy. Folks that need to increase text size to read it or that use text-to-speech software simply can't. THIS THE WRONG WAY TO DO IT.

Looks fine on my comp...

Since you're obviously copping the steez of newer Crimethinc publications and the IEF why don't you get in touch with them and find out how they make their PDFs?

> Maoists from other parts of the country

You mean Kasama.

What have anti-authoritarians done in other places to combat Kasama's influence?

there's other growing Maoist groups too that are neither Kasama or RCP. They seem to have territories like gangs. This one is dominant where I live :

What website! It looks great, easy to navigate, and their imagery really grabs you. Take a look at the covers of their periodical: That's some nice design (and black flags abound!!).

It's always shocking to me that shitty Maoists and other shades of statist have such a better grasp on communication than anarchist projects. This better grasp really shows through on their websites and communications strategies.

LLCO comes off 10x more culty than even the RCP. I'm impressed. That's quite a feat.

From their site after a cursory search for their commentary on us ultra-leftists:


What about anarchists?

Anarchists have opposed scientific leadership of the revolutionary movement in various ways since Marx’s day. Their impact has been mixed. Historically, anarchists and communists have the same goal, but they differ on how to get there. There is a Leading Light saying: communists are anarchists with a plan. Anarchists often claim to oppose state power in general. But, they, like communists, usually agree with some kind of organized New Power when pressed. Anarchists are usually very vague about the shape it takes. They usually desire a more disorganized type of New Power. Their rhetoric often rejects any kind of transition period from capitalism to communism. They often reject scientific planning for emotion and intuition. They have sometimes, out of desperation and lack of strategic planning, turned to random, petty, pathetic acts of violence, which are mostly ignored by everyone but themselves. Many anarchists consider the breaking of windows a heroic act. In these regards, they are infantile and utopian. They often want to go too far, too fast. They are irresponsible and unaccountable. Historically, they have not accomplished much. They have usually sat on the sidelines criticizing those forces that are more effective, including proletarian, communist forces and anti-imperialist forces. However, Lenin once wrote that he would rather ally with the anarchists than the revisionist social-democrats, the liberals of his day.

Today, anarchists are a mixed bag. There are First Worldist anarchists who narrowly emphasize “the workers.” There are First Worldists who fail to understand the reactionary nature of the First World as a whole. There are those anarchists who emphasize community building and mutual aid. There are anarchists who emphasize returning to nature and tribalism. Even though many profess anarchism, most practice a kind of movementarianism that is indistinguishable from the First Worldist social-democratic forces around them. Many practice a paralyzing and unscientific identity politics as an incorrect answer to chauvinism. Some are more concerned with their personal lifestyles than with changing the world. Their politics come from a very privileged place where they are not accountable to the masses. Their politics tends to be individualist and egotistical at times — more than other trends. Anarchists are unable to understand the balance of social forces scientifically. So, they are unable to prioritize struggles. They fail to understand the need to unite against imperialism. They often do not uphold the united front. They are often anti-theoretical; they often demand blind action. Their politics are often based on emotion and individualism. Green and primitivist anarchists have some unity with the Leading Light on the critique of the global capitalist system, especially First World consumption. Some of them may be important allies in the First World. Some of them may be more open to advancing to Leading Light consciousness. Other anarchist trends tend to be First Worldist. Even so, many anarchists can still be good allies and friends at the level of front work, at the tactical level, and on the streets.

What about other utopians?

Anarchists are not the only utopians. There are plenty of people who have imagined a radically better world, but have proposed no serious way to get there. They refuse to address the issues of power and transition. They refuse to look at social forces. These utopians are a mixed bunch. There are technological utopians who imagine a world where all problems are simply solved by increasing the level of technology without concern for ideology, culture or reorganization of power. “Robots will save the day” is their mantra. This is a primitive version of the Theory of Productive Forces. There are also primitivist utopians, including some anarchists, who think that all problems are solved by returning to the ways of earlier, “primitive” societies. These people rarely state how the transitions are supposed to happen except in the vaguest ways. “Raising consciousness,” “education,” until reaching “a critical mass,” etc. are their empty mantras. They tend to have the Christian outlook that everyone can be reached so long as they hear the “Good News.” Other utopians cease to focus on the world at all, they instead focus on simply creating their own little utopia in the here-and-now through co-ops and communes of various kinds — often based on and situated within the imperialist economy. “Tune in, turn on, drop out.” When it really comes down to it, these efforts do little to change anything by themselves. Endless feel-good “community building,” without tying it to the global struggle, is their manta.

