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I am for winning, not trying the same thing over and over and failing over and over.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 07:38:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Winning, in order to get nothing done. Sounds like a plan. I'm still not convinced of why I should help you win since your win appears to be an end in itself.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 07:53:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the contrary, I don't think "trying and failing" is an acceptable end, and winning is a step. One can consider how to, e.g. build alternative economic structures under a weak social democracy. Under a strong right wing regime, one considers (in despair) how to prevent disaster.  I learned a lesson during the Bush Regime about the difference. In the EU now, one sees what right wing dominance means. Every win of the past is in danger, every step forward is nearly impossible, the population is frustrated and more and more amenable to nationalism and xenophobia, institutional barriers to reform are ever stronger. Since Marx or possibly before, the left has had a fatal desire for the apocalyptic moment when the system will magically crash and somehow from the catastrophe a new world will emerge. The evidence, however, seems to favor a frustratingly slow effort to win by small steps.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 08:59:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the EU now, one sees what right wing dominance means.
Yeah,
ElPais.com in English: Spain enters new recession with worse to come, says central bank.

And, in Spanish only... The Socialists call on the citizenry to "defend themselves" against the government.

When in office, they were unable to defend the country from the EU. When out of office, they're unable to defend the country from the government.
The PP government is awful, but it appears that the only reason to elect a PSOE government is that they would slow things down, not that they would actually do anything positive.

We're talking about a PSOE leadership that 1) defended a constitutional debt brake in their last throes as government; 2) thought that their worse ever electoral result was "the best possible under the circumstances" and got themselves elected to the party leadership on that basis.

Bah, humbug.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 09:15:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the failure of PSOE or the similar failure of the Clinton Presidency does not make the "take a stand and lose" approach any better.  

I'm not advocating mindless support for e.g. PSOE. I am noting however that the oft repeated claims that all one has to do is take a strong populist stand to rally the masses is not a claim that agrees with the evidence. It appears at this juncture of history that people find right wing populism more attractive than left wing populism.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 10:17:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However, at the time of the latest elections you were chastising people for not voting PSOE in sufficient numbers to prevent a PP absolute majority.

The only option people have left in modern "democracies" is to withhold their vote from politicians who make mistakes. If the PSOE refuses to change their leadership, what are voters to do?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 11:17:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that is the only option or even a sensible option. How is "withholding" a vote for a weak social democrat to the benefit of a strong neo-feudalist a useful strategy?

If you look at the strategy advocated, for example,  by Gar Alperowitz in the US to build cooperative business - its a strategy that might succeed with a weak social democratic government in power but will not with a far right government in power.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 12:44:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How is "withholding" a vote for a weak social democrat to the benefit of a strong neo-feudalist a useful strategy?

Simple risk-reward. But apparently the Spanish Social Democrats are even impervious to the signal that the voters send them when 30% of their voters desert them. They still blame circumstances and pat themselves in the back.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 01:11:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no risk reward in play. It is more in the interests of comprador social democrats to lose power and reap the rewards of being loyal opposition than to defy e.g. the ECB. It's not as if they lost the election and repented or as if this mechanism has ever worked anywhere.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 01:45:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So what's my optimal strategy as a citizen? To join the comprador?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 02:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think really it has to do with seeing electoral politics as a secondary, a necessary but secondary realm. Start a co-op.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 11:35:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
social democrats to lose power and reap the rewards of being loyal opposition

Loyal to whom?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 04:12:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rootless2:
I am noting however that the oft repeated claims that all one has to do is take a strong populist stand to rally the masses is not a claim that agrees with the evidence.

It appears this would be a strawman.

Two things stand out:

  1. You appear to argue that it is common (on this blog I presume) to argue that the left needs to run in elections more to the left. I would say that while that argument exists it is by far shadowed by the argument that the large parties to the left needs to govern more to the left. In general they govern to the right of where their voters thought they ran, which leads to a loss of voters and a decline of the institutional structures that benefits the large parties on the left.

  2. "all one has to do" - I think you would rarely see claims here that election outcome is solely determined by political message.


A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 02:15:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's an argument I see a lot - often associated with your (1).

The argument that "the large parties on the left need to govern more to the left" is one I do not understand. What is the meaning of "need" in that statement?  If the claim is that they would be more popular if they tried to govern further to the left, I think that might be true or false, but is unlikely to be put to the test. Certainly we can see that Hollande, like Obama, has been very careful to work hard not to hint that he would govern much to the left on the theory that such a program would lead to electoral defeat.

A more interesting question is: what events could make the large left wing/social-democratic parties take on a more ambitious left wing program (and what would that program look like) or what realistic prospects are there for replacing those parties with other parties that would not be subject to the same forces. Certainly, the McGovern reformers who swept the Democratic Party of the US in the 1970s and the Greens in Germany show that it is very difficult to avoid being turned into exactly what you displaced.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 02:39:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rootless2:
The argument that "the large parties on the left need to govern more to the left" is one I do not understand. What is the meaning of "need" in that statement?  If the claim is that they would be more popular if they tried to govern further to the left, I think that might be true or false, but is unlikely to be put to the test. Certainly we can see that Hollande, like Obama, has been very careful to work hard not to hint that he would govern much to the left on the theory that such a program would lead to electoral defeat.

I don't see how governing to the right of where you where perceived to run by you voters (see PASOK, PSOE) is going to make more electoral sense then governing where you ran.

But on to "need": in particular they need to govern more to the left in order to strenghten and not weakening the structures in society that strenghtens their party, in order to not gradually loose. Over time the soc-dems in Europe are not winning, they are loosing.

rootless2:

A more interesting question is: what events could make the large left wing/social-democratic parties take on a more ambitious left wing program (and what would that program look like) or what realistic prospects are there for replacing those parties with other parties that would not be subject to the same forces. Certainly, the McGovern reformers who swept the Democratic Party of the US in the 1970s and the Greens in Germany show that it is very difficult to avoid being turned into exactly what you displaced.

Ay, there is the rub. Depends on the party and the party structures I would say. Does it have a base with anything to say in influencing te party line? Does the unions still matter? If so, can either be influenced?

So, what decides the party line? If it is hunger for power, then the power argument might sway those who could reach power. At least the french soc-dems appear to have power ambitions, unlike their German counterpart that chooses to be junior partner to CDU over being the senior partner with Die Linke as their junior partner. Anyway, if you manage to establish what their bottom line is - policies, money, power and for whom - then credibly threathening it should do the trick.

Otherwise you need to go for building parties that are structurally dependent on their members so that they are harder to co-opt.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 03:21:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the contrary, I don't think "trying and failing"

Beats failing to try.

Since Marx or possibly before, the left has had a fatal desire for the apocalyptic moment when the system will magically crash

Horseshit.

