Tag Archives: revolution

The state

By Reece Lawton

I will be making extensive use of Lenin’s work ‘The State and Revolution’, as it is one of the best works concerning the nature of the state.

To all libertarians, right or left wing, the state is an evil, as it is authority. What’s more, it is not just authority: it is the supreme authority. The state has ‘special bodies of armed men’ (as Lenin put it) at its disposal, to enforce obedience. The state, above all else, limits liberty, so it must be abolished once and for all, in one fell swoop. In this text, I hope to explain what the state is, and what socialists must do following the socialist revolution. This text is also an attack against all of the ideologies that claim to be libertarian, and to expose them as idealistic.

The State

The state is a tool of the ruling class to oppress the other classes. In capitalism, there are two main classes: the proletariat and the bourgeoisie (well, there is the petit bourgeoisie, but they’re irrelevant and their numbers are shrinking). The bourgeoisie uses the state and it’s instruments (police, army, etcetera) to oppress and exploit the proletariat; the bourgeoisie is the ruling class, the proletariat is the exploited class. The interests of the supra classes conflict- the bourgeoisie wants to exploit the proletariat as much as possible, whereas the proletariat’s interests are to seize the means of production for itself, abolish the bourgeois state and become the ruling class, thus ending it’s exploitation.

What’s stopping the proletariat from seizing power? First and foremost, class consciousness, but let’s say that every proletarian was aware that they would be better off without the bourgeoisie, and that they were willing to revolt against their bourgeois masters. The main obstacle then would be the state. The police, the army, the air force, drones, missiles, etcetera. The state is a tool for one class to oppress and exploit another-

“A standing army and police are the chief instruments of state power.” (Lenin).

“The ancient and feudal states were organs for the exploitation of the slaves and serfs; likewise, “the modern representative state is an instrument of exploitation of wage-labor by capital.” (Kautsky)

Anarcho-Capitalists:

Anarcho-capitalists advocate the abolishment of the state, but insist on keeping capitalism (try to suppress your laughter!). The state no longer exists, people get to keep what they earn and no person has to pay taxes ever again! It’s a capitalists dream!

Or is it?

If this is the best form of capitalism, why have the capitlaists not abolished the state and built up monopolies? Imagine the aforementioned situation of there being no state, but capitalism still thrives.

Say there arises the situation where international trade is wanted. Quickly they discover that a group is needed which will represents the national trade-interrests and will ensure a trade-advantage for it’s members.
Libertarians will say that there is nothing wrong with that. Still, it is the first step towards a new state!
The trade-organisation won’t work for free in a capitalist world and so they will begin to demand pay.
Contribution will be asked with it’s members, what will mean that non-members will receive no benefit. We then stand at a situation where benefitted collegue’s are providing unfair competition.
Again, Libertarians will argue that it is not unfair and that traders and entrepeneurs are free to join the organisation.

So, the non-members are more or less forced to become a member, if they want to stay in business. Once a member, they too will have to pay contribution-fee’s, which will rise and rise because it is cheaper to represent a smaller group, than it is representing a larger group. The represeting organisation will have to grow to be able to cope with the ever growing expectations of it’s members.

Then we arive at the inevitable point where the members discover that not only they, but also the civilians benefit of the organisations actions. Now two things can happen, since the members will want to get back the costs of the contributions through the civilians. They will they raise prices (an obscure version of taxes), or they all will decide to directly charge the civilians. In other words, taxes.

And so we arive at the current situation where all civilians and traders/entrepeneurs are forced to pay a representing group. What has actually changed? Terminology. “Taxes” becomes “contribution” and “the state” becomes “the representation” or “the organisation”.

So Libertarian ideas revolving around their version of a free market are a paradoxal idea and will never work.

Now that we have exposed right wing libertarianism as the moronic ‘theory’ that it is, we shall move onto left wing libertarianism (or anarchism).

