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anarchism 9.5-1
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<HTML>
<HEAD>

<TITLE>Reply to errors and distortions in the SWP's "Marxism and 
Anarchism"
</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>

<H1>Reply to errors and distortions in the SWP's <i>"Marxism and 
Anarchism"</i></h1>
<p>
In issue no. 1714 of Socialist Worker (dated 16th September 2000) 
the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) decided to expose 
anarchism in an article entitled 
<a href="http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/1714/sw171411.htm">
<i>"Marxism and Anarchism."</i></a> However, 
their article is little more than a series of errors and distortions. 
We shall indicate how the SWP lies about anarchist ideas and 
discuss the <b>real</b> differences between anarchism and Marxism. 
Moreover, we will indicate that the bulk of the SWP's article 
just recycles common Leninist slanders about anarchism, slanders 
that have been refuted many times over.
<p>
<a name="app1"><h2>1. What does the anti-globalisation movement tell us about
   the effectiveness of the "vanguard" parties like the SWP?</h2>
<p>
The inspiration for their diatribe is clear -- they are worried 
about anarchist influence in the various anti-capitalist and 
anti-globalisation movements and demonstrations which are 
currently occurring across the world. As they put it:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The great revolt against capitalism in Seattle last year, and 
similar demonstrations since, have attracted diverse groups of 
protesters. Anarchists, amongst others, have taken part in all 
of those protests."</i>
<p>
</blockquote>
Yes, indeed, anarchists have been involved in these demonstrations 
from the start, unlike "vanguard" parties like the SWP who only 
became aware of the significance of these movements once they 
exploded in the streets. That in itself should tell us something 
about the effectiveness of the Bolshevik inspired politics the SWP 
raise as an alternative to anarchism. Rather than being at the 
vanguard of these demonstrations and movements, parties like the 
SWP have been, post-Seattle, busy trying to catch up with them. 
Nor is this the only time this has happened. 
<p>
In Russia, in February 1917, for example, the Bolshevik party 
opposed the actions that produced the revolution which overthrew 
the Tsar. After weeks of strikes with police attacks on factories, 
the most oppressed part of the working class, the women textile 
workers, took the initiative. Demands for bread and attacks on 
bakeries were superseded by a massive demonstration of women 
workers on International Women's Day. The women had ignored a 
local Bolshevik directive to wait until May Day! The early slogan 
of <i>"Bread!"</i> was quickly followed by <i>"Down with the autocracy! 
Down with the war!"</i> By February 24th, half of Petrograd was on 
strike. The workers did go to their factories, not to work, but to 
hold meetings, pass resolutions and then go out to demonstrate. 
The Vyborg committee of the Bolsheviks opposed the strikes. 
Luckily for the Russian workers, and unfortunately for the Tsar, 
the Bolsheviks were ignored. If they had followed the Bolsheviks,
the February Revolution would not have occurred!
<p>
The backward nature of the Bolshevik style of party can also 
be seen from events 12 years earlier. In 1905, workers
spontaneously organised councils of workers' delegates 
("soviets" in Russian). The soviets were based on workplaces 
electing recallable delegates to co-ordinate strikes and
were created by the Russian workers themselves, independently 
of political parties. 
<p>
Far from being at the vanguard of these developments the 
Bolsheviks were, in fact, deeply hostile to them. The 
Bolshevik Central Committee members in Petersburg were 
uneasy at the thought of a <i>"non-Party"</i> mass organisation 
existing side by side with their party. Instead of seeing 
the Soviet as a form of workers' self-organisation and 
self-activity (and so a key area for area for activity), 
they regarded it with hostility. They saw it as a rival 
to the party.
<p> 
The St. Petersburg Bolsheviks organised a campaign against 
the Soviet due to its <i>"non-Party"</i> nature. They presented an 
ultimatum to the Soviet that it must place itself under the 
leadership of their party. On 24 October they had moved a 
resolution along the same lines in meetings at the various 
factories, demanding that the Soviet accept the Social 
Democratic programme and tactics and demanding that it must 
define its political stance. 
<p>
The Bolshevik Central Committee then published a resolution, 
that was binding upon all Bolsheviks throughout Russia, 
insisting that the soviets must accept the party programme. 
Agitation against the soviet continued. On 29 October, the 
Bolshevik's Nevsky district committee declared inadmissible 
for Social Democrats to participate in any kind of <i>"workers' 
parliament"</i> like the Soviet. 
<p>
The Bolshevik argument was that the Soviet of Workers' Deputies 
should not have existed as a political organisation and that 
the social democrats must withdraw from it, since its existence 
acted negatively upon the development of the social democratic 
movement. The Soviet of Delegates could remain as a trade 
union organisation, or not at all. Indeed, the Bolsheviks 
presented the Soviet with an ultimatum: either accept the 
programme of the Bolsheviks or else disband! The Bolshevik 
leaders justified their hostility to the Soviet on the grounds 
that it represented <i>"the subordination of consciousness to 
spontaneity"</i> -- in this they followed Lenin's arguments in 
<b>What is to be Done?</b>. When they moved their ultimatum in 
the Soviet it was turned down and the Bolshevik delegates, 
led by the Central Committee members, walked out. The other 
delegates merely shrugged their shoulders and proceeded to 
the next point on the agenda. 
<p>
If workers had followed the Bolsheviks the 1905 revolution
would not have occurred and the first major experience of
workers' councils would never have happened. Rather than
being in favour of working class self-management and power,
the Bolsheviks saw revolution in terms of party power. This
confusion remained during and after 1917 when the Bolsheviks
finally supported the soviets (although purely as a means
of ensuring a Bolshevik government).
<p>
Similarly, during the British Poll Tax rebellion of the late 
1980s and early 1990s, the SWP dismissed the community based mass non-payment 
campaign.  Instead they argued for workers to push their trade 
unions leadership to call strikes to overthrow the tax. Indeed, 
the even argued that there was a <i>"danger that community politics 
divert people from the means to won, from the need to mobilise 
working class activity on a collective basis"</i> by which they meant 
trade union basis. They argued that the state machine would <i>"wear 
down community resistance if it cannot tap the strength of the 
working class."</i> Of course it goes without saying that the aim 
of the community-based non-payment campaign was working class
activity on a collective basis. This explains the creation of
anti-poll tax unions, organising demonstrations, occupations of
sheriff officers/bailiffs offices and council buildings, the
attempts to resist warrant sales by direct action, the attempts
to create links with rank-and-file trade unionists and so on. 
Indeed, the SWP's strategy meant mobilising <b>fewer</b> people in
collective struggle as trade union members were a minority
of those affected by the tax as well as automatically excluding
those workers <b>not</b> in unions, people who were unemployed,
housewives, students and so on. Little wonder the SWP failed to
make much of an impact in the campaign. 
<p>
However, once non-payment began in earnest and 
showed hundreds of thousands involved and refusing to pay, 
overnight the SWP became passionate believers in the collective 
class power of community based non-payment. They argued, in direct 
contradiction to their earlier analysis, that the state was 
<i>"shaken by the continuing huge scale of non-payment."</i> [quoted
by Trotwatch, <b>Carry on Recruiting</b>, pp. 29-31]
<p>
The SWP proved to be totally unresponsive to new forms of struggle 
and organisation produced by working class people when resisting 
the government. In this they followed the Bolshevik tradition 
closely -- the Bolsheviks initially ignored the soviets created 
during the 1905 Russian Revolution and then asked them to
disband. They only recognised their importance in 1917, 12 
years after that revolution was defeated and the soviets had 
re-appeared.
<p>
Therefore, the fact that the self-proclaimed "vanguard of the 
proletarian" is actually miles behind the struggle comes as no 
surprise. Nor are their slanders against those, like anarchists, 
who are at the front of the struggle unsurprising. They produced 
similar articles during the poll tax rebellion as well, to counter 
anarchist influence by smearing our ideas. 
<p>
<a name="app2"><h2>2. What does the SWP miss out in its definition of 
anarchism?</h2>
<p>
The SWP continue:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Anarchism is generally taken to mean a rejection of all 
authority."</i>
</blockquote><p>
One question immediately arises. What do anarchists mean by the 
term <i>"authority"</i>? Without knowing that, it will be difficult to 
evaluate the SWP's arguments.
<p>
Kropotkin provides the answer. He argued that <i>"the origin of the 
anarchist inception of society . . . [lies in] the criticism . . .  
of the hierarchical organisations and the authoritarian 
conceptions of society; and . . . the analysis of the tendencies 
that are seen in the progressive movements of mankind."</i> He 
stresses that anarchism <i>"refuses all hierarchical organisation."</i>
[<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 158 and p. 137]
<p>
Thus anarchism rejects authority in the sense, to use Malatesta's 
words, of <i>"the delegation of power, that is the abdication of 
initiative and sovereignty of all into the hands a few."</i> 
[<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 40] Once this is clearly understood, it will quickly 
been seen that the SWP create a straw man to defeat in argument.
<p>
Moreover, by concentrating on what anarchism is <b>against</b> the
SWP can ignore what anarchism is <b>for</b>. This is important as
to discuss the positive ideas of anarchism would mean having
to discuss anarchists ideas on organisation, why we oppose
centralisation, favour federalism as a means of co-ordinating
decisions, why we propose self-management in place of government,
and so on. To do this would mean accurately presenting libertarian
theory rather than a just series of slanders, which, of course, 
the SWP would hate to do. 
<p>
So what is anarchism for?
<P>
Anarchism derives from the Greek for <i><b>"without authority"</i></b> or
<i><b>"without rulers"</i></b> and this informs anarchist theory and visions
of a better world. This means that anarchism is against the
<i>"domination of man by man"</i> (and woman by woman, woman by man,
and so on). However, <i>"[a]s knowledge has penetrated the governed
masses . . . the people have revolted against the form of authority
then felt most intolerable. This spirit of revolt in the
individual and the masses, is the natural and necessary fruit
of the spirit of domination; the vindication of human dignity,
and the saviour of social life."</i> Thus <i>"freedom is the necessary
preliminary to any true and equal human association."</i> [Charlotte
Wilson, <b>Anarchist Essays</b>, p. 54 and p. 40] In other words,
anarchist comes from the struggle of the oppressed against their
rulers and is an expression of individual and social freedom.
Anarchism was born from the class struggle.
<P>
This means, positively, that anarchists stress the need for 
<b><i>self-government</i></b> (often called 
<b><i>self-management</i></b>) of both 
individuals and groups. Self-management within free associations 
and decision making from the bottom-up is the only way domination 
can be eliminated. This is because, by making our own decisions 
ourselves, we automatically end the division of society into
governors and governed (i.e. end hierarchy). In other words, 
those affected by a decision make that decision. Anarchism
clearly means support for freedom and equality and so all forms
of hierarchical organisation (such as the state and the capitalist
workplace) and authoritarian social relationship (such as sexism,
racism, homophobia and wage labour) must be abolished. This means 
that anarchist organisations must be self-managed, decentralised
and based on federalism. Only this form of organisation can end
the division of society into rulers and ruled, oppressor and
oppressed, exploiter and exploited and create a society of free and
equal individuals. 
<P>
This is why anarchists stress such things as decision making by
mass assemblies and the co-ordination of decisions by mandated
and recallable delegates. The federal structure which unites
these basic assemblies would allow local affairs to be decided
upon locally and directly, with wider issues discussed and
decided upon at their appropriate level and by all involved. 
This would allow those affected by a decision to have a say in 
it, so allowing them to manage their own affairs directly and 
without hierarchy. This, in turn, would encourage the 
self-reliance, self-confidence and initiative of those 
involved. As a necessary complement of our opposition to 
authority is support for <i><b>"direct action."</i></b> This means that 
people, rather than looking to leaders or politicians to act 
for them, look to themselves and the own individual and
collective strength to solve their own problems. This also 
encourages self-liberation, self-reliance and self-confidence 
as the prevailing culture would be <i>"if we want something sorted 
out, we have to do it ourselves"</i> -- in other words, a <i>"do it
yourself"</i> mentality.
<p>
Therefore, the <b>positive</b> side of anarchism (which naturally 
flows from its opposition to authority) results in a political 
theory which argues that people must control their own struggles,
organisations and affairs directly. This means we support mass 
assemblies and their federation via councils of mandated delegates 
subject to recall if they break their mandates (i.e. they act as 
they see fit, i.e. as politicians or bureaucrats, and not as the 
people who elected them desire). This way people directly govern 
themselves and control their own lives. It means we oppose the 
state and support free federations of self-governing associations 
and communes. It means we oppose capitalism and support workers' 
self-management. It means we reject hierarchy, centralism and
authoritarian structures and argue for self-managed organisations,
built from the bottom up and always accountable to the base. It
means we consider the direct control of struggles and movements
by those involved as not only essential in the here and now but
also essential training for living in a free, libertarian socialist
society (for example, workers direct and total control of their
strikes and unions trains them to control their workplaces and 
communities during and after the revolution). It means we oppose 
hierarchy in all its forms and support free association of equals.
In other words, anarchism can generally be taken to mean support 
for self-government or self-management.
<p>
By discussing only the negative side of anarchism, by missing out 
what kinds of authority anarchists oppose, the SWP ensure that 
these aspects of our ideas are not mentioned in their article. 
For good reason as it puts Marxism in a bad light.
<p>
<a name="app3"><h2>3. Why does mentioning the history of anarchism weaken the SWP's argument?</h2>
<p>
The SWP correctly argue that we <i>"live in a world of bullying line 
managers, petty school rules, oppressive police, and governments 
that serve the rich and powerful."</i> However, they trivialise 
anarchism (and the natural feelings that result from such 
domination) by stating <i>"[e]veryone who hates that has, at least 
at times, felt a streak of 'anarchist' revolt against authority."</i> 
Thus anarchism is presented as an emotional response rather than 
as valid, coherent intellectual opposition to the state, wage
labour, inequality and hierarchical authority in general. But, 
of course, anarchism is more than this, as the SWP acknowledge:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Anarchism, however, is more than a personal reaction against the 
tyrannies of capitalism. It is a set of political beliefs which 
have been held up as an alternative to the revolutionary socialist 
ideas of Karl Marx. Anarchist ideas have, on occasion, had a mass 
influence on movements against capitalism."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Given that the <i>"revolutionary socialist ideas"</i> of Marx have been 
proven wrong on numerous occasions while Bakunin's predictions were 
proven right, anarchists humbly suggest that anarchism is a valid 
alternative to Marxism. For example, Bakunin correctly predicted 
that when <i>"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."</i> [<b>The
Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 108] The history of the Marxist Social Democratic 
Parties across the world proved him right. 
<p>
Similarly, Bakunin predicted that Marx's <i>"dictatorship of the 
proletariat"</i> would become the <i>"dictatorship over the proletariat."</i> 
The experience of the Russian Revolution proved him correct -- 
once the Bolshevik party had become the government power became 
centralised at the top, the workers' soviets quickly became a cog in 
the state machinery rubber-stamping the decrees of the Bolshevik 
government, workers' 
control of production by factory committees was replaced by state
appointed 
managers and so on. The "socialist" state quickly became a bureaucratic 
monster without real control from below (indeed, the Bolsheviks actually
disbanded soviets when opposition parties won a majority in them at
the start of 1918). The start of the Civil War in May 1918 just made 
things worse.
<p>
The SWP continue by arguing:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Socialists and anarchists share a hatred of capitalism. They have 
often fought alongside each other in major battles against the 
capitalist system. They struggled together in the Europe-wide mass 
strikes at the end of the First World War and the inspiring 
Spanish Revolution in 1936, as well as in countless smaller 
battles today."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Which is true. They also fail to mention that the mass-strikes at 
the end of the First World War were defeated by the actions of the 
Social-Democratic Parties and trade unions. These parties were 
self-proclaimed revolutionary Marxist organisations, utilising (as 
Marx had argued) the ballot box and centralised organisations.  
Unsurprisingly, given the tactics and structure, reformism and 
bureaucracy had developed within them. When workers took strike 
action, even occupying their factories in Italy, the bureaucracy 
of the Social Democratic Parties and trade unions acted to 
undermine the struggle, isolating workers and supporting 
capitalism. Indeed, the German Social Democratic Party 
(which was, pre-1914, considered the jewel in the crown of 
Marxism and the best means to refute the anarchist critique
of Marxist tactics) actually organised an alliance with the 
right-wing para-military Freikorps to violently suppress the 
revolution. The Marxist movement had degenerated into bourgeois 
parties, as Bakunin predicted.
<p>
It is also strange that the SWP mention the <i>"inspiring Spanish 
Revolution in 1936"</i> as this revolution was mainly anarchist in its 
<i>"inspiring"</i> features. Workers took over workplaces and the land, 
organising them under workers' self-management. Direct democracy 
was practised by hundreds of thousands of workers in line with the 
organisational structures of the anarchist union the C.N.T. In 
contrast, the Russian Revolution saw power become centralised into 
the hands of the Bolshevik party leadership and workers' self-
management of production was eliminated in favour of one-man 
management imposed from above (see M. Brinton's <b>The Bolsheviks and 
Workers' Control</b> for details).
<p>
<a name="app4"><h2>4. How is the SWP wrong about centralisation?</h2>
<p>
The SWP continue by arguing that <i>"there are differences between 
revolutionary socialism and anarchism. Both understand the need 
for organisation but disagree over what form that organisation 
takes."</i> This is a vast step forward in the usual Marxist slander 
that anarchists reject the need for organisation and so should be 
welcomed. Unfortunately the rest of the discussion on this issue 
falls back into the usual swamp of slander.
<p>
They argue that <i>"[e]very struggle, from a local campaign against 
housing privatisation to a mass strike of millions of workers, 
raises the need for organisation. People come together and need 
mechanisms for deciding what to do and how to do it."</i> They 
continue by arguing that <i>"Anarchism says that organisation has 
nothing to do with centralisation. For anarchism, any form of 
centralisation is a type of authority, which is oppressive."</i> 
<p>
This is true, anarchists do argue that centralisation places power 
at the centre, so disempowering the people at the base of an 
organisation. In order to co-ordinate activity anarchists propose 
federal structures, made up on mandated delegates from autonomous 
assemblies. In this way, co-ordination is achieved while ensuring 
that power remains at the bottom of the organisation, in the hands 
of those actually fighting or doing the work. Federalism does not 
deny the need to make agreements and to co-ordinate decisions. Far 
from it -- it was put forward by anarchists precisely to ensure 
co-ordination of joint activity and to make agreements in such a 
way as to involve those subject to those decisions in the process 
of making them. Federalism <b>involves</b> people in managing their own 
affairs and so they develop their initiative, self-reliance, judgement 
and spirit of revolt
so that they can <b>act</b> intelligently, quickly and autonomously 
during a crisis or revolutionary moment and show solidarity as
and when required instead of waiting for commands from above as 
occurs with centralised movements. In other words, federalism is 
the means to combine participation and co-ordination and to 
create an organisation run  from the bottom up rather than the 
top-down. As can be seen, anarchists do not oppose co-ordination 
and co-operation, making  agreements and implementing them together.
<p>
After mentioning centralisation, the SWP make a massive jump of 
logic and assert:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"But arguing with someone to join a struggle, and trying to put 
forward tactics and ideas that can take it forward are attempts to 
lead. 
<p>
"It is no good people coming together in a struggle, discussing 
what to do and then doing just what they feel like as if no 
discussion had taken place. We always need to take the best ideas 
and act on them in a united way."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Placing ideas before a group of people is a "lead" but it is not 
centralisation. Moreover, anarchists are not against making 
agreements! Far from it. The aim of federal organisation is to 
make agreements, to co-ordinate struggles and activities. This 
does not mean ignoring agreements. As Kropotkin argued, the 
commune <i>"cannot any longer acknowledge any superior: that, above 
it, there cannot be anything, save the interests of the 
Federation, freely embraced by itself in concert with other 
Communes."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1, p. 259] This vision 
was stressed in the C.N.T.'s resolution on Libertarian Communism
made in May, 1936, which stated that <i>"the foundation of this 
administration will be the Commune. These Communes are to be 
autonomous and will be federated at regional and national levels 
for the purpose of achieving goals of a general nature. The right 
of autonomy is not to preclude the duty of implementation of 
agreements regarding collective benefits."</i> [quoted by Jose 
Pierats, <b>The C.N.T. in the Spanish Revolution</b>, p. 68] In the 
words of Malatesta:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"But an organisation, it is argued, presupposes an obligation
to co-ordinate one's own activities with those of others; thus
it violates liberty and fetters initiative. As we see it, what
really takes away liberty and makes initiative impossible is
the isolation which renders one powerless. Freedom is not an
abstract right but the possibility of acting . . . it is by
co-operation with his fellows that man finds the means to 
express his activity and his power of initiative."</i> [<b>Life 
and Ideas</b>, pp. 86-7]
<p></blockquote>
Hence anarchists do not see making collective decisions and 
working in a federation as an abandonment of autonomy or a 
violation of anarchist theory and principles. Rather, we see 
such co-operation and co-ordination, generated from below 
upwards, as an essential means of exercising and protecting 
freedom.
<p>
The SWP's comment against anarchism is a typical Marxist position.