The system will crash because it pursues policies that are fundamentally untenable. Pointing this out does not show a desire for the crash, it shows a prediction of the crash. That you regard the elementary macroeconomic identities underlying this argument as "magic" does not demonstrate that you are politically sophisticated. It demonstrates that you are economically illiterate.

If you pursue those policies when you are in government, you are making things worse. It doesn't matter, in the final analysis, that a government further to the right would have made things worse faster. Unless you have a clear plan for how to stop making things worse, the system is eventually going to fail.

When it fails, you will be discredited, because you were complicit in its failure.

And when that happens, the left needs to have parties and movements that are outside the cozy consensus of compulsive centrist disorder sufferers. Because you can bet your constitution that the right will have such movements.

Sniping at those left-wing movements is not productive.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 09:28:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you pursue those policies when you are in government, you are making things worse. It doesn't matter, in the final analysis, that a government further to the right would have made things worse faster. Unless you have a clear plan for how to stop making things worse, the system is eventually going to fail.

Yes. This is the Albert Speer defence: better to be inside the regime moderating it, than to be outside in the opposition, which also by chance happens to be far less comfortable, or more dangerous. The Albert Speer defence is a bad idea 99% of the time.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 10:06:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The contrast to the Albert Speer defense should be something better than the Ernst Thalman plan - first crush the weak social democrats and then the people will naturally rise against the Nazis. Worked out so well.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 10:22:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ernst Thalman plan - first crush the weak social democrats and then the people will naturally rise against the Nazis.

Source? Methinks that's a rather twisted alternative history.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 01:46:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's hardly a controversial theory. Even Wikipedia can explain it

At the 12th party congress of the KPD in June 1929 in Berlin-Wedding, Thälmann, in conformity with the position adopted by the Soviet Union leadership under Joseph Stalin, adopted a policy of confrontation with the SPD. This followed the events of "Bloody May", in which 32 people were killed by the police in an attempt to suppress demonstrations which had been banned by the Interior Minister, Carl Severing, a Social Democrat.

During that time, Thälmann and the KPD fought the SPD as their main political enemy, acting according to the Comintern policy which declared Social Democrats and Socialists to be "social fascists". By 1927, Karl Kilbom, the Comintern representative to Germany, had started to combat this ultra leftist tendency of Thälmann within the German Communist Party, but found it to be impossible when he found Stalin was against him. Another aspect of this strategy was to attempt to win over the leftist elements of the Nazi Party, especially the SA, who largely came from a working class background and supported socialist economic policies. These guidelines on social democracy as "social fascism" remained in force until 1935 when the Comintern officially switched to endorsing a "popular front" of socialists, liberals and even conservatives against the Nazi threat. By that time, of course, Adolf Hitler had come to power and the KPD had largely been destroyed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Th%C3%A4lmann

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 02:41:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want, I will even try to dig up the sadly prescient polemic of Leon Trotksy against Thalman's program. Not a big fan of Trotsky, but he called this one perfectly.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 02:43:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a controversial theory, and your version is twisting it even more.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 03:04:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's hardly a substantive response.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 03:09:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your wikipedia quote mentions the Bloody May. What would you have expected from the KPD, that they tamely give up the right to protest and be banned because a SPD government wants it? The KPD made terrible mistakes, but you seem to think only the KPD did, because that fits in your narrative.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 03:23:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you mean, narrative? The social fascism theory was official policy, not only in germany but all over the comintern. And the communists didn't make a mystery out of it, but rather shouted it from the rooftops.

Stalin himself invented the thing, though: Thälmann was just the simple minded figure-head Stalin kept in place to keep the KPD more pliable.

Now how much this fraticidial policy mattered is another matter: After all nobody wanted to cooperate with them anyway. For good reasons: Just ask the POUM and the anarchists how fighting in one front with the communists worked out for them...  

by IM on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 03:37:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By narrative I mean Rootless's attempt to whitewash the social democrats, which obviously has your support. Perhaps you shouldn't cite anarchists in support of your narrative though. Nor wordsocialists

Do you really want to hash out the battles of  1929 or 1936 now?

by Katrin on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 04:04:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Look, if you want to whitewash the stalinist parties of the thirties, go ahead. And is really cheap to turn Mühsam into same sort of Thälmann supporter because of his famous poem from the beginning of the twenties.

And the narrative of social fascism was invented and told in admirable discipline by the communists, the KPD being as usual the model pupil.

And no, I don't claim a popular front would have worked if the communists had tried it earlier. But is a simple fact that they didn't pursue one until 1935.

And that the role of the communists during the spanish civil war showed the limits of a popular front can't be denied either.
 

by IM on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 05:04:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Look, if you want to whitewash the stalinist parties of the thirties, go ahead.

I don't think challenging the whitewashing of the SPD's role and the unqualified negative portrayal of the KPD constitutes the whitewashing of Stalinist parties of the thirties. It says a lot, however, that Social Democrat supporters like rootless2 (who brought it up) and you spend so much more effort and emotion on denouncing the KPD than on denouncing the bourgeois parties. After all, a popular front could have achieved only so much as a minority without the involvement of the supposedly democratic bourgeois parties, but the Enabling Act passed with a two-thirds majority, with the approval of the cowardly to pro-Hitler predecessors of CDU, CSU and FDP.

is a simple fact that they didn't pursue one until 1935.

That's simply untrue. They pursued one from spring 1932, first in the form of a general strike offer, then an offer directly to the Prussian SPD in June 1932, finally another direct offer to the SPD and liberal parties in January-February 1933. These offers were rejected. If you want to argue that SPD and ADGB had reasons to be sceptical, you will also have to admit that the 1929 or 1932 KPD had plenty of historical reasons to be wary of the SPD.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 03:19:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you are just making things up. I have not offered a theory of the 1929-1933 in Germany. You seem to assume that as long as any other party or factor can be blamed, your beloved social fascism theory can be justified.

"I don't think challenging the whitewashing of the SPD's role"

But I have said nothing about the politics of the SPD: I just pointed put that the KPD followed the social fascism theory from 1929-1933: A simple historical fact you still deny.

" and the unqualified negative portrayal of the KPD constitutes the whitewashing of Stalinist parties of the thirties. "

The stalinist KPD of the late twenties and early thirties truthfully portrayed is a unqualified negative portrayal.

"It says a lot, however, that Social Democrat supporters like rootless2 (who brought it up) and you spend so much more effort and emotion on denouncing the KPD than on denouncing the bourgeois parties."

