Updated on 16/4/15 with a postscript containing:
1. A response from Theorie Communiste
2 A response from Tantquil
3. A response to these responses from me
4. A response to these responses from the TPTG
…and innumerable constantly arriving new comments in the comment section…
Original article (without postscript) published 13/4/15
Woland, an ex-member of Blaumachen and Sic, after having spent some odd years devising odd theories about the “era of riots” and the rise of the new revolutionary (non-)subject, has now found something more profitable to do: discarding his nom de guerre he has become Syriza’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Maritime Affairs and Tourism, Director of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank and Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, under his real name Manousos Manousakis. And all this movement of de-communisation in just over a year.
One of this ex-communiser’s many duties is to find the right government policy proportion of commons to privatizations, workers’ rights to capitalist investments.The fact that he is also vice president of the two-thirds privatised Greece Telecom as well as the guy Syriza has put in charge of Telecommunications is already becoming a bit of a scandal in Greece’s mainstream media – “a conflict of interests” as the pretension to State neutrality phrases it. But – it seems – it’s neither a scandal nor a “conflict of interests” amongst the ultra-lefthargic communisers of Sic and Blaumachen, whose silence on this subject is as deafening as the sound of a leaf falling during the explosion of a nuclear bomb.
There is also something else which is of importance here. Many of the SYRIZA’s high-profile cadres, who have been appointed as General Secretaries or senior councilors in ministries, used to be active participants in the social movements. As such, not only do they have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the movement and its practices, but they could also make use of their direct (or indirect) communication channels: from the mere acquisition of inside-information to the deployment of the (necessary) means of mediation even further inside the anti-authoritarian milieu and the movement in general. To give just one example, the traditional clientelist system is still being reproduced by partially integrating counter-cultural, counter-political and other informal social networks.
This weekend just gone (11th & 12th April) 2 meetings on the new Syriza government organised by Theorie Communiste, one in Lyon, the other in Marseille, were presented by Blaumachen. The announcement, in French, mentions nothing of their (presumably ex-) comrade, Commissar Woland, who has been the main theoretician of Blaumachen for almost 10 years. He has been a member of Sic and many of his articles have been published in this journal. In Greece, no members of Blaumachen or Sic have publicly criticized comrade Woland for his political choice to become a capitalist state functionary (in fact, a high rank state functionary involved in privatizations and capital investment plans). It is important to note that all members of these two groups knew about his political relationships with Syriza over the last few years. Silence is mouldy. Doubtless some have had their private doubts: how could this guy be a significant part of our scene and yet now be a member of the ruling class – and so quickly?! But, in this milieu, dominated as it is by the experts in “theory”, people not so versed in this intellectual expertise are so scared of finding themselves alone, of being accused of being wrong if they dare speak their mind, that they feel safer shutting up, as if such a fear didn’t indicate how alone they already were, despite being surrounded by a lot of strangers parading as “comrades”. And they expect others to dare make a revolution!?!
The announcement about these 2 meetings declares that Syriza’s electoral victory is
“a direct representation of Syntagma Square in May-June 2011”
“SYRIZA is the political expression of the previous wave of struggles, that is to say, in a sense its integration with the State or its étatification, not its elimination or defeat”
Contrary to this apologetic point of view, this electoral victory is exactly the result of the retreat, defeat or recuperation of the movement, as the TPTG explained in their text “OΝ SYRIZA ΑND ITS VICTORY IN THE RECENT GENERAL ELECTIONS IN GREECE“, proved as it is by the special case of the retreat and recuperation of the Blaumachen member into the state apparatus:
“The “movement of the squares” was based either on the creation of new “popular assemblies” in the neighbourhoods of Athens and in provincial towns or the temporary reinvigoration of already existing ones (with their genealogy going back to the December 2008 revolt). In the period following the movement of Syntagma square there was a current of mobilizations promoting “refusal of payments from below” organized mainly by the assemblies. The mobilizations mainly focused on the refusal of payment of: a) electricity bills, which at this point and for the next 3 years included a surcharge for a new property tax, b) transport tickets, the price of which had been increased, and c) highway tolls, which have been multiplied and at the same time their fare has been increased. The members of SYRIZA and other leftists, who participated in the “popular assemblies” promoted a shift of the focus of the mobilizations from proletarian antagonistic activities –e.g. the reconnection of electricity in working class houses or the blockade / sabotage of ticket cancelling machines in the metro stations – to legal actions which often involved the apparatuses of the municipalities administered by left/social democrat mayors.
SYRIZA’s attempts to recuperate the mobilizations were widely successful and a rather easy task due to the latter’s interclass composition and political content: the assemblies, even when they were predominantly composed of proletarians of all sorts, never defined themselves as working class collectivities; they were rather perceived by the majority of their members as assemblies of local citizens/private individuals/private property owners. From there it was a short step to be subsumed into the social-democratic discourse of “citizens’ social rights”, “common goods rights”, etc. which has been promoted by SYRIZA. For example, the neighbourhood assemblies have organized a series of so-called solidarity activities, such as soup kitchens, self-organized health centers, co-operative (simple) commodity exchanges, service exchanges (e.g. foreign language classes) within an interclass anti-government framework. This self-managed austerity strategy was widely adopted by SYRIZA, which, as will be shown below, has included a “social” or “solidarity” economy as one of the “pillars” of its program for the “productive reconstruction of the Greek economy”. Today, SYRIZA controls a plethora of such rank and file “solidarity” organizations including self-organized health centers and pharmacies, commodity exchanges, poverty relief groceries, etc. Our position that the boundaries between such projects and charities led by the Church and NGOs are blurred has been confirmed by the recent declarations of support for the philanthropical mission of the Church, which were expressed by the president of SYRIZA at a meeting with the Archbishop in a church charity institution. Furthermore, SYRIZA utilized the neighbourhood assemblies in order to strengthen its local branches, which often copied the assembly form and recruited members from the neighbourhood assemblies.” – here
But the germ of this retreat and recuperation was already there in the Sic/Theorie Communiste mentality, its heavily abstract notion of theory. This mentality always takes on an idea of theory as something specialist, for theoreticians. That’s why it’s often a question of theory of theory. But it is rarely something for proletarians in struggle, as a support, encouragement and clarification of this struggle (which is not to say that those low in the Sic/TC hierarchy don’t sometimes contribute to proletarian practice – e.g. in the anti-shale gas struggles, or by opening up squats). This produces in those who identify and produce these “ideas” an intellectual role with an attitude of superiority towards people who haven’t read all the abstractions of Roland Simon or who haven’t read all 3½ volumes of Capital 1000 times and can quote them as quickly as other people can yawn. It’s a theory which considers practical risk, and practical consequences as of a far lesser importance than the sophistication of their ideas. Oh, how they just love to wallow in the notion of their own sophistication!
Above all, this role demands no break with the hierarchical comportment learnt from dominant social relations and it’s not too hard for those people entrenched in this hierarchical role to “transform” themselves without embarrassment into a politician. It’s not surprising to hear that the TPTG broke with Blaumachen in 2009 precisely because of the Machiavellian manipulations of Woland.
There is also a link with the political mentality and the determinism of Theorie Communiste. Those who have created their own “good reasons” to see revolution as inevitable invariably create a hierarchy in which the partisans who recognise their explanation are placed at the top; the as yet neutral masses are in the middle, and their opponents who may have competing reasons or no reason at all, are at the bottom. Determinism, in turn, is a logical outcome of the separation reinforced by this “revolutionary” mentality between themselves and the rest of the proletariat. If one cannot conceive of the masses as individuals capable of determining the conditions of their existence through conscious choice, as people capable of choosing to make a revolution, then it is necessary for a special enlightened group to supply them with an external motivation they can’t resist and which becomes a mentality of faith in the thought of this group which replaces their own theory, colonises their own point of view.
