File: secH1.html

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anarchism 9.5-1
  • links: PTS
  • area: main
  • in suites: woody
  • size: 12,192 kB
  • ctags: 493
  • sloc: makefile: 40; sh: 8
file content (3628 lines) | stat: -rw-r--r-- 194,793 bytes parent folder | download
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<html>
<head>
<title>H.1 Have anarchists always opposed state socialism?

</title>
</head>
<H1>H.1 Have anarchists always opposed state socialism?
</H1>
<p>
Yes. Anarchists have always argued that real socialism cannot be
created using a state. The basic core of the argument is simple.
Socialism implies equality, yet the state signifies inequality --
inequality in terms of power. As we argued in 
<a href="secB2.html">section B.2</a>, anarchists
consider one of the defining aspects of the state is its hierarchical
nature. In other words, the delegation of <b>power</b> into the hands of
a few. As such, it violates the core idea of socialism, namely
social equality. Those who make up the governing bodies in a state 
have more power than those who have elected them. 
<p>
Hence these comments by Malatesta and Hamon:
<p><blockquote><i>
"It could be argued with much more reason that we are the most
logical and most complete socialists, since we demand for every
person not just his [or her] entire measure of the wealth of
society but also his [or her] portion of social power."</i> [<b>No Gods,
No Masters</b>, vol. 2, p. 20]
</blockquote><p>
It is with this perspective that anarchists have combated the idea
of state socialism and Marxism (although we should stress that
libertarian forms of Marxism, such as council communism, have
strong similarities to anarchism). This opposition to authoritarian
socialism is a core aspect of anarchism, an opposition which has
been consistent and strong. While it is sometimes argued by some 
on the right that libertarian socialists and anarchists only 
started voicing their opposition to Marxism and Leninism after 
the Soviet Union collapsed, the truth is totally different. 
Anarchists, we must stress, have been opposed to all forms of 
state socialism from the start (in the case of the Russian
Revolution, the anarchists were amongst the first on the left
to be suppressed by the Bolsheviks). Indeed, the history of Marxism 
is, in part, a history of its struggles against anarchists just
as the history of anarchism is also, in part, a history of its
struggle against the various forms of Marxism and its offshoots.
To state, or imply, that anarchists have only lately opposed
Marxism is false -- we have been arguing against Marxism since
the start. 
<p>
While both Stirner and Proudhon wrote many pages against the
evils and contradictions of state socialism, anarchists have
only really been fighting the Marxist form of state socialism
since Bakunin. This is because, until the First International,
Marx and Engels were relatively unknown socialist thinkers.
Proudhon was aware of Marx (they had meant in France in the
1840s and had corresponded) but Marxism was unknown in France
during his life time and so Proudhon did not directly argue
against Marxism (he did, however, critique Louis Blanc and
other French state socialists). Similarly, when Stirner wrote
<b>The Ego and Its Own</b> Marxism did not exist bar a few works
by Marx and Engels. Indeed, it could be argued that Marxism
finally took shape after Marx had read Stirner's classic and
produced his notoriously inaccurate diatribe <b>The German
Ideology</b> against him. However, like Proudhon, Stirner 
attacked <b>other</b> state socialists and communists.
<p>
Before discussing Bakunin's opposition and critique of Marxism
in the <a href="secH1.html#sech11">next section</a>, 
we should consider the thoughts of
Stirner and Proudhon on state socialism. These critiques contain
may important ideas and so are worth summarising. However, 
it is worth noting that when both Stirner and Proudhon were 
writing communist ideas were all authoritarian in nature.
Libertarian communism only developed after Bakunin's death in
1876. This means that when Proudhon and Stirner were critiquing
"communism" they were attacking a specific form of communism,
the form which subordinated the individual to the community.
Anarchist communists like Kropotkin and Malatesta also opposed
such kinds of "communism" (as Kropotkin put it, <i>"before and in 
1848"</i> communism <i>"was put forward in such a shape as to fully
account for Proudhon's distrust as to its effect upon liberty.
The old idea of Communism was the idea of monastic communities
. . . The last vestiges of liberty and of individual energy
would be destroyed, if humanity ever had to go through
such a communism."</i> [<b>Act for Yourselves</b>, p. 98]). Of course,
it may be likely that Stirner and Proudhon would have rejected
libertarian communism as well, but bear in mind that not all
forms of "communism" are identical.
<p>
For Stirner, the key issue was that communism (or socialism),
like liberalism, looked to the <i>"human"</i> rather than the unique.
<i>"To be looked upon as a mere <b>part</b>, part of society,"</i> 
asserted
Striner, <i>"the individual cannot bear -- because he is <b>more</b>;
his uniqueness puts from it this limited conception."</i> [<b>The
Ego and Its Own</b>, p. 265] As such, his protest against
communism was similar to his protest against liberalism 
(indeed, he drew attention to their similarity by calling
socialism and communism <i>"social liberalism"</i>).
<p>
Stirner was aware that capitalism was not the great defender
of freedom it was claimed to be by its supporters. <i>"Restless
acquisition,"</i> he argued, <i>"does not let us take breath, take
a claim <b>enjoyment</b>: we do not get the comfort of our
possessions."</i> Communism, by the <i>"organisation of labour,"</i>
can <i>"bear its fruit"</i> so that <i>"we come to an agreement about
<b>human</b> labours, that they may not, as under competition,
claim all our time and toil."</i> However, communism <i>"is silent"</i>
over <i>"for whom is time to be gained."</i> He, in contrast, stresses 
that it is for the individual, <i>"[t]o take comfort in himself as 
the unique."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 268-9] Thus state socialism does 
not recognise that the purpose of association is to free the 
individual and instead subjects the individual to a new 
tyranny:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"it is not another State (such as a 'people's State') that
men aim at, but their <b>union,</b> uniting, this ever-fluid
uniting of everything standing -- A State exists even
without my co-operation . . . the independent establishment
of the State founds my lack of independence; its condition
as a 'natural growth,' its organism, demands that my nature
do not grow freely, but be cut to fit it."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 224]
</blockquote><p>
Similarly, Stirner argued that <i>"Communism, by the abolition 
of all personal property, only presses me back still more 
into dependence on another, to wit, on the generality or
collectivity . . . [which is] a condition hindering my free
movement, a sovereign power over me. Communism rightly revolts
against the pressure that I experience from individual proprietors;
but still more horrible is the might that it puts in the hands of
the collectivity."</i> [<b>The Ego and Its Own</b>, p. 257]
<p>
History has definitely confirmed this. By nationalising property,
the various state socialist regimes turned the worker from a 
servant of the capitalist into a serf of the state. In contrast, 
communist-anarchists argue for free association and workers' 
self-management as the means of ensuring that socialised 
property does not turn into the denial of freedom rather 
than as a means of ensuring it. As such, Stirner's attack
on what Marx termed <i>"vulgar communism"</i> is still important
and finds echoes in communist-anarchist writings as well as
the best works of Marx and his more libertarian followers.
<p>
To show the difference between the "communism" Stirner attacked
and anarchist-communism, we can show that Kropotkin was not 
"silent" on why organising production is essential. Like 
Stirner, he thought that under libertarian communism the 
individual would <i>"discharge his [or her] task in the field, 
the factory, and so on, which he owes to society as his 
contribution to the general production. And he will employ 
the second half of his day, his week, or his year, to 
satisfy his artistic or scientific needs, or his hobbies."</i> 
[<b>Conquest of Bread</b>, p. 111] In other words, he considered 
the whole point of organising labour as the means of providing 
the individual the time and resources required to express 
their individuality. As such, anarcho-communism incorporates
Stirner's legitimate concerns and arguments.
<p>
Similar arguments to Stirner's can be found in Proudhon's 
works against the various schemes of state socialism that 
existing in France in the middle of the nineteenth century. 
He particularly attacked the ideas of Louis Blanc. Blanc, 
whose most famous book was <b>Organisation du Travail</b> 
(<b>Organisation of Work</b>, published in 1840) argued that 
social ills could be solved by means of government initiated 
and financed reforms. More specifically, he argued that it was
<i>"necessary to use the whole power of the state"</i> to ensure the
creation and success of workers' associations (or <i>"social 
workshops"</i>). Since that <i>"which the proletarians lack to free 
themselves are the tools of labour,"</i> the government <i>"must 
furnish them"</i> with these. <i>"The state,"</i> in short, 
<i>"should place
itself resolutely at the head of industry."</i> Capitalists would
be encouraged to invest money in these workshops, for which
they would be guaranteed interest. Such state-initiated workshops
would soon force privately owned industry to change itself
into social workshops, so eliminating competition. [quoted by 
K. Steven Vincent, <b>Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the Rise
of French Republican Socialism</b>, p. 139]
<p>
Proudhon objected to this scheme on many levels. Firstly, he
argued that Blanc's scheme appealed <i>"to the state for its silent
partnership; that is, he gets down on his knees before the
capitalists and recognises the sovereignty of monopoly."</i>
Given that Proudhon saw the state as an instrument of the
capitalist class, asking that state to abolish capitalism
was illogical and impossible. Moreover, by getting the funds
for the "social workshop" from capitalists, Blanc's scheme
was hardly undermining their power. <i>"Capital and power,"</i>
Proudhon argued, <i>"secondary organs of society, are always
the gods whom socialism adores; if capital and power did
not exist, it would invent them."</i> [quoted by Vincent,
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 157] He stressed the authoritarian nature of
Blanc's scheme:
<p><blockquote><i>
"M. Blanc is never tired of appealing to authority, and 
socialism loudly declares itself anarchistic; M. Blanc 
places power above society, and socialism tends to 
subordinate it to society; M. Blanc makes social life 
descend from above, and socialism maintains that it 
springs up and grows from below; M. Blanc runs after 
politics, and socialism is in quest of science. No more 
hypocrisy, let me say to M. Blanc: you desire neither 
Catholicism nor monarchy nor nobility, but you must 
have a God, a religion, a dictatorship, a censorship, a 
hierarchy, distinctions, and ranks. For my part, I deny 
your God, your authority, your sovereignty, your judicial 
State, and all your representative mystifications."</i>
[<b>System of Economical Contradictions</b>]
</blockquote><p>
Equally, Proudhon opposed the "top-down" nature of Blanc's
ideas. Instead of reform from above, Proudhon stressed the 
need for working class people to organise themselves for their
own liberation. As he put it, the <i>"problem before the labouring 
classes . . . [is] not in capturing, but in subduing both 
power and monopoly, -- that is, in generating from the bowels 
of the people, from the depths of labour, a greater authority, 
a more potent fact, which shall envelop capital and the state 
and subjugate them."</i> For, <i>"to combat and reduce power, to 
put it in its proper place in society, it is of no use to 
change the holders of power or introduce some variation into 
its workings: an agricultural and industrial combination must 
be found by means of which power, today the ruler of society, 
shall become its slave."</i> [<b>System of Economical Contradictions</b>, 
p. 398 and p. 397] Proudhon stressed in 1848 that <i>"the 
proletariat must emancipate itself without the help of 
the government."</i> [quoted by George Woodcock, <b>Pierre-Joseph 
Proudhon: A Biography</b>, p. 125] This was because the state 
<i>"finds itself inevitably enchained to capital and directed 
against the proletariat."</i> [Proudhon, <b>System of Economical 
Contradictions</b>, p. 399] In addition, by guaranteeing interest 
payments, Blanc's scheme insured the continued exploitation of 
labour by capital. 
<p>
Proudhon, in contrast, argued for a two-way approach to 
undermining capitalism from below: the creation of workers 
associations and the organisation of credit. By creating mutual 
banks, which provided credit at cost, workers could create 
associations to compete with capitalist firms, drive them
out of business and so eliminate exploitation once and for 
all by workers' self-management. In this way, the working class
would emancipate itself from capitalism and build a socialist
society from below upwards by their own efforts and activities.
Proudhon, as Marxist Paul Thomas notes, <i>"believed fervently
. . . in the salvation of working men, by their own efforts,
through economic and social action alone . . . Proudhon
advocated, and to a considerable extent inspired, the
undercutting of this terrain [of the state] from without
by means of autonomous working-class associations."</i> [<b>Karl
Marx and the Anarchists</b>, pp. 177-8]
<p>
Rejecting violent revolution (and, indeed, strikes as counter
productive) he argued for economic means to end economic
exploitation and, as such, he saw anarchism come about by
reform via competition by workers' associations displacing
capitalist industry (unlike later anarchists, who were 
revolutionaries that argued that capitalism cannot be 
reformed away and so supported strikes and other forms of
collective working class direct action, struggle and 
combative organisation). Given that the bulk of the French 
working class was artisans and peasants, such an approach 
reflected the social context in which it was proposed. 
<p>
It was this social context, this predominance of peasants
and artisans in French society which informed Proudhon's
ideas. He never failed to stress that association would be 
tyranny if imposed upon peasants and artisans (rather, he
thought that associations would be freely embraced by these
workers if they thought it was in their interests to). He also 
stressed that state ownership of the means of production 
was a danger to the liberty of the industrial worker and,
moreover, the continuation of capitalism with the state as
the new boss. As he put it in 1848, he <i>"did not want to see
the State confiscate the mines, canals and railways; that
would add to monarchy, and more wage slavery. We want the
mines, canals, railways handed over to democratically
organised workers' associations . . . these associations
[will] be models for agriculture, industry and trade,
the pioneering core of that vast federation of companies
and societies woven into the common cloth of the
democratic social Republic."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>,
vol. 1, p. 62] Workers' associations would be applied for 
those industries which objectively needed it (i.e. 
capitalist industry) and for those other toilers who 
desired it. 
<p>
Marx, of course, had replied to Proudhon's work <b>System of 
Economic Contradictions</b> with his <b>Poverty of Philosophy</b>. 
Marx's work aroused little interest when published, although 
Proudhon did carefully read and annotate his copy of Marx's 
work, claiming it to be <i>"a libel"</i> and a <i>"tissue of abuse, 
calumny, falsification and plagiarism"</i> (he even called Marx
<i>"the tapeworm of Socialism."</i>) [quoted by George Woodcock, 
<b>Proudhon</b>, p. 102] Sadly, Proudhon did not reply to Marx's 
work due to an acute family crisis and then the start of 
the 1848 revolution in France. However, given his views of 
Louis Blanc and other socialists who saw socialism being 
introduced after the seizing of state power, he would hardly 
have been supportive of Marx's ideas. 
<p>
So while none of Proudhon's and Stirner's arguments are 
directly aimed at Marxism, their ideas are applicable
to much of mainstream Marxism as this inherited many of
the ideas of the state socialism they attacked. Thus they 
both made forceful critiques of the socialist and communist 
ideas that existed during their lives. Much of their analysis 
was incorporated in the collectivist and communist ideas of 
the anarchists that followed them (some directly, as from 
Proudhon, some by co-incidence as Stirner's work was quickly 
forgotten and only had an impact on the anarchist movement 
when George Henry MacKay rediscovered it in the 1890s). This
can be seen from the fact that Proudhon's ideas on the management 
of production by workers' associations, opposition to 
nationalisation as state-capitalism and the need for action 
from below, by working people themselves, all found their place 
in communist-anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism and in their
critique of mainstream Marxism (such as social democracy) and 
Leninism.
<p>
Echoes of these critiques can be found Bakunin's comments of
1868:
<p><blockquote><i>
"I hate Communism because it is the negation of liberty
and because for me humanity is unthinkable without 
liberty. I am not a Communist, because Communism 
concentrates and swallows up in itself for the benefit
of the State all the forces of society, because it
inevitably leads to the concentration of property in
the hands of the State . . . I want to see society
and collective or social property organised from below
upwards, by way of free associations, not from above
downwards, by means of any kind of authority whatsoever
. . . That is the sense in which I am a Collectivist
and not a Communist."</i> [quoted by K.J. Kenafick,
<b>Michael Bakunin and Karl Marx</b>, pp. 67-8]
</blockquote><p>
It is with Bakunin that Marxism and Anarchism came into direct
conflict. It was Bakunin who lead the struggle against Marx 
in the <b>International Workingmen's Association</b> between 1868 
and 1872. It was in these exchanges that the two schools of
socialism (the libertarian and the authoritarian) clarified
themselves. With Bakunin, the anarchist critique of Marxism 
(and state socialism in general) starts to reach its finalised
form. Needless to say, this critique continued to develop
after Bakunin's death (particularly after the experiences
of actual Marxist movements and revolutions). However, much
of this involved expanding upon many of Bakunin's original
predictions and analyses.
