The Anarcho-Leninist
Debate on the State

In the period immediately following
a successful mass uprising against the bourgeoisie,
should the form (or forms) of organization
adopted by the proletariat
to secure its ultimate liberation
be understood to be a state?
The Action • Comments • Questions • Links • Bugs

January 1, 2005

Knockout !!

Daniel goes down in defeat!

Last updated: January 1, 2005
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Do you have ideas or do ideas have you?
An Anarchist and a Leninist, firmly convinced, above all else, of the need to salvage revolutionary theory from its existing state of degradation, have agreed to collaborate in taking their political principles into the ring.

The sparks will fly in this clash of ideologies, as they beat the living dogma out of one another. The shit will be dredged from the shinola, and the fragile ideologies of both opponents, though painstakingly built over many years, may well be badly bruised (if not completely blown to pieces) by fight's end. Only one winner will emerge from this battle: revolutionary theory itself.

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The Action

All debate installments and relevant essays
are described and indexed on our action page

It's over !! Daniel is down for the count in Round 3 ...

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Debate News

  • January 1, 2005 • Daniel is down for the count in the final round !

    Not since Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in the first minute of the first round in May 1965 has there been such a decisive victory.

    Daniel never recovered from the beating that Ben administered in Round 3. Rather than attempt a reply, Daniel has completely collapsed. No one has seen or heard from Daniel since his last-minute Round 2 reply in July 2003.

    All attempts to contact Daniel have been unsuccessful. It appears that the strain of attempting to find scientific counter-arguments to Ben's The World for which We Fight has turned out to be overwhelming.

    The victor in this contest, Ben Seattle, has expressed his disappointment at the complete collapse of Daniel's revolutionary morale: "Ok, I always knew I would do well in this fight", he said, "but I had hoped that Daniel would take it seriously enough to simply admit that he could find no effective counter-arguments -- and to recognize the possibility that his original positions may have been mistaken."

    Ben is reported to be hopeful that Daniel will eventually regain his confidence as an activist with a strong interest in the nature of future society.

    "Whatever can be said about Daniel", Ben continued, "it has always been clear that he is an activist of high integrity. Theatrics aside, it is clear that the real winner in debates of this nature -- is revolutionary theory."

  • November 7, 2004 • Daniel is on the mat !
    The knockout count has begun: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ...

    It has been more than 7 months since Ben posted his third and concluding installment to this debate. Daniel has not replied. In fact, no one has heard from Daniel for 16 months now. It is beginning to appear that Daniel has collapsed ...

    The knockout count has begun ...

    If Daniel does not reply by the end of 2004, Ben intends to declare victory in the debate.

  • March 20, 2004 • After nine months of hard work -- Ben Seattle has replied!

    The World for which We Fight

    The world in which we live is a world of imperialist wars, racism, unemployment, poverty, repression, ecosystem destruction on a vast scale and a culture of escapism, ignorance and spam. This world has been created and shaped by the laws of commodity production. Millions of people want to see the emergence of a "better world" of peace, abundance and justice for all. Such a "better world" will require hundreds of thousands of activists to (1) understand the laws of commodity production, (2) grasp the potential of the emerging revolution in communications, (3) confront and resolve the crisis of theory, and (4) build a conscious mass movement aimed at the overthrow of the rule of the rich and the creation of a world where nothing need be bartered, traded, bought or sold.

    Six appendicies include "The Ascendency of the Self-Organizing Moneyless Economy" and criticism of "On the Anarchist Outlook of Noam Chomsky"

  • July 2, 2003 • A victory for principled discussion!

    Daniel comes out swinging!

    In a recent dramatic development Daniel has reappeared on the scene six months to the day after Ben's January 1 post. Daniel has come out swinging with hard-hitting questions for Ben to answer! See: An Anarchist Replies: installment 2. Daniel's dramatic and unexpected reappearance comes just as Ben was about to declare a "technical knock-out". Everyone understands, at this point, that Daniel's reappearance means that the debate is still alive--and an example of calm, principled discussion and debate is unfolding before a live audience.

  • June 27, 2003 • Daniel's fate unknown • Joe Golowka takes on Ben

    Is Daniel dead or alive?

