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<HTML>
<HEAD>

<TITLE>A.5 What are some examples of "Anarchy in Action"?</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
<p>

<H1>A.5 What are some examples of "Anarchy in Action"?</H1>
<P>
Anarchism, more than anything else, is about the efforts of millions of revolutionaries changing the world in the last two centuries. Here we will discuss some of the high points of this movement, all of them of a profoundly anti-capitalist nature.
<P>
Anarchism <B>is</B> about radically changing the world, not just making the present system less inhuman by encouraging the anarchistic tendencies within it to grow and develop. While no purely anarchist revolution has taken place yet, there have been numerous ones with a highly anarchist character and level of participation. And while these have <B>all</B> been destroyed, in each case it has been at the hands of outside force brought against them (backed either by Communists or Capitalists), not because of any internal problems in anarchism itself. These revolutions, despite their failure to survive in the face of overwhelming force, have been both an inspiration for anarchists and proof that anarchism is a viable social theory and can be practised on a large scale. </P>
<P>
What these revolutions share is the fact they are, to use Proudhon's
term, a <i><b>"revolution from below"</i></b> -- they were examples of <i>"collective
activity, of popular spontaneity."</i> It is only a transformation of
society from the bottom up by the action of the oppressed themselves
that can create a free society. As Proudhon asked, <i>"[w]hat serious
and lasting Revolution was not made <b>from below,</b> by the people?"</i>
For this reason an anarchist is a <i>"revolutionary <b>from below.</b>"</i>
Thus the social revolutions and mass movements we discuss in this
section are examples of popular self-activity and self-liberation
(as Proudhon put it in 1848, <i>"the proletariat must emancipate itself"</i>).
[quoted by George Woodcock, <b>Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: A Biography</b>,
p. 143 and p. 125] All anarchists echo Proudhon's idea of revolutionary
change from below, the creation of a new society by the actions of
the oppressed themselves. Bakunin, for example, argued that anarchists
are <i>"foes . . . of all State organisations as such, and believe that
the people can only be happy and free, when, organised from below by
means of its own autonomous and completely free associations, without
the supervision of any guardians, it will create its own life."</i> 
[<b>Marxism, Freedom and the State</b>, p. 63] In 
<a href="secJ7.html">section J.7</a> we discuss what anarchists
think a social revolution is and what it involves.
<p>
It is important to point out that these examples are of wide-scale social experiments and do not imply that we ignore the undercurrent of anarchist practice which exists in everyday life, even under capitalism. Both Peter Kropotkin (in <B>Mutual Aid</B>) and Colin Ward (in <B>Anarchy in Action</B>) have documented the many ways in which ordinary people, usually unaware of anarchism, have worked together as equals to meet their common interests. As Colin Ward argues, <I>"an anarchist society, a society which organises itself without authority, is always in existence, like a seed beneath the snow, buried under the weight of the state and its bureaucracy, capitalism and its waste, privilege and its injustices, nationalism and its suicidal loyalties, religious differences and their superstitious separatism."</I> [<B>Anarchy in Action</B>, p. 14]
<P>
Anarchism is not only about a future society, it is also about the social struggle happening today. It is not a condition but a process, which we 
create by our self-activity and self-liberation. 
<P>
By the 1960's, however, many commentators were writing off the anarchist movement as a thing of the past. Not only had fascism finished off European anarchist movements in the years before and during the war, but in the post-war period these movements were prevented from recovering by the capitalist West on one hand and the Leninist East on the other. Over the same period of time, anarchism had been repressed in the US, Latin America, China, Korea (where a social revolution with anarchist content was put down before the Korean War), and Japan. Even in the one or two countries that escaped the worst of the repression, the combination of the Cold War and international isolation saw libertarian unions like the Swedish SAC become reformist.
<P>
But the 60's were a decade of new struggle, and all over the world the 'New Left' looked to anarchism as well as elsewhere for its ideas. Many of the prominent figures of the massive explosion of May 1968 in France considered themselves anarchists. Although these movements themselves degenerated, those coming out of them kept the idea alive and began to construct new movements. The death of Franco in 1975 saw a massive rebirth of anarchism in Spain, with up to 500,000 people attending the CNT's first post-Franco rally. The return to a limited democracy in some South American countries in the late 70's and 80's saw a growth in anarchism there. Finally, in the late 80's it was anarchists who struck the first blows against the Leninist USSR, with the first protest march since 1928 being held in Moscow by anarchists in 1987.
<P>
Today the anarchist movement, although still weak, organises tens of thousands of revolutionaries in many countries. Spain, Sweden and Italy all have libertarian union movements organising some 250,000 between them. Most other European countries have several thousand active anarchists. Anarchist groups have appeared for the first time in other countries, including Nigeria and Turkey. In South America the movement has recovered massively. A contact sheet circulated by the Venezuelan anarchist group <B>Corrio A</B> lists over 100 organisations in just about every country.
<P>
Perhaps the recovery is slowest in North America, but there, too, all the libertarian organisations seem to be undergoing significant growth. As this growth accelerates, many more examples of anarchy in action will be created and more and more people will take part in anarchist organisations and activities, making this part of the FAQ less and less important.
<P>
However, it is essential to highlight mass examples of anarchism working on a large scale in order to avoid the specious accusation of "utopianism." As history is written by the winners, these examples of anarchy in action are often hidden from view in obscure books. Rarely are they mentioned in the schools and universities (or if mentioned, they are distorted). Needless to say, the few examples we give are just that, a few.
<P>
Anarchism has a long history in many countries, and we cannot attempt to document every example, just those we consider to be important. We are also sorry if the examples seem Eurocentric. We have, due to space and time considerations, had to ignore the syndicalist revolt (1910 to 1914) and the shop steward movement (1917-21) in Britain, Germany (1919-21), Portugal (1974), the Mexican revolution, anarchists in the Cuban revolution, the struggle in Korea against Japanese (then US and Russian) imperialism during and after the Second World War, Hungary (1956), the "the refusal of work" revolt in the late 1960's (particularly in "the hot Autumn" in Italy, 1969), the UK miner's strike (1984-85), the struggle against the Poll Tax in Britain (1988-92), the strikes in France in 1986 and 1995, the Italian COBAS movement in the 80's and 90's, and numerous other major struggles that have involved anarchist ideas of self-management (ideas that usually develop from the movement themselves, without anarchists necessarily playing a major, or "leading", role). </P>
<P>For anarchists, revolutions and mass struggles are <B><I>"festivals of the oppressed,"</B></I> when ordinary people start to act for themselves and change both themselves and the world.
<P><A NAME="seca51"><H2>A.5.1 The Paris Commune</H2>
<P>
The Paris Commune of 1871 played an important role in the development of both anarchist ideas and the movement. As Bakunin commented at the time,
<p>
<I><BLOCKQUOTE>"revolutionary socialism [i.e. anarchism] has just attempted its first striking and practical demonstration in the Paris Commune"</I> [<B>Bakunin on Anarchism</B>, p. 263]. </BLOCKQUOTE>
<P>
The Paris Commune was created after France was defeated by Prussia in the Franco-Prussian war. The French government tried to send in troops to regain the Parisian National Guard's cannon to prevent it from falling into the hands of the population. The soldiers refused to fire on the jeering crowd and turned their weapons on their officers. This was March 18th; the Commune had begun.
<P>
In the free elections called by the Parisian National Guard, the citizens of Paris elected a council made up of a majority of Jacobins and Republicans and a minority of socialists (mostly Blanquists -- authoritarian socialists -- and followers of the anarchist Proudhon). This council proclaimed Paris autonomous and desired to recreate France as a confederation of communes (i.e. communities). Within the Commune, the elected council people were recallable and paid an average wage. In addition, they had to report back to the people who 
had elected them and were subject to recall by electors if they did not carry 
out their mandates. 
<P>
Why this development caught the imagination of anarchists is clear -- it has strong similarities with anarchist ideas. In fact, the example of the Paris Commune was in many ways similar to how Bakunin had predicted that a revolution would have to occur -- a major city declaring itself autonomous, organising itself, leading by example, and urging the rest of the planet to follow it. (See <I>"Letter to Albert Richards"</I> in <B>Bakunin on Anarchism</B>). The Paris Commune began the process of creating a new society, one organised from the bottom up.
<P>
Many anarchists played a role within the Commune -- for example Louise Michel, the Reclus brothers, and Eugene Varlin (the latter murdered in the repression afterwards). As for the reforms initiated by the Commune, such as the re-opening of workplaces as co-operatives, anarchists can see their ideas of associated labour beginning to be realised. By May, 43 workplaces
were co-operatively run and the Louvre Museum was a munitions factory
run by a workers' council. Echoing Proudhon, a meeting of the Mechanics
Union and the Association of Metal Workers argued that <i>"our economic 
emancipation . . . can only be obtained through the formation of workers' 
associations, which alone can transform our position from that of wage 
earners to that of associates."</i> They instructed their delegates to the 
Commune's Commission on Labour Organisation to support the following 
objectives:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The abolition of the exploitation of man by man, the last vestige
of slavery;
<p>
"The organisation of labour in mutual associations and inalienable
capital."</i>
</blockquote><p>
In this way, they hoped to ensure that <i>"equality must not be an empty
word"</i> in the Commune. [<b>The Paris Commune of 1871: The View from the
Left</b>, Eugene Schulkind (ed.), p. 164] The Engineers Union voted at
a meeting on 23rd of April that since the aim of the Commune should
be <i>"economic emancipation"</i> it should <i>"organise labour through
associations in which there would be joint responsibility"</i> in order
<i>"to suppress the exploitation of man by man."</i> [quoted by Stewart
Edwards, <b>The Paris Commune 1871</b>, pp. 263-4]
<p>
Thus in the commune the theory of associated production expounded by 
Proudhon and Bakunin became consciously revolutionary practice. In 
the Commune's call for federalism and autonomy, anarchists see their 
<i>"future social organisation. . . [being] carried out from the bottom 
up, by the free association or federation of workers, starting with 
associations, then going into the communes, the regions, the nations, 
and, finally, culminating in a great international and universal 
federation."</i> [Bakunin, <b>Ibid.</b>, p. 270] This can be seen 
by the Commune's 
<i>"Declaration to the French People"</i> echoing anarchist ideas. It saw
the <i>"political unity"</i> of society as being based on 
<i>"the voluntary 
association of all local initiatives, the free and spontaneous 
concourse of all individual energies for the common aim, the 
well-being, the liberty and the security of all."</i> [quoted by 
Edwards, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 218] The new society envisioned by the 
communards was one based on the <i>"absolute autonomy of the
Commune. . . assuring to each its integral rights and to each
Frenchman the full exercise of his aptitudes, as a man, a citizen
and a labourer. The autonomy of the Commune will have for its 
limits only the equal autonomy of all other communes adhering to
the contract; their association must ensure the liberty of France."</i>
[<i>"Declaration to the French People"</i>, quoted by George Woodcock,
<b>Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: A Biography</b>, pp. 276-7] With its vision 
of a confederation of communes, Bakunin was correct to assert that
the Paris Commune was <i>"a bold, clearly formulated negation of the 
State."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 264]
<p>
Moreover, the Commune's ideas on federation obviously reflected the 
influence of Proudhon on French radical ideas. Indeed,
the Commune's vision of a communal France based on a federation of 
delegates bound by imperative mandates issued by their electors and 
subject to recall at any moment echoes Proudhon's ideas (Proudhon 
had argued in favour of the <i>"implementation of the binding mandate"</i> 
in 1848 [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, p. 63] and for federation of
communes in his work <b>The Principle of Federation</b>). Thus both
economically and politically the Paris Commune was heavily 
influenced by anarchist ideas.
<P>
However, for anarchists the Commune did not go far enough. It did not abolish the state within the Commune, as it had abolished it beyond it. The Communards organised themselves <I>"in a Jacobin manner"</I> (to use Bakunin's cutting term). As Peter Kropotkin pointed out, it did not <I>"break with the tradition of the State, of representative government, and it did not attempt to achieve within the Commune that organisation from the simple to the complex it inaugurated by proclaiming the independence and free federation of the Communes."</I> [<B>Fighting the Revolution</B>, vol.2, p. 16] 
In other words, <i>"if no central government
was needed to rule the independent Communes, if the national Government
is thrown overboard and national unity is obtained by free federation,
then a central <b>municipal</b> Government becomes equally useless and
noxious. The same federative principle would do within the Commune."</i>
[Kropotkin, <b>Evolution and Environment</b>, p. 75] In addition, its 
attempts at economic 
reform did not go far enough, making no attempt to turn all workplaces 
into co-operatives (i.e. to expropriate capital) and forming associations 
of these co-operatives to co-ordinate and support each other's economic 
activities. As the city was under constant siege by the French army, it 
is understandable that the Communards had other things on their minds. 