And that says a lot only of the weakness of your position; instead of challenging my facts, you make assumptions about my motives. Why should I say anything about the right-wing parties? They did not invent social fascism after all and more importantly they don't find apologists on this blog. This discussion started when you and Karin wanted to whitewash the strategy of the KPD between 1929-1933. If you want me to discuss the right-wing turn of the Zentrum past 1930, their flirting with a Zentrum-NSDAP coalition after the first 1932 election and so on, I can do that too.

 "After all, a popular front could have achieved only so much as a minority without the involvement of the supposedly democratic bourgeois parties, but the Enabling Act passed with a two-thirds majority, with the approval of the cowardly to pro-Hitler predecessors of CDU, CSU and FDP."

You don't say. I have pointed out again and again that a popular front perhaps wouldn't have much difference anyway. So what? The KPD didn't even tried.

"That's simply untrue. They pursued one from spring 1932, first in the form of a general strike offer, then an offer directly to the Prussian SPD in June 1932, finally another direct offer to the SPD and liberal parties in January-February 1933. These offers were rejected."

There were no offers to be rejected, The KPD supported the popular initiative to topple the prussian government in 1931, they worked together with the NSDAP in the Berlin public transport strike in 1932.
The "offer" was directed to supporters of the SPD and teh ADGB, to join a unity front with the KPD against their leaders. But that is of course just another version of social fascism: if you just want the gain the supporters of another party, that is not an offer of cooperation.

In May(!) 1933 the position of the KPD still was:

,,Die völlige Ausschaltung der Sozialfaschisten aus dem Staatsapparat, die brutale Unterdrückung auch der sozialdemokratischen Organisation und ihrer Presse ändern nichts an der Tatsache, dass sie nach wie vor die soziale Hauptstütze der Kapitalsdiktatur darstellen.

Is that supposed to be an offer? I only see the repetition of the social fascism theory, even after the catastrophe.

If you want to argue that SPD and ADGB had reasons to be sceptical, you will also have to admit that the 1929 or 1932 KPD had plenty of historical reasons to be wary of the SPD.

Tu quoque? Do you still want to deny the existence of the social fascism theory between 1929 and 1934 or do you want to argue that is was right?

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:46:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But I have said nothing about the politics of the SPD:

Indeed. You don't say anything about the politics of the SPD and you demand that we are as uncritical.  You even tried to insinuate that all criticism of social democrats was (and is, I suppose) stalinist.

This discussion started when you and Karin wanted to whitewash the strategy of the KPD between 1929-1933.

No, it started when you end Rootless deplored a left that is unsupportive of social democrats. You tried to insinuate that all criticism of social democrats was (and is, I suppose) stalinist.

by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:07:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You make the word insinuate do a lot work here. I said nothing of the sort. Or I would call the SAPD stalinist. They weren't; neither was the USPD.

You on the other hand explicitly denied that the KPD did follow the social fascism strategy from 1929-1934. Do you want do deny that they were a stalinist party from the late twenties too?

"Is, I suppose?)" There are not a thousand Stalinists left in Germany. Hell, there are more Trotskyites.

And I apologise for calling you Karin, Katrin.

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:56:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You on the other hand explicitly denied that the KPD did follow the social fascism strategy from 1929-1934.

I deny the claim that the KPD saw the SPD as their "main" enemy. I even more deny all claims that there were no rational reasons for Left opposition to the SPD.

And I apologise for calling you Karin, Katrin

You are welcome. No need to apologise for your mistake.

by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:40:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a nice strategy: you insinuate I was trying to whitewash stalinism, because I criticise social democrats penchant for acting against the interests of the class they ought to represent. I didn't quote Mühsam and Tucholsky to make them Thälmann supporters. I quoted them to show that the traitor party was criticised by people who can't be suspected to act on orders from Moscow. Funny how social democrats always are creative when they delegitimise criticism, eh? And who is the one here who is trying to whitewash criminal parties of the thirties, and in a cheap way at that?
by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 04:14:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this is the crux of the discussion:

social democrats penchant for acting against the interests of the class they ought to represent

rootless doesn't seem to be denying that the Social Democrats do not represent the class that you think they ought to represent. He even seems to claim that it's in the nature of things given the balance of power in the broader political economy.

The question is, suppose you're doing something else to build alternative bases of power in the broader political economy. At some point presumably a party that represents this alternative power base will be a competitor in electoral politics and will be worth voting for in preference to the Soc Dems because they can "win" (which is "what matters"). But, if you never vote for alternative parties, how do you know they're ready for prime time?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:05:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I accused you of whitewashing stalinist parties in general and the KPD in particular, because you denied the fact that the strategy of the KPD between 1929 and 1934 was suicidal and was indeed following the social fascism theory. A simple correction of your misleading narrative, no strategy involved.

Mühsamn and Tucholsky are not proponents of the social fascism theory and indeed were often quite unhappy with the politics of the late KPD.

As far as delegitimisation goes: Traitor party?
Who is delegitimising now? And in very unoriginal way, I grant you that.

"And who is the one here who is trying to whitewash criminal parties of the thirties, and in a cheap way at that?"

You. I don't whitewash a single criminal party of the thirties. You on the other hand are on a path where next you tell me that Bucharin was indeed a german-japanese-trotskyite agent.

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:59:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean that supporting Brünning's austerity policies was not criminal?

That's a good one.

Again: Austerity carried the Nazis to power. Any effort to oppose the Nazis which did not oppose austerity was built to fail, and would have given at most a very temporary reprieve.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:05:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Austerity carried the Nazis to power. Any effort to oppose the Nazis which did not oppose austerity was built to fail, and would have given at most a very temporary reprieve.

Hindsight is 20/20. Given the state of economic science back then, you couldn't be sure austerity wouldn't work. It's only after the Great Depression we got conclusive evidence, even though TPTB do their best to ignore it.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:35:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For anybody with eyes to see there was plenty of evidence already in 1929/30 that the gold standard was untenable. That economists had not yet pulled their heads out of their asses does not, I would submit, mean that one is not permitted to look out the window and react to obvious reality.

And of course if you want to argue based on what was known at the time, it was not at all stupid for the KPD to attempt to recruit or co-opt the SA - they recruited from similar demographics, and they had arguably greater overlap in their economic policy prescriptions than existed between the KPD and the pro-gold standard SPD.

It happened to be wrong, but it was not stupid. Attempting the same thing today would be stupid. Just as supporting austerity today would be even more stupid than it was then.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:44:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now we know better but the Serious People have forgotten. The Social Democrats are part of the Austerity consensus. And, while our societies are busy repeating the 1930s as farce, why not have our own rehashing of the Social Fascism debate?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:51:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First time as tragedy, second time as farce... :)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:06:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But nobody, the KPD included, opposed austerity. And I can claim mitigating circumstances: WTB-Plan. Not followed through, but a lot more constructive then social fascism".