And just like the other Maoists, they seem to be fucking entangled into Third World workers "solidarity"... although it's quite clear they are going to pacify those red movements, do the good ol' colonial job of White control of the oppressed through co-option.

Did the MEND and the South African gold miners who are currently on massive wild strikes (look that up, it's really interesting) needed fucking White blockhead commies from rich countries to carry out their uprising? But on the other hand, the Maoists were very useful tools of the fucking UN during the disarming of the Nepal rebels!

There is no way LLCO is more than 2 white dudes in their parents basement. NO. WAY. Have you seen their video on how we need like 15 revolutions before we get to communism? Stagist theory at its finest!

This was pretty good, got better towards the end, althogh there are a few idiosyncracies, such as calling Seattle the place where people are "pushing hardest against the barricades" - which could only possibly be true if one is only talking about the US. I apreciated that the author knew enough about Lennists (and even Marxists) to make the point that they are in many ways capitalist, and not even opposed to the "free market" (as long as there are no profits on labor) or private property (so long as it's not ownership of the means of production).

I really like that quote from Theory of Worlds, will have to read that. My views are probably unpopular but I often disagre on the edges of some critiques of militancy and the possibility of it being generalized among people, especially in places like Georgia where many people have the material capcaity for armed struggle.

But where I think Maoists, the least stale form of Lenninism today, get some traction, even with young people, is there focus on international imperialism and global poverty, inequality and so forth. As anarchists we get so obsessed with our localities that we do tend, as this article pointed out at the beginning, to see ourselves as victims too much and pander to the victim identity of others, whereas maoists can be brutal in telling "working class" Americans that they're actually among the global rich and sustaining imperialism.

"wild, uncontrollable"etc., and yet you debate leninism?? How about debating naziism?
So retarded is some of anarchism still. To remain on the leftist terrain forever? To
implicitly represent the idea that at least we are more advanced than fucking marxism-leninism?
So backward- and irrelevant.

ATLien checking in.

I'd usually agree with you, but in our local context a piece like this was sorely needed. Tensions between partisans of total liberation and various authoritarians posing as communists had been growing locally since the beginning of the long, slow death of Occupy Atlanta.

Some of us worked harder than others to dynamite the fault lines. Our work paid off--EARTHQUAKE! This piece is part of the aftershocks. More to come.

such as calling Seattle the place where people are "pushing hardest against the barricades" - which could only possibly be true if one is only talking about the US.

Dunno but I assumed they meant in the US. A good thing to point out though because anarchists should probably see what they are doing locally in an international, not national context. Then again of course from American city to American city we have some things in common more than with other places.

And I also think it's a bit silly / irrelevant to think that any city in America is going the hardest or whatever; very different contexts from place to place. I didn't regard it as too much of a distraction from the text though, because I don't think that kind of ranking was what the author meant and because I think what has happened in Seattle has been and obvious influence on people in Atlanta, and this is just one glimpse of that.

"But where I think Maoists, the least stale form of Lenninism today, get some traction, even with young people, is there focus on international imperialism and global poverty, inequality and so forth. As anarchists we get so obsessed with our localities that we do tend, as this article pointed out at the beginning, to see ourselves as victims too much and pander to the victim identity of others, whereas maoists can be brutal in telling "working class" Americans that they're actually among the global rich and sustaining imperialism."

