In Defense of Revolutionary Organisation Part 1


In the Summer of 1994, Swamp Thing contained an article entitled 'Why We Want to Smash Aufheben' which stated:"There are plenty of groups (Anarchist Communist Federation, Wildcat, Class War,International Communist Current, etc.) which deserve to be smashed - some for being leftist, some for being boring (as a matter of policy), some for using the class struggle to work out their psychological problems. After two long years I am now in a position to put my philosophy into action. The disarray caused in the ranks of the ICC by the "Manchester Altercation" has opened up a window of opportunity.
In the weeks before this incident took place, I wrote an article called The Sucking Pit which was published in Green Apocalypse, a blunt, shocking and uncomfortable analysis of the heady cocktail of Malthusianism and Bakuninism being concocted in the ranks of the Green Anarchist Network. Many people wondered why I had gone to such lengths to attack a bunch of losers like GA. However a closer examination of the publication would reveal how Unpopular Books had used the very figure of a worker with a hammer that features in the ICC logo as part of an emblem showing the smashing of anarchism. Furthermore, in The Sucking Pit, the principle article of the publication, several references were made to the ICC, in dealing with Bakunin's masonic involvement. Here I didn't just criticise how soft the ICC were on the role played by Chinese anarchists in the suppression of the Shanghai commune of 1927 - I went much further:
"From here, Nomad proceeds to discuss the influence of Bakuninism on Leninism (p. 178-9): 'The document called Organisation is to a certain extent even more revealing than the Revolutionary Catechism. It deals with the organisation of the revolutionary forces and distinguishes two different organisations: "The International Family properly speaking, and the National Families, the latter to be organised everywhere in such a way as to remain always subordinated to the absolute guidance of the International Family."
'The International Family was to consist of "International Brothers," of whom, in turn, there were two categories - "Honorary Brothers" and "Active Brothers." The Honorary Brothers were what nowadays would be called "angels," while the Active Brothers were the militants. The organisation was secret, and all members were subject to strict discipline. However, it was the duty of the secret organisation to build up open organisations wherever this was possible, the task of the latter being to win sympathisers.
'The International Brothers constituted the higher aristocracy among the conspirators of Bakunin's organisation. They were, so to speak, the "Bakuninists of the first rank" in the terminology of the Blanquist societies of the same period. Bakunin believed that about one hundred International Brothers would suffice for organising the world revolution. The "second rank" consisted of National Families, which "constitute a degree of apprenticeship as compared with the great International Family. The object of this subordinate organisation is, as far as possible, to connect the revolutionary elements available everywhere with the universal enterprise of the International Brothers." Moreover, "The National Family of each country is formed in such a way as to be subject to absolute and exclusive control by the International Society." Furthermore, "All members of the national Junta owes absolute obedience in all cases." Thus obedience, discipline, subordination, and penalties for infractions of the rules constitute the leitmotiv of this famous classic of... Anarchism.
'It so happens that all of these methods and principles now form the basis of the organisation of the Russian Communist Party and particularly of the Communist International. The complete subservience of all the national Communist Parties to the Executive Committee of the Communist International in Moscow; the arbitrary changes in party leadership by orders from Moscow; the nomination of all local party officials from above and not by election - it is all part and parcel of a preposterous paradox: that the unheard-of tyranny now exercised by the leadership of the Russian Communist Party is the intellectual child of a man who has gone down in history as the great enemy of all authority. (In fact the Bolshevik historian Steklov, admits that Bakunin's insistence upon the importance of a body of professional revolutionists was a sort of anticipation of Lenin's methods of organisation.) '"

Aside from some cryptic reference in International Review No. 85 (Second Quarter, 1996), the ICC has failed to respond to our criticism of the way the Russian Communist Party perpetuated the doctrines of Mikhail Bakunin, something most germane to the Left-Bolshevik theories of the party. Instead they try and instill our sympathy regaling us with sob stories of how one of their Manchester public forums was "a target for attempted sabotage" last November (World Revolution 190, p4). This 'sabotage' happened when a miscreant, identified as an associate of a member of the Mancunian libertarian group Subversion , "wandered around the meeting room then sat on a chair with his back to the praesidium and put his feet up on another chair." Subsequent dialogue is disputed and Subversion even claim that the miscreant merely sat "sideways on to the head table (the 'praesidium')" (Subversion No. 18).
Before proceeding with our critique of the ICC, I must point out that Subversion 's remarks betray a flippancy that is unbecoming to a 'revolutionary' group. Attending an ICC meeting is described as a form entertainment like going to the theatre or visiting the zoo - "an opportunity to combine a couple of pints with the chance of meeting new people interested in revolutionary politics". They denounce the ICC as "a bizarre sect" and even suggest a diabolical origin in their completely unsubstantiated claim that the ICC is "a machine from hell!". It is clear that the ICC is simply a product of the living hell of capitalist society and that there is no need to invoke those fantastical infernal regions which feature in religious rhetoric. It does little to Subversion 's credit that they picture them as aliens simply because they can't confront their politics beyond such banalities as "Stalinist" - as if the Volga Germans were deported for bad table manners, or Isaak Illich Rubin was disappeared for failing to put his hand over his mouth when he yawned. Subversion 's use of the epithet, neatly evades a critique of the ICC's Bolshevism.
Subversion end up defending a 'common sense' notion of 'reality", as if such a thing ostensibly existing outside the realm of human discourse could be faithfully rendered within any discourse. That the ICC seek to dissociate themselves from any consensual reality should be recognised as the first step for any group aiming to become revolutionary, as all the dominant discourses are the discourses of the ruling class. Our counter-discourses seek to disrupt these discourses metered out to the rythm of one jackboot clapping down upon us. Subversion fail to understand either how dominant discourses are structured, or how the ICC's ritualised behaviour at their meetings is appropriate to a group whose understanding of counter-discourse consists of constructing a competing paradigm.

Forward to: Going Around in Circles
In Defense of The Proletariat
New Atlantis
The Future lies Open
What is to be Done?

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