And some countries followed the orthodoxy without going fascist, so your fitting anything into your box is wrong anyway.

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:47:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait, this WTB plan? The one the SPD killed out of fear of the inflation monster?

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 12:02:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least someone in the SPD pursued it. There wasn't a WTB-Plan inside the KPD. And if someone inside the KPD would have proposed one, he would have been purged.
by IM on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 01:12:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mühsamn and Tucholsky are not proponents of the social fascism theory and indeed were often quite unhappy with the politics of the late KPD

Right. More interesting for our point here is that they were quite unhappy with the politics of the SPD. So your insinuation that only stalinists who get their orders from Moscow can be principled  critics of the SPD is proved wrong once more.

As far as delegitimisation goes: Traitor party?

Never heard that before? Here is another one:

Tucholsky, Kurt, Werke, 1932, Schnipsel [9] - Zeno.org Tucholsky, Kurt, Works, 1932 Snippets [9] - Zeno.org
s ist ein Unglück, daß die SPD Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands heißt. Hieße sie seit dem 1. August 1914 Reformistische Partei oder Partei des kleinern Übels oder Hier können Familien Kaffee kochen oder so etwas -: vielen Arbeitern hätte der neue Name die Augen geöffnet, und sie wären dahingegangen, wohin sie gehören: zu einer Arbeiterpartei. It is unfortunate that the SPD is called Social Democratic Party of Germany. If she were the called since August 1914 Reformist Party or party to the smaller evil or Families can make coffee here or so: the new name would have opened many workers' eyes, and they were gone to where they belong: to a workers' party.
by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:23:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have indeed heard it before and don't think the revival of musty communist paroles from the twenties very illuminating.

And yes, I have read my Tucholsky too and that is another reason why I reject your remodeling him into a Thälmann supporter. And no, citing Ossietzky won't change that either.

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:43:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And yes, I have read my Tucholsky too and that is another reason why I reject your remodeling him into a Thälmann supporter.

And nothing will change your disingenuous strategy of calling all critics of the SPD "Thälmann supporters".

by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:02:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's see: Willy Brandt, SAPD activist, thefore critic of the SPD: Not a Thälmann supporter!

(Herbert Wehner: Thälmann Supporter!)

Easy.

And somebody who thinks the social fascism strategy of the KPD in the late twenties and early thirties was right, is a Thälmann supporter.

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:08:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And what is someone who cries "Thälmann" because social-democrats are criticised for their right-wing policies, eh?
by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:17:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I discuss Thälmann only in his historical context. Some others here like to babble about traitor party meanwhile. Quite the way to debate. Or the build a coalition of the left.

And here you and the KPD of days past indeed touch: You but think pesky things like coalitions are not necessary, as long as the own sect is pure enough.  

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:32:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At this point it bears pointing out that the SPD is the one that refuses to govern with Die Linke.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:38:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, thanks for telling me what I think about coalitions and compromise! And which coalition introduced the "Hartz" legislation? Or decided to take part in the wars in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan? And if I reject these policies I am unable to compromise and only concerned about the purity of the sect, eh?
by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:58:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stalin himself invented the thing

Apparently it was Zinoviev, but Stalin resurrected it later.

Thälmann was just the simple minded figure-head Stalin kept

Here you deny Bloody May as potential motive, and forget about Thälmann's later deviation from the policy.

Just ask the POUM and the anarchists

That was years later and a thousand kilometres away.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 04:11:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whatever: It was a comintern policy. And so local factors like the bloody may didn't really matter.

Especially not in the period of stalinisation for the KPD.

What deviation? There wasn't one. And Thälmann had his clear limits and was kept in place by Stalin after the KPD wanted to replace him for incompetence. And rewarded this intervention with slavish support.

"That was years later and a thousand kilometres away."

"Fornication-- but that was in another country / And besides, the wench is dead."?

The international brigades - who were purged too - did think differently. And 1936 is not that far away from 1929-1933. And the spanish civil war did show the limits of a popular front policy with the stalinists.

by IM on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 05:13:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
local factors like the bloody may didn't really matter.

Because you say so? I guess you don't see any relevance of the SPD's positions at the start of WWI, before, during and after the Spartacus Uprising, during Brüning's two cabinets, and the November 1932 elections in which it campaigned with the "Nazis und Kozis" slogan; either.

What deviation?

You could have found an indication in this same sub-thread, but now see another reply to you. You bring too much emotion behind a selective reading of history.

And 1936 is not that far away from 1929-1933.

Just considering the many 180-degree turns during Stalin's rule (for example on economic policy), 7-3 years make a difference.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 03:44:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Look, now you get
annoying. What the hell do you know about my emotions?

You have a selective reading of history: You just take the popular front strategy of 1935, make a retcon and let it start in 1932. That did not happen, however much you seem to wish it out of an emotional investment in the stalinist KPD. I mean really, I can understand a Rosa Luxemburg fan, but Thälmann the stalinist?

Once again: If you appeal to voters, members etc. of the SPD and the ADGB to revolt against their leaders and form unity front with the KPD against their leaders, then that is not an offer of alliance, but rather a simple try to gain voters etc.

And since you like to retread farther and farther in history: Was there a unity front with SAP or KPO? What is your excuse for that fact?

Deal with it: The KPD was much to occupied with purges and hating social democrats to fight fascism. If you live in a world where Trotsky is the main enemy and then Braun and then perhaps Hitler, you are not a very good anti-fascist.

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:11:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[not directed at IM in particular]

This debate appears to me to have become more about emotion than facts. In particular, there's excessive playing the player rather than the ball. All try to stick to the argument rather than kicking each other.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:20:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean really, I can understand a Rosa Luxemburg fan, but Thälmann the stalinist

And who is a Thälmann fan here? It was you who equalled not voting social democrat with Thälmann's policy!

by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:28:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not at all. I just pointed out that the KPD of 1929-1934, lead indeed by Thälmann, followed a strategy of fighting mostly the social fascists.

Now you will answer SPD this and SPD that. But riddle me this: how well did the KPD cooperate with the SAPD?

And that is by the way why I mentioned how the communists in Spain dealt with the POUM. Or was the PUOM a bunch of neoliberals too.

And traitor party - that is indeed the language of social fascism.

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:38:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you will answer SPD this and SPD that.

Yes, because that is the topic here! Social democrats reliably introduce right wing policies. At this point of the discussion you introduced Thälmann. Now you try to defame every critic of social democrats as a stalinist. Pointing out how universal criticism is makes you complain I cited Tucholsky or Mühsam as supporters of orthodox KPD policies. No: only you believe in the fairy tale that this criticism was something stalinist! My topic IS "SPD this and SPD that" and I come to the conclusion not to vote them. They are not a party of the left.

by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:12:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My topic IS "SPD this and SPD that" and I come to the conclusion not to vote them. They are not a party of the left.