However, for Kropotkin such a position was a disaster: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"They treated the economic question as a secondary one, which would be 
attended to later on, <b>after</b> the triumph of the Commune . . . But
the crushing defeat which soon followed, and the blood-thirsty 
revenge taken by the middle class, proved once more that the triumph
of a popular Commune was materially impossible without a parallel
triumph of the people in the economic field."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 74]
</blockquote><P>
Instead of abolishing the state within the commune by organising federations of directly democratic mass assemblies, like the Parisian "sections" of the revolution of 1789-93 (see Kropotkin's <B>Great French Revolution</B> for more on these), the Paris Commune kept representative government and suffered for it. <i>"Instead of acting for themselves . . . 
the people, confiding in their governors, entrusted them the charge of 
taking the initiative. This was the first consequence of the inevitable
result of elections."</i> The council soon became <i>"the greatest obstacle 
to the revolution"</i> thus proving the <i>"political axiom that a government
cannot be revolutionary."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, 
p. 240, p. 241 and p. 249]
<P>
The council become more and more isolated from the people who elected it, and thus more and more irrelevant. And as its irrelevance grew, so did its authoritarian tendencies, with the Jacobin majority creating a <I>"Committee of Public Safety" </I>to<I> "defend"</I> (by terror) the "revolution." The Committee was opposed by the libertarian socialist minority and was, fortunately, ignored in practice by the people of Paris as they defended their freedom against the French army, which was attacking them in the name of capitalist civilisation and "liberty." On May 21st, government troops entered the city, followed by seven days of bitter street fighting. Squads of soldiers and armed members of the bourgeoisie roamed the streets, killing and maiming at will. Over 25,000 people were killed in the street fighting, many murdered after they had surrendered, and their bodies dumped in mass graves. 
<P>
For anarchists, the lessons of the Paris Commune were threefold. Firstly, 
a decentralised confederation of communities is the necessary political 
form of a free society (<i>"<b>This was the form that the social revolution
must take</b> -- the independent commune."</i> [Kropotkin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 163]). Secondly, <I>"there is no more reason for a government inside a 
Commune than for government above the Commune."</I> [Peter Kropotkin, <B>Fighting the Revolution</B>, vol. 2, p. 19] This means that an anarchist 
community will be based on a confederation of neighbourhood and workplace 
assemblies freely co-operating together. Thirdly, it is critically important to 
unify political and economic revolutions into a <B>social</B> revolution. 
<I>"They tried to consolidate the Commune first and put off the social 
revolution until later, whereas the only way to proceed was <B>to consolidate 
the Commune by means of the social revolution!</B>"</I> [Peter Kropotkin, <B>Op. 
Cit.</B>, p. 19]</P>
<P>
For more anarchist perspectives on the Paris Commune see Kropotkin's
essay <i>"The Paris Commune"</i> in <b>Words of a Rebel</b> (and 
<b>The Anarchist Reader</b>) and Bakunin's <i>"The Paris Commune 
and the Idea of the State"</i> in <b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>.
<p>
<A NAME="seca52"><H2>A.5.2 The Haymarket Martyrs</H2>
<P>
May 1st is a day of special significance for the labour movement. While
it has been hijacked in the past by the Stalinist bureaucracy in the 
Soviet Union and elsewhere, the labour movement festival of May Day
is a day of world-wide solidarity. A time to remember past struggles 
and demonstrate our hope for a better future. A day to remember that 
an injury to one is an injury to all.
<p>
The history of Mayday is closely linked with the anarchist movement
and the struggles of working people for a better world. Indeed, it 
originated with the execution of four anarchists in Chicago in 1886 
for organising workers in the fight for the eight-hour day. Thus
May Day is a product of <i><b>"anarchy in action"</i></b> 
-- of the struggle of
working people using direct action in labour unions to change the
world.
<p>
It began in the 1880s in the USA. In 1884, the <b>Federation of Organised 
Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada</b> (created in 
1881, it changed its name in 1886 to the <b>American Federation of Labor</b>) 
passed a resolution which asserted that <i>"eight hours shall constitute 
a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886, and that we recommend to 
labour organisations throughout this district that they so direct their 
laws as to conform to this resolution."</i> A call for strikes on May 1st, 
1886 was made in support of this demand.  
<p> 
In Chicago the anarchists were the main force in the union movement, and  
partially as a result of their presence, the unions translated this call  
into strikes on May 1st. The anarchists thought that the eight hour day 
could only be won through direct action and solidarity. They considered 
that struggles for reforms, like the eight hour day, were not enough in 
themselves. They viewed them as only one battle in an ongoing class 
war that would only end by social revolution and the creation of a free
society. It was with these ideas that they organised and fought.
<p>
In Chicago alone, 400 000 workers went out and the threat of strike
action ensured that more than 45 000 were granted a shorter working 
day without striking. On May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of 
pickets at the McCormick Harvester Machine Company, killing at least 
one striker, seriously wounding five or six others, and injuring 
an undetermined number. Anarchists called for a mass meeting the 
next day in Haymarket Square to protest the brutality. According
to the Mayor, <i>"nothing had occurred yet, or looked likely to occur to
require interference."</i> However, as the meeting was breaking up a column
of 180 police arrived and ordered the meeting to end. At this moment a
bomb was thrown into the police ranks, who opened fire on the crowd. 
How many civilians were wounded or killed by the police was never 
exactly ascertained. 
<p>
A reign of terror swept over Chicago. Meeting halls, union offices, 
printing shops and private homes were raided (usually without warrants). 
Such raids into working-class areas allowed the police to round up all 
known anarchists and other socialists. Many suspects were beaten up and 
some bribed. <i>"Make the raids first and look up the law afterwards"</i> 
was 
the public statement of J. Grinnell, the States Attorney, when a question
was raised about search warrants. [<i>"Editor's Introduction"</i>, <b>The
Autobiographies of the Haymarket Martyrs</b>, p. 7]
<p> 
Eight anarchists were put on trial for accessory to murder. No pretence 
was made that any of the accused had carried out or even planned the 
bomb. Instead the jury were told <i>"Law is on trial. Anarchy is on trial.  
These men have been selected, picked out by the Grand Jury, and indicted 
because they were leaders. They are no more guilty than the thousands who 
follow them. Gentlemen of the jury; convict these men, make examples of 
them, hang them and you save our institutions, our society."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 8] The jury was selected by a special bailiff, nominated by the
State's Attorney and was composed of businessmen and the relative of 
one of the cops killed. The defence was not allowed to present evidence 
that the special bailiff had publicly claimed <i>"I am managing this case 
and I know what I am about. These fellows are going to be hanged as 
certain as death."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>] Not surprisingly, the accused were convicted. 
Seven were sentenced to death, one to 15 years' imprisonment. 
<p>
An international campaign resulted in two of the death sentences being 
commuted to life, but the world wide protest did not stop the US state. 
Of the remaining five, one (Louis Lingg) cheated the executioner and 
killed himself on the eve of the execution. The remaining four (Albert 
Parsons, August Spies, George Engel and Adolph Fischer) were hanged 
on November 11th 1887. They are known in Labour history as the 
Haymarket Martyrs.  Between 150,000 and 500,000 lined the route taken
by the funeral cortege and between 10,000 to 25,000 were estimated to
have watched the burial.
<p>
In 1889, the American delegation attending the International Socialist 
congress in Paris proposed that May 1st be adopted as a workers' holiday. 
This was to commemorate working class struggle and the <i>"Martyrdom of the 
Chicago Eight"</i>. Since then Mayday has became a day for international 
solidarity. In 1893, the new Governor of Illinois made official what 
the working class in Chicago and across the world knew all along and 
pardoned the Martyrs because of their obvious innocence and because 
<i>"the trail was not fair".</i> 
<p>
The authorities had believed at the time of the trial that such 
persecution would break the back of the labour movement. They were
wrong. In the words of August Spies when he addressed the court after 
he had been sentenced to die:  
<blockquote><p><i> 
"If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labour movement . . .  
the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil  
in misery and want, expect salvation -- if this is your opinion, then  
hang us! Here you will tread on a spark, but there and there, behind  
you -- and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a  
subterranean fire. You cannot put it out."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 8-9]
</blockquote><p>
At the time and in the years to come, this defiance of the state and  
capitalism was to win thousands to anarchism, particularly in the US 
itself. Since the Haymarket event, anarchists have celebrated May Day
(on the 1st of May -- the reformist unions and labour parties moved
its marches to the first Sunday of the month). We do so to show our
solidarity with other working class people across the world, to
celebrate past and present struggles, to show our power and remind 
the ruling class of their vulnerability. As Nestor Makhno put it:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"That day those American workers attempted, by organising themselves,
to give expression to their protest against the iniquitous order
of the State and Capital of the propertied . . . 
<p>
"The workers of Chicago . . . had gathered to resolve, in common, 
the problems of their lives and their struggles. . . 
<p>
"Today too . . .  the toilers . . . regard the first of May as
the occasion of a get-together when they will concern themselves
with their own affairs and consider the matter of their emancipation."</i>
[<b>The Struggle Against the State and Other Essays</b>, pp. 59-60]
</blockquote><p>
Anarchists stay true to the origins of May Day and celebrate its
birth in the direct action of the oppressed. Oppression and exploitation 
breed resistance and, for anarchists, May Day is an international symbol 
of that resistance and power -- a power expressed in the last words of 
August Spies, chiselled in stone on the monument to the Haymarket martyrs 
in Waldheim Cemetery in Chicago: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the 
voices you are throttling today."</i>
</blockquote><P>
To understand why the state and business class were so determined to hang 
the Chicago Anarchists, it is necessary to realise they were considered the "leaders" of a massive radical union movement. In 1884, the Chicago Anarchists produced the world's first daily anarchist newspaper, the <B>Chicagoer Arbeiter-Zeiting</B>. This was written, read, owned and published by the German immigrant working class movement. The combined circulation of this daily plus a weekly (<B>Vorbote</B>) and a Sunday edition (<B>Fackel</B>) more than doubled, from 13,000 per issues in 1880 to 26,980 in 1886. Anarchist weekly papers existed for other ethnic groups as well (one English, one Bohemian and one Scandinavian). 
<P>
Anarchists were very active in the Central Labour Union (which included 
the eleven largest unions in the city) and aimed to make it, in the words 
of Albert Parsons (one of the Martyrs), <I>"the embryonic group of the future 'free society.'"</I> The anarchists were also part of the <b>International
Working People's Association</b> (also called the <i><b>"Black 
International"</i></b>) which had representatives from 26 cities at
its founding convention. The I.W.P.A. soon <i>"made headway among trade
unions, especially in the mid-west"</i> and its ideas of <i>"direct action
of the rank and file"</i> and of trade unions <i>"serv[ing] as the instrument
of the working class for the complete destruction of capitalism and
the nucleus for the formation of a new society"</i> became known as
the <b><i>"Chicago Idea"</i></b> (an idea which later inspired the
<b>Industrial Workers of the World</b> which was founded in Chicago in 1905). [<i>"Editor's Introduction,"</i> <b>The Autobiographies of the Haymarket Martyrs</b>, p. 4] 
<p>
This
idea was expressed in the manifesto issued at the I.W.P.A.'s Pittsburgh 
Congress of 1883:
<p><blockquote><i>
"First -- Destruction of the existing class rule, by all means,
i.e. by energetic, relentless, revolutionary and international
action.
<p>
"Second -- Establishment of a free society based upon co-operative
organisation of production.
<p>
"Third -- Free exchange of equivalent products by and between
the productive organisations without commerce and profit-mongery.
<p>
"Fourth -- Organisation of education on a secular, scientific
and equal basis for both sexes.
<p>
"Fifth -- Equal rights for all without distinction to sex or race.
<p>
"Sixth -- Regulation of all public affairs by free contracts between
autonomous (independent) communes and associations, resting on
a federalistic basis."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 42]
<p></blockquote>
In addition to their union organising, the Chicago anarchist movement also organised social societies, picnics, lectures, dances, libraries and a host of other activities. These all helped to forge a distinctly working-class revolutionary culture in the heart of the <I>"American Dream."</I> The threat 
to the ruling class and their system was too great to allow it to continue (particularly with memories of the vast uprising of labour in 1877 still 
fresh. As in 1886, that revolt was also meet by state 
violence -- see <B>Strike!</B> by J. Brecher for details of this strike movement as well as the Haymarket events). Hence the repression, kangaroo court, and the state murder of those the state and capitalist class considered "leaders" of the movement.
<P>
<A NAME="seca53"><H2>A.5.3 Building the Syndicalist Unions</H2>
<P>
Just before the turn of the century in Europe, the anarchist movement began to create one of the most successful attempts to apply anarchist organisational ideas in everyday life. This was in response to the disastrous <I>"propaganda by deed"</I> period, in which individual anarchists assassinated government leaders in attempts to provoke a popular uprising and in revenge for the mass murders of the Communards. In response to this failed and counterproductive campaign, anarchists went back to their roots and to the ideas of Bakunin, beginning to build mass revolutionary unions (syndicalism and anarchosyndicalism).
<P>
In the period from the 1890's to the outbreak of World War I, 
anarchists built revolutionary unions in most European countries 
(particularly in Spain, Italy and France). In addition, anarchists 
in South and North America were also successful in organising 
syndicalist unions (particularly Cuba, Argentina, Mexico and 
Brazil). Almost all industrialised countries had some 
syndicalist movement, although Europe and South America had 
the biggest and strongest ones. These unions were organised 
in a confederal manner, from the bottom up, along anarchist 
lines. They fought with capitalists on a day-to-day basis 
around the issue of better wages and working conditions, but
they also sought to overthrow capitalism through the 
revolutionary general strike. 
<P>
That anarchist organisational techniques encouraged member participation, empowerment and militancy, and that they also successfully fought for reforms and promoted class consciousness, can be seen in the growth of anarcho-syndicalist unions and their impact on the labour movement. The Industrial Workers of the World, for example, still inspires union activists and has, throughout its long history, provided many union songs and slogans.
