Title: Views & Comments Number 12
Topic: periodicals
Date: March-April 1956
Source: Scanned from original
Notes: Published by the Libertarian League, 813 Broadway, New York 3, N. Y. Box 949, 920, Third Avenue, Seattle 4, Wash. (old address)

Libertarian Forum

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What We Stand For

Two great power blocs struggle for world domination. Neither of these represents the true interests and welfare of Humanity. Their conflict threatens mankind with atomic destruction. Underlying both of these blocs are institutions that breed exploitation, inequality and oppression.

Without trying to legislate for the future we feel that we can indicate the general lines along which a solution to these problems can be found.

The exploitative societies of today must be replaced by a new libertarian world which will proclaim—Equal freedom for all in a free socialist society. "Freedom" without socialism leads to privilege and injustice; "Socialism" without freedom is totalitarian.

The monopoly of power which is the state must be replaced by a world-wide federation of free communities, labor councils and/or co-operatives operating according to the principles of free agreement. The government of men must be replaced by a functional society based on the administration of things.

Centralism which means regimentation from the top down must be replaced by federalism which means co-operation from the bottom up.

THE LIBERTARIAN LEAGUE will not accept the old socio-political clichés, but will boldly explore new roads while examining anew the old movements, drawing from them all, that which time and experience has proven to be valid.

About Face with the C.P.

Recent news reports, abbreviated and perhaps somewhat garbled, coming out of Moscow in connection with the Twentieth Congress of the Russian Communist Party have raised considerable speculation and not a little confusion abroad. As when Stalin embraced Hitler in 1939, the party faithful in all countries have been caught off base. We make no pretense of having any "inside dope" on the matter but feel that some observations are in order.

For almost four decades, the Russian Revolution and the ideas and movements developing out of it—and out of its perversion—have profoundly influenced the course of history in general and' the revolutionary movement in particular. Herein can be found the roots of fundamental misunderstandings, great illusions and even greater disillusions.

The outbreak of the social revolution in Russia in 1917 appeared to be the dawn of a new era for struggling humanity. Its bolshevization marked the beginning of an age of totalitarian darkness and barbarism, the end of which is not yet in sight.

The people of Russia in a surge of revolutionary enthusiasm had swept away the foundations of feudal Czarism and nascent capitalism, taking over the land and the factories, establishing revolutionary committees and workers' councils (soviets). However, the Bolsheviks, claiming a monopoly of all wisdom and with a basic distrust and disdain for the aims, instincts and aspirations of the masses in motion, seized political power and throttled the young revolution in its cradle. All who disagreed with them were ruthlessly suppressed and the alleged "dictatorship of the proletariat" was established to keep the proletariat from going too far. The floodgates of the social revolution were closed. The state took control of the factories away from the workers, interfered with the normal course of the revolution in the rural areas, ultimately imposing on the peasantry from above through statification of agriculture under the guise of "collectivization." The peasants were made serfs of the state although millions ultimately died rather than submit. The soviets and the unions were reduced to mere rubber stamps of the state. In all aspects of life and of thought, the ever more powerful police state destroyed the whole spirit and substance of the people's revolution.

Under Stalin, the totalitarian system reached in Russia its most complete expression. Mussolini, Hitler, McCarthy, Perón and Franco were and are but partial, imperfect imitations of the genuine article.

It was to be expected that with Stalin's death some changes might take place behind the "Iron Curtain." Many speculated that in the ensuing struggle for power among the various individuals and forces within the Russian bureaucracy the dictatorship would be weakened and perhaps overthrown. The liquidation of Beria, the dubious role of Malenkov and the numerous revolts in the slave labor camps certainly indicated that all was not well. Some concessions would obviously have to be made and a modus vivendi among the boys at the top would have to be worked out in order to allay the mass unrest and prevent collapse. At the top a compromise seems to have been made. The blame for everyone's misfortunes has been laid on the grave of Stalin and his one man rule.