<p>
We will discuss Bakunin's critique in the <a href="secH1.html#sech11">
next section</a>.
<p>
<a name="sech11"><H2>H.1.1 What was Bakunin's critique of Marxism?</H2>
<p>
Bakunin and Marx famously clashed in the first <b>International
Working Men's Association</b> between 1868 and 1872. This 
conflict helped clarify the anarchist opposition to the ideas
of Marxism and can be considered as the first major theoretical
analysis and critique of Marxism by anarchists. Later critiques
followed, of course, particularly after the degeneration of
Social Democracy into reformism and the failure of the Russian 
Revolution (both of which allowed the theoretical critiques to 
be enriched by empirical evidence) but the Bakunin/Marx conflict 
laid the ground for what came after. As such, an overview of
Bakunin's critique is essential.
<p>
First, however, we must stress that Marx and Bakunin had many
similar ideas. They both stressed the need for working people
to organise themselves to overthrow capitalism. They both argued
for a socialist revolution from below. They argued for collective
ownership of the means of production. They both constantly stressed
that the emancipation of the workers must be the task of the
workers themselves. They differed, of course, in exactly how
these common points should be implemented in practice. Both,
moreover, had a tendency to misrepresent the opinions of the
other on certain issues (particularly as the struggle reached
its climax). Anarchists, unsurprisingly, argue Bakunin has been 
proved right by history, so confirming the key aspects of his 
critique of Marx.
<p>
So what was Bakunin's critique of Marxism? There are five main
areas. Firstly, there is the question of current activity (i.e. 
whether the workers' movement should participate in "politics"
and the nature of revolutionary working class organisation).
Secondly, there is the issue of the form of the revolution (i.e.
whether it should be a political <b>then</b> an economic one, or
whether it should be both at the same time). Thirdly, there 
is the issue of the "dictatorship of the proletariat." Fourthly, 
there is the question of whether political power <b>can</b> be seized 
by the working class as a whole or whether it can only be 
exercised by a small minority. Fifthly, there was the issue 
of whether the revolution be centralised or decentralised in 
nature. We shall discuss each in turn.
<p>
On the issue of current struggle, the differences between Marx
and Bakunin were clear. For Marx, the proletariat had to take
part in bourgeois elections as an organised political party.
As the resolution of the (gerrymandered) Hague Congress of
First International put it, <i>"[i]n its struggle against the
collective power of the possessing classes the proletariat
can act as a class only by constituting itself a distinct
political party, opposed to all the old parties formed by
the possessing classes . . . the conquest of political
power becomes the great duty of the proletariat."</i> [Marx,
Engels, Lenin, <b>Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 85]
<p>
This political party must stand for elections and win 
votes. As Marx argued in the preamble of the French Workers' 
Party, the workers must turn the franchise <i>"from a means of 
deception . . . into an instrument of emancipation."</i> This 
can be considered as part of the process outlined in the 
<b>Communist Manifesto</b>, where it was argued that the 
<i>"immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of 
all the other proletarian parties,"</i> namely the <i>"conquest 
of political power by the proletariat,"</i> the <i>"first step
in the revolution by the working class"</i> being <i>"to raise
the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win
the battle of democracy."</i> Engels latter stressed (in 1895) 
that the <i>"<b>Communist Manifesto</b> had already proclaimed the 
winning of universal suffrage, of democracy, as one of the 
first and most important tasks of the militant proletariat"</i> 
and that German Social Democracy had showed workers of all 
countries <i>"how to make use of universal suffrage."</i> [<b>Marx 
and Engels Reader</b>, p. 566, p. 484, p. 490 and p. 565]
<p>
With this analysis in mind, Marxist influenced political
parties have consistently argued for and taken part in
election campaigns, seeking office as a means of spreading
socialist ideas and as a means of pursuing the socialist
revolution. The Social Democratic parties which were the
first Marxist parties (and which developed under Marx
and Engels watchful eyes) saw revolution in terms of 
winning a majority within Parliamentary elections and 
using this political power to abolish capitalism (once
this was done, the state would "wither away" as classes
would no longer exist). In effect, these parties aimed to 
reproduce Marx's account of the forming of the Paris 
Commune on the level of the national Parliament. Marx 
in his justly famous work <b>The Civil War in France</b> 
reported how the Commune <i>"was formed of the municipal 
councillors"</i> who had been <i>"chosen by universal suffrage 
in the various wards of the town"</i> in the municipal 
elections held on March 26th, 1871. This new Commune 
then issued a series of decrees which reformed the 
existing state (for example, by suppressing the 
standing army and replacing it with the armed people,
and so on). This Marx summarised by stating that <i>"the
working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made
state machinery, and wield it for its own purposed."</i>
[Marx and Engels, <b>Selected Works</b>, p. 287 and p. 285]
<p>
As Engels put it in a latter letter, it was <i>"simply a 
question of showing that the victorious proletariat 
must first refashion the old bureaucratic, 
administratively centralised state power before 
it can use it for its own purposes."</i> [quoted by 
David P. Perrin, <b>The Socialist Party of Great Britain</b>, 
p. 64] He repeated this elsewhere, arguing that <i>"after the
victory of the Proletariat, the only organisation
the victorious working class finds <b>ready-made</b> for
use is that of the State. It may require adaptation to
the new functions. But to destroy that at such a moment
would mean to destroy the only organism by means of which
the victorious working class can exert its newly conquered
power, keep down its capitalist enemies and carry out . . .
economic revolution."</i> [our emphasis, Marx, Engels and 
Lenin, <b>Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 173]
<p>
Bakunin, in contrast, argued that while the communists
<i>"imagine they can attain their goal by the development
and organisation of the political power of the working
classes . . . aided by bourgeois radicalism"</i> anarchists
<i>"believe they can succeed only through the development
and organisation of the non-political or anti-political
power of the working classes."</i> The Communists <i>"believe 
it necessary to organise the workers' forces in order 
to seize the political power of the State,"</i> while
anarchists <i>"organise for the purpose of destroying 
it."</i> Bakunin saw this in terms of creating new organs
of working class power in opposition to the state,
organised <i>"from the bottom up, by the free association
or federation of workers, starting with the associations,
then going on to the communes, the region, the nations,
and, finally, culminating in a great international
and universal federation."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>,
pp. 262-3 and p. 270] In other words, a system of
workers' councils. As such, he constantly argued for 
workers, peasants and artisans to organise into unions 
and join the <b>International Workingmen's Association</b>, 
so becoming <i>"a real force . . . which knows what to do 
and is therefore capable of guiding the revolution in 
the direction marked out by the aspirations of the 
people: a serious international organisation of workers' 
associations of all lands capable of replacing this 
departing world of <b>states.</b>"</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 174] 
<p>
To Marx's argument that workers should organise politically,
and send their representations to Parliament, Bakunin argued 
that when <i>"the workers . . . send common workers . . . to 
Legislative Assemblies . . . The worker-deputies, transplanted 
into a bourgeois environment, into an atmosphere of purely 
bourgeois ideas, will in fact cease to be workers and, 
becoming Statesmen, they will become bourgeois . . . For men 
do not make their situations; on the contrary, men are made 
by them."</i> [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 108]
<p>
As far as history goes, the experience of Social Democracy
confirmed Bakunin's analysis. A few years after Engels death
in 1895, German Social Democracy was racked by the "revisionism"
debate. This debate did not spring from the minds of a few
leaders, isolated from the movement, but rather expressed 
developments <b>within</b> the movement itself. In effect, the
revisionists wanted to adjust the party rhetoric to what the 
party was actually doing and so the battle against the revisionists
basically represented a battle between what the party said it
was doing and its actual practice. As one of the most distinguished 
historians of this period put it, the <i>"distinction between the 
contenders remained largely a subjective one, a difference of 
ideas in the evaluation of reality rather than a difference in 
the realm of action."</i> [C. Schorske, <b>German Social Democracy</b>, 
p. 38] Even Rosa Luxemburg (one of the fiercest critics of 
revisionism) acknowledged in <b>Reform or Revolution</b> that it 
was <i>"the final goal of socialism [that] constitutes the only 
decisive factor distinguishing the social democratic movement 
from bourgeois democracy and bourgeois radicalism."</i> [<b>Rosa 
Luxemburg Speaks</b>, p. 36] As such, the Marxist critics of 
"revisionism" failed to place the growth in revisionist ideas
in the tactics being used, instead seeing it in terms of a 
problem in ideas. By the start of the First World War, the 
Social Democrats had become so corrupted by its activities in
bourgeois institutions it supported its state (and ruling class)
and voted for war credits rather than denounce the war as 
Imperialist slaughter for profits (see also 
<a href="secJ2.html#secj26">section J.2.6</a> for 
more discussion on the effect of electioneering on radical
parties). Clearly, Bakunin was proved right.
<p>
However, we must stress that because Bakunin rejected 
participating in bourgeois politics, it did not mean 
that he rejected "politics" or "political struggle" in 
general (also see 
<a href="secJ2.html#secj210">section J.2.10</a>). 
As he put it, <i>"it is 
absolutely impossible to ignore political and philosophical 
questions"</i> and <i>"the proletariat itself will pose them"</i> in 
the International. He argued that political struggle will 
come from the class struggle, as <i>"[w]ho can deny that out 
of this ever-growing organisation of the militant 
solidarity of the proletariat against bourgeois 
exploitation there will issue forth the political 
struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie?"</i> 
Anarchists simply thought that the <i>"policy of the 
proletariat"</i> should be <i>"the destruction of the State"</i> 
rather than working within it. [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, 
p. 301, p. 302 and p. 276] As such, the people <i>"must 
organise their powers apart from and against the State."</i> 
[<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 376] 
<p>
As should be obvious by now, the difference between Marx
and Bakunin on the nature of working class organisation
in the struggle reflected these differences on political
struggle. Bakunin clearly advocated what would later
by termed a syndicalist strategy based on direct action 
(in particular strikes) and workers' unions which would 
<i>"bear in themselves the living seeds of the new society 
which is to replace the old world. They are creating not 
only the ideas, but also the facts of the future itself."</i> 
[<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 255] This union movement would 
be complemented by a specific anarchist organisation which 
would work within it to influence it towards anarchist aims 
by the <i>"natural influence"</i> of its members (see 
<a href="secJ3.html#secj37">section J.3.7</a> for a 
fuller discussion of this). Marx argued for 
political parties, utilising elections, which, as the 
history of Social Democracy indicates, did not have quite 
the outcome Marx would have liked. 
<a href="secJ2.html">Section J.2</a> discusses
direct action, electioneering and whether anarchist
abstentionism implies disinterest in politics in more
detail.
<p>
Which brings us to the second issue, namely the nature
of the revolution itself. For Bakunin, a revolution meant 
a <b>social</b> revolution from below. This involved both the 
abolition of the state <b>and</b> the expropriation of capital. 
In his words, <i>"the revolution must set out from the first
[to] radically and totally to destroy the State."</i> The 
<i>"natural and necessary consequences"</i> of which will be
the <i>"confiscation of all productive capital and means
of production on behalf of workers' associations, who
are to put them to collective use . . . the federative
Alliance of all working men's associations . . . will
constitute the Commune."</i> There <i>"can no longer be any
successful political . . . revolution unless the 
political revolution is transformed into social
revolution."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>,
p. 170 and p. 171] 
<p>
Which, incidentally, disproves Engels' claims that Bakunin 
considered <i>"the <b>state</b> as the main evil to be 
abolished."</i> 
[<b>Marx and Engels Reader</b>, p. 728] Clearly, Engels assertions 
misrepresent Bakunin's position, as Bakunin always stressed 
that economic and political transformation should occur at 
the same time during the revolutionary process. Given that 
Bakunin thought the state was the protector of capitalism, 
no economic change could be achieved until such time as it 
was abolished. This also meant that Bakunin considered a 
political revolution before an economic one to mean the 
continued slavery of the workers. As he argued, <i>"[t]o win
political freedom first can signify no other thing but to
win this freedom only, leaving for the first days at least
economic and social relations in the same old state, --
that is, leaving the proprietors and capitalists with
their insolent wealth, and the workers with their poverty."</i> 
[<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 294] With
capitalists' economic power intact, could the workers' 
<b>political</b> power remain strong? As such, <i>"every political
revolution taking place prior to and consequently without
a social revolution must necessarily be a bourgeois 
revolution, and a bourgeois revolution can only be 
instrumental in bringing about bourgeois Socialism 
-- that is, it is bound to end in a new, mmore hypocritical
and more skilful, but no less oppressive, exploitation
of the proletariat by the bourgeois."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 289]
<p>
Did Marx and Engels hold this position? Apparently so. Discussing 
the Paris Commune, Marx noted that it was <i>"the political form
at last discovered under which to work out the economic
emancipation of labour,"</i> and as the <i>"political rule of the
producer cannot coexist with the perpetuation of his social
slavery"</i> the Commune was to <i>"serve as a lever for uprooting the
economic foundations upon which rests the existence of classes."</i> 
[Marx and Engels, <b>Selected Writings</b>, p. 290] Engels argued 
that the <i>"proletariat seizes the public power, and by means 
of this transforms the . . . means of production . . . into
public property."</i> [<b>The Marx-Engels Reader</b>, p. 717] In the 
<b>Communist Manifesto</b> they argued that <i>"the first step in 
the revolution by the working class"</i> is the <i>"rais[ing] the 
proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the 
battle of democracy."</i> The proletariat <i>"will use its political 
supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeois, 
to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of 
the State, i.e. of the proletariat organised as the ruling 
class."</i> [<b>Manifesto of the Communist Party</b>, p. 52]
<p>
Similarly, when Marx discussed what the "dictatorship of the 
proletariat" meant, he argued (in reply to Bakunin's question 
of <i>"over whom will the proletariat rule"</i>) that it simply meant 
<i>"that so long  as other classes continue to exist, the 
capitalist class in particular, the proletariat fights it 
(for with the coming of the proletariat to power, its 
enemies will not yet have disappeared), it must use 
measures of <b>force</b>, hence governmental measures; if it
itself still remains a class and the economic conditions on
which the class struggle and the existence of classes have not
yet disappeared, they must be forcibly removed or transformed,
and the process of their transformation must be forcibly
accelerated."</i> [<b>The Marx-Engels Reader</b>, pp. 542-3] Note, 
"capitalists," not "former capitalists," so implying that 
the members of the proletariat are, in fact, still 
proletariats after the "socialist" revolution and so still
subject to wage slavery by capitalists. 
<p>
Clearly, then, Marx and Engels considered the seizing of 
state power as the key event and, later, the expropriation 
of the expropriators would occur. Thus the economic power of 
the capitalists would remain, with the proletariat utilising 
political power to combat and reduce it. Anarchists argue that
if the proletariat did not hold economic power, its political 
power would at best be insecure and would in fact degenerate. 
Would the capitalists just sit and wait while their economic 
power was gradually eliminated by political action? And what 
of the proletariat during this period? Will they patiently
obey their bosses, continue to be oppressed and exploited 
by them until such time as the end of their "social slavery"
has been worked out (and by whom)? As the experience of the 
Russian Revolution showed, Marx and Engels position proved to
be untenable. 
<p>
As we discuss in more detail in 
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a>, the Russian
workers initially followed Bakunin's path. After the 
February revolution, they organised factory committees 
and raised the idea and practice of workers self-management 
of production. The Russian anarchists supported this movement 
whole-heartedly, arguing that it should be pushed as far as
it would go. In contrast, Lenin argued for <i>"workers' control 
over the capitalists."</i> [<b>Will the Bolsheviks Maintain Power?</b>, 
p. 52] This was, unsurprisingly, the policy applied immediately 
after the Bolshevik seizure of power. However, as one Leninist 
writer admits, <i>"[t]wo overwhelmingly powerful forces obliged 
the Bolsheviks to abandon this 'reformist' course."</i> One was 
the start of the civil war, the other <i>"was the fact that the 
capitalists used their remaining power to make the system 
unworkable. At the end of 1917 the All Russian Congress of 
employers declared that those 'factories in which the control 
is exercised by means of active interference in the administration 
will be closed.' The workers' natural response to the wave of 
lockouts which followed was to demand that their [sic!] state 
nationalise the factories."</i> [John Rees, "In Defence of 
October", pp. 3-82, <b>International Socialism</b>, no. 52,
p. 42] By July 1918, only one-fifth of nationalised firms 
had been nationalised by the central government (which,
incidentally, shows the unresponsiveness of centralised
power). Clearly, the idea that a social revolution can come
after a political was shown to be a failure -- the capitalist
class used its powers to disrupt the economic life of Russia.
