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Socialisme ou Barbarie

Socialisme ou Barbarie (Socialism or Barbarism) was a French-based radical leftist group of the post-World War II period. It existed from 1948 until 1965, although in some ways it can be traced back to 1941. The animating peronality was Cornelius Castoriardis, aka Pierre Chalieu or Paul Cardan. The group originated in the Trotskyist Fourth International.

It was a group of intellectuals and workers governed by the idea that the main enemies of society were the bureaucracies which governed modern capitalism. They set out to document and analyse the struggle against the bureaucracy. Thus Issue No. 13 (January-March 1954) was devoted to the East German revolt of June 1953 and the strikes which erupted amongst several sectors of French workers that summer.

Following from the belief that the content of socialism was what the workers are already trying to work out in their daily struggles, the intellectuals encouraged the workers in the group to report on every aspect of their working lives.

They were linked to the Johnson-Forrest Tendency, which developed as a body of ideas within American Trotskyist organisations as part of Facing Reality.

This group was critical of Trotskyism, developing a rejection of the idea of a revolutionary party, and an emphasis on the importance of workers' councils. They became more and more critical of Marxism over time. In particular, Castoriardis came to reject the role of the law of value in economics, and rather stressed the difference between order-givers and order-takers. In later years he even came to deny the existence of any class struggle dynamic within the Soviet Union and became a Cold War apologist for Western military intervention as the only way such bureaucracies could be defeated.

There was a sister organisation in Great Britain called Solidarity.

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