A Debate on Anarchism and Communism

Alright, anarchism. Typically I like to build the argument with my partner but we’ve done that already on the other board before we got kicked. BUT…Because you’ve already laid out your position explicitly I feel it’s appropriate to do the same.

An important lesson that can be learned from the 20th century is that capitalist nations will respond to socialist revolution with extreme hostility. I agree with you on one point that the building of a proleterian State gets in the way of directly creating stateless communism. However, I disagree that the solution is to abolish the State. My concern with anarchism is that it leaves the nation vulnerable to attack from hostile forces both within the nation in which the revolution happens and from foreign enemies. We move closer toward communism by building a proleterian State to defend the revolution against these threats than by taking the risk of allowing the revolution to come under attack. I claim that it is necessary to build institutions like a standing military, intelligence agencies, a centralized police force/court system, tightly enforced borders and others which will uphold the revolution, identify potential threats to the nation, defend it from parasitic foreigners who’d like to benefit from the system without contributing to it.

Is there anything here you’d like to comment on? Also, I’d like to get your thoughts on whether or not the institutions listed above (which of course is not a comprehensive list) are in fact necessary or if I’m maybe placing too much importance on them. We can get into how these things can be best achieved (centralized vs decentralized) later. For now I just want to know what you think about the apparent necessity of these institutions.

If you don’t mind I do have a couple things to note on your description of your position.

I don’t entirely agree that we move much further to communism by establishing the rule of the proletariat. It is certainly a form of progress, as no longer would the nation be under bourgeois control; but I fear that by making this change in the short-term, one would be stunting and, possibly, altogether ending any further, long-term progress.

And regarding your comment with anarchism being left vulnerable, I don’t think I’d entirely disagree. It would be a challenge to establish an autonomous territory in the first place, not considering defending it. But I would never claim that these territories wouldn’t be a challenge to uphold. State and capitalist aggression are globalized, ever-present phenomena, and such has to be taken into account. But even a dictatorship of the proletariat can be squashed relatively easily, given the circumstances of the revolution. I may sound somewhat Trotskyist here, bear with me, but the problem that I see is in building up these communities in one territory or even nation, and not worrying about an international change. We have to make the revolution wide-spread, we can’t confine it to one nation; whether we had a form of state during the revolution or not, it would get barraded by an onslaught of foreign institutions. We have to change the minds and inspire individuals globally, not worry about the - if I am to be blunt - rather futile dealings of one specific territory.

But even then, suppose we are to be confined within this singular territory. It would not be difficult to conceive of a nation or group uniting and building up a community military to defend the interests of the autonomous zone. In fact this has been done several times before, with the communities holding fairly well for a period of time. Two prime examples of this are Revolutionary Catalonia and the Free Territory of Ukraine.

But of course, these territories were squashed. The question is why? I believe in some parts the answer to such is thus: these territories were focused on peace and cooperation long before the time had been right, long before foreign invasion had ended. They were still in a revolutionary period, and they weren’t focused on such. Such is why the Free Territory got barraged by the Red Army, such is why Revolutionary Catalonia got destroyed by the Nationalists, etc. The end goal of these communities should be peaceful cooperation and mutual aid, but until that point, they are bein invaded by state and capitalist forces. It seems as if they paid no aim to such, instead wasting time marveling at the fact that they were existent in the first place.

Now to answer your question of what services might be necessary, at least in the time of revolution.

For one I would agree that a standing military must be active during revolutionary period. I would argue that a community military is of practical use, but that’s besides the point.

I believe a police system of some form might be necessary, but nothing state upheld as you could imagine.

As for borders - and this is the one I had to think on, because it was a slightly difficult question I had to ask myself - I believe that a community very well place an ad hoc border on the land to protect it from foreign invaders during the revolution, but I don’t believe it to be of much more use. And it most likely will be abolished soon afterwards.

So I just want to clear up a few things.

On the point of spreading revolution, I completely agree. Communism can only be established when it usurps the global hegemony currently held by capitalism. We definitely need to train professional revolutionaries across borders and even send out direct military aid whenever possible.

I don’t see why creating a proleterian State would pose a threat to establishing socialism in that nation, exporting the revolution internationally, and eventually establishing communism. Could you maybe clarify your reasoning there a bit more? By no means am I saying that a proletarian State can’t be crushed just like anarchism but I am saying it will be much more difficult, especially in the 21st century.

This brings me to my second point. One thing we can learn from 20th and 21st century military engagements is that nations in the imperialist core can’t handle guerilla warfare. It’s a huge weak point and I think we’d be insane not to exploit it as much as possible. I wouldn’t mind organizing groups of militias to watch over certain territories but without having some centralized oversight my concern is it would be too easy for certain global North West powers to train hostile militias. Also, we live in a very different world now than the VC did.

I’m curious what a non-Statist police force would look like. I certainly don’t want bands of vigilantes roaming the street imposing whatever penalty for whatever offense they like on whoever they feel like for whatever reason. To maintain a just, cohesive nation I think it’s imperative to have a clearly articulated law, a clearly articulated purpose of criminal justice (why do we impose the penalties we do for breaking the law), a consistent set of penalties for breaking a consistent set of laws, institutions in place to ensure that bias against individuals based on characteristics like race, religion, class and so on are minimized and many more.

And if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate it if you explained your point on the border a bit more. Any border is to some extent ad hoc. I suspect I’m even going further than you are in that I think borders must be maintained even after socialism has become the dominant global mode of production. My concern with eliminating borders is that we could run into the same problem the ancient empires ran into ie the territory becomes unwieldy and eventually collapses under its own weight. I’m not opposed to having open borders within a socialist bloc but the borders must be strictly closed to capitalist nations.

Another thing I’m concerned about is international trade. Do you think any nation can survive being completely cut off from trading with the rest of the world?

