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Old 07-20-2015, 09:59 PM   #1
Peace Equality
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"Another World is Possible"

Interesting to see this article in the current issue of AdBusters magazine:

https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/1...-possible.html

The article briefly covers the Spanish Revolution of the thirties and uses it to show that an alternative economic system is possible. In that same issue (though different article) mention is made of a similar experiment in autonomous self-organizing called Democratic Confederalism is purportedly under way in Rojava and is supposedly inspired by the ideas of the late anarchist Murray Bookchin.

Here is the article in its entirety:

"The Spanish Civil War that occurred between 1936-1939 is always remembered as the fight between the Republicans and Franco’s nationalist semi-fascist forces. However, the war was marked by another, extraordinary event; in 1936, the year of the outbreak of the civil war, the world witnessed the first glimpses of an anarchist revolution. Sam Dolgoff, an American anarcho-syndicalist, stated that the Spanish Revolution “came closer to realizing the ideal of the free stateless society on a vast scale than any other revolution in history.”

The revolution was led by the CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo), a confederation of anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist trade unions. A significant part of Spain’s economy was collectivized and put under direct worker’s control. In Catalonia, workers controlled more than 75% of the economy. We should not imagine Soviet-style forced collectivization, but, as Sam Dogloff said, “a genuine grass roots functional libertarian democracy, where each individual participated directly in the revolutionary reorganization of social life”. George Orwell, who has served as a combatant for the CNT, was able to document the revolution as a first-hand observer. Two short passages from his Homage to Catalonia, published in 1938, illustrate superbly the spirit of the revolution: “[T]here was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom. Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine,” and “many of the normal motives of civilized life—snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc.—had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves and no one owned anyone else as his master.”

Unfortunately, the Spanish anarchist utopia did not last long. The anarchists were crushed by a temporary alliance between all other political parties (including the Communists and the Socialists) and the brief—but real—experience of an anarchist society faded away.

However, an important lesson can be drawn from the anarchist utopia of 1936: another world is possible (which is also the slogan of the World Social Forum). Before discussing anarchism’s possible role in the resistance to the capitalist world order, let’s shortly retrace last century’s main stages of the capitalist system’s consolidation: elites have won the long-lasting struggle against the working class; this was achieved firstly by granting workers some benefits after World War II, notably through the implementation of welfare systems in the West, then by fragmenting them with the increase in specialization of labor and the growth of the service industry during the post-Fordist period and finally by assessing the knockout blow through neoliberal policies, which erased hard-fought social and economic rights, diminished trade unions’ bargaining power and weakened their influence.

The libertarian revolutions of 1968 have also ended up in disappointment. Hopes brought by the “New Left” political movement that emerged from the demands of students, activists and workers, came to a close when economic powers and politics colluded in the 80s, removing the last glimmers of hope that change could happen from within the current political system. The 1980s also marked the beginning of the neoliberal era (deregulation of the financial system, erosion of welfare states, privatization programs, financial crises, cuts to public spending).

Finally, the fall of the Berlin Wall represented the end of the last bastion of ideological resistance against capitalism: communism. Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man main thesis was emblematic in the representation of the world we faced and still face today: the triumph of liberal democracy and capitalism marked the end point of mankind’s ideological and political evolution.

We live in a historically specific cultural paradigm, shaped during the course of the last century through mass media, popular culture and advertising, which converged together and formed our consumer culture and in an economic and political system structured to serve the interests of a small elite. In this scenario, anarchist thought has a dual function of resistance: as a challenge to the neoliberal ideology, and as a possible concrete utopia that can guide us in the construction of a valid alternative social order.

The most accessible ground for us, “the 99%,” through which a radical change can be achieved, is that of ideas. No economic or political revolution can bring genuine change without, stated Serge Latouche, an advocator of the degrowth movement, “the decolonization of our minds” from the ideological framework we find ourselves in. Anarchism challenges the ideas, the dehistoricized and naturalized assumptions, and the taken-for-granted norms of today’s society. In an anarchist society, solidarity would replace individualism; mutual aid would prevail on competition; altruism on egoism; spirituality on materialism; the local on the global. Changing the current global framework of rules first necessitates an individual ideological liberation that can only come through self-awareness. To free our body we must first free our mind."