And rootless argues that the "left" is, then, smaller than 15% in the OECD over the past 30 years, and then we bicker and then Sarkozy and Le Pen form a coalition government.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:23:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, is it the left's fault that the SPD is not a left party? Of course it looks more impressive if we count social democrats as leftists, but they want a policy of austerity, poverty, and war, and that is NOT leftist policy.  
by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:46:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is only your topic. My topic is the policy of the KPD in 1929-1934. You started the discussion with denying the social fascism strategy of the KPD and Thälmann.

That, to return to the beginning, was indeed the narrative of the KPD during the early thirties. You still haven't answered why the KPD was unwilling to cooperate with the SAPD e. g. And your excursions to Tucholsky and Mühsam doesn't change anything about KPD policy.

"Now you try to defame every critic of social democrats as a stalinist."

You can surely prove this tall claim? I did nothing of the sort.

"Pointing out how universal criticism is makes you complain I cited Tucholsky or Mühsam as supporters of orthodox KPD policies. No: only you believe in the fairy tale that this criticism was something stalinist!"

It wasn't. It also has nothing to do with the KPD. Stalinist criticism like that of the late KPD is indeed Stalinist.

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:28:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It also has nothing to do with the KPD.

Exactly! So, can you suppress to cry out "Thälmann" when I blame social democrats for policies that are detrimental for the working class?

(And I hit the "4" only by accident)

by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:50:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only if you stop defending Thälmann and the social fascism strategy of the KPD.
by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 08:46:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't stop that. I have never started.
by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 08:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you are conflating IM's and rootless' positions here. If IM was advocating voting for present day social democrats even when they obviously don't represent leftist positions I missed it. Not that arguing about the history of the 30ties isn't worth it.
I hear there'll be a rerun soon.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 08:15:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I'd expect that they would act rationally instead of facilitating the consolidation of power by Hitler.  I don't care if their feelings were hurt.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 11:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Incredible to whom you attribute facilitating the consolidation of power by Hitler. It was more than leftists' feelings that was hurt. You are not belittling the murders of hundreds of leftists in the Weimar Republic, are you?
by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 04:28:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At the time of Hitler's consolidation of power, Thälmann was arrested and a hundred thousand KPD members followed him. At that time, it was some leaders of the SPD and allied unions who failed to act rationally and still sought a compromise (most ridiculously when the unions believed that being allowed to hold May Day parades is a sign of compromise, only to find themselves occupied, appropiated and arrested in the next few days). Remember, there was no ADGB general strike and the SPD leadership failed to activate the party militia.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:40:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While the English Wikipedia article is misleading itself, it hardly claims someting as strong as you did.

  1. There was no "Thälmann plan", there was a "social fascism" doctrine which originated in the Soviet Union five years earlier.
  2. The Wikipedia article messes up the timeline. The internal struggle in which the Bukharinite Kilbom opposed Thälmann in 1926 didn't concern the "social fascism" doctrine, which was resurrected by Stalin only in 1929.
  3. The "social fascism" doctrine was not about crushing weak social democrats to get people to rise against the Nazis, but about treating social democrats as the left wing of fascism and refusing cooperation. The conflict with the Nazis was a little bit hotter than the one with the SPD...
  4. As even the English Wikipedia article indicates, the KPD's adoption of the social fascism doctrine didn't came out of the blue or simple deference to Stalin, but was in reaction to the SPD leadership's attitude towards May Day street demonstrations and the police violence that followed (which was never investigated, although victims included SPD members, too).
  5. It is debatable whether the confrontation with the SPD after 1929 contributed to the rise of fascism (the attempt to form an independent union arguably did), but attributing sole responsibility (and not attributing any responsibility to the SPD leadership for the lack of cooperation) is way off.
  6. The English Wikipedia article completely omits to mention that from early 1932 onwards, Thälmann broke with the policy side of the "social fascism" doctrine and sought a wide cooperation (even including liberal parties) to overthrow Hitler.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 04:01:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh fucking great, Thalmann broke with the social fascism doctrine in 1932. Similarly, the captain of the titanic decided to make a sharp turn after the boat hit the iceberg.

Otherwise, you introduce a number of minor nit-picks that avoid the point. The social fascism strategy was a fiasco of stunning proportions - as predicted by Trotsky and numerous others. And today we see not only the same idiot theory that the far right is not as dangerous as the social democrats, the same sullen excuse that "they started it", and the same suicidal idea that racist "populism" can be made leftist.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 07:24:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh, no.

What DoDo points out is that when the allegedly social democratic parties prefer to govern with the right over governing with the communists, the communists are not wholly unjustified in regarding them as the centrist wing of the right.

Your logic - that a nominally right-wing cabinet must be prevented in the next election at all cost - should lead people to vote for SPD, no matter how Schröderite they have become. In fact, the more Schröderite, the greater the motivation to vote for them, because they insist on not coalitioning with Die Linke.

Essentially, the SPD is giving the voter an ultimatum: Give us an absolute majority and we will govern like the CDU but minus 10 %. Or give us less than an absolute majority, and we will govern with the CDU.

The correct response to that is not "OK, I'll give you my vote." The correct response is "fuck off and die."

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 09:52:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not my logic, it is your caricature of my logic. My logic is that sometimes the right is very dangerous and it is important not to make the same mistake Thalman made. The Nazis were NOT "nominally" right wing and the Communists were stupid and reckless in the extreme for regarding the SDP  as the greater enemy or for the delusion that they could win over the "populist" SA.

As impressed as I am by the power of saying "fuck off and die", I have to ask what it accomplishes. A lot of what passes for "left" thought these days seems to boil down to "we'll give them the finger until they respect us".

--
The big demonstrations in London and Washington against the US attack on Iraq a few years ago offer an exemplary case of this strange symbiotic relationship between power and resistance. Their paradoxical outcome was that both sides were satisfied. The protesters saved their beautiful souls: they made it clear that they don't agree with the government's policy on Iraq. Those in power calmly accepted it, even profited from it: not only did the protests in no way prevent the already-made decision to attack Iraq; they also served to legitimise it.
---
- Zizek.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 10:58:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Spain and Greece today, it is not immediately obvious that the EPP is more harmful than the PES. Preventing an EPP cabinet at the cost of stunting a left-of-the-PES party is therefore not an obvious tradeoff.

It depends, of course, on the election rules of the country in question. In Britain, you'll have to vote against the Tories at the UK level, and work on taking the devolved assemblies. In Scandinavia and Germany, where proportional systems prevail, you can vote for left-of-PES parties without worrying about splitting the vote. In France you can vote for left-of-PES in the first round and against UMP-FN in the second.