Anarchism

The anarchists propose the State’s immediate abolishment, overnight; we Marxists counter propose that such idealism is pragmatically impossible, because the proletariat would need to crush the bourgeois resistance through a mechanism, and that is the state. Only a fool would say that the bourgeosie would not try to regain its power, and only a fool would say that we do not need an army to defeat the reaction! Anarchists present Makhno and his peasant army as a shining example of how anarchism can defeat the counter revolution, but upon analysing Makhno’s anarchism falls apart. Makhno’s army was a tool to oppress the bourgeoisie, was it not? And the councils set up under Makhno served the peasantry, a class, in it’s conquest against the bourgeoisie! I say that this constitutes a state, and also that Makhno is a reactionary. Why? Makhno’s army was not made up of proletarians and oppressed peasants like the red army was- Makhno’s army was made up of Kulaks, who owned horses and had been exploiting peasants for centuries! Upon analysis, Makhno is revealed to be a petit bourgeois nationalist.

Were the State immediately abolished, without the “conditions leading to the arising of the State” being abolished as well, a new State would appear, and the socialist revolution would have been for naught.

What should we do?

In the event of a socialist revolution the proletariat through the dictatorship of the proletariat must establish a proletarian State (per the 1871 Paris Commune model), then suppress the dissenting bourgeoisie. The proletariat must use the state ruthlessly to suppress the reaction, crushing all dissent towards the new rule of the proletariat. For the proletariat, this state will be one of democracy. Soviets and workers councils will take the places of parliament and bosses- i.e. the proletariat will have total political and economical control.

“This shows more clearly than anything else the turn from bourgeois to proletarian democracy, from the democracy of the oppressors to that of the oppressed classes, from the state as a “special force” for the suppression of a particular class to the suppression of the oppressors by the general force of the majority of the people–the workers and the peasants.” (Lenin)

For the bourgeoisie this new state must be one of terror, which they live in fear in of, it must be the most brutal state to have ever existed. The proletariat must create bodies of armed men for the sole purpose of expropriating and crushing the bourgeoise, until they are no longer a class, that is to say, there are no more bourgeois.

In achieving the withering away of the State as its institutions begin to “lose their political character”. Once the proletariat has no bourgeois left to oppress, the state becomes a burden, and the proletariat abolishes itself as a class, thus propelling humanity into communism, ending the class antagonisms and the state, giving people complete liberty and equality to live how one wants.

“The proletariat seizes from state power and turns the means of production into state property to begin with. But thereby it abolishes itself as the proletariat, abolishes all class distinctions and class antagonisms, and abolishes also the state as state. Society thus far, operating amid class antagonisms, needed the state, that is, an organization of the particular exploiting class, for the maintenance of its external conditions of production, and, therefore, especially, for the purpose of forcibly keeping the exploited class in the conditions of oppression determined by the given mode of production (slavery, serfdom or bondage, wage-labor). The state was the official representative of society as a whole, its concentration in a visible corporation. But it was this only insofar as it was the state of that class which itself represented, for its own time, society as a whole: in ancient times, the state of slave-owning citizens; in the Middle Ages, of the feudal nobility; in our own time, of the bourgeoisie. When at last it becomes the real representative of the whole of society, it renders itself unnecessary. As soon as there is no longer any social class to be held in subjection, as soon as class rule, and the individual struggle for existence based upon the present anarchy in production, with the collisions and excesses arising from this struggle, are removed, nothing more remains to be held in subjection — nothing necessitating a special coercive force, a state. The first act by which the state really comes forward as the representative of the whole of society — the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society — is also its last independent act as a state. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies down of itself. The government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The state is not ‘abolished’. It withers away. This gives the measure of the value of the phrase ‘a free people’s state’, both as to its justifiable use for a long time from an agitational point of view, and as to its ultimate scientific insufficiency; and also of the so-called anarchists’ demand that the state be abolished overnight.” (Herr Eugen Duhring’s Revolution in Science [Anti-Duhring], pp.301-03, third German edition.)