Stalin's faithful bloodhounds and poodles, who formerly vied with each other in licking the adored master's hand, now take turns in hoisting their legs over his grave. The genial. leader of the world proletariat is dead. Henceforth Russia will be governed, and the world proletariat will be led, not by a single deified assassin but by a committee made up of a choice, properly purged selection of the ex-courtiers and hangers-on of the beloved Vozd. If this "collective leadership" is able to properly consolidate itself we doubt if the peasants of Uzbekistan, the workers of Odessa or the slaves in the Arctic wastelands will see much benefit.

In his maniacal drive for personal power, Stalin had—with the aid and acquiescence of his present detractors—eliminated most of his old comrades of the revolutionary days. The post-Stalin leadership now sees fit—for reasons of its own—to vindicate the memories of a number of those eliminated by the late beloved, genial "Sun of Socialism."

Some of Stalin's economic and organizational theories have been criticized. But the fundamental basis of the totalitarian state capitalist regime remains untouched. Even the internal regime of the party appears to be unaltered in any essential. The very fact that the change of line is in typical Stalinist fashion, announced from above by the leadership without any participation by the membership or the people at large shows this.

The effect abroad of the latest Moscow switch is yet to be seen. The love affairs with Tito, Franco and the Arabs are certainly part of the general picture. Attempts may soon be made to break out a fresh case of Geneva Spirits. A false democratic face at this time can be a useful weapon in the cold war and their general policy of wooing the "neutralists." On the "left," the door may be opened for the Trotskyites to return to the fold. And recent developments in their camp indicate that many of them would hasten to tread the welcome mat if it should be put out. The time is more than ripe for whatever serious, sincere revolutionists there may be in the ranks of the various authoritarian sects to seriously re-examine their positions. The evil and rottenness in Russia outlives Stalin, just as it antedated his appearance. It is something much more fundamental.

Libertarian Activity in Argentina

The fall of the Perón dictatorship left the bulk of the Argentine labor movement in the hands of his old henchmen, whose aim was no longer certain but whose grip was still powerful. The new government decided to leave them alone on the theory that labor must be appeased—labor being presumed to be pro-Perón. When the "labor leaders" eventually caught their breath and tried to restore Perón by means of an unsuccessful general strike, the government was compelled to move against the CGT.

Essentially reactionary, the government was unable to follow a consistent line of action in dealing with Perón's labor front, which had proven itself an unsuitable vehicle for the new rulers. Thus, when the new regime sought to replace the old union officials, it often had the painful choice between die-hard Peronists and genuinely militant union men. In many cases it found the former preferable and retained them.

Along the periphery of the CGT a whole slew of political parties and splinter groups have been jockeying for position and staging incursions into the body of the semi-prostrate giant. Stalinists, Trotskyites and parliamentary socialists of various shades are doing what they can to capture the CGT's dues and voting strength which are still considerable. At least one of the socialist factions, the COASI, has been infiltrated by former Peronists. Prominent in its leadership is José Domenech, who once dubbed Juan Perón "the first worker of the land."

In healthy contrast to the clumsy meddling of the government, the conniving of the political sects and the sullen undercurrents of loyalty to Big Brother Juan stand the committees of militant workers which have sprung up within the CGT itself. It is the declared purpose of these committees to cleanse their unions of all despotism and corruption. They have had some spectacular successes, even to the extent of talking some of the unions out of the CGT entirely. Thus, for example, the Federation of Naval Construction Workers, at a mass meeting attended by over 5,000 members recently voted to sever all ties with the CGT. It must be remembered that the CGT is a highly centralized body whose structure is supposed to protect it against just such upheavals of the rank and file.

For all its bloated size and governmental support, the CGT has never been able to dominate the field completely. There is an opposing anti-statist current which is traditional to the Argentine labor movement and which finds expression in the anarcho-syndicalist unions federated as the Federacion Obrera Regional Argentina (FORA). This movement is particularly strong among the dock and shipyard workers, the laundry workers and the plumbers.

How deeply rooted this movement is can be demonstrated by the fact that, through all the long years of official suppression by Perón and his predecessors, locals of the FORA continued to function not merely us clandestine propaganda groups, but as genuine labor unions in industrial disputes. We quote, in part, a statement recently published by the "Sociedad de Resistencia Plomeros, Cloaquistas, Hidraulicos y fines." These are the plumbers and workers in related trades affiliated with the FORA.