— Tommaso Segantini, Brussels, Belgium

Last edited by Peace Equality; 07-20-2015 at 10:14 PM.
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Old 07-20-2015, 10:35 PM   #2
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

what was "semi"-fascist about Franco's forces?
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Old 07-21-2015, 05:27 AM   #3
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

Didn't the Spanish civil war demonstrate one serious problem with Anarchy - how does it stop itself getting crushed by governments of various stripes?

It didn't last long enough to hope to demonstrate anything else.
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Old 07-21-2015, 09:50 AM   #4
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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Didn't the Spanish civil war demonstrate one serious problem with Anarchy - how does it stop itself getting crushed by governments of various stripes?...
No, not at all. The organizing structures used by the CNT/FAI were robust... and they are still just as robust today. This is basically LOL sample size of one.

The same general (and bogus) thing can be said regarding Haiti and slave revolutions. After their revolution, Haiti was forced by international embargo to pay massive reparations to the former slave owners... forcing the area into an abject poverty that persists to this very day. That wasn't (and isn't) a 'problem' in abolitionism.

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...It didn't last long enough to hope to demonstrate anything else.
The Social Revolution in Spain didn't magically spring into existence, like Athena popping outta Zeus's nose or something, the day that coup that ended up being led by Franco was announced.

The article quoted in the OP references the late Murray Bookchin. Bookchin was a historian, one of his books is: The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years, 1868-1936 (full text). This is a telling of the first 68 years of a 71 year story.

The last three years, 1936-1939, of this story, with the scope, scale, and overwhelming success of the Social Revolution... up to 8 million people living significantly better than they were before, despite the exigencies of fighting a war against Europe's allied fascists... clearly demonstrates at least one thing: Proof of Concept. Or, as the OP said...

Re: "Another World is Possible"
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Old 07-21-2015, 09:56 AM   #5
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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No, not at all. The organizing structures used by the CNT/FAI were robust... and they are still just as robust today. This is basically LOL sample size of one.
Sample size of 1 what?

It's not supporting a claim that it can't work just that there's a serious problem it has to address as this case demonstrates. Anarchy cant be stable unless it can defend itself against other nearby systems that attack it.
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:12 AM   #6
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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Originally Posted by Peace Equality View Post
Unfortunately, the Spanish anarchist utopia did not last long. The anarchists were crushed by a temporary alliance between all other political parties (including the Communists and the Socialists) and the brief—but real—experience of an anarchist society faded away.
This highlights the exact reason that "another world" is not possible. DUCY?
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:16 AM   #7
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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Sample size of 1 what?...
Social revolutions.

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... Anarchy cant be stable unless it can defend itself against other nearby systems that attack it.
Again, that's not an issue regarding the organization structures used by the CNT/FAI. This is a 'problem' that confronts all revolutionary societies, regardless of the 'system' they are using. It was a 'problem' with the revolutionary abolitionists in Haiti, it was a 'problem' when representative democracy was replacing absolute monarchy historically, it was and still is a 'problem' in Cuba, and it's an ongoing 'problem' in Iran.

The Social Revolution didn't fail because they couldn't or wouldn't organize militias and meet the fascists on the battlefield. It's the other way around... that's exactly how it started.
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:20 AM   #8
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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Originally Posted by Shame Trolly !!!1! View Post
Social revolutions.
I'm not saying anything against social revolutions in general just that whatever they're bringing about either needs no enemies or must be able to survive alongside them.
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:43 AM   #9
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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... whatever they're bringing about either needs no enemies or must be able to survive alongside them.
Obviously.

That was, of course, hotly debated at the time... and in fact is still hotly debated today. Was it more important to win the war vs the fascists first, even if it meant postponing the social revolution... or would not proceeding directly with the social revolution doom it to failure.

In general, expediency and the war effort won out... the CNT did take on Republican cabinet positions late in the war, after all.
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:59 AM   #10
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

We would hope it was obvious.

It may mean that social revolution isn't the best way and social evolution is better. Huge amounts were done in the UK within the political system - 1945+ introduction of NHS, social housing, nationalisation etc etc. although it has been faltering for decades now.
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Old 07-21-2015, 11:40 AM   #11
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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... It may mean that social revolution isn't the best way and social evolution is better...
Well, that's an opinion.

Rest assured that the rank&file of the CNT, 1930s Spanish society in general, and FWIW peeps like me today, have the exact opposite opinion.