But the notion that it can never make sense to support a left-of-centre party at the national level is a case of American parochialism.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:12:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet again, the mistake of Thälmann and the KPD wasn't to claim the SPD as the greater enemy. And the Žižek quote (from here) is a nice one, but his argument isn't against the hard or extreme left but a 'postmodern left' that takes an anarchistic stance, preferring extra-parliamentary action, and doesn't want to take over the state. He contrasts the anti-war protests with Hugo Chávez's policy of taking over the state and organising supporters.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:32:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it was. the social fascism theory depicted the social democrats as the most dangerous enemy.
by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:17:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Zizek points out that a "politics" of empty gestures is a form of cooperation.
by rootless2 on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 08:13:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The lesson here is that the truly subversive thing is not to insist on `infinite' demands we know those in power cannot fulfil. Since they know that we know it, such an `infinitely demanding' attitude presents no problem for those in power: `So wonderful that, with your critical demands, you remind us what kind of world we would all like to live in. Unfortunately, we live in the real world, where we have to make do with what is possible.' The thing to do is, on the contrary, to bombard those in power with strategically well-selected, precise, finite demands, which can't be met with the same excuse.
Now tell me how the kinds of policies we would advocate on this site are "infinite demands" and not "precise, finite demands", except if one accepts that anything that isn't TINA is an "infinite demand". For instance, when we're told that "the fiscal pact is here to stay" (even though it hasn't been ratified in most countries yet) and therefore even if you think it's nonsense you have to work within it.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 08:49:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not a follower of Zizek. He's a smart guy and is often thought provoking, but I don't agree with everything he says. In this case, however, he is on point. The demand "Social Democrats should stop acting like Social Democrats and should instead act like something that we imagine would be better" is an infinite demand.

Rejecting the logic of austerity is not a finite demand. A finite demand is something like: co-operatives should get access to the same credit that is given to banks, or improving tenants of abandoned properties should be able to take title and clear the debt, or e.g. crowdfunding should be legalized, or access to public transportation should be low cost. ...

by rootless2 on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 09:42:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rejecting the logic of austerity is not a finite demand.

But the logic of austerity is not a law of nature. It is something that has been imposed politically since late 2009. And the imposition of that "logic" hasn't been without a substantial amount of arm-twisting.

So, why should the Social Democrats have accepted the logic of austerity in the first place?

On the other hand, you're right that rejecting the Maastricht treaty, is not a finite demand. However the Austerians have managed to get a new "treaty" negotiated in about 3 months. So, apparently certain kinds of treaty reforms are not infinite tasks. A treaty reform becomes infinite when it's a demand for the purpose of improving the lot of the general population.

In that vein, Yanis Varoufakis' Modest Proposal is a finite demand since it is explicitly built within the institutional constraints out of a sense of "urgency" (we don't have time for bona-fide treaty negotiations). The democratic deficit, TINA, and institutional constraints featured prominently in this panel discussion:

Of course, while there is no time for bona-fide treaty negotiations there's always time for a treaty imposed by Merkozy on the rest of the 27 on the argument that TINA.

Why anyone should vote for those on the "left" who accepted such a treaty is beyond me anyway.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 09:55:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rejecting the logic of austerity is not a finite demand.

I'd give it at least a 30 % chance that Hollande turns out to disagree with you on that point.

A finite demand is something like: co-operatives should get access to the same credit that is given to banks, or improving tenants of abandoned properties should be able to take title and clear the debt, or e.g. crowdfunding should be legalized, or access to public transportation should be low cost. ...

Of those four demands, one violates the logic of austerity, which you tell us to accept as a given, one violates the sacrosanct idol of private property (which, one must presume, you would also tell us to accept as a given), and the last two, while perfectly fine policies in their own right, are supply side and will therefore not contribute to solving the problem.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 11:08:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh fucking great, Thalmann broke with the social fascism doctrine in 1932.

At least you admit it. Now, will you admit that the SPD's rejection of these offers and its policy after the Berlin strike (not to speak of what it did in the teens and twenties), and the SPD leadership's failure to seek confrontation with the Nazis and cooperation with others until the final moment wasn't that wise, either?

Otherwise, you introduce a number of minor nit-picks that avoid the point.

Minor nitpicks that together destroy your position. Besides, your whole argumentation avoids more significant points:

  • the SPD support for Brüning hurt the SPD's credibility with voters;
  • the KPD's blindness in not seeking a popular front earlier and more seriously is mirrored by a similar blindness of the SPD's leadership;
  • the SPD was also blind to the fact that the courts and the constitution won't protect them against a fascist coup (and that even after it happened to them once in Prussia) and failed to mobilise their unions or militia;
  • with or without a popular front, the SPD and the KPD just weren't enough in terms of popular base, and the Nazis wouldn't have risen to power without the support or cowardy folding of the bourgeois parties.

as predicted by Trotsky

Speaking of Trotsky's letter, have you read it all? While he argues that the KPD's policy is stupid (believing in December 1931 that a fascist takeover in a civil war is only months away), he does so with the parallel of his own cooperation with the later backstabbed Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries against Kornilov, denouncing the SPD in the process in quite "social fascist" tones:

Leon Trotsky: For a Workers' United Front Against Fascism (1931)

The Social Democracy supports Brüning, votes for him, assumes responsibility for him before the masses-on the grounds that the Brüning government is the "lesser evil." [...] We Marxists regard Brüning and Hitler, [SPD PM of Prussia Otto] Braun included, as component parts of one and the same system. The question as to which one of them is the "lesser evil" has no sense, for the system we are fighting against needs all these elements. But these elements are momentarily involved in conflicts with one another and the party of the proletariat must take advantage of these conflicts in the interest of the revolution.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:08:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"At least you admit it. Now, will you admit that the SPD's rejection of these offers and its policy after the Berlin strike (not to speak of what it did in the teens and twenties), and the SPD leadership's failure to seek confrontation with the Nazis and cooperation with others until the final moment wasn't that wise, either?"

There was no offer. And why there wasn't an offer is explained nice by Trotsky: If you just want to gain, the voters, activists of another party in order to destroy them, you don't offer anything. And laying the blame for the cooperation of KPD and NSDAP in the Berlin transport strike on the SPD is hilariois. On the problems with cooperation and confrontation more below.

 "the SPD support for Brüning hurt the SPD's credibility with voters;"

Yes. On the other hand, when the SPD in 1932 opposed papen and Schleicher, the results were not much better. Also, there still was DDP-Zentrum-SPD coalition in Prussia and the SPD wanted to preserve it. Now the prussian government and it's importance tended to be overestimated, but if you remember the size, that is understandable.