<P>
Most of the syndicalist unions were severely repressed during World War I, but in the immediate post-war years they reached their height. This wave of militancy was known as the <I>"red years"</I> in Italy, where it attained its high point with factory occupations (see <A HREF="secA5.html#seca55">
section A.5.5</A>). But these years also saw the destruction of these unions in country after county, through two influences. On the one hand, the apparent success of the Russian revolution led many activists to turn to authoritarian politics. The Communist parties deliberately undermined the libertarian unions, encouraging fights and splits. More importantly, however, these years saw capitalism go on the offensive with a new weapon -- fascism. Fascism arose in Italy and Germany as an attempt by capitalism to physically smash the widespread organisations the working class had built. In both these countries, anarchists were forced to flee into exile, vanish from sight, or became victims of assassins or concentration camps. In the USA, the IWW was crushed by a wave of repression backed whole-heartedly by media, the state, and the capitalist class.
<P>
In Spain, however, the CNT, the anarcho-syndicalist union, continued to 
grow, claiming one and a half million members by 1936. The capitalist 
class embraced fascism to save their power from the dispossessed, who 
were becoming confident of their power and their right to manage their 
own lives (see <A HREF="secA5.html#seca56">section A.5.6</A>). Elsewhere, capitalists supported authoritarian states in order to crush the labour 
movement and make their countries safe for capitalism. Only Sweden escaped 
this trend, where the syndicalist union the SAC is still organising workers 
(and is, in fact, like many other syndicalist unions, growing as workers 
turn away from bureaucratic unions whose leaders seem more interested 
in protecting their privileges and cutting deals with management than 
defending their members).
<P>
<A NAME="seca54"><H2>A.5.4 Anarchists in the Russian Revolution.</H2>
<P>
The Russian revolution of 1917 saw a huge growth in anarchism 
in that country and many experiments in anarchist ideas. However, 
in popular culture the Russian Revolution is seen not as a mass 
movement by ordinary people struggling towards freedom but as 
the means by which Lenin imposed his dictatorship on Russia. 
The truth is radically different. The Russian Revolution was
a mass movement from below in which many different currents
of ideas existed and in which millions of working people
(workers in the cities and towns as well as peasants) tried
to transform their world into a better place. Sadly, those
hopes and dreams were crushed under the dictatorship of the
Bolshevik party -- first under Lenin, latter under Stalin.
<P>
The Russian Revolution, like most history, is a good example 
of the maxim "history is written by those who win." Most
capitalist histories of the period between 1917 and 1921 
ignore what the anarchist Voline called <i><b>"the unknown 
revolution"</b></i> -- the revolution called forth from below 
by the actions of ordinary people. Leninist accounts, at
best, praise this autonomous activity of workers so long
as it coincides with their own party line but radically
condemn it (and attribute it with the basest motives) as 
soon as it strays from that line. Thus Leninist accounts
will praise the workers when they move ahead of the 
Bolsheviks (as in the spring and summer of 1917) but 
will condemn them when they oppose Bolshevik policy once
the Bolsheviks are in power. At worse, Leninist accounts
portray the movement and struggles of the masses as little 
more than a backdrop to the activities of the vanguard party.
<P>
For anarchists, however, the Russian Revolution is seen 
as a classic example of a social revolution in which the
self-activity of working people played a key role. In
their soviets, factory committees and other class 
organisations, the Russian masses were trying to 
transform society from a class-ridden, hierarchical
statist regime into one based on liberty, equality and
solidarity. As such, the initial months of the Revolution
seemed to confirm Bakunin's prediction that the <i>"future
social organisation must be made solely from the bottom
upwards, by the free associations or federations of 
workers, firstly in their unions, then in the communes,
regions, nations and finally in a great federation,
international and universal."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected
Writings</b>, p. 206] The soviets and factory committees
expressed concretely Bakunin's ideas and Anarchists 
played an important role in the struggle. 
<P>
The initial overthrow of the Tsar came from the direct action of 
the masses. In February 1917, the women of Petrograd erupted in
bread riots. On February 18th, the workers of the Putilov Works 
in Petrograd went on strike. By February 22nd, the strike had 
spread to other factories. Two days latter, 200 000 workers 
were on strike and by February 25th the strike was virtually 
general. The same day also saw the first bloody clashes between 
protestors and the army. The turning point came on the 27th, when 
some troops went over to the revolutionary masses, sweeping along 
other units. This left the government without its means of 
coercion, the Tsar abdicated and a provisional government was
formed. 
<P>
So spontaneous was this movement that all the political parties 
were left begin. This included the Bolsheviks, with the 
<i>"Petrograd organisation of the Bolsheviks oppos[ing] the 
calling of strikes precisely on the eve of the revolution 
destined to over the Tsar. Fortunately, the workers ignored 
the Bolshevik 'directives' and went on strike anyway . . . 
Had the workers followed its guidance, it is doubtful
that the revolution would have occurred when it did."</i> 
[Murray Bookchin, <b>Post-Scarcity Anarchism</b>, p. 194]
<P>
The revolution carried on in this vein of direct action from 
below until the new, "socialist" state was powerful enough to 
stop it.
<P>
For the Left, the end of Tsarism was the culmination of 
years of effort by socialists and anarchists everywhere. It 
represented the progressive wing of human thought overcoming 
traditional oppression, and as such was duly praised by 
leftists around the world. However, <b>in</b> Russia things
were progressing. In the workplaces and streets and on the 
land, more and more people became convinced that abolishing 
feudalism politically was <b>not</b> enough. The overthrow of the 
Tsar made little real difference if feudal exploitation still 
existed in the economy, so workers started to seize their 
workplaces and peasants, the land. All across Russia, 
ordinary people started to build their own organisations, 
unions, co-operatives, factory committees and councils (or 
"soviets" in Russian). These organisations were initially 
organised in anarchist fashion, with recallable delegates 
and being federated with each other. 
<P>
Needless to say, all the political parties and organisations
played a role in this process. The two wings of the Marxist
social-democrats were active (the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks),
as were the Social Revolutionaries (a populist peasant based
party) and the anarchists. The anarchists participated in this 
movement, encouraging all tendencies to self-management and
urging the overthrow of the provisional government. They
argued that it was necessary to transform the revolution
from a purely political one into an economic/social one. Until
the return of Lenin from exile, they were the only political
tendency who thought along those lines.
<P>
Lenin convinced his party to adopt the slogan <i>"All Power
to the Soviets"</i> and push the revolution forward. This meant
a sharp break with previous Marxist positions, leading one
ex-Bolshevik turned Menshevik to comment that Lenin had 
<i>"made himself a candidate for one European throne that has 
been vacant for thirty years -- the throne of Bakunin!"</i> 
[quoted by Alexander Rabinowitch, <b>Prelude to Revolution</b>, 
p. 40] The Bolsheviks now turned to winning mass support,
campaigning direct action and supporting the radical actions
of the masses, policies in the past associated with anarchism
(<i>"the Bolsheviks launched . . . slogans which until then
had been particularly and insistently been voiced by the
Anarchists."</i> [Voline, <b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, p. 210]). 
Soon they were winning more and more votes in the soviet and 
factory committee elections. As Alexander Berkman argues, the 
<i>"Anarchist mottoes proclaimed by the Bolsheviks did not fail 
to bring results. The masses relied to their flag."</i> [<b>What is 
Communist Anarchism</b>, p. 101]
<P>
The anarchists were also influential at this time. Anarchists 
were particularly active in the movement for workers 
self-management of production which existed around the 
factory committees (see M. Brinton, <b>The Bolsheviks and 
Workers Control</b> for details). They were arguing for workers 
and peasants to expropriate the owning class, abolish all 
forms of government and re-organise society from the bottom 
up using their own class organisations -- the soviets, the 
factory committees, co-operatives and so on. They could 
also influence the direction of struggle. As Alexander 
Rabinowitch (in his study of the July uprising of 1917) 
notes:
<P><blockquote><i>
"At the rank-and-file level, particularly within the 
[Petrograd] garrison and at the Kronstadt naval base, 
there was in fact very little to distinguish Bolshevik 
from Anarchist. . . The Anarchist-Communists and the 
Bolsheviks competed for the support of the same 
uneducated, depressed, and dissatisfied elements of 
the population, and the fact is that in the summer of 
1917, the Anarchist-Communists, with the support they 
enjoyed in a few important factories and regiments, 
possessed an undeniable capacity to influence the 
course of events. Indeed, the Anarchist appeal was 
great enough in some factories and military units 
to influence the actions of the Bolsheviks themselves."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 64]
</blockquote><P>
Indeed, one leading Bolshevik stated in June, 1917 (in 
response to a rise in anarchist influence), <i>"[b]y fencing 
ourselves off from the Anarchists, we may fence ourselves 
off from the masses."</i> [quoted by Alexander Rabinowitch, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 102]
<P>
The anarchists operated with the Bolsheviks during the
October Revolution which overthrew the provisional
government. But things changed once the authoritarian 
socialists of the Bolshevik party had seized power.
While both anarchists and Bolsheviks used many of the
same slogans, there were important differences between
the two. As Voline argued, <i>"[f]rom the lips and pens of 
the Anarchists, those slogans were sincere and concrete,
for they corresponded to their principles and called for
action entirely in conformity with such principles. But
with the Bolsheviks, the same slogans meant practical
solutions totally different from those of the libertarians
and did not tally with the ideas which the slogans
appeared to express."</i> [<b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, 
p. 210]
<P>
Take, for example, the slogan <i>"All power to the Soviets."</i>
For anarchists it meant exactly that -- organs for the 
working class to run society directly, based on mandated, 
recallable delegates. For the Bolsheviks, that slogan was 
simply the means for a Bolshevik government to be formed 
over and above the soviets. The difference is important, <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>
[Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 213] Reducing the soviets to simply
executing the decrees of the central (Bolshevik) 
government and having their All-Russian Congress be 
able to recall the government (i.e. those with <b>real</b>
power) does not equal "all power," quite the reverse.
<P>
Similarly with the term <i>"workers' control of production."</i> 
Before the October Revolution Lenin saw <i>"workers' control"</i> 
purely in terms of the <i>"universal, all-embracing workers' 
control over the capitalists."</i> [<b>Will the Bolsheviks 
Maintain Power?</b>, p. 52] He did not see it in terms of 
workers' management of production itself (i.e. the 
abolition of wage labour) via federations of factory 
committees. Anarchists and the workers' factory committees 
did. 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>Red Petrograd</b>, 
p. 154] For anarchists, <i>"if the workers' organisations
were capable of exercising effective control [over 
their bosses], then they also were capable of
guaranteeing all production. In such an event, private
industry could be eliminated quickly but progressively,
and replaced by collective industry. Consequently,
the Anarchists rejected the vague nebulous slogan of
'control of production.' They advocated <b>expropriation
-- progressive, but immediate -- of privatee industry
by the organisations of collective production.</b>"</i> 
[Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 221]
<P>
Once in power, the Bolsheviks systematically undermined the 
popular meaning of workers' control and replaced it with their 
own, statist conception. <i>"On three occasions,"</i> one historian
notes, <i>"in the first months of Soviet power, the [factory] 
committee leaders sought to bring their model into being. 
At each point the party leadership overruled them. The 
result was to vest both managerial <b>and</b> control powers 
in organs of the state which were subordinate to the 
central authorities, and formed by them."</i> [Thomas F. 
Remington, <b>Building Socialism in Bolshevik Russia</b>, p. 38] 
This process ultimately resulted in Lenin arguing for, and 
introducing, <i>"one-man management"</i> armed with <i>"dictatorial"</i>
power (with the manager appointed from above by the state)
in April 1918. This process is documented in Maurice 
Brinton's <b>The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control</b>, which
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>
Initially, anarchists had supported the Bolsheviks, since the 
Bolshevik leaders had hidden their state-building ideology 
behind support for the soviets (as socialist historian Samuel 
Farber notes, the anarchists <i>"had actually been an unnamed 
coalition partner of the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution."</i> 
[<b>Before Stalinism</b>, p. 126]). However, this support quickly 
"withered away" as the Bolsheviks showed that they were, in 
fact, not seeking true socialism but were instead securing power 
for themselves and pushing not for collective ownership of land 
and productive resources but for government ownership. The 
Bolsheviks, as noted, systematically undermined the workers' 
control/self-management movement in favour of capitalist-like
forms of workplace management based around <i>"one-man management"</i>
armed with <i>"dictatorial powers."</i> 
<P>
As regards the soviets, the Bolsheviks systematically undermining
what limited independence and democracy they had. In response to 
the <i>"great Bolshevik losses in the soviet elections"</i> during the 
spring and summer of 1918 <i>"Bolshevik armed force usually overthrew 
the results of these provincial elections."</i> Also, the <i>"government 
continually postponed the new general elections to the Petrograd 
Soviet, the term of which had ended in March 1918. Apparently, 
the government feared that the opposition parties would show 
gains."</i> [Samuel Farber, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 24 and p. 22] In the 
Petrograd elections, the Bolsheviks <i>"lost the absolute majority 
in the soviet they had previously enjoyed"</i> but remained the 
largest party. However, the results of the Petrograd soviet 
elections where irrelevant as a <i>"Bolshevik victory was
assured by the numerically quite significant representation
now given to trade unions, district soviets, factory-shop
committees, district workers conferences, and Red Army and
naval units, in which the Bolsheviks had overwhelming
strength."</i> [Alexander Rabinowitch, <i>"The Evolution of Local
Soviets in Petrograd"</i>, pp. 20-37, <b>Slavic Review</b>, Vol. 36,
No. 1, p. 36f] In other words, the Bolsheviks had undermined
the democratic nature of the soviet by swamping it by their
own delegates. Faced with rejection in the soviets, the
Bolsheviks showed that for them "soviet power" equalled party power.