I could say more about Theorie Communiste and all this Sic shit, but for the moment, I’ll leave the last word to a contact who wrote:
Postscript to “The Minister of Sic”
1. Response from Theorie Communiste to the above text (translation posted on Anarchist News):
« Put the record straight »
Manos aka Woland (or the other way around) »
1. « Théorie Communiste » was in no way the « organiser » of the public meetings in Lyon and Marseilles the 11th and 12th April, and most of us regret not being able to take part in these meetings on the situation in Greece, which were an excellent idea.
2. « Théorie Communiste » left Sic in July 2013, nevertheless keeping friendly relationships with some of the members of the collective.
3. The friend who spoke at those public meetings was as far as we know never a member of «Blaumachen» (a group that has been inactive since summer 2014) – not that being a member of blaumachen was ever a fault!
4. Manos / Woland made a choice, which was neither that of T.C., Sic, blaumachen, or the organisers of these public meetings.
So much for the facts. For the rest, if it makes some « Delinquents of the Dialectic » or «Children of Paradise» happy to find the reasons for Manos / Woland becoming a ministerial secretary or a banker in communisation theory or even the « elitist abstractions » of T.C., they are welcome. The infinite resources of the dialectic are free for everyone.
2. Response from Tantquil to the above text:
I hope someone can translate this message giving some precisions to your article “minister of sic.”
Just to say a few words about the public meetings that took place in Marseille and Lyon recently.
– They were not organized by TC, but Table Rase in Lyon and the Communist Network Antigestionnaire Tantquil in Marseille. In these 3 cases, they are groups relatively distant from the pure theoretical thinking and developments in the medium. The activity of most of their members turned towards the struggles and self defense of class[I think they mean “our class”]. This partly explains our ignorance of the recent developments that Blaumachen and ex-comrade Woland may have had .
– The comrade who came was not from Blaumachen. His name is Andreas who was close to it a few years ago without actually joining it. Today he is part of SIC and a Marxist study group on the state which, moreover, Woland was a part of.
– He came mainly to discuss SIRIZA and how they came to integrate and get some of the anarchists and also communisateurs in their movement to vote .
– We were absolutely not aware of Woland’s betrayal, few people follow TPTG texts written in English from day to day and “60 days” had been read only by few people. The arrival of Comrade allowed us to learn about it.
– I have no doubt that the comrades from SIC and TC will eventually react to WolandGate but these are groups that meet little and they may take their time getting out a text on the subject .
(the original in French has been posted below in the comments boxes)
3. My response to the above comments from TC and Tantquil:
As has been pointed out by Theorie Communiste/TC and Tantquil, I made a mistake about the organisers of the meetings in France this last weekend. Apologies. Typical impatience on my part. Getting the balance between patience and impatience is difficult, but here I should really have been more thorough, and less careless. De Nouvelles du Front is a communisation site, which includes TC amongst other communisaters. Hence the confusion. Sometimes they present a united front (as in the name of their site) but obviously, as in all groups which have more a political mentality than an anti-political one, there is both rivalry as well as complicity. Behind the front there’s probably more rivalry than complicity but when it comes to that buzz word “communisation” it’s “united we stand, divided we fall”.
However, admitting to this minor error does not at all mean I agree with the essential aspects of the sicness that is inherent in TC‘s and Tantquil‘s fundamentally ideological mentality. It is typical politics to pick on a minor detail to avoid the essential. For TC Woland merely made a choice that was not that of the other communisaters, as if individual choice operates in a vacuum, and exists almost outside of the history of each individual, of his or her influences. The simple fact is that if you try (or claim) to fight alienation but do so in an alienated way, becoming a turncoat is hardly even a “betrayal” but a continuation of an habitual form of alienated social relation with merely a different content.
I could say a lot more, but for the moment I shall leave it to the TPTG to point out the fundamental re-writing of the most recent aspects of the history of this little affair, of the falsification of this history by TC but above all by Tantquil, which illustrate the political mentality nurtured by much of this communisater milieu (at least in Europe) which could give rise so easily to the opportunism of Woland.
4. The TPTG’s response to the above comments
The sub-minister of Sic and his comrades
Tantquil’s response to SamFanto’s mistake that their event in Marseille with an ex-member of Blaumachen was organized by Theorie Communiste revealed some more depressing and at the same time funnier things about the circle of communisateurs in France and Greece than his article on the sub-minister and banker of SIC in Greece does.
Before getting round to Tantquil’s entertaining response which is full of imprecisions and, sometimes, outright lies (some of them certainly coming from their guest speaker), let’s start from the beginning.
Well, this whole story started when on April 7 we came across this announcement on DNDF http://dndf.org/?p=14112 and this one on http://kiosque13.noblogs.org/ (see photo below). According to the programme of this Kiosque in Marseille, there was going to be an event on Greece there on April 12. Even those who can barely understand French can get what the event was going to be about, who the guest speaker was and where one had to look to find his group’s texts: Discussion avec Blaumachen, des communistes grecques. Organise par la revue Tantquil pour causer de la situation economique, et sociale en Grece et aussi des lutes en cours. Les texts de Blaumachen sont consultables sur internet et notamment sur le site de DNDF ou de Badkids. (One should keep this announcement in mind as the story unfolds).
We immediately wrote the following e-mail and sent it to the organizers of the events in Lyon and Marseille (i.e. Table Rasse, Kiosque and Tantquil) the next day, April 8:
here is our latest text on the situation in Greece.
You can find the first part of our text here:
Please, read footnote 17 in the second text attached here:
“Dr. Milios is not the only communization theorist inside SYRIZA who abandoned his theory of the destruction of the law of value. Another one is Woland, an (ex?) member of Blaumachen and Sic. After having spent some odd years devising funny theories about the “era of riots” and the rise of the new revolutionary (non-) subject, Woland has now found something more profitable to do: he has become General Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping & Tourism, Director of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank and Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. One of his many duties is to find the right government policy proportion of commons to privatizations, workers’ rights to capitalist investments. There is also something else which is of importance here. Many of the SYRIZA’s high-profile cadres, who have been appointed as General Secretaries or senior councilors in ministries, used to be active participants in the social movements. As such, not only do they have an in-depth knowledge/understanding of the movement and its practices, but they could also make use of their direct (or indirect) communication channels: from the mere acquisition of inside-information to the deployment of the (necessary) means of mediation even further inside the anti-authoritarian milieu and the movement in general. To give just one example, the traditional clientelist system is still being reproduced by partially integrating countercultural, counterpolitics and other informal social networks”.
This person, Woland, has been the main theoretician of Blaumachen for almost 10 years. He is a member of Sic and many of his articles have been published in this journal. He was also a leading member of the Marxist discussion group on the state mentioned in the announcement of the event you are going to organize with another member of Blaumachen.
Keep in mind that no members of Blaumachen or the Marxist discussion group on the state have publicly criticized their comrade, Woland, in Greece for his political choice to become a capitalist state functionary (in fact, a high rank state functionary involved in privatizations and capital investment plans). It is important to note that all members of these two groups knew about his political relationships with Syriza during the last years.
There is also something else which is important:
This party’s electoral victory is neither “a direct representation of Syntagma Square in May-June 2011” nor “SYRIZA is the political expression of the previous wave of struggles, that is to say, in a sense its integration with the State or its étatification, not its elimination or defeat”, as it is mentioned in the announcement about the forthcoming event. Contrary to this apologetic point of view, this electoral victory is exactly the result of the retreat, defeat or recuperation of the movement, as we explained in the first part of our text (http://dndf.org/?p=14031).
This is also proved by the special case of the retreat and recuperation of the Blaumachen member in the state apparatus.
Since we are not able to participate in it, we kindly ask you to read this e-mail during your event.
All the best,
We got no response at all, neither from Lyon nor from Marseille!
Only after SamFanto posted his article which is partly based on the above e-mail did Tantquil decide to say something 6 (!) days later on April 14. And what do we get? Some incomprehensible and silly excuses that because “the activity of most of their members turned towards the struggles and self defense of class [?], this partly explains our ignorance of the recent developments that Blaumachen and ex-comrade Woland may have had”! No mention of our e-mail at all! And what a neutral expression: “ex-comrade Woland”!