" the KPD's blindness in not seeking a popular front earlier and more seriously is mirrored by a similar blindness of the SPD's leadership;"

A popular front with the KPD, that wasn't possible because of the position of the KPD anyway, would have ended all cooperation of the SPD with Zentrum and DDP. Especially in Prussia. The general problem of your cooperation demands is that a cooperation with DDP and Zentrum was possible and a cooperation with the KPD was possible, but not both. In the end a cooperation with neither was posssible.

 "the SPD was also blind to the fact that the courts and the constitution won't protect them against a fascist coup (and that even after it happened to them once in Prussia) and failed to mobilise their unions or militia;"

True. But the civil war in austria, where your recommendations were followed, was lost.

 "with or without a popular front, the SPD and the KPD just weren't enough in terms of popular base, and the Nazis wouldn't have risen to power without the support or cowardy folding of the bourgeois parties."

exactly! And that is why your complaints that everything would have gone well if just the SPD would have fight - with what allies? - are so unrealistic.

"as predicted by Trotsky"

 Trotsky indeed pointed out unwittingly the problems of a popular front with communists. (And that was not years later and miles away)

by IM on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:33:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The system will crash because it pursues policies that are fundamentally untenable."

Well, in the long run we are all untenable but the claimed imminent demise of capitalism seems about as reliable as the claimed imminent return of Jesus.

Of course as soon as enough leftists denounce the false consciousness of the followers of hegemonist thinking, the revisionists, the sectarians, and everyone else, I'm sure the fucking revolution will happen right away.
That's such a great program and it has such a brilliant track record. Oooh, I'm going to be "discredited" and will lose my Scientific Socialism merit badge. Fear and trembling.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 10:21:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Look, I don't think anyone around here is waiting for the "crash" or the "revolution". The thing with democratic societies is that there is a way to relieve the pressure: elections. Only dictatorships explode into revolutions, as people feel TINA to direct action.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 10:30:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's enough of "things have to get worse before they can get better" on this blog too. The question is whether people are advocating it or just resigning themselves to the reality of social dynamics. It gets to a point, though, where it makes no difference.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 11:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm responding to what Jakes wrote.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 12:08:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While all responses are replies, not all replies are responses...

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 12:21:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So I misinterpreted your remarks?
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 12:45:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.

I never anywhere stated, for I do not believe, that social collapse will bring about the end of "capitalism."

Judging by historical experience, however, it will bring about the end of the centrist parties. And if you have not cultivated an organisation outside the cozy centrist consensus, then you will be caught with your pants down when that happens.

Now, betting that this will not happen before the next election is usually a safe bet, in the sense that you will be right more often than not. But that is also true of the betting that the stock market will keep on rising this week, and betting that not doing a maintenance checkup on your nuclear power plant will not make it blow up this week. Or any other bet with a large probability of a small upside and a small probability of a catastrophic downside. If you keep taking that sort of bets you will, eventually, lose your shirt.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 01:27:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What exactly in historical experience validates that theory?

The Vichy Socialism of Mitterand, for example, preceded not the collapse of the mushy centrist parties but the collapse of the far left.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 02:46:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 02:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rolls eyes
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 07:39:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because obviously neither the rise of fascism nor the destruction of the Mediterranean EU members offer examples of collapse of the unreasonable centrists...

If you have some historical experience that validates the performance of compulsive centrists in a serious economic crisis, I'm all ears.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 09:35:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"compulsive centrists" - nice meaningless phrase.

It's enough to make one miss vulgar class analysis. At least that is more sophisticated and illuminating than pseudo-psychology of that sort.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 11:07:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tell me again what advantage the SPD derived from its support of Brünning's pro-Nazi economic policies?

Then please elucidate the advantage to be gained by a broader left front embracing Brünning's pro-Nazi policies.

Alternatively, you can explain how a broader left coalition would have been able to sway the social democrats away from supporting Brünning's pro-Nazi policies.

Because the crux of the matter is that Brünning's policies were built-to-fail. Any party that embraced them would be dragged down with them, as becomes obvious when you examine the electoral results of the relevant parties.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:34:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the SPD pursued stupid policies, therefore the social fascism line of the KDP was ok?
by rootless2 on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 09:30:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The SPD pursued stupid policies. What is the proper response to that? To vote SPD?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 09:46:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes. Perhaps not allying with Nazis would be sufficient though.

I don't get the theory that one should approach politics via grievance. Politics is about power.

by rootless2 on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 10:05:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Politics is about power.

That's rather the problem, it tends to become power for power's sake.

So basically one has to cozy up to the aspiring powerful in hopes of being able to enact policy when the aspiring powerful becomes powerful.

Expecting the aspiring powerful to have a policy is too much.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 10:31:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rootless2:
Perhaps not allying with Nazis would be sufficient though.

When was KDP allied with the Nazis?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 03:46:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely not to vote for a bunch of stalinists. Or do want to retcon the KPD into some sort of New Dealers now?
by IM on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 01:06:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe just give up on politics an emigrate.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 03:05:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or: The SPD pursued stupid policies and didn't like protest, therefore banning protest was quite ok.
by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 10:01:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the difference between a successful smart political activist like A. Philip Randolph and a stupid puppet like E. Thalman. The Democratic Party of FDR essentially sold out black America for votes of racist southerners. However, Randolph used a combination of cooperation, support, and credible threats to win concessions that (a) got big living standards improvements and (b) increased political power that eventually lead to the success of the civil rights movement. That's because Randolph had a moral center and an understanding of political dynamics, while Thalman was a bureaucrat who believed in simple slogans.
by rootless2 on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 10:10:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You might want to look up Ernst Thälmann and his biography. Okay, it is your parallel: Randolph operated in a two-party-system, I believe. What was his chance to get elected into state parliaments, Congress, presidential elections without joining one of the racist parties?
by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 10:26:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey look, back in the 1940s "marching" worked:
In the early civil-rights movement, Randolph led the March on Washington Movement, which convinced Franklin D. Roosevelt to desegregate production-plants for military supplies during World War II.


guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 10:32:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually they did not have to march - the threat worked.
by rootless2 on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 10:43:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 10:47:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because they had constructed a situation in which they social democrats considered them valuable allies but understood they had finite demands that had to be met.

That is, they played the game of politics. And, yes, it's both ugly and dangerously corrupting.

by rootless2 on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 11:06:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because crushing the protest brutally would have damaged the war effort and so. Better to quietly give in a bit. Much depends on the situation you are in. Small wonder that our masters want a high level of unemployment to discipline the working class.
by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 11:21:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, in the long run we are all untenable but the claimed imminent demise of capitalism seems about as reliable as the claimed imminent return of Jesus.