To stay in power, the Bolsheviks had to destroy the soviets,
which they did. The soviet system remained "soviet" in name
only. Indeed, from 1919 onwards Lenin, Trotsky and other 
leading Bolsheviks were admitting that they had created a
party dictatorship and, moreover, that such a dictatorship
was essential for any revolution (Trotsky supported party 
dictatorship even after the rise of Stalinism). 
<P>
The Red Army, moreover, no longer was a democratic organisation.
In March of 1918 Trotsky had abolished the election of officers
and soldier committees:
<P><blockquote><i>
"the principle of election is politically purposeless and 
technically inexpedient, and it has been, in practice, 
abolished by decree."</i> [<b>Work, Discipline, Order</b>]
</blockquote><P>
As Maurice Brinton correctly summarises:
<P><blockquote><i>
"Trotsky, appointed Commissar of Military Affairs after 
Brest-Litovsk, had rapidly been reorganising the Red Army. 
The death penalty for disobedience under fire had been 
restored. So, more gradually, had saluting, special forms 
of address, separate living quarters and other privileges 
for officers. Democratic forms of organisation, including 
the election of officers, had been quickly dispensed with."</i>
[<b>The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control</b>, p. 37]
</blockquote><P>
Unsurprisingly, Samuel Farber notes that <i>"there is no 
evidence indicating that Lenin or any of the mainstream 
Bolshevik leaders lamented the loss of workers' control or 
of democracy in the soviets, or at least referred to these
losses as a retreat, as Lenin declared with the replacement
of War Communism by NEP in 1921."</i> [<b>Before Stalinism</b>, 
p. 44]
<P>
Thus after the October Revolution, anarchists started to denounce
the Bolshevik regime and call for a <i><b>"Third Revolution"</b></i> 
which would finally free the masses from all bosses (capitalist or
socialist). They exposed the fundamental difference between the
rhetoric of Bolshevism (as expressed, for example, in Lenin's
<b>State and Revolution</b>) with its reality. Bolshevism in power 
had proved Bakunin's prediction that the <i>"dictatorship of
the proletariat"</i> would become the <i>"dictatorship 
<b>over</b> the proletariat"</i> by the leaders of the Communist Party. 
<P>
The influence of the anarchists started to grow. As Jacques 
Sadoul (a French officer) noted in early 1918:  
<P><blockquote><i>
"The anarchist party is the most active, the most militant 
of the opposition groups and probably the most popular . . . 
The Bolsheviks are anxious."</i> [quoted by Daniel Guerin, 
<b>Anarchism</b>, pp. 95-6] 
</blockquote><P>
By April 1918, the Bolsheviks began the physical suppression of their 
anarchist rivals. On April 12th, 1918, the Cheka (the secret police
formed by Lenin in December, 1917) attacked anarchist centres in
Moscow. Those in other cities were attacked soon after. As well 
as repressing their most vocal opponents on the left, the Bolsheviks
were restricting the freedom of the masses they claimed to be 
protecting. Democratic soviets, free speech, opposition political 
parties and groups, self-management in the workplace and  
on the land -- all were destroyed in the name of "socialism." 
All this happened, we must stress, <b>before</b> the start of the Civil 
War in late May, 1918, which most supporters of Leninism blame
for the Bolsheviks' authoritarianism. During the civil war, this
process accelerated, with the Bolsheviks' systematically repressing
opposition from all quarters -- including the strikes and protests 
of the very class who they claimed was exercising its "dictatorship" 
while they were in power! 
<P>
It is important to stress that this process had started 
well <b>before</b> the start of the civil war, confirming anarchist 
theory that a "workers' state" is a contraction in terms. For 
anarchists, the Bolshevik substitution of party power for 
workers power (and the conflict between the two) did not 
come as a surprise. The state is the delegation of <b>power</b> -- 
as such, it means that the idea of a "workers' state" expressing 
"workers' power" is a logical impossibility. If workers <b>are</b> 
running society then power rests in their hands. If a state 
exists then power rests in the hands of the handful of people 
at the top, <b>not</b> in the hands of all. The state was designed 
for minority rule. No state can be an organ of working class 
(i.e. majority) self-management due to its basic nature, 
structure and design. For this reason anarchists have argued 
for a bottom-up federation of workers' councils as the 
agent of revolution and the means of managing society 
after capitalism and the state have been abolished. 
<P>
As we discuss in <a href="secHcon.html">section H</a>, 
the degeneration of the Bolsheviks
from a popular working class party into dictators over the
working class did not occur by accident. A combination of
political ideas and the realities of state power (and the
social relationships it generates) could not help but result
in such a degeneration. The political ideas of Bolshevism,
with its vanguardism, fear of spontaneity and identification 
of party power with working class power inevitably meant
that the party would clash with those whom it claimed to
represent. After all, if the party is the vanguard then,
automatically, everyone else is a "backward" element. This
meant that if the working class resisted Bolshevik policies
or rejected them in soviet elections, then the working class
was "wavering" and being influenced by "petty-bourgeois" and
"backward" elements. Vanguardism breeds elitism and, when
combined with state power, dictatorship. 
<p>
State power, as anarchists have always stressed, means the
delegation of power into the hands of a few. This automatically
produces a class division into society -- those with power
and those without. As such, once in power the Bolsheviks were 
isolated from the working class. The Russian Revolution 
confirmed Malatesta's argument that a <i>"government, that is a
group of people entrusted with making laws and empowered to
use the collective power to oblige each individual to obey
them, is already a privileged class and cut off from the
people. As any constituted body would do, it will instinctively
seek to extend its powers, to be beyond public control, to
impose its own policies and to give priority to its special
interests. Having been put in a privileged position, the
government is already at odds with the people whose strength
it disposes of."</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 34] A highly centralised state
such as the Bolsheviks built would reduce accountability
to a minimum while at the same time accelerating the isolation
of the rulers from the ruled. The masses were no longer
a source of inspiration and power, but rather an alien
group whose lack of "discipline" (i.e. ability to follow
orders) placed the revolution in danger. As one Russian
Anarchist argued, 
<blockquote><I>
"The proletariat is being gradually enserfed by the state. The 
people are being transformed into servants over whom there has 
arisen a new class of administrators -- a new class born mainly 
form the womb of the so-called intelligentsia . . . We do not 
mean to say . . . that the Bolshevik party set out to create a 
new class system. But we do say that even the best intentions 
and aspirations must inevitably be smashed against the evils 
inherent in any system of centralised power. The separation of 
management from labour, the division between administrators and 
workers flows logically from centralisation. It cannot be 
otherwise."</i> [<b>The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution</b>, 
pp. 123-4]
</blockquote><p>
For this reason anarchists, while agreeing that there is an 
uneven development of political ideas within the working class, 
reject the idea that "revolutionaries" should take power on 
behalf of working people. Only when working people actually 
run themselves society will a revolution be successful. For
anarchists, this meant that <i>"[e]ffective emancipation can
be achieved only by the <b>direct, widespread, and independent
action . . . of the workers themselves,</b> grouped . . . in
their own class organisations . . . on the basis of 
concrete action and self-government, <b>helped but not
governed,</b> by revolutionaries working in the very midst
of, and not above the mass and the professional, technical,
defence and other branches."</i> [Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 197] By 
substituting party power for workers power, the Russian 
Revolution had made its first fatal step. Little wonder 
that the following prediction (made in November 1917)
made by anarchists in Russia came true:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Once their power is consolidated and 'legalised', the Bolsheviks 
who are . . . men of centralist and authoritarian action will 
begin to rearrange the life of the country and of the people by 
governmental and dictatorial methods, imposed by the centre. 
The[y] . . . will dictate the will of the party to all Russia, 
and command the whole nation. <b>Your Soviets and your other local 
organisations will become little by little, simply executive organs 
of the will of the central government.</b> In the place of health, 
constructive work by the labouring masses, in place of free 
unification from the bottom, we will see the installation of 
an authoritarian and statist apparatus which would act from 
above and set about wiping out everything that stood in its 
way with an iron hand."</i> [quoted by Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 235]
</blockquote><p>
The so-called "workers' state" could not be participatory
or empowering for working class people (as the Marxists 
claimed) simply because state structures are not designed 
for that. Created as instruments of minority rule, they
cannot be transformed into (nor "new" ones created which 
are) a means of liberation for the working classes. As 
Kropotkin put it, Anarchists <i>"maintain that the State 
organisation, having been the force to which minorities 
resorted for establishing and organising their power 
over the masses, cannot be the force which will 
serve to destroy these privileges."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's 
Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 170] In the words of 
an anarchist pamphlet written in 1918:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Bolshevism, day by day and step by step, proves that state
power possesses inalienable characteristics; it can change
its label, its 'theory', and its servitors, but in essence
it merely remains power and despotism in new forms."</i> [quoted
by Paul Avrich, <i>"The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution,"</i>
pp. 341-350, <b>Russian Review</b>, vol. 26, issue no. 4,  p. 347]
</blockquote><p>
For insiders, the Revolution had died a few months after the 
Bolsheviks took over. To the outside world, the Bolsheviks and 
the USSR came to represent "socialism" even as they systematically 
destroyed the basis of real socialism. By transforming the soviets
into state bodies, substituting party power for soviet power, 
undermining the factory committees, eliminating democracy in 
the armed forces and workplaces, repressing the political 
opposition and workers' protests, the Bolsheviks effectively
marginalised the working class from its own revolution. 
Bolshevik ideology and practice were themselves important 
and sometimes decisive factors in the degeneration of the
revolution and the ultimate rise of Stalinism.
<p>
As anarchists had predicted for decades previously, in the
space of a few months, and before the start of the Civil War,
the Bolshevik's "workers' state" had become, like any state, 
an alien power <b>over</b> the working class and an instrument of 
minority rule (in this case, the rule of the party). The Civil 
War accelerated this process and soon party dictatorship was
introduced (indeed, leading Bolsheviks began arguing that it 
was essential in any revolution). The Bolsheviks put down the 
libertarian socialist elements within their country, with the 
crushing of the uprising at Kronstadt and the Makhnovist
movement in the Ukraine being the final nails in the coffin 
of socialism and the subjugation of the soviets. 
<P> 
The Kronstadt uprising of February, 1921, was, for anarchists, of 
immense importance (see <a href="secH5.html">section H.5</a> 
for a full discussion of this 
uprising). The uprising started when the sailors of Kronstadt 
supported the striking workers of Petrograd in February, 1921. 
They raised a 15 point resolution, the first point of which 
was a call for soviet democracy. The Bolsheviks slandered the
Kronstadt rebels as counter-revolutionaries and crushed the
revolt. For anarchists, this was significant as the repression
could not be justified in terms of the Civil War (which had
ended months before) and because it was a major uprising of 
ordinary people for <b><i>real</i></b> socialism. As Voline puts it:
<P><blockquote><i>
"Kronstadt was the first entirely independent attempt of the 
people to liberate themselves of all yokes and carry out the 
Social Revolution: this attempt was made directly . . . by 
the working masses themselves, without political shepherds, 
without leaders or tutors. It was the first step towards the
third and social revolution."</i> [Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
pp. 537-8]
</blockquote><P>
In the Ukraine, anarchist ideas were most successfully applied. 
In areas under the protection of the Makhnovist movement, working 
class people organised their own lives directly, based on their 
own ideas and needs -- true social self-determination. Under the 
leadership of Nestor Makhno, a self-educated peasant, the movement 
not only fought against both Red and White dictatorships but also 
resisted the Ukrainian nationalists. In opposition to the call 
for "national self-determination," i.e. a new Ukrainian state, 
Makhno called instead for working class self-determination in 
the Ukraine and across the world. Makhno inspired his fellow
peasants and workers to fight for real freedom:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Conquer or die -- such is the dilemma that faces the Ukrainian
peasants and workers at this historic moment . . . But we will
not conquer in order to repeat the errors of the past years,
the error of putting our fate into the hands of new masters;
we will conquer in order to take our destinies into our own
hands, to conduct our lives according to our own will and
our own conception of the truth."</i> [quoted by Peter Arshinov,
<b>History of the Makhnovist Movement</b>, p. 58]
</blockquote><p>
To ensure this end, the Makhnovists refused to set up 
governments in the towns and cities they liberated, instead
urging the creation of free soviets so that the working
people could govern themselves. Taking the example of 
Aleksandrovsk, once they had liberated the city the
Makhnovists <i>"immediately invited the working population
to participate in a general conference . . . it was
proposed that the workers organise the life of the city
and the functioning of the factories with their own
forces and their own organisations . . . The first
conference was followed by a second. The problems of
organising life according to principles of self-management
by workers were examined and discussed with animation
by the masses of workers, who all welcomed this ideas
with the greatest enthusiasm . . . Railroad workers
took the first step . . . They formed a committee
charged with organising the railway network of the
region . . . From this point, the proletariat of
Aleksandrovsk began systematically to the problem
of creating organs of self-management."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 149]
<p>
The Makhnovists argued that the <i>"freedom of the workers and 
peasants is their own, and not subject to any restriction. It 
is up to the workers and peasants themselves to act, to 
organise themselves, to agree among themselves in all 
aspects of their lives, as they see fit and desire . . . 
The Makhnovists can do no more that give aid and counsel . . .