<p>
Faced with the predictable opposition by capitalists to their
system of "control" the Bolsheviks nationalised the means of
production. Sadly, <b>within</b> the nationalised workplace the 
situation of the worker remained essentially unchanged. 
Lenin had been arguing for one-man management (appointed
from above and armed with "dictatorial" powers) since late 
April 1918. This aimed at replacing the capitalist managers
with state managers, <b>not</b> workers self-management:
<p><blockquote><i>
"On three occasions in the first months of Soviet power, 
the [factory] committees leaders sought to bring their 
model [of workers' self-management of the economy] into 
being. At each point the party leadership overruled them. 
The Bolshevik alternative 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] 
</blockquote><p>
Bakunin's fear of what would happen if a political revolution 
preceded a social one came true. The working class continued 
to be exploited and oppressed as before, first by the 
bourgeoisie and then by the new bourgeoisie of state appointed 
managers armed with all the powers of the old ones (plus a few 
more). Russia confirmed Bakunin's analysis that a revolution 
must immediately combine political and economic goals in order 
for it to be successful. 
<p>
Which brings us to the "dictatorship of the proletariat." While 
many Marxists basically use this term to describe the defence 
of the revolution and so argue that anarchists do not see the
need to defend a revolution, this is incorrect. Anarchists 
from Bakunin onwards have argued that a revolution would have 
to defend itself from counter revolution and yet we reject the 
term totally (see sections 
<a href="secH2.html#sech21">H.2.1</a>, 
<a href="secI5.html#seci514">I.5.14</a> and 
<a href="secJ7.html#secj76">J.7.6</a> for a 
refutation of claims that anarchists think a revolution does 
not need defending). So why did Bakunin reject the concept? To 
understand why, we must provide some historical context -- 
namely the fact that at the time he was writing the 
proletariat was a minority of the working masses. 
<p>
Simply put, anarchists in the nineteenth century rejected
the idea of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" simply
because the proletariat was a <b>minority</b> of working
people at the time. As such, to argue for a dictatorship 
of the proletariat meant to argue for the dictatorship 
of a <b>minority</b> class, a class which excluded the majority 
of toiling people. When Marx and Engels wrote the <b>Communist 
Manifesto</b>, for example, over 80% of the population of France 
and Germany were peasants or artisans -- what Marx termed 
the "petit-bourgeois" and his followers termed the 
"petty-bourgeois." This fact meant that the comment in 
the <b>Communist Manifesto</b> that the <i>"proletarian movement
is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense
majority, in the interests of the immense majority"</i> was
simply not true. Rather, for Marx's life-time (and for
many decades afterwards) the proletarian movement was
like <i>"[a]ll previous movements,"</i> namely <i>"movements of
minorities, or in the interests of minorities."</i> [<b>The
Marx-Engels Reader</b>, p. 482]
<p>
Not that Marx and Engels were unaware of this. In the
Manifesto they note that <i>"[i]n countries like France"</i> 
the peasants <i>"constitute far more than half of the
population."</i> In his famous 1875 
work "Critique of the Gotha Program," Marx noted that 
<i>"the majority of the 'toiling people' in Germany 
consists of peasants, and not of proletarians."</i> He
stressed elsewhere around the same time that <i>"the 
peasant . . . forms a more of less considerable 
majority . . . in the countries of the West European 
continent."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 493, p. 536 and p. 543] 
<p>
Clearly, then, Marx and Engels vision of proletarian
revolution was one which involved a minority dictating
to the majority. As such, Bakunin rejected the concept.
He was simply pointing out the fact that a "dictatorship 
of the proletariat," at the time, actually meant a 
dictatorship by a <b>minority</b> of working people and 
so a "revolution" which excluded the majority of 
working people (i.e. artisans and peasants). As he
argued in 1873:
<p><blockquote><i>
"If the proletariat is to be the ruling class . . .
then whom will it rule? There must be yet another
proletariat which will be subject to this new rule,
this new state. It may be the peasant rabble . . .
which, finding itself on a lower cultural level,
will probably be governed by the urban and factory
proletariat."</i> [<b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, pp. 177-8]
</blockquote><p>
Bakunin continually stressed that the peasants <i>"will
join cause with the city workers as soon as they
become convinced that the latter do not pretend to
impose their will or some political or social order
invented by the cities for the greater happiness of
the villages; they will join cause as soon as they
are assured that the industrial workers will not
take their lands away."</i> As such, as noted above,
while the Marxists aimed for the <i>"development and 
organisation of the political power of the working 
classes, and chiefly of the city proletariat,"</i> 
anarchists aimed for <i>"the social (and therefore 
anti-political) organisation and power of the 
working masses of the cities and villages."</i> 
[<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 401 
and p. 300]
<p>
For Bakunin, to advocate the "dictatorship of the
proletariat" in an environment where the vast majority
of working people were peasants would be a disaster.
It is only when we understand this social context that 
we can understand Bakunin's opposition to Marx's 
"dictatorship of the proletariat" -- it would be a 
dictatorship of a minority class over the rest of
the working population (he took it as a truism
that the capitalist and landlord classes should 
be expropriated and stopped from destroying the
revolution!). For Bakunin, when the industrial
working class was a minority, it was essential to 
<i>"[o]rganise the city proletariat in the name of 
revolutionary Socialism, and in doing this, unite it 
into one preparatory organisation together with the 
peasantry. An uprising by the proletariat alone would 
not be enough; with that we would have only a political
revolution which would necessarily produce a natural 
and legitimate reaction on the part of the peasants, 
and that reaction, or merely the indifference of the 
peasants, would strangle the revolution of the cities."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 378] 
<p>
This explains why the anarchists at the St. Imier
Congress argued that <i>"every political state can
be nothing but organised domination for the benefit
of one class, to the detriment of the masses, and
that should the proletariat itself seize power, it
would in turn become a new dominating and exploiting
class."</i> As the proletariat was a minority class at 
the time, their concerns can be understood. For
anarchists then, and now, a social revolution has
to be truly popular and involve the majority of
the population in order to succeed. Unsurprisingly,
the congress stressed the role of the proletariat
in the struggle for socialism, arguing that <i>"the
proletariat of all lands . . . must create the
solidarity of revolutionary action . . . independently
of and in opposition to all forms of bourgeois
politics."</i> Moreover, the aim of the workers'
movement was <i>"free organisations and federations
. . . created by the spontaneous action of the
proletariat itself, [that is, by] the trade
bodies and the autonomous communes."</i> [as cited in 
<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 438, p. 439 and p. 438]
<p>
Hence Bakunin's comment that <i>"the designation of
the proletariat, the world of the workers, as 
<b>class</b> rather than as <b>mass</b>"</i> was 
<i>"deeply 
antipathetic to us revolutionary anarchists who
unconditionally advocate full popular emancipation."</i> 
To do so, he argued, meant <i>"[n]othing more or less than
a new aristocracy, that of the urban and industrial
workers, to the exclusion of the millions who make
up the rural proletariat and who . . . will in effect
become subjects of this great so-called popular
State."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, 
pp. 253-4]
<p>
Again, the experiences of the Russian Revolution tend
to confirm Bakunin's worries. The Bolsheviks implemented
the dictatorship of the city over the countryside, with
disastrous results (see 
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a> for more details).
<p>
One last point on this subject. While anarchists reject 
the "dictatorship of the proletariat" we clearly do not 
reject the key role the proletariat must play in any social 
revolution (see <a href="secH2.html#sech22">section H.2.2</a> 
on why the Marxist assertion 
anarchists reject class struggle is false). We only reject 
the idea that the proletariat must dictate over other 
working people like peasants and artisans. We do not reject
the need for working class people to defend a revolution,
nor the need for them to expropriate the capitalist class
nor for them to manage their own activities and so society.
<p>
Then there is the issue of whether, even if the proletariat 
<b>does</b> seize political power, whether the whole proletariat 
can actually exercise it. Bakunin raising the obvious
questions: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"For, even from the standpoint of that urban proletariat
who are supposed to reap the sole reward of the seizure
of political power, surely it is obvious that this power
will never be anything but a sham? It is bound to be
impossible for a few thousand, let alone tens or hundreds
of thousands of men to wield that power effectively. It
will have to be exercised by proxy, which means entrusting
it to a group of men elected to represent and govern them,
which in turn will unfailingly return them to all the
deceit and subservience of representative or bourgeois
rule. After a brief flash of liberty or orgiastic 
revolution, the citizens of the new State will wake up
slaves, puppets and victims of a new group of ambitious
men."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 254-5]
</blockquote><p>
He repeated this argument in <b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, where
he asked <i>"[w]hat does it mean, 'the proletariat raised to
a governing class?' Will the entire proletariat head the
government? The Germans number about 40 million. Will all
40 millions be members of the government? The entire nation
will rule, but no one will be ruled. Then there will be
no government, no state; but if there is a state, there
will also be those who are ruled, there will be slaves."</i> 
Bakunin argued that Marxism resolves this dilemma <i>"in a
simple fashion. By popular government they mean government
of the people by a small number of representatives elected
by the people. So-called popular representatives and rulers
of the state elected by the entire nation on the basis
of universal suffrage -- the last word of the Marxists,
as well as the democratic school -- is a lie behind which
lies the despotism of a ruling minority is concealed, a
lie all the more dangerous in that it represents itself
as the expression of a sham popular will."</i> [<b>Statism and
Anarchy</b>, p. 178]
<p>
So where does Marx stand on this question. Clearly, the 
self-proclaimed followers of Marx support the idea of 
"socialist" governments (indeed, many, including Lenin and 
Trotsky, went so far as to argue that party dictatorship 
was essential for the success of a revolution -- see 
<a href="secH1.html#sech12">next 
section</a>). Marx, however, is less clear. He argued, in 
reply to Bakunin's question if all Germans would be 
members of the government, that <i>"[c]ertainly, because the 
thing starts with the self-government of the township."</i> 
However, he also commented that <i>"[c]an it really be 
that in a trade union, for example, the entire union forms 
its executive committee,"</i> suggesting that there <b>will</b> be 
a division of labour between those who govern and those who 
obey in the Marxist system of socialism. [<b>The Marx-Engels 
Reader</b>, p. 545 and p. 544] Elsewhere he talks about <i>"a 
socialist government . . . com[ing] into power in a country."</i> 
[<i>"Letter to F. Domela-Nieuwenhuis,"</i> Eugene Schulkind (ed.),
<b>The Paris Commune of 1871: The View from the Left</b>, p. 244]
<p>
As such, Bakunin's critique holds, as Marx and Engels clearly 
saw the "dictatorship of the proletariat" involving a socialist
government having power. For Bakunin, like all anarchists, 
if a political party is the government, then clearly they 
are in power, not the mass of working people they claim 
to represent. Anarchists have, from the beginning, argued 
that Marx made a grave mistake confusing workers' power 
with the state. This is because the state is the means 
by which the management of people's affairs is taken 
from them and placed into the hands of a few. It 
signifies delegated <b>power.</b> As such, the so-called 
"workers' state" or "dictatorship of the proletariat" 
is a contradiction in terms. Instead of signifying the 
power of the working class to manage society it, in 
fact, signifies the opposite, namely the handing over 
of that power to a few party leaders at the top of a 
centralised structure. This is because <i>"all State rule,
all governments being by their very nature placed outside
the people, must necessarily seek to subject it to customs
and purposes entirely foreign to it. We therefore declare
ourselves to be foes . . . of all State organisations as
such, and believe that the people can be happy and free,
when, organised from below upwards 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] Hence Bakunin's 
constant arguments for decentralised, federal system of 
workers councils organised from the bottom-up. Again,
the transformation of the Bolshevik government into a
dictatorship <b>over</b> the proletariat during the early
stages of the Russian Revolution supports Bakunin's
critique of Marxism.
<p>
Which brings us to the last issue, namely whether the revolution
will be decentralised or centralised. For Marx, the issue is
somewhat confused by his support for the Paris Commune and its
federalist programme (written, we must note, by a follower of 
Proudhon). However, in 1850, Marx stood for extreme 
centralisation of power. As he put it, the workers <i>"must not
only strive for a single and indivisible German republic, but
also within this republic for the most determined centralisation
of power in the hands of the state authority."</i> He argued that
in a nation like Germany <i>"where there is so many relics of the
Middle Ages to be abolished"</i> it <i>"must under no circumstances
be permitted that every village, every town and every province
should put a new obstacle in the path of revolutionary activity,
which can proceed with full force from the centre."</i> He stressed
that <i>"[a]s in France in 1793 so today in Germany it is the
task of the really revolutionary party to carry through the
strictest centralisation."</i> [<b>The Marx-Engels Reader</b>, 
p. 509-10] Lenin followed this aspect of Marx's ideas,
arguing that <i>"Marx was a centralist"</i> and applying this
perspective both in the party and once in power [<b>The 
Essential Works of Lenin</b>, p. 310]
<p>
Ironically, it is Engels note to the 1885 edition of Marx's work
which shows the fallacy of this position. As he put it, <i>"this
passage is based on a misunderstanding"</i> and it <i>"is now . . . 
[a] well known fact that throughout the whole revolution . . . 
the whole administration of the departments, arrondissements
and communes consisted of authorities elected by the respective
constituents themselves, and that these authorities acted with
complete freedom . . . that precisely this provincial and
local self-government . . . became the most powerful lever
of the revolution."</i> [<b>The Marx-Engels Reader</b>, p. 510f] Marx's 
original comments imply the imposition of freedom by the centre 
on a population not desiring it (and in such a case, how could
the centre be representative of the majority in such a case?).
Moreover, how could a revolution be truly social if it was
not occurring in the grassroots across a country? Unsurprisingly,
local autonomy has played a key role in every real revolution.
<p>
As such, Bakunin has been proved right. Centralism has always
killed a revolution and, as he always argued, real socialism 
can only be worked from below, by the people of every village, 
town, and city. The problems facing the world or a revolution 
cannot be solved by a few people at the top issuing decrees. 
They can only be solved by the active participation of the 
mass of working class people, the kind of participation 
centralism and government by their nature exclude. As such,
this dove-tails into the question of whether the whole class
exercises power under the "dictatorship of the proletariat."
In a centralised system, obviously, power <b>has to be</b> exercised
by a few (as Marx's argument in 1850 showed). Centralism, by 
its very nature excludes the possibility of extensive 
participation in the decision making process. Moreover, 
the decisions reached by such a body could not reflect 
the real needs of society. In the words of Bakunin:
<p><blockquote><i>
"What man, what group of individuals, no matter how great their
genius, would dare to think themselves able to embrace and 
understand the plethora of interests, attitudes and activities
so various in every country, every province, locality and
profession."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, p. 240]
</blockquote><p>
He stressed that <i>"the revolution should be and should everywhere
remain independent of the central point, which must be its
expression and product -- not its source, guide and cause . . .
the awakening of all local passions and the awakening of
spontaneous life at all points, must be well developed in 
order for the revolution to remain alive, real and powerful."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 179-80] This, we must stress, does not imply 
isolation. Bakunin always stressed the importance of federal 
organisation to co-ordinate struggle and defence of the revolution. 
As he put it, all revolutionary communes would need to federate 
in order <i>"to organise the necessary common services and
arrangements for production and exchange, to establish the
charter of equality, the basis of all liberty -- a charter
utterly negative in character, defining what has to be
abolished for ever rather than the positive forms of
local life which can be created only by the living 
practice of each locality -- and to organise common
defence against the enemies of the Revolution."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 179]
<p>
In short, anarchists should <i>"not accept, even in the 
process of revolutionary transition, either constituent 
assemblies, provisional governments or so-called revolutionary 
dictatorships; because we are convinced that revolution 
is only sincere, honest and real in the hands of the masses, 
and that when it is concentrated in those of a few ruling 
individuals it inevitably and immediately becomes reaction."</i> 
Rather, the revolution <i>"everywhere must be created by the
people, and supreme control must always belong to the people
organised into a free federation of agricultural and 
industrial associations . . . organised from the bottom 
upwards by means of revolutionary delegation."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 237 and p. 172]
<p>
Given Marx's support for the federal ideas of the Paris Commune, 
it can be argued that Marxism is not committed to a policy of 
strict centralisation (although Lenin, of course, argued that
Marx <b>was</b> a firm supporter of centralisation). What is true 
is, to quote Daniel Guerin, that Marx's comments on the Commune 
differ <i>"noticeably from Marx's writings of before and after
1871"</i> while Bakunin's were <i>"in fact quite consistent with
the lines he adopted in his earlier writings."</i> [<b>No Gods,
No Masters</b>, vol. 1, p. 167] Indeed, as Bakunin himself
noted, while the Marxists <i>"saw all their ideas upset by
the uprising"</i> of the Commune, they <i>"found themselves 
compelled to take their hats off to it."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin:
Selected Writings</b>, p. 261] This modification of ideas by 
Marx was not limited just to federalism. Marx also praised 
the commune's system of mandating recallable delegates, a 
position which Bakunin had been arguing for a number of 
years previously.  In 1868, for example, he was talked about 
a <i>"Revolutionary Communal Council"</i> composed of <i>"delegates . . . 
vested with plenary but accountable and removable mandates."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 170-1] As such, the Paris Commune was a 
striking confirmation of Bakunin's ideas on many levels, 
<b>not</b> Marx's (who adjusted his ideas to bring them in line 
with Bakunin's!).
