Readers may be wondering what happened to the planned final post on Trotsky’s “Terrorism and Communism”. It was meant to be a consideration of the issue of methods, of how a revolutionary but non-state force could establish stability and security without employing the methods of their enemies.
But I never quite got much in the way of clarity on the issue, so I’ve decided that the intelligent thing to do is to throw something else on the compost-pile in the hope of cross-germination. The thing is question is Machiavelli, who famously wrote in very hard-headed terms about how to get and acquire power, and whose writings (if I recall correctly) were much studied by many revolutionaries. So this is the first of what will hopefully be a few posts containing random reflections touched off by reading “The Prince” and “The Discourses”.
I should note, by the way, that it’s not like I’m some kind of enthusiast for civil war. There are very few things worse than civil war. Nor do I think civil war necessarily inevitable in the transition to anarchist communism. I do consider ‘revolution’ inevitable, by which I mean, a struggle, in which the holders of power lose power against their will. But that could take any number of forms, which would call for any number of strategies.
The reason the issue of civil war concerns me is that it is in a sense the worst-case scenario, and hence the most appropriate ‘test’ for an ideology or body of thought: when events have led up to a situation such as that in Russia, or Spain, or Germany, in the inter-war period, and a certain territory is contested by two implacably opposed forces, neither of which can permit the other to win, and both of whom have supporters everywhere – then all the easy answers become hardest. And so I feel drawn to consider the issue of how an anarchist communist (feminist anti-racist vegan etc.) force in such a situation should proceed.