One point which is crucial to my reasoning is that class struggle doesn’t end by one nations proleteriat combating and defeating their bourgeoisie. The capitalists will absolutely use their own state apparatus, not even to mention their international coalitions which themselves function as a state, to attack us. It seems clear to me that the proletariat using the state to defend itself against the international bourgeoisie is not only completely justified it’s necessary to ensure its continued survival. Do you disagree with this? If so, why?

Well I find simply that the Dictatorship of the Proletariat may get us to an era of socialism, but progress towards a stateless, classless, and moneyless society won’t be possible with this political monolith standing in the way of the total liberation of the society. This comes from directly rejecting this notion of the state “withering away”. The state in its very nature, regardless of who controls it, doesn’t simply wither away; in fact it simply grows more powerful. Also, I think it crucial to note that in such a system, I find it mostly inevitable that it would degenerate into state capitalism.

One thing that I think is important in general to be conveyed is that a central authority isn’t necessary for cooperation. I’m all for collections of militias cooperating for mutual benefit, but there needn’t be a central authority to ensure that that cooperation remains strong.

A clearly articulated law is certainly a necessity and I wouldn’t deny that. I would, however, argue that such a law needn’t be imposed on the people for one to generate. There are multiple examples of communal rules quite easily emerging in these autonomous communities; they didn’t fall apart into disorder and chaos.

As to the structure of this police force, that would I would assume depend on the community. One could envision a community police voluntarily aided and supported that would ensure that crimes were taken care of. Another method could revolve around polycentric law and decentralized arbitration. I haven’t the knowledge or wisdom to tell which would be the optimal form, but historical accounts of autonomous territories show that law is possible without a state.

Well what I mean by “ad hoc” border is a mostly temporary border for the purposes of defense against counter-revolutionary forces. And I note that it won’t be used for much more because I think any sort of border that goes beyond defense against invasion is an obstacle to free humans exercising their freedom of movement and association. But I would agree; capitalistic forces musn’t be allowed to enter. It would jeopardize the work and progress of the community. However, after the revolutionary period has reached an end, I see no need for borders; I reject the claims that multiculturalism and other forces lead a direct role in the collapse of civilization; I see no basis for said claim. The only argument that I think can be made for borders past the revolutionary period would be one of nationalism, but I find nationalism to be as much of a divisive and detrimental form of idealism as any other form of prejudice. Nationalism is a convenient way for the state and capitalists to maintain their power. It’s a shackle, and it only fetters global revolution.

On the matter of the proletariat using their own state, I think I’d have to ask for clarification on what one might by state here. If one is using the typical definition - a hierarchical institution that exercises monopoly on the legitimate use of violence - I’d find that contentious, yes. But if by state, you mean simply some form of a mechanism for defense, then no. Centralization by way of the workers in a community all uniting for common purpose is of no issue to me. In fact I support it. What I disagree with is a centralized hierarchical authority.

Alright, so it seems we’re talking past each other a little bit. I’m going to give you a series of questions for each point and I’d like your thoughts on them.

On the Dictatorship of the Proleteriat

  1. Do you think that we have to secure international trade after the revolution?
  2. If so, how would the anarchists go about doing it?
  3. Why is it inevitable that this would be setting up state capitalism?

On the use of authority to ensure military cooperation

  1. Will there be a hierarchical structure within the militias or do we just have individuals with guns?

  2. Hypothetical scenario: you get credible information that NATO forces are planning an invasion into your nation. How do you rally all the militias together to stop this threat without using a centralized authority?

  3. Imagine some choose not to come (for whatever reason; they’re perfectly free to do so if I understand correctly). What happens to them?
    On the law

  4. Alright, so we agree that there must be a clearly articulated law. Who articulates this law? To what end?

  5. What happens to people who decide to break the communal rules?

  6. Do you think that establishing a set of communal rules will be sufficient to ensure justice on more than maybe a city wide area? If so, how?

  7. This builds off of my last question, on whom are the laws (however you would characterize them) to be binding?

On the police

  1. How is consistency in penalty for crime to be ensured if this is all handled by members of the community?
  2. Without having centralized oversight on these communal police, and having them police their own communities, it seems to be opening the door wide open for corruption. How do you resolve this?
  3. It sounds like what you’re wanting is to break down the nation into a set of small (maybe the size of cities) communities all working together. Is that a fair understanding?

On borders

  1. Humans can move freely between open borders. Why do they need to be completely abolished?
  2. I’m not arguing that multiculturalism killed the emipres. What I am arguing is that having such a gigantic land mass to manage was often a huge problem for these rulers. Do you disagree with that? If so, why?
  3. To an extent, yes, it’s an argument for nationalism. I’m more trying to say that there needs to be a definite area which is under the jurisdiction of one people and another definite area which is under the jurisdiction of another with clear boundaries in between. Do you think this makes sense or not?

On the matter of international trade. I obviously certainly do feel that international trade must be secured, and Revolutionary Catalonia was rather successful in doing so. Essentially it worked in the way, as most facets of the society did, of letting the territory as a whole decide on what goods to trade and receive abroad, and the profits resulting from such went to the unions and local parts of the community. Effectively establishing a decent way of trade. But as I keep noting, this is simply one way that a decentralized community could run, and there might be alternatives.

On the matter of why the Dictatorship of the Proletariat would find itself become state capitalist, my argumentation is based on the rejection that the state can remain idle without growth, or that the state can shrink for a prolonged period of time. I find it in the very nature of the state to be constantly growing and developing, accumulating more power. I believe we see this with every state in existence currently, or every past state. Look at the United State for example. It wills built on the principle of rejecting aristocratic and state-upheld class structure. Then as the US developed, it steadily grew into a bloated, bureaucratic corporate mess. The state corrupts everything in its path, regardless of which class controls it.