You taken a look at Greece lately?

That is what happens when allegedly social democratic parties govern to the right in fear of losing the next election if they govern according to reality.

Spain and Portugal are going to provide the next couple of equally illustrative examples, because PSOE and the Portuguese PS made the same mistake.

And if Hollande fails to govern to the left, you're looking at a FdG vs. FN or UMP (depending on the staying power of UMP) election in 2017.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 11:25:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and the FdG would lose that election.

So we better fucking hope that Hollande governs to the left. I can live with the PS losing a PS vs. UMP election in 2017 because PS didn't TINA. FdG losing a FdG vs. FN because PS did TINA... not so much.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 11:50:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's kind of lacking in utility to bewail the weakness of social democratic parties - especially in client states - and earnestly wish that radical left parties would have more support.

If only the would - you know - show some gumption. But they won't - they are what they are.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 12:21:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But it is apparently not lacking in utility to bemoan the weakness of the left, and snipe at them for having the temerity to suggest that policy is more important than positioning.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 12:27:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sniping at all. I would have been happy to see e.g. the Left Front win 20% of the vote, I am simply attempting to understand what possible strategies are viable given the actual results.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 12:46:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What makes you think all that's done is to bewail and to wish, respectively?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 12:48:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm responding to what he wrote. I have seen 1000000 denunciations of weak social democrats. Seems like at some point one should move on to a fresher topic. Social democrats often govern to the right of their rhetoric. I am so old that I remember being surprised that Mitterand governed like the Vichy bureaucrat he was and not in accord with the program he ran on. But at this point I am less surprised and do not see the value of repeatedly demanding that Social Democrats "should" act in a different manner from how they act.
 
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 01:42:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Social democrats often govern to the right of their rhetoric.

Yes. That's where the name traitor party comes from. You seem to attribute that behaviour to weakness though, where I see mendacity.

So, we have the choice between right-wing parties openly saying  they want to drive inequality up, wages down, and fight some wars against brown skinned people if the US want that and social-democrat parties not saying openly that they want about the same policy, but doing so if elected. Or else we vote left parties and are accused that we don't really want power if we vote so small parties. Because these parties split the left vote, have a problem with dogmatists, and so.

by Katrin on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 02:10:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't attribute to either weakness or mendacity. I believe it is the product of the social order. One can imagine that a consistent behavior of social democratic parties in many states over many decades is "mendacity", but I think that just avoids the issue. The social democrats seem to be subject to "class" pressures that produce what they are.

But I also disagree that the social democratic parties are the same or follow the same policies as the right wing parties.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 02:51:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A right wing party wouldn't have introduced the "agenda" and the Hartz legislation. They wouldn't have dared! Often social democrats are worse than right-wingers, because people don't watch out enough or have illusions that a right wing policy is inevitable if social-democrats introduce it. More often social democrats are slightly better, but not good enough. Sometimes they are even doing something useful. The latter happens when they get a good healthy kick from the left.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 03:15:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh please. One of the strange aspects of the current left is that it seems to have tossed aside all class and power analysis for concepts such as "betrayal" and "greed".  A RW government would simply have taken the same concepts further. Those concepts don't fall from the sky, but result from the struggle of capital to subordinate labor and to protect upper classes from market forces they don't approve while exposing the rest of the population to market forces that are in the interests of the upper classes.  The difference between a SD/Green implementation of such policies and a Thatcher or Pinochet one, may seem unimportant to you, but I don't share that opinion.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 07:36:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference between a SD/Green implementation of such policies and a Thatcher or Pinochet one, may seem unimportant to you,...

And for you there is one method to show that one takes that difference seriously: voting SD/Green, eh?

by Katrin on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 04:39:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nixon goes to China...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:38:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair enough. Suppose now that you disagree with the way Social Democrats govern and you're not on the right. What do you do?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 02:53:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not at all sure of the answer to that. Something different must be tried.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 03:13:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Such as?
by Katrin on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 03:16:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. start agreeing with the way the Soc Dems govern
  2. become right-wing


guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 03:29:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Disagreeing and getting beaten consistently may make people feel better about themselves, but it is functionally the same.

Zizek's nasty remarks about the London anti-war demonstrations can't be wished away.

by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 07:13:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. start a think tank to influence policy making.
  2. build a social movement and organize, so that you're ready to sweep the elections when/if the old parties screw up badly.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:41:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
build a social movement and organize, so that you're ready to sweep the elections when/if the old parties screw up badly.

Funny you should say that. ElPais.com in English: Group that spawned 15-M splits over change in structure (24 April 2012)

During a special assembly on Sunday, members approved the change in the group's structure. That sparked 48 hours of name-calling and insults on social networking sites such as Twitter. The row has come just weeks before a public demonstration that has been scheduled for May 12, which will kick off a series of marches to mark the first anniversary of the 15-M movement.

Now DRY appears to have split. One faction of the organization, headed by spokesman Fabio Gándara, has - for some time - been arguing for the need to change the group's structure, in an effort, among other things, to speed up the decision-making process at assemblies, where members have demanded full consensus before taking a decision.

The other faction, however, says that DRY would lose a lot of its broad representation if it were to change its status from a loose grassroots group to a full registered organization. While some in DRY are looking at making the group more operational, others want to study ways to improve its internal methods to attract greater participation.



guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 06:47:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Groups that lose contact with reality, start behaving like amoebas... :)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:07:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on what you call reality. I'd say the PSOE leadership is a group that has lost contact with the reality of life for a large segment of the population.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:12:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't really know what the Spanish occupy people are like, but remebering what I read about the British variety, they were total naive, unrealistic dreamers with a bone of practicality in their bodies. Sure, PSOE might live in a dreamworld economics-wise, like the rest of the European establishment, but at least they are practical people, or to use our favourite word, Serious people.

Well, I don't think I'm really referring to Serious people, but rather serious people. Krugman and Stiglitz are serious, but not Serious anymore. The British occupy people are neither.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:30:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea I like the most right now is to combine Alperovitz's methods of building cooperative business in conjunction with other institutions, while slowly pushing electoral strategies. The reason SD parties "go weak" is that they are influenced by the right wing consensus in the corporations/institutions. The labor unions used to be a counterweight but are now nearly worthless and lack initiative. So building up some strength in the economy some other way seems essential.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 07:12:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Something different, only so long as we keep dutifully voting for the hegemonic party of the Left.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 03:25:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When it makes sense, certainly. I'm not a believe in empty exercises or celebration of powerlessness.
by rootless2 on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 07:29:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am yet to see a situation in which you say it doesn't make sense.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 03:58:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Talk about fighting the battles of the 19th century...

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 11:33:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hah, yes indeed. All old is new.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 01:38:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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