File: append33.txt

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anarchism 9.5-1
  • links: PTS
  • area: main
  • in suites: woody
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  • ctags: 493
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Reply to errors and distortions in Phil Mitchinson's 
_Marxism and direct action_

1. How does Mitchinson impoverish the politics of the direct action
   groups?
2. Does anarchism "juxtapose" theory and action?
3. How does Mitchinson distort the London May Day demo?
4. Do anarchists really think "the bosses will do nothing to defend
   their system"?
5. How does Mitchinson misrepresent anarchist organisation?
6. How does Mitchinson define anarchism wrongly?
7. Does anarchism reject fighting for reforms?
8. Does anarchism see the state as the root of all problems?
9. Why is Mitchinson wrong about the "Abolishion [i.e. Abolition] of 
   the state"?
10. Why is Mitchinson's comment that we face either "socialism or
    barbarism" actually undermine his case?
11. Why is Mitchinson wrong to assert anarchists do not believe 
    in defending a revolution?
12. Would the "workers' state" really be different, as Mitchinson claims?
13. Is the Marxist "worker's state" really the rule of one class
    over another?
14. Why do anarchists reject the Marxist notion of "conquest of power"?
15. What caused the degeneration of the Russian Revolution?
16. Did anarchists reject "the need for organisation in the shape of
    trade unions"?
17. Why do anarchists reject political activity?
18. How do anarchists struggle for reforms under capitalism?
19. How does Mitchinson distorts the use of the term "Self-reliance"?
20. Is anarchism an example of "Philosophical idealism"?
21. How is Mitchinson's critique self-contradictory?
22. How did Trotsky make the trains run on time?
23. Can centralised planning meet the needs of the whole of society?
24. Is technology neutral?
25. Do anarchists ignore the "strength of the working class"?
26. What does Mitchinson's article tell about the nature of Trotskyism?

Phil Mitchinson essay _Marxism and direct action_ attempts to 
provide a "Marxist" (i.e. Leninist/Trotskyist) critique of the 
current "Direct Action" based groups which came to notice at 
various demonstrations across the world -- most famously in 
Seattle, November 1999. He, correctly, links these groups and 
currents with anarchism. However, his "critique" is nothing but 
a self-contradictory collection of false assertions, lies and 
nonsense, as we shall prove (indeed, his "critique" seems more 
the product of envy at anarchist influence in these movements 
than the product of scholarship or objectivity). That is why we 
have decided to reply to his article -- it gives us an ideal
possibility to indicate the depths to which some Marxists will
swoop to distort anarchist politics and movements.

1. How does Mitchinson impoverish the politics of the direct action
   groups?

He begins by noting that the "recent anti-capitalist demonstrations 
have brought together many different groups protesting against 
the destruction of the environment, racism, the exploitation of 
the third world, and also many ordinary young people protesting 
at the state of things in general. They have certainly shattered 
the myth that everyone is happy and that the capitalist system is 
accepted as the only possible form of society." Of course, this
is correct. What he fails to mention is that these demonstrations
and groups managed to do this *without* the "guidance" of any
Leninist party -- indeed, the vanguard parties are noticeable 
by their absence and their frantic efforts to catch up with 
these movements. This, of course, is not the first time this
has happened. Looking at every revolution we discover the
"revolutionary" parties either playing no role in their early
stages or a distinctly counter-productive role. 

He states that "[a]ll around us we see the misery this system 
causes. Famine, war, unemployment, homelessness and despair, these 
are the violent acts that the system perpetrates against millions 
every day." However, as much as these aspects of capitalism are
terrible, the anti-capitalist revolt expressed by many within the
direct action groups is much wider than this (standard) leftist
list. The movements, or at least parts of them, have a much more
radical critique of the evils of capitalism -- one that bases it
self on abolishing alienation, domination, wage slavery, 
oppression, exploitation, the spiritual as well as material 
poverty of everyday life, by means of self-management, autonomy, 
self-organisation and direct action. They raise the possibility
of playful, meaningful, empowering and productive self-activity 
to replace "tedious, over-tiring jobs" as well as the vision of
a libertarian communist (i.e. moneyless, stateless) society.
Mitchinson's account of the movements he is trying to critique
is as poverty stricken intellectually as the capitalist system
these movements are challenging. Leninists like Mitchinson, 
instead of a swallowing a dose of humility and learning from 
the very different ways this new wave of protest is being framed, 
are trying to squeeze the protest into their own particular 
one-dimensional model of revolution. Being unable to understand 
the movements he is referring to, he pushes their vision into the 
narrow confines of his ideology and distorts it.

He goes on to state that "[w]itnessing and experiencing this 
destruction and chaos, young people everywhere are driven to 
protest." Of course, anyone who is part of these movements
will tell you that a wide cross-section of age groups are
involved, not just "young people." However, Mitchinson's
comments on age are not surprising -- ever since Lenin,
Bolshevik inspired Marxists have attributed other, more
radical, political theories, analyses and visions to the
alleged youth of those who hold these opinions (in spite of
the facts). In other words, these ideas, they claim, are the 
produce of immaturity, inexperience and youth and will, 
hopefully, be grown out of. Just as many parents mutter to 
themselves that their anarchist (or socialist, homosexual, 
whatever) children will "grow out of it", Lenin and his 
followers like Mitchinson consider themselves as the wiser, 
older relations (perhaps a friendly Uncle or a Big Brother?) 
of these "young" rebels and hope they will "grow out of" 
their infantile politics. 

The word patronising does not do Mitchinson justice!

2. Does anarchism "juxtapose" theory and action?

Now Mitchinson launches into his first strawman of his essay.
He asserts:

"However, the idea of getting involved in a political organisation
is a turn off for many, who understandably want to do something, and
do something now. In reality, the attempt to juxtapose organisation,
discussion, and debate with 'direct action' is pure sophistry."

We are not aware of any anarchist or direct action group which 
does not discuss and debate their actions, the rationale of their
actions and the aims of their actions. These demonstrations that
"young people" apparently turn up at are, in fact, organised by
groups who have meetings, discuss their ideas, their objectives,
their politics, and so on. That much should be obvious. In 
reality, it is Mitchinson who expresses "pure sophistry," not
the "many" who he claims act without thinking. And, of course,
he fails to mention the two days of meetings, discussion and
debate which took place the Saturday/Sunday before the May Day
actions in London. To mention the May Day 2000 conference would
confuse the reader with facts and so goes unmentioned.

He then asserts that the "ideas of Marxism are not the subject of 
academic study, they are precisely a guide to action." Of course,
we have to point out here that the Marxist Parties Mitchinson urges 
us to build did not take part in organising the actions he praises
(a few members of these parties did come along, on some of them,
to sell papers, of course, but this is hardly a "vanguard" role). 
In general, the vanguard parties were noticeable by their absence 
or, *at best*, their lack of numbers and involvement. If we judge
people by what they do, rather than what they say (as Marx urged),
then we must draw the conclusion that the Marxism of Mitchinson
is a guide to inaction rather than action.

Mitchinson continues by stating Marxists "are all in favour of action, 
but it must be clearly thought out, with definite aims and objectives 
if it is to succeed. Otherwise we end up with directionless action."
It would be impolite to point out that no anarchist or member of
a direct action organisation would disagree with this statement.
Every anti-capitalist demonstration has had a definite aim and
objective, was clearly thought out and organised. It did not
"just happen." Mitchinson presents us with a strawman so fragile
that even a breeze of reality would make it disintegrate.

The question is, of course, what kind of organisation do we create,
how do we determine our aims and objectives. That is the key question,
one that Mitchinson hides behind the strawman of organisation versus
non-organisation, planned action versus "directionless action." To
state it bluntly, the question is actually one of do we organise in
an authoritarian manner or a libertarian manner, not whether or not
we organise. Mitchinson may not see the difference (in which case he
thinks all organisation is "authoritarian") but for anarchists and
members of direct action groups the difference is vital.

He goes on to state:

"Furthermore without political organisation who decides what action is
to be taken, when and where? There can be no greater direct action than 
the seizing of control over our own lives by the vast majority of 
society. In that act lies the essence of revolution. Not just an 
aimless 'direct action' but mass, democratic and conscious action, 
the struggle not just against capitalism, but for a new form of 
society, socialism."

Again Mitchinson presents us with the strawman of "conscious" action
verses "aimless" action. As noted above, the anti-capitalist demonstrations
*were* organised -- non-hierarchical groups decided collectively what
action was to be organised, when and where. The real question is
not organisation versus non-organisation but rather authoritarian
versus libertarian organisation. Either decision making from the
bottom up or decision making from the top-down. As for there
bring "no greater direct action" than revolution, well, anarchists
have been saying that for over one hundred years -- we don't need a 
Marxist to tell us our own ideas!

3. How does Mitchinson distort the London May Day demo?

He then gets to the crux of the issue -- "So, what comes next?" He
goes on to assert:

"The organisers of the demo tell us this was not a protest in 
order to secure changes, reforms apparently are a waste of time. 
No, simply by participating in what they call the 'carnival' we become 
better people, and eventually more and more people will participate, 
until a critical mass is reached and we all ignore capitalism, don't 
pay our bills, until they go away. What an infantile flight of fancy!" 

Yes, indeed, what an infantile flight of fancy! However, the flight
is purely Mitchinson's. No one in RTS (or any other anarchist)
makes such a claim. Yes, RTS urged people to take part in a carnival
-- as they argue, "[m]any of the great moments of revolutionary
history were carnivalesque . . . But we are not waiting for these
moments of carnivalesque revolution, we are trying to merge them
into every moment of everyday life. We cannot live on one-off days,
a letting of stream, safety values for society enabling life to
return to normal the next day or for hierarchical domination to
return, as did in so many historical revolutions. Revolution is
not an act but a process and carnival can prepare us for this
process." [_Maybe_, p. 9] Thus "carnival" is *not* seen as an
end to itself (as Mitchinson asserts) but rather an aid to
the creation of a revolutionary movement. Mitchinson confuses
a celebration of May Day with an insurrection! In the words
of _Maybe_:

"And although Mayday is just one day, it seeks to incite
continuous creativity and action towards a radical remaking
of everyday life. Steeped in a history of daily struggle, of
'day in day out' organising for social change, but pulsating
with the celebration of renewal and fresh hope that returns
with the coming of summer. Mayday will always be a pivotal
moment." [_Maybe_, p. 5]

_Maybe_ is clear -- we need to organise the daily struggle and 
enjoy ourselves while we are at it. Mitchinson' distortion of
that message is pitiful.

4. Do anarchists really think "the bosses will do nothing to defend
   their system"?

He continues:

"The genuine intentions of those protesting is not open to question. 
However, the way to hell is paved with many such good intentions. Are 
we really to believe that whilst we all 'place ourselves outside of 
capitalism', the bosses will do nothing to defend their system? This 
ostrich like tactic of burying our heads in the sand until they go 
away is not serious. Nor is it action. In reality, it is irresponsible, 
indirect inaction."

The comment about "indirect inaction" is somewhat funny coming from
a political tendency which did not produce a movement of the importance
of Seattle 1999 and is now trying to recruit from it. But it would
be interesting to discover in which anarchist work comes the notion
that we do not think the bosses will not defend their system. Yes,
Lenin did claim that anarchists would "lay down their arms" after
a revolution, but as Murray Bookchin notes, anarchists are "not so
naive as to believe anarchism could be established overnight. In
imputing this notion to Bakunin, Marx and Engels wilfully distorted
the Russian anarchist's views. Nor did the anarchists . . . believe
that the abolition of the state involved 'laying down arms' 
immediately after the revolution. . ." [_Post-Scarcity Anarchism_,
p. 213] Bakunin, for example, thought the "Commune would be
organised by the standing federation of the Barricades" and
that "the federation of insurgent associations, communes and
provinces . . . [would] organise a revolutionary force capable
of defeating reaction . . . it is the very fact of the expansion
and organisation of the revolution for the purpose of self-defence
among the insurgent areas that will bring about the triumph of
the revolution." [_Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings_, p. 170
and p. 171]

Moreover, RTS actions have continually came into conflict with
the state and its forces of defence. Mitchinson seems to think
that the participants of RTS and its demonstrations are incapable
of actually understanding and learning from their experiences --
they have seen and felt the capitalist system defending itself.
Anyone on the J18, N30, A16 or M1 demos or just watching them
on TV would have seen the capitalist system defending itself
with vigour -- and the protestors *fighting back.* Rather than
acknowledge the obvious, Mitchinson asserts nonsense. The only 
person burying their head in the sand is Mitchinson if he ignores
the experiences of his own senses (and the basic principles of
materialism) in favour of an ideological diatribe with no basis
in reality.

What *is* "irresponsible" is misrepresenting the viewpoints of
your enemies and expecting them not to point our your errors.

5. How does Mitchinson misrepresent anarchist organisation?

Mitchinson now moves onto the real enemy, anarchism. He asserts 
that:

"Anarchist organisations have always hidden behind a facade of 
'self-organisation'. They claim to have no leaders, no policy etc. 
Yet who decides?"

Yes, anarchist groups claim to have no leaders but they do not
claim to be without policies. Anyone with any comprehension of
anarchist theory and history would know this (just one example,
Bakunin argued that we needed to establish "a genuine workers'
program -- the policy of the International [Workers Association]"
["The Policy of the International", _The Basic Bakunin_, p. 100]). 

Mitchinson asks the question, if we do not have leaders, "who 
decides?" That in itself exposes the authoritarian nature of his 
politics and the Bolshevik style party. He obviously cannot 
comprehend that, without leaders deciding things for us, we 
manage our own affairs -- we decide the policy of our organisations
collectively, by the direct democracy of the membership. 
Forgetting his early comment of that there is "no greater 
direct action than the seizing of control over our own lives 
by the vast majority of society," he now asks how the vast
majority of society can seize control over our own lives
without leaders to tell us what to do!

Anarchists reject the idea of leaders -- instead we argue
for the "leadership of ideas." As we discuss this concept in
section J.3.6 and so will not do so here. However, the key
concept is that anarchists seek to spread their ideas by
discussing their politics *as equals* in popular organisations
and convincing the mass assemblies of these bodies by 
argument. Rather than using these bodies to be elected to
positions of power (i.e. leadership as it is traditionally
understood) anarchists consider it essential that power
remains in the hands of the base of an organisation and
argue that the policies of the organisation be decided
by the member directly in assemblies and co-ordinated
by conferences of mandated, recallable delegates (see
section A.2.9 for more discussion). 

This is to be expected, of course, as anarchists believe 
that a free society can only be created by organisations
which reflect the principles of that society. Hence we
see policies being made by those affected by them and
oppose attempts to turn self-managed organisations into
little more than vehicles to elect "leaders." A free
society is a self-managed one and can only be created by
self-management in the class struggle or revolutionary 
process. All that revolutionaries should do is try and
influence the decisions these organisations make by 
discussing our ideas with their membership -- simply
as any other member could in the mass assemblies the 
organisation is built upon. Any attempt by revolutionaries
to seize power upon behalf of these organisations means
destroying their revolutionary potential and the 
revolution itself by replacing the participation of
all with the power of a few (the party).

Thus anarchist theory and practice is very clear on the
question "who decides" -- it is those who are affected by
the question via group assemblies and conferences of 
mandated, recallable delegates. Rather than have "no
policy," policy in an anarchist organisation is decided
directly by the membership. Without "leaders" -- without
power delegated into the hands of a few -- who else *could*
make the decisions and policy? That Mitchinson cannot
comprehend this implies that he cannot envision a society
without a few telling the many what to do.

He continues:

"If there was no leadership and no policy then there could 
be no action of any kind. The recent demonstrations have been
highly organised and co-ordinated on an international scale. 
Good, so it should be. However, without organisation and democracy 
no-one, except a clique at the top, has any say in why, where and 
when. Such a movement will never bring international capital 
trembling to its knees."

Firstly, we must point out that these demonstrations which have
spread like wild-fire across the world have, most definitely,
made international capital nervous. Secondly, we must point
out that no Leninist vanguards were involved in organising them
(a few members turned up to sell papers later, once their
significance had registered with the party leadership). Thirdly, 
we must point out that no Leninist vanguard has made "international
capital" tremble in the knees for quite a few decades -- since
1917, only Stalinist vanguards have had any effect (and, of
course, "international capital" soon realised they could work 
with the Bolsheviks and other "Communist" leaders as one 
ruling elite with another). It seems somewhat ironic that a 
Leninist, whose movement was noticeable in its absence, mocks 
the first movement to scare the ruling class for nearly 30 years.