One could say that it’s only expansive because of bourgeois control. I would say bourgeois rule is partially to blame, but is not the sole reason. I believe the apparatus of the state is an inherently corrupting force. Take, for example, the USSR, just to clarify my point. The dictatorship of the proletariat had grown to such autocratic heights that the USSR had grown to a painfully large state capitalist system. Not to make a comment on the living conditions; that’s not my point. My point is to show that the very nature of the state, regardless of who control
controls it, is one of constant growth.

On the matter of the military.

Will there be a hierarchical structure? Certainly, out of necessity. Even in the Free Territory, Makhno led the Black Army as a military leader. And even then, no anarchist rejects the idea of a de facto leadership by the most competent in times of need. But these structures would be somewhat less pronounced; this is, after all, a military established for the direct protection of free working people. And besides this military, there would most like’y be flat splinter groups perhaps something akin to the libertarian communist organizations dedicated to fighting fascist rule in Italy and Germany. If such an invasion were to occur, the leader of the military organization would simply rally the troops using the authority given to him by the community out of necessity. If some troops refuse to join the call, and, say, desert, that is their choice. But most likely the community will refuse to associate and cooperate with such a deserter for such an action. A point that I have to reiterate is the ability of organizations - for this purpose, military organizations - to rally and organize in a spontaneous order. Such is clearly possible, and humans have an innate tendency to cooperate and perform such spontaneous organization. If there is a threat which is soon to destroy the community if not acted upon, the community at large will organize and cooperate in order to develop and establish organizations of defense. There shan’t be a centralized authority needed. And this is seen be multiple historical examples.

On the law.

The legal structure of a community would essentially be decided by the community itself, most likely in a directly democratic way. In order to promote legitimate liberty and equality of power, all members of a society must have the ability to have a say in decision making. Most likely the laws and guiding principles of the territory would be decided in a communal council/meeting and decided democratically.

Of course I must stress that the will of the majority in this instance would not imposed on that of the minority. This would be just as detrimental to principles of autonomy as would be the minority commanding the majority. The minority, simply for the promotion of good will and progress, would most likely voluntarily accept the decision making of the many in most cases , but where there is a serious schism, the minority has multiple options, such as to protest and argue against such a decision. A compromise would most likely occur between the two. However, if that isn’t workable, the minority would have the option to ‘secede’ and live without the rule of the many applying to them. Of course, if the minority try to enforce their will on the majority, they will be exiled from the community.

I also think there are two different forms of ‘rules’: de jure rules and de facto rules. De jure rules are those passed and arbitrated by the community as a whole, and de facto rules are certain principles which the members implicitly abide by, such as property relations. If one acts in contradiction to the property relations of the community, so long as they aren’t meddling with the free decisions of others, not much will happen; most likely simply no one will associate with him. However, if he breaks a ‘de jure’ rule, he will be exiled from the community or punished accordingly.
Yes, in fact I believe these decentralized communities are much more useful for controlling crime. Voluntary societies are based on free association and mutual cooperation. They’re united for a common effort and purpose; as such the community will be much more alert and aware of issues and problems lying the community. Crime is just one aspect of this. In general, a decentralized, tight-knight community based on principles of mutual aid will be united for the betterment of the society. There would be legitimate solidarity, not enforced by any tyranny.

I see no reason why the laws wouldn’t be binding on everyone. Anything that isn’t equality of power and authority is mere privilege.
I fail to see how consistency is hindered by giving crime over to the community. In fact I’d say they’d be more accountable, as it’s handled by the society at large, not into the hands of a few small arbitrators. Could you elaborate on this?
Also, just because there is no central authority doesn’t necessarily mean there is no oversight. These ‘police’ forces are directly accountable to the community. If they grow corrupt, their title can be easily retracted. And to note, the ‘communal police’ notion is one of countless other alternatives, and I wouldn’t say that it’s the most effective anyways.

And yes, regarding your comment on me ‘dividing the nation into small communities’, that isn’t an entirely inaccurate statement.

Finally, on borders.

Borders, at least after the revolutionary period, must be abolished because any restriction on the freedom of movement and association is a point of domination. As I noted before, during the Revolution I might accept light border control due to threat of the capitalist class infecting the nation. But after such, it’s an unnecessary restriction that must be removed if we are to establish a consistently free society.

I wouldn’t disagree with that. But my earlier comment on the size of the community might clear that up. I think in general, large-scale communities and territories under whatever rulership will eventually degenerate and collapse. We see this with most modern states today.

To the final comment. No, I think that’s rather arbitrary. What gives that group justification for having sole dominion over that land? Birthplace? That doesn’t seem like a strong basis.

Yes, you don’t need to keep noting that by the way. I’m acutely aware of the fact that there are multiple different ways to make any given thing work. It’s not necessary to keep beating that drum. My point is that I think establishing a proleterian State is the most effective way to create a robust socialist nation capable of upholding the revolution and exporting it internationally. My point is not, and would never be, that it’s the only way.

(Not done yet)

One thing I’d like to note is that there is a difference between theoretical possibility and practical necessity. So while I agree with you on a lot of points about anarchism (liberating the masses from capital, establishing a society predicated on real individual freedom, minimizing or even completely ending unjust authority structures and so on) I don’t think it’s realistic from the perspective of national defense to jump immediately from here to there. It’s possible, no doubt, the revolutionaries in Catalonia, Ukraine, Mexico and multiple other nations have done it, but those revolutions (with the exception of the Zapatista revolution) have all been crushed. For all its faults, the socialist nations of the 20th century fell mainly due to economic problems. Even with a State, if the proleteriat does not act intentionally to repress bourgeois elements in the nation, the nation falls either to capitalism or to revisionism (which in turn usually allows the nation to fall to capitalism). In fact, I don’t even disagree with your main concern that a DotP will not be a characteristic of the eventual communist society and that building a State actually gets in the way of a stateless society. I just don’t see any reasonable argument which would suggest that allowing this sort of fragmented, unharmonious society, characterized by discontinuity in every way possible to form, leaving the revolution vulnerable to sabotage by capitalists, is getting us closer to communism. If anything, it seems to be a stumbling block to it.