<p>
In summary, Bakunin argued that decentralisation of power was
essential for a real revolution that achieves more than changing
who the boss it. A free society could only be created and run
from below, by the active participation of the bulk of the
population. Centralisation would kill this participation and
so kill the revolution. Marx and Engels, on the other hand, 
while sometimes supporting federalism and local self-government,
had a centralist streak in their politics which Bakunin thought
undermined the success of any revolution.
<p>
Since Bakunin, anarchists have deepen this critique of Marxism
and, with the experience of Bolshevism, argue that he predicted
key failures in Marx's ideas. Given that his followers, particularly
Lenin and Trotsky, have emphasised (although, in many ways, changed 
them) the centralisation and "socialist government" aspects of 
Marx's thoughts, anarchists argue that Bakunin's critique is 
as relevant as ever. Real socialism can only come from below.
<p>
<a name="sech12"><H2>H.1.2 What are the key differences between Anarchists and Marxists?</H2>
<p>
There are, of course, important similarities between anarchism and
Marxism. Both are socialists, oppose capitalism and the current
state, support and encourage working class organisation and action
and see class struggle as the means of creating a social revolution
which will transform society into a new one. However, the differences
between these socialist theories are equally important. In the
words of Errico Malatesta:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The important, fundamental dissension [between anarchists and 
Marxists] is [that] . . . [Marxist] socialists are authoritarians, 
anarchists are libertarians.
<p>
"Socialists want power . . . and once in power wish to impose 
their programme on the people. . . Anarchists instead maintain, 
that government cannot be other than harmful, and by its very 
nature it defends either an existing privileged class or creates 
a new one; and instead of inspiring to take the place of the
existing government anarchists seek to destroy every organism
which empowers some to impose their own ideas and interests on
others, for they want to free the way for development towards
better forms of human fellowship which will emerge from
experience, by everyone being free and, having, of course,
the economic means to make freedom possible as well as a
reality."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 142]
</blockquote><p>
The other differences derive from this fundamental one. 
So while there are numerous ways in which anarchists and 
Marxists differ, their root lies in the question of power. 
Socialists seek power (in the name of the working class 
and usually hidden under rhetoric arguing that party and 
class power are the same). Anarchists seek to destroy 
hierarchical power in all its forms and ensure that 
everyone is free to manage their own affairs (both 
individually and collectively). From this comes the 
differences on the nature of a revolution, the way the 
working class movement such organise and the tactics it 
should apply and so on. A short list of these differences 
would include the question of the "dictatorship of the 
proletariat", the standing of revolutionaries in elections, 
centralisation versus federalism, the role and organisation 
of revolutionaries, whether socialism can only come <i>"from 
below"</i> or whether it is possible for it come <i>"from below"</i> 
and <i>"from above"</i> and a host of others (i.e. some of the 
differences we indicated in the 
<a href="secH1.html#sech11">last section</a> during our 
discussion of Bakunin's critique of Marxism). Indeed, there
are so many it is difficult to address them all here. As
such, we can only concentrate on a few in this and the 
following sections.
<p>
One of the key issues is on the issue of confusing party power
with popular power. The logic of the anarchist case is simple. 
In any system of hierarchical and centralised power (for example, 
in a state or governmental structure) then those at the top are 
in charge (i.e. are in positions of power). It is <b>not</b> "the 
people," nor "the proletariat," nor "the masses," it is those 
who make up the government who have and exercise real power. As 
Malatesta argued, government means <i>"the delegation of power, 
that is the abdication of initiative and sovereignty of all 
into the hands of a few"</i> and <i>"if . . . , as do the 
authoritarians, one means government action when one talks 
of social action, then this is still the resultant of 
individual forces, but only of those individuals who form 
the government."</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 40 and p. 36] Therefore, 
anarchists argue, the replacement of party power for working 
class power is inevitable because of the nature of the state. 
In the words of Murray Bookchin:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Anarchist critics of Marx pointed out with considerable effect 
that any system of representation would become a statist interest 
in its own right, one that at best would work against the interests 
of the working classes (including the peasantry), and that at worst 
would be a dictatorial power as vicious as the worst bourgeois state 
machines. Indeed, with political power reinforced by economic power 
in the form of a nationalised economy, a 'workers' republic' might 
well prove to be a despotism (to use one of Bakunin's more favourite 
terms) of unparalleled oppression."</i>
</blockquote><p>
He continues:
<p>
<blockquote><i>
"Republican institutions, however much they are intended to express 
the interests of the workers, necessarily place policy-making in the 
hands of deputies and categorically do not constitute a 'proletariat 
organised as a ruling class.' If public policy, as distinguished from 
administrative activities, is not made by the people mobilised into 
assemblies and confederally co-ordinated by agents on a local, regional, 
and national basis, then a democracy in the precise sense of the term 
does not exist. The powers that people enjoy under such circumstances 
can be usurped without difficulty. . . [I]f the people are to acquire 
real power over their lives and society, they must establish -- and in 
the past they have, for brief periods of time established -- well-ordered 
institutions in which they themselves directly formulate the policies of 
their communities and, in the case of their regions, elect confederal 
functionaries, revocable and strictly controllable, who will execute 
them.  Only in this sense can a class, especially one committed to 
the abolition of classes, be mobilised as a class to manage society."</i>
[<b>The Communist Manifesto: Insights and Problems</b>]
</blockquote><p>
This is why anarchists stress direct democracy (self-management)
in free federations of free associations. It is the only way to
ensure that power remains in the hands of the people and is not
turned into an alien power above them. Thus Marxist support for
statist forms of organisation will inevitably undermine the
liberatory nature of the revolution. 
<p>
Thus the <b>real</b> meaning of a workers state is simply
that the <b>party</b> has the real power, not the workers. After
all, that is nature of a state. Marxist rhetoric tends to
hide this reality. As an example, we can point to Lenin's
comments in October, 1921. In an essay marking the fourth
anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution, Lenin stated
that the Soviet system <i>"provides the maximum of democracy 
for the workers and peasants; at the same time, it marks a 
break with <b>bourgeois</b> democracy and the rise of a new, 
epoch-making type of democracy, namely, proletarian 
democracy, or the dictatorship of the proletariat."</i>
["Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution," 
<b>Collected Works</b>, vol. 33, p. 55] Yet this was written
years after Lenin had argued that <i>"[w]hen we are reproached
with having established a dictatorship of one party . . .
we say, 'Yes, it is a dictatorship of one party! This is
what we stand for and we shall not shift from that position
. . .'"</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, vol. 29, p. 535] And, of course, they
did not shift from that position! Indeed, Lenin's comments
came just a few months after all opposition parties and 
factions within the Communist Party had been banned and 
after the Kronstadt rebellion and a wave of strikes calling 
for free soviet elections had been repressed. Clearly, the 
term <i>"proletarian democracy"</i> had a drastically different 
meaning to Lenin than to most people!
<p>
Indeed, the identification of party power and working class
power reaches its height (or, more correctly, depth) in the
works of Lenin and Trotsky. Lenin, for example, argued that
<i>"the correct understanding of a Communist of his tasks"</i> 
lies in <i>"correctly gauging the conditions and the moment when the
vanguard of the proletariat can successfully seize power,
when it will be able during and after this seizure of power
to obtain support from sufficiently broad strata of the
working class and of the non-proletarian toiling masses,
and when, thereafter, it will be able to maintain, 
consolidate, and extend its rule, educating, training and
attracting ever broader masses of the toilers."</i> Note, the
vanguard (the party) seizes power, <b>not</b> the masses. Indeed, 
he stressed that the <i>"very presentation of the question --
'dictatorship of the Party <b>or</b> dictatorship of the class,
dictatorship (Party) of the leaders <b>or</b> dictatorship 
(Party) of the masses?' is evidence of the most incredible
and hopeless confusion of mind"</i> and <i>"[t]o go so far . . . 
as to draw a contrast in general between the dictatorship 
of the masses and the dictatorship of the leaders, is 
ridiculously absurd and stupid."</i> [<b>Left-Wing Communism: 
An Infantile Disorder</b>, p. 35, p. 27 and p. 25]
<p>
Lenin stressed this idea numerous times. For example, in
1920 he argued that <i>"the dictatorship of the proletariat 
cannot be exercised through an organisation embracing the 
whole of the class, because in all capitalist countries 
(and not only over here, in one of the most backward) the 
proletariat is still so divided, so degraded, and so 
corrupted in parts . . . that an organisation taking in 
the whole proletariat cannot direct exercise proletarian 
dictatorship. It can be exercised only by a vanguard
. . . Such is the basic mechanism of the dictatorship
of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the essentials
of transitions from capitalism to communism . . . for 
the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be exercised 
by a mass proletarian organisation."</i> [<b>Collected Works</b>, 
vol. 32, p. 21]
<p>
Trotsky agreed with this lesson and argued it to the end
of his life:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The revolutionary dictatorship of a proletarian party is for 
me not a thing that one can freely accept or reject: It is an 
objective necessity imposed upon us by the social realities -- 
the class struggle, the heterogeneity of the revolutionary 
class, the necessity for a selected vanguard in order to 
assure the victory. The dictatorship of a party belongs to the 
barbarian prehistory as does the state itself, but we can not 
jump over this chapter, which can open (not at one stroke) 
genuine human history. . . The revolutionary party 
(vanguard) which renounces its own dictatorship surrenders 
the masses to the counter-revolution . . . Abstractly 
speaking, it would be very well if the party dictatorship 
could be replaced by the 'dictatorship' of the whole toiling 
people without any party, but this presupposes such a high 
level of political development among the masses that it can 
never be achieved under capitalist conditions. The reason 
for the revolution comes from the circumstance that 
capitalism does not permit the material and the moral 
development of the masses."</i> [<b>Writings 1936-37</b>, pp. 513-4]
</blockquote><p>
This point is reiterated in his essay, <i>"Stalinism and 
Bolshevism"</i> (again, written in 1937) when he argued that:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Those who propose the abstraction of Soviets to the 
party dictatorship should understand that only thanks to 
the party dictatorship were the Soviets able to lift 
themselves out of the mud of reformism and attain the
state form of the proletariat."</i> [<b>Socialist Review</b>, no. 146, p. 18]
</blockquote><p>
How soviet democracy can exist within the context of
a party dictatorship is left to the imagination of the
reader! Rather than the working class as a whole seizing 
power, it is the "vanguard" which takes power -- <i>"a 
revolutionary party, even after seizing power . . . is 
still by no means the sovereign ruler of society."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 16] Needless to say, he was just repeating
the same arguments he had made while in power during the
Russian Revolution (see 
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a> for details). Nor
was he the only one. Zinoviev, another leading Bolshevik, 
argued in 1920 along the same lines:
<p><blockquote><i>
"soviet rule in Russia could not have been maintained for 
three years -- not even three weeks -- without the iron 
dictatorship of the Communist Party. Any class conscious 
worker must understand that the dictatorship of the 
working class can by achieved only by the dictatorship 
of its vanguard, i.e., by the Communist Party . . . All 
questions of economic reconstruction, military organisation, 
education, food supply -- all these questions, on which 
the fate if the proletarian revolution depends absolutely, 
are decided in Russia before all other matters and mostly 
in the framework of the party organisations . . . Control 
by the party over soviet organs, over the trade unions, 
is the single durable guarantee that any measures taken 
will serve not special interests, but the interests of 
the entire proletariat."</i> [quoted by Oskar Anweiler, 
<b>The Soviets</b>, pp. 239-40]
</blockquote><p>
How these positions, clearly argued as inevitable for <b>any</b>
revolution, can be reconciled with workers' democracy,
power or freedom is not explained. As such, the idea that
Leninism (usually considered as mainstream Marxism) is 
inherently democratic or a supporter of power to the people
is clearly flawed. The leading lights of Bolshevism argued
that the dictatorship of the proletariat could only be
achieved by the dictatorship of the party. Indeed, the
whole rationale for party dictatorship came from the 
fundamental rationale for democracy, namely that any
government should reflect the changing opinions of the 
masses. In the words of Trotsky:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The very same masses are at different times inspired 
by different moods and objectives. It is just for this 
reason that a centralised organisation of the vanguard 
is indispensable. Only a party, wielding the authority 
it has won, is capable of overcoming the vacillation 
of the masses themselves."</i> [<b>The Moralists and Sycophants</b>,
p. 59]
</blockquote><p>
This position has its roots in the uneven political 
development within the working class (i.e. that the
working class contains numerous political perspectives
within it). As the party (according to Leninist theory)
contains the most advanced ideas (and, again according
to Leninist theory, the working class cannot reach 
beyond a trade union consciousness by its own efforts), 
the party must take power to ensure that the masses do not 
make "mistakes" or "waver" ("vacillation") during a 
revolution. From such a perspective to the position
of party dictatorship is not far (and a journey that
all the leading Bolsheviks, including Lenin and Trotsky, 
we must note, did in fact take).
<p>
In contrast, anarchists argue that precisely because of 
political differences we need the fullest possible democracy 
and freedom to discuss issues and reach agreements. Only 
by discussion and self-activity can the political 
perspectives of those in struggle develop and change. In 
other words, the fact Bolshevism uses to justify its 
support for party power is the strongest argument against 
it. For anarchists, the idea of a revolutionary government 
is a contradiction. As Italian anarchist Malatesta put it, 
<i>"if you consider these worthy electors as unable to look 
after their own interests themselves, how is it that they 
will know how to choose for themselves the shepherds who 
must guide them? And how will they be able to solve this 
problem of social alchemy, of producing a genius from the 
votes of a mass of fools?"</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 53]
<p>
As such, anarchists think that power should be in the 
hands of the masses themselves. Only freedom or the 
struggle for freedom can be the school of freedom. That 
means that, to quote Bakunin, <i>"since it is the people 
which must make the revolution everywhere . . . the ultimate 
direction of it must at all times be vested in the people 
organised into a free federation of agricultural and 
industrial organisations . . . organised from the bottom up 
through revolutionary delegation."</i> [<b>No God, No Masters</b>,
vol. 1, pp. 155-6]
<p>
Clearly, then, the question of state/party power is one dividing
anarchists and most Marxists. These arguments by leading 
Bolsheviks confirm Bakunin's fear that the Marxists aimed
for <i>"a tyranny of the minority over a majority in the name
of the people -- in the name of the stupidity of the many
and the superior wisdom of the few."</i> [<b>Marxism, Freedom
and the State</b>, p. 63] Again, though, we must stress that
libertarian Marxists like the council communists agree with
anarchists on this subject and reject the whole idea that
dictatorship of a party equals the dictatorship of the
working class. As such, the Marxist tradition as a whole
does not confuse this issue, although the majority of it
does. We must stress that not all Marxists are Leninists. 
A few (council communists, situationists, autonomists, and 
so on) are far closer to anarchism. They also reject the idea 
of party power/dictatorship, the use of elections, for direct 
action, argue for the abolition of wage slavery by workers'
self-management of production and so on. They represent 
the best in Marx's work and should not be lumped with the 
followers of Bolshevism. Sadly, they are in the minority.
<p>
Finally, we should indicate other important areas of difference. 