Secondly, we must note that the policy decided upon by the
multitude of groups across the world was decided upon by the 
members of those groups. They practised organisation and 
*direct* democracy to make their policy decisions and
implement them. Given that Mitchinson wonders how people
can make decisions without leaders, his comments about
rule by "a clique at the top" are somewhat ironic. As the
history of the Russian Revolution indicates, a highly 
centralised state system (which mimics the highly
centralised party) soon results in rule by the top
party officials, not by the mass of people.

Mitchinson again decides to flog his fallacy of organisation
versus non-organisation:

"One of the best known anarchist groups in Britain, Reclaim the 
Streets, save the game away in their spoof Mayday publication, 
'Maybe'. Incidentally, who wrote these articles, who decided what
went in and what didn't, who edited it, where did the money come
from? Our intention here is not to accuse them of dodgy financing 
- simply to point out that this 'no leaders' stuff is a 
self-organised myth."

It states who put together _MayDay_ on page 5 of the paper. It
was "an organic group of 'guerrilla gardeners'" -- in other
words, members of _Reclaim the Streets_ who desired to produce
the paper for that event. These people would have joined the
group producing it via the weekly RTS open meetings and would
have been held accountable to that same open meeting. No great
mystery there -- if you have even the slightest vision of how
a non-hierarchical organisation works. Rather than being a "myth",
RTS shows that we do not need to follow leaders -- instead we
can manage our own organisations directly and freely participate
in projects organised via the main open meeting. Writing articles,
editing, and so on are not the work of "leaders" -- rather they
are simply tasks that need doing. They do not imply a leadership
role -- if they did then every hack journalist is a "leader."

He continues to attack what he cannot understand:

"On page 20 they announce 'Reclaim the streets is non-hierarchical,
spontaneous and self-organised. We have no leaders, no committee, 
no board of directors, no spokes people. There is no centralised unit
for decision making, strategic planning and production of ideology.
There is no membership and no formalised commitment. There is no
master plan and no pre-defined agenda.'

"There are two problems here. Firstly who is 'we', who made the
above statement, and who decided it. Secondly, if it were true, it
would not be something of which to be proud. Whether you like it or
not, there is no way the capitalist system will ever be overthrown by
such a haphazard and slipshod method."

Taking the first issue, "who is 'we,' who made the above statement,
and who decided it." Why, it is the membership of RTS -- decided
via their weekly open meeting (as mentioned on that page). That
Mitchinson cannot comprehend this says a lot about his politics
and vision. He cannot comprehend self-management, direct democracy.
He seems not to be able to understand that groups can make decisions
collectively, without having to elect leaders to make any decisions 
for them.

Taking the second issue, it is clear that Mitchinson fails to
understand the role of RTS (and other anarchist groups). Anarchists
do not try to overthrow capitalism *on behalf of others* -- they
urge them to overthrow it themselves, by their own direct action.
The aim of groups like RTS is to encourage people to take direct
action, to fight the powers that be and, in the process, create
their own organs of self-management and resistance. Such a
process of working class self-activity and self-organisation
in struggle is the starting process of every revolution. People
in struggle create their own organisations -- such as soviets
(workers' councils), factory committees, community assemblies -- 
through which they start to manage their own affairs and, 
hopefully, overthrow the state and abolish capitalism. It is 
not the task of RTS to overthrow capitalism, it is the task 
of the whole population.

Moreover, many anarchists do see the need for a specific anarchist
organisation -- three national federations exist in the UK, for
example. RTS does not need to organise in this fashion simply
because such groups *already* exist. It is not its role -- its
role is a means to encourage self-activity and direct action
as well as raising libertarian ideas in a popular manner. For
more "serious" political organisation, people can and do turn
to other anarchist groups and federations.

The street carnival principle of RTS is precisely the type of
organising anarchists excel at -- namely fun organising that 
catches the fun and excitement of popular direct action and, 
most importantly, *gets people out on the streets* -- something 
Marxists have failed to do very well (if at all). It's a small 
step from organising a street carnival to further, "more serious" 
organising. Anarchist revolution is about bringing joy back into 
human lives, not endless (and often dishonest) polemics on the 
ideas of long dead philosophers. Rather, it is about creating a 
philosophy which, while inspired by past thinkers, is not 
subservient to them and aims to base itself on *current* 
struggles and needs rather than past ones. It is also about 
building a new political culture, one that is popular, active, 
street-based (versus ivory-tower elitist), and above all, 
fun. Only this way can we catch the imagination of everyday 
people and move them from resigned apathy to active resistance. 
The Marxists have tried their approach, and it has been a 
resounding failure -- everyday people consider Marxism at 
best irrelevant, and at worst, inhuman and lifeless. 
Fortunately, anarchists are not following the Marxist 
model of organising, having learned from history

Thus Mitchinson fails to understand the role of RTS or its
position in the UK anarchist movement.

He then asserts:

"There is no theory, no coherent analysis of society, no alternative 
programme. To brag of a lack of direction, a lack of purpose and a 
lack of coherence, in the face of such a highly organised and brutal 
enemy as international capital, is surely the height of irresponsibility."

Firstly, anyone reading _Maybe_ or other RTS publications will
quickly see there is theory, coherent analysis and an alternative
vision. As Mitchinson has obviously read _Maybe_ we can only
assume his claim is a conscious lie. Secondly, RTS in the quoted
passage clearly do *not* "brag of a lack of direction, a lack of
purpose and a lack of coherence." They do state there is no
"centralised unit for decision-making" -- which is true, they
have a *decentralised* unit for decision-making (direct democracy
in open meetings). There is "no master-plan," etc. as any plans 
are decided upon by these open meetings. There is no pre-defined
agenda because, as a democratic organisation, it is up to the
open meeting to define their own agenda.

It is only Mitchinson's *assumption* that only centralised parties,
with leaders making the decisions, can have "direction," "purpose"
and "coherence." As can be seen *by their actions* that RTS *does* 
have direction, purpose and coherence. Needless to say, while
other anarchists may be critical about RTS and its actions, we
do not deny that it has been an effective organisation, involving
a great many people in its actions who would probably not be involved 
in political activities. Rather than being "irresponsible," RTS
shows the validity of libertarian organisation and its effectiveness.
No Marxist Party has remotely approached RTS's successes in terms
of involving people in political actions. This is hardly a surprise.

6. How does Mitchinson define anarchism wrongly?

Mitchinson states:

"In reality the leaders of these movements are not devoid of
ideology, they are anarchists. Anarchism is not simply a term of
abuse, it comes from the Greek word 'anarchos' meaning 'without
government'. To anarchists the state - the institutions of
government, the army, police, courts etc. - is the root cause 
of all that is wrong in the world. It must be destroyed and 
replaced not with any new form of government, but the immediate 
introduction of a stateless society."

Firstly, "anarchos" actually means "without authority," or
"contrary to authority" (as Kropotkin put it). It does *not*
mean "without government" as such (although it commonly is
used that way). This means that anarchism does *not* consider 
the state as "the root of all that is wrong with the world" --
we consider it, like capitalism (wage slavery), patriarchy,
hierarchy in general, etc., as a symptom of a deeper problem,
namely authority (or, more precisely, authoritarian social
relations, hierarchical power -- of which class power is a 
subset). Therefore anarchist theory is concerned with more than 
just the state -- it is against capitalism just as much as 
it is against the state, for example.

Thus, to state the obvious, as anyone familiar with anarchist 
theory could tell you, anarchists do not think that "the state" 
is the root of all that is wrong in the world. Marxists have
asserted this for years -- unfortunately for them, repetition
does not make something true! Rather, anarchists see the
state as *one* of the causes of evil in the world and the main
protector of all the rest. We also stress that in order to
combat all the evils, we need to destroy the state so that
we are in a position to abolish the other evils by being in
control of our own lives. For example, in order to abolish
capitalism -- i.e. for workers' to seize the means of life --
the state, which protects property rights, must be destroyed.
Without doing so, the police and army will come and take
back that which the workers' have taken. However, we do not
claim that the state causes all of our problems -- we do
claim that getting rid of the state is an essential act,
on which many others are dependent.

As Brian Morris argues: 

"Another criticism of anarchism is that it has a narrow
view of politics: that it sees the state as the fount of
all evil, ignoring other aspects of social and economic
life. This is a misrepresentation of anarchism. It partly
derives from the way anarchism has been defined, and
partly because Marxist historians have tried to exclude
anarchism from the broader socialist movement. But when 
one examines the writings of classical anarchists. . .
as well as the character of anarchist movements. . . it is 
clearly evident that it has never had this limited vision.
It has always challenged all forms of authority and exploitation, 
and has been equally critical of capitalism and religion as it 
has been of the state." ["Anthropology and Anarchism," _Anarchy: 
A Journal of Desire Armed_, no. 45, p, p. 40]

As can be seen, Mitchinson repeats into the usual Marxist straw 
man.

7. Does anarchism reject fighting for reforms?

After asserting the usual Marxist falsehoods about anarchism, 
he moves on:

"This opposition to the state and authority leads to a rejection of
participation in any form of parliamentary activity, belonging to a
political party or fighting for any reforms, that is political change
through the state."

Again Mitchinson smuggles in a falsehood into his "analysis." 
Anarchists do not reject "fighting for any reforms" -- far from
it. We do reject parliamentary activity, that is true, but we
think that reforms can and must be won. We see such reforms
coming via the direct action of those who desire them -- for 
example, by workers striking for better working conditions, more 
wages and so. Anyone with even a passing awareness of anarchist
thought would know this. Indeed, that is what direct action
means -- it was coined by French anarcho-syndicalists to describe
the struggle for reforms within capitalism! 

As for rejecting parliamentary activity, yes, anarchists do
reject this form of "action." However, we do so for reasons
Mitchinson fails to mention. Section J.2 of the FAQ discusses
the reasons why anarchists support direct action and oppose
electioneering as a means of both reform and for revolution.

Similarly, anarchists reject political parties but we do not
reject political organisations -- i.e. specific anarchist 
groups. The difference is that political parties are generally
organised in a hierarchical fashion and anarchist federations
are not -- we try and create the new world when we organise
rather than reproducing the traits of the current, bourgeois, 
one. 

Needless to say, Mitchinson seeks to recruit the people he is
slandering and so holds out an olive-branch by stating that
"[o]f course, Marxism is opposed to the brutal domination of the
capitalist state too. Marx saw a future society without a state but
instead 'an association in which the free development of each is the
condition for the free development of all.' That is a self-governing
people. The question however is how can this be achieved?"

Yes, as Bakunin argued, Marxists do not reject our programme out of
hand. They claim to also seek a free society and so Mitchinson is
correct -- the question is how can this be achieved. Anarchists argue
that a self-governing people can only be achieved by self-governing
means -- "Bakunin . . . advocated socialist (i.e., libertarian) means
in order to achieve a socialist (i.e., libertarian) society." [Arthur
Lehning, "Introduction", _Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings_, p. 27]
Thus means and ends must be consistent -- revolutionary movements
must be organised in a way that reflects the society we want to create.
Thus a self-governing society can only be created by self-governing
organisations and a self-governing movement. If the revolutionary
movement reflect bourgeois society -- for example, is hierarchical --
then it cannot create a free society. That is the rationale for the
way anarchist groups organise, including RTS. Marxists, as we will see,
disagree and consider how a revolutionary movement organises itself
as irrelevant.

Also, we must note that earlier Mitchinson denied that a self-governing
organisation could exist when he was discussing RTS. He asserted that
"[i]f there was no leadership and no policy then there could be no 
action of any kind." Now he claims that it is possible, but only 
*after* the revolution. We will note the obvious contradiction --
how do people become capable of self-government post-revolution if
they do not practice it pre-revolution and, obviously, during the
revolution?

8. Does anarchism see the state as the root of all problems?

Mitchinson moves on to assert that:

"Since anarchism sees in the state the root of all problems, it 
therefore believes these problems will be resolved by the destruction 
of the state."

As noted above, anarchists do *not* see in the state the root of all
problems. We do urge the destruction of the state but that is because
the state is the protector of existing society and in order to transform
that society we need get rid of it. Kropotkin, for example, was well
aware of "the evil done by Capitalism and the State that supports it."
[_Evolution and Environment_, p. 83] Rather than seeing the State as
the root of all evil, anarchists are well aware that evil is caused
by many things -- particularly capitalism -- and that the state, as
well as causing its own evils, supports and protects others. Thus
anarchists are aware that the state is a tool for minority rule and
only one source of evil.

Mitchinson, after misrepresenting anarchist thought, states:

"Marxism, meanwhile, sees the division of society into classes, a minority 
who own the means of producing wealth, and the majority of us whose labour 
is the source of that wealth, as the crux of the matter. It is this class 
division of society which gives rise to the state - because the minority 
need a special force to maintain their rule over the majority - which 
has evolved over thousands of years into the complicated structures we 
see today."

Anarchists would agree, as far as this goes. Bakunin argued that the State 
"is authority, domination, and forced, organised by the property-owning
and so-called enlightened classes against the masses." He saw the social 
revolution as destroying capitalism and the state at the same time, that 
is "to overturn the State's domination, and that of the privileged classes 
whom it solely represents." [_The Basic Bakunin_, p. 140] The idea that
the state is a means to ensure class rule is one anarchists, as can be
seen, would agree with.

However, anarchists do not reduce their understanding of the state to 
this simplistic Marxist analysis. While being well aware that the state
is the means of ensuring the domination of an economic elite, anarchists
recognise that the state machine also has interests of its own. The
state, for anarchists, is the delegation of power into the hands of
a few. This creates, by its very nature, a privileged position for
those at the top of the hierarchy:

"A government, that is a group of people entrusted with making the
laws and empowered to use the collective force to oblige each
individual to obey them, is already a privileged class and cut
off from the people. As any constituted body would do, it will
instinctively seek to extend its powers, to be beyond public
control, to impose its own policies and to give priority to
its special interests. Having been put in a privileged position,
the government is already at odds with the people whose strength
it disposes of." [Malatesta, _Anarchy_, p. 34]

Thus, while it is true that the state (particularly under capitalism)
acts as the agent of the capitalist class, it does not mean that
it does not have interests of its own. The State has developed as
a means of imposing minority rule -- that much anarchists and
Marxists can agree upon. To do so it has developed certain features,
notably delegation of power into the hands of a few. This feature 
of the state is a product of its function. However, function and
feature are inseparable -- retain the feature and the function
will be re-established. In other words, maintain the state and
minority rule will be re-established.

The simplistic class analysis of the state has always caused
Marxists problems, particularly Trotskyists who used it to deny
the obvious class nature of Stalinist Russia. Rather than see
the USSR as a class society in which the State bureaucracy 
exploited and oppressed the working class for its own benefits,
Trotskyists argued it was an autocratic, privileged bureaucracy
in a classless society. As anarchist Camillo Berneri argued:

"In history there is no absurdity. An autocratic bureaucracy
is a class, therefore it is not absurd that it should exist in
a society where classes remain -- the bureaucratic class and
the proletarian class. If the USSR was a 'classless' society,
it would also be a society without a bureaucratic autocracy,
which is the natural fruit of the permanent existence of the
State." ["The State and Classes", _Cienfuegos Press Anarchist
Review_, no, 4, p. 49]

The weakness (or incompleteness) of the Marxist understanding of
the state can best be seen by Trotsky's and his followers lack
of understanding of Stalinism. As the state owned all the land
and means of production, there could be no classes and so the
Soviet Union must be a classless society. However, the obvious
privileges of the bureaucracy could not be denied (as Trotsky
was once a leading bureaucrat, he saw and experienced them at 
first hand). But as the state bureaucracy could not be a class 
and have class interests (by definition), Trotsky could not see
the wood for the trees. The actual practice of Leninism in power
is enough to expose its own theoretical weaknesses.