(Not done yet)

In your responses to my questions you’ve laid out the heart of my problem with anarchism. Imagine the kind of society you’ve just described: one where law is determined by communities directly, groups of individuals who don’t want to follow the laws of their community are free to break into their own community with their own laws and law enforcement systems (a point I have a problem with and I’ll get into later since you asked specifically for it), the defense of the nation depends on whether or not the militias want to fight (assuming they’re well armed enough to do so and loyal to the revolution) and refusal to fight will only result in possible ostracization, borders are loose, if any community has serious enough concerns with the social organization they’re free to secede without consequence and likely more serious problems. This kind of loose social organization has existed before and it has always been the death of that society (or at least a significant contributing factor to their death).

(Not done yet)

This kind of organization, though absolutely possible, breeds discontinuity, a lack of revolutionary solidarity, instability, and leaves the nation not only vulnerable to attack but impedes its defense. Believe me, I have deep sympathies with the anarchists concern for ensuring authority is legitimate and that it is only used when necessary. I think the point of disagreement may be on differing conceptions of revolution. As far as I’m concerned, doing revolution is by its very nature an authoritarian act. Call it libertarian as much as you like but you’re literally forcing one group to give up its power and taking it for yourself. That’s about as authoritarian as it gets. It seems obvious to me that those pushed out will want to push their way back in. What stops them from creating militias hostile to socialism? What can the nation do if and when world powers like the United States openly support these hostile forces as they’re doing right now in Venezuela (which, by the way, is against a democratically elected leader; imagine how much worse they’ll be toward a revolutionary party)? As far as I can tell, this society would be left to just hope the militias will remain loyal to the revolution, will be willing to fight for its defense, and will be able to defend it. Again, I’ll point out, it’s totally possible that it could work. These aren’t meant to be damning remarks to which an anarchist cannot reply but they’re serious problems that I don’t think can reasonably be resolved by maximizing individual freedom.

(Not done yet)

That said, I don’t think the models we have to follow are by any means worth recreating. There’s a difference between having a State apparatus that acts in the interest of the People and one that acts to maximize its own power over the People.

(Not done yet)

Also, I’m confused about one part of your analysis. You agreed before that hierarchies form naturally and that there were just and unjust ones which can be distinguished by relative competence in their domain of expertise. Do you think then that those who are higher on this hierarchy (meaning more competent) have an ethical responsibility to lead those lower than them and that those lower on the hierarchy, if they be wise, ought to take their instruction? If so, how can you square this belief with your statement that anything other than equality of power/authority is privilege? If not, then what do you think hierarchy is and why should it be predicated on anything?

(Not done yet)

Anyway, on to your question about the laws.

It’s possible that this is a misunderstanding on my part. If so, feel free to correct whatever I have wrong, but from what I understand your argument on this subject can be summarized (loosely) as follows: communities will be allowed to establish their own legal codes, presumably some will overlap, those overlapping laws, and only those overlapping laws, will become binding on the whole nation, and each community will have its own procedural norms for dealing with violations of the law (national or communal). My first problem with this is that it necessarily creates discontinuity in law and in law enforcement. The problem with that may be more or less clear to you than it is to me. I live in an area where it’s still common to find active and open KKK, neo-Nazis, fascist and otherwise toxic ideology which will no doubt play a role in the development of law in my community and will no doubt be an important factor when it comes to enforcement of the law. To be as explicit as I can be: they would intentionally target minorities, use the law to discriminate against them, and will subject them to much more severe penalties than would be imposed on whites, heterosexuals, Christians etc and the community would happily go along with it. That’s not justice. That’s something which cannot be tolerated at all including if it’s something the community unanimously votes is a correct thing to do. To grant these people the freedom to create whatever law they want so long as the community approves is an idea I find absolutely repulsive but as far as I can understand your argument, these people will be free to secede if they can’t handle being ostracized. That said, the State is by no means a perfect mechanism to solve this problem but it does seem to be the most likely way to do it.
This isn’t even to mention the problem of deciding where one territory ends and another begins and therefore which set of laws/law enforcement procedures are appropriate to the particular case at hand.

(Quick note: by no means am I saying you want something like the above scenario to happen. I’m only pointing out that while the right of communities to self determination is essential it cannot be absolute. A possible solution to the problem could be to have certain democratic structures in place to stop this kind of thing from happening. The problem with that though is it 1. creates social tension which in turn weakens national security 2. it sets the precedent that one community will be allowed to impose its order on others who are deemed unacceptable which violates the principle you stated earlier about protecting the minority against the will of the majority 3. if these democratic decisions are to be taken seriously there must be in place some mechanism by which to enforce them and this is essentially what a State is).

I’m going to go back through your response to see if there was anything else I need to respond to real quick. One second.

Ahh you asked me a question on borders.