Some are summarised by Lenin in his work <b>The State and 
Revolution</b>:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The difference between the Marxists and the anarchists is
this: 1) the former, while aiming at the complete abolition
of the state, recognise that this aim can only be achieved
after classes have been abolished by the socialist revolution,
as the result of the establishment of socialism which leads
to the withering away of the state. The latter want to abolish
the state completely overnight, failing to understand the
conditions under which the state can be abolished 2) the 
former recognise that after the proletariat has conquered 
political power it must utterly destroy the old state machine 
and substitute it for it a new one consisting of the 
organisation of armed workers, after the type of the 
Commune. The latter, while advocating the destruction of 
the state machine, have absolutely no idea of <b>what</b> the 
proletariat will put in its place and <b>how</b> it will use 
its revolutionary power; the anarchists even deny that 
the revolutionary proletariat should utilise its state 
power, its revolutionary dictatorship; 3) the former demand 
that the proletariat be prepared for revolution by utilising 
the present state; the latter reject this."</i> [<b>Essential 
Works of Lenin</b>, p. 358]
</blockquote><p>
We will discuss each of these points in the next three
sections. Point one will be discussed in 
<a href="secH1.html#sech13">section H.1.3</a>,
the second in <a href="secH1.html#sech14">section H.1.4</a> 
and the third and final one in
<a href="secH1.html#sech15">section H.1.5</a>. 
<p>
<a name="sech13"><H2>H.1.3 Why do anarchists wish to abolish the state <i>"overnight"</i>?</H2>
<p>
As indicated at the end of the 
<a href="secH1.html#sech12">last section</a>, Lenin argued that
while Marxists aimed <i>"at the complete abolition of the state"</i>
they <i>"recognise that this aim can only be achieved after 
classes have been abolished by the socialist revolution"</i>
while anarchists <i>"want to abolish the state completely 
overnight."</i> This issue is usually summarised by Marxists
arguing that a new state is required to replace the destroyed 
bourgeois one. This new state is called by Marxists "the 
dictatorship of the proletariat" or a workers' state. Anarchists 
reject this transitional state while Marxists embrace it. Indeed, 
according to Lenin <i>"a Marxist is one who <b>extends</b> the acceptance 
of the class struggle to the acceptance of the <b>dictatorship
of the proletariat</b>."</i> [<b>Essential Works of Lenin</b>, p. 358
and p. 294]
<p>
So what does the "dictatorship of the proletariat" actually 
mean? Generally, Marxists seem to imply that this term 
simply means the defence of the revolution and so the
anarchist rejection of the dictatorship of the proletariat 
means the rejection of the defence of a revolution. Anarchists, 
they argue, differ from Marxist-communists in that we reject 
the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat, where the 
formerly oppressed use coercion to ensure that remnants of 
the oppressing classes do not resurrect the old society. This
particular straw man was used by Lenin in <b>State and Revolution</b>
when he quoted Marx to suggest that anarchists would <i>"lay down
their arms"</i> after a successful revolution. Such a <i>"laying down
of arms"</i> would mean the <i>"abolition of the state"</i> 
while defending the revolution by violence would mean 
<i>"giv[ing] the state a revolutionary and transitory form."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 315]
<p>
That such an argument can be made, never mind repeated, suggests
a lack of honesty. It assumes that the Marxist and Anarchist
definitions of "the state" are identical. They are not. As such,
it is pretty meaningless to argue, as Lenin did, that when 
anarchists talk about abolishing the state they mean that they
will not defend a revolution. As Malatesta put it, some <i>"seem 
almost to believe that after having brought down government 
and private property we would allow both to be quietly built 
up again, because of respect for the <b>freedom</b> of those who 
might feel the need to be rulers and property owners. A 
truly curious way of interpreting our ideas."</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, 
p. 41]
<p>
For anarchists the state, government, means <i>"the delegation
of power, that is the abdication of initiative and sovereignty
of all into the hands of a few."</i> [Malatesta, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 40] 
For Marxists,
the state is <i>"an organ of class <b>rule</b>, an organ for the
<b>oppression</b> of one class by another."</i> [Lenin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 274] That these definitions are in conflict is clear and
unless this difference is made explicit, anarchist opposition
to the "dictatorship of the proletariat" cannot be clearly
understood.
<p>
Anarchists, of course, agree that the current state is the
means by which the bourgeois class enforces its rule over
society. In Bakunin's words, <i>"the political state has no
other mission but to protect the exploitation of the people
by the economically privileged classes."</i> [<b>The Political
Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 221] Under capitalism, as Malatesta
succulently put, the state is <i>"the bourgeoisie's servant and
<b>gendarme</b>."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 20] The reason why the state is
marked by centralised power is due to its role as the protector
of (minority) class rule. As such, a state cannot be anything but 
a defender of minority power as its centralised and hierarchical
structure is designed for that purpose. If the working class
really was running society, as Marxists claim they would be in
the "dictatorship of the proletariat," then it would not be
a state. As Bakunin argued, <i>"[w]here all rule, there are no 
more ruled, and there is no State."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 223]
<p>
As such, the idea that anarchists, by rejecting the "dictatorship
of the proletariat," also reject defending a revolution is false.
We do not equate the "dictatorship of the proletariat" with the 
need to defend a revolution or expropriating the capitalist 
class, ending capitalism and building socialism. Anarchists 
from Bakunin onwards have taken both of these necessities 
for granted (also see sections 
<a href="secH2.html#sech21">H.2.1</a>, 
<a href="secI5.html#seci514">I.5.14</a> and 
<a href="secJ7.html#secj76">J.7.6</a>). As 
he stressed, <i>"the sole means of opposing the reactionary forces 
of the state"</i> was the <i>"organising of the revolutionary force of 
the people."</i> This revolution involve <i>"the free construction of 
popular life in accordance with popular needs . . . from below 
upward, by the people themselves . . . [in] a voluntary
alliance of agricultural and factory worker associations, 
communes, provinces, and nations."</i> [<b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, 
p. 156 and p. 33]
<p>
As we discuss this particular Marxist straw man in 
<a href="secH2.html#sech21">section H.2.1</a>,
we will leave our comments at this. Clearly, then, anarchists do
not reject defending a revolution. We argue that the state must
be abolished "overnight" as any state is marked by hierarchical
power and can only empower the few at the expense of the many.
The state will not "wither away" as Marxists claim simply because
it excludes, by its very nature, the active participation of the
bulk of the population and ensures a new class division in society:
those in power (the party) and those subject to it (the working
class). 
<p>
Georges Fontenis sums up anarchist concerns on this issue:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The formula 'dictatorship of the proletariat' has been used 
to mean many different things. If for no other reason it 
should be condemned as a cause of confusion. With Marx it 
can just as easily mean the centralised dictatorship of 
the party which claims to represent the proletariat as it 
can the federalist conception of the Commune.
<p>
"Can it mean the exercise of political power by the victorious 
working class? No, because the exercise of political power in 
the recognised sense of the term can only take place through 
the agency of an exclusive group practising a monopoly of 
power, separating itself from the class and oppressing it. 
And this is how the attempt to use a State apparatus can 
reduce the dictatorship of the proletariat to the dictatorship 
of the party over the masses.
<p>
"But if by dictatorship of the proletariat is understood 
collective and direct exercise of 'political power', this 
would mean the disappearance of 'political power' since its 
distinctive characteristics are supremacy, exclusivity and 
monopoly. It is no longer a question of exercising or seizing 
political power, it is about doing away with it all together!
<p>
"If by dictatorship is meant the domination of the majority 
by a minority, then it is not a question of giving power to 
the proletariat but to a party, a distinct political group. 
If by dictatorship is meant the domination of a minority by 
the majority (domination by the victorious proletariat of 
the remnants of a bourgeoisie that has been defeated as a 
class) then the setting up of dictatorship means nothing 
but the need for the majority to efficiently arrange for 
its defence its own social Organisation.
<p>
[...]
<p>
"The terms 'domination', 'dictatorship' and 'state' are as 
little appropriate as the expression 'taking power' for the 
revolutionary act of the seizure of the factories by the workers.
<p>
We reject then as inaccurate and causes of confusion the 
expressions 'dictatorship of the proletariat', 'taking political 
power', 'workers state', 'socialist state' and 'proletarian state'."</i>
[<b>Manifesto of Libertarian Communism</b>, pp. 22-3]
</blockquote><p>
In summary, anarchists argue that the state has to be abolished
"overnight" simply because a state is marked by hierarchical
power and the exclusion of the bulk of the population from
the decision making process. It cannot be used to implement
socialism simply because it is not designed that way. To extend
and defend a revolution a state is not required. Indeed, it is
a hindrance:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The mistake of authoritarian communists in this connection is the 
belief that fighting and organising are impossible without 
submission to a government; and thus they regard anarchists . . . 
as the foes of all organisation and all co-ordinated struggle. We, 
on the other hand, maintain that not only are revolutionary 
struggle and revolutionary organisation possible outside and in 
spite of government interference but that, indeed, that is the 
only effective way to struggle and organise, for it has the active 
participation of all members of the collective unit, instead of 
their passively entrusting themselves to the authority of the 
supreme leaders.
<p>
"Any governing body is an impediment to the real organisation of 
the broad masses, the majority. Where a government exists, then 
the only really organised people are the minority who make up the 
government; and . . . if the masses do organise, they do so 
against it, outside it, or at the very least, independently of it. 
In ossifying into a government, the revolution as such would fall 
apart, on account of its awarding that government the monopoly of 
organisation and of the means of struggle."</i> [Luigi Fabbri, "Anarchy 
and 'Scientific' Communism", in <b>The Poverty of Statism</b>, pp. 13-49, 
Albert Meltzer (ed.), p. 27]
</blockquote><p>
For anarchists, the abolition of the state does not mean rejecting
the need to extend or defend a revolution (quite the reverse!). It
means rejecting a system of organisation designed by and for minorities
to ensure their rule. To create a state (even a "workers' state") 
means to delegate power away from the working class and eliminate
their power in favour of party power. In place of a state anarchists'
argue for a free federation of workers' organisations as the means
of conducting a revolution (and the framework for its defence). 
<p>
As we discuss in the 
<a href="secH1.html#sech14">next section</a>, anarchists see this federation of
workers' associations and communes (the framework of a free society)
as being based on the organisations working class people create in 
their struggle against capitalism. These self-managed organisations,
by refusing to become part of a centralised state, will ensure the
success of a revolution.
<p>
<a name="sech14"><H2>H.1.4 Do anarchists have <i>"absolutely no idea"</i> of what the proletariat will put in place of the state?</H2>
<p>
Lenin's second claim is that anarchists, <i>"while advocating the 
destruction of the state machine, have absolutely no idea of 
<b>what</b> the proletariat will put in its place"</i> and compares 
this to the Marxists who argue for a new state machine 
<i>"consisting of armed workers, after the type of the Commune."</i> 
[<b>Essential Works of Lenin</b>, p. 358] For anarchists, Lenin's 
assertion simply shows his unfamiliarity with anarchist 
literature and need not be taken seriously -- anyone 
familiar will anarchist theory would simply laugh at such 
comments. Sadly, most Marxists are <b>not</b> familiar with 
that theory, so we need to explain two things. Firstly, 
anarchists have very clear ideas on what to "replace" 
the state with (namely a federation of communes based 
on working class associations). Secondly, that this idea 
is based on the idea of armed workers, inspired by the 
Paris Commune (although predicted by Bakunin). 
<p>
Moreover, for anarchists Lenin's comment seems somewhat 
incredulous. As George Barrett puts it, in reply to the 
question <i>"if you abolish government, what will you put it 
its place,"</i> this <i>"seems to an Anarchist very much as if a 
patient asked the doctor, 'If you take away my illness, 
what will you give me in its place?' The Anarchist's 
argument is that government fulfils no useful purpose 
. . . It is the headquarters of the profit-makers, the 
rent-takers, and of all those who take from but who do 
not give to society. When this class is abolished by 
the people so organising themselves to run the factories 
and use the land for the benefit of their free communities, 
i.e. for their own benefit, then the Government must also 
be swept away, since its purpose will be gone. The only 
thing then that will be put in the place of government 
will be the free organisation of the workers. When 
Tyranny is abolished, Liberty remains, just as when 
disease is eradicated health remains."</i> [<b>Objections
to Anarchism</b>]
<p>
However, Barrett's answer does contain the standard anarchist
position on what will be the basis of a revolutionary society,
namely that the <i>"only thing then that will be put in the place 
of government will be the free organisation of the workers."</i> This
is a concise summary of anarchist theory and cannot be bettered.
This vision, as we discussed in 
<a href="secI2.html#seci23">section I.2.3</a> in some detail, 
can be found in the work of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta and
a host of other anarchist thinkers. Since anarchists from Bakunin 
onwards have stressed that a federation of workers' associations 
would constitute the framework of a free society, to assert 
otherwise is little more than a joke or a slander. To quote
Bakunin:
<p><blockquote><i>
"the federative alliance of all working men's associations . . . 
[will] constitute the Commune . . . [the] Communal Council [will 
be] composed of . . . delegates  . . . vested with plenary but
accountable and removable mandates. . . all provinces, communes 
and associations . . . by first reorganising on revolutionary lines 
. . . [will] constitute the federation of insurgent associations, 
communes and provinces . . . [and] organise a revolutionary force 
capable defeating reaction . . . [and for] self-defence . . . 
[The] revolution everywhere must be created by the people, and 
supreme control must always belong to the people organised into a 
free federation of agricultural and industrial associations . . . 
organised from the bottom upwards by means of revolutionary 
delegation. . ."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, pp. 170-2]
</blockquote><p>
And:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The future social organisation must be made solely from the 
bottom up, by the free association or federation of workers, 
firstly in their unions, then in the communes, regions, 
nations and finally in a great federation, international 
and universal."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 206]
</blockquote><p>
Similar ideas can easily be found in the works of other anarchists.
While the actual names and specific details of these federations
of workers' associations may change (for example, the factory
committees and soviets in the Russian Revolution, the collectives
in Spain, the section assemblies in the French Revolution are
a few of them) the basic ideas are the same. Bakunin also pointed
to the means of defence, a workers' militia (the people armed,
as per the Paris Commune):
<p><blockquote><i>
"While it [the revolution] will be carried out locally everywhere,
the revolution will of necessity take a federalist format. 
Immediately after established government has been overthrown,
communes will have to reorganise themselves along revolutionary
lines . . . In order to defend the revolution, their volunteers 
will at the same time form a communal militia. But no commune can 
defend itself in isolation. So it will be necessary for each of 
them to radiate outwards, to raise all its neighbouring communes 
in revolt . . . and to federate with them for common defence."</i> 
[<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1, p. 142]
</blockquote><p>
A major difference between anarchism and Marxism which Lenin 
points to is, clearly, false. Anarchists are well aware of what
should <i>"replace"</i> the bourgeois state and have always been so.
The <b>real</b> difference is simply that anarchists say what they
mean while Lenin's "new" state did not, in fact, mean working
class power but rather party power. We discussed this issue in
more detail in 
<a href="secH1.html#sech12">section H.1.2</a>, so we will not do so here.
<p>
As for Lenin's comment that we have <i>"absolutely no ideas"</i> of how 
the working class <i>"will use its revolutionary power"</i> suggests 
more ignorance, as we have urged working people to expropriate 
the expropriators, reorganise production under workers' 
self-management and start to construct society from the bottom 
upwards (a quick glance at Kropotkin's <b>Conquest of Bread</b>,
for example, would soon convince any reader of the inaccuracy 
of Lenin's comment). This summary by the anarchist Jura Federation 
(written in 1880) gives a flavour of anarchist ideas on this
subject:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The bourgeoisie's power over the popular masses springs from
economic privileges, political domination and the enshrining
of such privileges in the laws. So we must strike at the 
wellsprings of bourgeois power, as well as its various
manifestations.
<p>
"The following measures strike us as essential to the welfare
of the revolution, every bit as much as armed struggle against
its enemies:
<p>
"The insurgents must confiscate social capital, landed estates,
mines, housing, religious and public buildings, instruments of
labour, raw materials, gems and precious stones and manufactured
products:
<p>
"All political, administrative and judicial authorities are
to be abolished.
<p>
". . . What should the organisational measures of the revolution
be?
<p>
"Immediate and spontaneous establishment of trade bodies:
provisional assumption by those of . . . social capital . . .:
local federation of a trades bodies and labour organisation:
<p>
"Establishment of neighbourhood groups and federations of same . . .
<p>
[. . .]
<p>
"[T]he federation of all the revolutionary forces of the insurgent
Communes . . . Federation of Communes and organisation of the
masses, with an eye to the revolution's enduring until such
time as all reactionary activity has been completely eradicated.
<p>
[. . .]