9. Why is Mitchinson wrong about the "Abolishion [i.e. Abolition] of 
   the state"?

Mitchinson moves on to argue that the "modern capitalist state can 
wear many guises, monarchy, republic, dictatorship, but in the end 
its purpose remains the same, to maintain the minority rule of the 
capitalist class. Marxism's goal therefore is not simply to abolish 
the state, but to put an end to class society." Needless to say,
that is also anarchism's goal. As Bakunin argued, "political
transformation . . . [and] economic transformation . . . must be
accomplished together and simultaneously." [_The Basic Bakunin_,
p. 106] So, as can be seen, anarchism's goal is not simply 
abolishing the state, but to put an end to class society. That
anarchists have always argued the state and capitalism must be
destroyed at the same time is easily discovered from reading
their works.

Continuing this theme he argues that the state "was born with 
the split of society into classes to defend private property. So 
long as there are classes there will be a state. So, how can 
class society be ended? Not by its denial, but only by the 
victory of one of the contending classes. Triumph for capitalism 
spells ruin for millions." 

Of course, we could point out here that many anthropologists 
disagree with the claim that the state is a product of class 
society. As Michael Taylor summarises, the "evidence does not 
give this proposition a great deal of support. Much of the 
evidence which has been offered in support of it shows only 
that the primary states, not long after their emergence, were 
economically stratified. But this is of course consistent also 
with the simultaneous rise . . . of political and economic 
stratification, or with the *prior* development of the 
state -- i.e. of *political* stratification -- and the 
creation of economic stratification by the ruling class." 
[_Community, Anarchy and Liberty_, p. 132]

Also, of course, as should be obvious from what we have said 
previously, anarchists do not think class society can be ended
by "denial." As is clear from even a quick reading of any 
anarchist thinker, anarchists seek to end class society as
well as the state. However, we reject as simplistic the Marxist
notion that the state exists purely to defend classes. The
state has certain properties *because it is a state* and one
of these is that it creates a bureaucratic class around it
due to its centralised, hierarchical nature. Within capitalism, 
the state bureaucracy is part of the ruling class and (generally) 
under the control of the capitalist class. However, to generalise
from this specific case is wrong as the state bureaucracy is
a class in itself -- and so trying to abolish classes without
abolishing the state is doomed to failure.

10. Why is Mitchinson's comment that we face either "socialism or
    barbarism" actually undermine his case?

Mitchinson continues:

"As Marx once explained the choice before us is not socialism or the
status quo, but socialism or barbarism."

We should point out that it Rosa Luxemburg who is usually associated
with this quote. She made her famous comment during the First World 
War. The start of this war saw the Marxist German Social Democratic 
Party (and a host of others) vote for war credits in Parliament.
This party was a mass workers' party which aimed to used every means, 
including elections, to gain reforms for the working class. The net 
end result of this strategy was the voting for war credits and the support
of their state and ruling class in the war -- that is, the betrayal of 
the fundamental principles of socialism. 

This event did not happen out of the blue. It was the end result of 
years of working within the bourgeois political system, of using 
elections ("political activity") as a means of struggle. The Social 
Democratic Parties had already been plagued with reformist elements 
for years. These elements, again, did not come from nowhere but were 
rather the response to what the party was actually doing. They desired 
to reform the party to bring its rhetoric in-line with its practice.
As one of the most distinguished historians of this period put it,
the "distinction between the contenders remained largely a subjective
one, a difference of ideas in the evaluation of reality rather
than a difference in the realm of action." [C. Schorske, _German
Social Democracy_, p. 38] The debacle of 1914 was a logical result 
of the means chosen, the evidence was already there for all to 
see (except, apparently, Lenin who praised the "fundamentals of 
parliamentary tactics" of the German and International Social 
Democracy and how they were "at the same time implacable on questions 
of principle and always directed to the accomplishment of the final
aim" in his obituary of August Bebel in 1913! [Marx, Engels and Lenin,
_Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism_, p. 248])

Needless to say, this result had been predicted by Bakunin over 
40 years previously. And Mitchinson wants us to repeat this strategy? 
As Marx said, history repeats itself -- first it is tragedy, second 
time it is farce.

11. Why is Mitchinson wrong to assert anarchists do not believe in 
    defending a revolution?

Mitchinson argues that the "victory of the working class can only mean the 
destruction of the capitalist state. Will the capitalists take defeat like 
sporting ladies and gentlemen, retiring quietly to the pavilion? No, all 
history suggests that they would not. The workers would need to create a 
new state, for the first time to defend the rule of the majority over the 
minority."

Yes, indeed, all history *does* show that a ruling class will not retire
quietly and a revolution will need to defend itself. If anarchists *did*
believe that they would retire peacefully then Marxists would be correct
to attack us. However, Marxist assertions are false. Indeed, they must 
think anarchists are morons if they genuinely do think we do not believe 
in defending a revolution. A few quotes should suffice to expose these
Marxist claims as lies:

"Commune will be organised by the standing federation of the 
Barricades. . . [T]he federation of insurgent associations, communes 
and provinces . . . [would] organise a revolutionary force capable
of defeating reaction . . . it is the very fact of the expansion
and organisation of the revolution for the purpose of self-defence
among the insurgent areas that will bring about the triumph of
the revolution." [_Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings_, pp. 170-1]

"[L]et us suppose . . . it is Paris that starts [the revolution] . . .
Paris will naturally make haste to organise itself as best it can,
in revolutionary style, after the workers have joined into 
associations and made a clean sweep of all the instruments of
labour, every kind of capital and building; armed and organised
by streets and *quartiers*, they will form the revolutionary
federation of all the *quartiers*, the federative commune. . .
All the French and foreign revolutionary communes will then
send representatives to organise the necessary common services
. . . and to organise common defence against the enemies of
the Revolution." [Op. Cit., p. 178-9]

Bakunin was well aware that revolution implied "civil war" -- i.e.
attempts by the ruling class to maintain its power (see, for example,
his "Letters to a Frenchman" in _Bakunin on Anarchism_). As can
be seen, Bakunin was well aware of the needs to defend a revolution
after destroying the state and abolishing capitalism. Similarly
we discover Malatesta arguing that we should "[a]rm all the population,"
and the "creation of a voluntary militia, without powers to interfere 
as militia in the life of the community, but only to deal with any armed 
attacks by the forces of reaction to re-establish themselves, or to 
resist outside intervention by countries as yet not in a state of 
revolution." [_Life and Ideas_, p. 170 and p. 166] In Malatesta's 
words:

"But, by all means, let us admit that the governments of the still
unemancipated countries were to want to, and could, attempt to
reduce free people to a state of slavery once again. Would this
people require a government to defend itself? To wage war men
are needed who have all the necessary geographical and mechanical
knowledge, and above all large masses of the population willing
to go and fight. A government can neither increase the abilities
of the former nor the will and courage of the latter. And the 
experience of history teaches us that a people who really want to 
defend their own country are invincible: and in Italy everyone
knows that before the corps of volunteers (anarchist formations)
thrones topple, and regular armies composed of conscripts or
mercenaries disappear. . . [Some people] seem almost to believe
that after having brought down government and private property
we would allow both to be quietly built up again, because of a
respect for the *freedom* of those who might feel the need to
be rulers and property owners. A truly curious way of interpreting
our ideas!" [_Anarchy_, pp. 40-1]

Not only do we have this theoretical position, we can also point
to concrete historical examples -- the Makhnovist movement in
the Russian Revolution and the CNT militias during the Spanish
Revolution, among others -- that prove that anarchists do recognise 
the need and importance of defending a successful revolution.

Therefore, statements asserting that anarchists are against defending 
a revolution are either spreading a conscious lie or a product of 
deep ignorance.

Thus the question is *not* one of defending or not defending a revolution.
The question is *how* do we defend it (and, another key question, what
*kind* of revolution do we aim for). Marxists urge us to "create a 
new state, for the first time to defend the rule of the majority 
over the minority." Anarchists reply that every state is based on
the delegation of power into the hands of a minority and so cannot
be used to defend the rule of the majority over the minority. Rather,
it would be the rule of those who claim to represent the majority.
The confusion between people power and party power is at the root
of why Leninism is not revolutionary.

Mitchinson then quotes Lenin and Trotsky to defend his assertion:

"The proletariat needs the state only temporarily. We do not at all 
disagree with the anarchists on the question of the abolition of the 
state as the aim. We maintain that, to achieve this aim, we must
temporarily make use of the instruments resources and methods of
state power against the exploiters." [Lenin]

"Marxists are wholly in agreement with the anarchists in regard to 
the final goal: the liquidation of the state. Marxists are statist 
only to the extent that one cannot achieve the liquidation of the 
state simply by ignoring it." [Trotsky]

Of course, quoting Lenin or Trotsky when they make a false assertion
does not turn lies into truth. As proven above, anarchists are well
aware of the necessity of overthrowing the state by revolution *and*
defending that revolution against attempts to defeat it. To state
otherwise is to misrepresent anarchist theory on this subject.
Moreover, despite Trotsky's claims, anarchists are aware that you
do not destroy something by ignoring it. The real question is thus
*not* whether to defend a revolution or whether to shatter the state
machine. The questions are, *how* do you shatter the state, what do
you replace existing society with and how do you defend a revolution.
To state otherwise is to build a strawman -- unfortunately much of
Lenin's "masterpiece" _The State and Revolution_ is based on 
destroying this self-created strawman.

12. Would the "workers' state" really be different, as Mitchinson claims?

Mitchinson argues that from "the very beginning this would be 
like no previous state machine. From day one it would be in effect 
a semi-state." The question is, for anarchists, whether this 
"semi-state" is marked by the delegation of power into the hands 
of a government. If so, then the "semi-state" is no such thing -- 
it is a state like any other and so an instrument of minority rule. 
Yes, this minority may state it represents the majority but in 
practice it can only represent itself and claim that is what the 
majority desires.

Hence, for anarchists, "the essence of the state . . . [is] 
centralised power *or to put it another way the coercive
authority* of which the state enjoys the monopoly, in that
organisation of violence know as 'government'; in the
hierarchical despotism, juridical, police and military
despotism that imposes laws on everyone." [Luigi Fabbri,
Op. Cit., pp. 24-5] The so-called "semi-state" is nothing
of the kind -- it is a centralised power in which a few
govern the many. Therefore, the "workers' state" would be
"workers" in name only.
 
Mitchinson continues:

"The task of all previous revolutions was to seize state power. From 
the experience of the Paris Commune of 1871 Marx and Engels concluded
that it would not be possible for the workers to simply use the old 
state apparatus, they would instead have to replace it with an entirely 
new one, to serve the interests of the majority and lay the basis for 
a socialist society."

Needless to say, he forgets the *key* question -- *who* is to seize
power. Is it the majority, directly, or a minority (the leaders of
a party) who claim to represent the majority. Leninists are clear, 
it is to be the party, not the working class as a whole. They 
confuse party power with class power. In the words of Lenin:

"The very presentation of the question -- 'dictatorship of the 
Party *or* dictatorship of the class, dictatorship (Party) of 
the leaders *or* dictatorship (Party) of the masses?' -- is 
evidence of the most incredible and hopeless confusion of 
mind . . . [because] classes are usually . . . led by political 
parties. . . "

And:

"To go so far in this matter as to draw a contrast in general 
between the dictatorship of the masses and the dictatorship of 
the leaders, is ridiculously absurd and stupid." [_Left-wing 
Communism: An Infantile Disorder_, pp. 25-6 and p. 27]
  
However, what is *truly* stupid is confusing the rule by a 
minority with that of the majority managing their own affairs. 
The two things are different, they generate different social
relationships and to confuse the two is to lay the ground
work for the rule by a bureaucratic elite, a dictatorship
of state officials *over* the working class.

Now we come to the usual Leninist claims about Bolshevik theory:

"To ensure that the workers maintain control over this state, Lenin
argued for the election of all officials who should be held accountable 
and subject to recall, and paid no more than the wage of a skilled 
worker. All bureaucratic tasks should be rotated. There should be no 
special armed force standing apart from the people, and we would add, 
all political parties except fascists should be allowed to organise."

This is what Lenin, essentially, said he desired in _The State 
and Revolution_ (Mitchinson misses out one key aspect, to which we
will return later). Anarchists reply in three ways. 

Firstly, we note that "much that passes for 'Marxism' in _State 
and Revolution_ is pure anarchism -- for example, the substitution 
of revolutionary militias for professional armed bodies and the 
substitution of organs of self-management for parliamentary bodies. 
What is authentically Marxist in Lenin's pamphlet is the demand 
for 'strict centralism,' the acceptance of a 'new' bureaucracy, 
and the identification of soviets with a state." [Murray Bookchin, 
_Post-Scarcity Anarchism_, p. 213] As an example, let us look at 
the recall of "officials" (inspired by the Paris Commune). We find
this in Bakunin's and Proudhon's work *before* it was applied by 
the Communards and praised by Marx. Bakunin in 1868 argued for a 
"Revolutionary Communal Council" composed of "delegates . . . 
vested with plenary but accountable and removable mandates." 
[_Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings_, pp. 170-1] Proudhon's 
election manifesto of 1848 argued for "universal suffrage and as a
consequence of universal suffrage, we want implementation of the
binding mandate. Politicians balk at it! Which means that in their
eyes, the people, in electing representatives, do not appoint
mandatories but rather abjure their sovereignty! That is assuredly
not socialism: it is not even democracy." [_No Gods, No Masters_,
vol. 1, p. 63] As can be seen, Lenin's recommendations were first 
proposed by anarchists.

Thus the positive aspects of Lenin's work are libertarian in nature, 
*not* Marxist as such. Indeed given how much time is spent on 
the Paris Commune (an essentially libertarian revolt obviously 
inspired by Proudhon's ideas) his work is more libertarian than 
Marxist, as Bookchin makes clear. It is the non-libertarian aspects 
which helped to undermine the anarchist elements of the work.

Secondly, Lenin does not mention, never mind discuss, the role of 
the Bolshevik Party would have in the new "semi-state." Indeed,
the party is mentioned only in passing. That in itself indicates
the weakness of using _The State and Revolution_ as a guide book
to Leninist theory or practice. Given the importance of the role 
of the party in Lenin's previous and latter works, it suggests
that to quote _The State and Revolution_ as proof of Leninism's
democratic heart leaves much to be desired. And even _The State
and Revolution_, in its one serious reference to the Party, is
ambiguous in the extreme:

"By educating the workers' party, Marxism educates the vanguard
of the proletariat which is capable of assuming power and *of
leading the whole people* to Socialism, of directing and
organising the new order, of being the teacher, the guide, the
leader of all the toiling and exploited in the task of building
up their social life without the bourgeoisie and against the
bourgeoisie." [_The Essential Lenin_, p. 288]

Is it the vanguard *or* the proletariat which is "capable of
assuming power"? The answer is important as a *social* revolution
requires the fullest participation of the formerly oppressed
masses in the management of their own affairs. In the context
of the rest of _The State and Revolution_ it could be argued
it is the proletariat. However, this cannot be squared with
Lenin's (or Trotsky's) post-October arguments and practices
or the resolution of the Second World Congress of the Communist 
International which stated that "[e]very class struggle is a 
political struggle. The goal of this struggle . . . is the 
conquest of political power. Political power cannot be seized, 
organised and operated except through a political party." 
[cited by Duncan Hallas, _The Comintern_, p. 35] It is obvious
that if the party rules, the working class does not. A socialist
society cannot be built without the participation, self-activity
and self-management of the working class. Thus the question 
of *who* makes decisions and *how* they do so is essential --
if it is not the masses then the slide into bureaucracy is
inevitable.

Thus to quote _The State and Revolution_ proves nothing for
anarchists -- it does not discuss the key question of the party
and so fails to present a clear picture of Leninist politics
and their immediate aims. As soon becomes clear if you look
at Leninism in power -- i.e. what it actually did when it had
the chance, to which we now turn.

Thirdly, we point to what he actually *did* in power. In this we 
follow Marx, who argued that we should judge people by what they 
do rather than what they say. We will concentrate on the pre-Civil 
War (October 1917 to May 1918) period to indicate that this breaking 
of promises started *before* the horrors of Civil War can be claimed 
to have forced these decisions onto the Bolsheviks. 