They even go on in the same shameless tone: “We were absolutely not aware of Woland’s betrayal, few people follow TPTG texts written in English from day to day and “60 days” had been read only by few people. The arrival of comrade allowed us to learn about it.”
The “comrade” who let them know on April 12 what they had already learnt from us 4 days earlier is, according to Tantquil, “not from Blaumachen. His name is Andreas who was close to it a few years ago without actually joining it. Today he is part of SIC and a Marxist study group on the state which, moreover, Woland was a part of”. That’s the first time in six years that we hear that Andreas who joined Blaumachen in 2009… did not actually join it! (The same lie is repeated by TC in their response to SamFanto’s article on DNDF). Whether he was a “special collaborator” of this group or whatever else they want to call it we don’t know and it doesn’t make much difference. He has been known both in Greece and France as a member of Blaumachen and this is proved by the fact that Tantquil in their announcement of the event on the Kiosque site (see the photo above) mentioned him as such. The event was supposed to be a “Discussion avec Blaumachen”.
Over the following days, after we had sent our e-mail to Tantquil, the announcement of the event changed completely: “Débat sur la lutte des classes en Grèce. Organisé par le réseau communiste antigestionnaire pour causer de la situation économique, et sociale en Grèce et aussi des luttes en cours. Un compagnon de la revue S.I.C. (revue internationale pour la communisation) viendra d’Athènes pour débattre avec nous de la situation et des luttes actuelles suite à l’élection de Syriza”. The change was so hasty that even the day of the event is now given wrongly on the same page of the site! (See http://kiosque13.noblogs.org/) The reference to Blaumachen’s texts on the DNDF and Badkids sites was eliminated.
What is even more interesting is that Woland was not simply “part of the Marxist study group on the state”, as is mentioned in Tantquil’s response. This group was actually initiated by Woland , Andreas and others in 2013, while Woland was already a scientific associate/director of the political office of a SYRIZA MP, George Stathakis, in the Hellenic Parliament since October 2012. (See Woland’s CV here https://gr.linkedin.com/pub/manos-manousakis/7/5/b22) Everybody in Woland’s communisation circle knew about his close relationships with SYRIZA. These relationships probably date from early 2012. This was the year when he started his collaboration with Dr. Milios (see our two articles on SYRIZA to find out who this guy is). Before the elections of May 2012 Woland was trying to persuade his close friends in the anti-authoritarian milieu to vote for SYRIZA. His close relationships with the party were not only known to “comrade Andreas” and the other members of Blaumachen/Sic living in Greece and England but they were also known to a Greek person living in Luxemburg who has a long standing co-operation both with Theorie Communiste and Blaumachen.
Those who were close to Woland, like the members of the Marxist study group on the state, needn’t be prophets to understand that once economist Stathakis was to become a Minister of Economy (or whatever) in a future SYRIZA government he would appoint his close collaborators like Woland to government posts.
On the contrary, all these brilliant theoreticians who wanted to illuminate us about the capitalist state not only did not criticize Woland for his job but they were ready to publish a book on the state early this year (including a text by Woland)! According to what a member of this State group told us recently, they decided to abandon the project only after their comrade became a sub-minister. What they wanted to avoid of course was to become totally ridiculed in the anti-authoritarian milieu in Greece where the jokes about communisation theorists have already started.
This brings us to the biggest lie included in Tantquil’s response: “He [Andreas] came mainly to discuss SYRIZA and how they came to integrate some of the anarchists and also communisaters into their movement and get them to vote”. First of all, nothing like that was announced in the original invitation to the events and, most important of all, “comrade Andreas” and “friend” of TC created a diversion in order to trivialize his comrade’s deliberate recuperation. No militant anarchists have been integrated by SYRIZA. This is a big insult against the only political scene in Greece that has challenged the SYRIZA government and Woland’s party during the last two months. Contrary to the anarchists, “comrade Andreas” does not even have the guts to criticize his ex-comrade publicly in Greece and go onto a self-critique as well.
As for Tantquil and TC, they had better ask their “comrade” what this group was discussing about the state while Woland was still a member of it and on his way to the top–and let all of us know about it.
We’ll stop here. More in a future post.
Added 20/4/15 –
a leaflet I wrote for a meeting partly about Syriza (this part was presented by someone from Tantquil) in Montpellier on 18/4/15:
tantquil leaflet (English version)
tracte tantquil français-corrigé (version française)
added 29/4/15: ” To be or not to be communisateur…”
Théorie communiste is not involved, near and far, in the organisation of the both meeting in Lyon and Marseille. This meetings had been organised by “Tantquil”.
If you don’t know somathing, please shut up!
“This weekend just gone (11th & 12th April) 2 meetings on the new Syriza government organised by Theorie Communiste, one in Lyon, the other in Marseille, were presented by Blaumachen.”
Blaumachen doesn’t exist anymore (since 2014) and Théorie Communiste doesn’t have organised these events.
For the rest, it is finally something you can discuss about comunization, happy for you.
J’espère que quelqu’un pourra vous traduire se message qui donne quelques précision sur votre article “minister of sic”.
Juste pour vous dire quelques mots sur les réunions publiques qui ont eu lieu à Marseille et Lyon ces derniers jours.
– Elles n’ont pas été organisé par TC, mais par Table Rase à Lyon et par le Réseau Communiste Antigestionnaire et Tantquil à Marseille. Dans les 3 cas, ce sont des groupes relativement éloignés de la pure réflexion théorique et des évolutions du milieu. L’activité de la plupart de leurs membres est tourné vers les luttes et l’autodéfense de classe. Ce qui explique en partie notre méconnaissance des évolutions récentes qu’a pu avoir Blaumachen et l’ex-camarade Woland.
– Le camarade qui venait n’était pas de Blaumachen. Il s’appelle Andreas en a été proche il y a quelques années sans réellement le rejoindre. Il fait partie aujourd’hui de SIC et d’un groupe marxiste de réflexion sur l’état dont, par ailleurs, a fait partie Woland.
– Il est venu principalement discuter de SIRIZA et de comment ils sont parvenus à intégrer et à faire voter une partie des anarchistes et aussi des communisateurs dans leur mouvement.
– Nous n’étions absolument pas au courant de la trahison de Woland, peu de gens suivent au jour le jour les textes de TPTG écrits en anglais et “60 days” n’avaient été lu que par peu de monde. La venue du camarade nous a permis de l’apprendre.
– Je n’ai pas de doute sur le fait que les camarades de SIC et TC vont finir par réagir au WolandGate mais ce sont des groupes qui se réunissent peu et sortir un texte sur le sujet risque de leur prendre du temps.
Although Ben Malacki seems to have sent this as Tantqu’il’s response (there’s a link to the Tantqu’il site if you click on his name which was sent as part of his post) yesterday I spoke to a couple of guys from Tanqu’il who were surprised that he didn’t send it in his name as they hadn’t been consulted about it…
[…] From Dialectical Delinquents […]
“whose silence on this subject is as deafening as the sound of a leaf falling during the explosion of a nuclear bomb.”
You got a little carried away with the metaphor there and couldn’t stop, eh?
This kind of disappointing behavior is why I stick with good old-fashioned black-flag-waving anarchists. Their ideas might be simplistic, but they’re going to be on the right side of any issues about the state, at least.
Speaking of anarchists, CrimethInc. called it on Syriza the day after they were elected with their article attacking everybody who thought their victory could be useful in some way, even the anti-statists. As for this theoretician turned bureaucrat, it speaks volumes about the kind of theory he was involved in that it led to this. Foul.
I like a nice metaphor. “The truth is in the exaggerations” – Walter Benjamin.
“This kind of disappointing behavior is why I stick with good old-fashioned black-flag-waving anarchists. Their ideas might be simplistic, but they’re going to be on the right side of any issues about the state, at least.”