In no circumstances can they, nor do they wish to, govern."</i> 
[Peter Arshinov, quoted by Guerin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 99]  
<p>
In Alexandrovsk, the Bolsheviks proposed to the Makhnovists 
spheres of action - their Revkom (Revolutionary Committee) 
would handle political affairs and the Makhnovists military 
ones. Makhno advised them <i>"to go and take up some honest 
trade instead of seeking to impose their will on the  
workers."</i> [Peter Arshinov in <b>The Anarchist Reader</b>, 
p. 141]
<p>
They also organised free agricultural communes which 
<i>"[a]dmittedly . . . were not numerous, and included only
a minority of the population . . .  But what was most
precious was that these communes were formed by the poor 
peasants themselves. The Makhnovists never exerted any
pressure on the peasants, confining themselves to propagating
the idea of free communes."</i> [Arshinov, <b>History of the
Makhnovist Movement</b>, p. 87] Makhno played an 
important role in abolishing the holdings of the landed 
gentry. The local soviet and their district and regional 
congresses equalised the use of the land between all 
sections of the peasant community. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 53-4]
<p>
Moreover, the Makhnovists took the time and energy to involve
the whole population in discussing the development of the
revolution, the activities of the army and social policy. 
They organised numerous conferences of workers', soldiers'
and peasants' delegates to discuss political and social
issues as well as free soviets, unions and communes. They 
organised a regional congress of peasants and workers when 
they had liberated Aleksandrovsk. When the Makhnovists 
tried to convene the third regional congress of peasants, 
workers and insurgents in April 1919 and an extraordinary 
congress of several regions in June 1919 the Bolsheviks
viewed them as counter-revolutionary, tried to ban them 
and declared their organisers and delegates outside the law. 
<p>
The Makhnovists replied by holding the conferences anyway
and asking <i>"[c]an there exist laws made by a few people 
who call themselves revolutionaries, which permit them to
outlaw a whole people who are more revolutionary than they
are themselves?"</i> and <i>"[w]hose interests should the revolution
defend: those of the Party or those of the people who set
the revolution in motion with their blood?"</i> Makhno himself
stated that he <i>"consider[ed] it an inviolable right of the 
workers and peasants, a right won by the revolution, to call 
conferences on their own account, to discuss their affairs."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 103 and p. 129]
<p>
In addition, the Makhnovists <i>"full applied the revolutionary
principles of freedom of speech, of thought, of the press,
and of political association. In all cities and towns
occupied by the Makhnovists, they began by lifting all 
the prohibitions and repealing all the restrictions 
imposed on the press and on political organisations by 
one or another power."</i> Indeed, the <i>"only restriction that 
the Makhnovists considered necessary to impose on the 
Bolsheviks, the left Socialist-Revolutionaries and other
statists was a prohibition on the formation of those
'revolutionary committees' which sought to impose a
dictatorship over the people."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 153 and p. 154]
<p>
The Makhnovists rejected the Bolshevik corruption of the 
soviets and instead proposed <i>"the free and completely 
independent soviet system of working people without 
authorities and their arbitrary laws."</i> Their 
proclamations stated that the <i>"working people 
themselves must freely choose their own soviets, 
which carry out the will and desires of the working  
people themselves, that is to say. ADMINISTRATIVE, 
not ruling soviets."</i> Economically, capitalism would 
be abolished along with the state - the land and 
workshops <i>"must belong to the working people themselves, 
to those who work in them, that is to say, they must be 
socialised."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 271 and p. 273] 
<p>
The army itself, in stark contrast to the Red Army, was
fundamentally democratic (although, of course, the horrific
nature of the civil war did result in a few deviations from
the ideal -- however, compared to the regime imposed on the
Red Army by Trotsky, the Makhnovists were much more democratic 
movement). 
<P>
The anarchist experiment of self-management in the Ukraine came 
to a bloody end when the Bolsheviks turned on the Makhnovists 
(their former allies against the "Whites," or pro-Tsarists) 
when they were no longer needed. This important movement is 
fully discussed in <a href="secH6.html">section H.6</a> 
of our FAQ. However, we must
stress here the one obvious lesson of the Makhnovist movement,
namely that the dictatorial policies pursued by the Bolsheviks
were not imposed on them by objective circumstances. Rather, 
the political ideas of Bolshevism had a clear influence in 
the decisions they made. After all, the Makhnovists were active
in the same Civil War and yet did not pursue the same policies
of party power as the Bolsheviks did. Rather, they successfully 
encouraged working class freedom, democracy and power in 
extremely difficult circumstances (and in the face of strong
Bolshevik opposition to those policies). The received wisdom 
on the left is that there was no alternative open to the 
Bolsheviks. The experience of the Makhnovists disproves this.
What the masses of people, as well as those in power, do and 
think politically is as much part of the process determining 
the outcome of history as are the objective obstacles that 
limit the choices available. Clearly, ideas do matter and, 
as such, the Makhnovists show that there was (and is) a 
practical alternative to Bolshevism -- anarchism. 
<P>
The last anarchist march in Moscow until 1987 took place at the 
funeral of Kropotkin in 1921, when over 10,000 marched behind 
his coffin. They carried black banners declaring <i>"Where there 
is authority, there is no freedom"</i> and <i>"The Liberation of the 
working class is the task of the workers themselves."</i> As the 
procession passed the Butyrki prison, the inmates sang anarchist 
songs and shook the bars of their cells.
<P>
Anarchist opposition within Russia to the Bolshevik regime started
in 1918. They were the first left-wing group to be repressed by the
new "revolutionary" regime. Outside of Russia, anarchists continued
to support the Bolsheviks until news came from anarchist sources
about the repressive nature of the Bolshevik regime (until then,
many had discounted negative reports as being from pro-capitalist
sources). Once these reliable reports came in, anarchists across
the globe rejected Bolshevism and its system of party power and
repression. The experience of Bolshevism confirmed Bakunin's
prediction that Marxism meant <i>"the highly despotic government 
of the masses by a new and very small aristocracy of real or 
pretended scholars. The people are not learned, so they will 
be liberated from the cares of government and included in 
entirety in the governed herd."</i> [<b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, 
pp. 178-9]
<P>
From about 1921 on, anarchists outside of Russia started describing 
the USSR as a <i>"state-capitalist"</i> nation to indicate that although 
individual bosses might have been eliminated, the Soviet state 
bureaucracy played the same role as individual bosses do in the 
West (anarchists <b>within</b> Russia had been calling it that since 
1918). For anarchists, <i>"the Russian revolution . . . is trying 
to reach . . . economic equality . . . this effort has been made 
in Russia under a strongly centralised party dictatorship . . . 
this effort to build a communist republic on the basis of a 
strongly centralised state communism under the iron law of a 
party dictatorship is bound to end in failure. We are learning 
to know in Russia how <b>not</b> to introduce communism."</i> 
[<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 254] 
<P>
For more information on the Russian Revolution and the role 
played by anarchists, see <a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a> 
of the FAQ. <a href="secH5.html">Section H.5</a> 
on the Kronstadt uprising and 
<a href="secH6.html">section H.6</a> on the Makhnovists 
should also be consulted.
<P>
The following books are also recommended: <b>The Unknown Revolution</b> 
by Voline; </b>The Guillotine at Work</b> by G.P. Maximov; <b>The Bolshevik 
Myth</b> and <b>The Russian Tragedy</b>, both by Alexander Berkman; <b>The 
Bolsheviks and Workers Control</b> by M. Brinton; <b>The Kronstadt 
Uprising</b> by Ida Mett; <b>The History of the Makhnovist Movement</b>
by Peter Arshinov. 
<P>
Many of these books were written by anarchists active during 
the revolution, many imprisoned by the Bolsheviks and deported 
to the West due to international pressure exerted by 
anarcho-syndicalist delegates to Moscow who the Bolsheviks 
were trying to win over to Leninism. The majority of such 
delegates stayed true to their libertarian politics and 
convinced their unions to reject Bolshevism and break with 
Moscow. By the early 1920's all the anarcho-syndicalist union 
confederations had joined with the anarchists in rejecting 
the "socialism" in Russia as state capitalism and party 
dictatorship. 
<P>
<A NAME="seca55"><H2>A.5.5 Anarchists in the Italian Factory Occupations</H2>
<P>
After the end of the First World War there was a massive radicalisation 
across Europe and the world. Union membership exploded, with strikes, 
demonstrations and agitation reaching massive levels. This was partly 
due to the war, partly to the apparent success of the Russian Revolution. 
This enthusiasm for the Russian Revolution even reached Individualist
Anarchists like Joseph Labadie, who like many other anti-capitalists, 
saw <i>"the red in the east [giving] hope of a brighter day"</i> and the 
Bolsheviks as making <i>"laudable efforts to at least try some way out 
of the hell of industrial slavery."</i> [quoted by Carlotta R. Anderson, 
<b>All-American Anarchist</b> p. 225 and p. 241]
<P>
Across Europe, anarchist ideas became more popular and anarcho-syndicalist 
unions grew in size. For example, in Britain, the ferment produced the 
shop stewards' movement and the strikes on Clydeside; Germany saw the  
rise of IWW inspired industrial unionism and a libertarian form of 
Marxism called "Council Communism"; Spain saw a massive growth in the 
anarcho-syndicalist CNT. In addition, it also, unfortunately, saw the 
rise and growth of both social democratic and communist parties. Italy 
was no exception.
<P>
In Turin, a new rank-and-file movement was developing. This 
movement was based around the <i>"internal commissions"</i> (elected 
ad hoc grievance committees). These new organisations were 
based directly on the group of people who worked together 
in a particular work shop, with a mandated and recallable 
shop steward elected for each group of 15 to 20 or so 
workers. The assembly of all the shop stewards in a given 
plant then elected the "internal commission" for that 
facility, which was directly and constantly responsible 
to the body of shop stewards, which was called the 
<i>"factory council."</i>
<p>
Between November 1918 and March 1919, the internal commissions
had become a national issue within the trade union movement.
On February 20, 1919, the Italian Federation of Metal Workers 
(FIOM) won a contract providing for the election of "internal 
commissions" in the factories. The workers subsequently tried to 
transform these organs of workers' representation into factory 
councils with a managerial function. By May Day 1919, the
internal commissions <i>"were becoming the dominant force within
the metalworking industry and the unions were in danger of
becoming marginal administrative units. Behind these alarming
developments, in the eyes of reformists, lay the libertarians."</i>
[Carl Levy, <b>Gramsci and the Anarchists</b>, p. 135] By November 
1919 the internal commissions of Turn were transformed into 
factory councils.
<p>
The movement in Turin is usually associated with the weekly 
<b>L'Ordine Nuovo</b> (The New Order), which first appeared on 
May 1, 1919. As Daniel Guerin summarises, it was <i>"edited by 
a left socialist, Antonio Gramsci, assisted by a professor 
of philosophy at Turin University with anarchist ideas, 
writing under the pseudonym of Carlo Petri, and also of a 
whole nucleus of Turin libertarians. In the factories, the 
Ordine Nuovo group was supported by a number of people, 
especially the anarcho-syndicalist militants of the metal 
trades, Pietro Ferrero and Maurizio Garino. The manifesto 
of <b>Ordine Nuovo</b> was signed by socialists and libertarians 
together, agreeing to regard the factory councils as 
'organs suited to future communist management of both
the individual factory and the whole society.'"</i> 
[<b>Anarchism</b>, p. 109] 
<p>
The developments in Turin should not be taken in isolation.
All across Italy, workers and peasants were taking action. 
In late February 1920, a rash of factory occupations
broke out in Liguria, Piedmont and Naples. In Liguria, the
workers occupied the metal and shipbuilding plants in
Sestri Ponente, Cornigliano and Campi after a breakdown
of pay talks. For up to four days, under syndicalist 
leadership, they ran the plants through factory councils.
<p>
During this period the Italian Syndicalist Union (USI) grew 
in size to around 800 000 members and the influence of the 
Italian Anarchist Union (UAI) with its 20 000 members and 
daily paper (<b>Umanita Nova</b>) grew correspondingly. As the 
Welsh Marxist historian Gwyn A. Williams points out <i>"Anarchists 
and revolutionary syndicalists were the most consistently and 
totally revolutionary group on the left . . . the most  
obvious feature of the history of syndicalism and anarchism 
in 1919-20: rapid and virtually continuous growth . . . The 
syndicalists above all captured militant working-class opinion 
which the socialist movement was utterly failing to capture."</i> 
[<b>Proletarian Order</b>, pp. 194-195] In Turin, libertarians
<i>"worked within FIOM"</i> and had been <i>"heavily involved in the
<b>Ordine Nuovo</b> campaign from the beginning."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 195] Unsurprisingly, <b>Ordone Nuovo</b> was denounced as
"syndicalist" by other socialists.
<p>
It was the anarchists and syndicalists who first raised the 
idea of occupying workplaces. Malatesta was discussing 
this idea in <b>Umanita Nova</b> in March, 1920. In his words, 
<i>"General strikes of protest no longer upset anyone . . . One
must seek something else. We put forward an idea: take-over
of factories. . . the method certainly has a future, because
it corresponds to the ultimate ends of the workers' movement
and constitutes an exercise preparing one for the ultimate
act of expropriation."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 134] In the
same month, during <i>"a strong syndicalist campaign to establish
councils in Mila, Armando Borghi [anarchist secretary of the
USI] called for mass factory occupations. In Turin, the
re-election of workshop commissars was just ending in a
two-week orgy of passionate discussion and workers caught
the fever. [Factory Council] Commissars began to call for
occupations."</i> Indeed, <i>"the council movement outside Turin 
was essentially anarcho-syndicalist."</i> Unsurprisingly,
the secretary of the syndicalist metal-workers <i>"urged
support for the Turin councils because they represented
anti-bureaucratic direct action, aimed at control
of the factory and could be the first cells of syndicalist
industrial unions . . . The syndicalist congress voted
to support the councils. . . . Malatesta . . . supported
them as a form of direct action guaranteed to generate
rebelliousness . . . <b>Umanita Nova</b> and <b>Guerra di Classe</b>
[paper of the USI] became almost as committed to the
councils as <b>L'Ordine Nuovo</b> and the Turin edition of
<b>Avanti.</b>"</i> [Williams, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 200, p. 193 and
p. 196]
<p>
The upsurge in militancy soon provoked an employer 
counter-offensive. The bosses organisation denounced 
the factory councils and called for a mobilisation 
against them. Workers were rebelling and refusing 
to follow the bosses orders -- "indiscipline" was
rising in the factories. They won state support for 
the enforcement of the existing industrial regulations. 