So I’m not sure what the issue with having borders (especially open borders) really is. With an open border, anyone who would like to go from one country (or, if you prefer, one part of the world) to another is free to do so. What I’m describing doesn’t stop the free movement of people. I don’t see why you insist that borders must be abolished. It really isn’t even a matter of one group having the sole right to rule a given territory. It’s a purely practical concern. Maybe it won’t be an issue given the state of our technology, who knows, but my concern never was to preserve the rights of one group to rule over a given mass of land. My concern is only that if we do not have a group ruling over one given mass of land, the socialist bloc will collapse under its own weight. That’s what happens to empires (which is essentially what we’re describing as far as I can tell). Another thing to note is the differences in culture between nations will necessarily lead to certain differences in the laws established by the people of those nations. Again, we come back to the problem of establishing who is to be subject to what law, who articulates the laws, how does an individual know which jurisdiction they’re in (and therefore what set of laws to abide by), what set of consequences will they face for breaking the laws, and how will we ensure justice.(edited)

Last thing and I’m done. If you object to my usage of the word empire that’s totally fine. I realize that characterizing this type of society as an empire more or less sneaks in the premise that there is a State which was an unintentional rhetorical, idk, mistake(?). Anyway I misspoke a bit but if you interpret the word in a more loose sense which will be compatible with anarchism I think it still holds up conceptually.

Well the only reason I note that a decentralized community could work in a multitude of ways is because I don’t claim to have any ultimate knowledge on how free individuals could coordinate and cooperate in an autonomous territory. Already, in the existing examples of freed societies we have, both historical and present, they varied in form, substance, and dealings. And I wouldn’t dare make any sort of claim on the most efficient means for free cooperation. So when you ask for how this society might function, I may only give you what has occurred, and speculations on what might occur.

Now, onto your comment on whether it’s realistic to jump directly toward anarchy - surprisingly enough, I absolutely agree, it’s not. However, for the same reasons, I don’t think it’s realistic at all to jump straight into armed takeover. No matter the structure of society afterwards - state or no state - that simply won’t last. And such brings me to this point: perhaps - and I should have been clearer, my apologies - we have different conceptions on what a revolution would entail. I do not believe it realistic at all to picture an armed struggle similar to the 1917 revolution ending well in any way. Even then, back in the early 20th century, the USSR formed slowly into an autocratic state, presumably in some part to protect its interests. Full-on armed struggle involving a quick overthrow of the ruling class simply will not create a sustainable, long-term society that doesn’t either collapse or become autocratic. The threats against it are simply too grave.

A more sustainable alternative would be to have a gradual change in the system, with workers pursuing direct action, protest and other forms of resistance to promote worker struggle. Along with this, introducing more egalitarian forms of organization, such as worker cooperatives, could prove prudent. Essentially all forms of gradual (or not, depending on what you mean by the word) change in order to abolish and replace the current systems from within I find to be useful, much more useful and practicable. than a quick armed struggle.

This isn’t to say violence won’t be necessary. Obviously the state and capitalist apparatus will attempt to sabotage and destroy these movements, and solidarity must be ensured to provide defense against these institutions. But a large-scale, quick revolution is simply not workable.

Along with this, “gradual revolution” will give time for international change
(Not done.)

Along with this, “gradual revolution” will give time for international change as these forces spread internationally. Onto your next point. Can you give a legitimate, concrete example of how nations fell apart because of a lack of a dominating force coercing individuals to live by a certain by a certain code, serve in a certain army, freedom of movement, etc. has led to the death of the civilization? You can name how many free territories you want, but the bottom lime is that these factors were not the factors behind their collapse. I hold that these territories cared little about the dangers of counter-revolutionary forces, and I’m sure we’d both agree on that. But the solution is not , and never should be to implement an authoritarian power dedicated to coercing and dictating how individuals organize, how they act, and how they cooperate. Socialism is about liberation and emancipation. And I will continue to push this notion forward: contrary to open borders and voluntarity, the state apparatus has always been the death of a revolutionary regime. Not only has the state apparatus hindered revolutionary strategy from the inside (e.g. by declaring the revolution as permanent, committing mass genocide, etc.) it has helped butcher any outside attempt at liberating workers. Take, for the sake of ease, the Free Territory. It was functioning very well and actively pushing a revolutionary agenda. Until it was squashed by the very institution you uphold as a method for securing the revolution: the state apparatus. The Free Territory was destroyed by the Red Army under the command of Lenin. It’s absolutely true that foreign invasion from capitalist forces are necessary to defend against, but why has historically the state acted in such a counter-revolutionary manner?

Sure, the state provides an extra level of organizational security. But it also, in almost every case, swayed from the course of revolution. The U.S.S.R., Cuba, etc., quite easily degenerated into state capitalism and begun to forcibly put down vocal activism against its tactics. It also destroyed any outside attempt to reach a socialist society. You wish to point out the organizational failure of autonomous territories. And I certainly agree that their were problems. I blame it on failure to properly prepare for defense, and failure to focus on revolution. You say it’s due to a lack of a central organizational body. I say socialist experiments have failed because of that body!

(Not done.)

One idea I suppose we can find perhaps something of compromise on is the idea of a clearly defined, clearly limited, minimal state which provides an organizational body with checks on any increasing power. This would provide a level of security and protection from invading forces that you find contention with in anarchist societies, and would provide the checks on tyranny and dictatorial power that I find so problematic in the 20th century institutions. This is the method in which Rosa Luxemburg and other Libertarian Marxists pushed forward, and as much as I am an advocate for a stateless society, this perhaps is something we both can agree on from a basis of pragmatism, pending your comment on this.

However, I would like to respond to your critiques you have of anarchism.

Regarding your argument that these militias run the heavy risk that its members will fail to stay true to the revolution, I find the same problem in any state-based territory. Doesn’t it constantly run the risk of mutiny ensuing and the DOTP being overthrown? How would a central authority prove successful in progressing anything except the loss of morale in its troops? In an autonomous society, the territory is built by legitimate solidarity among its members, not by any dominating force. And I fail to see how the state could solve anything in the way of losing faith in the revolution.

Also, regarding my comment saying that all hierarchy is privilege, you’ll have to forgive me for the over-generalization, I retract that. I generally meant that all unjust hierarchy built on coercive, dominating, et al. authority is simply a system of privilege.

