Saturday, August 7, 2010

Spanish Anarchism and the Post-Soviet Malaise

The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia (1917-1920) and the initial success of the Spanish anarchists in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) are often fetishized by Leftists. At anti-war demonstrations one can see anarchists and Marxists chanting old slogans, pining about the good ol' days and revolutionary missed opportunities. The ambiance is that of a Renaissance Fair for the Cold War era. What the Bolshevik Revolution and Spanish anarchists did was demonstrate that society can be structured in various ways. Capitalism and liberal democracy are not sent as a cure-all from a Judeo-Christian God. They are also not a "natural" outgrowth of progressive evolution initiated by the human species. Slavoj Zizek summed it up best when he noted that twenty-first century thinkers can conceive of a massive environmental catastrophe before they can think outside the notion of capitalist democracy.

In this youtube is a clip from a documentary on Spanish Anarchism. It makes clear that there is a world of possibles. Instead of trying to relive the past, this history should motivate a confidence in the future. Each time and place has its own unique set of circumstances. In Zizek's 2002 Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin From 1917 he states:

The return to Lenin aims...[not] at nostalgically re-enacting the "good old revolutionary times"..."Lenin" stands for the compelling freedom to suspend the stale existing (post-)ideological co-ordinates, the debilitating Denkverbot (prohibition on thinking) in which we live--it simply means that we are allowed to think again (11).

I will add, the Spanish Anarchists of 1936 have some creative ideas in which to share.

1 comment:

Clarissa said...

I was just wondering why you put 1920 as the end date of the Bolshevik Revolution. Nothing really special or different happened in that year. Lenin and Co remained in power, the Civil War continued. So why 1920?

Just curious.