The national contract won by the FIOM in 1919 had 
provided that the internal commissions were banned from 
the shop floor and restricted to non-working hours. 
This meant that the activities of the shop stewards'
movement in Turin -- such as stopping work to hold shop 
steward elections -- were in violation of the contract. 
The movement was essentially being maintained through 
mass insubordination. The bosses used this infringement 
of the agreed contract as the means combating the factory 
councils in Turin.
<p>
The showdown with the employers arrived in April, when a 
general assembly of shop stewards at Fiat called for sit-in 
strikes to protest the dismissal of several shop stewards. 
In response the employers declared a general lockout. The 
government supported the lockout with a mass show of force 
and troops occupied the factories and mounted machine guns
posts at them. When the shop stewards movement decided to 
surrender on the immediate issues in dispute after two 
weeks on strike, the employers responded with demands that 
the shop stewards councils be limited to non-working hours, 
in accordance with the FIOM national contract, and that 
managerial control be re-imposed.
<p>
These demands were aimed at the heart of the factory council
system and Turin labour movement responded with a massive 
general strike in defence of it. In Turin, the strike was
total and it soon spread throughout the region of Piedmont 
and involved 500 000 workers at its height. The Turin
strikers called for the strike to be extended nationally
and, being mostly led by socialists, they turned to the
CGL trade union and Socialist Party leaders, who rejected
their call. 
<p>
The only support for the Turin general strike came from 
unions that were mainly under anarcho-syndicalist influence, 
such as the independent railway and the maritime workers 
unions (<i>"The syndicalists were the only ones to move."</i> 
[Williams, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 207]). The railway workers in 
Pisa and Florence refused to transport troops who were 
being sent to Turin. There were strikes all around Genoa, 
among dock workers and in workplaces where the USI was a 
major influence. As Williams notes, <i>"betrayed and abandoned 
by the whole socialist movement,"</i> the April movement <i>"still 
found popular support"</i> with <i>"actions . . . either directly
led or indirectly inspired by anarcho-syndicalists."</i>
In Turin itself, the anarchists and syndicalists were
<i>"threatening to cut the council movement out from
under"</i> Gramsci and the <b>Ordine Nuovo</b> group. 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 193 and p. 194]
<p>
Eventually the CGL leadership settled the strike on terms 
that accepted the employers' main demand for limiting the 
shop stewards' councils to non-working hours. Though the 
councils were now much reduced in activity and shop floor 
presence, they would yet see a resurgence of their position 
during the September factory occupations.
<p>
The anarchists <i>"accused the socialists of betrayal. 
They criticised what they believed was a false sense 
of discipline that had bound socialists to their own 
cowardly leadership. They contrasted the discipline 
that placed every movement under the 'calculations, 
fears, mistakes and possible betrayals of the leaders' 
to the other discipline of the workers of Sestri Ponente 
who struck in solidarity with Turin, the discipline of 
the railway workers who refused to transport security 
forces to Turin and the anarchists and members of the 
Unione Sindacale who forgot considerations of party 
and sect to put themselves at the disposition of the 
Torinesi."</i> [Carl Levy, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 161] Sadly, this 
top-down "discipline" of the socialists and their 
unions would be repeated during the factory 
occupations, with terrible results.
<p>
In September, 1920, there were large-scale stay-in 
strikes in Italy in response to an owner wage cut 
and lockout. <i>"Central to the climate of the crisis 
was the rise of the syndicalists."</i> In mid-August, 
the USI metal-workers <i>"called for both unions to 
occupy the factories"</i> and called for <i>"a preventive 
occupation"</i> against lock-outs. The USI saw this as the
<i>"expropriation of the factories by the metal-workers"</i>
(which must <i>"be defended by all necessary measures"</i>) and
saw the need <i>"to call the workers of other industries
into battle."</i> [Williams, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 236, pp. 238-9] 
Indeed, <i>"[i]f the FIOM had not embraced the syndicalist 
idea of an occupation of factories to counter an employer's 
lockout, the USI may well have won significant support 
from the politically active working class of Turin."</i> 
[Carl Levy, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 129] These strikes began in 
the engineering factories and soon spread to railways, 
road transport, and other industries, with peasants seizing 
land. The strikers, however, did more than just occupy their 
workplaces, they placed them under workers' self-management. 
Soon over 500 000 "strikers" were at work, producing for 
themselves. Errico Malatesta, who took part in these events, 
writes: 
<p><blockquote><i> 
"The metal workers started the movement over wage rates. It was 
a strike of a new kind. Instead of abandoning the factories, the 
idea was to remain inside without working . . . Throughout Italy 
there was a revolutionary fervour among the workers and soon the 
demands changed their characters. Workers thought that the moment 
was ripe to take possession once [and] for all the means of 
production. They armed for defence . . . and began to organise 
production on their own . . . It was the right of property 
abolished in fact . . .; it was a new regime, a new form of 
social life that was being ushered in. And the government 
stood by because it felt impotent to offer opposition."</i> 
[<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 134]
</blockquote><p>
Daniel Guerin provides a good summary of the extent of the movement: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"The management of the factories . . . [was] conducted by technical 
and administrative workers' committees. Self-management went quite a 
long way: in the early period assistance was obtained from the banks, 
but when it was withdrawn the self-management system issued its own 
money to pay the workers' wages. Very strict self-discipline was 
required, the use of alcoholic beverages forbidden, and armed 
patrols were organised for self-defence. Very close solidarity 
was established between the factories under self-management. Ores 
and coal were put into a common pool, and shared out equitably."</i> 
[<b>Anarchism</b>, p. 109]  
</blockquote><p>
Italy was <i>"paralysed, with half a million workers occupying their
factories and raising red and black flags over them."</i> The movement 
spread throughout Italy, not only in the industrial heartland 
around Milan, Turin and Genoa, but also in Rome, Florence,
Naples and Palermo. The <i>"militants of the USI were certainly in
the forefront of the movement,"</i> while <b>Umanita Nova</b> argued that
<i>"the movement is very serious and we must do everything we can
to channel it towards a massive extension."</i> The persistent call
of the USI was for <i>"an extension of the movement to the whole
of industry to institute their 'expropriating general strike.'"</i>
[Williams, <B>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 236 and pp. 243-4] Railway workers, 
influenced by
the libertarians, refused to transport troops, workers went on 
strike against the orders of the reformist unions and 
peasants occupied the land. The anarchists whole-heartedly
supported the movement, unsurprisingly as the <i>"occupation of 
the factories and the land suited perfectly our programme of 
action."</i> [Malatesta, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 135] Luigi Fabbri described
the occupations as having <i>"revealed a power in the proletariat
of which it had been unaware hitherto."</i> [quoted by Paolo
Sprinao, <b>The Occupation of the Factories</b>, p. 134]
<p>
However, after four weeks of occupation, the workers decided to 
leave the factories. This was because of the actions of the 
socialist party and the reformist trade unions. They opposed 
the movement and negotiated with the state for a return to 
"normality" in exchange for a promise to extend workers' 
control legally, in association with the bosses. The question
of revolution was decided by a vote of the CGL national
council in Milan on April 10-11th, without consulting the
syndicalist unions, after the Socialist Party leadership
refused to decide one way or the other. 
<p>
Needless to say, this promise of "workers' control" was not 
kept. The lack of independent inter-factory organisation made 
workers dependent on trade union bureaucrats for information 
on what was going on in other cities, and they used that power 
to isolate factories, cities, and factories from each other. 
This lead to a return to work, <i>"in spite of the opposition of 
individual anarchists dispersed among the factories."</i> 
[Malatesta, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 136] The local syndicalist union 
confederations could not provide the necessary framework 
for a fully co-ordinated occupation movement as the 
reformist unions refused to work with them; and although 
the anarchists were a large minority, they were still a 
minority:
<p><blockquote><i>
"At the 'interproletarian' convention held on 12 September
(in which the Unione Anarchia, the railwaymen's and maritime
workers union participated) the syndicalist union decided
that 'we cannot do it ourselves' without the socialist
party and the CGL, protested against the 'counter-revolutionary
vote' of Milan, declared it minoritarian, arbitrary and
null, and ended by launching new, vague, but ardent calls
to action."</i> [Paolo Spriano, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 94]
</blockquote><p>
Malatesta addressed the workers of one of the factories at Milan. 
He argued that <i>"[t]hose who celebrate the agreement signed at 
Rome [between the Confederazione and the capitalists] as a great 
victory of yours are deceiving you. The victory in reality belongs 
to Giolitti, to the government and the bourgeoisie who are saved 
from the precipice over which they were hanging."</i> During the
occupation the <i>"bourgeoisie trembled, the government was powerless 
to face the situation."</i> Therefore:
<p><blockquote><i>
"To speak of victory when the Roman agreement throws you back under 
bourgeois exploitation which you could have got rid of is a lie. If 
you give up the factories, do this with the conviction [of] hav[ing] 
lost a great battle and with the firm intention to resume the struggle 
on the first occasion and to carry it on in a thorough way. . . 
Nothing is lost if you have no illusion [about] the deceiving 
character of the victory. The famous decree on the control of 
factories is a mockery . . .  because it tends to harmonise your 
interests and those of the bourgeois which is like harmonising 
the interests of the wolf and the sheep. Don't believe those of 
your leaders who make fools of you by adjourning the revolution 
from day to day. You yourselves must make the revolution when 
an occasion will offer itself, without waiting for orders which 
never, come or which come only to enjoin you to abandon action. 
Have confidence in yourselves, have faith in your future and you 
will win."</i> [quoted by Max Nettlau, <b>Errico Malatesta: The 
Biography of an Anarchist</b>]
</blockquote><p>
Malatesta was proven correct. With the end of the occupations,
the only victors were the bourgeoisie and the government. Soon
the workers would face Fascism, but first, in October 1920,
<i>"after the factories were evacuated,"</i> the government (obviously
knowing who the real threat was) <i>"arrested the entire leadership
of the USI and UAI. The socialists did not respond"</i> and 
<i>"more-or-less ignored the persecution of the libertarians
until the spring of 1921 when the aged Malatesta and other
imprisoned anarchists mounted a hunger strike from their
cells in Milan."</i> [Carl Levy, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 221-2] They were
acquitted after a four day trial.
<p>
The events of 1920 show four things. Firstly, that workers can
manage their own workplaces successfully by themselves, without 
bosses. Secondly, on the need for anarchists to be involved in
the labour movement. Without the support of the USI, the Turin
movement would have been even more isolated than it was. Thirdly, 
anarchists need to be organised to influence the class struggle.
The growth of the UAI and USI in terms of both influence and
size indicates the importance of this. Without the anarchists
and syndicalists raising the idea of factory occupations and
supporting the movement, it is doubtful that it would have
been as successful and widespread as it was. Lastly, that
socialist organisation, structured in a hierarchical fashion,
do not produce a revolutionary membership. By continually
looking to leaders, the movement was crippled and could not
develop to its full potential.
<P> 
This period of Italian history explains the growth of Fascism in Italy. As 
Tobias Abse points out, <i>"the rise of fascism in Italy cannot be detached 
from the events of the <b>biennio rosso</b>, the two red years of 1919 and 
1920, that preceded it. Fascism was a preventive counter-revolution . . . launched as a result of the failed revolution"</i> [<i>"The Rise of Fascism in 
an Industrial City"</i>, p. 54, in <b>Rethinking Italian Fascism</b>, David Forgacs 
(ed.), pp. 52-81] The term <i>"preventive counter-revolution"</i> was originally 
coined by the leading anarchist Luigi Fabbri.
<P>
As Malatesta argued at the time of the factory occupations, <i>"[i]f we do  
not carry on to the end, we will pay with tears of blood for the fear we  
now instil in the bourgeoisie."</i> [quoted by Tobias Abse, <b>Op. 
Cit.</b>, p. 66] 
Later events proved him right, as the capitalists and rich landowners 
backed the fascists in order to teach the working class their place. In
the words of Tobias Abse: 
<P><blockquote>
<i>"The aims of the Fascists and their backers amongst the industrialists 
and agrarians in 1921-22 were simple: to break the power of the organised 
workers and peasants as completely as possible, to wipe out, with the 
bullet and the club, not only the gains of the <b>biennio rosso</b>, but 
everything that the lower classes had gained . . . between the turn 
of the century and the outbreak of the First World War."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 54]
</blockquote><P>
The fascist squads attacked and destroyed anarchist and socialist meeting
places, social centres, radical presses and Camera del Lavoro (local trade 
union councils). However, even in the dark days of fascist terror, the 
anarchists resisted the forces of totalitarianism. <i>"It is no coincidence 
that the strongest working-class resistance to Fascism was in . . . towns 
or cities in which there was quite a strong anarchist, syndicalist or 
anarcho-syndicalist tradition."</i> [Tobias Abse, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 56]  
<P> 
The anarchists participated in, and often organised sections of, 
the <b>Arditi del Popolo</b>, a working-class organisation devoted to the 
self-defence of workers' interests. The Arditi del Popolo organised and 
encouraged working-class resistance to fascist squads, often defeating 
larger fascist forces (for example, <i>"the total humiliation of thousands 
of Italo Balbo's squadristi by a couple of hundred Arditi del Popolo 
backed by the inhabitants of the working class districts"</i> in the 
anarchist stronghold of Parma in August 1922 [Tobias Abse, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 56]). 
