Frederick Douglass

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them..." Frederick Douglass

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Occupy Movement Beware, Here Come The Stalinists

Theory And Practice In Occupy


I posted this response which at the moment is awaiting moderation:

Somewhere Stalin can be heard applauding.

The only shallow analysis here is Cooke's.

It is by no means only the USSR which provides a cautionary example of authoritarian socialism (if you will forgive the oxymoron). There's Cuba whose socialist patrilineal succession we've recently witnessed. There's the nightmare that was China under Mao (not to mention the monster it begat). All of Lenin's bequests have been horrors.

Decentralization does not mean disorganization, this is a squalid authoritarian canard. Decentralized, egalitarian socialism does and did work. It worked in Spain, that is at least until it was undermined by Lenin's comrade and successor in Moscow.

"Instead of decentralization simply meaning "democracy,” in practice it often means "disorganization” and extreme individualism. Any powerful social movement must inevitably be organized; and although Occupy seems to realize this with its useful experiments in direct democracy, the movement as a whole remains incredibly disorganized and uncoordinated. "
(Excuse me while I recover from the paralyzing cold chill these phrases inflicted upon me.) The Sovnarkom couldn't have said it any better.

"Occupy needs both leaders and organization while still operating entirely democratically. "
Occupy IS operating entirely democratically, and it IS organized. In Seattle we just had a splendidly organized port shutdown. And if it had leaders (and let's not be coy about this-bosses is what Cooke means) it would cease being democratic. There is no point to ceding authorirty to bosses other than to impose policy/strategy against the will of the people, if the leader is in every case in accord with the will of the majority, then s/he becomes superfluous.

It already has leaders who refuse to accept the title as such, much like Noam Chomsky does, the famous anti-authoritarian and leader of the anarchist left, who thinks that by saying he is "not a leader,” he ceases to be one. In reality his massive authority continues to exist outside of his humble intentions.

This statement is telling. First, Cooke obviously doesn't understand anarchism (what a surprise!) and should perhaps would be well advised to heed Mark Twain's admonition: Better to sit in silence and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

Cooke should stick to what he knows best-Stalinism.

Chomsky has no authority amongst us anarchists. He issues no directives, and we would pay them no mind if he did. He has influence among those anarchists who find insight, wisdom (whatever) in his opinions, but no anarchist would accept Chomsky as their leader. Nor do I believe he would accept the position of boss anarchist if it were offered to him. What esteem he does enjoy is freely given, and without servility. Chomsky has no authority in the anarchist movement.

In Occupy, this expresses itself by a fanatical fear of the movement being co-opted. Yes, Occupy should be wary of Democratic Party representatives in sheep's clothing, but this fear has infected and has spread throughout Occupy and now includes internal finger pointing and accusations of "co-opting,” creating more unnecessary divisiveness.

If Cooke thinks that it is the Democratic Party who represents the greatest danger of infiltration and subversion then he has a lot to learn about the history of labor and social justice movements.

It is a healthy impulse to strive towards greater democracy and away from charisma-based leadership, but any idea taken to its extreme can become nonsense
. "

I'm speechless.

To denounce real organization and leadership "on principle" is to vastly oversimplify the real processes of movement building while erecting unnecessary barriers in Occupy's path to real power.

We don't want power, we are fighting power.

In fact, true leaders can only emerge in the context of real democracy; both need the other.

Wasn't that a line from 1984, or The Case of Comrade Tulayev?

This argument goes back through Lenin/Luxembourg, Lenin/Gorter to Marx/Bakunin. If one needed to become a Fascist to effect socialism, I for one would make peace with capitalism. Fortunately it isn't. There's plenty of divisiveness in the Occupy movement, it appears that now the greatest danger is reaction.