The assumption seems to be that "centralisation" or "centralism"
equals co-ordination and, because we reject centralisation, anarchists
must reject co-ordination, planning and agreements. However, in 
actuality, anarchists have always stressed the need for federalism 
to co-ordinate joint activities, stressing that decision-making
and organisation must flow from below upwards so that the mass of
the population can manage their own affairs directly (i.e. practice
self-management and so anarchy). Unfortunately, Marxists fail to 
acknowledge this, instead asserting we are against co-operation, 
co-ordination and making agreements. The SWP's arguments are an
example of this, making spurious arguments about the need for
making agreements.
<p>
In this the SWP are following in a long-line of Marxist inventions.
For example, Engels asserted in his infamous diatribe <i>"The 
Bakuninists at work"</i> that Bakunin <i>"[a]s early as September 1870 
(in his <b>Lettres a un francais</b> [Letters to a Frenchman]) . . . 
had declared that the only way to drive the Prussians out of 
France by a revolutionary struggle was to do away with all forms 
of centralised leadership and leave each town, each village, 
each parish to wage war on its own."</i> [Marx, Engels and Lenin, 
<b>Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 141] 
<p>
In fact, the truth is totally different. Bakunin does, of course, 
reject <i>"centralised leadership"</i> as it would be <i>"necessarily
very circumscribed, very short-sighted, and its limited perception
cannot, therefore, penetrate the depth and encompass the whole
complex range of popular life."</i> However, it is a falsehood to
state that he denies the need for co-ordination of struggles 
and federal organisation from the bottom up in that or any
other work. As he puts it, the revolution must <i>"foster the 
self-organisation of the masses into autonomous bodies, 
federated from the bottom upwards."</i> With regards to the 
peasants, he thinks they will <i>"come to an understanding, and 
form some kind of organisation . . . to further their mutual 
interests . . . the necessity to defend their homes, their 
families, and their own lives against unforeseen attack . . . 
will undoubtedly soon compel them to contract new and mutually 
suitable arrangements."</i> The peasants would be <i>"freely organised 
from the bottom up."</i> [<i>"Letters to a French"</i>, <b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, 
p. 196, p. 206 and p. 207] In this he repeated his earlier 
arguments concerning social revolution -- claims Engels was 
well aware of, just as he was well aware of the statements by
Bakunin in his <i>"Letters to a Frenchman."</i> In other words, Engels 
deliberately lied about Bakunin's political ideas. It appears
that the SWP is simply following the Marxist tradition in their
article.
<p>
<a name="app5"><h2>5. Why does the SWP's <i>"picket line is 'authoritarian'"</i> argument totally miss the point?</h2>
<p>
They continue by arguing:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Not all authority is bad. A picket line is 'authoritarian.' It 
tries to impose the will of the striking workers on the boss, the 
police and on any workers who may be conned into scabbing on the 
strike."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
What should strike the reader about this example is its total 
lack of class analysis. In this the SWP follow Engels. In his 
essay <b>On Authority</b>, Engels argues that a <i>"revolution is certainly 
the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one 
part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by 
means of rifles, bayonets and cannon-authoritarian means, if such 
there be at all; and if the victorious party does not want to have 
fought in vain, it must maintain this rule by means of the terror 
its arms inspire in the reactionaries."</i> [<b>The Marx-Engels Reader</b>,
p. 733]
<p>
However, such an analysis is without a class basis and so will, by 
necessity, mislead the writer and the reader. Engels argues that 
revolution is the imposition by <i>"one part of the population"</i> on 
another. Very true -- but Engels fails to indicate the nature of 
class society and, therefore, of a social revolution. In a class 
society <i>"one part of the population"</i> constantly <i>"imposes its will 
upon the other part"</i> all the time. In other words, the ruling 
class imposes its will on the working class everyday in work by 
the hierarchical structure of the workplace and in society by the 
state. Discussing the <i>"population"</i> as if it was not divided by 
classes, and so subject to specific forms of authoritarian social 
relationships, is liberal nonsense. Once we recognise that the 
<i>"population"</i> in question is divided into classes we can easily see 
the fallacy of Engels argument. In a social revolution, the act of 
revolution is the overthrow of the power and authority of an 
oppressing and exploiting class by those subject to that 
oppression and exploitation. In other words, it is an act of 
liberation in which the hierarchical power of the few over the 
many is eliminated and replaced by the freedom of the many to 
control their own lives. It is hardly authoritarian to destroy 
authority! Thus a social revolution is, fundamentally, an act of 
liberation for the oppressed who act in their own interests to end 
the system in which <i>"one part of population imposes its will upon 
the other"</i> everyday. 
<p>
This applies equally to the SWP's example of a picket line. Is a 
picket line really authoritarian because it tries to impose its 
will on the boss, police or scabs? Rather, is it not defending the 
workers' freedom against the authoritarian power of the boss and 
their lackeys (the police and scabs)? Is it <i>"authoritarian"</i> to 
resist authority and create a structure -- a strike assembly and 
picket line -- which allows the formally subordinated workers to 
manage their own affairs directly and without bosses? Is it 
<i>"authoritarian"</i> to combat the authority of the boss, to proclaim 
your freedom and exercise it? Of course not. The SWP are playing 
with words.
<p>
Needless to say, it is a large jump from the "authority" of a 
strikers' assembly to that of a highly centralised "workers' 
state" but that, of course, is what the SWP wish the reader to do. 
Comparing a strikers' assembly and picket line -- which is a form 
of self-managed association -- with a state cannot be done. It 
fails to recognise the fundamental difference.  In the strikers' 
assembly and picket line the strikers themselves decide policy and 
do not delegate power away. In a state, power is delegated into 
the hands of a few who then use that power as they see fit. This 
by necessity disempowers those at the base, who are turned into 
mere electors and order takers. Such a situation can only spell 
death of a social revolution, which requires the active 
participation of all if it is to succeed.  It also exposes the 
central fallacy of Marxism, namely that it claims to desire a 
society based on the participation of everyone yet favours a form 
of organisation -- centralisation -- that precludes that 
participation.
<p>
<a name="app6"><h2>6. Why are the SWP's examples of <i>"state functions"</i> wrong?</a></h2>
<p>
The SWP continue their diatribe against anarchism:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Big workers' struggles throw up an alternative form of authority 
to the capitalist state. Militant mass strikes throw up workers' 
councils. These are democratic bodies, like strike committees. But 
they take on organising 'state functions' -- transport, food 
distribution, defence of picket lines and workers' areas from the 
police and army, and so on."</i>
</blockquote><p>
To state the obvious, transportation and food distribution are not 
<i>"state functions."</i> They are economic functions. Similarly, defence 
is not a <i>"state function"</i> as such -- after all, individuals can and 
do defend themselves against aggression, strikers organise themselves
to defend themselves against cops and hired strike breakers, and
so on. This means that defence can be organised in a <b>libertarian</b> 
fashion, directly by those involved and based on self-managed workers' 
militias and federations of free communes. It need not be the work
of a state nor need it be organised in a statist (i.e. hierarchical) 
fashion like, for example, the current bourgeois state and military 
or the Bolshevik Red Army (where the election of officers, soldiers' 
councils and self-governing assemblies were abolished by Trotsky 
in favour of officers appointed from above). So "defence" is 
<b>not</b> a state function. 
<p>
What is a <i>"state function"</i> is imposing the will of a minority -- the 
government, the boss, the bureaucrat -- onto the population via 
professional bodies such as the police and military. This is what 
the Bolshevik state did, with workers' councils turned into state 
bodies executing the decrees of the government and using a 
specialised and hierarchical army and police force to do so. The 
difference is important. Luigi Fabbri sums up it well: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"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.
<p>
"Any governing body is an impediment to the real organisation of 
the broad masses, the majority. Where a government exists, then 
the only really organised people are the minority who make up the 
government; and . . . if the masses do organise, they do so 
against it, outside it, or at the very least, independently of it. 
In ossifying into a government, the revolution as such would fall 
apart, on account of its awarding that government the monopoly of 
organisation and of the means of struggle."</i> [<i>"Anarchy and 
'Scientific' Communism"</i>, in <b>The Poverty of Statism</b>, pp. 13-49, 
Albert Meltzer (ed.), p. 27]
</blockquote><p>
Thus the difference between anarchists and Leninists is not 
whether the organisations workers' create in struggle will be the 
framework of a free society (or the basis of the Commune). Indeed, 
anarchists have been arguing this for longer than Marxists have. 
The difference is whether these organisations remain self-managed 
or whether they become part of a centralised state. In the words 
of Camillo Berneri:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The Marxists . . . foresee the natural disappearance of the State 
as a consequence of the destruction of classes by the means of 
'the dictatorship of the proletariat,' that is to say State 
Socialism, whereas the Anarchists desire the destruction of the 
classes by means of a social revolution which eliminates, with the 
classes, the State. The Marxists, moreover, do not propose the 
armed conquest of the Commune by the whole proletariat, but the 
propose the conquest of the State by the party which imagines that 
it represents the proletariat. The Anarchists allow the use of 
direct power by the proletariat, but they understand by the organ 
of this power to be formed by the entire corpus of systems of 
communist administration-corporate organisations [i.e. industrial 
unions], communal institutions, both regional and national-freely 
constituted outside and in opposition to all political monopoly by 
parties and endeavouring to a minimum administrational 
centralisation."</i> [<i>"Dictatorship of the Proletariat and State 
Socialism"</i>, <b>Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review</b>, no. 4, p. 52]
</blockquote><p>
So, anarchists agree, in <i>"big workers' struggles"</i> organisation is 
essential and can form an alternative to the capitalist state. 
However, such a framework only becomes an "authority" when power 
is transferred from the base into the hands of an executive 
committee at the top. Strike and community assemblies, by being 
organs of self-management, are not an "authority" in the same 
sense that the state is or the boss is. Rather, they are the means 
by which people can manage their own struggles (and so affairs) 
directly, to govern themselves and so do without the need for 
hierarchical authority. 
<p>
The SWP, in other words, confuse two very different things.
<p>
<a name="app7"><h2>7. What is ironic about the SWP's comment that workers' councils must <i>"break up"</i> the capitalist state?</h2>
<p>
After misunderstanding basic concepts, the SWP treat us to a 
history lesson:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Such councils were a feature of the Russian revolutions of 1905 
and 1917, the German Revolution after the First World War, the 
Spanish Revolution of 1936, and many other great struggles.  
Socialists argue that these democratic workers' organisations need 
to take power from the capitalists and break up their state."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Anarchists agree. Indeed, they argued that workers' organisations 
should <i>"break up"</i> and replace the state long before Lenin 
discovered this in 1917. For example, Bakunin argued in the 
late 1860s that the International Workers' Association, an
<i>"international organisation of workers' associations from
all countries"</i>, would <i>"be able to take the revolution into
its own hands"</i> and be <i>"capable of replacing this departing
political world of States and bourgeoisie."</i> The <i>"natural
organisation of the masses"</i> was <i>"organisation by trade
association,"</i> in other words, by unions, <i>"from the bottom
up."</i> The means of creating socialism would be <i>"<b>emancipation
through practical action</b> . . . workers' solidarity in their
struggle against the bosses. It means <b>trades unions</b>,
<b>organisation</b>"</i> The very process of struggle would create
the framework of a new society, a federation of workers'
councils, as <i>"strikes indicate a certain collective strength
already, a certain understanding among the workers . . . each
strike becomes the point of departure for the formation of
new groups."</i> He stresses the International was a product
of the class war as it <i>"has not created the war between the
exploiter and the exploited; rather, the requirements of that
war have created the International."</i> Thus the seeds of the
future society are created by the class struggle, by the
needs of workers to organise themselves to resist the boss
and the state. [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 110, p. 139, p. 103 
and p. 150]
<p>
He stressed that the revolution would be based on federations
of workers' associations, in other words, workers' councils:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"the federative alliance of all working men's associations . . . 
[will] constitute the Commune . . . [the] Communal Council [will 
be] composed of . . . delegates  . . . vested with plenary but
accountable and removable mandates. . . all provinces, communes 
and associations . . . by first reorganising on revolutionary lines 
. . . [will] constitute the federation of insurgent associations, 
communes and provinces . . . [and] organise a revolutionary force 
capable defeating reaction . . . [and for] self-defence . . . 
[The] revolution everywhere must be created by the people, and 
supreme control must always belong to the people organised into a 
free federation of agricultural and industrial associations . . . 
organised from the bottom upwards by means of revolutionary 
delegation. . ."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, 
pp. 170-2]
<p></blockquote>
And:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The future social organisation must be made solely from the 
bottom up, by the free association or federation of workers, 
firstly in their unions, then in the communes, regions, 
nations and finally in a great federation, international 
and universal."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 206]
</blockquote><p>
Thus it is somewhat ironic to have Leninists present basic 
anarchist ideas as if they had thought of them first!
<p>
Then again, the ability of the Marxists to steal anarchist ideas
and claim them as their own is well know. They even rewrite history 
to do so. For example, the SWP's John Rees in the essay 
<i>"In Defence of October"</i>
argues that <i>"since Marx's writings on the Paris Commune"</i> a 
<i>"cornerstone of revolutionary theory"</i> was <i>"that the soviet is
a superior form of democracy because it unifies political and
economic power."</i> [<b>International Socialism</b>, no. 52, p. 25] 
Nothing could be further from the truth, as Marx's writings 
on the Paris Commune prove.
<p>
The Paris Commune, as Marx himself argued, was <i>"formed of the 
municipal councillors, chosen by universal suffrage in the various
wards of the town."</i> [<i>"The Civil War in France"</i>, <b>Selected Works</b>,
p. 287] As Marx made clear, it was definitely <b>not</b> based on 
delegates from workplaces and so could <b>not</b> unify political 
and economic power. Indeed, to state that the Paris Commune 
was a soviet is simply a joke, as is the claim that Marxists
supported soviets as revolutionary organs to smash and replace
the state from 1871. In fact Marxists did not subscribe to this 
<i>"cornerstone of revolutionary theory"</i> until 1917 when Lenin
argued that the Soviets would be the best means of ensuring a
Bolshevik government. 
<p>
Indeed the <b>only</b> political movement which took the position 
Rees falsely ascribes to Marxism was anarchism. This can be 
clearly seen from Bakunin's works, a few representative quotes 
we have provided above. Moreover, Bakunin's position dates, we 
must stress, from <b>before</b> the Paris Commune. This position has 
been argued by revolutionary anarchists ever since -- decades
before Marxists did.
<p>
Similarly, Rees argues that <i>"the socialist revolution must 
counterpose the soviet to parliament . . . because it needs 
an organ which combines economic power -- the power to strike 
and take control of the workplaces -- with an insurrectionary 
bid for political power, breaking the old state."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>] 
However, he is just repeating anarchist arguments made decades 
before Lenin's temporary conversion to the soviets. In the words 
of the anarchist Jura Federation (written in 1880):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The bourgeoisie's power over the popular masses springs from
economic privileges, political domination and the enshrining
of such privileges in the laws. So we must strike at the 
wellsprings of bourgeois power, as well as its various
manifestations.
<p>
"The following measures strike us as essential to the welfare
of the revolution, every bit as much as armed struggle against
its enemies:
<p>
"The insurgents must confiscate social capital, landed estates,
mines, housing, religious and public buildings, instruments of
labour, raw materials, gems and precious stones and manufactured
products:
<p>
"All political, administrative and judicial authorities are
to be abolished.
<p>
". . . What should the organisational measures of the revolution
be?
<p>
"Immediate and spontaneous establishment of trade bodies:
provisional assumption by those of . . . social capital . . .:
local federation of a trades bodies and labour organisation:
<p>
"Establishment of neighbourhood groups and federations of same . . .
<p>
[. . .]
<p>
"[T]he federation of all the revolutionary forces of the insurgent
Communes . . . Federation of Communes and organisation of the
masses, with an eye to the revolution's enduring until such
time as all reactionary activity has been completely eradicated.
<p>
[. . .]
<p>
"Once trade bodies have been have been established, the next step
is to organise local life. The organ of this life is to be the
federation of trades bodies and it is this local federation which
is to constitute the future Commune."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, 
vol. 1, pp. 246-7]
</blockquote><p>
As can be seen, long before Lenin's turn towards the soviets as
a means of the Bolsheviks taking power, <b>anarchists</b>, not Marxists,
had argued that we must counterpose the council of workers' delegates
(by trade in the case of the Jura federation, by workplace in the case
of the later anarcho-syndicalist unions, anarchist theory and the 
soviets). Anarchists clearly saw that, to quote Bakunin, <i>"[n]o 
revolution could succeed . . . today unless it was simultaneously 
a political and a social revolution."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 141] Unlike
Marx, who clearly saw a political revolution (the conquest of
state power) coming <b>before</b> the economic transformation of
society (<i>"The political rule of the producer cannot coexist
with the perpetuation of his social slavery. The Commune was
therefore to serve as a lever for uprooting the economical
foundations upon which rests the existence of classes and
therefore of class-rule."</i> [Marx, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 290]). This is
why anarchists saw the social revolution in terms of economic
and social organisation and action as its first steps were to 
eliminate both capitalism and the state.
<p>
Rees, in other words, is simply stating anarchist theory as if
Marxists have been arguing the same thing since 1871!
<p>
Moreover, anarchists predicted other ideas that Marx took from
the experience of the Paris Commune. Marx praised the fact that
each delegate to the Commune was <i>"at any time revocable and 
bound by the <b>mandat imperatif</b> (formal instructions) of his
constituents . . . [and so] strictly responsible agents."</i> [<b>Op.
Cit.</b>, p. 288] Anarchists had held this position a number of
years <b>before</b> the Commune introduced it. Proudhon was arguing 
in 1848 for <i>"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."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1, p. 63] We find Bakunin 
arguing exactly the same. For example, in 1868 he wrote that the 
<i>"Revolutionary Communal Council will operate on the basis of one 
or two delegates from each barricade . . . these deputies being 
invested with binding mandates and accountable and revocable at 
all times."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 155]). In addition, the similarities 
with the Commune's political ideas and Proudhon's are clear,
as are the similarities between the Russian Soviets and Bakunin's 
views on revolution.
<p>
So, as well as predicting the degeneration of social democracy and 
the Russian revolution, anarchists have also predicted such key 
aspects of revolutionary situations as organising on the basis of 
workplace and having delegates mandated and subject to instant 
recall. Such predictions flow from taking part in social movements
and analysing their tendencies. Moreover, a revolution is the
resisting of current authorities and an act of self-liberation 
and so its parallels with anarchism are clear. As such the 
class struggle, revolutionary movements and revolutions have a 
libertarian basis and tendencies and, therefore, it is unsurprising
that anarchist ideas have spontaneously developed in them. Thus
we have a two way interaction between ideas and action. Anarchist 
ideas have been produced spontaneously by the class struggle due 
to its inherent nature as a force confronting authority and
its need for self-activity and self-organisation. Anarchism has
learned from that struggle and influenced it by its generalisations 
of previous experiences and its basis in opposing hierarchy. 
Anarchist predictions, therefore, come as no surprise.
<p>
Therefore, Marxists have not only been behind the class struggle
itself, they have also been behind anarchism in terms of practical
ideas on a social revolution and how to organise to transform society.
While anarchist ideas have been confirmed by the class struggle,
Marxist ones have had to be revised to bring them closer to the
actual state of the struggle and to the theoretical ideas of
anarchism. And the SWP have the cheek to present these ideas
as if their tradition had thought of them!
<p>
Little wonder the SWP fail to present an honest account of anarchism.
<p>
<a name="app8"><h2>8. How do the SWP re-write the history of the Russian Revolution?</a></h2>
<p>
Their history lesson continues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"This happened in Russia in October 1917 in a revolution led by 
the Bolshevik Party."</i>
</blockquote><p>
In reality, this did not happen. In October 1917, the Bolshevik 
Party took power in the name of the workers' councils, the 
councils themselves did not take power. This is confirmed by 
Trotsky, who notes that the Bolshevik Party conference of April 
1917 <i>"was devoted to the following fundamental question: Are we 
heading toward the conquest of power in the name of the socialist 
revolution or are we helping (anybody and everybody) to complete 
the democratic revolution? . . .  Lenin's position was this: . . . 
the capture of the soviet majority; the overthrow of the 
Provisional Government; the seizure of power through the soviets."</i> 
Note, <b>through</b> the soviets not <b>by</b> the soviets thus indicating 
the fact the Party would hold the real power, not the soviets of 
workers' delegates. Moreover, he states that <i>"to prepare the 
insurrection and to carry it out under cover of preparing for the 
Second Soviet Congress and under the slogan of defending it, was 
of inestimable advantage to us."</i> He continued by noting that it 
was <i>"one thing to prepare an armed insurrection under the naked 
slogan of the seizure of power by the party, and quite another 
thing to prepare and then carry out an insurrection under the 
slogan of defending the rights of the Congress of Soviets."</i> The 
Soviet Congress just provided <i>"the legal cover"</i> for the Bolshevik 
plans rather than a desire to see the Soviets actually start 
managing society. [<b>The Lessons of October</b>]
<p>
In 1920, he argued that <i>"[w]e have more than once been accused of 
having substituted for the dictatorships of the Soviets the 
dictatorship of the party. Yet it can be said with complete 
justice that the dictatorship of the Soviets became possible only 
be means of the dictatorship of the party. It is thanks to the . . 