"...it is our duty to give an accounting of our actions during the years of the recent dictatorship as well as to unmask those whose much touted union activity was designed to entrap and deceive the workers..."

The accounting is a long one and the list of gains won by this union thru its policy of direct action is a list which the so-called legitimate unions may well envy. Space allows us to give but a few examples: Substantial and progressive wage increases—the biggest in that industry, a minimum vacation of 15 days with proportional pay in case of year long unemployment; old age benefits paid by the employer, and the 6-hour day won by 60% of the members of this union. In 1949 they tried to extend the 6-hour day to cover the remaining 40% of the membership. They went out on strike but after a battle of 73 days the strike was broken by frantic government pressure and the Peronist police.

It is a measure of the revolutionary profundity and social vision of the Argentine anarcho-syndicalist movement that it does not accept economic gains (however hard it may fight for them) as a final goal. Nor does it limit its arena of operations to the point of production or the field of union activity. The FORA is reopening its many cultural centers which were shut down by Perón. It is breathing new life into others, such as the Emile Zola Library in the city of Santa Fe. This particular library managed to maintain itself as an anarchist reading room throughout the black years of the recent past.

Further illustration of the Argentine comrades' point of view is provided by the following editorial which we translate from La Protesta of Buenos Aires, (no, 8008, Vol. LVII) December 1955):

"The right to strike is inalienable. It must not be circumscribed by any limitations other than those arising out of its own causes and needs. The strike is as fully justified when its purpose is to limit the abuse of power or when it is inspired by creative solidarity, as when its motive is the betterment of living conditions. We see the strike as the expression of justified rebellion. We go far beyond that petty and narrow concept which would limit the use of this weapon to disputes over wages and working conditions.

"There are craven spirits who hold that the labor movement must not concern itself with political matters, much less engage in strikes of a political nature. We use the term "political" in its best sense, as referring to problems of society which extend beyond the field of economic problems, which are of vital importance to all, including the workers, and which therefore may not be divorced from labor action. Let there be no misunderstanding of our position, we are unalterably opposed to the manual or intellectual workers delegating their own responsibilities to any political party.

"A correctly orientated working class movement should concern itself with all social problems and particularly with those problems having to do with freedom and culture. In place of the ideal of "justicielismo" which, in the end, could be reduced to the servile formula 'from the home to the job and from the job back home,' we proclaim the broader and deeper concept which finds expression in the phrase 'from the shop to the union, from the union to society.'

"Totalitarianism, whatever its form or color, opposes any true socio-political activity on the part of the labor movement—for it conceives of the workingman as an economic animal with no understanding of human problems. But this is also the premise of many who are supposed to be democratic. From this basic error stem all of the evils which have befallen the labor movement. Its ability to act effectively has been nullified in the name of a mistaken political neutrality.

"Finally, let us state that the very sympathy and support which we give to any strike which has for its objectives the increased dignity of the worker, his economic betterment, or the defense of human rights and liberties, leads us to denounce all political maneuvers designed to thwart these objectives—even when such maneuvers take the form of a strike."

We, of Views and Comments; take this opportunity to greet the public reappearance of La Protesta, organ of the FORA; and Acción libertaria, organ of the Libertarian Federation of Argentina. Both of these publications were outlawed by Perón and his predecessors, but neither of them could be stopped. They have been printed and distributed in the underground for approximately twenty years. Other anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist periodicals are expected to resume open publication shortly.

A historic struggle began on May 1, 1886

The New York Group of the Libertarian League is making plans for a meeting in commemoration of the martyrs of Chicago, who gave their lives in the struggle for the Eight Hour Day.


Plans will be announced in the next issue of Views and Comments


We don't care much for the wage system, but while we exist in the middle of it we have to use it.


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Copies sent free anywhere in the world to anyone requesting them

The Literature Shelf

The following books and pamphlets are available through the Libertarian League. Prices are held as near to cost as possible. We pay postage on all orders. Make checks or money orders payable to S. Weiner.