Agreed – but it’s vital to go beyond the separation of theorism and anti-theorism. I heard that in New York at the end of November/beginning of December, lots of normally more activist anarchists and lots of normally more theorist ultra-leftists, normally very suspicious of each other, got together to harass – and sometime more than harass – the “peace police” stewards who were trying to contain the post-Ferguson fury, which semed to be a good example of superceding the separations. Though of course, everyone needs to do that at an individual level as well – those more into theory need to take more practical risks and those who smash things up need to think more strategically about what and how to subvert social contradictions. Either that or end up being burnt out, on the one hand, or end up going round in ever-diminishing circles of senile debates without consequences on the other.
Please revise your article according to
METTRE LES PENDULES A L’HEURE
1 « Théorie Communiste » n’est en aucune façon « l’organisateur » des réunions publiques de Lyon et de Marseille des 11 et 12 avril et la plupart d’entre nous regrettons beaucoup de ne pas avoir pu assister à ces réunions sur la situation en Grèce qui étaient une excellente initiative.
2″Théorie Communiste » a quitté le collectif Sic depuis juillet 2013 en conservant il est vrai des rapports amicaux avec nombre de participants de ce collectif.
3 Le copain qui est intervenu lors de ces réunions n’a, à notre connaissance, jamais été membre de « Blaumachen » (groupe qui n’a plus d’activités depuis l’été 2014), ce qui de toute façon n’a jamais été une tare.
4 Manos / Woland a fait un choix qui n’est pas le nôtre, ni celui de Sic, ni celui de Blaumachen, ni celui des organisateurs de ces réunions. Depuis, il ne participe plus à aucun de ces groupes, revues ou collectifs.
Voilà pour les faits. Pour le reste, s’il plait à quelques « Délinquants de la dialectique » ou « Enfants du paradis » de trouver dans la théorie de la communisation ou pire dans les « abstractions élitistes » de « Théorie Communiste » l’origine du devenir sous-ministériel ou bancaire de Manos / Woland, libre à eux. Les ressources infinies de la dialectique sont un bien commun.
Manos M. aka Woland (or the other way around)”
1 “Théorie Communiste” was in no way the “organiser” of the public meetings in Lyon and Marseilles the 11th and 12th April, and most of us regret not being able to take part in these meetings on the situation in Greece, which were an excellent idea.
2 “Théorie Communiste” left Sic in July 2013, nevertheless keeping friendly relationships with some of the members of the collective.
3 The friend who spoke at those public meetings was as far as we know never a member of “Blaumachen” (a group that has been inactive since summer 2014) – not that being a member of blaumachen was ever a fault!
4 Manos / Woland made a choice, which was neither that of T.C., Sic, blaumachen, or the organisers of these public meetings.
So much for the facts. For the rest, if it makes some “Delinquents of the Dialectic” or “Children of Paradise” happy to find the reasons for Manos / Woland becoming a ministerial secretary or a banker in communisation theory or even the “elitist abstractions” of T.C., they
are welcome. The infinite resources of the dialectic are free for everyone.
Here is the English version:
« Put the record straight »
Manos aka Woland (or the other way around) »
1. « Théorie Communiste » was in no way the « organiser » of the public meetings in Lyon and Marseilles the 11th and 12th April, and most of us regret not being able to take part in these meetings on the situation in Greece, which were an excellent idea.
2. « Théorie Communiste » left Sic in July 2013, nevertheless keeping friendly relationships with some of the members of the collective.
3. The friend who spoke at those public meetings was as far as we know never a member of « Blaumachen » (a group that has been inactive since summer 2014) – not that being a member of blaumachen was ever a fault!
4. Manos / Woland made a choice, which was neither that of T.C., Sic, blaumachen, or the organisers of these public meetings.
So much for the facts. For the rest, if it makes some « Delinquents of the Dialectic » or « Children of Paradise » happy to find the reasons for Manos / Woland becoming a ministerial secretary or a banker in communisation theory or even the « elitist abstractions » of T.C., they
are welcome. The infinite resources of the dialectic are free for everyone.
Manos / Woland made a choice
Choice. Surely TC don’t believe in choice. Subjective will has no part to play in their theory. You’re determinists and – insofar as I have bothered to wade through the more turgid parts of your pretensions to “theory” – do not believe in “choice” – so by your own definition Woland never made a choice since what he’s done was already determined by objective conditions. But then the comeback will probably be – “that’s not at all what we meant” – probably because “career choices” come under a totally different category from “the proletariat will have no choice other than to make a revolution”. Typical ideology – use it when spouting useless abstractions, drop it when it’s shown to be inconveniently self-contradictory.
Theory is a means to practice and is inextricably interwoven with practical “career choices”. Which means also attacking people whose career choice is a cop or a politician or a Hollywood film star or in real estate. If that seems useful to categorise as “moralistic” or “self-righteous” (as some apologists for Blaumacheen have said elsewhere) it merely shows how anti-moralism and today’s world of political economy are totally compatible. The false choice of moralism and anti-moralism are historical choices between ancient and modern forms of capital, not the supersession of these false choices.
The ‘Sic’ people describe themselves as being involved with “… certain more or less informal theoretical groups in the US (New York and San Francisco).”
Does anyone know who these San Francisco people are?
You can send me an e-mail if you like.
SamFanto note: this email can be got via contacting me at dialecticaldelinquents[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk
[…] LINK […] http://subprole.blogsport.de/2015/04/16/the-minister-of-sic/
It is sad that the -once respectable- TPTG have turned themselves into a ridiculous tabloid.
What did we learn from this long exchange of quotes, emails and vicious accusations?
– That a Greek guy changed sides and is working for SYRIZA since some years.
– That some of his friends still discuss with him, despite the fact that he changed sides.
– That the organizers of an event in France were not aware of these developments and, in general, the finest of details of another country’s movement. As a result, a certain confusion is to be noted in their poster.
Wow! Truly revealing news. As it seems, such things have never before happened in the history of movements, nor will they happen again.
In order to add some substance to their (completely irrelevant to anyone not personally acquainted with the protagonists of this Greek Tragedy) gossiping, TPTG go as far as to accuse the ex-Commissar of passing confidential information to the SYRIZA Ministers, in order for the latter to perform their deadly blow to the poor Greek communist and anarchist movement.
The argument is pitiful, almost delirious. But the issue pointed out is serious and should not be dismissed. The question to what extent SYRIZA will aim (and manage) to co-opt activists and radical thinkers, weakening thus the ranks of the Greek movement, is one worth examination and counter-action.
Yet, when the discussion on most relevant issues degrades to witch-hunts, desperate cries “Kill the traitors!” and cheap gossip, the actual argument becomes blurrier.
It becomes easier to miss the point.
And that’s the biggest problem with the initial text and the interventions that followed.
[And a side note for non-Greek readers: the fact that during Greece’s most turbulent period in decades, a great deal of us communists and anarchists are spending our time informing our international comrades on the names and professions of SYRIZA traitors, as well as correcting French posters, offers a hint on how irrelevant, self-referential and isolated (from the broader society’s debates) we are. The situation is fucking desperate.]
I received this (in email form) from Paulo V. in response to the above:
“It was a happy coincidence that at the moment when the discussion on generalized recuperation was beginning in the Greek anti-authoritarian scene, the TPTG put their valuable knowledge about some of their ex-comrades’ miseries to the service of this discussion.
What did we learn from this long exchange of texts, emails and political critiques on this site?
– That a Greek communist of the TC/SIC/Blaumachen communisation tendency changed sides and after working for SYRIZA for some years, he is now one of the chief managers of the Greek capitalist state.
– That almost all of his comrades were still co-operating with him over these years, without giving a fuck about his double political allegiance and his profession.