<p>
"Once trade bodies have been have been established, the next step
is to organise local life. The organ of this life is to be the
federation of trades bodies and it is this local federation which
is to constitute the future Commune."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, 
vol. 1, pp. 246-7]
</blockquote><p>
Clearly, anarchists do have some ideas on what the working class
will <i>"replace"</i> the state with and how it will use its 
<i>"revolutionary power"</i>!
<p>
Similarly, Lenin's statement that <i>"the anarchists even deny 
that the revolutionary proletariat should utilise its state 
power, its revolutionary dictatorship"</i> again distorts the
anarchist position. As we argued in 
<a href="secH1.html#sech12">section H.1.2</a>, our 
objection to the "state power" of the proletariat is
precisely <b>because</b> it cannot, by its very nature as a
state, actually allow the working class to manage society
directly (and, of course, it automatically excludes other
sections of the working masses, such as the peasantry and
artisans). We argued that, in practice, it would simply
mean the dictatorship of a few party leaders. This position, 
we must stress, was one Lenin himself was arguing in the 
year after completing <b>State and Revolution</b>. Ironically,
the leading Bolsheviks (as we have seen in 
<a href="secH1.html#sech12">section H.1.2</a>) 
confirmed the anarchist argument that the "dictatorship 
of the proletariat" would, in fact, become a dictatorship 
<b>over</b> the proletariat by the party.
<p>
Italian anarchist Camillo Berneri sums up the differences well:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The Marxists . . . foresee the natural disappearance of the State 
as a consequence of the destruction of classes by the means of 
'the dictatorship of the proletariat,' that is to say State 
Socialism, whereas the Anarchists desire the destruction of the 
classes by means of a social revolution which eliminates, with the 
classes, the State. The Marxists, moreover, do not propose the 
armed conquest of the Commune by the whole proletariat, but the 
propose the conquest of the State by the party which imagines that 
it represents the proletariat. The Anarchists allow the use of 
direct power by the proletariat, but they understand by the organ 
of this power to be formed by the entire corpus of systems of 
communist administration-corporate organisations [i.e. industrial 
unions], communal institutions, both regional and national-freely 
constituted outside and in opposition to all political monopoly by 
parties and endeavouring to a minimum administrational 
centralisation."</i> [<i>"Dictatorship of the Proletariat and State 
Socialism"</i>, <b>Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review</b>, no. 4, p. 52]
</blockquote><p>
Clearly, Lenin's assertions are little more than straw men.
<p>
<a name="sech15"><H2>H.1.5 Why do anarchists reject <i>"utilising the present state"</i>?</H2>
<p>
Lastly, there is the question of Marxists demanding (in 
the words of Lenin) <i>"that the proletariat be prepared for 
revolution by utilising the present state"</i> while anarchists 
<i>"reject this."</i> Today, of course, this has changed. 
Libertarian Marxists, such as council communists, also 
reject <i>"utilising the present state"</i> to train the 
proletariat for revolution (i.e. for socialists to stand 
for elections). For anarchists, the use of elections does
not "prepare" the working class for revolution (i.e. managing
their own affairs and society). Rather, it prepares them to
follow leaders and let others act for them. In the words of
Rudolf Rocker:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Participation in the politics of the bourgeois States has not 
brought the labour movement a hair's-breadth nearer to Socialism, 
but thanks to this method, Socialism has almost been completely 
crushed and condemned to insignificance. . . Participation in 
parliamentary politics has affected the Socialist Labour movement 
like an insidious poison. It destroyed the belief in the necessity 
of constructive Socialist activity, and, worse of all, the impulse 
to self-help, by inoculating people with the ruinous delusion 
that salvation always comes from above."</i> [<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, 
p. 49] 
</blockquote><p>
While electoral ("political") activity ensures that the masses 
become accustomed to following leaders and letting them act 
on their behalf, anarchists' support direct action as <i>"the 
best available means for preparing the masses to manage their 
own personal and collective interests; and besides, anarchists 
feel that even now the working people are fully capable of 
handling their own political and administrative interests."</i>
[Luigi Galleani, <b>The End of Anarchism?</b>, pp. 13-4]
<p>
Anarchists, therefore, argue that we need to reclaim the power 
which has been concentrated into the hands of the state. That 
is why we stress direct action. Direct action means action by 
the people themselves, that is action directly taken by those 
directly affected. Through direct action, the people dominate 
their own struggles, it is they who conduct it, organise it, 
manage it. They do not hand over to others their own acts and 
task of self-liberation. That way, we become accustomed to 
managing our own affairs, creating alternative, libertarian, 
forms of social organisation which can become a force to 
resist the state, win reforms and, ultimately, become the 
framework of a free society. In other words, direct action 
creates organs of self-activity (such as community assemblies, 
factory committees, workers' councils, and so on) which, to
use Bakunin's words, are <i>"creating not only the ideas but 
also the facts of the future itself."</i>
<p>
In other words, the idea that socialists standing for elections
somehow prepares working class people for revolution is simply 
wrong. Utilising the state, standing in elections, only prepares 
people for following leaders -- it does not encourage the 
self-activity, self-organisation, direct action and mass 
struggle required for a social revolution. Moreover, as we
noted in the 
<a href="secH1.html#sech11">section H.1.1</a>, use of elections 
has a corrupting
effect on those who use it. The history of radicals using
elections has been a long one of betrayal and the transformation
of revolutionary parties into reformist ones (see 
<a href="secJ2.html#secj26">section J.2.6</a>
for more discussion). Thus using the existing state ensures
that the division at the heart of existing society (namely a
few who govern and the many who obey) is reproduced in the
movements trying to abolish it. It boils down to handing effective
leadership to special people, to "leaders," just when the
situation requires working people to solve their own problems
and take matters into their own hands. Only the struggle for
freedom (or freedom itself) can be the school for freedom,
and by placing power into the hands of leaders, utilising 
the existing state ensures that socialism is postponed rather
than prepared for.
<p>
Moreover, Marxist support for electioneering is somewhat at odds 
with their claims of being in favour of collective, mass action. 
There is nothing more isolated, atomised and individualistic than 
voting. It is the act of one person in a box by themselves. 
It is the total opposite of collective struggle. The individual 
is alone before, during and after the act of voting. Indeed, 
unlike direct action, which, by its very nature, throws up 
new forms of organisation in order to manage and co-ordinate 
the struggle, voting creates no alternative organs of working 
class self-management. Nor can it as it is not based on nor 
does it create collective action or organisation. It simply 
empowers an individual (the elected representative) to act on 
behalf of a collection of other individuals (the voters). Such 
delegation will hinder collective organisation and action as 
the voters expect their representative to act and fight for 
them -- if they did not, they would not vote for them in the 
first place!
<p>
Given that Marxists usually slander anarchists as "individualists" 
the irony is delicious!
<p>
If we look at the Poll-Tax campaign in the UK in the late 1980s
and early 1990s, we can see what would happen to a mass movement 
which utilised electioneering. The various left-wing parties, 
particularly Militant (now the Socialist Party) spent a lot of 
time and effort lobbying Labour Councillors not to implement 
the tax (with no success). Let us assume they had succeeded 
and the Labour Councillors had refused to implement the tax 
(or "socialist" candidates had been elected to stop it). What 
would have happened? Simply that there would not have been 
a mass movement or mass organisation based on non-payment, 
nor self-organised direct action to resist warrant sales, 
nor community activism of any form.  Rather, the campaign 
would have consisted to supporting the councillors in their 
actions, mass rallies in which the leaders would have 
informed us of their activities on our behalf and, perhaps, 
rallies and marches to protest any action the government had 
inflicted on them. The leaders may have called for some form 
of mass action but this action would not have come from below 
and so not a product of working class self-organisation, 
self-activity and self-reliance. Rather, it would have been 
purely re-active and a case of follow the leader, without 
the empowering and liberating aspects of taking action by 
yourself, as a conscious and organised group. It would have
replaced the struggle of millions with the actions of a
handful of leaders.
<p>
Of course, even discussing this possibility indicates how 
remote it is from reality. The Labour Councillors were not 
going to act -- they were far too "practical" for that. 
Years of working within the system, of using elections, 
had taken their toll decades ago. Anarchists, of course, 
saw the usefulness of picketing the council meetings, of 
protesting against the Councillors and showing them a 
small example of the power that existed to resist them 
if they implemented the tax. As such, the picket would 
have been an expression of direct action, as it was based 
on showing the power of our direct action and class 
organisations. Lobbying, however, was building illusions 
in "leaders" acting for us to and based on pleading rather 
than defiance. But, then again, Militant desired to replace 
the current leaders with themselves and so would not object 
to such tactics. 
<p>
Unfortunately, the Socialists never really questioned <b>why</b> 
they had to lobby the councillors in the first place -- 
if utilising the existing state <b>was</b> a valid radical 
or revolutionary tactic, why has it always resulted in 
a de-radicalising of those who use it? This would be 
the inevitable results of any movement which "complements" 
direct action with electioneering. The focus of the 
movement will change from the base to the top, from 
self-organisation and direct action from below to 
passively supporting the leaders. This may not happen 
instantly, but over time, just as the party degenerates
by working within the system, the mass movement will be 
turned into an electoral machine for the party -- even 
arguing against direct action in case it harms the 
election chances of the leaders. Just as the trade 
union leaders have done again and again.
<p>
All in all, the history of socialists actually using elections
has been a dismal failure. Rather than prepare the masses
for revolution, it has done the opposite. As we argue in
<a href="secJ2.html">section J.2</a>, 
this is to be expected. That Lenin could still
argue along these lines even after the betrayal of social
democracy indicates a lack of desire to learn the lessons
of history.
<p>
<a name="sech16"><H2>H.1.6 Why do anarchists try to <i>"build the new world in the shell of the old"</i>?</H2>
<p>
Another key difference between anarchists and Marxists is on 
how the movement against capitalism should organise in the 
here and now. Anarchists argue that it should prefigure the 
society we desire -- namely it should be self-managed, 
decentralised, built and organised from the bottom-up in 
a federal structure. This perspective can be seen from the 
justly famous <i>"Circular of the Sixteen"</i>:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The future society should be nothing but a universalisation 
of the organisation which the International will establish for 
itself. We must therefore take care to bring this organisation 
as near as possible to our ideal . . . How could one expect an 
egalitarian and free society to grow out of an authoritarian 
organisation? That is impossible. The International, embryo of 
the future human society, must be, from now on, the faithful 
image of our principles of liberty and federation."</i> [quoted by
Marx, <b>Fictitious Splits in the International</b>]
</blockquote><p>
This simply echoes Bakunin's argument that the <i>"organisation 
of the trade sections, their federation in the International, 
and their representation by the Chambers of Labour, not only 
create a great academy, in which the workers of the International, 
combining theory and practice, can and must study economic science, 
they also bear in themselves the living germs of <b>the new social 
order,</b> which is to replace the bourgeois world. They are creating 
not only the ideas but also the facts of the future itself."</i> 
[quoted by Rocker, <b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 45] Anarchists apply
this insight to all organisations they take part in, stressing
that the only way we can create a self-managed society is by
self-managing our own struggles and organisations today. In this
way we turn our class organisations (indeed, the class struggle 
itself) into practical and effective <i>"schools of anarchism"</i> in 
which we learn to manage our own affairs without hierarchy and bosses.
<p>
Marxists reject this argument. Instead they stress the importance
of centralisation and consider the anarchist argument as utopian.
For effective struggle, strict centralisation is required as the
capitalist class and state is also centralised. In other words, to 
fight for socialism there is a need to organise in a way which the
capitalists have utilised -- to fight fire with fire. Unfortunately
they forget to extinguish a fire you have to use water. Adding more
flame will only increase the combustion, <b>not</b> put it out!
<p>
Of course, Marx misrepresented the anarchist position. He argued
that the Paris Communards <i>"would not have failed if they had 
understood that the Commune was 'the embryo of the future human 
society' and had cast away all discipline and all arms -- that is, 
the things which must  disappear when there are no more wars!"</i>
[<b>Ibid.</b>] Needless to say this is simply a slander on the anarchist
position. Anarchists, as the Circular makes clear, recognise that
we cannot totally reflect the future and so the current movement
can only be <i>"as near as possible to our ideal."</i> Thus we have to
do things, such as fighting the bosses, rising in insurrection,
smashing the state or defending a revolution, which we would not 
have to do in a socialist society. Such common sense, unfortunately,
is lacking in Marx who instead decides to utter nonsense for a
cheap polemical point. He never answered the basic point -- how do
people become able to manage society if they do not directly manage 
their own organisations and struggles? How can a self-managed
society come about unless people practice it in the here and
now? Can people create a socialist society if they do not implement
its basic ideas in their current struggles and organisations?
<p>
Ironically enough, given his own and his followers claims of 
his theory's proletarian core, it is Marx who was at odds with 
the early labour movement, <b>not</b> Bakunin and the anarchists. 
Historian Gwyn A. Williams notes in the early British labour 
movement there were <i>"to be no leaders"</i> and the organisations 
were <i>"consciously modelled on the civil society they wished 
to create."</i> [<b>Artisans and Sans-Culottes</b>, p. 72] Lenin, 
unsurprisingly, dismissed the fact that the British workers 
<i>"thought it was an indispensable sign of democracy for all 
the members to do all the work of managing the unions"</i> as 
<i>"primitive democracy"</i> and <i>"absurd."</i> He also complained about 
<i>"how widespread is the 'primitive' conception of democracy 
among the masses of the students and workers"</i> in Russia. 
[<b>Essential Works of Lenin</b>, pp. 162-3] Clearly, the anarchist
perspective reflects the ideas the workers' movement before it
degenerates into reformism and bureaucracy while Marxism reflects
it during this process of degeneration. Needless to say, the 
revolutionary nature of the early union movement compared to 
the reformism and bureaucratic control of the ones with 
"full-time professional officers" clearly shows who was correct!
<p>
Related to this is the fact that Marxists (particularly Leninists)
favour centralisation while anarchists favour decentralisation
within a federal organisation. As such, anarchists do not think
that decentralisation implies isolation or narrow localism. We 
have always stressed the importance of <b>federalism</b> to 
co-ordinate decisions. Power would be decentralised, but 
federalism ensures collective decisions and action. Under
centralised systems, anarchists argue, power is placed into
the hands of a few leaders. Rather than the real interests 
and needs of the people being co-ordinated, centralism simply
means the imposition of the will of a handful of leaders,
who claim to "represent" the masses. Co-ordination, in other
words, is replaced by coercion in the centralised system and
the needs and interests of all are replaced by those of a few
leaders at the centre. 
<p>
Similarly, anarchists and Marxists disagree on the nature of the
future economic and social system of socialism. While it is a
commonplace assumption that anarchists and Marxists seek the
same sort of society but disagree on the means, in actuality
there are substantial differences in their vision of a socialist
society. While both aim for a stateless communist society, the
actual structure of that society is different. Anarchists see it
as fundamentally decentralised and federal while Marxists tend
to envision it as fundamentally centralised. Moreover, Marxists 
such as Lenin saw "socialism" as being compatible with one-man 
management of production by state appointed "directors," armed 
with "dictatorial" powers (see 
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a> for further discussion). 
As such, anarchists argue that the Bolshevik vision of "socialism" 
is little more than state capitalism -- with the state replacing 
the boss as exploiter and oppressor of the working class. As we 
discuss this issue in sections 
<a href="secH3.html#sech38">H.3.8</a> and 
<a href="secH4.html">H.4</a>, we will not do so 
here.
<p>
By failing to understand the importance of applying a vision of
a free society to the current class struggle, Marxists help ensure
that society never is created. By copying bourgeois methods within
their "revolutionary" organisations (parties and unions) they ensure
bourgeois ends (inequality and oppression).
<p>
<a name="sech17"><H2>H.1.7 Haven't you read Lenin's "State and Revolution"?</H2>
<p>
This question is often asked of people who critique Marxism,
particularly its Leninist form. Lenin's <b>State and Revolution</b>
is often considered his most democratic work and Leninists
are quick to point to it as proof that Lenin and those who
follow his ideas are not authoritarian. As such, its an
important question. So how do anarchists reply when people 
point them to Lenin's work as evidence of the democratic 
(even libertarian) nature of Marxism? Anarchists reply 
in two ways. 