Sent free on request:





ANARCHY—Malatesta .10



BARBARISM AND SEXUAL FREEDOM—Comfort, hard-cover) .50








HOMES OR HOVELS—Woodcock .05


JOURNEY THROUGH UTOPIA—Berneri (hard-cover) 2.50




MUTUAL AID—Kropotkin (new edition with forward by Ashley Montagu and additional chapter by T.H. Huxley (paper) 2.00

(hard-cover) 3.00

NEITHER EAST NOR WEST—Berneri (paper) 1.00

(hard-cover) 1.50


ON LAW—Godwin .05




(hard-cover) .35


(hard-cover) .70







VOTE—WHAT FOR?—Malatesta .05

WAGE SYSTEM—Kropotkin .05






NINETEEN-SEVENTEEN: The Russian Revolution Betrayed—Voline 3.50

(Note: Volume II of this important work is due out soon from the Libertarian Book Club. Announcement will be made in V & C when it is received)

Book review by Sebastian

Limbo by Bernard Wolfe. New York: Random House, 438 pp., $3.50

OK kiddies, turn on your nihilistic brains and curl up into your orgone boxes with this one—it's real gone.

In a word—Bernard Wolfe has turned out a gasser.

This reporter was going to categorize the book as science fiction, but in truth it far transcends that sort of trash.

The story describes a world of some twenty-odd years hence in which everyone is running around amputating their arms for, well... pacifistic reasons. The hero of the story, a psychiatrist-lobotomist turned paresitologist, is running amok with a pocketful of pencils filled with rotobunga extract, a notebook and a pistol, meeting up with East Union (Russian) spies (very beautiful), Island Strip (U.S. of A.) counter spies, vol-quad-amps (voluntary quadruple amputees) and, in between, shuttling back to his secret island homestead and his beautiful native woman.

The plot is complex, absorbing, sardonic and humorous, but its main value lies in its not-so-in-between-the-lines parody on psychology, philosophy, Marxism, medicine, semantics and anarchism.

It's not really worth the three dollars, so steal or borrow a copy or wait till the pocket book kangaroo gives birth to an edition for two-bits.

Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators, and beneficiaries from those of a professional criminal class.

—Albert Jay Nock

From each according to his ability...

"But how about the ones who won't work—you know, the kind who just don't give a hoot for social pressure?" The questioner may then give examples taken from his own circle of relatives and acquaintances—people who, he is sure, would gladly spend all their time eating, making love, sleeping, playing poker, watching TV or reading a book.

"What keeps them at their jobs, if it isn't that compelling need for cash which would not operate in your fine, new society where each receives according to his needs and gives according to what he decides is his ability?"

It will not do to argue here that lowered working hours, automation and an increased sense of social responsibility will obviate the need for a profit incentive. The questioner admits that most people have within themselves an instinct for workmanship, evidenced by occasional spurts of creative activity.

He is worried about the hard core of irresponsibles—the professional sponges, the alcoholics and the just, plain shiftless—who can be counted on to gum up the operations of any organization which harbors them. If he happens to be informed, he will mention a few of the numerous idealistic colonies which have set out to build the brave new world only to founder on the rocks of non-cooperation and personal rivalries.

And truly, these well-intentioned ventures have done great harm in providing the superficial "proof" that socialism won't work. All too often, they were farming communities, manned by romantic city people. Nor must we forget that these artificially created islands were heavily dependent upon the surrounding ocean of capitalism which they were supposed to replace.

Isolated in time and in place, they had no sister communities with whom to exchange products, services and moral support. This was, no doubt, the basic weakness which caused them to sicken and die. Since true socialism is as unthinkable in a society of self contained units (themselves a near impossibility) as it would be in one where all activity is directed and controlled from a common center, the above-mentioned experiments can hardly be accepted as conclusive.

Which does not change the fact that they contained members who did not contribute to the full measure of their ability. Since the radical movement has itself been plagued by such characters, many people feel that a logical answer is required here and now.