    As of our press deadline there has been no news whatsoever concerning the fate of Daniel, the anarchist participant in this debate. No one has heard from Daniel since he posted a notice on February 19 that his reply to Ben would take longer than the 30 days originally agreed upon. Some believe that Daniel is rotting is an Australian prison somewhere as a result of his protest activities in defense of refugee rights. Others suspect that Daniel's computer hard drive crashed and he has simply never gotten around to checking his email. The possibility that Daniel has been kidnapped by aliens from outer space has not been confirmed--no one should be alarmed by this unconfirmed rumor. More prosaically, Daniel may simply be in a state of confusion after discovering, like the protagonist in the movie "The Matrix", that the issues involved in this debate ran far deeper than he originally realized.

    Followers of the debate are presently discussing whether the debate should be liquidated or whether it would be practical to assemble a team of anarchist-minded activists capable of working together to put out joint statements that would continue both (1) the debate installments and (2) the high level of integrity that we have seen from Daniel. To view (or participate in) this discussion please check out the pof-200 elist.

    Joe Golowka rolls up his sleeves--and replies to Ben

    In Daniel's absence, Joe Golowka has replied to a number of Ben's essays and questions. On June 17 Joe (1) posted a reply to Ben's Finding the Confidence to Build the Future and also (2) posted an essay titled Russian Revolution & Workers' States which replies to Ben's Why did Lenin suppress all competing trends after the civil war ended in 1920?

    Joe Golowka has also written (or forwarded) a number of other essays describing anarchist views concerning the nature of the state. To view (or participate in) this discussion please check out the pof-200 elist.

  • February 19, 2003 • Daniel's reply delayed • Joe criticises "Marxist-Leninism"

    Daniel's reply is delayed

    High quality theoretical discussion and debate requires careful thought and, often, a fair amount of time. Daniel explains in his Open Letter to Ben that "for the sake of submitting a reply that is worth taking the time to read, I will not submit it until I feel it is relatively complete ... it is better to submit something that is rigorous and complete, rather than something half-finished but on time" Daniel is currently aiming to complete his reply by the end of February but emphasizes that releasing a reply that is worth reading must be the main priority. Ben is in complete agreement. Daniel and Ben believe that readers and fans of this site will understand and agree with the need for more time.

    Marxist-Leninism: A Geriatric Disorder
    See post # 102-2036 by Joe R. Golowka on comments forum

    Based on his earlier essays (contributed under the name "Thinker12") Joe concentrates into a single essay the theoretical essence of what he believes is wrong with "Marxist-Leninism". Portions of Joe's essay are of only tangential relation to the debate question that is the focus of this site--but his essay represents a summation of the feelings of many anarchists--so many may find it worth reading. Joe presents quotes from Lenin which Joe believes proves that Lenin taught that workers' rule will always and everywhere take the form of a state in which a single party holds a monopoly of power. In addition, Joe presents a brief description of what he sees as the anarchist alternative to bourgeois/capitalist rule. (Note: Ben and the 8th floor have already replied to much of the political content of Joe's post in posts: # 102-2028, 102-2030, 102-2031 and 102-2034)

  • February 2, 2003 • new content and improved comment forms

    • Scott Wallace replies to Ben's Part 5 • January 28

    What "Crisis of Theory" ?
    See post # 115-7507 on forum # 115

    Scott Wallace argues that Daniel DeLeon's program of Socialist Industrial Unionism, largely ignored for the past 90 years, is a practical method for putting the means of production under democratic control

    • The 8th Floor replies to Ben's essay 160 • January 30
    The Information War: The other front
    See post # 160-9014 on forum # 160

    The coming "information war" between the classes is inevitable
    but the victory of the working class in this war is not, argues the 8th Floor,
    who plays Devil's advocate and argues against complacency.

    • Ben replies to various tangential points by Daniel • January 19 - 31
    Ben replies to a number of interesting issues raised by Daniel that were not directly related to the debate question. (posted to the pof-200 list)
    casual A • Does it make sense to lump people into a bucket depending on whatever "ism" they currently believe is the least fucked up ? • Are cults a cure for happiness? • Lenin's attitude toward socialism from below • The lack of an organizational revolutionary model
    casual B • Do Leninists want to shoot anarchists? • Can theory be decisive?
    casual C • The necessity of public debate • Is communism inevitable? • How to ask for directions at a gas station
    Now you can join this list and join the discussion!
    • Improved comment forms
    By popular demand a new comments form has been developed. Readers can now post comments of unlimited length. (You can use the html paragraph tag "<p>" in order to separate paragraphs.) Also there is a separate text box for you to create a title.