. party . . . [that] the Soviets . . . [became] transformed from 
shapeless parliaments of labour into the apparatus of the 
supremacy of labour. In this 'substitution' of the power of the 
party for the power of the working class these is nothing 
accidental, and in reality there is no substitution at all. The 
Communists express the fundamental interests of the working 
class."</i> [<b>Terrorism and Communism</b>, p. 109]
<p>
In 1937 he continued this theme by arguing that <i>"the proletariat 
can take power only through its vanguard."</i> Thus, rather than the 
working class as a whole <i>"seizing power"</i>, it is the <i>"vanguard"</i> 
which takes power -- <i>"a revolutionary party, even after seizing 
power . . . is still by no means the sovereign ruler of society."</i> 
He mocked the anarchist idea that a socialist revolution should be 
based on the self-management of workers within their own 
autonomous class organisations:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"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."</i> 
[<i>"Stalinism and Bolshevism"</i>, <b>Socialist Review</b>, no. 146, p. 16
and p. 18]
</blockquote><p>
As can be seen, over a 17 year period Trotsky argued that it was 
the party which ruled, not the councils. The workers' councils 
became little more than rubber-stamps for the Bolshevik government 
(and not even that, as the central government only submitted a 
fraction of its decrees to the Central Executive of the national 
soviet, and that soviet was not even in permanent session). As 
Russian Anarchist Voline made clear <i>"for, the anarchists declared, 
if 'power' really should belong to the soviets, it could not 
belong to the Bolshevik Party, and if it should belong to that 
Party, as the Bolsheviks envisaged, it could not belong to the 
soviets."</i> [<b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, p. 213] In the words of
Kropotkin:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The idea of soviets . . . councils of workers and peasants . . .
controlling the economic and political life of the country is
a great idea. All the more so, since it is necessarily follows
that these councils should be composed of all who take part in
the real production of national wealth by their own efforts.
<p>
"But as long as the country is governed by a party dictatorship,
the workers' and peasants' councils evidently lose their entire
significance. They are reduced to the passive rule formerly
played by the 'States General,' when they were convoked by
the king and had to combat an all-powerful royal council."</i>
[<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, pp. 254-5]
</blockquote><p>
In other words, the workers' councils took power in name only. 
Real power rested with the central government and the workers' 
councils become little more than a means to elect the government. 
Rather than manage society directly, the soviets simply became a 
transmission belt for the decrees and orders of the Bolshevik 
party. Hardly a system to inspire anyone.
<p>
However, the history of the Russian Revolution has two important
lessons for members of the various anti-globalisation and 
anti-capitalist groups. Firstly, as we noted in 
<a href="append34.html#app1">section 1</a>, is usually miles
behind the class struggle and the ideas developed in it. As another
example, we can point to the movement for workers' control
and self-management that developed around the factory committees
during the summer of 1917. It was the workers themselves, <b>not</b> 
the Bolshevik Party, which raised the issue of workers' 
self-management and control during the Russian Revolution. 
As historian S.A. Smith correctly summarises, the <i>"factory 
committees launched the slogan of workers' control of production 
quite independently of the Bolshevik party. It was not until May 
that the party began to take it up."</i> [<b>Red Petrograd</b>, p. 154] 
Given that the defining aspect of capitalism is wage labour, the 
Russian workers' raised a clearly socialist demand that entailed 
its abolition. It was the Bolshevik party, we must note, who 
failed to raise above a <i>"trade union conscious"</i> in this and so 
many other cases. 
<p>
Therefore, rather than being at the forefront of struggle and
ideas, the Bolsheviks were, in fact, busy trying to catch up.
History has repeated itself in the anti-capitalist demonstrations
We should point out that anarchists have supported the idea of 
workers' self-management of production
since 1840 and, unsurprisingly enough, were extremely active
in the factory committee movement in 1917.
<p>
The second lesson to be gained from the Russian Revolution is
that while the Bolsheviks happily (and opportunistically) 
took over popular slogans and introduced them into their
rhetoric, they rarely meant the same thing to the Bolsheviks
as they did to the masses. For example, as noted above, the 
Bolsheviks took up the slogan <i>"All Power to the Soviets"</i> but 
rather than mean that the Soviets would manage society directly 
they actually meant the Soviets would delegate their power to a 
Bolshevik government which would govern society in their name.
Similarly with the term <i>"workers' control of production."</i> 
As S.A. Smith correctly notes, Lenin used <i>"the term ['workers' 
control'] in a very different sense from that of the factory 
committees."</i> In fact Lenin's <i>"proposals . . . [were] thoroughly 
statist and centralist in character, whereas the practice of the 
factory committees was essentially local and autonomous."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 154] Once in power, the Bolsheviks systematically
undermined the popular meaning of workers' control and replaced
it with their own, statist conception. This ultimately resulted
in the introduction of <i>"one-man management"</i> (with the manager
appointed from above by the state). This process is documented
in Maurice Brinton's <b>The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control</b>,
who also indicates the clear links between Bolshevik practice
and Bolshevik ideology as well as how both differed from popular
activity and ideas.
<p>
Hence the comments by Russian Anarchist Peter Arshinov:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Another no less important peculiarity is that [the] October 
[revolution of 1917] has two meanings -- that which the working' 
masses who participated in the social revolution gave it, and 
with them the Anarchist-Communists, and that which was given 
it by the political party [the Marxist-Communists] that captured 
power from this aspiration to social revolution, and which 
betrayed and stifled all further development. An enormous gulf 
exists between these two interpretations of October. The October 
of the workers and peasants is the suppression of the power of 
the parasite classes in the name of equality and self-management. 
The Bolshevik October is the conquest of power by the party of 
the revolutionary intelligentsia, the installation of its 'State 
Socialism' and of its 'socialist' methods of governing the masses."</i>
[<b>The Two Octobers</b>]
</blockquote><p>
The members of the "anti-capitalist" movements should bear that in 
mind when the SWP uses the same rhetoric as they do. Appearances are 
always deceptive when it comes to Leninists. The history of the 
Russian Revolution indicates that while Leninists like the SWP
can use the same words as popular movements, their interpretation
of them can differ drastically. 
<p>
Take, for example, the expression "anti-capitalist." The SWP will 
claim that they, too, are "anti-capitalist" but, in fact, they are 
only opposed to "free market" capitalism and actually support 
state capitalism. Lenin, for example, argued that workers' must 
<i>"<b>unquestioningly obey the single will</b> of the leaders of labour"</i> 
in April 1918 along with granting <i>"individual executives dictatorial 
power (or 'unlimited' powers)"</i> and that <i>"the appointment of 
individuals, dictators with unlimited powers"</i> was, in fact, 
<i>"in general compatible with the fundamental principles of Soviet 
government"</i> simply because <i>"the history of revolutionary movements"</i> 
had <i>"shown"</i> that <i>"the dictatorship of individuals was very often 
the expression, the vehicle, the channel of the dictatorship of 
revolutionary classes."</i> He notes that <i>"[u]ndoubtably, the 
dictatorship of individuals was compatible with bourgeois 
democracy."</i> [<b>The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government</b>, 
p. 34 and p. 32]
<p>
He confused state capitalism with socialism. <i>"State capitalism,"</i> 
he wrote, <i>"is a complete material preparation for socialism, the 
threshold of socialism, a rung on the ladder of history between 
which and the rung called socialism there are no gaps."</i> 
[<b>Collected Works</b>, vol. 24, p. 259] He argued that socialism 
<i>"is nothing but the next step forward from state capitalist 
monopoly. In other words, Socialism is merely state capitalist 
monopoly <b>made to benefit the whole people</b>; by this token it 
<b>ceases</b> to be capitalist monopoly."</i> [<b>The Threatening Catastrophe 
and how to avoid it</b>, p. 37]
<p>
As Peter Arshinov argued, a <i>"fundamental fact"</i> of the Bolshevik 
revolution was <i>"that the workers and the peasant labourers
remained within the earlier situation of 'working classes'
-- producers managed by authority from abbove."</i> He stressed
that Bolshevik political and economic 
ideas may have <i>"remov[ed] the workers from the hands of individual
capitalists"</i> but they <i>"delivered them to the yet more rapacious
hands of a single ever-present capitalist boss, the State.
The relations between the workers and this new boss are the
same as earlier relations between labour and capital . . .
Wage labour has remained what it was before, expect that
it has taken on the character of an obligation to the State.
. . . It is clear that in all this we are dealing with a 
simple substitution of State capitalism for private 
capitalism."</i> [<b>The History of the Makhnovist Movement</b>,
p. 35 and p. 71] Therefore, looking at Bolshevism in 
power and in theory it is clear that it is not, in fact,
"anti-capitalist" but rather in favour of state capitalism
and any appropriation of popular slogans was always under
the firm understanding that the Bolshevik interpretation
of these ideas is what will be introduced.
<p>
Therefore the SWP's attempt to re-write Russian History. The 
actual events of the Russian Revolution indicate well the
authoritarian and state-capitalist nature of Leninist politics.
<p>
<a name="app9"><h2>9. How do the SWP re-write the history of the Spanish Revolution?</a></h2>
<p>
The SWP, after re-writing Russian history, move onto Spanish 
history:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It did not happen in Spain in 1936. The C.N.T., a trade union 
heavily influenced by anarchist ideas, led a workers' uprising in 
the city of Barcelona that year. Workers' councils effectively ran 
the city. 
<p>
"But the capitalist state machine did not simply disappear. The 
government and its army, which was fighting against Franco's 
fascist forces, remained, although it had no authority in 
Barcelona. 
<p>
"The government even offered to hand power over to the leaders of 
the C.N.T. But the C.N.T. believed that any form of state was wrong.  
It turned down the possibility of forming a workers' state, which 
could have broken the fascists' coup and the capitalist state. 
<p>
"Worse, it accepted positions in a government that was dominated 
by pro-capitalist forces. 
<p>
"That government crushed workers' power in Barcelona, and in doing 
so fatally undermined the fight against fascism."</i>
</blockquote>
<p>
It is hard to know where to start with this distortion of history.
<p>
Firstly, we have to point out that the C.N.T. did lead a workers' 
uprising in 1936 but in was in response to a military coup and 
occurred all across Spain. The army was not <i>"fighting against 
Franco's fascist forces"</i> but rather had been the means by which 
Franco had tried to impose his version of fascism. Indeed, as 
the SWP know fine well, one of the first acts the CNT did in the 
Spanish Revolution was to organise workers' militias to go fight
the army in those parts of Spain in which the unions (particularly
the CNT which lead the fighting) did not defeat it by street fighting.
Thus the C.N.T. faced the might of the Spanish army rising in a 
fascist coup. That, as we shall see, influenced its decisions. 
<p>
By not mentioning (indeed, lying about) the actual conditions the
CNT faced in July 1936, the SWP ensure the reader cannot understand
what happened and why the CNT made the decisions it did. Instead 
the reader is encouraged to think it was purely a result of anarchist 
theory. Needless to say, the SWP have a fit when it is suggested 
the actions of the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War were 
simply the result of Leninist ideology and unaffected by the
circumstances they were made in. The logic is simple: the 
mistakes of Marxists are <b>never</b> their fault, <b>never</b> derive 
from Marxist politics and are always attributable to circumstances 
(regardless of the facts); the mistakes of anarchists, however, 
<b>always</b> derive from their politics and can never be explained by 
circumstances (regardless of counter-examples and those
circumstances). Once this is understood, the reason why the SWP 
distorted the history of the Spanish Revolution becomes clear.
<p>
Secondly, anarchism does not think that the <i>"capitalist state 
machine"</i> will <i>"simply disappear."</i> Rather, anarchists think that 
(to quote Kropotkin) the revolution <i>"must smash the State and 
replace it with the Federation [of workers' associations and 
communes] and it will act accordingly."</i> [<b>No Gods, No 
Masters</b>, 
vol. 1, p. 259] In other words, the state does not disappear, 
it is destroyed and replaced with a new, libertarian, form of 
social structure. Thus the SWP misrepresents anarchist theory.
<p>
Thirdly, yes, the Catalan government did offer to stand aside 
for the C.N.T. and the C.N.T. rejected the offer. Why? The SWP 
claim that <i>"the C.N.T. believed that any form of state was wrong"</i> 
and that is why it did not take power. That is true, but what 
the SWP fail to mention is more important. The C.N.T. refused 
to implement libertarian communism after the defeat of the army 
uprising in July 1936 simply because it did not want to be 
isolated nor have to fight the republican government as well 
as the fascists (needless to say, such a decision, while
understandable, was wrong). But such historical information 
would confuse the reader with facts and make their case against 
anarchism less clear-cut. 
<p>
Ironically the SWP's attack on the CNT indicates well the
authoritarian basis of its politics and its support of soviets
simply as a means for the party leaders to take power. After
all, they obviously consider it a mistake for the <i>"leaders
of the CNT"</i> to refuse power. Trotsky made the same point,
arguing that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"A revolutionary party, even having seized power (of which the 
anarchist leaders were incapable in spite of the heroism of the 
anarchist workers), is still by no means the sovereign ruler of 
society."</i> [<i>"Stalinism and Bolshevism"</i>, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 16]
<p></blockquote>
Yet the SWP say they, and their political tradition, are for 
<i>"workers' power"</i> yet, in practice, they clearly mean that
power will be seized, held and exercised by the workers'
leaders. A strange definition of "workers' power," we must 
admit but one that indicates well the differences between
anarchists and Marxists. The former aim for a society based
on workers' self-management. The latter desire a society in
which workers' delegate their power to control society (i.e.
their own lives) to the "leaders," to the "workers' party"
who will govern on their behalf. The "leaders" of the CNT 
quite rightly rejected such this position -- unfortunately 
they also rejected the anarchist position at the same time
and decided to ignore their politics in favour of collaborating
with other anti-fascist unions and parties against Franco.
<p>
Simply put, either the workers' have the power or the 
leaders do. To confuse the rule of the party with workers' 
self-management of society lays the basis for party dictatorship 
(as happened in Russia). Sadly, the SWP do exactly this and
fail to learn the lessons of the Russian Revolution.
<p>
Therefore, the SWP's argument against anarchism is logically 
flawed. Yes, the CNT did not take state power. However, neither
did it destroy the state, as anarchist theory argues. Rather 
it ignored the state and this was its undoing. Thus the SWP 
attacks anarchism for anarchists failing to act in an anarchist 
manner! How strange.
<P>
One last point. The events of the Spanish Revolution are important
in another way for evaluating anarchism and Marxism. Faced with the
military coup, the Spanish government did nothing, even refusing to 
distribute arms to the workers. The workers, however, took the
initiative, seized arms by direct action and took to the streets 
to confront the army. Indeed, the dynamic response of the CNT 
members to Franco's coup compared to the inaction of the Marxist 
inspired German workers movement faced with Hitler's taking of 
power presents us with another example of the benefits of federalism 
against centralism, of anarchism against Marxism. The federal
structure of the CNT had accustomed its members to act for
themselves, to show initiative and act without waiting for
orders from the centre. The centralised German system did the
opposite. 
<P>
The SWP will argue, of course, that the workers were mislead by their
leaders ("who were only Marxists in name only"). The question then
becomes: why did they not act for themselves? Perhaps because the
centralised German workers' movement had eroded their members
initiative, self-reliance and spirit of revolt to such a degree
that they could no longer act without their leaders instructions?
It may be argued that with <b>better</b> leaders the German workers
would have stopped the Nazis, but such a plea fails to understand
<b>why</b> better leaders did not exist in the first place. A centralised
movement inevitably produces bureaucracy and a tendency for leaders
to become conservative and compromised. 
<p>
All in all, rather than refute anarchism the experience of the
Spanish Revolution <b>confirms</b> it. The state needs to be destroyed,
<b>not</b> ignored or collaborated with, and replaced by a federation
of workers' councils organised from the bottom-up. By failing to
do this, the CNT did ensure the defeat of the revolution but it
hardly indicates a failure of anarchism. Rather it indicates a
failure of anarchists who made the wrong decision in extremely
difficult circumstances.
<p>
Obviously it is impossible to discuss the question of the C.N.T. 
during the Spanish Revolution in depth here. We address the
issue of Marxist interpretations of Spanish Anarchist history
in the appendix <a href="append32.html"><i>"Marxism and Spanish 
Anarchism."</i></a> <a href="append32.html#app20">Section 20</a>
of that appendix discusses the C.N.T.'s decision to collaborate
with the Republican State against Franco as well as its implications
for anarchism.
<p>
<a name="app10"><h2>10. Do anarchists ignore the fact that ideas change through struggle?</h2>
<p>
The SWP try and generalise from these experiences:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"In different ways, the lessons of Russia and Spain are the same.  
The organisational questions thrown up in particular struggles are 
critical when it comes to the working class challenging 
capitalism. 
<p>
"Workers face conflicting pressures. On the one hand, they are 
forced to compete in the labour market. They feel powerless, as an 
individual, against the boss. 
<p>
"That is why workers can accept the bosses' view of the world. At 
the same time constant attacks on workers' conditions create a 
need for workers to unite and fight back together. 
<p>
"These two pressures mean workers' ideas are uneven. Some see 
through the bosses' lies. Others can be largely taken in. Most 
part accept and part reject capitalist ideas. The overall 
consciousness of the working class is always shifting. People 
become involved in struggles which lead them to break with 
pro-capitalist ideas."</i>
</blockquote><p>
That is very true and anarchists are well aware of it. That is why 
anarchists organise groups, produce propaganda, argue their ideas 
with others and encourage direct action and solidarity. We do so 
because we are aware that the ideas within society are mixed and 
that struggle leads people to break with pro-capitalist ideas. To 
quote Bakunin:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"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 
<b>emancipation through practical action</b> . . . It means workers' 
solidarity in their struggle against the bosses.  It means 
<b>trade-unions, organisation</b> . . . 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."</i>
[<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 102-3]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore anarchists are well aware of the importance of struggle 
and propaganda in winning people to anarchist ideas. No anarchist 
has ever argued otherwise.
<p>
<a name="app11"><h2>11. Why do anarchists oppose the Leninist "revolutionary party"?</h2>
<p>
The SWP argue that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"So there is always a battle of ideas within the working class.  
That is why political organisation is crucial. Socialists seek to 
build a revolutionary party not only to try to spread the lessons 
from one struggle to another.
<p>
"They also want to organise those people who most clearly reject 
capitalism into a force that can fight for their ideas inside the 
working class as a whole. Such a party is democratic because its 
members constantly debate what is happening in today's struggles 
and the lessons that can be applied from past ones."</i>
</blockquote><p>
That, in itself, is something most anarchists would agree with.  
That is why they build specific anarchist organisations which 
discuss and debate politics, current struggles, past struggles 
and revolutions and so on. In Britain there are three national 
anarchist federations (the Anarchist Federation, the Solidarity 
Federation and the Class War Federation) as well as numerous local 
groups and regional federations. The aim of these organisations
is to try and influence the class struggle towards anarchist
ideas (and, equally important, <b>learn</b> from that struggle as
well -- the <i>"program of the Alliance [Bakunin's anarchist group],
expanded to keep pace with developing situations."</i> [Bakunin,
<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 406]). The need for a specific 
political organisation is one most anarchists would agree with.
<p>
Thus few anarchists are believers in spontaneous revolution and 
see the need for anarchists to organise <b>as anarchists</b> to
spread anarchist ideas and push the struggle towards anarchist
ends (smashing the state and capitalism and the creation of a
free federation of workers' councils and communes) via anarchist
tactics (direct action, solidarity, general strikes, insurrection
and encouraging working class self-organisation and self-management).
Hence the need for specific anarchist organisations:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The Alliance [Bakunin's anarchist group] is the necessary
complement to the International [the revolutionary workers'
movement]. But the International and the Alliance, while
having the same ultimate aims, perform different functions.
The International endeavours to unify the working masses . . .
regardless of nationality and national boundaries or religious
and political beliefs, into one compact body; the Alliance
. . . tries to give these masses a really revolutionary
direction. The programs of one and the other, without being
opposed, differ in the degree of their revolutionary 
development. The International contains in germ, but only
in germ, the whole program of the Alliance. The program of
the Alliance represents the fullest unfolding of the
International."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 157]
</blockquote><p>
However, anarchists also argue that the revolutionary organisation
must also reflect the type of society we want. Hence an anarchist
federation must be self-organised from below, rejecting hierarchy
and embracing self-management. For anarchists an organisation is 
not democratic because it debates, as the SWP claims. It is 
democratic only if the membership actually decides the policy 
of the organisation. That the SWP fail to mention this is 
significant and places doubt on whether their organisation is 
democratic in fact (as we indicate in 
<a href="append34.html#app22">section 22</a>, the SWP may
debate but it is not democratic). The reason why democracy in 
the SWP may not be all that it should be can be found in their 
comment that: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It is also centralised, as it arrives at decisions which everyone 
acts on."</i>
</blockquote><p>
However, this is not centralisation. Centralisation is when the 
centre decides everything and the membership follow those orders.  