Before the out-break of Civil War, the Bolsheviks had replaced 
election of "all officials" by appointment from above in many 
areas of life -- for example, they abolished the election of 
officers in the Red Army and replaced workers' self-management 
in production with one-man management, both forms of democracy
being substituted by appointed from above. In addition, by the 
end of April, 1918, Lenin *himself* was arguing "[o]bedience, 
and unquestioning obedience at that, during work to the 
one-man decisions of Soviet directors, of the dictators 
elected *or appointed* by Soviet institutions, vested with 
dictatorial powers." [_Six Theses on the Immediate Tasks of 
the Soviet Government_, p. 44 -- our emphasis] Moreover, the 
Soviet Constitution stated that "[e]very commissar [of the 
Council of People's Commissars -- i.e. the Soviet government] 
has a collegium (committee) of which he is the president, and 
the members of which are appointed by the Council of People's 
Commissars." Appointment was the rule at the very heights of 
the state. The "election of all officers" ("without exception" 
[Lenin, _The State and Revolution_, p. 302]) had ended by month 
six of the revolution even in Lenin's own writings -- and 
*before* the start of the Civil War. 

Lenin also argued in mid-April 1918 that the "socialist character 
of Soviet, i.e. *proletarian*, democracy" lies, in part, in "the
people themselves determin[ing] the order and time of elections."
[_The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government_, pp. 36-7] Given
that "the government [had] continually postponed the new general
elections to the Petrograd Soviet, the term of which had ended
in March 1918" because it "feared that the opposition parties
would show gains" Lenin's comments seem hypocritical in the
extreme. [Samuel Farber, _Before Stalinism_, p. 22] 

Moreover, the Bolsheviks did not stay true to Lenin's claim
in _The State and Revolution_ that "since the majority of the 
people *itself* suppresses its oppressors, a 'special force'
is *no longer necessary*" as so "in place of a *special*
repressive force, the whole population itself came on the
scene." In this way the "state machine" would be "the armed 
masses of workers who become transformed into a universal 
people's militia." [Op. Cit., p. 301, p. 320 and p. 347] Instead 
they created a political police force (the Cheka) and a standing 
army (in which elections were a set aside by decree). These were 
special, professional, armed forces standing apart from the people 
and unaccountable to them. Indeed, they were used to repress 
strikes and working class unrest. So much for Mitchinson's 
claim that "there should be no special armed force standing 
apart from the people" -- it did not last three months (the 
Cheka was founded two months into the revolution, the Red 
Army was created in early 1918 and elections set aside by 
March of that year). 

Lastly, the Bolsheviks banned newspapers from the start -- 
including other socialist papers. In addition, they did not
allow other political tendencies to organise freely. The
repression started *before* the Civil War with the attack,
by the Cheka, in April 1918 on the anarchist movements
in Petrograd and Moscow. While repression obviously existed
during the Civil War, it is significant that it, in fact,
started *before* it began. During the Civil War, the 
Bolsheviks repressed all political parties, including the 
Mensheviks even though they "consistently pursued a policy 
of peaceable opposition to the Bolshevik regime, a policy
conducted by strictly legitimate means" and "[i]ndividual 
Mensheviks who joined organisations aiming at the overthrow 
of the Soviet Government were expelled from the Menshevik 
Party." [George Leggett, _The Cheka: Lenin's Political Police_, 
pp. 318-9 and p. 332] In fact, repression *increased* after
the end of the Civil War -- a strange fact if it was that
war which necessitated repression in the first place.

Moreover, Mitchinson fails to mention Lenin's argument that, like
the Paris Commune, the workers' state would be based on a fusion
of executive and administrative functions in the hands of the
workers' delegates. This is hardly surprising, as Lenin created 
an executive body (the Council of People's Commissars) immediately
after the October Revolution. This division of executive and
administrative powers was written into the Soviet Constitution.
So much for _The State and Revolution_ -- its promises did not 
last a night.

Thus, his claims that the "semi-state" would not be like any 
other state are contradicted by the actual experience of Bolshevism 
in power. For anarchists, this comes as no surprise as they are well 
aware that the state machine does not (indeed, *cannot*) represent 
the interests of the working classes due to its centralised, 
hierarchical and elitist nature -- all it can do is represent 
the interests of the party in power, its own bureaucratic needs 
and privileges and slowly, but surely, remove itself from popular 
control. Hence the movement away from popular control -- it is
the nature of centralised power to remove itself from control
from below, control by the masses, particularly when all other 
focal points of working class self-management have been abolished 
as being no longer required as we have a "semi-state."

Mitchinson seems to want us to look purely at Bolshevik theory
and not its practice. It is exactly what supporters of capitalism
desire us to do -- in theory, capitalism is based on free 
agreement and free exchange between autonomous individuals but
in practice it is a system of inequality which violates the
autonomy of individuals and makes a mockery of free agreement.

In a way, _The State and Revolution_ laid out the foundations 
and sketched out the essential features of an alternative to 
Bolshevik power -- as noted, that system would be essentially
libertarian. Only the pro-Leninist tradition has used Lenin's
work, almost to quiet their conscience, because Lenin, once in 
power, ignored it totally. Such is the nature of the state -- 
as Kropotkin and all other anarchists have argued, there can be 
no such thing as a "revolutionary government." Conflict will 
inevitably arise between the party which aims to control the 
revolution and the actions of the masses themselves. To resolve 
the conflict the state must eliminate the organs of workers
self-activity which the revolution creates otherwise the
party cannot impose its decisions -- and this is what the
Bolshevik state did, aided of course by the horrors of the
civil war.

To state the obvious, to quote theory and not relate it to the
practice of those who claim to follow that theory is a joke. It
is little more than sophistry. If you look at the actions of
the Bolsheviks before and after the Russian Revolution you
cannot help draw the conclusion that Lenin's _State and Revolution_
has nothing to do with Bolshevik policy and presents a false
image of what Trotskyists desire.

13. Is the Marxist "worker's state" really the rule of one class
    over another?

Mitchinson argues that the "task of this state would be to develop 
the economy to eradicate want. Less need, means less need to govern 
society, less need for a state. Class society and the state will begin 
to wither away as the government of people, the rule of one class over 
another, is replaced by the administration of things, the planned use 
of resources to meet society's needs."

As Malatesta makes clear, this is pure sophistry:

"Whoever has power over things has power over men; whoever governs
production also governs the producers; who determines consumption
is master over the consumer.

"This is the question; either things are administered on the basis
of free agreement of the interested parties, and this is anarchy;
or they are administered according to laws made by administrators
and this is government, it is the State, and inevitably it turns
out to be tyrannical.

"It is not a question of the good intentions or the good will of 
this or that man, but of the inevitability of the situation, 
and of the tendencies which man generally develops in given
circumstances." [_Life and Ideas_, p. 145]

Moreover, it is debatable whether Trotskyists really desire the
rule of one class over another in the sense of working class
over capitalist class. To quote Trotsky:

"the proletariat can take power only through its vanguard. In
itself the necessity for state power arises from an insufficient
cultural level of the masses and their heterogeneity. In the
revolutionary vanguard, organised in a party, is crystallised
the aspirations of the masses to obtain their freedom. Without
the confidence of the class in the vanguard, without support
of the vanguard by the class, there can be no talk of the
conquest of power.

"In this sense the proletarian revolution and dictatorship
are the work of the whole class, but only under the leadership
of the vanguard." ["Stalinism and Bolshevism", _Socialist
Review_, no. 146, p. 16]

Thus, rather than the working class as a whole seizing power,
it is the "vanguard" which takes power -- "a revolutionary 
party, even after seizing power . . . is still by no means
the sovereign ruler of society." [Ibid.] That is, of course,
true -- they are still organs of working class self-management
(such as factory committees, workers councils, trade unions,
soldier committees) through which working people can still
exercise their sovereignty. Little wonder Trotsky abolished
independent unions, decreed the end of soldier committees
and urged one-man management and the militarisation of labour
when in power. Such working class organs do conflict with
the sovereign rule of the party and so have to be abolished.

After being in power four years, Trotsky was arguing that
the "Party is obliged to maintain its dictatorship . . . 
regardless of temporary vacillations even in the working 
class . . . The dictatorship does not base itself at every 
moment on the formal principle of a workers' democracy." 
[quoted by Brinton, _The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control_, 
p. 78]

This position follows naturally from Trotsky's comments
that the party "crystallises" the "aspirations" of the
masses. If the masses reject the party then, obviously,
their "cultural level" has fallen and so the party has
the right, nay the duty, to impose its dictatorship
over them. Similarly, the destruction of organs of
working class self-management can be justified because
the vanguard has taken power -- which is *exactly*
what Trotsky argued. 

With regards to the Red Army and its elected officers,
he stated in March 1918 that "the principle of election
is politically purposeless and technically inexpedient,
and it has been, in practice, abolished by decree"
because the Bolshevik Party held power or, as he put it,
"political power is in the hands of the same working class 
from whose ranks the Army is recruited." Of course, power 
was actually held by the Bolshevik party, not the working 
class, but never fear:

"Once we have established the Soviet regime, that is
a system under which the government is headed by persons
who have been directly elected by the Soviets of
Workers', Peasants' and Soldiers' Deputies, there can
be no antagonism between the government and the mass
of the workers, just as there is no antagonism between
the administration of the union and the general assembly
of its members, and, therefore, there cannot be any 
grounds for fearing the *appointment* of members of the
commanding staff by the organs of the Soviet Power."
[_Work, Discipline, Order_]

He made the same comments with regard the factory committees:

"It would be a most crying error to confuse the question
as to the supremacy of the proletariat with the question
of boards of workers at the head of factories. The
dictatorship of the proletariat is expressed in the
abolition of private property in the means of production,
in the supremacy of the collective will of the workers
[a euphemism for the Party -- M.B.] and not at all in
the form in which individual economic organisations are
administered." [quoted by Maurice Brinton, Op. Cit.,
p. 66]

This point is reiterated in his essay, "Bolshevism and
Stalinism" (written in 1937) when he argued that:

"Those who propose the abstraction of Soviets to the 
party dictatorship should understand that only thanks to 
the party dictatorship were the Soviets able to lift 
themselves out of the mud of reformism and attain the
state form of the proletariat." [Trotsky, Op. Cit., p. 18]

And, obviously, without party dictatorship the soviets would 
return to the "mud." In other words, the soviets are only 
important to attain party rule and if the two come into conflict 
then Trotskyism provides the rule of the party with an ideological 
justification to eliminate soviet democracy. Lenin's and Trotsky's 
politics allowed them to argue that if you let the proletariat 
have a say then the dictatorship of the proletariat could be in 
danger.

Thus, for Trotsky, the "dictatorship of the proletariat" is 
independent of allowing the proletariat to manage their own 
affairs directly. However, without the means of manage their 
own affairs directly, control their own lives, the proletariat
are placed into the position of passive electors, who vote for 
parties who rule for and over them, in their own name. Moreover, 
they face the constant danger of the "vanguard" nullifying even
these decisions as "temporary vacillations." A fine liberation
indeed.

Also, as libertarian socialist Maurice Brinton argues, none of 
the Bolshevik leaders "saw the proletarian nature of the Russian 
regime as primarily and crucially dependent on the exercise of 
workers' power at the point of production (i.e. workers' 
management of production). It should have been obvious to 
them as Marxists that if the working class did not hold economic 
power, its 'political' power would at best be insecure and would 
in fact degenerate." [Op. Cit., p. 42]

With direct working class sovereignty eroded by the Bolsheviks 
in the name of indirect, i.e. party, sovereignty it is hardly 
surprising that the dictatorship of the proletariat becomes 
the dictatorship *over* the proletariat as Bakunin predicted.
With the elimination of functional democracy and self-management,
indirect democracy would not be able to survive for long in
the face of centralised, top-down decision making by the
ruling party.

So hopeless was Trotsky's understanding of socialism and the
nature of a working class social revolution that he even 
considered the Stalinist dictatorship to be an expression 
of the "dictatorship of the proletariat." He argued that 
the "bureaucracy has expropriated the proletariat politically 
in order to guard its social conquests with *its own* 
methods. The anatomy of society is determined by its economic 
relations. So long as the forms of property that have been 
created by the October Revolution are not overthrown, the
proletariat remains the ruling class." [_The Class Nature of 
the Soviet State_] 

Just to stress the point, according to Trotsky, under 
Stalinism *the proletariat was the ruling class* and 
that Stalin's dictatorship eliminated what remained (and 
it was not much) of working class political influence in 
order "to guard its social conquests"! What social conquests 
could remain if the proletariat was under the heel of 
a totalitarian dictatorship? Just one, state ownership 
of property -- precisely the means by which the (state) 
bureaucracy enforced its control over production and so 
the source of its economic power (and privileges). To 
state the obvious, if the working class does not *control* 
the property it is claimed to own then someone else does.
The economic relationship thus generated is a hierarchical
one, in which the working class is an oppressed class. Thus
Trotsky identified the source of the bureaucracy's economic
power with "socialism" -- no wonder his analysis of Stalinism
(and vision of socialism) proved so disastrous.

Trotsky argues that the "liberal-anarchist thought closes its 
eyes to the fact that the Bolshevik revolution, with all its 
repressions, meant an upheaval of social relations in the
interests of the masses, whereas Stalin's Thermidorian upheaval 
accompanies the reconstruction of Soviet society in the interest 
of a privileged minority." ["Bolshevism and Stalinism", Op. Cit.,
p. 17] However, social relations are just that, *social* and so 
between individuals and classes -- ownership of property cannot
tell the whole story. What social relations did Bolshevism bring 
about? 

As far as the wage labour social relationship goes (and do not 
forget that is the defining feature of capitalism), the Bolsheviks 
opposed workers' self-management in favour of, first, "control" 
over the capitalists and then one-man management. No change in  
social relationships there. Property relations did change in the sense 
that the state became the owner of capital rather than individual 
capitalists, but the *social* relationship workers experienced 
during the working day and within society was identical. The 
state bureaucrat replaced the capitalist. 

As for politics, the Bolshevik revolution replaced government with 
government. Initially, it was an elected government and so it had the 
typical social relationships of representative government. Later, it 
became a one party dictatorship -- a situation that did not change under
Stalin. Thus the social relationships there, again, did not change. 
The Bolshevik Party became the head of the government. That is all. 
This event also saw the reconstruction of Soviet Society in the 
interest of a privileged minority -- it is well known that the 
Communists gave themselves the best rations, best premises and so on.

Thus the Bolshevik revolution did *not* change the social relations
people faced and so Trotsky's comments are wishful thinking. The
"interests of the masses" could not, and were not, defended by 
the Bolshevik revolution as it did not change the relations
of authority in a society -- the social relationships people 
experienced remain unchanged. Perhaps that is why Lenin argued
that the proletarian nature of the Russian regime was ensured
by the nature of the ruling party? There could be no other basis
for saying the Bolshevik state was a workers' state. After all,
nationalised property without workers' self-management *does not 
change social relationships* it just changes who is telling the 
workers what to do.

The important point to note is that Trotsky argued that the
proletariat could be a ruling class when it had *no* political
influence, never mind democracy, when subject to a one-party
state and bureaucratic dictatorship and when the social relations
of the society were obviously capitalistic. No wonder he found
it impossible to recognise that dictatorship by the party did
not equal dictatorship by the proletariat.

Therefore, the claim that Trotskyists see the "dictatorship of the 
proletariat" as "the rule of one class over another" is, as can be 
seen, a joke. Rather they see it as the rule of the party over the 
rest of society, *including* the working class. Even when that party 
had become a bureaucratic nightmare, murdering millions and sending
hundreds of thousands to forced labour camps, Trotsky still argued 
that the "working class" was still the "ruling class." Not only 
that, his political perspective allowed him to justify the 
suppression of workers' democracy in the name of the "rule" 
of the workers. For this reason, anarchists feel that the real 
utopians are the Leninists who believe that party rule equals 
class rule and that centralised, hierarchical power in the hands 
of the few will not become a new form of class rule. History, we 
think, supports our politics on this issue (as in so many others).