<p>
Firstly, we argue many of the essential features of Lenin's 
ideas are to be found in anarchist theory. These features 
had been aspects of anarchism for decades <b>before</b> Lenin 
put pen to paper. Bakunin, for example, talked about 
mandated delegates from workplaces federating into 
workers' councils as the framework of a (libertarian)
socialist society in the 1860s. In the same period he also 
argued for popular militias to defend a revolution. Hence 
Murray Bookchin:
<p><blockquote><i>
"much that passes for 'Marxism' in <b>State and Revolution</b> 
is pure anarchism -- for example, the substitution of 
revolutionary militias for professional armed bodies and 
the substitution of organs of self-management for parliamentary 
bodies. What is authentically Marxist in Lenin's pamphlet is 
the demand for 'strict centralism,' the acceptance of a 'new' 
bureaucracy, and the identification of soviets with a state."</i> 
[<b>Post-Scarcity Anarchism</b>, p. 213]
</blockquote><p>
That this is the case is hidden in Lenin's work as he 
deliberately distorts anarchist ideas in it (see 
sections 
<a href="secH1.html#sech13">H.1.3</a> and 
<a href="secH1.html#sech14">H.1.4</a> for examples). Therefore, 
when Marxists ask whether anarchist have read Lenin's
<b>State and Revolution</b> we reply by arguing that most
of Lenin's ideas were first expressed by anarchists
(while Lenin hide this fact). All in all, Lenin's work just 
strikes anarchists as little more than a re-hash of many 
their own ideas but placed in a statist context which 
totally and utterly undermines them in favour of party rule.
<p>
Secondly, anarchists argue that regardless of what Lenin
argued for in <b>State and Revolution</b>, he did not apply 
those ideas in practice (indeed, he did the exact opposite).
Therefore, the question of whether we have read Lenin's work
simply drives how the ideological nature and theoretical
bankruptcy of Leninism in all its many forms. This is because
the person asking this kind of question is asking you to 
evaluate their politics based on what they say rather than
on what they do, like any politician.
<p>
To use an analogy, what would you say to a politician who 
has cut welfare spending by 50% and increased spending on
the military and who argues that this act is irrelevant and
that you should look at their manifesto which states that 
they were going to do the opposite? Simply put, you would
consider this argument as laughable and them as liars as
you would evaluate them by their actions, not by what they 
say. Yet supporters of Leninism cannot do this (and, ironically 
enough, often quote Marx's words that it is impossible to 
judge either parties or peoples by what they say or think 
about themselves, you have to look at what they do). 
Leninists, by urging you to read Lenin's "State and 
Revolution" are asking you to evaluate them by what 
their manifesto says and ignore what they did. Anarchists, 
on the other hand, ask you to evaluate the Leninist manifesto 
by comparing it to what they actually did in power. Such an 
evaluation is the only means by which we can judge the 
validity of Leninist claims and politics.
<p>
As we discuss the Russian Revolution in more depth in
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a>, 
we will not provide a summary of Lenin's 
claims in his famous work <b>State and Revolution</b> and what
he did in practice here. However, we will say here that the 
difference between reality and rhetoric was extremely large 
and, therefore, it is a damning indictment of Bolshevism. 
Simply put, if the <b>State and Revolution</b> is the manifesto 
of Bolshevism, then not a single promise in that work was 
kept by the Bolsheviks when they got into power. As such, 
Lenin's work cannot be used to evaluate Bolshevism ideology 
as Bolshevism paid no attention to it once it had taken state 
power. While Lenin and his followers chant rhapsodies about
the Soviet State (this 'highest and most perfect system of
democracy") they quickly turned its democratic ideas into a 
fairy-tale, and an ugly fairy-tale at that, by simply ignoring 
it in favour of party power (and party dictatorship). 
<p>
To state the obvious, to quote theory and not relate 
it to the practice of those who claim to follow it is 
a joke. It is little more than sophistry. If you look 
at the actions of the Bolsheviks after the October
Russian Revolution you cannot help draw the conclusion that 
Lenin's <b>State and Revolution</b> has nothing to do with Bolshevik 
policy and presents a false image of what Leninists desire.
As such, we must present a comparison between rhetoric and
realty.
<p>
It will be objected in defence of Leninism that it is unfair
to hold Lenin responsible for the failure to apply his ideas
in practice. The terrible Civil War, in which Soviet Russia
was attacked by numerous armies, and the resulting economic
chaos meant that the objective circumstances made it impossible
to implement his democratic ideas. This argument contains
three flaws. Firstly, as we indicate in 
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a>, the 
undemocratic policies of the Bolsheviks started <b>before</b> 
the start of the Civil War (so suggesting that the hardships 
of the Civil War were not to blame). Secondly, Lenin at no 
time indicated in <b>State and Revolution</b> that it was 
impossible or inapplicable to apply those ideas during 
a revolution in Russia (quite the reverse!). Given that 
Marxists, including Lenin, argue that a "dictatorship of the 
proletariat" is required to defend the revolution against
capitalist resistance it seems incredulous to argue that Lenin's
major theoretical work on that regime was impossible to
apply in precisely the circumstances it was designed for.
Lastly, of course, Lenin himself in 1917 mocked those who 
argued that revolution was out of the question because 
<i>"the circumstances are exceptionally complicated."</i> He 
noting that any revolution, <i>"in its development, would 
give rise to exceptionally complicated circumstances"</i> 
and that it was <i>"the sharpest, most furious, desperate 
class war and civil war. Not a single great revolution 
in history has escaped civil war. No one who does not 
live in a shell could imagine that civil war is conceivable 
without exceptionally complicated circumstances. If there 
were no exceptionally complicated circumstances there 
would be no revolution."</i> [<b>Will the Bolsheviks Maintain 
Power?</b>, p. 80 and p. 81] As such, to blame difficult
objective circumstances for the failure of Bolshevism
to apply the ideas in <b>State and Revolution</b> means to
argue that those ideas are inappropriate for a revolution
(which, we must stress, is what the leading Bolsheviks
actually <b>did</b> end up arguing by their support for party
dictatorship).
<p>
All in all, discussing Lenin's <b>State and Revolution</b> without 
indicating that the Bolsheviks failed to implement its ideas
(indeed, did the exact opposite) suggests a lack of honesty.
It also suggests that the libertarian ideas Lenin appropriated
in that work could not survive being grafted onto the statist
ideas of mainstream Marxism. As such, <b>The State and Revolution</b> 
laid out the foundations and sketched out the essential features 
of an alternative to Leninist ideas -- namely anarchism. Only the 
pro-Leninist tradition has used Lenin's work, almost to quiet 
their conscience, because Lenin, once in power, ignored it 
totally. The Russian Revolution shows that a workers state, 
as anarchists have long argued, means minority power, not
working class self-management of society. As such, Lenin's
work indicates the contradictory nature of Marxism -- while
claiming to support democratic/libertarian ideals they 
promote structures (such as centralised states) which undermine
those values in favour of party rule. The lesson is clear, only
libertarian means can ensure libertarian ends and they have
to be applied consistently within libertarian structures to
work. To apply them to statist ones will simply fail.
<p>
<a name="sech18"><H2>H.1.8 Didn't Engels refute anarchism in 
his essay "On Authority"?</H2>
<p>
No, far from it. Engels (in)famous essay <i>"On Authority"</i> is 
often pointed to by Marxists of various schools as refuting 
anarchism. Indeed, it is often considered the essential 
Marxist work for this and is often trotted out (pun intended)
when anarchist influence is on the rise. However this is not 
the case. In fact, his essay is both politically flawed and 
misrepresentative of his foes opinions. As such, anarchists 
do not think that Engels refuted anarchism in his essay. 
Indeed, rather than refute anarchism, Engels' essay just 
shows his ignorance of the ideas he was critiquing. This 
ignorance essentially rests on the fact that the whole 
concept of authority was defined and understood differently 
by Bakunin and Engels meant that the latter's critique was
flawed. While Engels may have thought that they both were 
speaking of the same thing, in fact they were not. 
<p>
For Engels, all forms of group activity meant the subjection 
of the individuals that make it up. As he puts it, <i>"whoever 
mentions combined action speaks of organisation"</i> and so it 
is not possible <i>"to have organisation without authority,"</i> 
as authority means <i>"the imposition of the will of another 
upon ours . . . authority presupposes subordination."</i> 
[<b>Marx-Engels Reader</b>, p. 731 and p. 730] As such, he 
considers the ideas of Bakunin to fly in the face of 
common sense and so show that he does not know what he 
is talking about. However, it is Engels who shows that 
he does not know what he is talking about.
<p>
The first fallacy in Engels account is that anarchists 
do not oppose all forms of authority. Bakunin was extremely
clear on this issue and differentiated between <b>types</b> of
authority, of which only certain kinds did he oppose. For
example, he asked the question <i>"[d]oes it follow that I
reject all authority?"</i> and answered quite clearly: 
<i>"No, far be it from me to entertain such a thought."</i> He 
acknowledged the difference between being <b>an</b> authority 
-- an expert -- and being <b>in</b> authorrity, for example.
This meant that <i>"[i]f I bow before the authority of the
specialists and declare myself ready to follow, to a
certain extent and so long as it may seem to me to be
necessary, their general indications and even their
directions, it is because their authority is imposed
upon me by no one . . . I bow before the authority of
specialists because it is imposed upon me by my own
reason."</i> [<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 253]
<p>
Similarly, he argued that anarchists <i>"recognise all natural
authority, and all influence of fact upon us, but none of
right; for all authority and all influence of right,
officially imposed upon us, immediately becomes a falsehood 
and an oppression."</i> He stressed that the <i>"only great and 
omnipotent authority, at once natural and rational, the 
only one we respect, will be that of the collective and 
public spirit of a society founded on equality and 
solidarity and the mutual respect of all its members."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 241 and p. 255]
<p>
So while Bakunin and other anarchists, on occasion, <b>did</b>
argue that anarchists reject <i>"all authority"</i> they, as Carole
Pateman correctly notes, <i>"tended to treat 'authority' as a
synonym for 'authoritarian,' and so have identified 'authority'
with hierarchical power structures, especially those of the
state. Nevertheless, their practical proposals and some of
their theoretical discussions present a different picture."</i> 
[<b>The Problem of Political Obligation</b>, p. 141] This can
be seen when Bakunin noted that <i>"the principle of <b>authority</b>"</i>
was the <i>"eminently theological, metaphysical and political
idea that the masses, <b>always</b> incapable of governing
themselves, must submit at all times to the benevolent
yoke of a wisdom and a justice, which in one way or another,
is imposed from above."</i> [<b>Marxism, Freedom and the State</b>,
p. 33] Clearly, by the term <i>"principle of authority"</i> Bakunin
meant <b>hierarchy</b> rather than organisation and the need
to make agreements (what is now called self-management). 
<p>
Therefore Bakunin did not oppose <b>all</b> authority but rather
a specific kind of authority, namely <b>hierarchical</b> authority.
This kind of authority placed power into the hands of a few.
For example, wage labour produced this kind of authority,
with a <i>"meeting . . . between master and slave . . . the
worker sells his person and his liberty for a given time."</i> 
[<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 187] The state 
is also based hierarchical authority, with <i>"those who 
govern"</i> (i.e. <i>"those who frame the laws of the country as 
well as those who exercise the executive power"</i>) are in an 
<i>"exceptional position diametrically opposed to . . . popular 
aspirations"</i> towards liberty. They end up <i>"viewing society 
from the high position in which they find themselves"</i> and 
so <i>"[w]hoever says political power says domination"</i> over 
<i>"a more or less considerable section of the population."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 218]
<p>
Thus hierarchical authority is top-down, centralised and 
imposed. It is <b>this</b> kind of authority Bakunin had in mind
when he argued that anarchists <i>"are in fact enemies of all
authority"</i> and it will <i>"corrupt those who exercise [it]
as much as those who are compelled to submit to [it]."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 249] In other words, "authority" was used 
as shorthand for "hierarchy" (or "hierarchical authority"), 
the imposition of decisions rather than agreement to abide 
by the collective decisions you make with others when you
freely associate with them. In place of this kind of authority, 
Bakunin proposed a <i>"natural authority"</i> based on the masses 
<i>"governing themselves."</i> He did not object to the need for 
individuals associating themselves into groups and 
managing their own affairs, rather he opposed the idea
that co-operation necessitated hierarchy:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Hence there results, for science as well as for industry,
the necessity of division and association of labour. I
take and I give -- such is human life. Each is an 
authoritative leader and in turn is led by others.
Accordingly there is no fixed and constant authority, but
continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and, above all,
voluntary authority and subordination."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 353-4]
</blockquote><p>
This kind of free association would be the expression of 
liberty rather than (as in hierarchical structures) its 
denial. Anarchists reject the idea of giving a minority 
(a government) the power to make our decisions for us. 
Rather, power should rest in the hands of all, not 
concentrated in the hands of a few. Anarchism is based
on rejecting what Bakunin called <i>"the authoritarian 
conception of discipline"</i> which <i>"always signifies 
despotism on the one hand and blind automatic 
submission to authority on the other."</i> In an anarchist 
organisation <i>"hierarchic order and advancement do not 
exist"</i> and there would be <i>"voluntary and thoughtful 
discipline"</i> for <i>"collective work or action."</i> 
This would be a new kind of discipline, one which is 
<i>"voluntary and intelligently understood"</i> and 
<i>"necessary whenever a greater number of individuals 
undertake any kind of collective work or action."</i> 
This is <i>"simply the voluntary and considered 
co-ordination of all individual efforts for a 
common purpose . . In such a system, power, properly 
speaking, no longer exists. Power is diffused to the 
collectivity and becomes the true expression of the 
liberty of everyone, the faithful and sincere 
realisation of the will of all . . . this is the 
only true discipline, the discipline necessary for 
the organisation of freedom."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 259-60]
<p>
Clearly Engels misunderstands the anarchist conception 
of liberty. Rather than seeing it as essentially negative, 
anarchists argue that liberty is expressed in two different,
but integrated, ways. Firstly, there is rebellion, the 
expression of autonomy in the face of authority. This is
the negative aspect of it. Secondly, there is association, 
the expression of autonomy by working with equals. This is
the positive aspect of it. As such, Engels concentrates on
the negative aspect of anarchist ideas, ignoring the positive,
and so paints a false picture of anarchism. Freedom, as
Bakunin argued, is a product of connection, not of isolation. 
How a group organises itself determines whether it is 
authoritarian or libertarian. If the individuals who take 
part in a group manage the affairs of that group (including
what kinds of decisions can be delegated) then that group is 
based on liberty. If that power is left to a few individuals 
(whether elected or not) then that group is structured in an 
authoritarian manner. This can be seen from Bakunin's 
argument that power must be <i>"diffused"</i> into the collective 
in an anarchist society. Clearly, anarchists do not 
reject the need for organisation nor the need to make 
and abide by collective decisions. Rather, the question 
is how these decisions are to be made -- are they to be 
made from below, by those affected by them, or from above, 
imposed by a few people in authority.
<p>
Only a sophist would confuse hierarchical power with the 
power of people managing their own affairs. It is an 
improper use of words to denote equally as "authority" 
two such opposed concepts as individuals subjected to 
the autocratic power of a boss and the voluntary 
co-operation of conscious individuals working together 
as equals. The lifeless obedience of a governed mass 
cannot be compared to the organised co-operation of 
free individuals, yet this is what Engels does. The 
former is marked by hierarchical power and the turning 
of the subjected into automations performing mechanical
movements without will and thought. The latter is 
marked by participation, discussion and agreement. 
Both are, of course, based on co-operation but to 
argue that latter restricts liberty as much as the 
former simply confuses co-operation with coercion. 
It also indicates a distinctly liberal conception 
of liberty, seeing it restricted by association with 
others rather than seeing association as an expression 
of liberty. As Malatesta argued:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The basic error . . . is in believing that organisation 
is not possible without authority.
<p>
"Now, it seems to us that organisation, that is to say,
association for a specific purpose and with the structure
and means required to attain it, is a necessary aspect of
social life. A man in isolation cannot even live the life
of a beast . . . Having therefore to join with other
humans . . . he must submit to the will of others (be
enslaved) or subject others to his will (be in authority)
or live with others in fraternal agreement in the interests
of the greatest good of all (be an associate). Nobody can
escape from this necessity."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, pp. 84-5]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, organisation is <i>"only the practice of co-operation
and solidarity"</i> and is a <i>"natural and necessary condition
of social life."</i> [Malatesta, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 83] Clearly, the 
question is not whether we organise, but how do we do so. 