To digress into theory a little... speaking in general, this may be true. Depending on how 'best' is characterized, perhaps an evolutionary approach to changing a secular society into an Islamic society (or vise-versa) would be better. However, the particular kinda society RWAs wanna bring about, a non-hierarchical society, is a special case. It's almost always been universally understood by RWAs that you can't use hierarchy to dismantle hierarchy. From this comes the rejection of "reformism", "vanguardism" and political action.

Back to Spain.

Without the generations long battle experienced revolutionaries ongoing fight against the employing class, there wouldn't have been any organization in place that would have been able to seize the armories after the government had failed, and rise up against the fascists. Without the increases in productivity from the revolutionary reorganizing of the war related sectors they would never have been able to reequip the militias. Without the large increase in acreage under food cultivation, again because of the revolution, they wouldn't have been able to keep the militias in the field.

While on the other hand, the CNT did collaborate... and the war was lost. The fascist Franco's regime lasted until SNL started. Does this really seem "better" ??
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Old 07-21-2015, 11:48 AM   #12
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

I think the outcome of what they did in Spain could hardly have been much worse. Much as Thatcher is hated she was no Franco. Against that, as you say it's one data point and it may be more about the times. It may have turned out very differently if facism hadn't been on the rise.

Quote:
It's almost always been universally understood by RWAs that you can't use hierarchy to dismantle hierarchy
That could be true (although I doubt it is) and it still be the case that social evolution is better. Method B could be imperfect in practice and still better than a theoretically better method A that can't work in practice
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:12 PM   #13
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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I think the outcome of what they did in Spain could hardly have been much worse...
I'm not sure who is the 'they' you are referring to. If you mean the Nationalists, I'll agree. If you mean the Republicans, and including the CNT/FAI, I'm not sure what you're saying. Sure, the Nationalists won the war... but you're saying it would have been 'better' not to risen against them to begin with?

Are you saying it would have been 'better' if peeps had not revolutionary reorganized their own society, if only for a few years? When the Nationalists returned the owning class to power, the owners just took over ownership of the improved factories and new farms. So... it would have been better if none of that had ever happened?

Quote:
... Method B could be imperfect in practice and still better than a theoretically better method A that can't work in practice
Speaking of Thatcher... RWAs reject her TINA (There Is No Alternative) too. We know 'method A' works in practice: see the Spanish Revolution c.1936. Instead of TINA, think AWIP... Re: "Another World is Possible".
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:36 PM   #14
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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Speaking of Thatcher... RWAs reject her TINA (There Is No Alternative) too. We know 'method A' works in practice: see the Spanish Revolution c.1936. Instead of TINA, think AWIP... Re: "Another World is Possible".
Another world is definitely possible. The only bit that interest me really is whether we are best off trying to change things by evolution or revolution. I'm in the evolution camp but would be interested in you tried to persuade me if we can keep it fairly abstract.

I'm going to have to avoid getting too far in the Spanish situation as it's 30 years since I studied it a bit and that was damn depressing.
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Old 07-22-2015, 10:00 AM   #15
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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"Another World is Possible".
Gulliver's Travels

Understanding the difference between possible and probable is fundamental.
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Old 07-22-2015, 11:44 AM   #16
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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... Understanding the difference between possible and probable is fundamental.
Really??

So... you're a CNT member in 1936 Spain. You hear on the news that General J.Sanjurjo has declared a pronunciamiento. Down at your factory, your union sisters and brothers call an emergency meeting. The question is put to the floor: should we seize the local armory, organize a militia, and take this war to the fascists?

You'd pipe up here, and say "How probable is it to defeat the fascists? If it's less than 50% I'm out!".

Really? How probably was ending slavery when J.Brown was hung? How probable was the 8-hour work day when the RWA Haymarket Martyrs were hung? How probable was just a "fair days wages for a fair days work" and union recognition when CIO members occupied the Flint auto plants? How probable was a mere street protest in Seattle crippling the WTO? How probable was occupying and reopening for business the Hotel Bauen, Buenos Aires, in 2003?

Social revolution takes la lucha. Often these struggles take several generations. Always, we start as massive underdogs... such is the nature of la lucha. Historically, and this is more than just a quirk... we usually remain underdogs until, almost overnight, we "win".