Mitchinson argues that "Anarchism's utopian calls to abolish 
the state overnight demonstrates neither the understanding of 
what the state is, nor the programme of action necessary to 
achieve the goal it sets itself." However, as made clear,
it is Marxism which is utopian, believing that rule by a
party equals rule by a class and that a state machine can be 
utilised by the majority of the population. As Kropotkin argued, 
Anarchists "maintain that the State organisation, having been 
the force to which minorities resorted for establishing and 
organising their power over the masses, cannot be the force 
which will serve to destroy these privileges." [_Kropotkin's 
Revolutionary Pamphlets_, p. 170]

Luigi Fabbri sums up the difference well:

"The mistake of authoritarian communists in this connection
is the belief that fighting and organising are impossible
without submission to a government; and thus they regard
anarchists  . . . as the foes of all organisation and all
co-ordinated struggle. We, on the other hand, maintain
that not only are revolutionary struggle and revolutionary
organisation possible outside and in spite of government
interference but that, indeed, that is the only effective
way to struggle and organise, for it has the active
participation of all members of the collective unit, 
instead of their passively entrusting themselves to the
authority of the supreme leaders." ["Anarchy and 'Scientific'
Communism", in _The Poverty of Statism_, pp. 13-49, 
Albert Meltzer (ed.), p. 27]

Mitchinson moves on to the usual Marxist slander that as "a modern 
philosophy anarchism developed in the 19th century alongside the 
explosive growth of capitalism and its state machine. It represented 
a rebellion by a section of the petty bourgeoisie at the loss 
of their position in society, driven to the wall by the growth 
of monopoly." We have refuted this assertion in another appendix
(Reply to errors and distortions in David McNally's pamphlet
"Socialism from Below") and so will not do so here.

14. Why do anarchists reject the Marxist notion of "conquest of power"?

Mitchinson now decides to quote some anarchists to back up his spurious
argument:

"Their case was argued by Mikhail Bakunin and his supporters in the First 
International. At an anarchist conference in 1872 they argued 'The 
aspirations of the proletariat can have no other aim than the creation 
of an absolutely free economic organisation and federation based on work 
and equality and wholly independent of any political government, and such 
an organisation can only come into being through the spontaneous action 
of the proletariat itself...no political organisation can be anything 
but the organisation of rule in the interests of a class and to the 
detriment of the masses...the proletariat, should it seize power, 
would become a ruling, and exploiting, class...'"

To understand this passage it is necessary to place it in historical
context. In 1872, the proletariat was a *minority* class within all
nations *bar* the UK. In almost all nations, the majority of the working
class were either artisans or peasants (hence the reference to "the
masses"). To urge that the proletariat seize power meant to advocate 
the class rule of a *minority* of the working masses. Minority rule 
could be nothing else but the dictatorship of a minority over the
majority (a dictatorship in the usual sense of the word), and 
dictatorships always become exploitative of the general population.

Thus Mitchinson's "analysis" is ahistoric and, fundamentally, 
unscientific and a mockery of materialism.

Moreover, anarchists like Bakunin also made clear that the Marxist
notion of "proletarian dictatorship" did not even mean that the
proletariat *as a whole* would exercise power. In his words:

"What does it mean, 'the proletariat raised to a governing class?'
Will the entire proletariat head the government? The Germans
number about 40 million. Will all 40 million be members of the
government? The entire nation will rule, but no one would be
ruled. Then there will be no government, there will be no
state; but if there is a state, there will also be those who
are ruled, there will be slaves.

"In the Marxists' theory this dilemma is resolved in a simple
fashion. By popular government they mean government of the
people by a small number of representatives elected by the
people. So-called popular representatives and rulers of
the state elected by the entire nation on the basis of
universal suffrage -- the last word of the Marxists, as
well as the democratic school -- is a lie behind which
the despotism of a ruling minority is concealed, a lie
all the more dangerous in that it represents itself as the
expression of a sham popular will.

"So . . . it always comes down to the same dismal result:
government of the vast majority of the people by a privileged 
minority. But this minority, the Marxists say, will consist of 
workers. Yes, perhaps, of *former* workers, who, as soon as 
they become rulers or representatives of the people will 
cease to be workers and will begin to look upon the whole 
workers' world from the heights of the state. They will no 
longer represent the people but themselves and their own 
pretensions to govern the people." [_Statism and Anarchy_, 
p. 178]

Thus anarchists reject the notion of the dictatorship of the 
proletariat for two reasons. Firstly, because it excluded the 
bulk of the working masses when it was first used by Marx and 
Engels. Secondly, because in practice it would mean the 
dictatorship of the party *over* the proletariat. Needless
to say, Mitchinson does not mention these points.

Mitchinson argues that "[a]lthough this sounds radical enough it 
nonetheless amounts to a recipe for inaction and disaster." And
quotes Trotsky to explain why:
 
"To renounce the conquest of power is voluntarily to leave the 
power with those who wield it, the exploiters. The essence of 
every revolution consisted and consists in putting a new class 
in power, thus enabling it to realise its own programme in life. 
It is impossible to wage war and to reject victory. It is impossible 
to lead the masses towards insurrection without preparing for the 
conquest of power."

For anarchists the question immediately is, "power to who"? As
is clear from the writings of Lenin and Trotsky they see the
"conquest of power" *not* in terms of "putting a new class in
power" but, in fact, the *representatives* of that class, the
vanguard party, into power. Anarchists, in contrast, argue
that organs of working class self-management are the means
of creating and defending a *social* revolution as it is
the only means that the mass of people can actually run 
their own lives and any power over and above these organs
means dictatorship *over* the working class, a new form of
state and class power. 

As Rudolf Rocker argues:

"Let no one object that the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' 
cannot be compared to run of the mill dictatorship because 
it is the dictatorship of a class. Dictatorship of a class
cannot exist as such, for it ends up, in the last analysis, 
as being the dictatorship of a given party which arrogates 
to itself the right to speak for that class. Thus, the liberal
bourgeoisie, in their fight against despotism, used to speak 
in the name of the 'people'. . . 

"We already know that a revolution cannot be made with rosewater. 
And we know, too, that the owning classes will never yield up 
their privileges spontaneously. On the day of victorious 
revolution the workers will have to impose their will on the 
present owners of the soil, of the subsoil and of the means 
of production, which cannot be done -- let us be clear on 
this -- without the workers taking the capital of society 
into their own hands, and, above all, without their having 
demolished the authoritarian structure which is, and will 
continue to be, the fortress keeping the masses of the people 
under dominion. Such an action is, without doubt, an act of 
liberation; a proclamation of social justice; the very essence 
of social revolution, which has nothing in common with the 
utterly bourgeois principle of dictatorship.

"The fact that a large number of socialist parties have rallied 
to the idea of councils, which is the proper mark of libertarian 
socialist and revolutionary syndicalists, is a confession, 
recognition that the tack they have taken up until now has been the
product of a falsification, a distortion, and that with the councils 
the labour movement must create for itself a single organ capable 
of carrying into effect the unmitigated socialism that the conscious 
proletariat longs for. On the other hand, it ought not to be
forgotten that this abrupt conversion runs the risk of introducing 
many alien features into the councils concept, features, that is, 
with no relation to the original tasks of socialism, and which 
have to be eliminated because they pose a threat to the further
development of the councils. These alien elements are able only 
to conceive things from the dictatorial viewpoint. It must be our 
task to face up to this risk and warn our class comrades against 
experiments which cannot bring the dawn of social emancipation 
any nearer -- which indeed, to the contrary, positively postpone it.

"Consequently, our advice is as follows: Everything for the councils 
or soviets! No power above them! A slogan which at the same time 
will be that of the social revolutionary." [_Anarchism and Sovietism_]

Or, as the Bakunin influenced Jura Federation of the First International 
put it in 1874, "the dictatorship that we want is one which the insurgent 
masses exercise directly, without intermediary of any committee or 
government." [quoted by Peter Marshall, _Demanding the Impossible_,
p. 631] In other words, a situation in which the working masses
defend their freedom, their control over their own lives, from
those who seek to replace it with minority rule.

15. What caused the degeneration of the Russian Revolution?

Mitchinson argues that:

"Anarchists see in the degeneration of the Soviet Union into a
totalitarian dictatorship proof that Bakunin was right. In reality,
only Leon Trotsky and Marxism have been able to explain the causes 
of that degeneration, finding its roots not in men's heads or 
personalities, but in the real life conditions of civil war, 
armies of foreign intervention, and the defeat of revolution 
in Europe." 

Needless to say, anarchism explains the causes of the degeneration in
a far more rich way than Mitchinson claims. The underlying assumption
of his "critique" of anarchism is that the *politics* of the Bolsheviks
had no influence on the outcome of the revolution -- it was a product
purely of objective forces. He also subscribes to the contradictory
idea that Bolshevik politics were essential for the success of that
revolution. The facts of the matter is that people are faced with
choices, choices that arise from the objective conditions that they
face. What decisions they make will be influenced by the ideas they
hold -- they will *not* occur automatically, as if people were on
auto-pilot -- and their ideas are shaped by the social relationships
they experience. Thus, someone placed into a position of power over
others will act in certain ways, have a certain world view, which
would be alien to someone subject to egalitarian social relations.

So, obviously the "ideas in people's heads" matter, particularly 
during a revolution. Someone in favour of centralisation, centralised 
power and who equates party rule with class rule (like Lenin and 
Trotsky), will act in ways (and create structures) totally different
from someone who believes in decentralisation and federalism. In
other words, *political ideas do matter* in society. Nor do 
anarchists leave our analysis at this obvious fact -- as noted,
we also argue that the types of organisation people create and 
work in shapes the way they think and act. This is because specific 
kinds of organisation have specific authority relations and so
generate specific social relationships. These obviously affect 
those subject to them -- a centralised, hierarchical system will 
create authoritarian social relationships which shape those within 
it in totally different ways than a decentralised, egalitarian system.
That Mitchinson denies this obvious fact suggests he knows nothing 
of materialist philosophy. 

Moreover, anarchists are aware of the problems facing the revolution.
After all, anarchists were involved in that revolution and wrote 
some of the best works on that revolution (for example, Voline's
_The Unknown Revolution_, Arshinov's _The History of the Makhnovist
Movement_ and Maximov's _The Guillotine at Work_). However, they
point to the obvious fact that the politics of the Bolsheviks
played a key role in how the revolution developed. While the
terrible objective conditions may have shaped certain aspects of
the actions of the Bolsheviks it cannot be denied that the impulse
for them were rooted in Bolshevik theory. After all, anarchist
theory could not justify the suppression of the functional 
democracy associated with the factory committees or the soldiers
election of officers in the Red Army. Bolshevik theory could, and
did. 

Indeed, Trotsky was still claiming in 1937 that the "Bolshevik 
party achieved in the civil war the correct combination of military 
art and Marxist politics." ["Bolshevism and Stalinism", Op. Cit.,
p. 18] In other words, the Bolshevik policies implemented during 
the Civil War were the correct, Marxist, ones. Also, although Lenin 
described the NEP (New Economic Policy) of 1921 as a 'defeat', at 
no stage did he describe the suppression of soviet democracy and 
workers' control in such language. In other words, Bolshevik politics 
did play a role, a key role, in the degeneration of the Russian 
Revolution and to deny it is to deny reality. In the words of 
Maurice Brinton:

"[I]n relation to industrial policy there is a clear-cut and
incontrovertible link between what happened under Lenin
and Trotsky and the later practice of Stalinism. We know
that many on the revolutionary left will find this statement
hard to swallow. We are convinced however that any honest
reading of the facts cannot but lead to this conclusion. The
more one unearths about this period [1917-21], the more
difficult it becomes to define -- or even see -- the 'gulf'
allegedly separating what happened in Lenin's time from what
happened later. Real knowledge of the facts also makes it
impossible to accept . . . that the whole course of events
was 'historically inevitable' and 'objectively determined.'
Bolshevik ideology and practice were *themselves* important
and sometimes decisive factors in the equation, at every
critical stage of this critical period." [Op. Cit., p. 84]

We should also point out that far from "Leon Trotsky and Marxism" 
explaining the degeneration of the Russian revolution, Trotsky
could not understand that a "totalitarian dictatorship" could
be an expression of a new minority class and presented a decidedly 
false analysis of the Soviet Union as a "degenerated workers' 
state." That analysis led numerous Trotskyists to support these  
dictatorships and oppose workers' revolts against them. In
addition, Trotsky's own reservations were only really voiced 
after he had lost power. Moreover, he never acknowledged how
his own policies (such as the elimination of soldiers 
democracy, the militarisation of labour, etc.) played a key
role in the rise of the bureaucracy and Stalin.

Ultimately, every explanation of the degeneration of the Russian
revolution by Trotskyists ends up as an appeal to "exception
circumstances" -- they blame the rise of Stalinism on the 
Civil War, to the "exceptional circumstances" created by
that war. This can be faulted for two reasons. 

Firstly, as Trotsky himself argued (with respect to the Spanish 
Anarchists) "did not the leaders of German social democracy invoke, 
in their time, the same excuse? Naturally, civil war is not a 
peaceful and ordinary but an 'exceptional circumstance.' . . . 
we do severely blame the anarchist theory, which seemed wholly 
suitable for times of peace, but had to be dropped rapidly
as soon as the 'exceptional circumstance' of the . . . revolution
had begun." ["Bolshevism and Stalinism", Op. Cit., p. 16] 
Needless to say, he did not apply his critique to his own 
politics, which were also a form of the "exceptional circumstances"
excuse. Given how quickly Bolshevik "principles" (as expressed
in _The State and Revolution_) were dropped, we can only 
assume that Bolshevik ideas are also suitable purely for
"times of peace" as well.

Secondly, this "explanation" basically argues that, *if* the 
bourgeois did not defend their power in 1917, then Leninism 
would have worked out fine. As Mitchinson himself noted above, 
belief that the bourgeois will just go away without a fight is 
"an infantile flight of fancy." As Lenin argued, "revolution 
. . ., in its development, would give rise to exceptionally 
complicated circumstances" and "[r]evolution is the sharpest, 
most furious, desperate class war and civil war. Not a single 
great revolution in history has escaped civil war. No one who 
does not live in a shell could imagine that civil war is 
conceivable without exceptionally complicated circumstances." 
[_Will the Bolsheviks Maintain Power?_, p. 80 and p. 81] 

If the Civil War did solely produce the degeneration of the 
Russian Revolution then all we can hope for is that in the
next social revolution, the civil war Lenin argued was inevitable
is not as destructive as the Russian one. Hope is not much of a
basis to build a "scientific" socialism -- but then again, neither
is "fate" much of a basis to explain the degeneration of the
Russian Revolution but that is what Trotskyists do argue. 

We discuss the Russian Revolution in more detail in section H.4
of the FAQ and will not do so here. However, we can point out
the experience of the anarchist Makhnovist movement in the
Ukraine during the Russian Revolution. Facing exactly the same
objective conditions they encouraged soviet democracy, held
regular congresses of workers and peasants (the Bolsheviks
tried to ban two of them), defended freedom of the press and
of association and so on. If objective conditions determined
Bolshevik policies, why did they not also determine the policies
of the Makhnovists? This practical example indicates that the
usual Trotskyist explanation of the degeneration of the Revolution
is false. 

Perhaps it is because of this, that it showed an alternative to
Bolshevik politics existed and worked, that Trotskyists slander 
it? Trotsky himself asserted that the Makhnovists were simply 
"kulaks" on horseback and that Makhno's "followers . . . [expressed] 
a militant anti-Semitism." [Lenin and Trotsky, _Kronstadt_, p. 80] 
We discuss the Makhnovist movement in section H.6 of the FAQ and 
there we refute claims that the Makhnovist movement was a kulak 
(rich peasant) one. However, the charge of "militant anti-Semitism" 
is a serious one and so we will expose its falsehood here and 
well as in section H.6.

The best source to refute claims of anti-Semitism is to quote
the work of the Jewish anarchist Voline. He summarises the
extensive evidence against such claims:

"We could cover dozens of pages with extensive and irrefutable
proofs of the falseness of these assertions. We could mention
articles and proclamations by Makhno and the Council of
Revolutionary Insurgents denouncing anti-Semitism. We could
tell of spontaneous acts by Makhno himself and other insurgents
against the slightest manifestation of the anti-Semitic spirit
on the part of a few isolated and misguided unfortunates in
the army and the population. . . One of the reasons for the
execution of Grigoriev by the Makhnovists was his anti-Semitism
and the immense pogrom he organised at Elizabethgrad. . .
We could cite a whole series of similar facts, but we do not
find it necessary . . . and will content ourselves with
mentioning briefly the following essential facts:

"1. A fairly important part in the Makhnovist movement was 
played by revolutionists of Jewish origin.

"2. Several members of the Education and Propaganda Commission
were Jewish.

"3. Besides many Jewish combatants in various units of the 
army, there was a battery composed entirely of Jewish
artillery men and a Jewish infantry unit.