Edit: To be frank, this is poor. There are some parts where I should have written a lot more, and other parts where I resorted to straw men. I plan to update it later.

The Zapatistas

By Anton

We don’t want to impose our solutions by force, we want to create a democratic space. We don’t see armed struggle in the classic sense of previous guerrilla wars, that is as the only way and the only all-powerful truth around which everything is organized. In a war, the decisive thing is not the military confrontation but the politics at stake in the confrontation. We didn’t go to war to kill or be killed. We went to war in order to be heard.
Subcomandante Marcos

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This is a quote from the spokesperson of the EZLN- The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional).

I will refer to them as either the Zapatistas or the EZLN in this article.

Let us begin

History

The Zapatistas went public on January 1, 1994, the day when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect. On that day, they issued their First Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle and their Revolutionary Laws. The declaration was that of war on the Mexican government, which was so out of touch with those it was meant to govern, that the Zapatistas declared it illegitimate.

Their original goal was to instigate a revolution in all of Mexico, but as this failed, they used their uprising as a platform to call the world’s attention to their movement to protest the signing of NAFTA, which the EZLN believed would increase the gap between rich and poor people in Chiapas (southern Mexico, where the Zapatistas are based) – one that has sadly become true.

On the morning of January 1, 1994, an estimated 3,000 armed Zapatista insurgents seized towns and cities in Chiapas, including Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Huixtán, Oxchuc, Rancho Nuevo, Altamirano, and Chanal. They freed the prisoners in the jail of San Cristóbal de las Casas, and torched several police buildings and military barracks in the area. The guerrillas enjoyed brief success, but the next day Mexican army forces counter-attacked and fierce fighting broke out in and around the market of Ocosingo. The Zapatista forces took heavy casualties, and retreated from the city into the surrounding jungle.

This is where the strategy changed.

Due to the failure of the Mexican Government to capture the Comandantes of the EZLN, they took up a policy of negotiation.
The Zapatistas changed tactics to mobilisation and a media campaign through numerous newspaper comunicados.

On June 28, 2005, the Zapatistas presented the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, declaring their principles and vision for Mexico and the world. This declaration reiterates the support for the indigenous peoples, who comprise roughly one third of the population of the state of Chiapas, and extends the cause to include “all the exploited and dispossessed of Mexico”. It also expresses the movement’s sympathy to the international alter-globalization movement, and offers to provide material aid to those in Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and elsewhere, with whom they make common cause. The declaration ends with an exhortation for all who have more respect for humanity than for money to join with the Zapatistas in the struggle for social justice both in Mexico and abroad. The declaration called for an alternative national campaign (the “Other Campaign”) as an alternative to the presidential campaign. In preparation for this alternative campaign, the Zapatistas invited to their territory over 600 national leftist organizations, indigenous groups and non-governmental organizations in order to listen to their claims for human rights in a series of biweekly meetings that culminated in a plenary meeting on September 16, the day Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain.

The most recent campaign was when the Zapatistas marched through the streets on the 22nd of December, one day after the start of the new Mayan calendar. They marched, all in balaclavas, in complete silence.

Ideology

The Zapatistas have an ideology that can only be described as libertarian socialism. The Zapatista slogan is that of mutual aid, formulated by Peter Kropotkin, the ‘inventor’ of anarchist communism:
“For everyone, everything. For us, nothing” (Para todos todo, para nosotros nada).
The EZLN opposes economic globalization, arguing that it severely and negatively affects the peasant way of life of its indigenous support base and oppressed people worldwide.

The Zapatista controlled areas are ran on a bottom-up democracy system, similar to soviet democracy, limiting public servants’ terms to only two weeks, not using visible organization leaders, and constantly referring to the people they are governing for major decisions, strategies and conceptual visions.