    The new comments form is available (so far) on 3 of our forums: The main comments forum and the forums for part 5 and essay 160

    • Debate response time extended to 45 days
    By mutual agreement the debate opponents, Daniel and Ben, have agreed to extend the debate response time from 30 days to 45 days. The basic reason is simple: quality work takes time. A further extension to 60 days is also possible. Loyal readers of this debate who are anxious to follow future installments are encouraged to read all the debate installments and to join the action on the anarcho-marxist rapprochement elist and the proletarian democracy elist and the pof-200 elist
  • January 1, 2003 • Ben replies to Daniel!
    Finding the Confidence
    to Build the Future

    How will the working class keep supply chains running
    and bourgeois apologists from flooding the airwaves
    on the morning after bourgeois rule is broken?

  • December 14, 2002 • Yhcrana Strikes Back!
    A Critical Analysis of Ben Seattle’s
    "The Future Transparent Workers’ State"

    "When the potential for a workers’ state to result in dictatorship is considered alongside the fact that statism will naturally create conflicting class interests, we must conclude that such a state cannot possibly be used to the advantage of the working class. And when we consider this conclusion alongside the fact that the workers themselves are perfectly capable of organizing a just society, then it becomes glaringly obvious that anarchism offers the working class a far more favourable system for social change than does Leninism or any other vanguardist ideology."

  • December 11 • Ben misses his deadline!
    However, Ben has not been slacking off. He has written an 8800 word magnum opus as part of his preparation to demolish Daniel's arguments:

    The Future Transparent
    Workers' State

    Will a workers' state be a
    brutal police state or
    a machine controlled by workers?

    Ben's first and second laws drive a stake thru the heart of the great fear nourished by anarchists and social-democrats alike. Ben also explains how all the sturm und drang about historical events of the 1920's and 1930's is rooted in the antagonist competition, today, for the warm, living bodies of activists. There is also a nice exposition on the nature and workings of the local left ecosystem.

  • "Leninists are trying to grab our spotlight with bullshit debates"
    Ben's announcement that he intended to post installments from this debate
    was not greeted with enthusiasm on the NorthWest Anarchy email list
    (8 posts from October 11-12)
  • November 11 • Daniel comes out fighting!
    Daniel replies to Ben Seattle's Parts 1, 2 and 3.
    • Me, my motivations, and my basic argument • Ben's Questions • Its time for one of us to answer the debate question • My Question for Ben
  • November 5 • A DeLeonist defends Revolutionary Cooperatives
    Scotch Wallace replies to Ben's Part 1. Scotch is an activist working in Brazil with the MTL (rough translation: Land for Workers and Liberty Movement) that has launched several revolutionary cooperatives that have become, he notes, centers of "organization and class struggle". Scotch writes: "I certainly agree that the working class will need a machine, an organization. I further agree that the working class had better take hold of the capitalist state, and I can only see this happening through a working class political movement. The only problem is that the capitalist state is something that was designed to be useful to the capitalist class, and is of dubious utility to the working class. We had better begin to build our machine before we take control of the state. [...] The DeLeonists have an interesting point of view on this question. They certainly occupy the middle ground between the Leninists and anarchists on this question."
  • November 3 • Another non-Ben essay
    As part of our effort to present content by authors other than Ben Seattle, we are pleased to present an essay by a former "Marxist-Leninist" who finds renewed inspiration in the Paris and Shanghai Communes of 1871 and 1927, which got things done using "anti-organization". Essay 156 is Communism Means Communes
  • Economic sectors in the transition period
    Ben has added a new chart with his guesswork as to the relative size (ie: as a percentage of the economy as a whole) of each of the three economic sectors as a function of time following the overthrow of bourgeois rule. Obviously, any chart like this will turn out to be wildly inaccurate, but it can help to illustrate the dynamic relationships between the different economic sectors, and the logical culmination of humanity's progress towards a self-organizing "gift economy".
  • October 26 • First anarchist essay
    Yhcrana • has replied to Essay # 154 How will workers control production? with Essay # 155 The Fallacy of the "Proletarian State". This is an important first step in bringing to this debate site a greater representation of the anarchist viewpoint. This site cannot be a success until it features a strong representation of anarchist views.