"4. Jewish colonies in the Ukraine furnished many volunteers
to the Insurrectionary Army.

"5. In general the Jewish population . . . took an active
part in all the activities of the movement. The Jewish
agricultural colonies . . . participated in the regional
assemblies of workers, peasants and partisans; they sent
their delegates to the regional Revolutionary Military
Council. . ." [_The Unknown Revolution_, pp. 967-8]

Voline also quotes the eminent Jewish writer and historian
M. Tcherikover about the question of the Makhnovists and
anti-Semitism. The Jewish historian states "with certainty
that, on the whole, the behaviour of Makhno's army 
cannot be compared with that of the other armies which
were operating in Russian during the events 1917-21 . . .
It is undeniable that, of all these armies, including
the Red Army, the Makhnovists behaved best with regard
the civil population in general and the Jewish population
in particular . . . The proportion of *justified* complaints
against the Makhnovist army, in comparison with the others,
is negligible. . . Do not speak of pogroms alleged to have
been organised by Makhno himself. That is a slander or an
error. Nothing of the sort occurred. As for the Makhnovist
Army . . . *[n]ot once* have I been able to prove the
existence of a Makhnovist unit at the place a pogrom 
against the Jews took place. Consequently, the pogroms
in question could not have been the work of the Makhnovists."
[quoted by Voline, Op. Cit., p. 699]

Given that the Red Army agreed to two pacts with the Makhnovists,
we can only surmise, if Trotsky thought he was telling the
truth, that Trotsky was a hypocrite. However, Trotsky was
either consciously lying or in error -- unfortunately the
Trotskyist publishers of his words did not bother to note
that his assertion was false. We are sorry for this slight
digression, but many Trotskyists take Trotsky's words at
face value and repeat his slander -- unless we indicate 
their false nature they may not take our argument seriously.

Mitchinson continues by stating:

"The position of anarchism only serves to endorse the bourgeois 
slander that Stalinism was inherent in Bolshevism."

This appeal against slander is ironic from someone who writes an
article full of it. But, of course, it is *bourgeois* slander that
he objects too -- Trotskyist slander (and falsification) is fine.

The question of whether it is a "bourgeois slander" to argue (with
supporting evidence) that "Stalinism was inherent in Bolshevism" is
an important one. Trotskyists often point out that anarchist and
libertarian Marxist critiques of Bolshevism sound similar to
bourgeois ones and that anarchist accounts of Bolshevik crimes
against the revolution and working class give ammunition to the
defenders of the status quo. However, this seems more like an 
attempt to stop critical analysis of the Russian Revolution than
a serious political position. Yes, the bourgeois do argue that
Stalinism was inherent in Bolshevism -- however they do so to
discredit all forms of socialism and radical social change. 
Anarchists, on the other hand, analyse the revolution, see
how the Bolsheviks acted and draw conclusions from the facts
in order to push forward revolutionary thought, tactics and
ideas. Just because the conclusions are similar does not mean
that they are invalid -- to label criticism of Bolshevism as
"bourgeois slander" is nothing less than attempt to put people
off investigating the Russian Revolution.

There is are course essential differences between the "bourgeois
slanders" against the Bolsheviks and the anarchist critique. The
bourgeois slander is based on an opposition to the revolution
*as such* while the anarchist critique affirms it. The bourgeois 
slanders are not the result of the experiences of the working 
masses and revolutionaries subject to the Bolshevik regime 
as the anarchist is. Similarly, the bourgeois slanders ignore 
the nature of capitalist society while the anarchist critique 
points out that the degeneration of the Bolshevik state and 
party were a result of it not breaking with bourgeois ideas 
and organisational structures. Ultimately, it is *not* a case 
of "bourgeois slanders" but rather an honest evaluation of the 
events of the Russian Revolution from a working class perspective.

To use an analogy, it is common place for the bourgeois press
and ideologists to attack trade unions as being bureaucratic
and unresponsive to the needs of their members. It is also
common place for members of those same trade unions to think
exactly the same. Indeed, it is a common refrain of Trotskyists
that the trade unions *are* bureaucratic and need to be 
reformed in a more democratic fashion (indeed, Mitchinson
calls for the unions to be "transformed" in his essay). Needless
to say, the bourgeois comments are "correct" in the sense that
the trade unions do have a bureaucracy -- their reasons for
stating that truth serve their interests and their solutions
aid those interests and not those of the members of the unions.
Could a Trotskyist say that it was a "bourgeois slander" if
the capitalist press point to the bureaucratic nature of the
unions when their own papers do the same?

While it may be in the interests of the ruling elite and its
apologists to scream about "bourgeois slanders", it hinders
the process of working class self-emancipation to do so. As
intended, in all likelihood. 

16. Did anarchists reject "the need for organisation in the shape of
    trade unions"?

Mitchinson now decides to "expose" anarchism:

"In its early days, this modern anarchism found a certain support amongst 
the workers. However, through the course of struggle workers learned the 
need for organisation in the shape of the trade unions, and also for 
political organisation which led to the building of the mass workers 
parties."

To see the total nonsense of this claim we need only to turn to Marx.
In his words, Bakunin thought that the "working class . . . must only
organise themselves by trades-unions." [Marx, Engels and Lenin, _Anarchism
and Anarcho-Syndicalism_, p. 48] Bakunin himself argued "the natural
organisation of the masses . . . is organisation based on the various
ways that their various types of work define their day-to-day life; it
is organisation by trade association." [_The Basic Bakunin_, p. 139] 
Kropotkin argued that the "union [*syndicat*] is absolutely necessary. 
It is the only form of workers' grouping which permits the direct
struggle to be maintained against capital without falling into
parliamentarism." [quoted by Caroline Cahm, _Kropotkin and the
Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism_, p. 269] 

So much for anarchism being against trade unions (as Mitchinson 
implies). As for mass workers parties, well, history proved Bakunin 
right -- such parties became corrupted, bureaucratic and reformist. 
For Mitchinson the last 130 years have not existed.

He goes on to argue that "Bakunin and co. denounced participation in
parliament, or the fight for reforms as a betrayal of the revolution,
they 'rejected all political action not having as its immediate and
direct objective the triumph of the workers over capitalism, and as a 
consequence, the abolition of the state.'"

We must first note that the Bakunin quote presented does not support
Mitchinson's assertions -- unless you think that reforms can only be
won via participation in parliament (something anarchists reject). The 
reason *why* Bakunin rejected "all political action" (i.e. bourgeois
politics -- electioneering in other words) is not explained. We will
now do so.

Bakunin did denounce participation in parliament. History proved
him right. Participation in parliament ensured the corruption of the
Social Democratic Parties, the Greens and a host of other radical
and socialist organisations. Mitchinson seems to have forgotten the
fights against reformism that continually occurred in the Social
Democratic Parties at end of the nineteenth and start of the 
twentieth centuries, a fight which ended with the defeat of the
revolutionary wing and the decision to support the nation state in
the first world war. The actual experience of using parliament 
confirmed Bakunin's prediction that when "the workers . . . 
send common workers . . . to Legislative Assemblies . . . The 
worker-deputies, transplanted into a bourgeois environment, into 
an atmosphere of purely bourgeois ideas, will in fact cease to be 
workers and, becoming Statesmen, they will become bourgeois . . . 
For men do not make their situations; on the contrary, men are 
made by them." [_The Basic Bakunin_, p. 108]

What is not true, however, is that claim that Bakunin thought
that "the fight for reforms [w]as a betrayal of the revolution."
Bakunin was a firm believer in the importance of struggles for
reforms, but struggles of a specific kind -- namely struggles
to win reforms which are based on the *direct action* by workers 
themselves:

"What policy should the International [Workers' Association]
follow during th[e] somewhat extended time period that
separates us from this terrible social revolution . . . 
the International will give labour unrest in all countries
an *essentially economic* character, with the aim of 
reducing working hours and increasing salary, by means of
the *association of the working masses* . . . It will [also]
propagandise its principles . . . [Op. Cit., p. 109]

"And indeed, as soon as a worker believes that the economic
state of affairs can be radically transformed in the near
future, he begins to fight, in association with his comrades,
for the reduction of his working hours and for an increase
in his salary. . . through practice and action . . . the
progressive expansion and development of the economic
struggle will bring him more and more to recognise his true
enemies: the privileged classes, including the clergy, the
bourgeois, and the nobility; and the State, which exists
only to safeguard all the privileges of those classes."
[Op. Cit., p. 103]

This argument for reforms by direct action and workers'
associations was a basic point of agreement in those
sections of the First International which supported
Bakunin's ideas. In the words of an anarchist member
of the Jura Federation writing in 1875:

"Instead of begging the State for a law compelling employers
to make them work only so many hours, the trade associations
*directly impose* this reform on the employers; in this
way, instead of a legal text which remains a dead letter,
a real economic change is effected *by the direct initiative
of the workers* . . . if the workers devoted all their activity
and energy to the organisation of their trades into societies
of resistance, trade federations, local and regional, if, by
meetings, lectures, study circles, papers and pamphlets, they
kept up a permanent socialist and revolutionary agitation; if
by linking practice to theory, they *realised directly*, 
without any bourgeois and governmental intervention, all
immediately possible reforms, reforms advantageous not to a
few workers but to the labouring mass -- certainly then the
cause of labour would be better served than . . . legal
agitation." [quoted by Caroline Cahm, _Kropotkin and the
Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism_, p. 226]

So much for Bakunin or the libertarian wing of the First
International being against reforms or the struggle for
reforms. Anarchists have not changed their minds on this
issue.

17. Why do anarchists reject political activity?

After spreading falsehoods against Bakunin, Mitchinson states
that: 

"Marxism fights for the conquest of political power by the working 
class and the building of a socialist society, under which the state 
will wither away. 

"Until then should workers refrain from political activity? Should they 
reject all reforms that might improve their existence? Nothing would 
please Blair or the bosses more."

It is ironic that Mitchinson mentions Blair. He is, after all, the leader
of the Labour Party -- as mass workers party formed from the trade unions
to use political action to gain reforms within capitalism. The current
state of Labour indicates well the comment that "in proportion as the 
socialists become a power in the present bourgeois society and State, 
their socialism must die out." [Kropotkin, _Kropotkin's Revolutionary 
Pamphlets_, p. 189] It is as if the history of Social Democracy (or 
even the German Greens) does not exist for Mitchinson -- he points 
to Blair to refute anarchist analysis that Parliamentary politics 
corrupts the parties that use it! How strange, to ignore the results
of socialists actually using "political activity" (and we must stress
that anarchists traditionally use the term "political action" to refer
to electioneering, i.e. bourgeois politics, only). Obviously reality 
is something which can be ignored when creating a political theory.

Needless to say, as noted above, anarchists do not "reject all reforms." 
We have quoted Bakunin, now we quote Kropotkin -- "the Anarchists have
always advised taking an active part in those workers' organisations
which carry on the *direct* struggle of Labour against Capital and
its protector, the State." He continued by arguing that such struggle,
"better than any other indirect means, permits the worker to obtain
some temporary improvements in the present conditions of work,
while it opens his eyes to the evil done by Capitalism and the
State that supports it, and wakes up his thoughts concerning the
possibility of organising consumption, production, and exchange
without the intervention of the capitalist and the State." 
[_Evolution and Environment_, pp. 82-3]

Thus we do not think that political action (electioneering) equates 
to reforms nor even is the best means of winning reforms in the first 
place. Anarchists argue that by direct action we can win reforms.

Mitchinson continues his diatribe:

"Of course not, we must advocate the struggle for every gain no 
matter how minor, and use any and every field open to us. Only 
the dilettante can reject better wages or a health care system. 
Precisely through these struggles, and the struggles to transform 
the workers organisations the unions and the parties, we learn 
and become more powerful and bring closer the day when it will 
be possible to transform society for good."

As noted, anarchists do not reject reforms. Only a dilettante 
misrepresents the position of his enemies. And, as can be seen
from the above quotes by Bakunin and Kropotkin, anarchists agree 
with Mitchinson's comments. Anarchists agree on the need to win
reforms by direct action, which necessitates the creation of
new forms of working class organisation based on firm libertarian
principles and tactics -- organisations like workers' councils,
factory committees, community assemblies and so on.

However, when looking at the fields of struggle open to us, we evaluate
them based on a materialist basis -- looking at the implications of
the tactics in theory and how they *actually worked out in practice.*
Mitchinson obviously refuses to do this. Anarchists, on the other
hand, base their politics on such an evaluation. For example, Bakunin 
would have been aware of Proudhon's experiences in the French National 
Assembly during the 1848 revolution:

"As soon as I set foot in the parliamentary Sinai, I ceased to
be in touch with the masses; because I was absorbed by my 
legislative work, I entirely lost sight of current events . . .
One must have lived in that isolator which is called the National
Assembly to realise how the men who are most completely ignorant
of the state of the country are almost always those who represent
it . . . fear of the people is the sickness of all those who
belong to authority; the people, for those in power, are the
enemy." [Proudhon, quoted by Peter Marshall, _Demanding the
Impossible_, p. 244]

Similarly, the practical experiences of a socialist elected into
Parliament would be easy to predict -- they would be swamped by
bourgeois politics, issues and activities. Anarchism gained such
socialists elected to parliament as Johann Most and Ferdinand
Nieuwenhuis who soon released the correctness of the anarchist
analysis. Thus actual experience confirmed the soundness of
anarchist politics. Mitchinson, on the other hand, has to deny
history -- indeed, he fails to mention the history of Social
Democracy at all in his article.

Thus the claim that we should use "every field open to us" is
idealistic nonsense, at total odds with any claim to use 
scientific techniques of analysis (i.e. to being a scientific
socialist) or a supporter of materialist philosophy. It means 
the rejection of historical analysis and the embrace of 
ahistoric wishful thinking.

Moreover, why do the workers need to "transform" their own 
organisations in the first place? Perhaps because they are
bureaucratic organisations in which power is centralised
at the top, in a few hands? Why did this happen, if fighting
for reforms by any suitable means (including electioneering)
was their rationale? Perhaps because the wrong people are in
positions of power? But why are they the wrong people? Because
they are right-wing, have reformist ideas, etc. Why do they have
reformist ideas? Here Mitchinson must fall silent, because
obviously they have reformist ideas because the organisations
and activities they are part of are reformist through and
through. The tactics (using elections) and organisational
structure (centralisation of power) bred such ideas -- as
Bakunin and other anarchists predicted. Mitchinson's politics 
cannot explain why this occurs, which explains why Lenin was 
so surprised when German Social Democracy supported its ruling 
class during the First World War.

18. How do anarchists struggle for reforms under capitalism?

Mitchinson continues his distortion of anarchism by arguing:

"Marxists fight for every reform, whilst at the same time explaining 
that while capitalism continues none of these advances are safe. Only 
socialism can really solve the problems of society."

As noted above, anarchists also fight for every reform possible -- but
by direct action, by the strength of working people in their "natural
organisations" and "social power" (to use Bakunin's words). We also
argue that reforms are always in danger -- that is why we need to
have strong, direct action based organisations and self-reliance. If 
we leave it to leaders to protect (never mind *win* reforms) we 
would not have them for long. Given that Labour governments have
whittled previous reforms just as much as Conservative ones, 
anarchists feel our strategy is the relevant one.

Mitchinson continues:

"Our modern day anarchists, Reclaim the Streets and others, have no
support in Britain amongst the organised workers."

Which is not true, as RTS and other anarchists do seek influence with
the organised workers (and the unorganised ones, and the unemployed,
etc.). They have invited rank-and-file trade union activists to their
demonstrations to speak, trade unionists are members of anarchist 
organisations, etc. Anarchists are at the forefront of supporting
strikers, particularly when their union betrays their struggle
and does not support them. For example, during the Liverpool 
dockers strike RTS and the dockers formed a common front, organised
common demonstrations and so on. The trade unions did nothing to
support the dockers, RTS and other anarchist groups did. That in
itself indicates the weakness of Mitchinson's claims. It would
also be useful to point out that Trotskyists have little support 
amongst organised workers as well.

Moreover, anarchists do not seek to become part of the trade union 
bureaucracy and so their influence cannot be easily gauged. 

