Thursday, 24 February 2011

Bury the historical hatchet ?

Looks like Kronstadt is being re-fought (online of course) at Socialist Unity and Ian Bone's site.

Bloody hell it's depressing. No - the anarchists are not the enemies of the labour movement. In  terms of actual damage done I'd have to say that New Labour is far better cast in that role - but I'm not even going to go there - we know who the real enemies are - the ConDems and the Far Right. Everything else is infantile sectarian nonsense.

Are some anarchists - especially the 'life-stylists' - irritating  and disruptive pricks ? You bet - but I don't have any more time either for the android party-hacks often found in the 'Trot' ranks either. So let's just accept that all traditions have their own crosses  of embarrassment to carry.

When it comes down to the politics - I have to say that I find much more in common with the anarchists than I do with supposed 'left' Labour councillors who whinge that they have to make cuts -  or with some of their apologists.  Of course there are differences - the whole SP/NSSN thing was evidence of that -  and there are still very clear distances between us on the question of attitudes to trade union structures and the tactics of elections.

But here's a heretical thought: The Left in general often has an unhealthy preoccupation with its own past worthy of the most bigoted Ulsterman. We Trots are accused of being obsessed with dead Russians but I'd have to say that anarchists are often every bit as  pre-occupied with Makhno and Durrati. Now by training I'm a historian and see the need to understand the past more than most -  but isn't it time to move on ?  Actually it's now 145 years since the First International split - 90 years since Kronstadt - 70 years since Trotsky was murdered - and come to that it's now over 20 years since the Soviet Union fell apart. 

So how about a bit of 'truth and reconcilliaton' ? We are living in a post-just-about-everything world these days and yet the political labels we wear  are often references to the defining moments of previous generations.  I have to say that if we left some of the adopted baggage of our various traditions at the door we much actually find that the landscape on the Left  was in fact quite different from the one that many of us assume.  And dare I say it - we might even find that unity - without trying to hide our differences - is strength. 

Now I'll duck for cover - incoming accusations of naivity and revisionism from both sides ...


Anonymous said...

Great blog. I agree - it's high time people on the left saw the common ground, instead of remembering `that time 20 years ago when those splitters did xxxx'. Of course there are going to be ideological and practical differences - but hell, aren't we all trying to fight the same common enemies?

ray said...

Leaving aside for the moment the question of if you want to capture state power - or abolish it, this is a bloody interesting blog and one that I will visit again. The truth of the matter is that in real situations including revolutionary ones) we work with and show solidarity to, all kinds of people regardless of their politics. That doesn't stop me thinking that Marxist-Leninism truly does belong in the dustbin of history; but not of course the individual militants involved.

Anonymous said...

Unity in our people's forces.
If you don't cut- You are with us.
If you cut {aka LABOUR!) then go get lost!
Anarchists alone can't do it.
Trotskyists alone can't do it.

JRB said...


Jack Crow said...

Have to echo JRB, and also note that I'm glad he linked it his way, or I'd never have been able to read it.

Anonymous said...

I always liked this letter from Jim Cannon -- who started his political career in the Wobblies

Anonymous said...

but it would of course have helped if I'd linked it!