15 January 2011

Proudhon, Luxembourg and Liebknecht

What do these three have in common? Well, the first one was born on a 15th of January in 1809 while the latter two died on the same day 110 years later. All were important members of the far left, Proudhon in France, Luxembourg and Liebknecht in Germany. It is fair to say that they weren't big fans of the welfare state.
Proudhon was an important intellectual father of Anarchism and was the author of the famous "property is theft". But this opposition to private property rights did not make him more sympathetic to the government:

"To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished." ("what is government?)

Originally in the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), Liebknecht and Luxembourg created the Spartacist League, mostly in opposition with the decision of the SPD to declare war in 1914. They were both assassinated by some paramilitary group (the Freikorps) following instructions from the SPD.

The British Spartacist League was created in 1978 and the Spartacists have fairly atypical readings of the dynamics at play in contemporary capitalism, here's a representative passage I stumbled upon:

"What is Spartacist's basic argument? Globalization is not real. There has been no fundamental economic change in capitalism since the beginning of the century. There is no objective cause for the wave of defeats suffered by the labor movement over the past two decades and the general decline in wage levels, benefits and working conditions. There has been no qualitative change in the role of the official unions. Rather this process is to be explained simply by the subjective cowardice and treachery of the union leaders."

In other words, they're probably not big fans of social democracy either.


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