That the membership may be in a position to elect those at the 
centre does not change the fact that the membership is simply 
expected to follow orders. It is the organisational principle of 
the army or police, not of a free society. That this is the 
principle of Leninism can be seen from Trotsky's comment that the 
<i>"statues [of the party] should express the leadership's organised 
distrust of the members, a distrust manifesting itself in vigilant 
control from above over the Party."</i> [quoted by M. Brinton, <b>The 
Bolsheviks and Workers' Control</b>, p. xi] Thus the centre controls 
the membership, not vice versa. 
<p>
In <b>What is to be Done?</b> Lenin discussed <i>"the confusion of ideas 
concerning the meaning of democracy."</i> He dismisses the idea of 
self-management as <i>"Primitive Democracy."</i> He uses the example of 
the early British unions, where workers <i>"thought that it was an 
indispensable sign of democracy for all the members to do all the 
work of managing the unions; not only were all questions decided 
by the vote of all the members, but all the official duties were 
fulfilled by all the members in turn."</i> He considered <i>"such a 
conception of democracy"</i> as <i>"absurd"</i> and saw it as historical 
necessity that it was replaced by <i>"representative institutions"</i> 
and <i>"full-time officials"</i>. [<b>Essential Works of Lenin</b>, pp. 162-3]
In other words, the Leninist tradition rejects self-management 
in favour of hierarchical structures in which power is centralised 
in the hands of <i>"full-time officials"</i> and <i>"representative institutions."</i> 
<p>
In contrast, Bakunin argued that trade unions which ended <i>"primitive 
democracy"</i> and replaced it with representative institutions became 
bureaucratic and <i>"simply left all decision-making to their committees 
. . . In this manner power gravitated to the committees, and by a 
species of fiction characteristic of all governments the committees 
substituted their own will and their own ideas for that of the 
membership."</i> The membership become subject to <i>"the arbitrary power"</i>
of the committees and <i>"ruled by oligarchs."</i> In other words, bureaucracy
set in and democracy <b>as such</b> was eliminated and while <i>"very good
for the committees . . . [it was] not at all favourable for the social,
intellectual, and moral progress of the collective power"</i> of the
workers' movement. [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, pp. 246-7] Who was correct
can quickly be seen from the radical and pro-active nature of the British 
trade union leadership. Ironically, the SWP always bemoan trade union 
bureaucracies betraying workers in struggle yet promote an 
organisational structure that ensures that power flows to the 
centre and into the hands of bureaucrats. 
<p>
At best, Leninism reduces "democracy" to mean that the majority 
designates its rulers, copied from the model of bourgeois 
parliamentary democracy. In practice it is drained of any real 
meaning and quickly becomes a veil thrown over the unlimited power 
of the rulers. The base does not run the organisation just because 
once a year it elects delegates who designate the central 
committee, no more than the people are sovereign in a 
parliamentary-type republic because they periodically elect 
deputies who designate the government. That the central committee 
is designated by a "democratically elected" congress makes no 
difference once it is elected, it is de facto and de jure the 
absolute ruler of the organisation. It has complete (statutory) 
control over the body of the Party (and can dissolve the base 
organisations, kick out militants, etc.).
<p>
Therefore it is ironic that the SWP promote themselves as 
supporters of democracy as it is anarchists who support the 
<i>"primitive democracy"</i> (self-management) contemptuously dismissed 
by Lenin. With their calls for centralisation, it is clear that 
SWP still follow Lenin, wishing to place decision-making at the 
centre of the organisation, in the hands of leaders, in the same 
way the police, army and bureaucratic trade unions do. Anarchists 
reject this vision as non-socialist and instead argue for the 
fullest participation in decision making by those subject to those 
decisions. Only in this way can government -- inequality in power 
-- be eliminated from society.
<p>
Just to stress the point, anarchists are not opposed to people 
making decisions and everyone who took part in making the decision 
acting on them. Such a system is not "centralised," however, when 
the decisions flow from the bottom-up and are made by mandated 
delegates, accountable to the people who mandated them. It is 
centralised when it is decided upon by the leadership and imposed 
upon the membership. Thus the issue is not whether we organise or 
not organise, nor whether we co-ordinate joint activity or not, it 
is a question of how we organise and co-ordinate -- from the 
bottom up or from the top down. As Bakunin argued:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Discipline, mutual trust as well as unity are all excellent 
qualities when properly understood and practised, but disastrous
when abused . . . [one use of the word] discipline almost always 
signifies despotism on the one hand and blind automatic submission
to authority on the other. . .
<p>
"Hostile as I am to [this,] the authoritarian conception of 
discipline, I nevertheless recognise that a certain kind of 
discipline, not automatic but voluntary and intelligently 
understood is, and will ever be, necessary whenever a greater 
number of individuals undertake any kind of collective work or 
action. Under these circumstances, discipline is simply the 
voluntary and considered co-ordination of all individual efforts 
for a common purpose. At the moment of revolution, in the
midst of the struggle, there is a natural division of functions
according to the aptitude of each, assessed and judged by the
collective whole. . . 
<p>
"In such a system, power, properly speaking, no longer exists.
Power is diffused to the collectivity and becomes the true
expression of the liberty of everyone, the faithful and
sincere realisation of the will of all . . . this is the
only true discipline, the discipline necessary for the
organisation of freedom. This is not the kind of discipline
preached by the State . . . which wants the old, routine-like,
automatic blind discipline. Passive discipline is the foundation
of every despotism."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, pp. 414-5]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, anarchists see the need to make agreements, to stick
by them and to show discipline but we argue that this must be
to the agreements we helped to make and subject to our judgement.
We reject "centralisation" as it confuses the necessity of
agreement with hierarchical power, of solidarity and agreement
from below with unity imposed from above as well as the need for
discipline with following orders.
<p>
<a name="app12"><h2>12. Why do the SWP make a polemical fetish of <i>"unity"</i> and <i>"democracy"</i> to the expense of common sense and freedom?</h2>
<p>
The SWP argue that <i>"unity"</i> is essential:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Without unity around decisions there would be no democracy - 
minorities would simply ignore majority decisions."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
Anarchists are in favour of free agreement and so argue that 
minorities should, in general, go along with the majority 
decisions of the groups and federations they are members of. That 
is, after all, the point behind federalism -- to co-ordinate 
activity. Minorities can, after all, leave an association. 
As Malatesta argued, <i>"anarchists recognise that where life
is lived in common it is often necessary for the minority
to come to accept the opinion of the majority. When there
is an obvious need or usefulness in doing something and, to
do it requires the agreement of all, the few should feel 
the need adapt to the wishes of the many."</i> [<b>The Anarchist
Revolution</b>, p. 100] The Spanish C.N.T. argued in its vision
of Libertarian Communism that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Communes are to be autonomous and will be federated
at regional and national levels for the purpose of achieving
goals of a general nature. . . . communes  . . . will
undertake to adhere to whatever general norms [that] may 
be majority vote after free debate. . . The inhabitants
of a Commune are to debate their internal problems . . .
among themselves. Whenever problems affecting an entire
comarca [district] or province are involved, it must be
the Federations [of communes] who deliberate and at every
reunion or assembly these may hold all of the Communes
are to be represented and their delegates will relay
the viewpoints previously approved in their respective
Communes . . . On matters of a regional nature, it will
be up to the Regional Federation to put agreements into
practice and these agreements will represent the sovereign
will of all the region's inhabitants. So the starting point
is the individual, moving on through the Commune, to the 
Federation and right on up finally to the Confederation."</i>
[quoted by Jose Pierats, <b>The C.N.T. in the Spanish Revolution</b>,
pp. 68-9]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, as a general rule-of-thumb, anarchists have little
problem with the minority accepting the decisions of the majority
after a process of free debate and discussion. As we argue
in <a href="secA2.html#seca211">section A.2.11</a>, such collective decision making is compatible
with anarchist principles -- indeed, is based on them. By governing
ourselves directly, we exclude others governing us. However, we 
do not make a fetish of this, recognising that, in certain 
circumstances, the minority must and should ignore majority 
decisions. For example, if the majority of an organisation 
decide on a policy which the minority thinks is disastrous then 
why should they follow the majority? In 1914, the representatives 
of the German Social Democratic Party voted for war credits. The 
anti-war minority of that group went along with the majority in 
the name of <i>"democracy,"</i> <i>"unity"</i> and <i>"discipline"</i>. Would the SWP 
argue that they were right to do so? Similarly, if a majority of 
a community decided, say, that homosexuals were to be arrested, 
would the SWP argue that minorities must not ignore that decision? 
We hope not. 
<p>
In general, anarchists would argue that a minority should ignore
the majority when their decisions violate the fundamental ideas
which the organisation or association are built on. In other 
words, if the majority violates the ideals of liberty, equality 
and solidarity then the minority can and should reject the 
decisions of the majority. So, a decision of the majority 
that violates the liberty of a non-oppressive minority -- say, 
restricting their freedom of association -- then minorities 
can and should ignore the decisions and practice civil 
disobedience to change that decision. Similarly, if a decision 
violates the solidarity and the feelings of equality which 
should inform decisions, then, again, the minority should 
reject the decision. We cannot accept majority decisions without
question simply because the majority can be wrong. Unless the
minority can judge the decisions of the majority and can reject
them then they are slaves of the majority and the equality
essential for a socialist society is eliminated in favour of
mere obedience.
<p>
However, if the actions of the majority are simply considered
to be disastrous but breaking the agreement would weaken the
actions of the majority, then solidarity should be the overwhelming
consideration. As Malatesta argued, <i>"[t]here are matters over
which it is worth accepting the will of the majority because
the damage caused by a split would be greater than that
caused by error; there are circumstances in which discipline
becomes a duty because to fail in it would be to fail in the
solidarity between the oppressed and would mean betrayal in
face of the enemy . . . What is essential is that individuals
should develop a sense of organisation and solidarity, and
the conviction that fraternal co-operation is necessary to
fight oppression and to achieve a society in which everyone
will be able to enjoy his [or her] own life."</i> [<b>Life and
Ideas</b>, pp. 132-3]
<p>
He stresses the point:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"But such an adaptation [of the minority to the decisions
of the majority] on the one hand by one group must be reciprocal,
voluntary and must stem from an awareness of need and of
goodwill to prevent the running of social affairs from being
paralysed by obstinacy. It cannot be imposed as a principle
and statutory norm. . .
<p>
"So . . . anarchists deny the right of the majority to govern
in human society in general . . . how is it possible . . . to 
declare that anarchists should submit to the decisions of the 
majority before they have even heard what those might be?"</i> 
[<b>The Anarchist Revolution</b>, pp. 100-1]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, while accepting majority decision making as a key
aspect of a revolutionary movement and a free society, anarchists
do not make a fetish of it. We recognise that we must use our
own judgement in evaluating each decision reached simply because
the majority is not always right. We must balance the need for
solidarity in the common struggle and needs of common life with
critical analysis and judgement. 
<p>
Needless to say, our arguments apply with even more force to
the decisions of the <b>representatives</b> of the majority, who are
in practice a very small minority. Leninists usually try and
confuse these two distinct forms of decision making. When 
groups like the SWP discuss majority decision making they 
almost always mean the decisions of those elected by the 
majority -- the central committee or the government -- rather 
than the majority of the masses or an organisation.
<p>
So, in practice the SWP argue that the majority of an organisation 
cannot be consulted on every issue and so what they actually 
mean is that the decisions of the central committee (or 
government) should be followed at all times. In other words, the 
decisions of a minority (the leaders) should be obeyed by the 
majority. A minority owns and controls the "revolutionary"
organisation and "democracy" is quickly turned into its 
opposite. Very "democratic." 
<p>
As we shall indicate in the next two sections, the SWP do not,
in fact, actually follow their own arguments. They are quite
happy for minorities to ignore majority decisions -- as long
as the minority in question is the leadership of their own
parties. As we argue in <a href="append34.html#app14">section 14</a>, 
such activities flow 
naturally from the vanguardist politics of Leninism and should
not come as a surprise.
<p>
<a name="app13"><h2>13. How does the Battle of Prague expose the SWP as hypocrites?</h2>
<p>
To evaluate the sincerity of the SWP's proclaimed commitment to
<i>"democracy"</i> and <i>"centralism"</i> we just have to look at the actions
of their contingent at the demonstration against the WTO and IMF
in Prague on September 26th, 2000.
<p>
Let us recall that on September 16th, the SWP had argued as follows:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It is no good people coming together in a struggle, discussing what 
to do and then doing just what they feel like as if no discussion had 
taken place."</i> 
</blockquote>
<p>
They stressed that importance of  <i>"centralisation"</i> which they 
defined as <i>"arriv[ing] at decisions which everyone acts on. Without 
unity around decisions there would be no democracy -- minorities 
would simply ignore majority decisions."</i>
<p>
In practice, the International Socialist (IS) section of the Prague
demonstration (the SWP and its sister parties) totally ignored 
their own arguments. Instead of ending up in the Pink sector 
(for which they had put themselves down) they somehow ended 
up behind <i>"Ya Basta"</i> in the yellow sector. As they were at 
the front of the march this should have been impossible. It 
turns out they deliberately entered the wrong sector because 
they refused to accept the agreed plan to split the march in 
three. 
<p>
The protests had been co-ordinated by INPEG. INPEG was established 
as a democratic implement of communication and co-ordination among 
individuals and groups which want to protest against the annual 
summit of IMF in Prague on September 2000. It included 
a variety groups -- for instance reformists (e.g. NESEHNUTI), 
anarchists (e.g. CSAF or Solidarity) and Leninists (i.e. Socialist 
Solidarity, sister organisation of the British SWP). The IS
group had argued at INPEG committee meetings earlier in the year 
for a single  march on the centre (which of course could not have 
shut the conference down). They failed to win this argument and 
so had  betrayed the rest of the protesters on the day by simply 
marching directly onto the bridge themselves (in the yellow 
sector) instead of continuing into the Pink sector as they 
were supposed to.
<p>
Why did the SWP do what they did? Presumably they put themselves
down for the Pink section because it was at the front of the 
march and so offered the best media coverage for their placards 
and banners. Similarly, they joined the Yellow Section because 
it was marching directly to the conference centre and not, like 
Pink, going round to the rear and so, again, offered the best 
media coverage. In other words, they <i>"did their own thing"</i>,
ignored the agreements they made and weakened the protests
simply to look the dominant group in the press. Ironically,
the Czech media made sure that the Leninist parties got onto
their front pages simply because many of them chose to march in 
Prague with red flags emblazoned with hammer and sickles. Flags 
associated with the Soviet occupation and the old regime are 
hardly "popular" and so useful to smear the protests.
<p>
The decision of the SWP to ignore the agreed plan was applauded 
by other Leninists. According to the post-Prague issue of the 
Communist Party of Great Britain's paper <b>Weekly Worker</b>:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Farcically, the organisers had decided to split the march into three, 
each with its own route and composition -- blue (anarchist), pink 
(trade unions and left organisations) and yellow (NGOs and Jubilee 2000). 
Ostensibly, this started as a tactic designed to facilitate forming a 
human chain around the conference centre, although by the day of the 
action this aim had, apparently, been abandoned. Whether these truly 
stupid arrangements had been accepted beforehand by all on the INPEG  
(Initiative Against Economic Globalisation) remains hazy, given the 
paucity of information about the debates and differences on this 
self-appointed body."</i>
</blockquote><p>
The splitting of the march into three, as a matter of fact, was a 
great success. It allowed the demonstrators to encircle the conference 
centre. The marches splitting off from the back working beautifully,
catching the police and media by surprise who were clustered at the 
front of the march (indeed, the police later admitted that they had
been caught off guard by the splitting of the march). From the 
splitting points to the centre the marches were unaccompanied by 
both police and media. A clear victory. Indeed, what would have
been <i>"truly stupid"</i> was doing what the police had expected (and
SWP wanted) -- to have one big march.
<p>
How was the demonstration's organised? According to eye-witness
Katharine Viner (writing in <b>The Guardian</b> on Friday September 29, 
2000):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"In the run-up to Tuesday's demonstration I attended the convergence 
centre, where 'spokes council' meetings took place, and found the 
sense of community and organisation there astonishing and moving. Every 
'affinity group' - NGO or group of friends - sent a spokesperson to 
meetings to make decisions and work out strategy. It sounds impossible
to contain, and it was laborious, but it worked and consensus was found.
It felt like proper democracy in a way that the ballot box does not."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Julie Light, of <b>Corporate Watch</b>, indicates the same process at
work in her account entitled <b>Spirits, Tensions Run High in Prague</b>
(dated September 25, 2000):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"the activist coalition called the Initiative Against Economic 
Globalisation (INPEG) is training hundreds of people in civil 
disobedience at the Convergence Centre. The Centre, a converted 
warehouse space located under Prague's Libensky Bridge, serves
as an information and strategy clearinghouse for the protesters. 
A 'spokes council' made up of representatives of dozens of groups 
makes decisions by consensus for this international ad-hoc 
coalition that has never worked together before. They have an 
elaborate system of hand signals to indicate their views as they 
discuss the details of the protests. Given the logistical
obstacles, things seem to be running remarkably smoothly."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
Obviously <i>"proper democracy"</i> and a council of group spokespeople
discussing the protests were not good enough for the SWP and 
other Leninist groups. Nor, of course, making an agreement and
sticking to it.
<p>
The <b>Weekly Worker</b> complements the SWP's decision:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Come the march itself, the damage was partially repaired by the 
decision of a majority of the 'pink' contingent (with the SWP and 
its international sections to the fore) to simply veer off the 
agreed route. This pink section then partially merged with the 
yellow to advance on the conference."</i>
</blockquote><p>
We must point out that the International Socialist appear to have
lied about the numbers they were bringing to Prague. The day before 
the demonstration they claimed they said they would contribute 2,500 
to the Pink section -- since then their own press has reported 
1,000 in their delegation (<b>Socialist Worker</b> no. 1716 stated that
the <i>"day began when over 1,000 marched from the Florenc bus station 
. . .led by supporters of Socialist Worker and its sister papers 
elsewhere in Europe"</i>). This would have left the Pink block seriously 
under strength even if they had not unilaterally left their block.
<p>
Their defection from the agreed plan had very serious repercussions 
on the day -- one gate in the Pink sector was never covered. In the 
Blue sector, where the anarchists were concentrated, this meant that 
at the height of a battle with hundreds of riot police, a water cannon 
and two Armoured Personnel Carriers they were forced to send 300 people 
on a 2 km hike to attempt to close this gate. Shortly after they left 
a police charge broke the Blue Block lines leading to arrests and 
injuries.
<p>
Thus, by ignoring the plan and doing their own thing, they not only 
made a mockery of their own arguments and the decision making process 
of the demonstration, weakened the protest and placed others in danger. 
<p>
And the net effect of their defection? As the <b>Weekly Worker</b> 
pathetically comments:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Of course, it was blocked by ranks of riot police . . ."</i>
</blockquote><p>
As the bridge was a very narrow front this resulted in a huge amount 
of people stuck behind <i>"Ya Basta!"</i> with nothing to do except sit around.
So the "International Socialists" and other Leninists who undertook 
the act of sabotage with them were stuck doing nothing behind 
<i>"Ya Basta"</i> at the bottom of the bridge (as would be expected -- indeed,
this exposes another failing of centralism, its inability to know
local circumstances, adapt to them and plan taking them into account). 
The tiny number of anarchists who marched around to cover their gate on 
the other hand, took the police by surprise and broke through to the 
conference centre until driven back by hundreds of riot police. Worse, 
there were some problems in the "Yellow Block" as the Leninists were 
pushing from behind and it took some serious explaining to get them 
to understand that they should stop it because otherwise people in the
front line could be crushed to death. Moreover, they demanded to 
be allowed up alongside <i>"Ya Basta"</i> at the front, next to the riot
cops, but when <i>"Ya Basta"</i> did pull out and invited the SWP to take 
their place in the front they refused to do so.
<p>
Moreover, the actual result of the SWP's disgraceful actions in Prague 
also indicates the weakness of centralism. Having centrally decided to 
have one big march (regardless of what the others thought or the 
majority wished or agreed to) the decision was made with clearly no 
idea of the local geography otherwise they would have known that the
front at the bridge would have been small. The net result of the 
"efficient" centralisation of the SWP? A mass of protestors stuck 
doing nothing due to a lack of understanding of local geography and 
the plan to blockade the conference seriously weakened. A federal
organisation, on the other hand, would have had information from
the local activists who would have been organising the protests
and made their plans accordingly.
<p>
Therefore, to summarise. Ten days after denouncing anarchism for 
refusing to accept majority decisions and for being against 
"centralisation" (i.e. making and keeping agreements), the SWP 
ignore majority decisions, break agreements and do their own thing. 
Not only that, they weaken the demonstration and place their fellow 
protestors in difficulties simply so they could do nothing someplace 
else as, unsurprisingly enough, their way was blocked by riot cops. 
An amazing example of "democratic centralism" in practice and sure 
to inspire us all to follow the path of Marxism-Leninism!
<p>
The hypocrisy of their actions and arguments are clear. The question
now arises, what do anarchists think of their action. As we argued 
in the <a href="append34.html#app12">last section</a>, while anarchists favour direct democracy 
(self-management) when making decisions we also accept that 
minorities can and should ignore a majority decision if that 
decision is considered to be truly disastrous. However, any such
decision must be made based on evaluating the damage caused by 
so making it and whether it would be a violation of solidarity 
to do so. This is what the SWP clearly failed to do. Their decision 
not only made a mockery of their own argument, it failed to take 
into account <b>solidarity</b> with the rest of the demonstration. 