– That while the French organizers of two political events on the situation in Greece with a member of Blaumachen/SIC were aware of these developments due to e-mails sent to them by the TPTG, they decided that it was more important to “correct” their announcement on one of these two events and cover the tracks of their guest speaker’ s political route than answer them. This incident would have been completely insignificant, had it not been an indication of the Blaumachen and SIC members’ decision to avoid self-criticism and political discussion on their theoretician’s change of allegiance and, of course, the more general issues of the relationship between theory and everyday life, recuperation and the meaning of revolutionary theory.
– That the above deplorable story is only one instance out of many: “Many of the SYRIZA’s high-profile cadres, who have been appointed as General Secretaries or senior councilors in ministries, used to be active participants in the social movements. As such, not only do they have an in-depth knowledge/understanding of the movement and its practices, but they could also make use of their direct (or indirect) communication channels: from the mere acquisition of inside-information to the deployment of the (necessary) means of mediation even further inside the anti-authoritarian milieu and the movement in general. To give just one example, the traditional clientelist system is still being reproduced by partially integrating countercultural, counterpolitics and other informal social networks” (from TPTG’ s “60 days”).
It’ s the same old story. Such things have happened many times before in the history of political cliques, and they will happen again, unless a real and open discussion space created from below, by anti-capitalist social movements, smashes all of these cliques and turns its back on people like Mr. Q. who prefer to move in a saucerful of secrets than in the fresh air of the public domain.
In his pitiful, almost delirious (and completely irrelevant to the ongoing discussion on recuperation) attack against the TPTG, Mr. Q., the nobody man who wants to keep things secret, goes as far as to accuse them of passing confidential information about SYRIZA/SIC Ministers to our international comrades, in order for the latter to perform a deadly blow to the poor Greek communist traitors. Wow! What a shame!
The funny side of all this is that in order to add some revolutionary substance to his vicious accusations, he makes a complete about-face which coincides with the TPTG’ s view: “the question to what extent SYRIZA will aim (and manage) to co-opt activists and radical thinkers, weakening thus the ranks of the Greek [sic] movement, is one worth examination and counter-action”!
Yet, when the radical texts on this most relevant issue are rubbished by Mr. Q. as “tabloids”, supposed “witch-hunts”, “killings” (!) and “gossip”, any argument is impossible, no counter-action can be proposed and discussion becomes empty talk like the communisation theories of Blaumachen.
And that’s the biggest problem with his comment.
Kisses and goodnight, Mr.Q.
[And a side note for non-Greek readers: Mr. Q. argues that “during Greece’s most turbulent period in decades”, communists and anarchists should not spend their time informing their international comrades of the names and professions of SYRIZA/SIC turncoats, as well as pointing out their state capitalist activities. It is supposed to be an activity that is irrelevant, self-referential and isolated from the debates related to the broader society. This is exactly one of SYRIZA’ s main arguments against anarchists, communists and dissident leftists in Greece: “your maximalist critiques and demands are irrelevant to the crucial situation in Greece at the moment”. Thanks to the anti-nationalist critical texts of some small revolutionary groups, to the informal discussions on recuperation and – most of all – to the recent movement against prisons, the situation may not be as fucking desperate as it seems.]
You want to make the change on the Kiosque website from ‘A discussion with Blaumachen’ to ‘A discussion on class struggle and the state’ appear as if the French comrades were scared of your e-mail or as if they had something to hide. Actually, the first announcement on the Kiosque website had to be changed because the comrades in Marseille had done it without actually knowing the exact content of the presentation which was to be made, nor precisely who the Greek comrade was, hence their announcement that he is a member of Blaumachen and that he was to speak about their pieces. Of course, you fail to mention that the detailed text on the page of the Table Rase event (Facebook + rebellyon.info) — the group that had been in direct touch with the Greek comrade — contradicted the three allusive sentences on the Kiosque website. As a video capture of the Greek comrade’s presentation in Lyon will show once it is put online on the Table Rase website, every single thing that you say about his presentation is completely false. But then, sticking to the facts doesn’t seem to be your cup of the tea, as your so-called ‘responses’ to both TC and Tant Qu’il blatantly revealed once again.
Undoubtedly answering much of this stuff comes over as some petty squabble to those who just read these things and are not directly implicated in the nuances of insufficiently thought out distortion and petty lies and their consequences. Like watching from afar people arguing over which nit to pick. And each time a nit is picked another bigger one seems to replace it. Unfortunately, given the tendency of distorted facts and lies becoming someone’s version of an “official” truth, it’s necessary to counter this kind of germ-spreading nit. Nits can give one sleepless nights.
Firstly, regardless of what this guy Andreas has told you, he was a member of Blaumachen. Secondly, the change of the Marseille announcement seems to have been made in response to the TPTG’ s unanswered email on April 8th . The whole affair became an issue only after my publication of “Minister of Sic” on Monday 13 April, and after the meetings took place. Thirdly, neither I nor the TPTG were in a position to travel to either of the debates and actually participate in Andreas’ discussion. The email was in response not to the presentation itself (which neither of us saw, nor knew anybody who did) but to the announcement of it as a future event. After the event, TPTG responded to what Tant Qu’il said about the presentation in Marseille, not necessarily what was actually said, since they had no knowledge of what went on there; nor did they focus on the presentation in Lyon, which was never mentioned in the whole discussion. Thus your comment that “As a video capture of the Greek comrade’s presentation in Lyon will show once it is put online on the Table Rase website, every single thing that you say about his presentation is completely false. But then, sticking to the facts doesn’t seem to be your cup of the tea, as your so-called ‘responses’ to both TC and Tant Qu’il blatantly revealed once again” completely confuses what was focussed on and does not stick to the facts.
A final question: who are you? I’m not asking your real name but whether or not you belong to this communisation scene and if so, in what way? What is your interest in this turncoat affair?
_I_ noticed the error on the Kiosque website _before_ Table rase received TPTG’s e-mail, and _before_ receiving this e-mail, I had already asked both the Kiosque and Tant qu’il to change the announcement simply because the comrade in question (of whom you seem very keen on spreading the name in a surprisingly uncomradely manner) was not going to speak about Blaumachen nor about Blaumachen texts.
The whole affair did indeed become an issue for us in Lyon and Marseille after the publication of the “Minister of Sic” simply because you were spreading false rumours about Théorie Communiste or whatnot being the organiser of the event, and even rumours about us here in Lyon and Marseille having some interest in hiding information from others about some guy — of whom most of us didn’t even know the existence — joining the Syriza government.
You write that “The e-mail was in response not to the presentation itself (which neither of us saw, nor knew anybody who did) but to the announcement of it as a future event”, but in the e-mail, you are commenting the presentation as being “apologetic” of Syriza, etc. — which was what I was responding to. The distinction you make between what was going on in Lyon and Marseille doesn’t make any sense since the presentations were co-organised, and because their content was more or less the same in both cities…
A final word. If you do “not necessarily know what was actually said”, since you “had no knowledge of what went on there [at the events]”, then you might at least avoid making comrades abroad, far from Syriza or the Greek “scene” (to you use a word you seem fond of), suffer from your scandal-thirsty politicking.
As for who I am, is the kind of answer you would have liked: Minister of Communisation at the Hollywood/PhD Ministry of Unreal Proletarians in Intellectualistan? Because then the answer is: no, sorry! I’m a member of Table Rase, the group in Lyon that was in touch with Andreas and invited him in the first place.
You keep coming back to TPTG’ s response to Tantquil in a way that continuously distorts its content.
First, in their April 8 e-mail to you, an e-mail you didn’ t care to answer, TPTG commented not on a presentation that hadn’ t happened yet but on your (and Andreas’) announcement of the forthcoming presentation. This is what they said:
If three days later, during the actual presentation, Andreas changed this “apologetic point of view” this remains to be seen when you put the presentation online, as you have promised.
