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 Post subject: Class Organization: Form vs Content
PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:34 pm 
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I posted two quotes on facebook, from Otto Ruhle and Antonie Pannekoek.

"Organisation is the chief principle in the working class fight for emancipation. Hence the forms of this organisation constitute the most important problem in the practice of the working class movement. It is clear that these forms depend on the conditions of society and the aims of the fight. They cannot be the invention of theory, but have to be built up spontaneously by the working class itself, guided by its immediate necessities." - A. Pannekoek

and in response to someone saying "content > form" I posted:

"For the Marxist... form and content fit to each other and they cannot be divorced." - Otto Rühle

So, what's everyone's thoughts on the form vs content debate? Does content and form go together as two parts of a whole? Or does form not matter at all, so long as the content is correct?

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 Post subject: Re: Class Organization: Form vs Content
PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:15 pm 
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In case it is not apparent, the first and second quotations are not in contradiction with each other. Pannekoek appears to be saying that forms are important in a working class movement. If we've defined the movement to be a working class one, then Pannekoek has assumed the content is appropriate already, and that organizing this content into the correct form is the next step.

Which is, of course, precisely the opposite of what leftists and such do, they try to get their forms (hollow party apparatus, empty skeletons with no beating heart of working class struggle, or shambling zombies, failed attempts at resurrecting long-dead traditions) together in hopes of later incorporating the content into these forms.

So form is completely worthless without content, and content must chronologically precede form.

But without an appropriate form to inhabit, content can be strangled away, one would not wish to occupy a body in which ones heart is three sizes too small.

Form appears to me to be a specific question, I don't think there's a single permanent answer to "how should the working class be organized," those questions tend to be more situation specific "how should the working class in 2014 that is geographically isolated and racially/gender/etc. divided organize in order to make progress on x issue."

Content seems to be more general where you can answer the question and leave it at that, the form needs to be inhabited by working class interests, boom done gg no re g3tr3kt

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 Post subject: Re: Class Organization: Form vs Content
PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:35 pm 
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Broletariat wrote:
In case it is not apparent, the first and second quotations are not in contradiction with each other. Pannekoek appears to be saying that forms are important in a working class movement. If we've defined the movement to be a working class one, then Pannekoek has assumed the content is appropriate already, and that organizing this content into the correct form is the next step.

Which is, of course, precisely the opposite of what leftists and such do, they try to get their forms (hollow party apparatus, empty skeletons with no beating heart of working class struggle, or shambling zombies, failed attempts at resurrecting long-dead traditions) together in hopes of later incorporating the content into these forms.

So form is completely worthless without content, and content must chronologically precede form.

But without an appropriate form to inhabit, content can be strangled away, one would not wish to occupy a body in which ones heart is three sizes too small.

Form appears to me to be a specific question, I don't think there's a single permanent answer to "how should the working class be organized," those questions tend to be more situation specific "how should the working class in 2014 that is geographically isolated and racially/gender/etc. divided organize in order to make progress on x issue."

Content seems to be more general where you can answer the question and leave it at that, the form needs to be inhabited by working class interests, boom done gg no re g3tr3kt

I agree, and I think that's where Pannkeoek comes in. He's saying, and I believe rightfully so, that the form is going to be determined by "the conditions of society" and the "immediate necessities [of the working class]". If the content is bourgeois (capitalist) in nature, then bourgeois form follows suit and vica versa. If there is working class content, then the form will be working class (socialist) and vica versa.

What I find though, is often a misreading even when it comes to some self proclaimed left communists on the idea of "the Party". The bastardization of "the party" to necessarily mean a political party such as the KAPD, RSDLP, etc. You'll get people reading Bordiga thinking that "the party" means this literal political party which creates the working class content for the class itself, to which if the class follows suit, will achieve socialism. We can look to that dope thread from before to see how "the party" should be seen. Critique what you will of Raya Dunayevskaya, but near her death she intended to write on the "dialectics" of organization of the proletariat. From what little I know, from what I've read, she seems to agree with you (brole), myself, etc. Citing Marx calling Blanqui the heart of the proletarian party in France, and citing the Marxist content of the "apartidarismo" movement in Portugal. I digress...

When, in reality, these are as you say, "empty skeletons". The form develops spontaneously form the content that is derived in the class struggle, from the class itself, to be a form which reflects "the conditions of society" and the working class' "immediate necessities".

So, in the debate of content vs form, I think we can say "form through content", but not "content > form", as the latter suggest that the form has no connection to the content.

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