Involving your example of KKK members, Nazis, etc. impacting the laws, that’s entirely assuming that those ideologues won’t be pushed out of the community/ostracized for promoting a regressive, hateful and dominating ideology. Fascists pose a direct threat to the workings of that society, and were they to act on their ideology, the community would be justified in expelling them and defending themselves, violently if necessary.

Finally, I feel our differences on borders are somewhat semantic in nature. So long as individuals have the freedom of movement from one territory to the next, I’ve no problem. By borders, I mostly mean a system and structure set up to, in some way impede or limit the movement of individuals.

Definitely, the tzar had been weakened for generations before the revolution. This actually brings me to a point that I often run into when discussing the Russian revolution. By no means was removing the tzar and establishing socialism a quick process. The actual attack(s) that ended his reign was, yes, really short as far as revolutions are concerned but 1917 was just the culmination of at least 100 years of struggle between the tzar and the People of Russia (and not just critical political cartoons either; I mean full on bombs-dropping-guns-firing struggle). It can be argued, and I think the argument is correct, that the revolution was going on before Lenin was born (though of course you have to be a little vague- you can’t call it socialist revolution in the way we now understand the term- I only mean the revolution to overthrow the tzar). They found themselves in the unique position to get away with having a quick revolution. In the future, things won’t likely be so easy. I object, however, to the implication that either I want an autocratic State to emerge from socialist revolution or that that sort of State is the inevitable consequence of establishing a socialist State. This may come down to my not properly articulating the sort of State I’m wanting and I’ll come back to that later. As for your comment on this allowing international change, sure, but having the time for international change and the people ready, willing, and able to make the change are very different things. In some cases I don’t even know how likely that would be anyway (for example, any group of people interacting with another group of people where each side has legitimate grievances with the other; most simple concrete example would be the Israelis and Palestinians).

Well you’re definitely right to say that I’d cite most anarchist projects as examples to my point. I’d consider them absolutely legitimate examples though because my point is that anarchism gets in the way of the sort of solidarity that is necessary to build a lasting socialist nation. You can say that the Free Territory was crushed by a socialist State but then that concedes the point. They couldn’t stand up in the face of the Soviet State. I had in mind the Holy Roman Empire though. As for the bit about avoiding authoritarianism, I’m not entirely sure I agree. The proleteriat must direct the society and that means being willing to use force when necessary.

I don’t see how the State has been the death of a revolutionary regime. Could you explain that bit some more, starting on what exactly you mean by “revolutionary regime”?

I also don’t understand the point that socialist nations fell because of the State. Geopolitical conflict involving a clash between States, sure, but are you arguing that they fell because they had States?

Yes, I can agree with that. However, I’m probably more willing to give power to the State than you are due to our differing attitudes toward authoritarianism (you being completely against it, me being cautiously in favor). For example, what do you think about mandatory conscription? I’m a big believer in it but I suspect you’re not as much.

If your question is whether or not a State is vulnerable to attack throughout its existence, yes, it absolutely is. Everything is vulnerable to some extent. However, with a State you have a conscious, deliberate actor directing all available forces to stop a given threat which yes, will likely involve coercion in the sense that it will be made clear to soldiers that failure to follow an order will have definite consequences.

“How would a central authority prove successful in progressing anything except the loss of morale in its troops?”

I’m not sure I’m understanding this question entirely. Having to follow orders has never caused a significant loss of morale in a military. Individual troops maybe but not the whole body; hell, Hitler even managed to keep up a military capable of posing a serious threat to the global political order while having them simultaneously do things they found morally reprehensible (of course that’s only descriptive; on a normative level, I think the ones who found they were doing something morally reprehensible were right).

There’s plenty of solidarity among soldiers in State militaries. Just look at the near immediate bond between military members in your own country. They rib each other a bit but they each consider the other as family. In some cases these guys are willing to risk their lives for their squad. Not only can a military with a central authority pulling the strings produce legitimate solidarity among its soldiers, it does.

“I fail to see how the State could solve anything in the way of losing faith in the revolution”

Giving the People a country to be proud of, instilling in them a sense of comraderie, bettering their own lives and the lives of their children and so on. These are all things that happened under State socialism. That’s not to say it couldn’t have happened under anarchism, anarchism just didn’t survive long enough to make it happen.

No, that’s not the assumption. In fact, I even gave you ahead of time that they’d be ostracized (maybe but we can assume it to be the case). The problem is that when you start fragmenting your nation like that, you lose your ability to resist. It’s the reason why one of the oldest tricks of military strategy is “divide and conquer”.

The assumption you seem to be making is that expelling this community, or any other community for that matter, will happen without civil war breaking out. I don’t see any reason to assume that would be the case (if I’m correct to think that’s the assumption). If you do believe that would happen, namely civil war starting as a result of trying to push out an undesirable community from the nation, how is this conducive of solidarity among an entire people? Also, how does this not violate the principle of community self-determination? Finally, if they do expell the community violently, how does this not involve the formation of a State?

I kind of thought that was the problem with borders. I get the feeling we can say we agree but I’d like to make clear exactly what we agree on. It seems that you agree with having borders as long as they don’t get in the way of people moving around. Is that correct?

My apologies for being unclear. Of course I’m not saying that the overthrow of the Russian tsar wasn’t a long-fought, meticulously planned phenomenon. My point was of a large, violent revolution in general; I suppose I’m discussing the forms of revolution that have a singular, climactic, violent “main point”. In the revolution of 1917, this was the killing of the tsar.

I would actually like to hear what you wish the structure of your proposed state to be. Perhaps I should’ve begun with that haha, my apologies.