Second, although you claim to be a member of Table Rasse you don’ t seem to be able to read French: the Kiosque/Tantquil announcement from April 3 didn’ t say that the comrade in question was going to speak about Blaumachen or about Blaumachen texts. It said that the event was going to be about the economic and social situation in Greece and the struggles taking place there. Then, since it was going to be a discussion with a Blaumachen member it recommended the reading of this group’ s texts on dndf and Badkids. What you changed, after receiving and not answering TPTG’ s e-mail, was the name of the speaker’ s group: from Blaumachen to SIC, so that your speaker is dissociated from bad Woland –as if both of them were not members of both groups, plus one more! A silly game of allegiances and dissociations!
Third, you claim you didn’ t know the existence of Woland –but you knew perfectly well the existence of Andreas with whom Woland, who was the main theoretician of Blaumachen and one of the main theoreticians of SIC, had co-operated with in three groups in six years!
To be a falsifier once is one thing. To think that you are able to continue to fool other people around is another one, worse than the first.
Fourth, you say that I “seem very keen on spreading [Andreas’] name in a surprisingly uncomradely manner”. In fact, it was Tantquil who mentions his name (see postscript #2). However, it’s just his first name (I presume) – and I suspect there must be at the very least 10,000 “Andreas” in Greece. Hardly much of a clue for the cops, if they don’t already know him. In a country where people from “Revolutionary Struggle” and “Cells of Fire” openly talk in assemblies, I’d guess the state is definitely going to make a repressive use of Tantquil’s stunning revelations about this guy’s name from a group which is obviously far more subversive than such groups as “Cells of Fire” and has managed to infiltrate the state through Woland . But address your complaints about what you consider uncomradely behaviour to Tantquil – not me or the TPTG. You’re really clutching at straws with that one.
As for the “false rumours” about TC organising the event – this came from the fact that I only saw DNDF’s site’s announcement (not the other ones), a site which, as you know, is dominated by TC. To call this “false rumours” though makes it sound like a terrible bit of gossip with a malicious intention. Really big deal – I falsely attributed the organisation of the event to TC with the aim of totally ruining their and your reputation forever.
But this is a typical and deliberate distraction from why this affair matters – why your reputation has been possibly affected. Namely, that a guy, a leading theoretician from the international communisation journal Sic and the communisation scene around it, who had had relations with Syriza for about 2 years before Sic 2 was published with him as one of its main authors (he had already been one of the authors of Sic 1), relations that Blaumachen knew about (and maybe others did too), who at the beginning of this year was about to have something he wrote apparently critical of the state be published with Andreas as one of his co-authors (if I’ve understood correctly) actually joined the state he was apparently critical of. A “treachery” which was not as unpredictable as the ideology of “his choice” would conveniently have it. It’s kind of ironic that those who want some all-embracing theory useful as a toolbox for all time and all places, rather like “Das Kapital” or “Society of the Spectacle”, should then descend into the fetishism of tiny particularities in order to avoid the big picture.
Theory is essential – but there’s no One Big Theory, no Answer-To-Everything which can provide people with some false sense of security like a materialist Bible. No Grand Idea considered as a possession. Insofar as ideas can influence events and choices it’s not through some “perfect” theory but through correcting past mistakes and making new ones. What in fact happens beyond the ideological distortions of this superior notion of “theory” is a constant process relative to time, place and the dialectic of independent initiatives and the dominant social forces. Such a process also incorporates more general critiques of, say, the law of value, the spectacle, commodity fetishism, reification, the separation of men and women, art (the notion of its realization and suppression), etc. etc. but does so within a movement that both connects particulars with the totality considered as something that changes and continues to be discovered and re-discovered, and not as something finished to be handed down from on high by theoreticians who consider themselves and their “consciousness” as above and detached from the particulars of the movement of history, its advances and retreats.
There was an old peabrain called Krant,
Interest in him was real scant,
Till with TPTG he shit-stirred with glee,
And proved he was some sort of cunt.
[SamFanto note: name – my real name – in first line changed, but rhyme kept]
A sect called TPTG,
Fond of witch-hunting irrelevant dweebs,
Got together with Krant, an old pea-brained cunt,
And flounced an intrigue in front of the scene.
[Sam Fanto note: name in 3rd line changed because it’s my real name, but it rhymes with the original name]
Old pea-brain and TPTG,
Gross sectarians essentially,
Seem to relish with lust, the most trivial bust,
Of alleged revolutionaries.
I suggest this brilliant limericker, the wittiest man since Oscar Wilde, posts something like the following limerick, though obviously I’m not as gifted as he is and clearly this suggestion could be improved upon:
The writings of the TPTG and Krant
Are really just a very long rant
They’d write lots of crap
On the top of their lap
But writing really hilarious limericks that are not just insightful but also both rhyme and scan in the most flowingly seductive manner is something they could do but they can’t
I am posting a limerick I wrote during the last Gulf War which has no relevance to this discussion but I am very proud of it as I had, prior to writing it, an intense phobia of writing poetry that stemmed from an infatuation I had with a Primary School teacher of mine.
There was an old man called Gaddafi
Who blew up a train load of navvies;
The people went barmy
Because of that swami
And next day Spain pulled out it’s army.
An email from patlotch, who is having problems sending comments directly:
I find that this discussion is interesting, because in France, it is impossible to talk about, supporters of communisation make censorship on these issues, or bring back to polemics. There is a sense in all this, that exceeds the European event Woland/Blaumachen/Sic etc.
It is the bursting of an internal contradiction in the theory of communisation inherited from the ultragauche 40 years ago. His critique of communist intervention (anarchist…) in the class struggles
This criticism I made in recent years, in disagreement with Sic to which I did not participate. I’ve produced a text
“Third communisation current ‘ 2015: theory-fight and Communist activities”
(I’m looking for someone to translate this text in English… thanks)
I am currently reflecting on “a revolutionary manifesto” that retains the concept of communisation, but raises the need for the intervention of the Communist/communisateurs, feminists, anarchists, ecologists… in the struggles: the revolution, without party or avant-garde or theoretical elite
merci. Good luck
The above link seems to be wrong; without being certain, I suspect that the following link is the one he meant to give:
[…] donne ci-dessous le début d’un texte en anglais — copié sur le blogue Dialectical delinquents — à propos du destin glorieux d’un ancien (ou toujours actuel?) partisan de la […]
Patlotch sent me this: Communisation: a revolutionary concept for revolutionary struggles
We must continue to fight with the concept of communisation as a weapon of revolutionary theory, and not make him lose its substance by junior polemics on superficial issues hiding class issues, human issues, issues for women, the issues against the racialization of social relationships, the issues for the living. For this, should give communisation all its historical, present and future significance, making a weapon of the communists, feminists, anarchists, ecologists… in the struggle for emancipation against capital
Summary of blog :
A friend sent me this email (translated from the French, below):
“…The fact that he chose “Woland” as his pseudonym (like the demon in Faust or the devil in The Master and Marguerita) makes me think that this type of guy thinks of himself as more cunningly clever than other people (generally speaking those from this milieu of ” revolutionary intellectuals” are not known for their modesty). It’s true that a good amount of the activity of these “revolutionary intellectuals” (already amongst Leninists and Trotskyists) consists in justifying why they are so important.”
“…le fait qu’il ait choisi comme pseudonyme “Woland” (comme le démon dans Faust ou le diable dans Le maître et Marguerite) laisse penser que le type se voyait déjà comme plus malin que les autres (de façon générale ceux de ce milieu d”intellectuel révolutionnaires” ne se distinguent pas par leur modestie). C’est vrai qu’une bonne partie de l’activité de ces “intellectuels révolutionnaires” (déjà chez les léninistes et trotskistes) consiste à justifier pourquoi ils seraient si importants”
Text in French about this affair and about other aspects of communisation:
Some obvious troll (“andrew”) coming out with silly nonsensical “jokes” has then complained about censorship here for not allowing his posts. I point him and anybody else who might feel concerned to the following on my homepage:
In the case of “andrew” (who even gave a false email , perhaps worrrying without reason that I would publish it; I never publish emails) you couldn’t even say he had an argument – it was just a wind-up. The same goes for the brilliant limericks from someone with multiple false emails, who clearly had some personal gripe with me. Apart from these time-wasters without even the pretension of saying something, I have, so far, allowed everybody’s posts on this page.
