libertarian socialism

Rob Schaap rws at
Mon Oct 2 08:08:46 PDT 2000

Beaut post, Norman!

'Tis a matter of tradition - nay, principle - on the white-collar radical left to argue abstractions and anachronisms while real social movements either develop or die around us - the developments go unaided by us and the deaths go unremarked until the corpses have long gone rotten (at which stage we disinter the bones and fight over them in most eruditely sparkling fashion).

Anyway, to engage in some torrid little effort to protect the few vestiges of democracy left us is to stand accused of naivete at best and collaborationism at worst - come to think of it, nothing is worse than naivete ...

And to cooperate with each other would betray a pathetic misunderstanding of 'solidarity' - to which noble and necessary aspiration we are all sworn - but which same remains impossible whilst our recalcitrant interlocutors persist in misunderstanding the bourgoeis romanticist idealism immanent in the William Morris critiques of 1895, the historical status of the Soviet Union in the Autumn of 1922, the rank opportunism of the Morrowist entryist programme of 1946, the crucial Pabloist split of 1951, and the fulcral import of the Phallus of 1998.

As soon as we sort that lot out, just watch us kick boojie bottom, though!

Cheers, Rob.

>non-radical engineer likes the ethics and practicality implied in the jesse
>exerpt below. it invites two questions:
>1. why don't i read more about radicals supporting liberal causes like
>election finance reform to make 1 voter = 1 vote instead of 1 $ = 1 vote?
>seems to me that if elections were publicly funded, then the influence of
>money would be reduced and more programs beneficial to the poor would be
>enacted. "better half a loaf .... etc." i haven't heard anything about
>election finance reform on this list.
>2. why don't radicals cooperate more with each other to chip away bit by bit
>at the undesirable aspects of democratic-capitalism that they all agree
>upon, which are many. i'm thinking of common demos, common forums and other
>common information channels. seems they are more interested in pursuing
>their own theoretical agendas via their separate channels than in achieving
>practical results via cooperation. contrast this lack of common action with
>the capitalists who may be fiercely competitive with each other in the
>business arena, but who know how to circle their wagons collectively to
>defend their common interests when threatened.
> JessEcoh:
>some would say that this suggests a twofold strategy for making social
>change. as i think howard zinn put it, we can try "grab the levers of
>whenever possible, and force the state both to do justice and to open itself
>to further intervention (providing more "levers" for people to "grab," and
>preventing the state from suppressing peoples' attempts at self-organization
>outside the state, e.g. progressively scaling back military and police
>forces); at the same time, we can build forms of popular power which are
>organized outside the state, e.g. neighborhood assemblies and
>councils, in which people can make (and eventually enforce) decisions in a
>more truly democratic manner. we might even, as bookchin has urged, find
>ways to force the state to cede more and more power *to* these organs of
>popular power, until popular power grows strong enough to challenge the
>of the state. at that point, a confrontation will ensue... hopefully by
>we will have succeeded in defanging the state of its means of violence
>to ensure that whatever army and police forces are left give in (defect,
>surrender) without putting up too much of a fight...
> that's the only sort of revolution i see much hope for.
> --jesse.

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