<p>
From an anarchist perspective, therefore, the SWP's decision and 
actions cannot be justified. They violated the basic principles 
of a revolutionary movement, the principles of liberty, equality 
and solidarity. They ignored the liberty of others by violating 
their agreements with them, they violated their equality by acting 
as if the other groups ideas and decisions did not matter and they 
violated solidarity by ignoring the needs of the common struggle 
and so placing their fellow demonstrators in danger. While 
anarchists <b>do</b> respect the rights of minorities to act as they
see fit, we also recognise the importance of solidarity with 
our fellow workers and protestors. The SWP by failing to consider
the needs of the common struggle sabotaged the demonstration and
should be condemned not only as hypocrites but also as elitists
-- the party is not subject to the same rrules as other demonstrators,
whose wishes are irrelevant when they conflict with the party. The
implications for the SWP's proclaimed support for democracy is
clear.
<p>
So it appears that minorities <b>can</b> and <b>should</b> ignore agreements -- 
as long as the minority in question are the leaders of the SWP and its 
sister parties. They have exposed themselves as being hypocrites. Like 
their heroes, Lenin and Trotsky, they will ignore democratic decisions 
when it suits them (see <a href="append34.html#app14">next section</a>). 
This is sickening for numerous 
reasons  -- it placed the rest of the demonstrators in danger, it 
weakened the demonstration itself and it shows that the SWP say one 
thing and do the exact opposite. They, and the political tradition
they are part of, clearly are not to be trusted. The bulk of the 
membership went along with this betrayal like sheep. Hardly a good 
example of revolutionary consciousness. In fact it shows that the 
"revolutionary" discipline of the SWP <b>is</b> like that of the cops 
or army) and that SWP's centralised system <b>is</b> based on typically 
bourgeois notions. In other words, the organisational structure 
desired by the SWP does not encourage the autonomy, initiative or 
critical thinking of its members (as anarchists have long argued).
<p>
Prague shows that their arguments for "centralisation" as necessary
for "democracy" are hypocrisy and amount to little more than a call 
for domination by the SWP's leadership over the anti-capitalist 
movement -- a call hidden begin the rhetoric of "democracy." As 
can be seen, in practice the SWP happily ignores democracy when 
it suits them. The party always comes first, regardless of what 
the people it claims to represent actually want. In this they 
follow the actions of the Bolsheviks in power (see 
<a href="append34.html#app14">next section</a>). 
Little wonder Marxism-Leninism is dying -- the difference between
what they claim and what they do is becoming increasingly well
know.
<p>
<a name="app14"><h2>14. Is the Leninist tradition actually as democratic as the SWP like to claim?</h2>
<p>
While the SWP attack anarchism for being undemocratic for
being against "centralism" the truth is that the Leninist 
tradition is fundamentally undemocratic. Those, like the SWP, 
who are part of the Bolshevik tradition have no problem with 
minorities ignoring majority decisions -- as long as the minority 
in question is the leadership of the vanguard party. We discussed
the example of the <i>"battle of Prague"</i> in the 
<a href="append34.html#app13">last section</a>, now
we turn to Bolshevism in power during the Russian Revolution.
<p>
For example, the Bolsheviks usually overthrew the results of 
provincial soviet elections that went against them [Samuel 
Farber, <b>Before Stalinism</b>, pp 22-24]. It was in the spring of
1918 that the Bolsheviks showed how little they really supported 
the soviets. As discontent grew soviet after soviet fell to 
Menshevik-SR blocs. To stay in power they had to destroy the 
soviets and they did. Opposition victories were followed by 
disbanding of the soviets and often martial law. [Vladimir Brovkin,
<i>"The Menshevik's Political Comeback: The elections to the provincial 
soviets in spring 1918"</i>, <b>Russian Review</b> no. 42 (1983), pp. 1-50]
<p>
In addition, the Bolsheviks abolished by decree soldiers' councils 
and the election of officers in the Red Army in favour of officers 
appointed from above (see <a href="append32.html#app11">section 11</a> 
of the appendix <a href="append32.html"><i>"Marxism and 
Spanish Anarchism"</i></a> for details). They replaced self-managed factory 
committees with appointed, autocratic managers (see M. Brinton's 
<b>The Bolsheviks and Workers Control</b> or 
<a href="append32.html#app17">section 17</a> of the appendix 
<a href="append32.html"><i>"Marxism and Spanish Anarchism"</i></a> 
for details). All this before the 
start of the Russian  Civil War. Similarly, Lenin and Trotsky 
happily replaced the democratically elected leaders of trade 
unions with their followers when it suited them. 
<p>
As Trotsky argued in 1921, you cannot place <i>"the workers' right to 
elect representatives above the party. As if the Party were not 
entitled to assert its dictatorship even if that dictatorship 
clashed with the passing moods of the workers' democracy!"</i> He 
continued by stating the <i>"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."</i> [quoted by M. Brinton, <b>The Bolsheviks and Workers' 
Control</b>, p. 78]
<p>
Of course, such a position follows naturally from Lenin's theory 
from <b>What is to be Done?</b> that <i>"the working class, exclusively 
by their own effort, is able to develop only trade union 
consciousness . . . The theory of socialism [i.e. Marxism], 
however, grew out of the philosophic, historical and economic 
theories that were elaborated by the educated representatives of 
the propertied classes, the intellectuals . . . the theoretical 
doctrine of Social-Democracy arose quite independently of the 
spontaneous growth of the labour movement; it arose as a natural 
and inevitable outcome of ideas among the revolutionary socialist 
intelligentsia."</i> This meant that <i>"Social Democratic [i.e. 
socialist] consciousness . . . could only be brought to them 
from without."</i> [<b>Essential Lenin</b>, pp. 74-5] 
<p>
For Leninists, if the workers' act in ways opposed to by the 
party, then the party has the right to ignore, even repress, 
the workers -- they simply do not (indeed, cannot) understand 
what is required of them. They cannot reach <i>"socialist 
consciousness"</i> by their own efforts -- indeed, their opinions
can be dismissed as <i>"there can be no talk of an independent
ideology being developed by the masses of the workers in the
process of their movement <b>the only choice is</b>: either bourgeois
or socialist ideology . . . to belittle socialist ideology
<b>in any way</b>, to <b>deviate from it in the slightest degree</b> 
means strengthening bourgeois ideology . . . the <b>spontaneous</b>
development of the labour movement leads to it becoming 
subordinated to bourgeois ideology."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 82] Given
that the socialist ideology cannot be communicated without the
vanguard party, this means that the <b>party</b> can ignore the
wishes of the masses simply because such wishes <b>must be</b>
influenced by "bourgeois" ideology. Thus Leninism contains within 
itself the justification for eliminating democracy within the 
revolution. From Lenin's arguments to Bolshevik actions during
the revolution and Trotsky's assertions in 1921 is only a matter 
of time -- and <b>power</b>.
<p>
In other words, the SWP's <i>"Battle of Ideas"</i> becomes, once 
the vanguard is in power, just a battle:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Without revolutionary coercion directed against the avowed 
enemies of the workers and peasants, it is impossible to 
break down the resistance of these exploiters. On the other 
hand, revolutionary coercion is bound to be employed towards 
the wavering and unstable elements among the masses 
themselves."</i> [Lenin, <b>Collected Works</b>, vol. 24, p. 170] 
</blockquote><p>
Significantly, of the 17 000 camp detainees on whom statistical 
information was available on 1 November 1920, peasants and workers 
constituted the largest groups, at 39% and 34% respectively. 
Similarly, of the 40 913 prisoners held in December 1921 (of whom 
44% had been committed by the Cheka) nearly 84% were illiterate or 
minimally educated, clearly, therefore, either peasants of 
workers. [George Leggett, <b>The Cheka: Lenin's Political Police</b>, 
p. 178] Needless to say, Lenin failed to mention this aspect of 
his system in <b>The State and Revolution</b>, as do the SWP in their
article.
<p>
It is hard to combine these facts and the SWP's comments with the 
claim that the "workers' state" is an instrument of class rule -- 
after all, Lenin is acknowledging that coercion will be exercised 
against members of the working class as well. The question of 
course arises -- who decides what a <i>"wavering"</i> or <i>"unstable"</i> 
element is? Given their comments on the role of the party and the 
need for the party to assume power, it will mean in practice 
whoever rejects the government's decisions (for example, strikers, 
local soviets which reject central decrees and instructions, workers 
who vote for anarchists or parties other than the Bolshevik party 
in elections to soviets, unions and so on, socialists and 
anarchists, etc.). Given a hierarchical system, Lenin's comment is 
simply a justification for state repression of its enemies 
(including elements within, or even the whole of, the working 
class).
<p>
It could be argued, however, that workers could use the soviets to 
recall the government. However, this fails for two reasons.
<p>
Firstly, the Leninist state will be highly centralised, with power 
flowing from the top-down. This means that in order to revoke the 
government, all the soviets in all parts of the country must, at 
the same time, recall their delegates and organise a national 
congress of soviets (which, we note, is not in permanent session). 
The local soviets are bound to carry out the commands of the 
central government (to quote the Soviet constitution of 1918 -- 
they are to <i>"carry out all orders of the respective higher organs 
of the soviet power"</i>). Any independence on their part would be 
considered <i>"wavering"</i> or an expression of <i>"unstable"</i> natures and 
so subject to <i>"revolutionary coercion"</i>. In a highly centralised 
system, the means of accountability is reduced to the usual 
bourgeois level -- vote in the general election every few years 
(which, in any case, can be annulled by the government if its 
dislikes the <i>"passing moods"</i> expressed by them). As can be seen
above, the Bolsheviks did disband soviets when they considered
the wrong (i.e. <i>"wavering"</i> or <i>"unstable"</i>) elements had been
elected to them and so a highly centralised state system cannot
be responsive to real control from below.
<p>
Secondly, <i>"revolutionary coercion"</i> against <i>"wavering"</i> elements 
does not happen in isolation. It will encourage critical workers 
to keep quiet in case they, too, are deemed <i>"unstable"</i> and become 
subject to <i>"revolutionary"</i> coercion. As a government policy it can 
have no other effect than deterring democracy. 
<p>
Thus Leninist politics provides the rationale for eliminating 
even the limited role of soviets for electing the government they 
hold in that ideology. The Leninist conception of workers' councils 
is purely instrumental. In 1907, Lenin argued that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"the Party . . . has never renounced its intention of
utilising certain non-party organisations, such as 
the Soviets of Workers' Deputies . . . to extend 
Social-Democratic influence among the working class
and to strengthen the Social-Democratic labour movement 
. . . the incipient revival creates the opportunity to 
organise or utilise non-party working-class institutions, 
such as Soviets . . . for the purpose of developing the 
Social-Democratic movement; at the same time the 
Social-Democratic Party organisations must bear in 
mind if Social-Democratic activities among the 
proletarian masses are properly, effectively and 
widely organised, such institutions may actually 
become superfluous."</i> [Marx, Engels and Lenin, 
<b>Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, pp. 209-10]
</blockquote><p>
As can be seen from the experiences of Russia under Lenin, 
this perspective did not fundamentally change -- given a 
conflict between the councils and the party, the party always 
came first and soviets simply superfluous.
<p>
<a name="app15"><h2>15. Why is the SWP's support for centralisation anti-socialist?</h2>
<p>
The SWP continue:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Centralism is needed above all because the capitalist state is 
centralised.  The police, media moguls, employers, the state 
bureaucracy and governments act in a concerted way to protect the 
system."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Very true. However, the SWP fail to analyse <b><i>why</i></b> the state is 
centralised.  Simply put, the state is centralised to <b>facilitate
minority rule</b> by excluding the 
mass of people from taking part in the decision making processes 
within society. This is to be expected as social structures do not 
evolve by chance -- rather they develop to meet specific needs and 
requirements. The specific need of the ruling class is to rule 
and that means marginalising the bulk of the population. Its 
requirement is for minority power and this is transformed into the 
structure of the state and capitalist company.  The SWP assume 
that centralisation is simply a tool without content.  Rather, it 
is a tool that has been fashioned to do a specific job, namely to 
exclude the bulk of the population from the decision making 
process. It is designed that way and can have no other result. For 
that reason anarchists reject centralisation. As the justly famous 
Sonvillier Circular argued: <i>"How could one expect an egalitarian 
society to emerge out of an authoritarian organisation? It is 
impossible."</i> [quoted by Brian Morris, <b>Bakunin: The Philosophy 
of Freedom</b>, p. 61] 
<p>
Thus Rudolf Rocker:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"For the state centralisation is the appropriate form of 
organisation, since it aims at the greatest possible uniformity 
in social life for the maintenance of political and social 
equilibrium. But for a movement whose very existence depends 
on prompt action at any favourable moment and on the independent 
thought and action of its supporters, centralism could but be a
curse by weakening its power of decision and systematically 
repressing all immediate action. If, for example, as was the 
case in Germany, every local strike had first to be approved 
by the Central, which was often hundreds of miles away and was 
not usually in a position to pass a correct judgement on the 
local conditions, one cannot wonder that the inertia of the 
apparatus of organisation renders a quick attack quite impossible, 
and there thus arises a state of affairs where the energetic and 
intellectually alert groups no longer serve as patterns for the 
less active, but are condemned by these to inactivity, inevitably 
bringing the whole movement to stagnation. Organisation is, after 
all, only a means to an end. When it becomes an end in itself, it 
kills the spirit and the vital initiative of its members and
sets up that domination by mediocrity which is the characteristic 
of all bureaucracies."</i> [<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 54]
</blockquote><p>
Just as the capitalist state cannot be utilised by the working 
class for its own ends, capitalist/statist organisational 
principles such as appointment, autocratic management, 
centralisation and delegation of power and so on cannot be 
utilised for social liberation. They are not designed to be used 
for that purpose (and, indeed, they were developed in the first 
place to stop it and enforce minority rule!).
<p>
The implication of the SWP's argument is that centralisation
is required for co-ordinated activity. Anarchists disagree.
Yes, there is a need for co-ordination and joint activity, but 
that must be created from below, in new ways that reflect the 
goals we are aiming for. During the Spanish Revolution anarchists 
organised militias to fight the fascists. One was lead by 
anarchist militant Durruti.  His military adviser, P�rez Farras, 
a professional soldier, was concerned about the application of 
libertarian principles to military organisation. Durruti replied:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"I have already said and I repeat; during all my life, I have 
acted as an anarchist. The fact of having been given political 
responsibility for a human collective cannot change my 
convictions.  It is under these conditions that I agreed to play 
the role given to me by the Central Committee of the Militias.
<p>
"I thought -- and what has happened confirms my belief -- that a 
workingmen's militia cannot be led according to the same rules as 
an army. I think that discipline, co-ordination and the fulfilment 
of a plan are indispensable. But this idea can no longer be 
understood in the terms of the world we have just destroyed.  We 
have new ideas. We think that solidarity among men must awaken 
personal responsibility, which knows how to accept discipline as 
an autonomous act.
<p>
"Necessity imposes a war on us, a struggle that differs from many 
of those that we have carried on before. But the goal of our 
struggle is always the triumph of the revolution. This means not 
only victory over the enemy, but also a radical change in man.  
For this change to occur, man must learn to live in freedom and 
develop in himself his potentialities as a responsible individual.  
The worker in the factory, using his tools and directing 
production, is bringing about a change in himself. The fighter, 
like the worker, uses his gun as a tool and his acts must lead to 
the same goals as those of the worker. 
<p>
"In the struggle he cannot act like a soldier under orders but 
like a man who is conscious of what he is doing. I know it is not 
easy to get such a result, but what one cannot get by reason, one 
can never get through force. If our revolutionary army must be 
maintained through fear, we will have changed nothing but the 
colour of fear. It is only by freeing itself from fear that a free 
society can be built."</i> [quoted by Abel Paz, <b>Durruti: The People
Armed</b>, p. 224]
<p></blockquote>
Durruti's words effectively refute the SWP's flawed argument. We 
need to organise, co-ordinate, co-operate our activities but we 
cannot do so in bourgeois ways. We need to discover new ways, 
based on libertarian ideas and not capitalist ones like 
centralisation.
<p>
Indeed, this conflict between the Leninist support for traditional
forms of organisational structure and the new forms produced by
workers in struggle came into conflict during the Russian
Revolution. One such area of conflict was the factory committee
movement and its attempts at workers' self-management of
production. As historian A.S. Smith summarises:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"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.
<p>
"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."</i> [<b>Red Petrograd</b>, pp. 261-2]
</blockquote><p>
The outcome of this struggle was the victory of the
Bolshevik vision (as it had state power to enforce it)
and the imposition of apparently "efficient" capitalist 
methods of organisation. However, the net effect of using 
(or, more correctly, imposing) capitalist organisations was, 
unsurprisingly, the re-introduction of capitalist social 
relations. Little wonder the Russian Revolution quickly 
became just another form of capitalism -- 
<i><b>state</i></b> capitalism 
where the state appointed manager replaced the boss and the 
workers' position remained identical. Lenin's attempts to 
centralise production simply replaced workers' power at the 
point of production with that of state bureaucrats.
<p>
We must point out the central fallacy of the SWP's 
argument. Essentially they are arguing you need to fight fire with 
fire. They argue that the capitalist class is centralised and so, in
order to defeat them, so must we. Unfortunately for the SWP, you do 
not put a fire 
out with fire, you put fire out with water. Therefore, to defeat 
centralised system you need decentralised social organisation. 
Such decentralisation is required to include the bulk of the 
population in the revolutionary struggle and does not imply 
isolation. A decentralised movement does not preclude co-ordination 
or co-operation but that co-ordination must come from below, based 
on federal structures, and not imposed from above.
<p>
So a key difference between anarchism and Marxism on how the 
movement against capitalism should organise in the here and now. 
Anarchists argue that it should prefigure the society we desire -- 
namely it should be self-managed, decentralised, built and organised 
from the  bottom-up in a federal structure. This perspective can be 
seen from the justly famous Sonvillier Circular:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The future society should be nothing but a universalisation of 
the organisation which the International will establish for 
itself. We must therefore take care to bring this organisation 
as near as possible to our ideal . . . How could one expect an 
egalitarian and free society to grow out of an authoritarian 
organisation? That is impossible. The International, embryo of the 
future human society, must be, from now on, the faithful image of 
our principles of liberty and federation."</i> [quoted by Marx, 
<b>Fictitious Splits in the International</b>]
</blockquote><p>
Of course, Marx replied to this argument and, in so doing, 
misrepresented the anarchist position. He argued that the Paris 
Communards <i>"would not have failed if they had understood that 
the Commune was 'the embryo of the future human society' and 
had cast away all discipline and all arms -- that is, the 
things which must  disappear when there are no more wars!"</i> 
[<b>Ibid.</b>] Needless to say this is simply a slander on the anarchist 
position. Anarchists, as the Circular makes clear, recognise that 
we cannot totally reflect the future and so the current movement 
can only be <i>"as near as possible to our ideal."</i> Thus we have to do 
things, such as fighting the bosses, rising in insurrection, 
smashing the state or defending a revolution, which we would not 
have to do in a socialist society but that does not imply we
should not try and organise in a socialist way in the here and
now. Such common sense, unfortunately, is lacking in Marx who 
instead decided to utter nonsense for a cheap polemical point.
<p>
Therefore, if we want a revolution which is more than just a 
change in who the boss is, we must create new forms of 
organisation and struggle which do not reproduce the traits of the 
world we are fighting. To put out the fire of class society, we 
need the water of a classless society and so we should organise in 
a libertarian way, building the new world in the shell of the old.
<p>
<a name="app16"><h2>16. Why is the SWP wrong about the A16 Washington D.C. 
demo?</h2>
<p>
As an example of why Marxism is better than anarchism they give an 
example:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Protesters put up several roadblocks during the major 
anti-capitalist demonstration in Washington in April of 
this year. The police tried to clear them. The question 
arose of what the protesters should do. 
<p>
"Some wanted to try to maintain the roadblocks. Others thought the 
best tactic was to reorganise the protests into one demonstration. 
Instead of coming to a clear decision and acting on it, the key 
organiser of the whole event told people at each roadblock to do 
what they thought was right. 
<p>
"The resulting confusion weakened all the protests."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Firstly, we must point out that this argument is somewhat ironic 
coming from a party that ignored the agreed plan during the Prague 
anti-WTO demonstration and did <i>"what they thought was right"</i> 
(see <a href="append34.html#app13">section 13</a>). Indeed, the various anti-capitalist demonstrations
have been extremely effective and have been organised in an
<b>anarchist</b> manner thus refuting the SWP.
<p>
Secondly, unfortunately for the SWP, they have the facts all wrong. 
The World Bank/IMF complex in Washington DC was extremely difficult 
to blockade. The police blocked over 50 blocks on the day of the 
demonstration to travel. DC has very wide streets. Many World 
Bank and IMF Delegates spent the night in those buildings, or came 
in early in the morning long before sunrise.  This calls into 
question whether a blockade was the best strategy considering the 
logistic details involved (the Blockade strategy was abandoned for 
the Republican and Democratic Party Conference demonstrations). 
