Anarchists and the Ultra-Left– the Mine Canaries of the Revolution.
You all know what a mine canary is. The bird was brought down into the mine and if it passed out this showed gas was present and the mine was unsafe. So how are anarchists and ultra leftists the mine canaries of the Revolution?
Should a successful revolution be overtaken by an authoritarian or undemocratic party, which group truely threatens their power? Not the reactionary right, though it may commit terrorist acts. For the simple reason that it is discredited. Workers and peasants do not wish to see this lot back in. Furthermore, authoritarian revolutionary states tend to coopt many members of the old ruling class, putting them back in charge of the masses, but now working for the new state rather than old system – think of the Tsarist officers and bureaucrats coopted by the Bolsheviks and Mao's "Patriotic Capitalists". No, the parties and organizations to the left of the revolutionary rulers are the threat to their power. Such groups appeal to the egalitarian and libertarian desires of the people and of the revolution itself. They oppose the centralization of political and economic power and speak of popular power rather than party dictatorship. Hence, the first groups to be attacked by an authoritarian revolutionary state are the anarchists, left populists and ultra-left marxists.
Barely six months into the October Revolution, Lenin's Bolsheviks were harassing anarchists. Soon after they went for the Maximalists (far-left populists) By 1921, most anarchists and left-populists were in concentration camps or exile. Finally, in 1922, left-Bolshevik factions like the Workers Opposition were banned. Mao suppressed the anarchists and Trotskyists. The Viet Minh slaughtered Vietnam's large Trotskyist party. Soon after Castro's turn toward the Cuban Communist Party, the anarchists were all in exile or in prison.
There is nothing inevitable about this process. Revolutions do not necessarily "devour their children." The Costa Rican Revolution of 1948 and the Bolivian Revolution of 1952 did not see the liquidation of the far left, even though the Bolivian regime did eventually fall into corruption and was overthrown by the military. Not all left groups supported the Sandinistas. The Nicaraguan Maoists considered them "bourgeois", created their own trade union federation and ran as a separate party in elections. The Sandinistas, while not liking the Maoists, did not suppress them
This is the test we must apply when judging the new revolutionary governments such as in Venezuela, Bolivia and perhaps now Ecuador. How do they treat the Left Opposition? Do they let it be or persecute it? Since they let it be, stories about them being "dictatorial", "undemocratic", or "totalitarian" are nothing but neocon propaganda. But should the day come that the mine canary passes out, I will be the first to attack these governments.