  • October 20 • Daniel has announced that he will reply by November 13

    "Just to let you know that I am working on a reply to your posts, and am planning to address all of your questions, whilst raising some of my own. ... Hopefully I will have finished the reply by early November ... since your final post was on October 13 ... I have until November 13 to post mine."

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The Debate Question

The bout will be focused on the following question:

In the period immediately following
a successful mass uprising
against the bourgeoisie,
should the form (or forms) of organization
adopted by the proletariat
to secure its ultimate liberation
be understood to be a state?

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The Combatants

In the RED corner, fighting for the Leninist team, stands Ben Seattle. Ben is an information theorist and infrastructure architect focused on building and using weapons of information war to serve the consciousness and organization of the proletariat. He was quoted in the pre-match press conference as saying:
"I have seen some of what passes for discussion and debate between "marxists" and anarchists and, as someone who considers himself a marxist, I am appalled at the evasion, self-deception and denial frequently practiced by "marxists" who are unable or unwilling to confront the residue of the period, in the twentieth century, during which "marxism" was captured by the enemies of the working class and converted into a state religion used to justify the permanent suppression of the independent political voice and independent political life of the working class. I believe that real discussion and debate, based not on evasion, but on a sincere belief in the power of principles is necessary. The time for such discussion and debate is now. And, having seen the work of Daniel and the anarcho-marxist list that he has created, I consider him to be a worthy opponent."
In the BLACK corner, fighting for the Anarchist team, stands Daniel X-Trot. Daniel is a reformed Trotskyist involved with the struggle for refugee rights in Australia. In response to Ben's provocations in the press conference, whilst being restrained by several security guards, Daniel was quoted as saying:
"I was once a Leninist like Ben, but was convinced through arguments conducted on the Anarcho-Marxist list, that the state is not simply the means by which one class maintains its rule over another, but specifically that it is the means by which a minority class maintains its rule over a majority class. I believe that the consequences of this question affect the entire character of the left. I always knew there was something wrong with the organisation I had been in, but could never find anything wrong with their theory, so I always assumed it was a problem with the personalities I was dealing with. Now, I believe it is leninist theory which leads to these problems in organization, and I have yet to encounter an intelligent defence of Leninist ideas, as opposed to outcries rooted in a love of orthodoxy and organizational ritual. Ben is an intelligent and passionate defender of Leninism, whom I have found to be loyal not to any organization, but only to the consistency of his own principles. I hope we can establish a spirit of collaboration in this debate, that sets a precedent for other debates between anarchists and leninists."
The class war continues folks, so stay tuned for the action!

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The Debate Rules
  • The fight will be fought over at least 3 rounds, with at least one post from each opponent in each round, for a total of at least 6 posts.

  • The opponents have agreed to respond fully and in a non-evasive manner to all questions asked of one another.

  • The opponents shall have no more than 45 days to respond to a post.

  • The ring for the fight shall be the Anarcho-Marxist Rapprochement and Proletarian Democracy elists and the website at:

  • The fight will also be broadcast to a few other progressive lists and Indymedia sites

  • Spectators should also feel free to jump in the ring and throw some posts at either or both of the opponents. This will be done by posting:

    Opponents are only obliged to address each other. However they may raise or respond to thoughtful posts brought up by spectators.

  • All posts shall be public domain, and may be reposted on any other list or website in whole or part. However we do ask, as a revolutionary courtesy, that you link to the website at

  • In the spirit of transparency, the negotiations between the combatants over the debate question and other matters relating to the debate are posted in the public archives of the pof-200 elist.

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    If so, this forum is for you! It offers greater flexibility with titles, summaries, paragraph separators and so forth. And the posts on this forum will be displayed separately from the "quick comments" where people say whatever happens to be on the top of their head.

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    If you want a more professional system--join the anarcho-marxist rapprochement
    or proletarian democracy elists

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Please Note: if you are using Netscape or some other browser other than a recent version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, then you may not be able to see user's comments, questions and poll results in the "floating frames" below. If this happens you can see these by clicking here and here and here.

