Sunday, March 22, 2009

On Revolution and Counter-Revolution

Many people do not realize that we have gone though, and are now going through, a cycle of revolution and counter-revolution. This cycle can be broken down into three waves.

First Wave 1910-1936

Mexico, Russia, Germany, Hungary, Spain, potential revolution in Italy, serious unrest in Argentina, Brazil. General strikes throughout the world.

Second Wave 1958-1980

Cuba, France, Portugal, Nicaragua. Serious revolt in Italy, Argentina, Chile. General strikes in Belgium, Canada.

Third Wave 2000 -

Venezuela, Bolivia, revolt in Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Iceland. Serious unrest in Greece, France.

Each wave, up till the present one, terminated in a period of reaction

1. 1922 – 1957 Fascism and Stalinism, then domination by US imperialism and counter-revolution.
2. 1973 – 1999 US-sponsored military coups in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, terrorism in Central America, neoliberal attacks on workers living standards and rights throughout the world.

Dates are approximate and much overlapping occurs. Furthermore, a revolutionary period can contain reactionary triumphs and a period of reaction can see the occurrence of progressive change or revolution. In spite of these limitations, there is a definite cycle of revolution and counter-revolutionary reaction. The failure to understand the existence of these long waves leads both to pessimism on the part of progressive forces (chatter about the cooptation of working class) and triumphalism on the part of reactionaries. (the "end of history", obsolescence of socialism.)

There are also differences between the revolutionary waves. In the past, revolutionary regimes were installed, or counter-revolution triumphed, in a matter of months. Today, the revolutionary process is much more protracted, as we see in Venezuela and Bolivia where a revolutionary situation has existed for years. In Argentina, though much of the militant working class struggle since 2001 has been recuperated by populism, the class as a whole has not been defeated as it was in 1976. In certain ways there has been a merging of reform and revolution.

The second difference is the weakness of US imperialism. Being tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan, it suffers from imperial overstretch and the hostility of the population of its supposed allies. It is unable to terrorize Latin America "back into the fold", as it did only 20 years ago. This allows the revolutionary process time and space to develop autonomously.

The third difference is the severity of the economic crisis and the fact that it is in reality a triple crisis – economic-energy and environmental. Capitalism has never faced a crisis of this magnitude before. This limits its ability to intervene and brings unrest into the imperial heartlands.

The chances of success have never been greater. The stakes have never been higher. What will happen?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Massive French Protests and Ontario Factory Occupation

Yesterday, March 19, three million French workers demonstrated across France against lay-offs, government cut-backs and attempts to make working people pay for the bosses crisis. Three of five labour federations, SUD, Force Ouvrier and the syndicalist CNT-F, called for a general strike. See


As well, workers in Windsor Ontario at the Aradco auto parts plant engaged in a two day occupation and hopefully won at least a partial victory. See

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Two Thoughts On Unemployment

1. Mass unemployment is caused by governmental and corporate policies and actions. It is social in origin and is never the fault of its victims, the now-jobless workers. Yet, that is precisely how the unemployed are treated by the authorities. They are forced to search for work and to engage in job-finding classes if they wish to collect unemployment insurance – for the minority fortunate enough to qualify. People who refuse are punished by having their meager benefits cut off. They did not cause the problem, but, in practice, they get the blame. Examine the logic behind it by this analogy. I assault you, yet the police don't arrest me, they arrest you. What happens to the unemployed in our system is a form of sociopathic inversion, where the perpetrator of a heinous crime blames his victim for what he did. Meanwhile, the guilty parties – the CEO's and politicians – still get their high salaries and perks. Those who caused the problem ought to be the ones to rectify it. They should be the ones finding you a job, and if they can't find one, pay you an income until they do.

Thing is, every unemployed person grumbles about their situation, yet no one seems ready to pin the blame where it ought to go. During our previous big economic crisis in the 1980's, groups organized unemployed workers. But they concentrated on helping the unemployed combat the Unemployment Insurance bureaucracy, certainly a worthy act, but shied away from directly confronting the system. Hopefully the situation will be different this time around.

2. It has always angered me that whenever an industry closes in a small town the locals are expected to pull up stakes and move elsewhere to find work. How about the work coming to them instead? Now many people will regard this as a ludicrous question, and the fact that they do, shows the great extent to which people are expected to serve the economy rather than the economy serving them. What is an economy really for anyway, but to provide people with necessary goods and services? An economy is a means to fulfill needs, not a end in itself, or rather it ought to be so, if a society is supposed to exist for human beings.

Uprooting masses of people and forcing them to follow the dollar destroys community. It is natural to live among people you know, it is natural to have roots. This is the way we lived for thousands of years, and only under capitalism have we been forced to scurry from place to place like lemmings. Peasants and First Nations peoples would rather die than give up the places where their ancestors lived. In small towns across the "developed" world some of this sentiment still lingers in the sadness of leaving.

The destruction of community brings with it a host of costly social problems not factored into the economic calculations of the MBA and state bureaucrat. And when the migrants flood into the new boom towns, they bring their problems with them, as well as putting stress on housing, public services and infrastructure. All totaled, it probably is not that more expensive to leave people where they are and start new industries to employ them. Of course, we would need a new kind of economy – one based upon need and solidarity rather than the greed and lust for domination of a handful of narcissists and sociopaths.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Responses To "Anarchism And Radical Governments"

Unfortunately much of the response to this article has gotten bogged down in secondary matters. (1) Such as the reality of the situation in Venezuela, my real or alleged lack of historical insight and confusing analogies. I don't see where this has much bearing on the question of how we should act. I would like to re-emphasize what I wrote only applies to specific circumstances 1. a radical/populist/reformist government that has grown out of, or is backed by, a mass movement of workers and peasants. 2. Where we have no mass base.

There is no disagreement about the need to influence such people, and we are in accord that we should avoid losing our identity. Disagreement is over the level or type of criticism we should engage in.

Just to clarify matters. I am NOT saying we should keep quiet or uncritically accept what a mass-based populist govt is doing. What I am saying that this criticism must be framed in such a way that it does not alienate the mass movement and leave us on the sidelines irrelevant and despised. It is better to aim criticism where the populist govt does not live up to its own program – few rank and file members are "true believers", and are not at all adverse to criticizing an organization that waffles on it policies. But the best form of criticism in terms of advancing anarchism is the implicit or positive form, which is reiterating our program. The contrast between a program of genuine self-management and governmental half-hearted measures will have far deeper impact than negative propaganda. Of course, this implies that anarchists actually have a program rather than a vague wish list.

I have come to this position through experience in working within non-anarchist organizations such as trade unions and community groups. Indeed, every anarchist I know, other than a small minority of "crazies", acts in a similar manner within such groups. To say that there is a difference between such organizations and the mass movements giving rise to a radical govt. is to ignore the possibility that these unions and community groups are the very ones that would give rise to or back a populist govt in Canada, should that unlikely event occur.

Does anyone really think they can build an anarchist movement through having ten people stand on a street corner shouting denunciations at the tens of thousands who march by in a quest for a better life? How do you avoid the extremes of liquidationalism and sectarianism? If my attempts at finding a middle path between the two are seem unsuccessful, then please come up with an alternative.

1. Responses in the Anarkismo version See:


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