<P>
The Arditi del Popolo was the closest Italy got to the idea of a 
united, revolutionary working-class front against fascism, as had 
been suggested by Malatesta and the UAI. This movement <i>"developed 
along anti-bourgeois and anti-fascist lines, and was marked by the 
independence of its local sections."</i> [<b>Red Years, Black Years: 
Anarchist Resistance to Fascism in Italy</b>, p. 2] Rather than being 
just an "anti-fascist" organisation, the Arditi <i>"were not a movement 
in defence of 'democracy' in the abstract, but an essentially 
working-class organisation devoted to the defence of the interests 
of industrial workers, the dockers and large numbers of artisans 
and craftsmen."</i> [Tobias Abse, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 75] 
<P>
However, both the socialist and communist parties withdrew from the 
organisation. The socialists signed a "Pact of Pacification" with 
the Fascists in August 1921. The communists <i>"preferred to withdraw 
their members from the Arditi del Popolo rather than let them work 
with the anarchists."</i> [<b>Red Years, Black Years</b>, p. 17] As Abse notes, 
<i>"it was the withdrawal of support by the Socialist and Communist parties 
at the national level that crippled"</i> the Arditi [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 74]. The 
leaders of the authoritarian socialists preferred defeat and fascism 
than risk their followers becoming "infected" by anarchism. Thus <i>"social 
reformist defeatism and communist sectarianism made impossible an armed 
opposition that was widespread and therefore effective; and the isolated 
instances of popular resistance were unable to unite in a successful 
strategy."</i> [<b>Red Years, Black Years</b>, p. 3] 
<P>
In the end, fascist violence was successful and capitalist power 
maintained:
<P><blockquote><i>
"The anarchists' will and courage were not enough to counter the 
fascist gangs, powerfully aided with material and arms, backed by 
the repressive organs of the state. Anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists 
were decisive in some areas and in some industries, but only a similar 
choice of direct action on the parts of the Socialist Party and the 
General Confederation of Labour [the reformist trade union] could 
have halted fascism."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 1-2]
</blockquote><P>
After helping to defeat the revolution, the Marxists helped ensure the 
victory of fascism.
<P>
Even after the fascist state was created, anarchists resisted both 
inside and outside Italy. Many Italians, both anarchist and non-anarchist, 
travelled to Spain to resist Franco in 1936 (see Umberto Marzochhi's 
<b>Remembering Spain: Italian Anarchist Volunteers in the Spanish Civil
War</b> for details). During the Second World War, anarchists played a 
major part in the Italian Partisan movement. It was the fact that the 
anti-fascist movement was dominated by anti-capitalist elements that 
led the USA and the UK to place known fascists in governmental positions 
in the places they "liberated" (often where the town had already been 
taken by the Partisans, resulting in the Allied troops "liberating" 
the town from its own inhabitants!). 
<P>
Given this history of resisting fascism in Italy, it is surprising 
that some claim Italian fascism was a product or form of syndicalism. 
This is even claimed by some anarchists. According to Bob Black the 
<i>"Italian syndicalists mostly went over to Fascism"</i> and references 
David D. Roberts 1979 study <b>The Syndicalist Tradition and Italian 
Fascism</b> to support his claim [<b>Anarchy after Leftism</b>, p. 64]. 
Peter Sabatini in a review in <b>Social Anarchism</b> makes a similar statement, 
saying that syndicalism's <i>"ultimate failure"</i> was <i>"its transformation 
into a vehicle of fascism."</i> [<b>Social Anarchism</b>, no. 23, p. 99] What 
is the truth behind these claims?
<P>
Looking at Black's reference we discover that, in fact, most of the 
Italian syndicalists did not go over to fascism, if by syndicalists 
we mean members of the USI (the Italian Syndicalist Union). Roberts 
states that:
<P><blockquote><i>
"The vast majority of the organised workers failed to respond 
to the syndicalists' appeals and continued to oppose [Italian] 
intervention [in the First World War], shunning what seemed to 
be a futile capitalist war. The syndicalists failed to convince 
even a majority within the USI . . . the majority opted for the 
neutralism of Armando Borghi, leader of the anarchists within 
the USI. Schism followed as De Ambris led the interventionist 
minority out of the confederation."</i> [<b>The Syndicalist Tradition 
and Italian Fascism</b>,  p. 113]
</blockquote><P>
However, if we take "syndicalist" to mean some of the intellectuals 
and "leaders" of the pre-war movement, it was a case that the <i>"leading 
syndicalists came out for intervention quickly and almost unanimously"</i> 
[Roberts, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 106] after the First World War started. Many 
of these pro-war "leading syndicalists" did become fascists. However,
to concentrate on a handful of "leaders" (which the majority did 
not even follow!) and state that this shows that the <i>"Italian 
syndicalists mostly went over to Fascism"</i> staggers belief. What is 
even worse, as seen above, the Italian anarchists and syndicalists 
were the most dedicated and successful fighters against fascism. In 
effect, Black and Sabatini have slandered a whole movement.
<P>
What is also interesting is that these "leading syndicalists" were 
not anarchists and so not anarcho-syndicalists. As Roberts notes the 
<i>"syndicalists genuinely desired -- and tried -- to work within the 
Marxist tradition."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 79] According to Carl Levy, in his 
account of Italian anarchism, <i>"[u]nlike other syndicalist movements, 
the Italian variation coalesced inside a Second International party. 
Supporter were partially drawn from socialist intransigents . . . 
the southern syndicalist intellectuals pronounced republicanism . . . 
Another component . . . was the remnant of the Partito Operaio."</i> 
[<i>"Italian Anarchism: 1870-1926"</i> in <b>For Anarchism: History, Theory, 
and Practice</b>, David Goodway (Ed.), p. 51] 
<P>
In other words, the Italian syndicalists who turned to fascism were, 
firstly, a small minority of intellectuals who could not convince the 
majority within the syndicalist union to follow them, and, secondly, 
Marxists and republicans rather than anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists 
or even revolutionary syndicalists. 
<P>
According to Carl Levy, Roberts' book <i>"concentrates on the syndicalist intelligentsia"</i> and that <i>"some syndicalist intellectuals . . . helped 
generate, or sympathetically endorsed, the new Nationalist movement . . . 
which bore similarities to the populist and republican rhetoric of the 
southern syndicalist intellectuals."</i> He argues that there <i>"has been far 
too much emphasis on syndicalist intellectuals and national organisers"</i> 
and that syndicalism <i>"relied little on its national leadership for its 
long-term vitality."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 77, p. 53 and p. 51] If we do look 
at the membership of the USI, rather than finding a group which "mostly 
went over to fascism," we discover a group of people who fought fascism 
tooth and nail and were subject to extensive fascist violence. 
<P>
To summarise, Italian Fascism had nothing to do with syndicalism 
and, as seen above, the USI fought the Fascists and was destroyed 
by them along with the UAI, Socialist Party and other radicals. That
a handful of pre-war Marxist-syndicalists later became Fascists and 
called for a "National-Syndicalism" does not mean that syndicalism 
and fascism are related (any more than some anarchists latter becoming 
Marxists makes anarchism "a vehicle" for Marxism!).
<P>
It is hardly surprising that anarchists were the most consistent and 
successful opponents of Fascism. The two movements could not be further 
apart, one standing for total statism in the service of capitalism while 
the other for a free, non-capitalist society. Neither is it surprising 
that when their privileges and power were in danger, the capitalists and 
the landowners turned to fascism to save them. This process is a common 
feature in history (to list just four examples, Italy, Germany, Spain 
and Chile). 
<P>
<A NAME="seca56"><H2>A.5.6 Anarchism and the Spanish Revolution.</H2>
<P>
Spain in the 1930's had the largest anarchist movement in the world. At the start of the Spanish "Civil" war, over one and one half million workers and peasants were members of the CNT (the <B><I>National Confederation of Labour</B></I>), an anarcho-syndicalist union federation, and 30,000 were members of the FAI (the <B><I>Anarchist Federation of Iberia</B></I>). The total population of Spain at this time was 24 million.
<P>
The social revolution which met the Fascist coup on July 18th, 1936, is the greatest experiment in libertarian socialism to date. Here the last mass syndicalist union, the CNT, not only held off the fascist rising but encouraged the widespread take-over of land and factories. Over seven million people, including about two million CNT members, put self-management into practise in the most difficult of circumstances and actually improved both working conditions and output. 
<P>
In the heady days after the 19th of July, the initiative and power truly rested in the hands of the rank-and-file members of the CNT and FAI. It was ordinary people, undoubtedly under the influence of Faistas (members of the FAI) and CNT militants, who, after defeating the fascist uprising, got production, distribution and consumption started again (under more egalitarian arrangements, of course), as well as organising and volunteering (in their tens of thousands) to join the militias, which were to be sent to free those parts of Spain that were under Franco. In every possible way the working class of Spain were creating by their own actions a new world based on their own ideas of social justice and freedom -- ideas inspired, of course, by anarchism and anarchosyndicalism.
<P>
George Orwell's eye-witness account of revolutionary Barcelona in late December, 1936, gives a vivid picture of the social transformation that had begun:
<p>
<I><BLOCKQUOTE>"The Anarchists were still in virtual control of Catalonia and the revolution was still in full swing. To anyone who had been there since the beginning it probably seemed even in December or January that the revolutionary period was ending; but when one came straight from England the aspect of Barcelona was something startling and overwhelming. It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle. Practically every building of any size had been seized by the workers and was draped with red flags or with the red and black flag of the Anarchists; every wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle and with the initials of the revolutionary parties; almost every church had been gutted and its images burnt. Churches here and there were being systematically demolished by gangs of workman. Every shop and cafe had an inscription saying that it had been collectivised; even the bootblacks had been collectivised and their boxes painted red and black. Waiters and shop-walkers looked you in the face and treated you as an equal. Servile and even ceremonial forms of speech had temporarily disappeared. Nobody said 'Se&ntilde;or' or 'Don' or even 'Usted'; everyone called everyone else 'Comrade' or 'Thou', and said 'Salud!' instead of 'Buenos dias'. . . Above all, there was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom. Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine."</I> [<B>Homage to Catalonia</B>, pp. 2-3] </BLOCKQUOTE>
<P>
The full extent of this historic revolution cannot be covered here. It will be discussed in more detail in <A HREF="secI8.html">Section I.8</A> of the FAQ. All that can be done is to highlight a few points of special interest in the hope that these will give some indication of the importance of these events and encourage people to find out more about it. 
<P>
All industry in Catalonia was placed either under workers' self-management <B>or</B> workers' control (that is, either totally taking over <B>all</B> aspects of management, in the first case, or, in the second, controlling the old management). In some cases, whole town and regional economies were transformed into federations of collectives. The example of the Railway Federation (which was set up to manage the railway lines in Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia) can be given as a typical example. The base of the federation was the local assemblies: <P>
<I><BLOCKQUOTE>"All the workers of each locality would meet twice a week to examine all that pertained to the work to be done... The local general assembly named a committee to manage the general activity in each station and its annexes. At [these] meetings, the decisions (direccion) of this committee, whose members continued to work [at their previous jobs], would be subjected to the approval or disapproval of the workers, after giving reports and answering questions." </BLOCKQUOTE>
</I>
<P>The delegates on the committee could be removed by an assembly at any time and the highest co-ordinating body of the Railway Federation was the <B><I>"Revolutionary Committee,"</B></I> whose members were elected by union assemblies in the various divisions. The control over the rail lines, according to Gaston Leval, <I>"did not operate from above downwards, as in a statist and centralised system. The Revolutionary Committee had no such powers. . . The members of the. . . committee being content to supervise the general activity and to co-ordinate that of the different routes that made up the network."</I> [Gaston Leval, <B>Collectives in the Spanish Revolution</B>, p. 255]
<P>
On the land, tens of thousands of peasants and rural day workers created voluntary, self-managed collectives. The quality of life improved as Cupertino allowed the introduction of health care, education, machinery and investment in the social infrastructure. As well as increasing production, the collectives increased freedom. As one member puts it, <I>"it was marvelous. . . to live in a collective, a free society where one could say what one thought, where if the village committee seemed unsatisfactory one could say. The committee took no big decisions without calling the whole village together in a general assembly. All this was wonderful."</I> [Ronald Fraser, <B>Blood of Spain</B>, p. 360] 
<P>
How the industrial collectives are discussed in more detail
in sections <a href="secI8.html#seci83">I.8.3</a> and 
<a href="secI8.html#seci84">I.8.4</a>. The rural collectives are 
discussed in sections <a href="secI8.html#seci85">I.8.5</a> and 
<a href="secI8.html#seci86">I.8.6</a>. We must stress
that these sections are summaries of a vast social movement,
and more information can be gathered from such works
as Gaston Leval's <b>Collectives in the Spanish Revolution</b>,
Sam Dolfgoff's <b>The Anarchist Collectives</b>, Jose Peirats'
<b>The CNT in the Spanish Revolution</b> and a host of other
anarchist accounts of the revolution.