In addition to the blockades, there was an officially permitted 
rally blocks away from the action.
<p>
The tactical process worked in practice like this.  While there 
was an original plan agreed to by consensus at the beginning of 
the blockades by all affinity groups, with groups picking which 
intersection to occupy and which tactics to use, there was a great 
deal of flexibility as well. There were several flying columns 
that moved from intersection to intersection reinforcing 
barricades and increasing numbers where it looked like police 
might charge. The largest of these was the Revolutionary 
Anti-Capitalist Bloc (<i>"the Black Bloc"</i>) made up mostly of 
class-struggle anarchists but included a number of other left 
libertarians (such as council communists and autonomists). The 
RACB officially maintained its autonomy within the demonstration 
and worked with others when and where it could. The affinity 
groups of the RACB would come to quick decisions on what to do.  
Often, they would quickly respond to the situation; usually their 
appearance was enough for the cops to fall back after a few tense 
moments.
<p>
By early afternoon, the various affinity groups manning the 
blockades were informed that the blockades had failed, and enough 
delegates had made it inside that the meeting was continuing 
inside with only a short delay. So the question came of what to do 
next?  There were varying opinions. Some affinity groups favoured 
maintaining their blockades symbolically as an act of defiance and 
hoping to slow the dispersion of World Bank/IMF representatives as 
they left the meeting.  Others wished to have a victory march 
around the area.  Others wanted to join the rally. Some wanted to 
march on the World Bank and try for an occupation.  There was no 
consensus.  After much discussion between the affinity groups, a 
decision was reached. 
<p>
The RACB was divided between two choices -- either join with the 
rally or march on the Bank. There was a lot of negotiation back 
and forth between affinity groups. A compromise was reached. 
The RACB would move to each 
blockade in order and provide cover for those locked down to 
unlock and safely merge with the growing march so that attempts 
could be made the next day do blockade.  The march continued to 
swell as it made its way along the route, eventually merging with 
the crowd at the permitted demonstration.
<p>
A decision was made.  Perhaps it wasn't the most militant.  
Perhaps it did not foresee that the next day would lack the 
numbers to even attempt a successful blockade. But arrests on 
the demonstration were kept to a minimum, a large show of strength 
was put on and strong feelings of solidarity and camaraderie grew.  
The cops could only control a few square blocks, the rest of the 
city was ours.  And it was a decision that everyone had a part in 
making, and one that everyone could live with. It's called 
self-management, perhaps it isn't always the fastest method of 
making decisions, but it is the best one if you desire freedom.
<p>
Of course, the last thing the SWP would want to admit is that 
anarchists led the victory march around Washington D.C. without a 
permit, without marshals, without many arrests and a minimal 
amount of violence! Of all the recent demonstrations in the 
U.S. the black bloc was the largest and most well received 
at Washington. Moreover, that demonstration showed that 
decentralised, federal organisation worked in practice. Each 
affinity group participated in the decision making process and an 
agreement reached between all involved. Centralisation was not 
required, no centre imposed the decision. Rather than weaken the 
protests, decentralisation strengthened it by involving all in the 
decision making process. Little wonder the SWP re-wrote history.
<p>
<a name="app17"><h2>17. Why does the SWP's Washington example refute the SWP's own argument and not anarchism?</h2>
<p>
However, let us assume that the SWP's fictional account of 
the A16 demonstration (see <a href="append34.html#app16">
last section</a>) was, in fact, true. 
What does it actually mean? We must point out its interesting 
logic. They argue that the protests had a <i>"key organiser"</i> which 
means they were centralised. They argue that the protestors looked 
to that person for direction. Unfortunately that person could not 
come to a <i>"clear decision"</i> and instead handed back decision making 
to each roadblock. In other words, centralisation failed, not 
federalism. Moreover, the state would have had a simple means to 
destroy the demonstration -- arrest the <i>"key organiser."</i> In a 
centralised system, without a centre, the whole structure 
collapses -- without someone giving orders, nothing is done.
<p>
In a federal structure each roadblock would have sent a delegate 
to a council to co-ordinate struggle (which, we stress, was what 
actually did happen). To quote Bakunin, <i>"there will be a 
federation of the standing barricades and a Revolutionary Communal 
Council will operate on the basis of one or two delegates from 
each barricade . . . these deputies being invested with binding 
mandates and accountable and revocable at all times."</i> [<b>No Gods,
No Masters</b>, vol. 1, p. 155] In the SWP's version of history, 
the blockades did not do this and so, unsurprisingly, without 
organisation, there was confusion. As an argument against 
anarchism it is useless. So the SWP's fictional example is an 
argument against centralisation -- of placing decision-making
power at the centre. In their story, faced with the task of 
co-ordinating actions which they had no knowledge of, the 
<i>"key organiser"</i> could not act and by not having a federal 
structure, the roadblocks were weakened due to lack of 
co-ordination. In reality, a federal structure existed within 
the demonstration, each roadblock and affinity group could take 
effective action instantly to counter the police, without waiting 
for instructions from the centre, as well as communicate what has 
happening to other roadblocks and come to common agreements on 
what action to take. The Washington demonstration -- like the
other anti-capitalist demonstrations -- showed the effectiveness 
of anarchist principles, of decentralisation and federalism from 
the bottom up.
<p>
So the SWP's analysis of the Washington demonstration is faulty 
on two levels. Firstly, their account is not accurate. The 
demonstration was organised in a decentralised manner and worked 
extremely well. Secondly, even if their account was not fiction, 
it proves the failure of centralisation, not federalism.
<p>
They draw a lesson from their fictional account:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The police, needless to say, did not 'decentralise' their 
decision making. They co-ordinated across the city to break the 
protests."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
Such an analogy indicates the bourgeois and authoritarian nature 
of the SWP's politics. They do not understand that the capitalist 
state and workplace is centralised for a reason. It is to 
concentrate power into the hands of a few, with the many reduced 
to mere order takers. It is the means by which bourgeois rule is 
enforced
<p>
Moreover, they seem to be arguing that if we followed the example 
of the bourgeois state, of the organisational structure of the 
police or the army, then we would be as "effective" as they are. 
They are, in effect, arguing that the anti-capitalist movement 
should reproduce the regulated docility of the police force into 
its ranks, reproduce the domination of a few bosses at the top 
over a mass of unquestioning automations at the bottom. As Murray 
Bookchin argued, the Leninist <i>"has always had a grudging 
admiration and respect for that most inhuman of all hierarchical 
institutions, the military."</i> [<b>Toward an Ecological Society</b>,
p. 254f] The SWP prove him right.
<p>
<a name="app18"><h2>18. Why is a "revolutionary party" a contradiction 
in terms?</h2>
<p>
They continue by arguing that <i>"Anarchists say a revolutionary 
party is at best unnecessary and at worst another form of 
authoritarianism.  But they cannot avoid the problems that a 
revolutionary party addresses."</i> In reality, while anarchists 
reject the "revolutionary" party, they do not reject the need for 
an anarchist federation to spread anarchist ideas, convince others 
of our ideas and to give a lead during struggles. We reject the 
Bolshevik style "revolutionary party" simply because it is 
organised in a centralised, bourgeois, fashion and so produces all 
the problems of capitalist society within so-called revolutionary 
organisations. As the anarchists of Trotwatch explain, such a 
party leaves much to be desired:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"In reality, a Leninist Party simply reproduces and 
institutionalises existing capitalist power relations inside a 
supposedly 'revolutionary' organisation: between leaders and led; 
order givers and order takers; between specialists and the 
acquiescent and largely powerless party workers. And that elitist 
power relation is extended to include the relationship between the 
party and class."</i> [<b>Carry on Recruiting!</b>, p. 41]
</blockquote><p>
Such an organisation can never create a socialist society.  In 
contrast, anarchists argue that socialist organisations should 
reflect as much as possible the future society we are aiming to 
create. To build organisations which are statist/capitalistic in 
structure cannot do other than reproduce the very problems of 
capitalism/statism into them and so undermine their liberatory 
potential. As Murray Bookchin puts it:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The 'glorious party,' when there is one, almost invariably lags 
behind the events . . . In the beginning . . . it tends to have an 
inhibitory function, not a 'vanguard' role. Where it exercises 
influence, it tends to slow down the flow of events, not 'co-
ordinate' the revolutionary forced. This is not accidental. The 
party is structured along hierarchical lines <b>that reflect the very 
society it professes to oppose</b> . . . Its membership is schooled in 
obedience . . . The party's leadership, in turn, is schooled in 
habits born of command, authority, manipulation . . . Its leaders 
. . . lose contact with the living situation below. The local 
groups, which know their own immediate situation better than any 
remote leaders, are obliged to subordinate their insights to 
directives from above. The leadership, lacking any direct 
knowledge of local problems, responds sluggishly and prudently. . .
<p>
"The party becomes less efficient from a revolutionary point of 
view the more it seeks efficiency by means of hierarchy, cadres 
and centralisation. Although everyone marches in step, the orders 
are usually wrong, especially when events begin to move rapidly 
and take unexpected turns-as they do in all revolutions. The party 
is efficient in only one respect-in moulding society in its own 
hierarchical imagine if the revolution is successful. It recreates 
bureaucracy, centralisation and the state. It fosters the 
bureaucracy, centralisation and the state. It fosters the very 
social conditions which justify this kind of society. Hence, 
instead of 'withering away,' the state controlled by the 'glorious 
party' preserves the very conditions which 'necessitate' the 
existence of a state -- and a party to 'guard' it.
<p>
"On the other hand, this kind of party is extremely vulnerable
in periods of repression. The bourgeoisie has only to grab its
leadership to destroy virtually the entire movement. With its
leaders in prison or in hiding, the party becomes paralysed; 
the obedient membership had no one to obey and tends to flounder
. . .
<p>
"[T]he Bolshevik leadership was ordinarily extremely conservative,
a trait that Lenin had to fight throughout 1917 -- first in his
efforts to reorient the Central Committee against the provisional
government (the famous conflict over the 'April Theses'), later
in driving the Central Committee toward insurrection in October.
In both cases he threatened to resign from the Central Committee
and bring his views to 'the lower ranks of the party.'"</i> 
[<b>Post-Scarcity Anarchism</b>, pp. 194-9]
<p></blockquote>
Thus the example of the "successful" Russian Revolution indicates
the weakness of Leninism -- Lenin had to fight the party machine
he helped create in order to get it do anything revolutionary.
Hardly a good example of a "revolutionary" party.
<p>
But, then again, the SWP know that anarchists do not reject the 
need for anarchists to organise as anarchists to influence the 
class struggle. As they argue, <i>"Anarchism's attempts to deal with 
them have been far less effective and less democratic."</i> The
question is not of one of <b>whether</b> revolutionaries should
organise together but <b>how</b> they do this. And as we shall see
in the next four sections, the SWP's examples of revolutionary
anarchist organisations are either unique and so cannot be
generalised from (Bakunin's ideas on revolutionary organisation),
or false (the F.A.I. was <b>not</b> organised in the way the SWP
claim). Indeed, the simple fact is that the SWP <b>ignore</b> the
usual ways anarchists organise as anarchists and yet try
and draw conclusions about anarchism from their faulty examples. 
<p>
<a name="app19"><h2>19. Do anarchists operate <i>"in secret"</i>?</h2>
<p>
They continue:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"All the major anarchist organisations in history have been 
centralised but have operated in secret."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
It is just as well they say <i>"all the major anarchist organisations,"</i> 
it allows them to ignore counter-examples. We can point to hundreds 
of anarchist organisations that are/were not secret. For example, 
the Italian Anarchist Union (IAU) was a non-secret organisation. 
Given that the IAU had around 20 000 members in 1920, we wonder 
by what criteria the SWP excludes it from being a <i>"major anarchist 
organisation"</i>? After all, estimates of the membership of the
F.A.I. (one of the SWP's two <i>"major"</i> anarchist organisations) 
vary from around 6 000 to around 30 000. Bakunin's "Alliance" 
(the other SWP example) amounted to, at most, under 100. In 
terms of size, the IAU was equal to the F.A.I. and outnumbered 
the "Alliance" considerably. Why was the UAI not a <i>"major 
anarchist organisation"</i>? 
<p>
Another, more up to date, example is the French Anarchist Federation 
which organises today. It as a weekly paper and groups all across 
France as well as in Belgium. That is not secret and is one of the
largest anarchist organisations existing today (and so, by anyone's
standards <i>"a major anarchist organisation"</i>). We wonder why the SWP 
excludes it?  Simply because they know their generalisation is false?
<p>
Therefore, as can be seen, the SWP's claim is simply a lie. Few
anarchist organisations have been secret. Those that have been
secret have done so when conditions demanded it (for example,
during periods of repression and when operating in countries
with authoritarian governments). Just as Marxist organisations
have done. For example, the Bolsheviks were secret for great
periods of time under Tsarism and, ironically enough, the 
Trotskyist-Zinovievist <b>United Opposition</b> had to resort to
secret and conspiratorial organisation to reach the Russian 
Communist Party rank and file in the 1920s. Therefore, to
claim that anarchists have some sort of monopoly of secret
organising is simply a lie -- Marxists, like anarchists, 
have sometimes organised in secret when they have been forced 
to by state repression or likelihood of state repression. It is
not a principle but, rather, sometimes a necessity. As anyone
with even a basic grasp of anarchist history would know.
<p>
Similarly for the SWP's claims that <i>"all the major anarchist 
organisations in history have been centralised."</i> Such a claim
is also a lie, as we shall prove in the sections 
<a href="append34.html#app20">20</a> 
and <a href="append34.html#app22">22</a>.
<p>
<a name="app20"><h2>20. Why is the SWP wrong about Bakunin's organisation?</h2>
<p>
As an example of a <i>"major anarchist organisation"</i> the SWP
point to Bakunin and the organisations he created:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The 19th century theorist of anarchism Mikhail Bakunin's 
organisation had a hierarchy of committees, with half a dozen 
people at the top, which were not under the democratic control 
of its members."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Firstly, we have to wonder why anyone would have wanted to join 
Bakunin's group if they had no say in the organisation. Also, 
given that communication in the 19th century was extremely slow, 
such an organisation would have spent most of its time waiting for 
instructions from above. Why would anyone want to join such a 
group?  Simple logic undermines the SWP's argument.
<p>
Secondly, we should also point out that the Bolshevik party itself 
was a secret organisation for most of its life in Tsarist Russia. 
Bakunin, an exile from that society, would have been aware, like 
the Bolsheviks, of the necessity of secret organising. Moreover,
having spent a number of years imprisoned by the Tsar, Bakunin
would not have desired to end up <b>back</b> in prison after escaping
from Siberia to the West. In addition, given that the countries in 
which anarchists were operating at the time were not democracies, 
in the main, a secret organisation would have been considered 
essential. As Murray Bookchin argues, <i>"Bakunin's emphasis on
conspiracy and secrecy can be understood only against the social
background of Italy, Spain, and Russia the three countries in
Europe where conspiracy and secrecy were matters of sheer survival."</i>
[<b>The Spanish Anarchists</b>, p. 24] The SWP ignore the historical 
context.
<p>
Thirdly, the reality of Bakunin's organisation is slightly different
from the SWP's claims. We have discussed this issue in great detail
in <a href="secJ3.html#secj37">section J.3.7</a> 
of the FAQ. However, it is useful to indicate 
the type of organisation Bakunin thought was necessary to aid
the revolution. If we do, it soon becomes clear that the SWP's
claim that it was <i>"not under the democratic control of its members"</i>
is not true. To do so we shall quote from his letter to the
Russian Nihilist Sergy Nechayev in which he explains the 
differences in their ideas. He discusses the <i>"principles and
mutual conditions"</i> for a <i>"new society"</i> of revolutionaries in
Russia (noting that this was an <i>"outline of a plan"</i> which
<i>"must be developed, supplemented, and sometimes altered according
to circumstances"</i>):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Equality among all members and the unconditional and absolute
solidarity -- one for all and all for one -- with the obligation
for each and everyone to help each other, support and save
each other. . .
<p>
"Complete frankness among members and proscription of any
Jesuitical methods in their relationships . . . When a
member has to say anything against another member, this
must be done at a general meeting and in his presence. 
<b>General fraternal control</b> of each other . . .
<p>
"Everyone's personal intelligence vanished like a river
in the sea in the collective intelligence and all members
obey unconditionally the decisions of the latter.
<p>
"All members are equal; they know all their comrades and
discuss and decide with them all the most important and
essential questions bearing on the programme of the society
and the progress of the cause. The decision of the general
meeting is absolute law. . . 
<p>
"The society chooses an Executive Committee from among their
number consisting of three or five members who should
organise the branches of the society and manage its
activities in all the regions of the [Russian] Empire on
the basis of the programme and general plan of action
adopted by the decision of the society as a whole. . .
<p>
"This Committee is elected for an indefinite term. If the
society . . . the People's Fraternity is satisfied with the 
actions of the Committee, it will be left as such; and while 
it remains a Committee each member . . . and each regional 
group have to obey it unconditionally, except in such cases
where the orders of the Committee contradict either the
general programme of the principle rules, or the general
revolutionary plan of action, which are known to everybody
as all . . . have participated equally in the discussion
of them. . .
<p>
"In such a case members of the group must halt the execution
of the Committee's orders and call the Committee to judgement
before the general meeting . . . If the general meeting is
discontented with the Committee, it can always substitute
another one for it. . . 
<p>
"Any member or any group is subject to judgement by the general
meeting . . . 
<p>
"No new Brother can be accepted without the consent of all
or at the very least three-quarters of all the members. . .
<p>
"The Committee divides the members . . . among the Regions
and constitutes Regional groups of leaderships from them
. . . Regional leadership is charged with organising the 
second tier of the society -- the <b>Regional Fraternity</b>,
on the basis of the same programme, the same rules, and
the same revolutionary plan. . .
<p>
"All members of the <b>Regional Fraternity</b> know each other,
but do not know of the existence of the <b>People's Fraternity.</b>
They only know that there exists a <b>Central Committee</b> which
hands down to them their orders for execution through 
<b>Regional Committee</b> which has been set up by it, i.e. by
the <b>Central Committee</b> . . .
<p>
"Each Regional Committee will set up <b>District</b> Committees
from members of the <b>Regional Fraternity</b> and will appoint
and replace them. . . .
<p>
"District Committees can, if necessary and only with the
consent of the Regional Committee, set up a third tier
of the organisation -- <b>District Fraternity</b> with a 
programme and regulations as near as possible to the
general programme and regulations of the People's Fraternity.
The programme and regulations of the District Fraternity
will not come into force until they are discussed and
passed by the general meeting of the Regional Fraternity
and have been confirmed by the Regional Committee. . .
<p>
"Jesuitical control . . . are totally excluded from all three
tiers of the secret organisation . . . The strength of the 
whole society, as well as the morality, loyalty, energy and 
dedication of each member, is based exclusively and totally
on the shared truth, sincerity and trust, and on the open
fraternal control of all over each one."</i> [cited by Michael
Confino, <b>Daughter of a Revolutionary</b>, pp. 264-6]
</blockquote><p>
As can be seen, while there is much in Bakunin's ideas that 
few anarchists would agree to, it cannot be said that it was 
<b>not</b> under the <i>"democratic control of its members."</i> The 
system of committees is hardly libertarian but neither is 
it the top-down dictatorship the SWP argue it was. For
example, the central committee was chosen by the <i>"general 
meeting"</i> of the members, which also decided upon the
<i>"programme of the society and the progress of the cause."</i> Its
<i>"decision"</i> was <i>"absolute law"</i> and the central committee could
be replaced by it. Moreover, the membership could ignore the
decisions of the central committee if it <i>"contradict[ed] either 
the general programme of the principle rules, or the general
revolutionary plan of action, which are known to everybody
as all . . . have participated equally in the discussion
of them."</i> Each tier of the organisation had the same <i>"programme
and regulations."</i> Anarchists today would agree that Bakunin's 
plan was extremely flawed. The appointment of committees from 
above is hardly libertarian, even given that each tier had the
same <i>"regulations"</i> and so general meetings of each Fraternity,
for example. However, the SWP's summary of Bakunin's ideas,
as can be seen, is flawed.
<p>
Given that no other anarchist group or federation operated in 
this way, it is hard to generalise from Bakunin's flawed ideas
on organisation to a conclusion about anarchism. But, of course,
this is what the SWP do -- and such a generalisation is simply
a lie. The example of the F.A.I., the SWP's other example, indicates
how most anarchist organisations work in practice -- namely,
a decentralised federation of autonomous groups (see 
<a href="append34.html#app22">section 22</a>).
<p>
Moreover, as we will indicate in the 
<a href="append34.html#app21">next section</a>, the SWP have
little reason to attack Bakunin's ideas. This is because Lenin 
had similar (although not identical) ones on the question of 
organising revolutionaries in Tsarist Russia and because the
SWP are renown for their leadership being secretive, centralised, 
bureaucratic and top-down.