After asserting these dubious "facts" about anarchist influence, he
continues:

"Some radicalised youth however are attracted to their 'direct action' 
stance. There is a vacuum left by the absence of a mass Labour youth 
organisation which, fighting for a socialist programme, could attract 
these young workers and students. With no lead being given by the tops 
of the unions, and Labour in government attacking young people, that 
vacuum can be temporarily and partly filled by groups like Reclaim the
Streets."

Needless to say, Mitchinson does not pose the question *why* the
Labour government is attacking "young people" (and numerous other
sections of the working class). Why has the Labour Party, a mass
workers party which uses elections to gain reforms, been attacking
(as it has always done, we must note) its support? If its because 
the leaders are "right-wing" then why have the membership supported 
them? Why have the "right-wing" gained such influence? Also, why 
is there no "mass Labour youth organisation"? And why should 
"young people" join an organisation which is part of the party 
which is attacking them? And why are the "tops of the unions" not 
giving a "lead"? Perhaps because its not in their interests to 
do so? Because they hate direct action and radical workers as 
much as the bosses?

Mitchinson's "analysis" is question begging in the extreme.

He continues:

"What action do they propose though? In their press statement (2/5/00) 
they explain, 'We were not protesting. Under the shadow of an irrelevant 
parliament we were planting the seeds of a society where ordinary people 
are in control of their land, their resources, their food and  their 
decision making. The garden symbolised an urge to be self-reliant 
rather than dependent on capitalism.'"

Firstly, we should point out that having access to land *is* a key
way for workers to be independent of capitalism. Perhaps Mitchinson
forgets Marx's discussion of the colonies in chapter 33 of _Capital_?
In it Marx discusses how access to land allowed immigrants to
America and Australia to reject wage labour (i.e. capitalism) by
providing them with the means to survive without selling themselves
on the labour market to survive. The state had to be used to 
enforce the laws of supply and demand by restricting access to
the land. Or, perhaps, he had forgotten Marx's discussion in
chapter 27 of _Capital_ of the role of enclosures in creating a 
dispossessed mass of people who were forced, by necessity, to become 
the first generation of wage slaves? Either way, access to the land
*was* (and still is, in many countries) a means of being independent
of capitalism -- and one which the state acts to destroy. 
 
Secondly, the garden was a *symbol* of a communist society, not 
an expression of the type of society RTS and other anarchists
desire. So, as a *symbol* of a anti-capitalist vision, the garden 
is a good one given the history of state violence used to separate
working people from the land and propel them into the labour market.
However, it is only a *symbol* and not, obviously, to be taken as 
an example of the future society RTS or other anarchists desire. 
Only someone lacking in imagination could confuse a symbol with a 
vision -- as the press release states it "celebrated the possibility 
of a world that encourages co-operation and sharing rather than one 
which rewards greed, individualism and competition." 

Thirdly, as their press release states, "Guerrilla Gardening is not
a protest; by its very nature it is a creative peaceful celebration 
of the growing global anticapitalist movement." Mitchinson attacks
the action for being something it was never intended to be.

He "analyses" the RTS press release:

"The fact that parliament appears powerless to prevent job losses
or the destruction of the environment, only demonstrates that it
serves the interests of capitalism."

Very true, as Kropotkin argued the "State is there to protect
exploitation, speculation and private property; it is itself 
the by-product of the rapine of the people. The proletariat
must reply on his own hands; he can expect nothing of the
State. It is nothing more than an organisation devised to
hinder emancipation at all costs." [_Words of a Rebel_,
p. 27] He argues elsewhere that "small groups of men [and
women] were imbued with the . . . spirit of revolt. They
also rebelled -- sometimes with the hope of partial success;
for example winning a strike and of obtaining bread for
their children . . . Without the menace contained in such 
revolts, no serious concession has ever been wrung by the
people from governing classes." [_Evolution and Environment_,
p. 103]

Mitchinson seems to agree:
 
"However, under pressure from below it is possible to introduce 
reforms through parliament that are in the interests of ordinary 
people."

Thus reforms *are* possible, but only if we rely on ourselves,
organise pressure from below and use direct action to force
parliament to act (if that is required). Which is what anarchists 
have always argued. Without anti-parliamentary action, parliament 
will ignore the population. That is what anarchists have always
argued -- we have to reply on our own organisations, solidarity
and direct action to change things for the better. Faced with
such a movement, parliament would introduce reforms regardless
of who was a member of it. Without such a movement, you end up
with Tony Blair. Thus Mitchinson is confused -- by his own
logic, the anarchists are correct, we have to work outside
parliament and electioneering in order to be effective.

He continues: 

"It is no use declaring parliament to be irrelevant, and 
turning your back on it when the majority do not agree, and still 
look to government to make their lives better. This is the mirror 
image of the sects attitude to the Labour Party. Any and every 
avenue which can be used to improve our lives must be used."

How do you change the opinion of the majority? By changing
your position to match theirs? Of course not. You change
their position by argument and proving that direct action
is more effective in making their lives better than looking
to government. Mitchinson would have a fit if someone argued
"it is no use declaring capitalism to be wrong and fighting
against it when the majority do not agree and still look
to it to make their lives better." If the majority do not
agree with you, then you try and change their opinion -- 
you do not accept that opinion and hope it goes away by
itself! 

Mitchinson seems to be following Lenin when he argued 
"[y]ou must not sink to the level of the masses . . . You 
must tell them the bitter truth. You are duty bound
to call their bourgeois-democratic and parliamentary
prejudices what they are -- prejudices. But at the same
time you must *soberly* follow the *actual* state of
the class-consciousness . . . of *all* the toiling
masses." [_Left-wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder_, 
p. 41] Obviously, you cannot tell workers the bitter
truth and at the same time follow their prejudices. In
practice, if you follow their prejudices you cannot help
but encourage faith in parliament, social democratic
parties, leaders and so on. Progress is achieved by 
discussing issues with people, not ducking the question
of political issues in favour of saying what the majority
want to hear (which is what the capitalist media and
education system encourage them to believe in the first
place). As a means of encouraging revolutionary thought
it is doomed to failure.
 
Also, just to stress the point, any and every avenue which
can be used to improve our lives must be used but only if
it actually is revolutionary and does not place obstacles
in the process of social change. Parliamentary action has
been proven time and time again to be a false way for
radical change -- it only ends up turning radicals into
supporters of the status quo. It makes as much sense as
arguing that any and every avenue must be used to cure a
disease, including those which give you a new disease in
its place.

19. How does Mitchinson distorts the use of the term "Self-reliance"?

Mitchinson argues that:

"In any case this 'self-reliance' is no alternative. Self-reliance 
won't get electricity into your house, educate your children or 
treat you when you are ill."

No anarchist and no one in RTS ever claimed it would. We use the
term "self-reliance" in a totally different way -- as anyone
familiar with anarchist or RTS theory would know. We use it to
describe individuals who think for themselves, question authority,
act for themselves and do not follow leaders. No anarchist uses
the term to describe some sort of peasant life-style. But then
why let facts get in the way of a nice diatribe?

He continues:

"We have the resources to cater for all of society's needs, the 
only problem is that we do not own them."

Actually, the *real* problem is that we do not *control* them.
The examples of Nationalised industries and the Soviet Union
should make this clear. In theory, they were both owned by their
populations but, in practice, they were effectively owned by
those who managed them -- state bureaucrats and managers. They
were not used to cater for our needs, but rather the needs of
those who controlled them. For this reason anarchists argue
that common ownership without workers' self-management in the
workplace and community would be little more than state 
capitalism (wage labour would still exist, but the state would
replace the boss).

He continues with his distortion of the concept of "self-reliance":

"Individualism (self-reliance) cannot be an alternative to socialism,
where all the resources of society are at all of our disposal, and
equally we all contribute what we can to society."

Firstly, anarchists are socialists and mostly seek a (libertarian)
communist society where the resources of the world are at our
disposal. 

Secondly, self-reliance has little to do with "individualism" -- 
it has a lot to do with *individuality,* however. The difference 
is important.

Thirdly, in a part of the press release strangely unquoted by
Mitchinson, RTS argue that their action "celebrated the possibility 
of a world that encourages co-operation and sharing rather than one 
which rewards greed, individualism and competition." RTS are
well aware that self-reliance does not equal individualism and
they are very clear that oppose individualism and desire 
co-operation. Given that Mitchinson quotes from their press
release, he must know this and yet he asserts the opposite.

Mitchinson seems to equate self-reliance with "individualism"
and so, presumably, capitalism. However, capitalists do not
want self-reliant workers, they want order takers, people 
who will not question their authority. As David Noble points
out, after an experiment in workers' control General Electric
replaces it with a the regime that was "designed to 'break' the 
pilots of their new found 'habits' of self-reliance, self-discipline, 
and self-respect." [_Forces of Production_, p. 307]

Capitalists know the danger of self-reliant people. Self-reliant
people question authority, think for themselves, do not follow
leaders and bring these abilities into any groups they join.
Thus self-reliance is not purely an individual thing, it also
refers to groups *and* classes. Anarchists desire to see a
self-reliant working class -- a class which makes its own
decisions and does not follow leaders. Thus, for anarchists,
self-reliance refers to *both* individuals and groups (just
as self-management and self-liberation does). Needless to
say, for those in authority or those seeking authority
self-reliance is an evil thing which must be combated. Hence
Mitchinson's diatribe -- it is the cry of the would-be leader
who is afraid his followers will not respect his authority.

20. Is anarchism an example of "Philosophical idealism"?

He turns to the May Day demonstration:

"Guerrilla gardening and its related varieties that have sprung up
in various places, is nothing more than an offshoot of the old
utopian idea of changing society by example." 

Actually, it was a specific demonstration to encourage people
to get involved in collective action, to have a good time and
challenge authority and the status quo. It was an attempt to 
change society by example only in the sense that it would
encourage others to act, to challenge the status quo and
get involved in collective action. If Mitchinson was consistent
he would have to oppose *every* demonstration that occurred
before the final insurrection that created the "workers'
state" -- a demonstration is, by its very nature, an example
to others of what is possible, an example of our collective
strength and our desire for change. You may be critical of
the nature of the guerrilla gardening action (and many
anarchists are), but you cannot misrepresent its nature as
Mitchinson does and be expected to be taken seriously.

He continues:

"The roots of this scheme lie in idealist philosophy. Philosophical 
idealism refers to the notion that people's actions are a consequence 
of their thoughts, that ideas and not our conditions of life determine 
our outlook. When, through a long process of accumulation, we change 
people's minds, then they will live differently, capitalism will simply 
be redundant. The capitalist class themselves will presumably sit 
idly by and watch their system fall apart."

Given that the "anti-capitalist" demonstrations have meet extensive
state violence, it is clear that those involved are well aware
that capitalist class will not just watch its power disappear. 

Also, calling RTS's action "idealist philosophy" is quite ironic for 
someone who seems intent in ignoring the history of Social Democracy
and dismisses attempts to analyse the Bolsheviks in power as 
"bourgeois slanders." However, Mitchinson in his diatribe forgets
one of the basic arguments of materialism -- namely that ideas
themselves are part of the material world and so influence society
and how it develops. He rejects the notion that peoples thoughts 
and ideas determine their actions. He obviously thinks that people
operate on auto-pilot, not thinking about their actions. However,
in reality, what people do is dependent on their thoughts -- they
think about their actions and what motivates them influences their
activity. If thoughts did not determine people's actions then
Mitchinson would not have spent so much time writing this article!

Thus Mitchinson is well aware of the importance of ideas in social
change, at least implicitly. Indeed, he argues for the need for
a "mass Labour youth organisation which, fighting for a socialist 
programme, could attract these young workers and students." To
state the obvious, a socialist programme is a means to "change 
people's minds" and present the possibility of creating a new
society. Does he seriously think a socialist revolution is 
possible without changing people's minds, getting them to desire 
a socialist society? 

Moreover, if he had read Bakunin he would be aware that anarchists
consider the class struggle as the way to change people's ideas.
As Bakunin argued:

"the germs of [socialist thought] . . . [are to] be found 
in the instinct of every earnest worker. The goal . . . 
is to make the worker fully aware of what he wants, to
unjam within him a stream of thought corresponding to his
instinct . . . What impedes the swifter development of this
salutary though among the working masses? Their ignorance to
be sure, that is, for the most part the political and religious
prejudices with which self-interested classes still try to
obscure their conscious and their natural instinct. How can
we dispel this ignorance and destroy these harmful prejudices?
By education and propaganda? . . . they are insufficient . . .
[and] who will conduct this propaganda? . . . [The] workers'
world . . . is left with but a single path, that of 
*emancipation through practical action* . . . It means
workers' solidarity in their struggle against the bosses. 
It means *trade-unions*, *organisation* . . . To deliver
[the worker] from that ignorance [of reactionary ideas], 
the International relies on collective experience he gains
in its bosom, especially on the progress of the collective
struggle of the workers against the bosses . . .  As soon
as he begins to take an active part in this wholly material
struggle, . . . Socialism replaces religion in his mind. . .
through practice and collective experience . . . the 
progressive and development of the economic struggle will
bring him more and more to recognise his true enemies . . .
The workers thus enlisted in the struggle will necessarily
. . . recognise himself to be a revolutionary socialist, and
he will act as one." [_The Basic Bakunin_, pp. 102-3]

Thus anarchists are aware that experience determines thought
but we are also aware that thought is essential for action.
We recognise the importance of ideas in the class struggle
but we also realise that the ideas people have change as
a result of that struggle. To state otherwise is to misrepresent
anarchist thought.

21. How is Mitchinson's critique self-contradictory?

He continues his distortion:

"Whilst believing in a revolutionary struggle to overthrow capitalism, 
anarchists argue that it must be replaced by...nothing."

This is ironic for quite a few reasons. Firstly, above Mitchinson 
claimed that anarchists did not aim to overthrow capitalism, just 
the state. Now he is claiming we *do* believe in overthrowing 
capitalism. Secondly, he quoted Trotsky saying that anarchists 
just ignore the state. Now Mitchinson states we aim to overthrow 
the capitalism via revolutionary struggle. How do you overthrow 
something via revolutionary struggle by ignoring it? His critique 
is not even internally consistent.

Moreover, he is well aware what anarchists want to replace capitalism
with, after all he quotes an anarchist conference which stated that
they aimed for "the creation of an absolutely free economic organisation 
and federation based on work and equality"! Bakunin was always arguing
that the International Workers Association should become "an earnest
organisation of workers associations from all countries, capable of
replacing this departing world of States and bourgeoisie." [_The
Basic Bakunin_, p. 110] In other words, the "future social 
organisation must be made solely from the bottom upwards, by
the free association of workers, first in their unions, then in
the communes, regions, nations and finally in a great federation,
international and universal." [_Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings_,
p. 206] Even Engels acknowledged that the anarchists aimed to 
"dispose all the authorities, abolish the state and replace it
with the organisation of the International." [Marx, Engels and Lenin,
Op. Cit., p. 72] Anyone with even a basic knowledge of anarchist theory
would know this. And given that Mitchinson stated that "Marx saw a 
future society without a state" as well and that he quotes Trotsky
as arguing "Marxists are wholly in agreement with the anarchists in 
regard to the final goal: the liquidation of the state" we can only
assume that Marxists also aim at replacing it, eventually, when the
state "withers away," with "nothing." 

This sentence, more than any other, shows the level which some Marxists
will sink to when discussing anarchism. It shows that the standard
Marxist critique of anarchism is little more than an inconsistent
collection of lies, distortion and misrepresentation. Mitchinson not
only contradicts his ideological gurus, he even contradicts himself!
That is truly impressive.

22. How did Trotsky make the trains run on time?

Mitchinson asks:

"Yet with no central apparatus, no organisation, how would the 
trains run on time, how could organ transplants be organised, 
how could the world's resources be channelled into permanently 
overcoming famine."

Firstly, we must note the usual fallacy -- being opposed to
a "central apparatus" does not imply "no organisation." Instead
of centralised organisation, anarchists propose *federal*
organisations in which co-ordination is achieved by collective
decision making from the bottom up. In other words, rather
than delegate power into the hands of "leaders", an anarchist
organisation leaves power at the bottom and co-ordination 
results from collective agreements that reflect the needs
of those directly affected by them. Thus a federal organisation
co-ordinates activities but in a bottom-up fashion rather
than top-down, as in a centralised body.