<p>
On the social front, anarchist organisations created rational schools, 
a libertarian health service, social centres, and so on. The 
<b><i>Mujeres Libres</i></b> (free women) combated the traditional role of women in Spanish society, empowering thousands both inside and outside the anarchist movement (see <B>The Free Women of Spain</B> by Martha A. Ackelsberg for more information on this very important organisation). This activity on the social front only built on the work started long before the outbreak of the war; for example, the unions often funded rational schools, workers centres, and so on.
<P>
The voluntary militias that went to free the rest of Spain from Franco were organised on anarchist principles and included both men and women. There was no rank, no saluting and no officer class. Everybody was equal. George Orwell, a member of the POUM militia, makes this clear: 
<P>
<I><BLOCKQUOTE>"The essential point of the [militia] system was the social equality between officers and men. Everyone from general to private drew the same pay, ate the same food, wore the same clothes, and mingled on terms of complete equality. If you wanted to slap the general commanding the division on the back and ask him for a cigarette, you could do so, and no one thought it curious. In theory at any rate each militia was a democracy and not a hierarchy. It was understood that orders had to be obeyed, but it was also understood that when you gave an order you gave it as comrade to comrade and not as superior to inferior. There were officers and N.C.O.s, but there was no military rank in the ordinary sense; no titles, no badges, no heel-clicking and saluting. They had attempted to produce within the militias a sort of temporary working model of the classless society. Of course there was not perfect equality, but there was a nearer approach to it than I had ever seen or that I would have though conceivable in time of war. . . "</I> [<B>Op. Cit.</B>, p. 26] 
</BLOCKQUOTE>
<P>
In Spain, however, as elsewhere, the anarchist movement was smashed 
between Stalinism (the Communist Party) and Capitalism (Franco) on 
the other. Unfortunately, the anarchists placed anti-fascist unity 
before the revolution, thus helping their enemies to defeat both 
them and the revolution. Whether they were forced by circumstances 
into this position or could have avoided it is still being debated 
(see <a href="secI8.html#seci810">section I.8.10</a> 
for a discussion of why the CNT-FAI collaborated and 
<a href="secI8.html#seci811">section I.8.11</a>
on why this decision was <b>not</b> a product of anarchist theory). 
<P>
Orwell's account of his experiences in the militia's indicates why the Spanish Revolution is so important to anarchists: 
<P>
<I><BLOCKQUOTE>
"I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilised life -- snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc. -- had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class- division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master. . . One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word 'comrade' stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. One had breathed the air of equality. I am well aware that it is now the fashion to deny that Socialism has anything to do with equality. In every country in the world a huge tribe of party-hacks and sleek little professors are busy 'proving' that Socialism means no more than a planned state-capitalism with the grab-motive left intact. But fortunately there also exists a vision of Socialism quite different from this. The thing that attracts ordinary men to Socialism and makes them willing to risk their skins for it, the 'mystique' of Socialism, is the idea of equality; to the vast majority of people Socialism means a classless society, or it means nothing at all . . . In that community where no one was on the make, where there was a shortage of everything but no boot-licking, one got, perhaps, a crude forecast of what the opening stages of Socialism might be like. And, after all, instead of disillusioning me it deeply attracted me. . ."</I> [<B>Op. Cit.</B>, pp. 83-84]
</BLOCKQUOTE>
<P>
For more information on the Spanish Revolution, the following books 
are recommended: <B>Lessons of the Spanish Revolution</B> by Vernon 
Richards; <B>Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution</B> and <b>The CNT 
in the Spanish Revolution</b> by Jose Peirats; <B>Free Women of 
Spain</B> by Martha A. Ackelsberg; <B>The Anarchist Collectives</B> 
edited by Sam Dolgoff; <I>"Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship"</I> 
by Noam Chomsky (in <B>The Chomsky Reader</B>); <B>The Anarchists 
of Casas Viejas</B> by Jerome R. Mintz; and <B>Homage to 
Catalonia</B> by George Orwell.
<P>
<A NAME="seca57"><H2>A.5.7 The May-June Revolt in France, 1968.</H2>
<P>
The May-June events in France placed anarchism back on the radical landscape after a period in which many people had written the movement off as dead. This revolt of ten million people grew from humble beginnings. Expelled by the university authorities of Nanterre in Paris for anti-Vietnam War activity, a group of anarchists (including Daniel Cohn-Bendit) promptly called a protest demonstration. The arrival of 80 police enraged many students, who quit their studies to join the battle and drive the police from the university.
<P>
Inspired by this support, the anarchists seized the administration building and held a mass debate. The occupation spread, Nanterre was surrounded by police, and the authorities closed the university down. The next day, the Nanterre students gathered at the Sorbonne University in the centre of Paris. Continual police pressure and the arrest of over 500 people caused anger to erupt into five hours of street fighting. The police even attacked passers-by with clubs and tear gas.
<P>
A total ban on demonstrations and the closure of the Sorbonne brought thousands of students out onto the streets. Increasing police violence provoked the building of the first barricades. Jean Jacques Lebel, a reporter, wrote that by 1 a.m., <I>"[l]iterally thousands helped build barricades. . . women, workers, bystanders, people in pyjamas, human chains to carry rocks, wood, iron."</I> An entire night of fighting left 350 police injured. On May 7th, a 50,000-strong protest march against the police was transformed into a day-long battle through the narrow streets of the Latin Quarter. Police tear gas was answered by molotov cocktails and the chant <I>"Long Live the Paris Commune!"</I>
<P>
By May 10th, continuing massive demonstrations forced the Education Minister to start negotiations. But in the streets, 60 barricades had appeared and young workers were joining the students. The trade unions condemned the police violence. Huge demonstrations throughout France culminated on May 13th with one million people on the streets of Paris.
<P>
Faced with this massive protest, the police left the Latin Quarter. Students seized the Sorbonne and created a mass assembly to spread the struggle. Occupations soon spread to every French University. From the Sorbonne came a flood of propaganda, leaflets, proclamations, telegrams, and posters. Slogans such as "<B><I>Everything is Possible,"</B></I> <B><I>"Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible,"</B></I> <B><I>"Life without Dead Times,"</B></I> and <B><I>"It is Forbidden to Forbid"</B></I> plastered the walls. <B><I>"All Power to the Imagination"</B></I> was on everyone's lips. As Murray Bookchin pointed out, <I>"the motive forces of revolution today. . . are not simply scarcity and material need, but also <B>quality of everyday life,.. the attempt to gain control of one's own destiny</B>." </I>[<B>Post-Scarcity Anarchism</B>, pp. 249-250]
<p>
Many of the most famous slogans of those days originated from
the Situationists. The <b>Situationist International</b> had been
formed in 1957 by a small group of dissident radicals and
artists. They had developed a highly sophisticated (if jargon
riddled) and coherent analysis of modern capitalist society 
and how to supersede it with a new, freer one. Modern life,
they argued, was mere survival rather than living, dominated
by the economy of consumption in which everyone, everything,
every emotion and relationship becomes a commodity. People
were no longer simply alienated producers, they were also
alienated consumers. They defined this kind of society
as the <i><b>"Spectacle."</b></i> Life itself had been stolen and so
revolution meant recreating life. The area of revolutionary
change was no longer just the workplace, but in everyday
existence:
<p><blockquote><I>
"People who talk about revolution and class struggle
without referring explicitly to everyday life,
without understanding what is subversive about love
and what is positive in the refusal of constraints,
such people have a corpse in their mouth."</i> [quoted by
Clifford Harper, <b>Anarchy: A Graphic Guide</b>, p. 153]
</blockquote><p>
Like many other groups whose politics influenced the Paris
events, the situationists argued that <i>"the workers' councils
are the only answer. Every other form of revolutionary
struggle has ended up with the very opposite of what it
was originally looking for."</i> [quoted by Clifford Harper,
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 149] These councils would be self-managed
and not be the means by which a "revolutionary" party
would take power. Like the anarchists of <b>Noire et Rouge</b>
and the libertarian socialists of <b>Socialisme ou Barbarie</b>,
their support for a self-managed revolution from below had
a massive influence in the May events and the ideas that
inspired it.
<P>
On May 14th, the Sud-Aviation workers locked the management in its offices and occupied their factory. They were followed by the Cleon-Renault, Lockhead-Beauvais and Mucel-Orleans factories the next day. That night the National Theatre in Paris was seized to become a permanent assembly for mass debate. Next, France's largest factory, Renault-Billancourt, was occupied. Often the decision to go on indefinite strike was taken by the workers without consulting union officials. By May 17th, a hundred Paris Factories were in the hands of their workers. The weekend of the 19th of May saw 122 factories occupied. By May 20th, the strike and occupations were general and involved six million people. Print workers said they did not wish to leave a monopoly of media coverage to TV and radio, and agreed to print newspapers as long as the press <i>"carries out with objectivity the role of providing information which is its duty."</i> In some cases print-workers insisted on changes in headlines or articles before they would print the paper. This happened mostly with the right-wing papers such as <B><I>'Le Figaro'</B></I> or <B><I>'La Nation'</B></I>.
<P>
With the Renault occupation, the Sorbonne occupiers immediately prepared to join the Renault strikers, and led by anarchist black and red banners, 4,000 students headed for the occupied factory. The state, bosses, unions and Communist Party were now faced with their greatest nightmare -- a worker-student alliance. Ten thousand police reservists were called up and frantic union officials locked the factory gates. The Communist Party urged their members to crush the revolt. They united with the government and bosses to craft a series of reforms, but once they turned to the factories they were jeered out of them by the workers.
<P>
The struggle itself and the activity to spread it was organised by self-governing mass assemblies and co-ordinated by action committees. The strikes were often run by assemblies as well. As Murray Bookchin argues, the <I>"hope [of the revolt] lay in the extension of self-management in all its forms -- the general assemblies and their administrative forms, the action committees, the factory strike committees -- to all areas of the economy, indeed to all areas of life itself"</I> [<B>Op. Cit.</B>, pp. 251-252]. Within the assemblies, <I>"a fever of life gripped millions, a rewaking of senses that people never thought they possessed"</I> [<B>Op. Cit.</B>, p. 251]. It was not a workers' strike or a student strike. It was a <B>peoples'</B> strike that cut across almost all class lines.
<P>
On May 24th, anarchists organised a demonstration. Thirty thousand marched towards the Palace de la Bastille. The police had the Ministries protected, using the usual devices of tear gas and batons, but the Bourse (Stock Exchange) was left unprotected and a number of demonstrators set fire to it.
<P>
It was at this stage that some left-wing groups lost their nerve. The Trotskyist JCR turned people back into the Latin Quarter. Other groups such as UNEF and Parti Socialiste Unife (United Socialist Party) blocked the taking of the Ministries of Finance and Justice. Cohn-Bendit said of this incident <I>"As for us, we failed to realise how easy it would have been to sweep all these nobodies away. . . .It is now clear that if, on 25 May, Paris had woken to find the most important Ministries occupied, Gaullism would have caved in at once. . . . "</I> Cohn-Bendit was forced into exile later that very night.
<P>
As the street demonstrations grew and occupations continued, the state prepared to use overwhelming means to stop the revolt. Secretly, top generals readied 20,000 loyal troops for use on Paris. Police occupied communications centres like TV stations and Post Offices. By Monday, May 27th, the Government had guaranteed an increase of 35% in the industrial minimum wage and an all round-wage increase of 10%. The leaders of the CGT organised a march of 500,000 workers through the streets of Paris two days later. Paris was covered in posters calling for a <I>"Government of the People."</I> Unfortunately the majority still thought in terms of changing their rulers rather than taking control for themselves. 
<P>
By June 5th most of the strikes were over and an air of what passes for normality within capitalism had rolled back over France. Any strikes which continued after this date were crushed in a military-style operation using armoured vehicles and guns. On June 7th, they made an assault on the Flins steelworks which started a four-day running battle which left one worker dead. Three days latter, Renault strikers were gunned down by police, killing two. In isolation, those pockets of militancy stood no chance. On June 12th, demonstrations were banned, radical groups outlawed, and their members arrested. Under attack from all sides, with escalating state violence and trade union sell-outs, the General Strike and occupations crumbled.
<P>
So why did this revolt fail? Certainly not because "vanguard" Bolshevik parties were missing. It was infested with them. Fortunately, the traditional authoritarian left sects were isolated and outraged. Those involved in the revolt did not require a vanguard to tell them what to do, and the "workers' vanguards" frantically ran after the movement trying to catch up with it and control it.
<P>
No, it was the lack of independent, self-managed confederal organisations to co-ordinate struggle which resulted in occupations being isolated from each other. So divided, they fell. In addition, Murray Bookchin argues that <I>"an awareness among the workers that the factories had to be <B>worked</B>, not merely occupied or struck,"</I> was missing [<B>Op. Cit.</B>, p. 269].
<P>
This awareness would have been encouraged by the existence of a strong anarchist movement before the revolt. The anti-authoritarian left, though very active, was too weak among striking workers, and so the idea of self-managed organisations and workers self-management was not widespread. However, the May-June revolt shows that events can change very rapidly. The working class, fused by the energy and bravado of the students, raised demands that could not be catered for within the confines of the existing system. The General Strike displays with beautiful clarity the potential power that lies in the hands of the working class. The mass assemblies and occupations give an excellent, if short-lived, example of anarchy in action and how anarchist ideas can quickly spread and be applied in practice.
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