<p>
In summary, anarchists agree with the SWP that Bakunin's ideas are 
not to be recommended while pointing out that the likes of the SWP 
fail to provide an accurate account of their internal workings (i.e. 
they were more democratic than the SWP suggest), the role Bakunin
saw for them in the labour movement and revolution or the historical
context in which they were shaped. Moreover, we also argue that
their comments against Bakunin, ironically, apply with equal
force to their own party which is renown, like all Bolshevik-style
parties, as being undemocratic, top-down and authoritarian. We
turn to this issue in the <a href="append34.html#app21">next 
section.</a> 
<p>
<a name="app21"><h2>21. Why is the SWP's attack on Bakunin's organisation ironic?</h2>
<p>
That the SWP attack Bakunin's organisational schema (see 
<a href="append34.html#app20">last section</a>) is somewhat 
ironic. After all, the Bolshevik party 
system had many of the features of Bakunin's organisational
plan. If Bakunin, quite rightly, should be attacked for certain
aspects of these ideas, then so must Bolshevik parties like
the SWP. 
<p>
For example, Lenin argued in favour of centralisation and 
secrecy in his work <b>What is to be Done?</b>. In this work he
argued as follows:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The active and widespread participation of the masses will 
not suffer; on the contrary, it will benefit by the fact that a 
'dozen' experienced revolutionaries, no less professionally 
trained than the police, will centralise all the secret side of 
the work -- prepare leaflets, work out approximate plans 
and <b>appoint bodies of leaders</b> for each urban district, for 
each factory district and for each educational institution, 
etc. [our emphasis] (I know that exception will be taken to my 
'undemocratic' 
views, but I shall reply to this altogether unintelligent 
objection later on.) The centralisation of the most secret 
functions in an organisation of revolutionaries will not
diminish, but rather increase the extent and the quality 
of the activity of a large number of other organisations 
that are intended for wide membership and which, therefore, 
can be as loose and as public as possible, such as trade 
unions; workers' circles for self-education and the reading 
illegal literature, and socialist and also democratic, 
circles for <b>all other sections of the population</b>, etc., 
etc. We must have <b>as large a number as possible</b> of such
organisations having the widest possible variety of functions,
but it would be absurd and dangerous <b>to confuse them with 
the organisation of revolutionaries</b>, to erase the line of
demarcation between them, to make still more the masses'
already incredibly hazy appreciation of the fact that in 
order to 'serve' the mass movement we must have people who 
will devote themselves exclusively to Social-Democratic 
activities, and that such people must <b>train</b> themselves 
patiently and steadfastly to be professional revolutionaries."</i>
[<b>The Essential Lenin</b>, p. 149]
<p></blockquote>
And:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The only serious organisational principle the active workers 
of our movement can accept is <b>strict secrecy, strict selection 
of members</b>, and the training of professional revolutionaries. 
If we possessed these qualities, something even more than 
'democratism' would be guaranteed to us, namely, complete, 
comradely, mutual confidence among revolutionaries. And this 
is absolutely essential for us, because in Russia it is useless 
thinking that democratic control can substitute for it."</i> 
[our emphasis, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 162]
</blockquote><p>
Thus we have Lenin advocating <i>"strict secrecy, strict selection 
of members"</i> as well as a centralised party which will <i>"appoint 
bodies of leaders for each urban district, for each factory 
district and for each educational institution."</i> The parallels
with Bakunin's system are clear and are predominately the result
of the identical political conditions both revolutionaries
experienced. While anarchists are happy to indicate and oppose
the non-libertarian aspects of Bakunin's ideas, it is hard for
the likes of the SWP to attack Bakunin while embracing Lenin's
ideas on the party, justifying their more "un-democratic" aspects
as a result of the objective conditions of Tsarism.
<p>
Similar top-down perspectives can be seen from Bolshevism in
Power. The 1918 constitution of the Soviet Union argued that
local soviets were to <i>"carry out all orders of the respective 
higher organs of the soviet power."</i> In 1919, the Bolshevik's 
Eighth Party Congress strengthened party discipline. As Maurice 
Brinton notes, the <i>"Congress ruled that each decision must above 
all be fulfilled. Only after this is an appeal to the corresponding 
Party organ permissible."</i> [<b>The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control</b>, 
p. 55] He quotes the resolution:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The whole matter of posting of Party workers is in the hands of 
the Central Committee. Its decisions are binding for everyone."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 55-6]
</blockquote><p>
This perspective was echoed in the forerunner of the SWP, the 
<b>International Socialists</b>. In September 1968, the Political 
Committee of International Socialism submitted the <i>"Perspectives 
for I.S."</i> Point 4 said:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Branches must accept directives from the Centre, unless
they fundamentally disagree with them, in which case they
should try to accord with them, while demanding an open
debate on the matter."</i> [quoted by Brinton, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 55f]
</blockquote><p>
The parallels with Bakunin's ideas are clear (see 
<a href="append34.html#app20">last section</a>). 
However, it is to Bakunin's credit that he argued that while
<i>"each regional group have to obey it [the central committee]
unconditionally"</i> he recognised that there existed <i>"cases where 
the orders of the Committee contradict either the general 
programme of the principle rules, or the general revolutionary 
plan of action, which are known to everybody as all . . . have
participated equally in the discussion of them."</i> when this 
happened, <i>"members of the group must halt the execution of 
the Committee's orders and call the Committee to judgement 
before the general meeting . . . If the general meeting is 
discontented with the Committee, it can always substitute 
another one for it."</i> Thus, rather than the unquestioning 
obedience of the Bolshevik party, who have to obey, then 
complain, the members of Bakunin's group did not negate 
their judgement and could refuse to carry out orders.
<p>
Therefore, the SWP have a problem. On the one hand, they denounce 
Bakunin's ideas of a centralised, secret top-down organisation of 
revolutionaries. On the other, the party structure that Lenin 
recommends is also a tightly disciplined, centralised, top-down 
structure with a membership limited to those who are willing to 
be professional revolutionaries. They obviously want to have their 
cake and eat it too. Unfortunately for them, they cannot. If they 
attack Bakunin, they must attack Lenin, not to do so is hypocrisy.
<p>
The simple fact is that the parallels between Bakunin's and Lenin's 
organisational ideas cannot be understood without recognising that 
both revolutionaries were operating in an autocratic state under 
conditions of complete illegality, with a highly organised political 
police trying to infiltrate and destroy any attempt to change the 
regime. Once this is recognised, the SWP's comments can be seen to 
be hypocritical in the extreme. Nor can their feeble attempt to use 
Bakunin to generalise about all anarchist organisations be taken 
seriously as Bakunin's organisations were not <i>"major"</i> nor were
his ideas on secret organisation and organising followed after 
his death. They were a product of Bakunin's experiences in
Tsarist Russian and not generic to anarchism (as the SWP know fine
well). 
<p>
Moreover, many people leave the SWP due to its undemocratic,
authoritarian and bureaucratic nature. The comments by one group 
of ex-SWP dissidents indicate the hypocrisy of the SWP's attack on 
Bakunin:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The SWP is not democratic centralist but bureaucratic centralist. 
The leadership's control of the party is unchecked by the members. 
New perspectives are initiated exclusively by the central committee 
(CC), who then implement their perspective against all party opposition, 
implicit or explicit, legitimate or otherwise.
<p>
"Once a new perspective is declared, a new cadre is selected from
the top down. The CC select the organisers, who select the
district and branch committees -- any elections that take place
are carried out on the basis of 'slates' so that it is virtually
impossible for members to vote against the slate proposed by the
leadership. Any members who have doubts or disagreements are
written off as 'burnt out' and, depending on their reaction to
this, may be marginalised within the party and even expelled.
<p>
[. . .]
<p>
"The outcome is a party whose conferences have no democratic 
function, but serve only to orientate party activists to carry 
out perspectives drawn up before the delegates even set out 
from their branches. At every level of the party, strategy and
tactics are presented from the top down, as pre-digested
instructions for action. At every level, the comrades 'below'
are seen only as a passive mass to be shifted into action,
rather than as a source of new initiatives."</i> [ISG, <b>Discussion 
Document of Ex-SWP Comrades</b>]
</blockquote><p>
They argue that a <i>"democratic"</i> party would involve the <i>"[r]egular 
election of all party full-timers, branch and district leadership, 
conference delegates, etc. with the right of recall,"</i> which means 
that in the SWP appointment of full-timers, leaders and so on is 
the norm. They argue for the <i>"right of branches to propose motions 
to the party conference"</i> and for the <i>"right for members to 
communicate horizontally in the party, to produce and distribute 
their own documents."</i> They stress the need for <i>"an independent 
Control Commission to review all disciplinary cases (independent 
of the leadership bodies that exercise discipline), and the right 
of any disciplined comrades to appeal directly to party conference."</i> 
They argue that in a democratic party <i>"no section of the party would 
have a monopoly of information"</i> which indicates that the SWP's 
leadership is essentially secretive, withholding information from 
the party membership. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>] As can be seen, the SWP have little 
grounds on which to attack Bakunin given this damning account of its 
internal workings.
<p>
Other dissidents argue the same point. In 1991 members in Southampton 
SWP asked <i>"When was the last time a motion or slate to conference was 
opposed?"</i> and pointed out:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The CC usually stays the same or changes by one member. Most of
the changes to its composition are made between Conferences. None 
of the CC's numerous decisions made over the preceding year are 
challenged or brought to account. Even the Pre-Conference bulletins
contain little disagreements."</i>
</blockquote><p>
They stress that:
<blockquote><p>
<i>"There is real debate within the SWP, but the framework for discussion
is set by the Central Committee. The agenda's national events . . . are 
set by the CC or its appointees and are never challenged . . . Members
can only express their views through Conference and Council to the
whole party indirectly."</i> [quoted by Trotwatch, <b>Carry On Recruiting!</b>,
p. 39 and pp. 40-1]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, the SWP does not really have a leg to stand on. While
Bakunin's ideas on organisation are far from perfect, the actual
practice of the SWP places their comments in context. They attack
Bakunin while acting in similar ways while claiming they do not. 
Anarchists do not hold up Bakunin's ideas on how anarchists should
organise themselves as examples to be followed nor as particularly
democratic (in contrast to his ideas on how the labour movement
and revolution should be organised, which we <b>do</b> recommend) -- as
the SWP know. However, the SWP claim they are a revolutionary party
and yet their organisational practices are deeply anti-democratic
with a veneer of (bourgeois) democracy. The hypocrisy is clear.
<p>
Ironically, the ISG dissidents who attack the SWP for being <i>"bureaucratic
centralist"</i> note that <i>"[a]nybody who has spent time involved in
'Leninist' organisations will have come across workers who agree with 
Marxist politics but refuse to join the party because they believe it 
to be undemocratic and authoritarian. Many draw the conclusion that 
Leninism itself is at fault, as every organisation that proclaims 
itself Leninist appears to follow the same pattern."</i> [<b>Lenin
vs. the SWP: Bureaucratic 
Centralism Or Democratic Centralism?</b>] This is a common refrain with
Leninists -- when reality says one thing and the theory another, it
must be reality that is at fault. Yes, every Leninist organisation 
may be bureaucratic and authoritarian but it is not the theory's
fault that those who apply it are not capable of actually doing it.
Such an application of scientific principles by the followers of
<i>"scientific socialism"</i> is worthy of note -- obviously the usual
scientific method of generalising from facts to produce a theory
is inapplicable when evaluating "scientific socialism" itself.
<p>
One last point. While some may argue that the obvious parallels 
between Bakunin's ideas and Lenin's should embarrass anarchists, 
most anarchists disagree. This is for four reasons. 
<p>
Firstly, anarchists are <b>not</b> <i>"Bakuninists"</i> or followers of 
<i>"Bakuninism."</i> This means that we do not blindly follow the 
ideas of individuals, rather we take what we find useful and 
reject the flawed and non-libertarian aspects of their ideas. 
Therefore, if we think Bakunin's specific ideas on how
revolutionaries should organise are flawed and not libertarian
then we reject them while keeping the bulk of Bakunin's useful
and libertarian ideas as inspiration. We do not slavishly follow
individuals or their ideas but apply critical judgement and 
embrace what we find useful and reject what we consider nonsense.
<p>
Secondly, anarchism did not spring fully formed out of Bakunin's 
(or Proudhon's or Kropotkin's or whoever's) mind. We expect 
individuals to make mistakes, not to be totally consistent, 
not totally break with their background. Bakunin clearly did 
not manage to break completely with his background as a
political exile and an escapee from Tsarist Russia. Hence his
arguments and support for secret organisation -- his experiences,
like Lenin's, pushed him in that direction. Moreover, we should 
also remember that Russia was not the only country which the 
anarchist and labour movements were repressed during this time. 
In France, after the defeat of the Paris Commune, the 
International was made illegal. The Spanish section of the 
International had been proscribed in 1872 and the central 
and regional authorities repressed it systematically from the 
summer of 1873, forcing the organisation to remain underground 
between 1874 and 1881. As can be seen, the SWP forget the 
historical context when attacking Bakunin's secrecy.
<p>
Thirdly, Bakunin did not, like Lenin, think that <i>"socialist 
consciousness"</i> had to be introduced into the working class. 
He argued that due to the <i>"economic struggle of labour and 
capital"</i> a worker who joined the International Workers'
Association <i>"would inevitably discover, through the very
force of circumstances and through the develop of this 
struggle, the political, socialist, and philosophical 
principles of the International."</i> He thought that working 
class people were <i>"<b>socialists without knowing it</b>"</i> as 
<i>"their most basic instinct and their social situation makes 
them . . . earnestly and truly socialist . . . They are 
socialist because of all the conditions of their material 
existence and all the needs of their being. . . The workers 
lack neither the potential for socialist aspirations nor their 
actuality; they lack socialist thought."</i> Thus the <i>"germs"</i> of 
<i>"socialist thought"</i> are to <i>"be found in the instinct of every 
earnest worker. The goal . . . is to make the worker fully 
aware of what he wants."</i> The method? The class struggle itself 
-- <i>"the International relies on the coollective experience
he gains in its bosom, especially on the progress of the
collective struggle of the workers against the bosses."</i> 
[<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 100 and pp. 101-3]
<p>
Bakunin did not deny the importance of those who already 
are socialists to organise themselves and <i>"influence"</i> those 
who were not socialists so that in <i>"critical moments [they 
will] . . . follow the International's lead."</i> However, this
influence was <b>not</b> to inject socialist ideas into the working
class but rather to aid their development by the <i>"propagation
of its [the International] ideas and . . . the organisation
of its members' natural effect on the masses."</i> As can be seen,
Bakunin's ideas on this subject differ considerably from Lenin's.
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 139 and p. 140] 
<p>
Unsurprisingly, the programme of the revolutionary organisation 
had to reflect the instincts and needs of the working population 
and must never be imposed on them. As he argued, the working
masses were <i>"not a blank page on which any secret society can
write whatever it wishes . . . It has worked out, partly 
consciously, probably three-quarters unconsciously, its own
programme which the secret society must get to know or guess
and to which it must adapt itself."</i> He stresses that once
the state <i>"is destroyed . . . the people will rise . . . for
<b>their own</b> [ideal]"</i> and anyone <i>"who tries to foist <b>his own</b>
programme on the people will be left holding the baby."</i> 
[quoted in <b>Daughter of a Revolutionary</b>, Michael Confino 
(ed.), p. 252, p. 254 and p. 256] As he stresses, libertarian
socialist ideas come from the masses and not from outside them:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"In opposition to . . . oppressive statist orientations
. . . an entirely new
orientation finally arose from the depths of the proletariat
itself . . . It proceeds directly to the abolition of all
exploitation and all political or juridical as well as
governmental and bureaucratic oppression, in other words,
to the abolition of all classes . . . and the abolition of
their last buttress, the state.
<p>
"That is the program of social revolution."</i> [<b>Statism and Anarchy</b>,
pp. 48-9]
<p></blockquote>
Therefore, for Bakunin, the revolutionary organisation did not 
play the same role as for Lenin. It existed to aid the development 
of socialist consciousness within the working class, not inject 
that consciousness into a mass who cannot develop it by their 
own efforts. The difference is important as Lenin's theory 
justified the substitution of party power for workers power, 
the elimination of democracy and the domination of the party 
over the class it claimed to represent. Bakunin, recognising
that socialist ideas are <i>"instinctive"</i> in the working class due to
their position in society and their everyday experiences, could not
do this as the organisation existed to clarify these tendencies, not
create them in the first place and inject them into the masses. 
<p>
Lastly, the role the organisation plays in the workers' movement and
revolution are distinctly different. As Bakunin constantly stressed,
the secret organisation must never take state power. As he put it,
the <i>"main purpose and task of the organisation"</i> would be to <i>"help
the people to achieve self-determination."</i> It would <i>"not threaten
the liberty of the people because it is free from all official
character"</i> and <i>"not placed above the people like state power."</i>
Its programme <i>"consists of the fullest realisation of the liberty
of the people"</i> and its influence is <i>"not contrary to the free
development and self-determination of the people, or its organisation
from below according to its own customs and instincts because it
acts on the people only by the natural personal influence of its
members who are not invested with any power."</i> Thus the revolutionary
group would be the <i>"helper"</i> of the masses, with an <i>"organisation
within the people itself."</i> [quoted by Michael Confino, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 259, p. 261, p. 256 and 
p. 261] The revolution itself would see <i>"an end to all masters and 
to domination of every kind, and the free construction of popular
life in accordance with popular needs, not from above downward,
as in the state, but from below upward, by the people themselves,
dispensing with all governments and parliaments -- a voluntary
alliance of agricultural and factory worker associations,
communes, provinces, and nations; and, finally, . . . universal
human brotherhood triumphing on the ruins of all the states."</i>
[<b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, p. 33]
<p>
As can be seen, instead of seeking state power, as Lenin's party 
desired, Bakunin's would seek <i>"natural influence"</i> rather than 
<i>"official influence."</i> As we argued in 
<a href="secJ3.html#secj37">section J.3.7</a>, this meant
influencing the class struggle and revolution within the mass
assemblies of workers' associations and communes and in their
federations. Rather than seek state power and official leadership
positions, as the Leninist party does, Bakunin's organisation
rejected the taking of hierarchical positions in favour of
working at the base of the organisation and providing a <i>"leadership
of ideas"</i> rather than of people (see 
<a href="secJ3.html#secj36">section J.3.6</a>). While Bakunin's
organisational structures are flawed from a libertarian perspective
(although more democratic than Marxists claim) the way it works
within popular organisations <b>is</b> libertarian and in stark contrast
with the Leninist position which sees these bodies as stepping
stones for party power.
<p>
Therefore, Bakunin rejected key Leninist ideas and so cannot be
considered as a forefather of Bolshevism in spite of similar 
organisational suggestions. The similarity in structure is due to
a similarity in political conditions in Russia and <b>not</b> similarities
in political ideas. If we look at Bakunin's ideas on social revolution
and the workers' movement we see a fully libertarian perspective
-- of a movement from the bottom-up, baseed on the principles of
direct action, self-management and federalism. Anarchists since 
his death have applied <b>these</b> ideas to the specific anarchist 
organisation as well, rejecting the non-libertarian elements of 
Bakunin's ideas which the SWP correctly (if somewhat hypocritically 
and dishonestly) denounce. 
<p>
<a name="app22"><h2>22. Was the F.A.I. a <i>"centralised and secret"</i> organisation that shunned <i>"open debate and common struggle"</i>?</h2>
<p>
They move onto Spanish Anarchism:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The anarchist organisation inside the Spanish C.N.T., the F.A.I., 
was centralised and secret. A revolutionary party thrives on open 
debate and common struggle with wider groups of workers."</i>
</blockquote><p>
We discuss this Marxist myth in more detail in 
<a href="append32.html#app3">section 3</a> of the 
appendix on <a href="append32.html"><i>"Marxists and Spanish 
Anarchism"</i></a>. However a few points 
are worth making. The F.A.I., regardless of what the SWP assert, was 
not centralised. It was a federation of autonomous affinity groups.
As one member put it:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It was never its aim to act as a leadership or anything of the
sort -- to begin with they had no slogans, nor was any line laid
down, let alone any adherence to any hierarchical structure . . .
This is what outside historians ought to grasp once and for all:
that neither Durruti, nor Ascaso, nor Garcia Oliver -- to name
only the great C.N.T. spokesmen -- issued any watchwords to the
'masses,' let alone delivered any operational plan or
conspiratorial scheme to the bulk of the C.N.T. membership."</i>
<p></blockquote>
He stresses that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Each F.A.I. group thought and acted as it deemed fit, without 
bothering about what the others might be thinking or deciding . . . 
they had no . . . opportunity or jurisdiction . . . to foist a 
party line upon the grass-roots."</i> [Francisco Carrasquer, quoted by 
Stuart Christie, <b>We, the Anarchists!</b>, p. 25 and p. 28]
</blockquote><p>
Murray Bookchin paints a similar picture:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The F.A.I. . . . was more loosely jointed as an organisation than 
many of its admirers and critics seem to recognise. It has no 
bureaucratic apparatus, no membership cards or dues, and no 
headquarters with paid officials, secretaries, and clerks. . .  
They jealously guarded the autonomy of their affinity groups from 
the authority of higher organisational bodies-a state of mind 
hardly conducive to the development of a tightly knit, vanguard 
organisation.
