Noir & Rouge n°4, Winter 1956
Our Analysis And Theirs
It is obvious that Marxist analysis (or so-called Marxist analysis) is the only valid one, in order to study given situations in a complete and serious fashion. This analysis embraces and automatically solves all problems, human as well as non-human, and when a “Marxist” has spoken, deduced and, of course, proven, the anarchist has nothing to do but be silent. Yes, we know that, we have been told this for years, and yet…
Yet, Anarchists will not remain silent, which is also a fact, and, despite their own mistakes, their weakness in numbers, the authoritative argument represented by Stalin’s Russia for the sub-Marxists of the Communist Party, they fail to be moved by the savant explanations of the certified professors in workers’ ideology. More than that, they are not satisfied with staying placid, faced with the historical-materialist grace, they allow themselves, with great humility, obviously, to find a few contradictions in the attitude of our thought-masters, and more specifically about current events.
Of course, Marxists can be divided in very distinct species, but we will only retain two: the intelligent species, with whom we can discuss despite our differences, the other comprises the narrow-minded Stalinists: with those, no possible discussion! For the latter, the “USSR” argument trumps everything else, and Marxism is necessarily right since it has given us this super-state reality, the full weight of which the Hungarian Soviets can now feel, by the way. What could libertarians oppose, they claim, to all this concrete, factories, these model kindergartens? (bureaucracies, cops, the army and its privileged officer corps are rarely mentioned, but these are simply insignificant omissions). Words, simple theories? And the memory of the syndicalist achievements of the early 20th century, the crushing of Denikin by the Makhnovtschina, the Kronstadt comrades, the Anarchist input in the Hungarian revolution of 1919, the libertarian experiment in Spain, all of this is amiably shrugged off by our new type of believer. And, as the 1939 edition of the “History of the USSR Communist Party (b)” says about the repression of Kronstadt: “… and the riot was put down”1. If we really wanted to debate, we would not hesitate, to answer that state-building has nothing specifically Marxist about it, and that the reality of the USSR is just as valid, following this argumentation, as the reality of the US. The bourgeois also created states, and certainly did not need Marx to lead them!
But let’s leave aside this second category, we will come back to them in a while, and let’s consider the intelligent Marxists. There, we can find people with whom we can sympathize, which we consider honest. For example, the “Socialism or Barbarism” group, whose journal has come out regularly for several years. Even though, when they started, these dear comrades considered Anarchists (as well as Trotskyists and Council Communists) as “historical left-overs, minuscule scabs on the wounds of the class, condemned to perish as the new skin is prepared in the depth of the flesh”2, friendly relationships were still established between members of the group and some libertarian elements, among which we were already counted.
In the end, our comrades from “Socialism or Barbarism” were not wrong when they spoke of a class whose new skin was also one of our major concerns, despite our scabby appearances. But then why is the working class in Hungary now making its new skin under the form of these Soviets and workers’ councils, the significant role of which “S or B” precisely denied during the lengthy polemics which opposed Chaulieu, one of the main writers of the journal to his fellow Marxist comrades of the Dutch “Spartakus” group? Why must it be that during a meeting, a comrade very close to “S or B”, a Marxist himself, who writes for the English-language journal “Correspondance”, claims about Hungary: “the Hungarian revolution triumphed because no party was leading it!” and the comrade to go on and insist on the role played by the Soviets during the insurrection. Although it is true that, as Libertarians, we are happy to see such an evolution, it does not explain the hesitations and the mistakes of the comrades who identify with a doctrine, the infallibility of which was in principle proven, and to finish about the comrades from “S or B” we think there is also a contradiction when they claim: “It is obvious that the difference and the opposition between political organisations as such (parties) and the mass organisation as such (Soviet, factory council) will soon lose its importance and the reason for its existence, since its perpetuation would be the warning sign of a degeneration of the revolution”3. Let’s note that this position was voiced in 1949 and, since then, a lot of water has flown under the bridges of the Seine and the Danube, but it is hard to understand how the opposition between the Party and the Soviet would simply disappear by some unmentioned magic trick! There are 2 options: either the Party will lead and the working-class of a few countries has already experienced the wonderful results of such a state of affairs, or the Soviets will prevail, and it will soon be the collapse of the Party, and of all the state apparatus with it. Let’s add straightaway that the Hungarian Soviets, despite their awesome work for the demystification of the global working-class, will in the end not be able to triumph precisely since they are under the yoke of Stalinist Russia, and consequently of the Russian Communist Party and its lackey, Kadar’s Party.