How can you make people work when they don't want to? We really do not know. But we do know that a gold-bricker in our midst is far easier to spot than are those other gold-brickers who manipulate the strings of our present economic system. We propose to remove the superstructure in which they nest, and to build no new ladders for parasites to climb. After that, we must wait and see.

We cannot predict just how the libertarian world will deal with non-cooperators. It is conceivable that a collective—whether industrial or agricultural—dedicated to the principle of non-exploitation will nevertheless, allow itself to be exploited by the few drones in its midst. It may tolerate the man who spends his days on the hillside, writing bad poetry and who shows up only at feeding time. On the other hand, it may send him packing—in which case, he will have to find some other group on which to sponge. He may even decide to placate his fellows by doing a bit of useful work.

"But suppose a majority of the collective, cooperative or whatever you choose to call it consists of drones and only a few do all the work?" Here we have a reversal of the state of affairs in our present day society. We imagine that this inverted type of exploitation would soon fall of its own weight. The collective would break up and its individual members would have to seek out other, more successful units of organized society and ask to be taken in.

They would not be thrown back upon the treadmill of wage slavery. The roving kind would, of course, be free to rove. Why should a stateless society try to stop them? Our faith in the essential common sense of mankind tells us that in a rational system the more restless individuals will find hospitality and work wherever they may go. And the presence of a few chiselers here and there is not too high a price to pay for an economy which can operate without war and exploitation as its basic driving forces.

However, our critic is not this easily disposed of. "How," he asks, "do you insure that the more unpleasant kind of work gets done? Necessary Jobs such as tending the sick, burying the dead, garbage disposal, etc.—won't most people try to avoid doing their share of these?"

Instead of answering this one ourselves, we recommend a little pamphlet by Tony Gibson entitled "Who Will do the Dirty Work?" (Freedom Press). After covering the subject most adequately, the pamphlet closes with the following bit of dialogue:

"... Either the individual must be free to go to work or stay away, and Society can lump it, or Society must preserve its coercive machinery, the State. Anarchism is based on the recognition of the fact that, in freedom, men will choose to work."

"But surely, some workers, the workers concerned with essential services—cleaning the sewers, for instance—must be made to carry out their work, even under anarchy!"

"Will you go down and clear out those sewers for the sake of society, madam? No? Then, Madam, you may have to use the yard. Or perhaps you will find that many people who are less squeamish than you will take delight, yes delight, in tackling difficult projects and will take more interest in disposing of your sewage efficiently, hygienically and usefully than you do yourself. They may even send it back to you in the form of properly grown vegetables."

Jack and Jill at the Credenzi

(The characters appearing below are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons is unfortunate.)

JILL: ... and that's what loused up my childhood. My mother just never understood me.

JACK: But why ruin the rest of your life brooding over it?

(Artist With Beard sits down at their table, introducing timid young girl)

ARTIST WITH BEARD; Meet Miss Muffet. She's a social worker, but she'll get over it.

JILL: We were just discussing what a nuisance parents are.

A WITH B: You can say that again, I'm having more trouble with my old man. He tried to postpone my allowance again. Some day I'm going to fix the old buzzard, but good.

MISS MUFFET: Oh, but it isn't fair to talk about him like that—not as long as you accept money from him.

JACK: As a social worker, Miss Muffet, do you find that you are able to help people much or change their economic condition for the better? By the way, what kind of social work do you do?

JILL: Oops—here we go again.

MISS MUFFET: I'm a relief investigator. As for helping people much or changing their condition as you put it, well—I guess we can't. In fact, the more involved I get in this work, the more helpless I begin to feel myself. On the other hand, if we can keep a family on its feet until an older child is ready to start working—why then we can say we've accomplished something. Believe me, it's a thankless job. But somebody's got to be concerned about the underprivileged part of society.

JILL: Why?

JACK: Then you admit, Miss Muffet, that our society is incapable of solving its economic problems, except, of course, when there's a prospect of war?

MISS MUFFET: Oh, I wouldn't say that. See how much better off we are than the rest of the world. We have our poor, of course, but look at countries like India and Cuba—-people dying like flies.