<p>
"The F.A.I., moreover, was not a politically homogeneous organisation 
which followed a fixed 'line' like the Communists and many 
Socialists. It had no official program by which all faistas could 
mechanically guide their actions."</i> [<b>The Spanish Anarchists</b>, 
p. 224]
</blockquote><p>
Stuart Christie argues that the decentralised nature of the F.A.I.
helped it survive the frequent repression directed against it and
the C.N.T:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The basic units of the F.A.I. were . . . small autonomous affinity
groups of anarchist militants. This cohesive quasi-cellular form
of association had evolved, gradually, over the period of time
it takes for relationships to be established and for mutual trust
to grow. The affinity groups consisted, usually, of between three
and 10 members bound by ties of friendship, and who shared well
defined aims and agreed methods of struggle. Once such a group
had come into existence it could, if it so wished, solicit
affiliation to the F.A.I. . . The affinity groups were also
highly resistant to police infiltration. Even if filtration
did occur, or police agents did manage to set up their own
'affinity' groups it would not have been a particularly efficient
means of intelligence gathering; the atomic structure of the 
F.A.I. meant there was no central body to provide an overview
of the movement as a whole."</i> [<b>We, the Anarchists!</b>, 
p. 28]
<p></blockquote>
He stresses its decentralised nature:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Above all, it was not a representative body and involved <b>no</b>
delegation of power either within the affinity groups or in
the regional or national administrative bodies to empower
those bodies to make decisions on behalf of the collectivity.
Drawing on many years of revolutionary experience the F.A.I.
was firmly rooted in federal principles and structured in
such a way that its co-ordinating function did not deprive
its constituent members of their autonomous power. . . .
In situations where it was necessary for delegates to take
decisions, e.g. at plenary meetings during times of crisis
or clandestinity, those decisions were required to be
ratified by the whole membership who, in effect, constituted
the administration. . . The groups in a city or town
constituted a Local Federation while the rural groups,
combined, formed a District Federation. These were administered
by a secretariat and a committee composed of one mandated
delegate from each affinity group. The Local and District
Federations were obliged to convene regular assemblies
of all groups in its area. . . Local and District Federations
constituted a Regional Federation. These, in turn, were
co-ordinated by a Peninsular Committee. None of these 
committees, local, district, regional or national, could
be described as having a bureaucratic apparatus. Nor did
they wield executive power of any description. Their 
function was purely administrative."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 29-30]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, the claim that the F.A.I. was a centralised
organisation is simply false. Rather it was a federation
of autonomous groups, as can be seen (see also 
<a href="append32.html#app3">section 3</a>
of the appendix on 
<a href="append32.html"><i>"Marxists and Spanish Anarchism"</i></a> for
more discussion on this topic).
<p>
Was the F.A.I. a <i>"secret"</i> organisation? When it was founded in 1927, 
Spain was under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and so it was 
illegal and secret by necessity. As Stuart Christie correctly
notes, <i>"[a]s an organisation publicly committed to the overthrow
of the dictatorship, the F.A.I. functioned, from 1927 to 1931, as
an illegal rather than a secret organisation. From the birth of the 
Republic in 1931 onwards, the F.A.I. was simply an organisation which,
until 1937, refused to register as an organisation as required by 
Republican Law."</i> [<b>We, the Anarchists!</b>, p. 24] Thus it was illegal 
rather than secret. As one anarchist militant asked, <i>"[i]f it was 
secret, how come I was able to attend F.A.I. meetings without ever 
having joined or paid dues to the 'specific' organisation?"</i> 
[Francesco Carrasquer, quoted by Christie, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 24] 
<p>
Moreover, given the periods of repression suffered by the 
Spanish libertarian movement throughout its history (including 
being banned and forced underground) being an illegal organisation 
made perfect sense. The anarchist movement was made illegal a
number of times. Nor did the repression end during the Republic 
of 1931-6. This means that for the F.A.I. to be illegal was a 
sensible thing to do, particularly after failed revolutionary 
attempts resulted in massive arrests and the closing of union
halls. Again, the SWP ignore historical context and so mislead 
the reader.
<p>
Did the F.A.I. ignore <i>"open debate and common struggle."</i> No, of 
course not. The members of the F.A.I. were also members of the C.N.T. 
The C.N.T. was based around mass assemblies in which all members 
could speak. It was here that members of the F.A.I. took part in 
forming C.N.T. policy along with other C.N.T. members. Anarchists in the 
C.N.T. who were not members of the F.A.I. indicate this. Jose Borras 
Casacarosa notes that <i>"[o]ne has to recognise that the F.A.I. did not 
intervene in the C.N.T. from above or in an authoritarian manner 
as did other political parties in the unions. It did so from the 
base through militants . . . the decisions which determined the 
course taken by the C.N.T. were taken under constant pressure from 
these militants."</i> Jose Campos notes that F.A.I. militants <i>"tended 
to reject control of confederal committees and only accepted them 
on specific occassions . . . if someone proposed a motion in 
assembly, the other F.A.I. members would support it, usually 
successfully.  It was the individual standing of the faista in 
open assembly."</i> [quoted by Stuart Christie, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 62] As Francisco Ascaso (friend of Durruti and an influential 
anarchist militant in the C.N.T. and F.A.I. in his own right) put 
it:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"There is not a single militant who as a 'F.A.I.ista' intervenes in 
union meetings. I work, therefore I am an exploited person. I pay
my dues to the workers' union and when I intervene at union meetings
I do it as someone who us exploited, and with the right which is
granted me by the card in my possession, as do the other militants,
whether they belong to the F.A.I. or not."</i> [cited by Abel Paz, 
<b>Durruti: The People Armed</b>, p. 137]
</blockquote><p>
This meant that it was at union meetings and congresses where policies 
and the program for the movement were argued out:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"[D]elegates, whether or not they were members of the F.A.I., were 
presenting resolutions adopted by their unions at open membership 
meetings. Actions taken at the congress had to be reported back to 
their unions at open meetings, and given the degree of union 
education among the members, it was impossible for delegates 
to support personal, non-representative positions."</i> [Juan Gomez 
Casas, <b>Anarchist Organisation: The History of the F.A.I.</b>, p. 121]
</blockquote><p>
As can be seen, open debate with their fellow workers in the 
union assemblies. In this they followed Bakunin's arguments that 
anarchist organisation <i>"rules out any idea of dictatorship and 
of a controlling and directive power"</i> and it <i>"will promote the 
Revolution only through the <b>natural but never official influence</b> 
of all members of the Alliance."</i> This influence would be exerted 
in the union assemblies, as the union members <i>"could only defend 
their rights and their autonomy in only one way: the workers called 
general membership meetings. Nothing arouses the antipathy of the 
committees more than these popular assemblies. . . In these great 
meetings of the sections, the items on the agenda was amply 
discussed and the most progressive opinion prevailed. . ."</i>
This would ensure that the assemblies had <i>"real autonomy"</i>
and actually were the real power in the organisation. Any
committees would be made up of <i>"delegates who conscientiously 
fulfilled all their obligations to their respective sections as 
stipulated in the statues,"</i> <i>"reporting regularly to the membership 
the proposals made and how they voted"</i> and <i>"asking for further
instructions (plus instant recall of unsatisfactory delegates)"</i>
[<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 154, p. 387 and p. 247]
<p>
The anarchist revolution would be organised in an identical 
fashion, and, in Bakunin's words, <i>"must be created by the people, 
and supreme control must always belong to the people organised 
into a free federation of agricultural and industrial associations 
. . . organised from the bottom upwards by means of revolutionary 
delegations . . . [who] will set out to administer public 
services, not to rule over peoples."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected 
Writings</b>, p. 172]
<p>
As can be seen, the F.A.I. (like all anarchists) influenced the
class struggle and revolution via their natural influence in
winning debates with their fellow workers in union assemblies.
They did not seek power but rather influence for their ideas.
To claim otherwise, to claim that anarchists reject open debate
with their fellow workers is false. Instead of seeking to power
-- and so limiting debates to during elecctions -- anarchists
argue that people must control their own organisations (and so
the revolution) directly and all the time. This means, as can
be seen, we encourage open debate and discussion far more than
those, like the SWP, who seek centralised political power for
themselves. In such a system, the only people who debate 
regularly are the members of the government -- everyone else
is just a voter and an order taker.
<p>
<a name="app23"><h2>23. Do anarchists wait for <i>"spontaneous upsurges by workers"</i>?</h2>
<p>
After lying about the F.A.I., they move on to lying about anarchist 
theory:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Anarchists instead look to spontaneous upsurges by workers. In 
the struggle anarchists will declare themselves and urge the 
workers on. They hope this will lead to the toppling of 
capitalism. History is full of mass struggles which have been 
able to win significant gains, but which have not had a clear 
leadership that can carry the struggle over to victory against 
capitalism."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Nothing could be further from the truth. Their own article exposes 
their lies. They mention the C.N.T., which was organised in an 
anarchist way and in which anarchists were heavily involved. 
Anarchists from Bakunin onward have all argued in favour of 
organising as anarchists as well as organising workers and 
fighting for reforms in the here and now. For Bakunin, <i>"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."</i> 
[<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 139] He stressed the importance of 
anarchists being involved in unions as well as union struggle 
for reforms by direct action:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"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 . . ."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 109]
</blockquote><p>
Indeed, he saw the labour movement as the means to create a
socialist society:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The masses are a force, or at least the essential elements of a
force. What do they lack? They lack two things which up till now
constituted the power of all government: organisation and 
knowledge.
<p>
"The organisation of the International [Workers' Association],
having for its objective not the creation of new despotisms
but the uprooting of all domination, will take on an essentially
different character from the organisation of the State. . . 
But what is the organisation of the masses? . . . It is the
organisation by professions and trades . . . 
<p>
"The organisation of the trade sections and their representation
in the Chambers of Labour . . . bear in themselves the living
seeds of the new society which is to replace the old world. They
are creating not only the ideas, but also the facts of the future
itself."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, pp. 254-5]
<p></blockquote>
All anarchists have stressed the importance of working in and outside 
the labour movement to gain influence for anarchist ideas of direct 
action, solidarity, self-management and federalism in the here and 
now, rather than waiting for a <i>"spontaneous uprising"</i> to occur. 
As Kropotkin argued, <i>"Revolutionary Anarchist Communist propaganda
with Labour Unions had always been a favourite mode of action
in the Federalist [or libertarian] . . . section of the
International Working Men's Association."</i> [<b>Act For Yourselves</b>,
p. 119] Malatesta makes the same point:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"anarchists, convinced of the validity of our programme, must
strive to acquire overwhelming influence in order to draw the
movement towards the realisation of our ideas. But such 
influence must be won by doing more and better than others,
and will only be useful if won in that way.
<p>
"Today we must deepen, develop and propagate our ideas and
co-ordinate our forces in a common action. We must act within
the labour movement to prevent it being limited to and
corrupted by the exclusive pursuit of small improvements
compatible with the capitalist system; and we must act in
such a way that it contributes to preparing for a complete
social transformation. We must work with the unorganised,
and perhaps unorganisable, masses to awaken a spirit of
revolt and the desire and hope for a free and happy life.
We must initiate and support all movements that tend to
weaken the forces of the State and of capitalism and to
raise the mental level and material conditions of the
workers. We must, in short, prepare, and prepare ourselves,
morally and materially, for the revolutionary act which will
open the way to the future."</i> [<b>The Anarchist Revolution</b>, 
p. 109]
<p></blockquote>
Therefore, as can be seen, the SWP's assertions are totally at 
odds with the actual ideas of anarchists, as would be known by 
anyone with even a basic understanding of anarchist theory.
After all, if spontaneous uprisings were sufficient in themselves
we would be living in an anarchist society. As Bakunin argued 
<i>"if instinct alone had been sufficient for the liberation of
peoples, they would have long since freed themselves."</i> [<b>Bakunin
on Anarchism</b>, p. 254] This explains why anarchists organise
<b>as anarchists</b> in groups and federations to influence the 
class struggle. We are aware of the need for revolutionaries 
to organise to influence the class struggle, spread anarchist 
ideas and tactics and present the case for revolutionary change.
An anarchist society will not come about by accident, it must
be consciously desired and created by the mass of the population.
As Kropotkin argued:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Communist organisations . . . must be the work of all, a natural
growth, a product of the constructive genius of the great mass. 
Communism cannot be imposed from above; it could not live even
for a few months if the constant and daily co-operation of all
did not uphold it. It must be free."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary
Pamphlets</b>, p. 140]
</blockquote><p>
So, clearly, anarchists see the importance of working class organisation 
and struggle in the here and now. Anarchists are active in industrial 
disputes and (as the SWP note) the anti-globalisation movement and 
were heavily involved in the anti-poll-tax and anti-Criminal Justice 
Act struggles in the UK, for example. The role of anarchists is not 
to wait for <i>"upsurges"</i> but rather to encourage them by spreading 
our ideas and encouraging workers to organise and fight their bosses 
and the state. It is for this reason anarchists form groups and 
federations, to influence workers today rather than waiting for a 
<i>"spontaneous uprising"</i> to occur. Moreover, it is quite ironic that 
the SWP say that anarchists wait for upsurges before declaring 
themselves to the masses. After all, that is what the SWP do. They 
turn up at picket lines and try and sell their paper and party to 
the strikers. Obviously, if anarchist do this, it is bad, if the 
SWP do it, then it is <i>"revolutionary."</i>
<p>
Therefore, rather than believing in or waiting for <i>"spontaneous 
upsurges"</i> anarchists, like the SWP, spread their message, try and 
convince people to become revolutionaries. That is why there are 
numerous anarchist federations across the world, involved in 
numerous struggles and working class organisations, with 
magazines, papers and leaflets being produced and distributed. 
Anarchists stress the importance of winning people over to 
anarchist ideas and of giving a <i>"lead"</i> in struggle rather than as 
a <i>"leadership"</i> (which implies a hierarchical relationship between 
the mass of people and a group of leaders). To state otherwise, to 
argue we wait for spontaneous uprisings, is simply a lie.
<p>
Anarchist organisations see themselves in the role of aiders, not 
leaders. As Voline argued, the politically aware minority <i>"should 
intervene. But, in every place and under all circumstances, . . . 
[they] should freely participate in the common work, <b>as true 
collaborators, not as dictators</b>. It is necessary that they 
especially create an example, and employ themselves. . . without 
dominating, subjugating, or oppressing anyone. . . Accordingly to 
the libertarian thesis, it is the labouring masses themselves, 
who, by means of the various class organisations, factory 
committees, industrial and agricultural unions, co-operatives, et 
cetera, federated. . .  should apply themselves everywhere, to 
solving the problems of waging the Revolution. . . As for the 
'elite' [i.e. the politically aware], their role, according to the 
libertarians, is to <b>help</b> the masses, enlighten them, teach them, 
give them necessary advice, impel them to take initiative, provide 
them with an example, and support them in their action -- <b>but not 
to direct them governmentally</b>."</i> [<b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, 
pp. 177-8]
<p>
Sadly, Leninists like the SWP confuse giving a led with taking 
power themselves. They seek to take over positions of 
responsibility in a movement and turn them into positions of power 
which they can use to tell the others what to do. Instead of being 
the servants of the organisation, they become its masters. For 
this reason anarchist organisations try to influence movements 
from below, in the mass assemblies which make it up, rather than 
seek power.
<p>
<a name="app24"><h2>24. Do anarchists blame workers <i>"for being insufficiently revolutionary"</i>?</h2>
<p>
After creating a straw man about anarchist theory, they draw some 
thoughts from it:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"When struggles have not spontaneously broken capitalism, 
anarchists have tended to end up blaming workers for being 
insufficiently revolutionary. So 19th century French anarchist 
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon started off talking of his 'love of the 
people' but ended up saying he 'despised' humanity because they 
had not overthrown capitalism."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Strange that they picked Proudhon as he was not a revolutionary 
anarchist. Rather he favoured the reform of capitalism via mutual 
credit and workers' co-operatives and rejected the idea of "uprisings"
and/or revolution (spontaneous or not). Anyone with even a limited 
knowledge of Proudhon's work would know this. In addition, Proudhon's 
last book (<b>The Political Capacity of the Working Classes</b>), finished 
on his death bed, was an attempt to influence the workers' movement 
towards his ideas of mutualism and federalism. Hardly to be expected 
from someone who "despised" humanity for not overthrowing capitalism. 
As examples go, the SWP is clearly clutching at straws.
<p>
Moreover, as we argued in the <a href="append34.html#app23">
last section</a>, revolutionary 
anarchists like Bakunin, Malatesta, Kropotkin, Goldman, Berkman, 
Rocker, etc., all placed a great deal of time and
energy in trying to work within and influence workers' struggles
and the labour movement in the here and now. They did not think
that workers struggles would necessarily "spontaneously" break
capitalism. While recognising, as we indicated in 
<a href="append34.html#app10">section 10</a>,
that the class struggle changed the ideas of those involved, they 
recognised the need for anarchist groups, papers, pamphlets to 
influence the class struggle in a libertarian way and towards a 
revolution. They were well aware that "spontaneous" uprisings 
occurred but were not enough in themselves -- anarchists would 
need to organise as anarchists to influence the class struggle,
particularly when "uprisings" were not occurring and the daily
struggle between governed and governor, exploited and exploiter
was taking less spectacular forms (hence anarchist support and
involvement in the labour movement and unions like the C.N.T.). 
<p>
The SWP then move onto an even greater factual error. They claim 
that the <i>"biggest anarchist groups today, the 'autonomists' in 
Europe, treat workers who have not fully broken with capitalist 
ideas as an enemy rather than a potential ally."</i> Unfortunately for 
them, the "autonomists" are not generally anarchists (the name
should have given the SWP some clue, as anarchists are quite
proud of their name and generally use it, or libertarian, to
describe themselves). Rather the "autonomists" are non-Leninist 
Marxists whose ideas (and name) originally came from the Marxist 
left in Italy during the 1960s. It is also probable that the 
various European anarchist federations (such as the French and 
Italian) and anarcho-syndicalist unions are bigger than the 
autonomists. However, without any examples of the groups 
meant it is hard to evaluate the accuracy of the SWP's claims
as regards their size or opinions. Suffice it to say, the 
leading theorists of "autonomism" such as Toni Negri and Harry 
Cleaver do not express the opinions the SWP claim "autonomists" 
have.
<p>
<a name="app25"><h2>25. Why does the history of centralised parties refute the SWP's arguments?</h2>
<p>
The SWP admit that their analysis leaves much to be desired by 
mentioning that <i>"[m]any anarchists understand the way that 
capitalism works and organise to change the world."</i> In other 
words, if an anarchist points out the flaws in their argument or a 
reader knows an anarchist who does not match the SWP's distorted 
picture, then the SWP can say that they are part of the <i>"many."</i> 
Extremely handy, if dishonest, comment to make.
<p>
The SWP continue by arguing that our <i>"rejection of centralisation 
means that at critical moments their intervention in the struggle 
is fatally flawed."</i> This is ironic. Given that their example of 
the benefits of centralisation showed the flaws in that method of 
organising, their conclusion seems without basis. Moreover, as 
argued above, centralisation is the key means by which minorities 
govern majorities. It is a tool used to impose minority rule and 
is not designed for other uses. But, then again, the SWP do aim 
for minority rule -- the rule of the <i>"revolutionary"</i> party over the 
masses. As they argue:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The working class needs what anarchism rejects - a clear and 
determined revolutionary party which can lead the working class as 
a whole, and is not afraid to overthrow capitalism and set up a 
workers' state."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Yes, indeed. The examples of the current anti-capitalist movement, 
the poll tax revolt and the 1917 February Russian revolution 
indicate well that a revolutionary party works. If such a party 
had led the working class in each of these events, they would not 
have occurred. The workers would have done nothing, as the 
Bolsheviks desired. People would have paid their poll tax waiting 
for the trade union bureaucrats to act. The anti-globalisation 
demonstrations would not have happened as the "vanguard" party did 
not recognise their importance. 
<p>
The Russian Revolution quickly resulted in the marginalisation of 
the workers' councils by the centralised, <i>"clear and determined"</i> 
Bolsheviks who turned them into rubber stamps of their government, 
it suggests that the politics of the SWP leave much to be desired.
Given that the one "success" of Leninist politics -- the Russian 
Revolution of October 1917 -- created state capitalism, with workers' 
soviets and factory committees undermined in favour of party power 
(<b>before</b>, we must stress, the start of the civil war -- what most 
Leninists blame the rise of Stalinism on) we may suggest that 
<b>anarchist</b> ideas have been proven correct again and again. After
all, the validity of a theory surely lies in its ability to <b>explain</b>
and <b>predict</b> events. Anarchists, for example, predicted both the 
degeneration of both Social Democracy and the Russian revolution, 
the two main examples of Marxism in action, and presented coherent
reasons <b>why</b> this would happen. Marxists have had to generate 
theories to explain these events <b>after</b> they have occurred, 
theories which conveniently ignore the role of Marxist politics
in historical events.
<p>
This, we suggest, provides the explanation of why they have spent 
so much time re-writing history and smearing anarchism. Not being 
able to discuss our ideas honesty -- for that would expose the 
authoritarian ideas of Bolshevism and its role in the degeneration
of the Russian Revolution -- the SWP invent a straw man they call 
anarchism and beat him to death. Unfortunately for them, anarchists 
are still around and can expose their lies for what they are.
<p>
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