“my real commander is the people”
Subcomandante Marcos

Unlike other ‘revolutionary’ movements like FARC and shining path, the EZLN, before their uprising in 1994 explicitly defined a right of the people to resist any unjust actions of the EZLN. They also defined a right of the people to:

demand that the revolutionary armed forces not intervene in matters of civil order or the disposition of capital relating to agriculture, commerce, finances, and industry, as these are the exclusive domain of the civil authorities, elected freely and democratically.
“The people should acquire and possess arms to defend their persons, families and property, according to the laws of disposition of capital of farms, commerce, finance and industry, against the armed attacks committed by the revolutionary forces or those of the government.”

Subcomandante Marcos

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The following information comes from the documentary ‘a place called Chiapas’
As a young man, Subcommander Marcos was politically radicalized by the Tlatelolco massacre (2 October 1968) of students and civilians by the Mexican federal government; consequently, he became a militant in the Maoist National Liberation Forces. In 1983, he went to the mountains of Chiapas to convince the poor, indigenous Maya population to organize and launch a proletarian revolution against the Mexican bourgeoisie and the federal government. After hearing his proposition, the Chiapanecs “just stared at him”, and replied that they were not urban workers, that, from their perspective, the land was not property, but the heart of the communities.

Imagine a person who comes from an urban culture. One of the world’s biggest cities, with a university education, accustomed to city life. It’s like landing on another planet. The language, the surroundings are new. You’re seen as an alien from outer space. Everything tells you: “Leave. This is a mistake. You don’t belong in this place”; and it’s said in a foreign tongue. But they let you know, the people, the way they act; the weather, the way it rains; the sunshine; the earth, the way it turns to mud; the diseases; the insects; homesickness. You’re being told. “You don’t belong here”. If that’s not a nightmare, what is?

Marcos’ political philosophy is often characterized as Marxist and his populist writing, which concentrates on unjust treatment of people by both business and the State, underlines some of the commonalities the Zapatista ideology shares with Libertarian Socialism and Anarchism.

When asked about whether he is worried about the risk of assassination, he relied with this:

“We don’t fear to die struggling. The good word has already been planted in fertile soil. This fertile soil is in the heart of all of you, and it is there that Zapatista dignity flourishes.”

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You can find many interviews with Marcos on you tube. I recommend checking them out.

Revolution and Pacifism

By Anton

Malcolm XYou see these pacifists saying ‘don’t respond to violence with violence’. Well, we’re not. We’re responding to violence to self-defence. They oppress, we fight back. If you do not respond to violence with self-defense, you’re a coward. In fact, you’re not just a coward, you’re an idiot.
And then these leftists who are pacifists. How to we achieve socialism? Revolution. What is a revolution? A forcible overthrow of one class by another. Can this be peaceful? No.

Malcolm X:
“Look at the American Revolution, in 1776. That revolution was for what? For land. Why did they want land? Independence. How was it carried out? Bloodshed. Number one, it was based on land, the basis of independence, and the only way they could get it, was bloodshed. The French Revolution, what was it based on — the landless against the landlord. What was it for? Land! How did they get it? Bloodshed! There was no love lost, was no compromise, was no negotiation. I’m telling you you don’t know what a revolution is, because when you find out you’ll get back in the alley, you’ll get out of the way. The Russian Revolution. What was it based on? Land — the landless against the landlord. How did they bring it about? Bloodshed. You haven’t got a revolution that doesn’t involve bloodshed, and you’re afraid to bleed. [Commotion] I said you are afraid to bleed.”

“Revolution is bloody, revolution is hostile, revolution knows no compromise, revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way. And you, sitting around here like a knot on the wall, saying, “I’m going to love these folks no matter how much they hate me.” No, you need a revolution. Whoever heard of a revolution where they lock arms, singing “We Shall Overcome”? You don’t do that in a revolution. You don’t do any singing, you’re too busy swinging.”

From these two Malcolm X quotes, we can see that you cannot have a peaceful revolution! If a revolution is peaceful, then it’s no revolution at all. How do you overthrow all existing social conditions? Violence. How do you get power from the ruling class? Not by pacifism that’s for sure, you use violence.