A. WITH B.: I'm going thru a Joyous Period right now. All my paintings reflect sunlight. Lots of warm reds, bright greens and splashes of ochre.

JACK (ignoring the interruption): Yes, I know about Cuba and India. But rather than accept those countries as a criterion, wouldn't it be more sensible to look for basic causes of distress both here and everywhere? Maybe the solution to the problem goes much deeper than just giving handouts. In other words, maybe we can't eliminate the need for relief unless we change the whole economic setup.

MISS MUFFET: Oh, I don't think so. Every country that tries anything like that seems to end up by socializing everything in the hands of the government. And you'll have to admit that no other government gives the people as much freedom as our own. There are quite a few countries where we wouldn't be allowed to sit around and talk openly like this. These socialistic governments don't really eliminate poverty. They just eliminate freedom of the individual.

A. WITH B.: I'm an Individualist myself.

JILL: And what if we are "allowed to sit around and talk openly like this?" Personally, I don't see what all this talk, talk, talk accomplishes. Where are the results?

JACK: (to Miss Muffet) You're absolutely right about those socialistic governments. But you're dead wrong about our own government giving us freedom of this or freedom of that. No government has the right to give or take away freedom. You're saying that we ought to be grateful to our own government for not taking away as many rights as, say, the Russian government.

(To Jill) And by the way, neither the Russian government nor any of the other dictatorships underestimate the importance of talk, talk, talk. That's why they have "sanitary arrest."

JILL: Hark—The Oracle! And how many, prithee tell, have you rallied to your banner thus far? 25? 26?

JACK: OK, OK. The millions are still in the Democratic and Republican parties. In Russia they're in the Communist Party. I know. But in the long run it's the dynamism of ideas that counts, not the force of an inert mass of members. Naturally, we want to shake the masses out of their inertia. It's to be hoped that the ones who do this "shaking," the dynamic minority, will be men and women of sound reason and good-will.

JILL: A revolutionary elite?

JACK: Certainly not. I want everyone to wake up—not just a self-appointed minority.

MISS MUFFET: But I don't understand. What is it you're trying to make the inert masses do, anyway?

JACK: Well, to begin with—it's dangerous when governments take it on themselves to solve the problems brought on by an illogical economic system. And it's foolish to expect that home relief programs will ever really cure poverty and unemployment. And when a depression hits, they're not even a good stop-gap. Not that I'm trying to run down your work, you understand...

A. WITH B.: Can't we talk about something else? I'm having an exhibition next month.

MISS MUFFET: (To Jack) Oh, that's all right. I know it myself. If we waited for the government to come thru with relief checks when and as they are needed, we'd have to watch some of our cases die of starvation or shoot themselves. We're not supposed to pamper our cases but we often wind up giving them money out of our own pockets. So much, in fact, that I still owe money that I had to borrow in order to send my folks presents. I was that broke by Christmas.

JILL: Modern psychiatry has something to say about the social "do-gooding" urge being a sublimation of frustrated sex impulses. What do you think, Miss Muffet?

(Miss Muffet is saved by a flying wedge of lesbians who choose this moment to storm the restaurant. They rush down the center aisle, upsetting loaded coat racks, overturning chairs and creating general pandemonium. They break formation on reaching the center doorway and descend the three or four steps leading to the rear section of the restaurant. For a moment they are lost to sight. Then they return, as though rebounding from the back wall. Shouting exaggeratedly "masculine" obscenities, they dash out into the street.)

RUBBERNECK at next table (His coffee has been dumped into his lap): Brrrrr: Let's get outta here. All these Reds And Queers.

2nd RUBBERNECK: Yeah: We oughta bring some of the boys down and clean up the whole damn Village.

GIRL RUBBERNECK: (In a lyric soprano) Oh, I think it's perfectly fabulous.

(The rubbernecks remain.)

A. WITH B. (Softly, to Jill) Want to come up to my studio? I'll show you my new paintings.

(They go.)

JACK: (To the stunned Miss Muffet) Come on. I'll take you to a forum.