AFAQ news and Engels on Holland

As far as An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) goes, it looks like the launch will be in Glasgow in December. Layout issues have caused the delay but I’m assured by AK Press in Edinburgh that it will be physically out this year. As its being printed in North America, it may be a while before it reaches the UK. I’ll post when I get more information. And, yes, I do find this frustrating as hell!

Oh, btw, as part of my revision of the section on Marxism in AFAQ, I came across an interesting letter from Engels (two, actually but I was aware of one of them). As is relatively well known, Marx said in 1872 that:

"We know that the institutions, customs and traditions in the different countries must be taken into account; and we do not deny the existence of countries like America, England, and if I knew your institutions better I might add Holland, where the workers may achieve their aims by peaceful means. That being the true, we must admit that in most countries on the continent it is force which must be the lever of our revolution; it is force which will have to be resorted to for a time in order to establish the rule of the workers."

After Marx's death, Engels did look into the history of Holland. He concluded that as well as "a residue of local and provincial self-government" also had "an absence of any real bureaucracy in the French or Prussian sense" because, alone in Western Europe, it did not have an "absolute monarchy" between the 16th and 18th century. This meant that "only a few changes will have to be made to establish that free self-government by the working [people] which will necessarily be our best tool in the organisation of the mode of production."

So much for Lenin's argument in "State and Revolution" that Marx and Engels wanted to smash the capitalist state ("only a few changes"!). Lenin confused (deliberately?) Marx's attack on "the state machine" (which predated the bourgeois republic and inherited by it) with the capitalist state as such. This issue was clarified by Engels in another letter when he was asked what Marx had meant in The Civil War in France about not using the existing state machine:

"It is simply a question of showing that the victorious proletariat must first refashion the old bureaucratic, administrative centralised state power before it can use it for its own purposes: whereas all bourgeois republicans since 1848 inveighed against this machinery so long as they were in the opposition, but once they were in the government they took it over without altering it and used it partly against the reaction but still more against the proletariat."

Which, needless to say, fits in with this statement by Engels from 1891: "If one thing is certain it is that our Party and the working class can only come to power under the form of a democratic republic. This is even the specific form for the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the Great French Revolution has already shown." I’ve blogged about this before and discuss it in my article on the Paris Commune.

All of which suggests that since 1917, revolutionary Marxism has replaced Marx's actual theory of the state with one closer to anarchism -- in the sense of smashing the state and replacing it with workers' councils, communes, and so on. It also means that the Socialist Party of Great Britain (and its sister parties) are the only real Marxists around... but whether this really matters is a moot point as facts rarely seem to matter much in politics.

Anyway, I plan to post a new article on the Tories discovery that they are the party of social justice (von Hayek will be spinning in his grave) plus some material on Milton Friedman (who seems to be the inspiration for this particularly insane assertion). Plus another letter to Freedom on Mutual Aid, Stirner and the selfish gene.


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