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The Bullshit Meter

We use the most advanced technology here at the Anarcho-Leninist Debate on the State site (or at least we intend to eventually). We use conscious energy from our readers to help rate the debate installments and essays using a variety of polls. The debate installments contain polls covering polemical decency, evasiveness, relevance and insightfulness. The related essays section uses our "bullshit meter" as well as polls on relevance and insightfulness. We may also eventually use the bullshit meter to allow readers to rate formal posts.

If the animated gif is distracting you can freeze it by clicking the stop button on your browser. (You can also view the debate installments and the relevant essays in "full-screen" mode by clicking on the "full screen" link.)

Comment by Ben: We expect that some "very serious" people will object to our use of the bullshit meter on the grounds that it has a "vulgar" name and otherwise fails to promote a sufficiently formal and stuffy atmosphere in relation to the discussion of revolutionary theory.

The background here is that in the 1920's "marxism" was captured by the enemies of the working class and converted into a religion used to justify the permanent suppression of the independent political life of the workers. Part of this process involved presenting basic principles in an excessively formal way, as a way of intimidating workers and political activists.
We aim to cut thru the excessive formality, mumbo-jumbo and evasionism common to discussion of revolutionary theory and we want to encourage our readers to help us categorize the quality of the various posts. If a post is useful and interesting--then use the meter to help us out and let us (and other readers) know ! And if a post reflects the kind of denial, self-deception, evasionism and dishonest manipulation that seems to saturate most of the organized left--then call it like you see it.

And our challenge to the "serious people" is as follows: prove how serious you are by becoming involved in the debate and providing your own answers to the questions that Daniel and I are asking of one another.

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Debate Banned

This debate cannot be posted to the following elists:

Comment by Ben: I cannot post installments of this debate to the above lists because the moderators will not allow me to post. I have consistently kept my cool in the face of provocation and made every effort to conduct myself diplomatically on these lists, conscious of the need for intelligent listening, scientific argument and calm, respectful and principled debate in the struggle to overcome the present theoretical crisis and to cleanse marxism of the decay which has accumulated for many decades so that marxism may, again, emerge as a set of consistent, scientific ideas with the ability to guide a mass movement for the overthrow of the system of bourgeois rule.

Unfortunately the moderators of these lists, finding themselves unable to use scientific argument to oppose the principles that I have raised, have felt compelled to forbid discussion of these principles. And, in so doing, they have helped, in a small way, to illustrate the nature of the problem: the effect of reformism, sectarianism and third-world nationalism has left many of these people with their heads in places where light cannot reach their eyes.

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Our Sponsors

This fight jointly sponsored by:

    the anarcho-marxist rapprochement elist
(moderator/owner: Daniel)

The purpose of this forum is to facilitate respectful and fruitful discussion between anarchists and marxists from all shades of the ideological spectrum, for the purpose of helping all participants develop and elucidate their ideas through the dialectic of criticism and counter-criticism. In this way, we become more resonant agents in the (class) struggle to effectively sabotage Capital, its (state) apparatus/apex, and its Slaves, in all areas of our lives.

Our aim is to uncover, reclaim and invoke the original unity of anti-authoritarian and communistic ideas within the socialist tradition, and to discuss a variety of historical and emergent forms for channeling and invocating (bringing-into-the-world) our class Power. Our weapons include everything from revolutionary industrial unionism to sonic warfare; anything disrupting the mining of surplus-value by invoking our Power: the unity, dignity and sentience of our Class.

Warning: This list is unmoderated, but repetitive propaganda posting will not be tolerated.

and the proletarian democracy elist
(moderator/owner: Ben)

Working class rule has never existed except in embryonic form (the Paris Commune of 1871 and early Soviet Russia). Nevertheless it will emerge triumphant in the 21st century. How will a modern society suppress the former ruling bourgeoisie without also suppressing the independent political life of workers?

The primary obstacle to the development of a mass movement focused on the overthrow of bourgeois rule and its replacement with a system of workers' rule is the complete theoretical bankruptcy of nearly all conceptions of workers' rule. The proletarian democracy elist is focused on helping to overcome this theoretical bankruptcy. Topics discussed include: • competition of multiple workers' parties in the context of a stable, modern society • The theoretically degenerate "left ecosystem" that offers activists two equally stupid alternatives: (1) a "socialist" police state or (2) eternal bourgeois rule. • The sword of mass-based information war and the shield of separation of speech and property • The Transition Economy • Cargo Cult Leninism • Participatory Economics • the Self-Organizing Moneyless Economy

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