If we start this discussion with some good comrades it is that we find useful to fraternally (sic) debate of some issues, and we will always be ready to confront our viewpoints, in the pages of this journal if necessary. Consequently, when we speak of Marxists with whom we can discuss, we make a very special place for the comrades we just mentioned and it is obvious that we could not place all political organisations, and individuals, on the same level. We do not find useful, for example, to debate with “France Observateur”, the politician positions of which are well-known and we are satisfied with simply listing the historical mistakes made by these Marxists; their unflinching support for Mendès-France, for example. Presenting lists in elections when the minimum conditions for success were not even met also showed how serious their analysis of current events was. In this series of famous dupes of their rigorous application of Marxist dialectics, we will not be cruel enough to insist on Trotskyists of all kinds. Let’s just remind people of the formal support, followed by the just as formal attack on Titist Yugoslavia, always with the best dialectics. Their famous hesitations over the grounds for a Socialist Party/ Communist Party government, on its unconditional (it’s always unconditional!) support or not, are still in the memory of all revolutionary militants.
We will pass on the other diverse nuances who identify with Marxism, and will end this article on the case of an individual we had already mentioned in the first issue of our journal, the most-distinguished professor André Ribard, more Stalinist than the worst Stalinists, although not a member of the party. For this gentleman, which can be filed under category number 2, as he is one of these people who can debate as long as you agree with them, the current situation allows him to give Anarchists irrefutable Marxist explanations. According to him, be ready for this, if the Hungarians workers revolted, if they fought in the streets, if they formed Councils, if they died weapon in hand, it is because they were lacking… revolutionary passion4! All is there, and no doubt Marx has dedicated striking pages to Passion, considered as a specifically materialist science. We would still like to know, as, in our naivety, we had never thought possible such values could be claimed by a grave magister for whom Anarchism can be explained by… deserts! Yes, and if Arabs have an Anarchist tendency (thanks, Mr. Ribard), it is that solitude develops their individualist, hence Anarchist instincts QED. It is true that the same professor cannot explain (after a precise question from us) how our Spanish comrades grouped over one million of them in the CNT and in the FAI, fought and built in a most collective, community-based way between 1936 and 1938. There are some mysteries in the face of which even the most confident Marxist remains silent. These enigmas, however, do not prevent the elegant assemblies in front of which our man dialecticizes, to know how worthy they are and when, about Hungary, an innocent asked: “Do you not think that the rule according to which the ends justify the means is paid with sometimes too much blood?” The half-outraged, half-amused exclamation from the multitude which, silk ties adroitly tied and drowned in furs, ironically pities such trifles, is a sight to see. Because they, Ribaud and his friends, they have it, that Passion! And closer to their hearts than any member of a workers’ Soviet.
But let’s leave our heroes where they are, that is, in their armchairs, and let’s remind ourselves that libertarian analysis, if it seems, and is, less systematic than many heavy schemes which are often disproved by facts, this analysis persists, and will persist, in denouncing the State without pity, and, in so doing, it will necessarily attack any government system and any party since the real power is the power of workers, grouped in Councils and federated. It will have taken some faraway comrades (because they spontaneously took this form of organisation) to fight and die enveloped in a shroud of silence heavier than any Iron Curtains, for some ‘analyses’ to be revealed lacking, faced with the simple action of men (sic).
1 Histoire du Parti Communiste (b) de l’URSS [History of the Communist Party (b) of the USSR], page 236, under the title “The difficulties (sic) of the recovery period”.
2 Socialisme ou Barbarie, n°1 page 9.
3 Socialisme ou barbarie n°1, page 45.
4 Conference at la Mutualité, December 3, 1956.