« For several months, Woland constantly presented his previous positions as obsolete claiming that “everything is over” and that “nothing matters any more since this cycle of struggles leads nowhere” avoiding to discuss the consequences that the “new” approach has in store for the “old” one. Although the relationship of each one of us with TC’s theory of communisation is different, we never excluded the possibility of such a discussion; not only at a theoretical level, but also at the level of confronting the rapid syrization of the antagonistic movement. Woland, using the “blind” spots of the theory of communisation he had in his mind, ended up in transforming theory in individual ethics, in a justification of his own choices.» (Lettre d’Athènes, http://dndf.org/?p=14188)
Marginal notes in response to the original text of the above post
‘Some have been knowing Woland for several years, others first met him in 2012 for the first time in this reading group and others first met him in person in 2014 as this reading group tried to construct a theoretical environment of discussion. Woland was indeed one of those that took over this initiative. Discussions were conducted in face-to-face meetings as well as through mail exchange, while an internet list was created that contained more than those actually met. Woland’s close relationship with a Syriza MP candidate was known to us from the very beginning and, since it was posed exclusively as “wage labour”, was not a problem given the fact that engaging in the activities of a reading group did not demand the fulfilment of any strict criteria from the part of the participants. Let alone that the ex comrade had participated in the movement for many years and was considered capable enough of discerning the “red lines” by himself. Our mistake concerning this part of the story is that we put trust in him.’
Funny how much the excuses of these enemies of the state come so close to those cops who explain away their role in the enforcement of mass misery by posing it exclusively as ‘just doing our job’.
What they say regarding the criteria of a reading group is less blatantly bullshit. There certainly is a large degree of uncertainty regarding different forms of association and the terms by which participants engage with one another. But all the conditions of class struggle over the course of the last century have imposed on us the necessity of confronting the relation between revolutionary theory and practice in increasingly more concrete terms, while those who consider themselves revolutionaries and theorists have on the contrary remained determined to pose this question only in the most abstract way. They want the practice of critical theory to remain comfortable, and therefore pretend that it ‘not demand the fulfilment of any strict criteria’, despite a reality which everyday confirms that the formulation and communication of any critique of the spectacle WHICH DOES NOT ITSELF FUNCTION AS A SPECTACLE OF CRITIQUE is already inconceivable without a RIGOROUS PRACTICE. They want a ruthless critique exclusively applicable to an existence external to those who formulate it, who on the contrary find complacency and leniency for themselves and their own misery at not at all useless.
If this were not the case, why is it that the critique of spectacular relations within leftist organisations formulated by such people always involves other people’s forms of organisation, and never their own? Why is it that the struggle to improve the precision of such a critique, initiated by the SI and taken up by those of the following generations who understood its significance, has received almost no further useful contributions from the ranks of all the libertarian communists, communisation theorists, and anarchists of the last few decades?
When one among them is publicly revealed as a state functionary or cop-collaborator, such people loudly regret many things, but most of all (and most quietly) the fact that their own previous association with the misguided souls in question was simultaneously made public. The precise nature of the association itself, the criteria on which it was based, the demands made of the participants, are never put into question. It is all just some big mistake.
‘Our mistake concerning this part of the story is that we put trust in him… Throughout our discussions we were ignorant of Woland’s ascent inside the party. The way Woland handled his relations with us was squarely anti-comradely.’
Yet, having known everything at the beginning, is it solely the responsibility of the uncomradely comrade that such people knew nothing (or at least protested to) in the end? Was their ignorance about their comrades ‘ascent inside the party’ in no way WILLFUL?
Communisation and the Great Leap Backwards
It seems ironic that the word “communisation” so beloved by those who think of it as the key to the treasure trove of diamond-tipped theory is a word that was often used during Mao’s attempt at highly intensive primitive capital accumulation – “The Great leap Forward” (1958-61). The fact that Roland Simon, whose parodies of “theory” originated the current use of the buzzword “communisation”, has used the term in a similar manner to those who used it during the Great Leap Forward (Into Disaster) – i.e. as the process whereby the proletariat forces its perspectives on the rest of the population – makes it worthwhile looking a bit at this period of history. Regardless of Simon’s apparent anti-statist intentions, the political mentality which aims to speak in abstract terms in order to represent proletarian desires within some notion of an absolutist generally “correct” programme and critique existing above history has much in common with the verbal expressions of old-style Maoism that almost everybody who’s contributed to the movement that struggles to abolish the existing order of things derided long ago. The fact that current day communisaters constantly insist that they’re against the state doesn’t alter the hierarchical mentality that claims that it possesses the truth. And it’s possible that Woland himself will participate in the dispossession of Greek workers of their land, which so far has meant that they’ve had some margin of independence from the world market and wage slavery. Whether or not this happens remains to be seen, though it’s probably unlikely that he’d use the term “communisation ” to justify this, but you never know.
At the very very least (ie according to Chinese government statistics) 15 million died in The Great Leap Forward, with others estimating the famine as causing up to 43 million, though one man (Franz Dikotter) recntly estimated it as at least 45 million. The probable figure is round about 35 million. The man in charge of agriculture at that time was Tan Zhenlin, who in 1958 said, “Communisation is the communist revolution”. What he meant was collectivisation – forcing the peasantry into communes: The People’s Communisation Movement. http://mt.china-papers.com/2/?p=207808 . The Peitaiho Resolution of 1958 called for “communisation”. Chapter 6 of “Eating Bitterness: New Perspectives on China’s Great Leap Forward and Famine” is called “An Introduction to the ABCs of Communization: A Case Study of Macheng County ” . At this time there were expressions such as “the spirit of communisation” and “the wind of communisation”.
The “wind of communisation” seems more appropriate, as it’s all wind, but sadly, an ill wind that blows nobody good.
Theoretically, communisation meant forcing the merging of small collectives into huge communes, involving the immediate breaking down of the separation between production units, the abolition of property, wages and individual land patches. In practice this meant squads of Communist Party cadres went round smashing up peasant cottages, burning down villages, confiscating all peasant tools and cooking utensils. Peasants were forced into collective slave labour camps. Any independent means to collect, store or even prepare food was taken away and the cadres imposed a monopoly of food supply in the communal dining halls, used as a weapon of social control. Those who didn’t co-operate were deliberately starved to death. In Henan, for instance, from the winter of 1959 to the spring of 1960, at least one million people starved to death – 12.5% of the population.
Dikotter writes in “Mao’s Great Famine” (Bloomsbury, London, 2010): “…Tan Zhenlin, in charge of agriculture, toured the provinces to galvanise the local leadership. He shared Mao’s vision of a communist cornucopia in which farmers dined on delicacies like swallows’ nests , wore silk, satin and furs and lived in skyscrapers with piped water and television. Every county would have an airport. Tan even explained how China had managed to leave the Soveit Union in the dust: “Some comrades will wonder how we manage to be so fast, since the Soviet Union is still practising socialism instead of communism. The difference is that we have a “continuous revolution”. The Soviet Union doesn’t have one, or follows it loosely…Communisation is the communist revolution!”. In fact, the function of this brutal primitive capital accumulation was to force the peasantry into proletarianisation, working on industrial projects or in factories merely to avoid starvation. In this way, over a far shorter period of time from that of the enclosures to the 19th centruy industries of Victorian England, China was able to develop a modern economy so as to eventually compete on the world market and to sustain the class privileges of the Communist Party.
China’s Economic Reforms by Lin Wei and Arnold Chao (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982)
Village China Under Socialism and Reform: a micro-history 1948-2008 by Huaiyin Li
Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962 by Yan Jisheng (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Mao’s Crusade: Politics and Policy Implementation in China’s Great Leap Forward by Alfred L.Chan (OUP, New York, 2001) (for “communisation”, check out especially pages 68-82)
The Chinese Communes by E.Zurcher (1962)
My thanks to X for all this information and much of the content of this.