Secondly, needless to say, anarchists are quite clear on who would 
make the trains run on time -- the railway workers. Anarchists are
firm supporters of workers' self-management. Anyone with even 
a basic understanding of anarchist theory would know that. 
Moreover, the experience of workers' self-management of the 
railways by the anarchist union the CNT during the Spanish 
Revolution indicates that such anarchism can, and does, ensure 
that the trains run on time In contrast, the experience of Russia 
-- when the Bolsheviks did create a "central apparatus" -- 
proved a total failure. It is quite appropriate that Mitchinson
uses the "trains running on time" example, after all it is what
apologists for Italian fascism praised Mussolini for! This is
because Trotsky (when he ran the railways) did so in a way that 
Mussolini would have been proud of -- he subjected the railway
workers to military discipline:

"Due to the Civil War -- and to other factors less often
mentioned, such as the attitude of the railway workers to
the 'new' regime -- the Russian railways had virtually 
ceased to function. Trotsky, Commissar for Transport, was 
granted wide emergency powers [in August 1920] to try out
his theories of 'militarisation of labour.' He started out
placing the railwaymen and the personnel of the repair
workshops under martial law. When the railwaymen's trade
union objected, he summarily ousted its leaders and,
*with the full support and endorsement of the Party
leadership,* 'appointed others willing to do his bidding.
He repeated the procedure in other unions of transport
workers.'" [Maurice Brinton, _The Bolsheviks and Workers'
Control_, p. 67]

He ruled the "central apparatus" he created, called the
Tsektran, "along strict military and bureaucratic lines."
[Ibid.] The trains did start moving again, of course. The
question is -- do workers manage their own activity or
does some other group. Trotsky and Lenin in power decided
for the latter -- and built the "centralised apparatus"
required to ensure that result. Needless to say, Trotsky
did not justify his militarisation of work in terms of
necessary evils resulting from appalling objective
conditions. Rather he saw it as a matter of "principle":

"The working class cannot be left wandering all over Russia.
They must be thrown here and there, appointed, commanded,
just like soldiers."

"The very principle of compulsory labour is for the Communist 
quite unquestionable . . . the only solution to economic 
difficulties from the point of view of both principle 
and of practice is to treat the population of the whole 
country as the reservoir of the necessary labour power . . . 
and to introduce strict order into the work of its registration, 
mobilisation and utilisation." 

"The introduction of compulsory labour service is unthinkable 
without the application . . . of the methods of militarisation 
of labour." [quoted by M. Brinton, Op. Cit., p. 61 and p. 66]

Why "principle"? Perhaps because Marx and Engels had stated
in _The Communist Manifesto_ that one of the measures 
required during the revolution was the "[e]stablishment 
of industrial armies"? [_Selected Writings_, p. 53]

Moreover, the experience of "central apparatus" in Bolshevik
Russia helped create famine -- the vast bureaucracy spawned
by the "workers' state" could not handle the information a
centralised distribution system required. Food rotted in 
trains waiting for bureaucrats to "channel" resources (and,
needless to say, the bureaucrats never went hungry).

23. Can centralised planning meet the needs of the whole of society?

Our Marxist friend then quotes _Maybe_: 

"The radical social movements that are increasingly coming 
together don't want to seize power but to dissolve it. They 
are dreaming up many autonomous alternative forms of social 
organisation, forms that are directly linked to the specific 
needs of locality. What might be an alternative to capitalism 
for people living currently in a housing estate in Croydon is 
completely different to what might be suitable for the 
inhabitants of the slums of Delhi."

He comments on these very sensible words:

"It cannot be of no concern to us what form a new society will 
take in different countries or even different regions. The economic 
power we have created over centuries can and must be used in a planned,
rational way to eradicate hunger, disease and illiteracy. It must be
used in the interests of the whole of society."

Obviously, the needs of actual people, what sort of society they
want, is irrelevant to Marxism. Also ignored is the fact that
different cultures will have different visions of what a free
society will be like. Thus, for Mitchinson, everyone, everywhere, 
will be subject to the same form of society -- "in the interests of 
society." However, as Bakunin argued, the state "is an arbitrary 
creature in whose breast all the positive, living, individual or 
local interests of the people clash, destroy and absorb each other 
into the abstraction known as the common interest, the *public good*
or the *public welfare*, and where all real wills are dissolved
into the other abstraction that bears the name of *the will of
the people.* It follows that this alleged will of the people
is never anything but the sacrifice and dissolution of all the
real wants of the population, just as this so-called public
good is nothing but the sacrifice of their interests." [_Michael
Bakunin: Selected Writings_, pp. 265-6]

The different needs of different areas and regions must be
the starting point of any social reconstruction, the basis on
which we create specific programmes to improve our societies,
eco-systems and world. If we do not recognise the diversity
inherent in a world of billions of people, millions of eco-systems,
thousands of cultures, hundreds of regions then we cannot use
the resources of society to improve our lives. Instead we would
have uniform plan imposed on everything which, by its very nature,
cannot take into accounts the real needs of those who make up
"the whole of society." In other words, the resources of the
world must not be used by an abstraction claiming to act "in the 
interests of society" but rather by the people who actually make 
up society themselves -- if we do that we ensure that their 
interests are meet directly as they manage their own affairs 
and that their use reflects the specific requirements of 
specific people and eco-systems and not some abstraction 
called "the interests of society" which, by its centralised 
nature, would sacrifice those interests.
 
Of course, it seems somewhat strange that Mitchinson thinks that

people in, say, New Delhi or Croyden, will not seek to eradicate
hunger, disease and illiteracy as they see fit, co-operating with
others as and when they need to and creating the federative
organisations required to do so. The need to share experiences
and resources does not conflict with the different areas
experimenting in different ways, expressing themselves in ways
which suit their particular needs and difficulties. As any
ecologist could tell you, different eco-systems need different
forms of care. The same with communities -- Mitchinson would
drown local needs in the name of an artificial construct.

He continues:

"That can only be achieved by the democratic planning of society where 
the power at our fingertips could be used with due respect for the 
future of the planet, the conservation of it's resources, our own 
working conditions, and living standards. Whether we like it or not, 
growing a few carrots on empty plots of land will not eradicate hunger 
and famine."

How can "democratic planning" of the whole "of society" take into
account the needs of specific localities, eco-systems, communities?
It cannot. Respect for the future of our planet means respecting
the fundamental law of nature -- namely that conformity is death.
Diversity is the law of life -- which means that a future socialist
society must be libertarian, organised from the bottom up, based
on local self-management and a respect for diversity. Such a
federal structures does not preclude co-ordinated activity (or
the creation of democratic *plans*) -- the reverse in fact, as 
federalism exists to allow co-ordination -- but instead of being 
imposed by a few "leaders" as in a centralised system, it is the 
product of local needs and so reflective of the needs of real 
people and eco-systems.

As for his comment about "due respect of the future of the planet"
is obviously inspired by "the youth" being concerned about ecological
issues. However, Leninism's desire for centralised states and planning 
excludes an ecological perspective by definition. As Bakunin argued:

"What man, what group of individuals, no matter how great their
genius, would dare to think themselves able to embrace and 
understand the plethora of interests, attitudes and activities
so various in every country, every province, locality and
profession." [Op. Cit., p. 240]

Diversity is the basis of any eco-system. Centralism cannot, as 
Bakunin makes clear, embrace it.

Needless to say, Mitchinson's comments about carrots is pure
stupidity and an insult to the intelligence of his audience. 

24. Is technology neutral?

Mitchinson goes on:

"We have the power to do just that, but only if we combine new
technology, industry and the talents and active participation of
millions."

Needless to say, he fails to indicate how the millions *can*
participate in a "centralised apparatus" beyond electing their
"leaders." Which indicates the fallacy of Marxism -- it claims
to desire a society based on the participation of everyone yet
favours a form of organisation -- centralisation -- that precludes
that participation.

In addition, he fails to note that technology and industry have
been developed by capitalists to enhance their own power. As
we argued in section D.10, technology cannot be viewed in 
isolation from the class struggle. This means that industry
and technology was not developed to allow the active participation
of millions. The first act of any revolution will be seizing 
of the means of life -- including industry and technology --
by those who use it and, from that moment on, their radical
transformation into *appropriate* technology and industry,
based on the needs of the workers, the community and the
planet. Mitchinson obvious shares the common Marxist failing
of believing technology and industry is neutral. In this he
follows Lenin. As S.A. Smith correctly summarises:

"Lenin believed that socialism could be built only on the
basis of large-scale industry as developed by capitalism,
with its specific types of productivity and social 
organisation of labour. Thus for him, capitalist methods 
of labour-discipline or one-man management were not
necessarily incompatible with socialism. Indeed, he went
so far as to consider them to be inherently progressive,
failing to recognise that such methods undermined workers'
initiative at the point of production. This was because
Lenin believed that the transition to socialism was
guaranteed, ultimately, not by the self-activity of
workers, but by the 'proletarian' character of state
power.  . . There is no doubt that Lenin did conceive
proletarian power in terms of the central state and
lacked a conception of localising such power at the
point of production." [_Red Petrograd_, pp. 261-2]

The Russian workers, unsurprisingly, had a different
perspective:

"Implicit in the movement for workers' control was
a belief that capitalist methods cannot be used for
socialist ends. In their battle to democratise the
factory, in their emphasis on the importance of
collective initiatives by the direct producers in
transforming the work situation, the factory committees
had become aware -- in a partial and groping way, to 
be sure -- that factories are not merely sites of
production, but also of reproduction -- the reproduction
of a certain structure of social relations based on the
division between those who give orders and those who
take them, between those who direct and those who execute
. . . inscribed within their practice was a distinctive
vision of socialism, central to which was workplace
democracy." [Op. Cit., p. 261]

The movement for workers' control was undermined and finally 
replaced by one-man management by the kind of "central
apparatus" Mitchinson urges us to build (see M. Brinton's
classic work _The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control_ for
more details). Those who do not study history are doomed
to repeat it.

He goes on:

"The economic power we have created can be compared to the
destructive force of lightning, untamed and anarchic under 
the market, yet organised into cables and wires electricity 
transforms our lives. Industry is not the enemy, nor are machines. 
The state is, but it is a symptom not the disease. It is capitalism 
and its ownership of the economy, its stewardship of society that 
we have to replace."

However, unlike electricity, "economic power" requires people
to operate it. The question is not whether "machines" are the
enemy (often they are, as machines are used by capitalists to 
weaken the power of workers and control them). The question is
whether the future society we aim at is one based on workers'
and community self-management or whether it is based on an
authoritarian system of delegated power. It is clear that 
Marxists like Mitchinson desire the latter -- indeed, as is
clear from his diatribe, he cannot comprehend an alternative
to hierarchical organisation.

Given that one of the things capitalism and the state have in
common is a hierarchical, top-down structure, it is clear that
any revolutionary movement must fight both -- at the same time.

25. Do anarchists ignore the "strength of the working class"?

Mitchinson argues that:

"The task of our time is to combine the strength and experience 
of the working class and its mighty organisations with the power 
and energy of the youth internationally, on the basis of a clear
understanding of what capitalism is, what the state is, and a
programme for changing society. That requires a combination of 
theory and action. In that combination lies the strength of Marxism." 

The first question is surely *what* "mighty organisations" of the
working class is he talking about. Is it the Labour Party? Or is
it the trade unions? Probably the latter -- if so, the question
is how effective have these "mighty organisations" been recently?
The answer must, surely, be "not very." Why is that? In union
there is strength, as anarchists have long been aware. Why has
this strength been so lacking? Simply because the unions are
centralised, bureaucratic and run from the top down. They have
placed numerous barriers in front of their members when they
have taken militant action. That is why anarchists urge workers
to form rank-and-file controlled organisations to manage their
own struggles and take back the power they have delegated to
their so-called leaders. Only in this way, by building truly
revolutionary organisations like workers' councils (soviets),
factory committees, community assemblies and so on can they
really create a "mighty" force. In other words, anarchists 
are well aware of the strength of working class people and 
their power to change society -- indeed, as proven above, 
anarchism is based on that awareness and organise appropriately!

The second question is surely to ask whether Mitchinson is
aware that _Reclaim the Streets_ have been building links with
rank and file trade union militants for years -- long before 
Mitchinson decided to enlighten them with "the strength of Marxism." 
In other words, "the strength of Marxism" seems to rest in telling
radical working class people to do what they have already
doing! Such strength is truly amazing and must explain the
prominent role Leninists have had in the numerous anti-capitalist
demonstrations and organisations recently.

Needless to say, *anarchism* provides "a clear understanding of 
what capitalism is, what the state is, and a programme for changing 
society. That requires a combination of theory and action." This
has been proven above when we corrected Mitchinson's numerous
errors regarding anarchist theory. Moreover, as far as combining
theory and action goes, it is clear that *anarchism* has been
doing that of late, *not* Marxism. While anarchists have been
at the forefront of the anti-capitalist demonstrations, working
with others as equals, Marxists have been noticeable by their
absence. Combining theory and practice, non-hierarchically
organised direct action closed down the WTO and presented a
clear message to the oppressed around the world -- *resistance
is fertile.* What have Marxists achieved? Apparently producing
articles such as these, distorting the politics and activities
of those who actually *are* changing the world rather than 
just interpreting it. That they cannot produce an honest
critique of anarchism indicates the uselessness of their
politics.

26. What does Mitchinson's article tell about the nature of Trotskyism?

He finishes his diatribe as follows:

"If you want to fight against capitalism, do so fully armed with a
socialist programme and perspective. Join with us in the struggle 
for the socialist transformation of the planet."

It is clear that to be "fully armed with a socialist programme"
means to critique that which you know nothing about, spread
slanders and lie about what your opponents actually think. 
There *is* much to be critical of in the recent anti-capitalist 
demonstrations and the various groups that have helped organise
and take part in them. Anarchists have been the first to point
these out. However, we have a lot to learn from them as well -- 
they are struggling against capitalism and, as Kropotkin argues, 
"Anarchism . . . originated in everyday struggles" and "the 
Anarchist movement was renewed each time it received an 
impression from some great practical lesson: it derived its 
origin from the teachings of life itself." [_Evolution and 
Environment_, p. 58 and p. 57] 

Thus we must critique these movements honestly and as equals -- 
Mitchinson, as can be seen, does neither. He slanders those 
involved and dismisses out of hand their experiences and the 
reasons that have brought them to struggle in a specific way
against the dominant society. In this he follows Lenin, who
argued in _Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder_ that
western revolutionaries ignore their own experiences in their
own -- and similar -- countries and instead follow the "lessons"
of experiences gained in a near pre-capitalist, absolutist state.
The stupidity of such an approach is clear.

Mitchinson presents those in struggle with the ultimatum
"subscribe to our platform or be denounced." Little wonder that 
Leninists are non-existent in the groups that have taken part 
and organised the anti-capitalist demonstrations -- not willing
to learn from those involved in the class struggle, all they
can do is act as petty sectarians. Sectarians expect working 
class people to relate to their predetermined political positions, 
whereas revolutionaries apply our politics to the conditions we 
face as members of the working class. For Leninists revolutionary 
consciousness is not generated by working class self-activity, but 
is embodied in the party.  The important issues facing the working 
class -- and how to fight -- are to be determined not by the workers 
ourselves, but by the leadership of the party, who are the "vanguard 
of the working class". Hence Mitchinson's dismissal (in a particularly
dishonest manner, we must stress) of those involved in struggle and
their experiences. True "revolution" obviously lies in the unchanging 
ideas generated at the start of the twentieth century in a monarchy 
developing towards capitalism, *not* in the experiences and desires
of living people fighting for freedom in the here and now. Yes,
these ideas and movements can be confused and unclear -- but they
are living and subject to change by the influence of revolutionaries
who act in a libertarian manner (i.e. as equals, willing to learn
as well as teach). 

The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci once wrote that "to tell the
truth is a communist and revolutionary act." However, even he
did not apply this when discussing anarchism and the activities
of anarchists (see Gwyn Williams' _Proletarian Order_, pp. 193-4).
Be that as it may, Gramsci's point is correct. Telling the truth 
is  a revolutionary act. If we judge Mitchinson's article by this
standard then we can only conclude that neither he nor the
politics he defends are revolutionary or communist.

Thus we find his ending comment truly a "flight of fancy" -- after 
reading our comments above, we hope you agree with us. If you seek 
a *true* socialist transformation of this planet rather than its
degeneration into centralised state capitalism, discover more
about anarchism.