There Is No Alternative Another World is Possible !!!1!
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Old 07-22-2015, 08:22 PM   #17
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

John Brown was abviously hung, but I don't know what that has to do with anything.
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Old 07-22-2015, 08:36 PM   #18
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John Brown was abviously hung, but I don't know what that has to do with anything.
Well, nobody knows why Zeno dropped a reference to a 1726 work of fiction in reference to historical events in Spain 1936-1939. I was only reacting to his reference to 'probability'.
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Old 07-22-2015, 08:53 PM   #19
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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Originally Posted by Shame Trolly !!!1! View Post
Well, nobody knows why Zeno dropped a reference to a 1726 work of fiction in reference to historical events in Spain 1936-1939. I was only reacting to his reference to 'probability'.
By talking about how big John Brown and the RWA Haymarket Martyrs packages were? How bizarre...
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Old 07-22-2015, 09:00 PM   #20
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

Chez knows (possible and highly probable). But he is too sober to make a good post. Spain makes some great red wines. Other than that, Spain has little to do with my post.
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Old 07-22-2015, 09:01 PM   #21
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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By talking about how big John Brown and the RWA Haymarket Martyrs packages were? How bizarre...
No, and I'll ignore the mention of 'packages'.

My point was that J.Brown vs slavery, and the Haymarket Martyrs vs the 10-14 hour work day, weren't odds-on favorites when they paid the ultimate price. Once again, to repeat myself directly in back-to-back posts, I was reacting to Zeno's reference to 'probability'.

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...Spain has little to do with my post.
So your post about the Spanish Revolution 1936 has little to do with Spain. You really can't have any problem if I consider you FOS.
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Old 07-22-2015, 09:10 PM   #22
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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Originally Posted by Shame Trolly !!!1! View Post
No, and I'll ignore the mention of 'packages'.

My point was that J.Brown vs slavery, and the Haymarket Martyrs vs the 10-14 hour work day, weren't odds-on favorites when they paid the ultimate price. Once again, to repeat myself directly in back-to-back posts, I was reacting to Zeno's reference to 'probability'.



So your post about the Spanish Revolution 1936 has little to do with Spain. You really can't have any problem if I consider you FOS.
I'm sure your point was well made. I was just having a bit of fun, since you were the one who brought up how well endowed (hung) they were, when you meant they were hanged. It's not often I get to appreciate tenth-grade honors English. Now if I could just find someone to mispronounce Goethe around here....
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Old 07-23-2015, 06:01 PM   #23
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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Chez knows (possible and highly probable). But he is too sober to make a good post. Spain makes some great red wines. Other than that, Spain has little to do with my post.
Sorry been drink darkstar revelation and malt scotch all night but I've got nothing.

Its some serious beer though any fault is entirely mine.
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:49 PM   #24
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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Originally Posted by Shame Trolly !!!1! View Post
Well, nobody knows why Zeno dropped a reference to a 1726 work of fiction in reference to historical events in Spain 1936-1939. I was only reacting to his reference to 'probability'.
I put two, apparently, divergent subjects in my post. They are connected. Recheck the thread title. Now I’ll reference a work by Voltaire: Candide, first published in 1759. This will probably add to your confusion. So I suggest you keep on the Spanish trail and see where it leads you.
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Old 07-23-2015, 10:17 PM   #25
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Re: "Another World is Possible"

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This highlights the exact reason that "another world" is not possible. DUCY?
And yet like I've already mentioned, a similar form of social organizing, inspired by Murray Bookchin's ideas, is purportedly going on in Rojava right now:

"Rojava, in northern Syria, a Kurdish region straddling the southern Turkish border, is now a remarkable experiment of Bookchin inspired autonomous democratic confederalism. In the area's major urban areas-Aleppo, Kobane and Qamishli-popular assemblies and secular grassroots councils call the shots.....Put into practice, Kurdish self-government today has three central planks: the establishment of communes, the assurance of equal participation in all areas of decision-making for all faith and ethnic groups, and the strengthening of the position of women. Communes sort out everyday administration, provide electricity provision and infrastructure, advise on nutrition and liaise around ecological concerns. There are communal cooperatives, too, like bakeries and sewing workshops, like agricultural projects. Delegates from village and neighborhood communes form the basis of bigger city councils, and city councils are made up of representatives from all communes. There aren't any law courts either, but 'peace and consensus committees,' which try to resolve legal issues in novel, consensus-finding ways." Out of Shadows by Andy Merrifield

So what were you saying about "another world"?
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