In other words more Manichean whining, more regurgitated spins on good and evil through terms like first world 3rd world good hegemony bad hegemony. Anarchists have their problems, but the best of us are trying to weed out the plebeian noise that is the rule of any Marxist mouth peace

I'm still uneducated about what the fuck Leninism is, but as anarchists, aren't we naturally against ALL authority? Do we have to be specific against which authorities we are against? Just Leninism? What about Stalinism, or Trotskyism, or Maoism, or National Socialism, or fucking Democrats, Republicans, or 3rd parties? What about the homophobic, anti-semetic Nation of Islam?
Just seems like you're going out of yr way to give petty bureaucrats too much attention, (not that they should be ignored, but singled out seems odd), or am I wrong here?

Stalinists, Trotskyites, and Maoists, are all self-identified Marxist-Leninists. I suspect the reason the piece is focusing on those instead of nazis, politicians, or fundamentalists is because anarchists have a history of organizing with Leninists for various causes. Does that explain it?

This piece seems to confuse the dominant tendencies of Leninism with marxism writ large, and I don't think really does much service to understanding the currents that are actually at work in the radical left right now. Don't misunderstand, I'm an anarchist, and I share a lot of these critiques especially as they apply to maoists and trots, and certainly the history is there.

But there is a more complex history when you're looking at marxists as a big group historically. For important historical examples various left communist and councilist currents throughout European 20th century history had, and still have, many of the same critiques of Leninism, state power, democratic centralism, etc (somewhat fashionable is the phrase "little 'c' communism"). What I find a little bit maddening, is that it seems a lot of people writing in the a-news/insurrecto/ex-primmie currents either knowingly or unknowingly use the above tendencies to critique marxism with broad strokes, for example the Situationists. Other examples I've seen and only recently gotten over my anti-marxism to take seriously as ideas on their own merit: Council Communism of the German-Dutch inter-war period, Italian autonomist marxism or operaismo, or more currently, the Dauve/Troploin, Theorie Communiste groups. In the US there is an interesting tradition out of Leninism (so was italian autonomism, btw), known as Johnson-Forrest Tendency, which begot groups like STO, which were a fascinating workplace/anti-racist/anti-oppressive group from the 70s to early 80s.

I guess point being, we can have these critiques and also appreciate what is owed historical currents and how they actually relate to the ideas of anti-statism, anti-capitalism, anti-oppression, and they weren't all from anarchists. Likely chance they influenced some of your favorite anarchists.

"I guess point being, we can have these critiques and also appreciate what is owed historical currents and how they actually relate to the ideas of anti-statism, anti-capitalism, anti-oppression, and they weren't all from anarchists. Likely chance they influenced some of your favorite anarchists."

Well the ultra left Marxist tendencies that you mention are usefully in how far they move away from Marx and how much closer they move to someone like Stirner or Nietzsche, in essence these ideas would have been even better without the Marxism.

Anarchists who sort of fell apart after 1940 are simply appropriating what is rightfully theirs. Marx was always a reactionary from the time he went out of his way fuck the dog on Stirner's points, basically Marxism is primarily responsible for the continuation of abstract alien humanistic optimism that should have come to an end in intellectual circles after 1845 when Stirner put that book of his out. 160 plus years later we are approaching the line of flight that should have been taken at the mid point of the 19th century.

And as someone said, debating Leninism is like debating Nazism, they share some fundamentally similar characteristics in terms of conceptions of movement(Agamben) and brutal state power practices(which the Nazis gleefully borrowed when they got to power).
Treat them as the cult they are and pour water on the papers if you have to.

"Well the ultra left Marxist tendencies that you mention are usefully in how far they move away from Marx and how much closer they move to someone like Stirner or Nietzsche, in essence these ideas would have been even better without the Marxism."

What did you read by CLR James, Anton Pannekoek, Silvia Federici, Gilles Dauve, or Amadeo Bordiga and find a sense of "more nietszche/stirner than marx"??

At any rate, I think people should take Leninism more seriously than they do. They have a much bigger base than anarchists due despite having, for the most part, worse politics. That allows them to both push things forward or shut them down as they want to and that's a serious obstacle for revolution.

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