There are problems with international solidarity, I certainly grant that, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a prime example. But I feel you’re being a bit inconsistent with applying the problem of “getting along” for lack of a better phrase to all forms of social organization. Nations are heavily divided and and polarized in themselves, and these divisions are capable of being recognized just as easily as international divisions. But individuals of the same nation are quite capable of overcoming division and uniting under common principles, as shown by historical revolutionary struggles, and because of such I see no reason why international solidarity isn’t possible.

I had never denied that the free territory wasn’t crushed by the U.S.S.R. And as I said I have several criticisms of the organizational structure of the Makhnovia and Catalonia, one being that they paid little attention to the revolution and focused on building and developing the society prematurely, thus not focusing on military efforts as much. But I reject the claim that they fell due to some lack of central authority/state.
Nonetheless, the purpose was to show that the socialist state poses a clear threat to other socialist experiments and territories. The U.S.S.R was used as example.

Also, by “revolutionary regime” I simply meant a socialist regime.

On the matter of conscription, yes, I’m weary of affording states that power. What would you envision the consequences be were a citizen to refuse?

When I mention soldiers’ loss of morale, I was merely pointing to the possibility that soldiers of a socialist regime might lose morale due to them having to be commanded for a cause of liberation. But in retrospect, it’s a point without much basis so I’ll grant this.
(not done)

I’m not sure I see how you could foresee civil war breaking out in a community dominated by anarchists. This is, of course, assuming this group of fascists is in the minority; if it isn’t, how did they get there? What made them get so high in numbers? It’s just seems painfully unlikely.

Also, on the matter of community self-determination, do you believe a fascist state is on based on self-determination? Do you believe a coercive force is compatible with self-determination? Fascism inherently contradicts the principle. So does any authoritarian ideology.

Expelling that group is an act of pure self-defense. They pose a direct threat to the free order of the society. And as such threats of domination are antithetical to the principle of liberty. Such isn’t a statist act, it’s purely an anti-statist one.

Finally, on the issue of orders, yes I believe that’s an accurate summation. Borders as defined as territorial-constructed restrictions on the free, peaceful movement of human beings must be abolished.

Any other conception I don’t believe I have a contention with.

How do you envision revolution then? I agree that you probably couldn’t just storm certain buildings and reasonably expect everything to turn out ok but at some point it seems unavoidable to get to that point. Are you maybe referring to the Maoist revolutionary strategy of taking over small towns, surrounding key cities, and attacking the cities? That would definitely mean avoiding one climactic point.

Shit I forgot about doing that the other day lol I’ll definitely come back to it this time

It’s definitely possible, I’m just saying I don’t know how likely it is for that to mean spreading revolution. Solidarity could mean anything from giving cash/guns/manpower to the revolution to teenagers offering kind words on Facebook. I’m not quite clear what you want to get out of international solidarity though so maybe that’s a source of confusion. Could you clear that up a bit? Also can you be a bit more specific as to how exactly I’m being inconsistent?

That may be but you can’t really build a society without, well, building it. I’m sure you know more about Catalonia and the Free Territory than I do though so I’m definitely willing to learn more about why they did it. Regardless you can’t really expect to have a revolution and not be attacked. You also can’t expect to constantly revolt without building a society for your people. When exactly would have been the right time to start cultivating a society?

Well, consequences would depend on what’s going on at the time. The main purpose would be to ensure people are working/developing work skills but of course any military needs to be ready for war. The maximum penalty for refusing conscription would probably be some amount of jail time though. That wouldn’t mean you get out of going though. The prisoner would still be expected to join upon his/her release.

Well in my area there are quite a bit of them but that’s only one community and only one instance of a region where ostracizing will become necessary. If you have enough of these groups, and each group has its own militia, it seems reasonable to anticipate these militias banding together to attack the nation. If for no other reason, just for revenge.
No, I don’t think fascism is based on self-determination and that wasn’t my claim.

If the society is made up of communities, and it can have some non-arbitrary method of determining which communities ought to be expelled, then it seems that there must be a standard code of law imposed on all members of that society (articulation of socially acceptable behavior and defined consequences for deviance) and a body acting on behalf of the People to enforce that law. How is that qualitatively different from a State?

Now, as promised what kind of State I’m talking about. One moment.

One of the first things that is essential to building a State is giving it a clearly defined purpose. Without a clearly defined purpose, it’s impossible to say if the State is good or bad or who should be involved in its operation.

The purpose of the socialist State can be roughly summarized as follows: to establish socialism in the nation; to provide for the common defense; to put the well-being (material, spiritual whatever) of the People at the core of its decision making process; to aid in the international struggle when called upon once the nation has stabilized.

I’m not even going to try to get past the word count. One moment and I’ll expand on each of these points.

Point 1. The purpose of the socialist State is to establish socialism in the nation

This, as far as I’m concerned, is synonymous with saying that the purpose of the socialist State is to establish a mechanism of proleterian dominance. A nation wherein the working class works for its own class interests and acts in solidarity with proleterian struggle globally. At least initially, this State will be comprised of the revolutionary vanguard. The first task of the revolutionsry government will be to establish robust labor unions in every trade. Eventually, being the chairman of your industry’s union will be practically identical to being a statesman.

Note: this process, the process of determining who will be head of a union, will be almost entirely democratic. The only thing that doesn’t make it entirely democratic is that not everyone will be allowed to vote on who is the head of a union ie if you work in auto manufacturing you will not be allowed to vote in an election deciding the head of the coal miner’s union. Think of this as analogous to the US Congress. They propose laws, pass bills, handle taxation etc. Actually, the US is actually a decent model of governmental organization as the President and judiciary will have their own separate branches of government.