Does anyone have any idea as to what the good comrade Woland’s been up to these last few days? Obviously I think he crossed the line of what most readers of this site would consider acceptable long ago, but it’d be interesting to know if he’s still maintained any level of integrity or if the logic of his position’s taken him so far that he’ll happily side with the party leadership, no matter where that takes him… Any news on that?
Woland resigned, along with Varoufakis, about 10 days ago (mid-July) following Syriza’s about-turn after the referendum. He twittered this brief explanation “I resign because I don’t agree with the new agreement”. This in no way means the guy has even a minimum of integrity – when he was a minister he was already preparing the privatisation of some port for a Chinese company, and also developing a programme of railway privatisations.
40 Syriza MPs out of a total of 150 voted against the new measures. It remains to be seen how this internal crisis within Syriza is played out. More on this and other stuff in the first comment box here: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/greece-a-reader/
Another irony of history!
‘Pure House is among a handful of businesses that are renting rooms at a premium in exchange for access to amenities, a dormlike atmosphere and an instant community. …“We live in a super-disconnected city that has tons and tons of people, but it can feel really lonely here,” said Harrison Iuliano, who until last week worked as the programming director of Pure House, which rents out rooms to about 40 people in nine apartments in various buildings around Williamsburg. “Our goal is to make that a nonissue.”’
Communeisation: the latest stage of commodity imperialism…
A solution to the desperate isolation produced by the commoditisation of all life has been found by turning community itself into the latest commodity.
The invisible hand saves the day again!
[…] ex miembro de la organización griega Blaumachen, también conocido por su nombre civil de Manousos Manousakis, se convirtió en secretario general del ministerio de economía, infraestructura, asuntos […]
Although this is in Spanish, google translate provides a pretty clear idea of this short article, which implicitly attacks the above as “sectarian” and “doctrinal purity” : “it is surprising how this “scandal” of doctrinal purity prompted some bloggers to condemn in a block all the medium linked to SIC. Of course, it is better not to write, not to reflect, to lead a puritanistic way of life and jealously attentive to any gesture of apostasy. ”
As if the above “Minister of Sic” is not a considerably longer article than this pompous scribble, and the following one expresses far greater reflection than the Spanish one: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/articles/war-politics/communisation-does-not-move-in-mysterious-ways-june-2015/
Another one for the “communisateurs-turned-reformists” file – from a recent Angry Workers report on migration and national social democracy:
“Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader around 350,000 people have joined the Labour Party, making Labour the biggest political party in Western Europe with a total of 550,000 members. Amongst the converted are nearly all of our British born comrades with a higher education (teachers, lecturers etc.), many members of Plan C (sister organisation of Um’s Ganze in Germany), the formerly liberal-anarchist news platform Novara media, comrades of the ultra-left journal Endnotes and of course our Trotskyite comrades.”
Don’t know how the Endnoters justify that one, and as the quote makes clear they’re hardly alone in having joined up, but in connection with the SIC/Blaumachen guy, it does make you wonder how much the whole ideology this crowd was pushing actually contributed to a kind of theoretical disarmament in the face of social democracy – after all, if you think that reformism, “the era of programmatism” and the workers’ movement are all over for good, then it makes sense that having a strong critique of those kinds of programs might be something of a theoretical blind spot.
I’d guess also that the blanket determinism of Endnotes – (“reformism is finished”) would also mean that when reformism came back more publicly on the agenda (as it always does) they would then realise that such a determinist ideology had been wrong and the content of such pure “theoretical” roles would also fall apart. It’s not just a theoretical blind spot but also a blindspot about their political comportment. As long as the political form of their notion of social contestation remains, the content can change but the political mentality remains. Since for these people interpretation of the world (and teaching this interpretation in a standard school teacherish manner, as opposed to also inciting critiques) is the totality of their own notion of their opposition to this society, the interpretation, and teacher role, can change quite easily, without any significant self-questioning because they have little experience of any subversive practice (including a practice of subverting the role of theoretician) that could jar with such a change. So now, instead of functionalising and judging people on whether they’re able to win them over to communisation ideology or not, they do something similar in trying to win people over to voting Labour: the same (or similar) reification and de-individualisation of proletarians with a different content.
Yeah, I also think there’s probably a generational thing at play here – for those of us who had most of our formative political experiences (to date, at least) in the period after the dropping of clause 4 and before summer 2015, we’ve been able to coast by, at least until recently, with a very shallow critique of Labourism – when you’re dealing with the likes of Blair or Miliband, there’s really not that much need for a complex, nuanced critique, they’re just so obviously the enemy. So I suppose it makes sense that a lot of us have found it challenging responding to circumstances where the old automatic responses are no longer sufficient – I think the Endnotes crowd just went a bit further in coming up with a determinist view of history that turned that failing into a virtue, or something close to it.
I’m older than you and my first participation in some radical opposition to this world happened under Old Labour (Harold Wilson, in the late 60s). So my ideas developed in part against the ideologies of Clause 4 etc. But even before this, even before I got involved in what is clumsily called “revolutionary politics”, even when I was a young critical spectator, I was very critical of Labour’s policies on immigration and Vietnam and other aspects of their policies.
The problem with “the generational thing at play” is that if one has to repeat the same illusions followed by disillusionment, the same mistakes and trying to correct these repeated mistakes rather than make new mistakes, with new successes and “lessons”, each and every generation then we’re definitively doomed to going round & round in circles until the apocalypse.
Fortunately it seems that some young people are already disllusioned with Corbyn (especially after he backtracked over reimbursing tuition fees) – unfortunately they also seem to be pretty lost about how to advance to some meaningful self-determined self-organised activity. Though that seems to be amongst everyone, particularly in the UK but certainly not just there, and not just the young.
And, by the way – and you might think I’m nit-picking, but the old automatic responses have never been sufficient. We always have to begin again – always have to partially re-invent the wheel given the change in the structure of the road.
Agreed – I wasn’t trying to say that this was a particularly good situation or anything, just reflecting on how it came about. The other thing is that, while it’s always worth being critical of past mistakes, there’s a limit to how much energy you can spend on critiquing the dead – so I wouldn’t say that I’ve got a particularly sharp critique of, say, Saint-Simon, Blanqui, Hyndman or de Leon, just because you never run into anyone seriously advocating their ideas as a way to change society, and until only a few years ago, it really did feel like Labour-leftism was not much more relevant than those ideas.
As a sidenote, it also feels to me like there’s something of a revival of old-school Stalinism/Maoism, which was also something you never really encountered much, and another mistake I wouldn’t have thought we’d see repeated, but I can’t tell how far that’s a purely online phenomenon and what if anything it means in real life.
Anyway, I still feel like there’s something kind of lacking in my critique of current Labourism – I can articulate why I’m against it on a relatively abstract, principled level, but of course that’s only ever going to be convincing if people already share my principles to start off with, because telling a Labour member that joining Labour contradicts basic revolutionary/anarchist principles is about as convincing as telling an atheist that they shouldn’t do something because God wouldn’t like it. I feel like I’m still struggling to put everything together in a way that’d be convincing, or at least comprehensible, to someone who doesn’t necessarily share those starting points, while also still being general enough to be an argument against the Labour tradition as a whole, not just individual figures within it.
And, having just come out with all that about how everything’s tremendously complex and we can’t just rely on crude old impulses, which is a point I definitely agree on, I happened to see this in the last few days (although it seems to have been around since last year): https://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/takeaction/778/132/000/ Hard to know how to respond to something like that beyond a simple “fuck this”.
One of the first events Tony Blair participated in after becoming leader of his party was a speech to the Police Federation praising (if I remember correctly) the new modern telescopic truncheons. So no change between New Labour and Old Labour – it’s all labour labour labour until death do us part.