Friday, 9 June 2017

Libcom, Nationalism & the Cultural Dope!

  Cookbook Thinking on the Left

READING on the so-called 'anarchist' website libcom their recent analysis of the Manchester Arena Atrocity and an article on the rise  of  nationalistic popularism, I was impressed initially by the rapidity of their response to events.    But on closer examination we see the architecture of the arguments are built on sand.  Such exotic assertions as the pretentious Internationalist Communist Tendency [ICT] and its affiliate the CWO [Communist Workers Organisation]** presented on libcom can clearly be seen to be nonsense if we boil them down to their basic propositions:

The Brexit vote = [a] green light for bigots and racists everywhere. 


The Turkish referendum = [a] green light for bigots and racists everywhere. 

Trump becoming President = [a] green light for bigots and racists everywhere. 

Our job = [to] undermine racism by stressing the fact that wage workers [world-wide] are in the same boat

The working class = a class of migrants and has been throughout capitalist history

 “Workers have no country”

Whatever other differences we have, we are united as a class by the fact that we are all the exploited victims

 'No war but the class war'.

Now read the orIginal piece entitled 'NATION or CLASS?' in full in all its drama:

'Imperialist aggression abroad means increased racism at home. The Brexit vote, like the victory of the AK party in the Turkish referendum, or Trump becoming President, have given the green light for bigots and racists everywhere. Attacks on people perceived to be outsiders have escalated dramatically. Some of this has been orchestrated by the state. Under the umbrella of “the war on terror” regimes around the world have a perfect excuse to lock up and murder anyone whose very existence might spoil the official picture of ‘the nation’.
'The working class is a class of migrants and has been throughout capitalist history. Let’s not fall for “nationalist” claptrap or defence of any country. When capitalists call on us to “defend the country” they are really calling on workers to die in defence of their property. “Workers have no country” as Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto. Whatever other differences we have, we are united as a class by the fact that we are all the exploited victims of capitalism. This makes the working class the international and internationalist class. Collectively it is the only force capable of putting an end to the infernal cycle of crisis and war. Today it’s not so much that we have a world to win – we have a world to save from a system which offers only social and environmental devastation.'

The basis of this so-called Marxist class analysis is that it treats working people as if they are cultural dopes and are constantly being tricked by events.    This can be understood by perusing the propositons they propound below:

Why should 'Imperialist aggression abroad = increased racism at home'?  
Why does 'The Brexit vote = [a] green light for bigots and racists everywhere'?
 Why does 'The Turkish referendum = [a] green light for bigots and racists everywhere'?
Why does 'Trump becoming President = [a] green light for bigots and racists everywhere'
Why is 'The working class = a class of migrants and has been throughout capitalist history'?
Why is there 'No war but the Class War'?  and if so how does it help us in our current situation?

Nothing is really explained for us in the text of either of the articles 'Nation or Class?' or 'The Manchester Arena Atrocity' account.

The problem with this kind of writing and analysis is that it is about using a formula or recipe to spin a tale so that the critique almost writes itself.  

Why is libcom, an anarchist website, publishing this kind of vulgar Marxism?  Why is it offering us this half-baked anarcho-marxism sometimes called anarcho-communism?

Simply because the anarchists around this website lack intellectual rigor.  Few or them seem to have served  a serious apprenticeship in practical anarchism or factory conditions.  Consequently, they have fallen under the influence of a kind of Sunday School League types like the former Manchester housing manager, Mike Ballard (revolutionary communist) from Chorlton or is it Didsbury?, and the former London librarian, Nick Heath of the Anarchist-Fed. These are both white-collar office staff creatures who promote the kind of clap-out thinking which prevails in the International Communist Tendency above, and which now dominates the libcom website. 

It makes no attempt to grasp why nationalism is so attactive to many working people, and why it represents something they are often prepared to die for in a way they are unwilling to throw down their lives in the class struggle. 

 *    The Internationalist Communist Tendency is a political international whose member organisations identify with the Italian left communist tradition. It was founded as the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party in 1983 as a result of a joint initiative by the Internationalist Communist Party (Battaglia Comunista) in Italy and the Communist Workers Organisation (CWO) in Britain. Its other affiliates are the Internationalist Workers Group / Groupe Internationaliste Ouvrier in the United States and Canada, the Gruppe Internationaler SozialistInnen (GIS) in Germany and a small French Section.
**   The Communist Workers Organisation (CWO) is a British left communist group and an affiliate of the Internationalist Communist Tendency, formerly the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party. It publishes a quarterly magazine, Revolutionary Perspectives and distributes an agitational broadsheet Aurora.


Anonymous said...

Hate to contradict you, Mr Draper but I have worked in both a factory and an industrial laundry run on factory lines. I also worked as a hospital worker, kitchen porter and road sweeper. I went to poly as a mature student at the age of 38 and then worked as a library worker. I was a shop steward as a hospital worker, ditto as a roadsweeper and ditto as a library worker. Perhaps a little more investigation might have enlightened you on this as can be read on this blog if you'd taken the trouble of looking.
More than can be said of someone who appears to have been a teacher all of their working life
Nick Heath

bammy said...

Dear Nick Heath, you are wrong to attribute this to Mr Draper. I am the author of this not Mr. Draper. Thanks for your CV! Like you, I was at Manchester Poly in the mid-1970s. That was a time when the vulgar Marxism & the historical determinism I describe in my post was all the rage in higher education. It would have suited Mr Ballard, you & the commie characters that support the ICT & WCO. I, as you probably know, belong to another tradition: that of ethnomethodology & ethnography.

Nick Heath said...

I'm afraid I do not support the ICT or the CWO, as you falsely allege.Neither am I involved in the Libcom site apart rom contribute historical pieces, and the occasional comment. I am certainly not involved in the running and administration of the site.For that matter Mike Ballard is in the same position. You yourself have made comments on the site in the past. Unlike you, I do not jump to false conclusions. Yes I'm proud of being an anarchist communist, like Kropotkin, reclus, Malatesta. I am certainly not a left communist and have many criticisms of their still Bolshevik outlook.

bammy said...

Nick Heath writes: 'Unlike you, I do not jump to false conclusions.'
Maybe, but you did falsely conclude that Chris Draper wrote the above post. This post was clearly posted by 'bammy', & Chris Draper posts under his own name. He has a thing about that!