This type of organization can be broken down into specific regions by the way. What’s good for workers in a given industry in one part of the nation may not be good for workers in the same industry in different parts of the nation. It must also be stressed that on this level they’re mostly using their expertise in their field as a means to guide the production practices employed in that field (with the consultation of the relevant experts of course).

The nation will have at its bedrock a constitution which explicitly (within the first paragraph) describes itself as a living document, meant to be updated to fit the most current set of material circumstances of the nation. This constitution can not be changed by the unions at all. A separate governing body will handle it as they see fit with oversight from the President, the judiciary, and the relevant experts. It goes without saying that the union leaders and the People will have a say, they just won’t have the final say.

Finally, any changes to the constitution will be broadly advertised and will not be enforced until 365 days after the change has been made.

I’m assuming we generally agree on what socialism is so I’m not going to go into that unless you insist.

Point 2. To provide for the common defense

“Providing for the common defense” immediately brings up the question “defend whom against what” and to this I answer: to defend the workers from hostile forces outside of the nation, counter-revolutionary forces inside of the nation, and capitalism. Unfortunately, this means that the bourgeoisie will not be protected.

This ties back in with my above stated belief in mandatory conscription. Children will learn military skills at school and upon graduation will be drafted into the military to receive further training. Whether or not they’d like to leave home will largely be their decision under normal (peaceful) circumstances.

This ensures a steady, large military for national defense and serves as a supplement to meet local need whenever necessary (agricultural work, policing, construction etc will all be possible roles military personnel may fill). So while, as a military, they are primarily a fighting force, they will be designed to leave soldiers with job skills, connections, new interests and so on.

Point 3. To make the well-being of the People a central concern.

This seems like an obvious goal for any form of political organization. I’ve already mentioned one way that this will be met (use of military personnel for civilian work). To the extent that it’s possible, things like healthcare, education, housing and so on will be free. As for exactly how that happens, it’s hard to say because it will largely depend on the productive capability of the nation.

Point 4. To aid in the international struggle.

Communists have a responsibility to aid in the worker’s struggle around the world to the best of their capacity. Our comrades aren’t just within our borders and when a comrade needs help, we must help. I feel like I may be oversimplifying this one but honestly it really is that simple to me.

If you want this or any other point expanded a bit more feel free to ask.
One note and I’m done: almost always when I say “will” it’s shorthand for “this is how my conception of a socialist State works”. I’m not claiming to be able to see the future.

Welcome and thanks for joining! There is a direct message limit for new users. No need to flag the thread. Do you mind if I make this public for others to participate?

1 Like

Fine with me as the OP. We just didn’t want to bother the natives with a discussion we were having and got kicked for on another forum.

Another perspective. Which one is correct?

You might appreciate this video. This has been my line of thinking for last 3 decades or so.

@RobertJordan @Animore disregard these low-quality posters.

What the two of you aren’t accounting for in your discussion is corporatism.

Corporatism exists in a number of forms, cultures, and time periods, which makes it difficult to offer a single definition that covers all its forms. In many respects corporatism represents a mood, a way of thinking (functionalist, statist, communalist), an approach that defies arbitrary rules. Historical or natural corporatism can be found in a great variety of premodern societies, especially those founded on traditions that emphasize solidarity, group identity, and community. By historical or natural corporatism we have in mind the ethnic, clan, and tribal basis of much of African politics; the emphasis on group and community that ties together many of the Confucian-based societies of East Asia; the similarly group, clan, and caste-based societies of South Asia; and the solidarist conceptions that tie together ruler and ruled into mutually supportive roles in those societies based in part on the Koran.

Even in the West (before the onslaught of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution), there were many organic corporatist institutions: the extended family, the neighborhood, the community, the parish, regional and ethnic loyalties, military orders, guilds, the Roman Catholic Church and its orders, and the aristocracy or nobility. These are all historic corporatist institutions; they tend to have been there almost from time immemorial, to have grown naturally in the society.

Historical or natural corporatism is often the glue, the cement, that holds together societies in their early premodern stages. It emphasizes the seemingly natural, timeless, and basic institutions of society. It often predates the formation of the modern nation-state. It is frequently a part of the historical political culture of the society, hence rulers of the emerging or new states may try to use these historic and natural corporatist institutions as a basis for their politics. Such holds true when one examines Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Vichy France, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Metaxas’s Greece, Vargas’s Brazil, or Perón’s Argentina. However, all of these turned rather quickly, once in power, totalitarian forms of rule. Rather than presiding over a system of class harmony, as had been done within the monarchies of the Middle Ages, these regimes frequently used dictatorial means to suppress all interest groups, especially organized labor.

The fascist conception of corporatism is, as such, merely a bastardization of historical and natural corporatism. For the traditional state is organic, but not totalitarian. It is differentiated and articulated, and admits zones of partial autonomy. It coordinates forces and causes them to participate in a superior unity, while recognizing their liberty. Exactly because it is strong, it does not need to resort to mechanical centralizing, which is required only when it is necessary to rein in a shapeless and atomistic mass of individuals and wills, from which, however, disorder can never be truly eliminated, but only temporarily contained. The true state is omnia potens , all powerful, not omnia faciens , doing all.

It does not, however, meddle with everything, it does not substitute itself for everything, it does not aim at a barracks-style regimentation of society (in the negative sense), nor at a levelling conformism instead of free acknowledgement and loyalty. It does not proceed by means of impertinent and obtuse interventions by the public sphere and the ‘state’ into the private sphere. The traditional image is that of a natural gravitation of parts and partial unities around a center that commands without compelling, and acts out of prestige with an authority that can, of course, resort to force, but abstains from it as much as possible.

I stop reading right there. I actually enjoyed reading Robert and Animore exchange.

But I will say this, multiple political and economic philosophies are required for advance nation to exist…maybe more so now then ever before due to fast pace of technology. To say one is inherently better then other limits your options.