This means that, for anarchists, Engels confused vastly
different concepts: <i>"Co-ordination is dutifully confused
with command, organisation with hierarchy, agreement with
domination -- indeed, 'imperious' domination."</i> [Murray
Bookchin, <b>Towards an Ecological Society</b>, pp. 126-7]
<p>
Socialism will only exist when the discipline currently 
enforced by the stick in the hand of the boss is replaced 
by the conscious self-discipline of free individuals. It 
is not by changing who holds the stick (from a capitalist 
to a "socialist" boss) that socialism will be created. 
It is only by the breaking up and uprooting of this slavish 
spirit of discipline, and its replacement by self-management, 
that working people will create a new discipline what will 
be the basis of socialism (the voluntary self-discipline 
Bakunin talked about).
<p>
Clearly, then, Engels did not refute anarchism by his essay.
Rather, he refuted a straw man of his own creation. The 
question was <b>never</b> one of whether certain tasks need
co-operation, co-ordination, joint activity and agreement. 
It was, in fact, a question of <b>how</b> that is achieved. As 
such, Engels diatribe misses the point. Instead of addressing 
the actual politics of anarchism or their actual use of the
word "authority," he rather addresses a series of logical
deductions he draws from a false assumption regarding those 
politics. Engels essay shows the bedlam that can be created 
when a remorseless logician deduces away from an incorrect 
starting assumption.
<p>
For collective activity anarchists recognise the need to make 
and stick by agreements. Collective activity of course needs 
collective decision making and organisation. In so far as 
Engels had a point to his diatribe (namely that group efforts 
meant co-operating with others), Bakunin (like any anarchist)
would have agreed. The question was how are these decisions
to be made, not whether they should be or not. Ultimately,
Engels confused agreement with hierarchy. Anarchists do not. 
<p>
<a name="sech19"><H2>H.1.9 Does organisation imply the end of liberty?</H2>
<p>
Engels argument in <i>"On Authority"</i> can be summed up as any form 
of collective activity means co-operating with others and that
this means the individual subordinates themselves to others,
specifically the group. As such, authority cannot be abolished 
as organisation means that <i>"the will of a single individual 
will always have to subordinate itself, which means that 
questions are settled in an authoritarian way."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 731]
<p>
As such, Engels argument proves too much. As every form of
joint activity involves agreement and <i>"subordination,"</i> then
life itself becomes <i>"authoritarian."</i> The only free person,
according to Engels' logic, would be the hermit. As George
Barrett argues:
<p><blockquote><i>
"To get the full meaning out of life we must co-operate, and 
to co-operate we must make agreements with our fellow-men. But 
to suppose that such agreements mean a limitation of freedom 
is surely an absurdity; on the contrary, they are the exercise 
of our freedom.
<p>
"If we are going to invent a dogma that to make agreements is 
to damage freedom, then at once freedom becomes tyrannical, for 
it forbids men [and women] to take the most ordinary everyday 
pleasures. For example, I cannot go for a walk with my friend 
because it is against the principle of Liberty that I should 
agree to be at a certain place at a certain time to meet him. 
I cannot in the least extend my own power beyond myself, 
because to do so I must co-operate with someone else, and 
co-operation implies an agreement, and that is against 
Liberty. It will be seen at once that this argument is
absurd. I do not limit my liberty, but simply exercise it, 
when I agree with my friend to go for a walk.
<p>
"If, on the other hand, I decide from my superior knowledge 
that it is good for my friend to take exercise, and therefore 
I attempt to compel him to go for a walk, then I begin to limit 
freedom. This is the difference between free agreement and 
government."</i> [<b>Objections to Anarchism</b>]
</blockquote><p>
So, if we took Engels' argument seriously, then we would have
to conclude that living makes freedom impossible! After all 
by doing any joint activity you "subordinate" yourself to
others and, ironically, exercising your liberty by making
decisions and associating with others would become a denial 
of liberty. Clearly Engels argument is lacking something!
<p>
Perhaps this paradox can be explained once we recognise 
that Engels is using a distinctly liberal view of freedom 
-- i.e. freedom from. Anarchists reject thhis. We see 
freedom as holistic -- freedom from and freedom to. This 
means that that freedom is maintained by the kind of 
relationships we form with others, <b>not</b> by isolation. 
Liberty is denied when we form hierarchical relationships 
with others not necessarily when we associate with others. 
To combine with other individuals is an expression of 
individual liberty, <b>not</b> its denial! We are aware that 
freedom is impossible outside of association. Within an 
association absolute "autonomy" cannot exist, but such 
a concept of "autonomy" would restrict freedom to such a 
degree that it would be so self-defeating as to make a 
mockery of the concept of autonomy and no sane person 
would seek it.
<p>
Clearly, Engels "critique" hides more than it explains. Yes, 
co-operation and coercion both involve people working jointly 
together, but they are <b>not</b> to be equated. While Bakunin 
recognised this fundamental difference and tried, perhaps 
incompletely, to differentiate them (by arguing against 
"the principle of authority") and to base his politics on 
the difference, Engels obscures the differences and muddies 
the water by confusing the two radically different concepts 
within the word "authority." 
<p>
Any organisation or group is based on co-operation and 
co-ordination (Engels' "principle of authority"). How 
that co-operation is achieved is dependent on the 
<b>type</b> of organisation in question and that, in turn, 
specifies the <b>social</b> relationships within it. It is 
these social relationships which determine whether
an organisation is authoritarian or libertarian, not the
universal need to make and stick by agreements. Engels is 
simply confusing obedience with agreement, coercion with 
co-operation, organisation with authority, objective
reality with despotism.
<p>
As such, rather than seeing organisation as restricting
freedom, anarchists argue that the <b>kind</b> of organisation
we create is what matters. We can form relationships with 
others which are based on equality, not subordination. As 
an example, we point to the differences between marriage
and free love (see 
<a href="secH1.html#sech110">next section</a>). Once it is recognised
that decisions can be made on the basis of agreements
between equals, Engels essay can be seen for what it is -- 
a deeply flawed piece of cheap and inaccurate diatribe.
<p>
<a name="sech110"><H2>H.1.10 How does free love versus marriage indicate the weakness of Engels' argument?</H2>
<p> 
Engels, let us not forget, argues, in effect, any activities which 
<i>"replace isolated action by combined action of individuals"</i> 
means <i>"the imposition of the will of another upon ours"</i> and so 
<i>"the will of the single individual will have to subordinate itself, 
which means that questions are settled in an authoritarian manner."</i> 
This, for Engels, means that <i>"authority"</i> has not <i>"disappeared"</i> 
under anarchism but rather it has only <i>"changed its form."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 730-1]
<p>
However, to say that authority just changes its form misses 
the qualitative differences between authoritarian and 
libertarian organisation. Precisely the differences which
Bakunin and other anarchists tried to stress by calling
themselves anti-authoritarians and being against the 
<i>"principle of authority."</i> By arguing that all forms of
association are necessarily "authoritarian," Engels is
impoverishing the liberatory potential of socialism. He
ensures that the key question of liberty within our
associations is hidden behind a mass of sophistry.
<p>
As an example, look at the difference between marriage 
and free love. Both forms necessitate two individuals 
living together, sharing the same home, organising their 
lives together. The same situation and the same commitments. 
But do both imply the same social relationships? Are they
both <i>"authoritarian"</i>?
<p>
Traditionally, the marriage vow is based on the wife promising 
to obey the husband. Her role is simply that of obedience (in 
theory, at least). As Carole Pateman argues, <i>"[u]ntil late
into the nineteenth century the legal and civil position of
a wife resembled that of a slave"</i> and, in theory, <i>"became the
property of her husband and stood to him as a slave/servant
to a master."</i> [<b>The Sexual Contract</b>, p. 119 and pp. 130-1]
As such, an obvious social relationship exists -- an
authoritarian one in which the man has power over the woman.
We have a relationship based on domination and subordination. 
<p>
In free love, the couple are equals. They decide their own affairs, 
together. The decisions they reach are agreed between them and no 
domination takes place (unless you think making an agreement
equals domination or subordination). They both agree to the 
decisions they reach, based on mutual respect and give and take. 
Subordination to individuals does not meaningfully exist (at
best, it could be argued that both parties are "dominated" by
their decisions, hardly a meaningful use of the word). Instead 
of subordination, there is free agreement. 
<p>
Both types of organisation apply to the same activities -- a 
couple living together. Has "authority" just changed its form 
as Engels argued? Of course not. There is a substantial 
difference between the two. The former is authoritarian. One 
part of the organisation dictates to the other. The latter is 
libertarian as neither dominates (or they, as a couple, 
"dominate" each other as individuals -- surely an abuse 
of the language, we hope you agree!). Each part of the 
organisation agrees to the decision. Do all these differences 
just mean that we have changed name of "authority" or has
authority been abolished and liberty created? This was
the aim of Bakunin's terminology, namely to draw attention 
to the qualitative change that has occurred in the social 
relationships generated by the association of individuals
when organised in an anarchist way.
<p>
As such, Engels is confusing two radically different means 
of decision making by arguing both involve subordination and 
authority. The difference is clear: the former involves the
domination of an individual over another while the second 
involves the "subordination" of individuals to the decisions 
and agreements they make. The first is authority, the second
is liberty. 
<p>
Therefore, the example of free love indicates that, for
anarchists, Engels arguments are simply pedantic sophistry.
It goes without saying that organisation involves co-operation
and that, by necessity, means that individuals come to agreements
between themselves to work together. The question is <b>how</b> do
they do that, not whether they do so or not. As such, Engels'
arguments confuse agreement with hierarchy, co-operation with
coercion. Simply put, the <b>way</b> people conduct joint activity 
determines whether an organisation is libertarian or authoritarian. 
That was why anarchists called themselves anti-authoritarians,
to draw attention to the different ways of organising collective
work.
<p>
<a name="sech111"><H2>H.1.11 How do anarchists propose to run a factory?</H2>
<p>
In his campaign against anti-authoritarian ideas within the 
First International, Engels asks in a letter written in 
January 1872 <i>"how do these people [the anarchists] propose 
to run a factory, operate a railway or steer a ship without 
having in the last resort one deciding will, without a 
single management."</i> [<b>The Marx-Engels Reader</b>, p. 729] 
<p>
This, of course, can only be asked if Engels was totally 
ignorant of Bakunin's ideas and his many comments supporting 
co-operatives and workers' associations as the means by 
which workers would <i>"organise and themselves conduct the 
economy without guardian angels, the state or their former 
employers."</i> Indeed, Bakunin was <i>"convinced that the co-operative 
movement will flourish and reach its full potential only in 
a society where the land, the instruments of production, 

and hereditary property will be owned and operated by the 
workers themselves: by their freely organised federations 
of industrial and agricultural workers."</i> [<b>Bakunin on 
Anarchism</b>, p. 399 and p. 400] Which means that Bakunin,
like all anarchists, was well aware of how a factory or 
other workplace would be organised: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"Only associated labour, that is, labour organised upon the 
principles of reciprocity and co-operation, is adequate to 
the task of maintaining . . . civilised society."</i> [<b>The 
Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 341]
</blockquote><p>
By October of that year, Engels had finally <i>"submitted arguments 
like these to the most rabid anti-authoritarians"</i> who replied to 
run a factory, railway or ship did require organisation <i>"but here 
it was not a case of authority which we confer on our delegates, 
<b>but of a commission entrusted!</b>"</i> Engels commented that the 
anarchists <i>"think that when they have changed the names of 
things they have changed the things themselves."</i> He, therefore, 
thinks that authority <i>"will . . . only have changed its form"</i> 
rather than being abolished under anarchism as <i>"whoever mentions 
combined action speaks of organisation"</i> and it is not possible 
<i>"to have organisation without authority."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 732 and 
p. 731]
<p>
However, Engels is simply confusing two different things, 
authority and agreement. To make an agreement with another 
person is an exercise of your freedom, not its restriction. 
As Malatesta argued, <i>"the advantages which association and 
the consequent division of labour offer"</i> meant that humanity 
<i>"developed towards solidarity."</i> However, under class society
<i>"the advantages of association, the good that Man could
drive from the support of his fellows"</i> was distorted and
a few gained <i>"the advantages of co-operation by subjecting
other men to [their] will instead of joining with them."</i>
This oppression <i>"was still association and co-operation,
outside of which there is no possible human life; but it
was a way of co-operation, imposed and controlled by a few
for their personal interest."</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 28] Anarchists
seek to organise association to eliminate domination. This
would be done by workers organising themselves collectively
to make their own decisions about their work (workers'
self-management, to use modern terminology).
<p>
As such, workers would organise their tasks but this did not
necessitate the same authoritarian social relationships as
exist under capitalism:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Of course in every large collective undertaking, a division
of labour, technical management, administration, etc., is
necessary. But authoritarians clumsily play on words to
produce a <b>raison d'etre</b> for government out of the very
real need for the organisation of work. Government . . . 
is the concourse of individuals who have had, or have
seized, the right and the means to make laws and to oblige
people to obey; the administrator, the engineer, etc.,
instead are people who are appointed or assume the
responsibility to carry out a particular job and do
so. Government means the delegation of power, that is
the abdication of initiative and sovereignty of all into
the hands of a few; administration means the delegation of
work, that is tasks given and received, free exchange of
services based on free agreement. . . Let one not confuse
the function of government with that of administration,
for they are essentially different, and if today the two
are often confused, it is only because of economic and
political privilege."</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, pp. 39-40]
</blockquote><p>
For a given task, co-operation and joint activity may be
required by its very nature. Take, for example, a train
network. The joint activity of numerous workers are 
required to ensure that it operates successfully. The
driver depends on the work of signal operators, for 
example, and guards to inform them of necessary information
essential for the smooth running of the network. The
passengers are dependent on the driver and the other
workers to ensure their journey is safe and quick. As
such, there is an objective need to co-operate but this
need is understood and agreed to by the people involved.
<p>
If a specific activity needs the co-operation of a number of 
people and can only be achieved if these people work together 
as a team and, therefore, need to make and stick by agreements, 
then this is undoubtedly a natural fact which the individual 
can only rebel against by leaving the association. Similarly, 
if an association considers it wise to elect a delegate whose 
tasks have been allocated by that group then, again, this 
is a natural fact which the individuals in question have 
agreed to and so have not been imposed upon the individual
by any external will -- the individual has been convinced
of the need to co-operate and does so.
<p>
Engels, therefore, confuses the authority of the current system,
organised and imposed from the top-down, with the self-management
required by a free society. He attempted to apply the same word
"authority" to two fundamentally different concepts. However,
we abuse words and practice deception when we apply the same
term to totally different concepts. As if the hierarchical,
authoritarian organisation of work under capitalism, imposed
by the few on the many and based by the absence of thought
and will of the subordinated, could be compared with the
co-ordination of joint activities by free individuals! What 
is there in common with the authoritarian structure of the
capitalist workplace or army and the libertarian organisation
required by workers to manage their struggle for freedom and,
ultimately, to manage their own working activity? Engels 
does damage to the language by using the same word 
("authority") to describe two so radically different things 
as the hierarchical organisation of wage labour and the free 
association and co-operation of equals of self-management. If 
an activity requires the co-operation of numerous individuals 
then, clearly, that is a natural fact and there is not much 
the individuals involved can do about it. Anarchists are not 
in the habit of denying common sense. The question is simply 
<b>how</b> do these individuals co-ordinate their activities. Is 
it by means of self-management or by hierarchy (authority)?
<p>
As such, anarchists have always been clear on how industry 
would be run -- by the workers' themselves in their own free
associations. In this way the domination of the boss would be
replaced by agreements between equals (see also sections 
<a href="secI3.html#seci31">I.3.1</a> and 
<a href="secI3.html#seci32">I.3.2</a> on how anarchists think workplaces will be
run in a free society).
<p>
<a name="sech112"><H2>H.1.12 How does the class struggle refute Engels' 
arguments that industry required leaving <i>"all autonomy behind"</i>?</H2>
<p>
Engels argued that large-scale industry (or, indeed, any
form of organisation) meant that "authority" was required.
He stated that factories should have <i>"Lasciate ogni autonomia,
voi che entrate"</i> (<i>"Leave, ye that enter in, all autonomy
behind"</i>) written above their doors. Indeed, that is the
basis of capitalism, with the wage worker being paid to
obey. This obedience, Engels argued, was necessary even
under socialism, as applying the "forces of nature" meant
<i>"a veritable despotism independent of all social organisation."</i>
This meant that <i>"[w]anting to abolish authority in large-scale 
industry is tantamount to wanting to abolish industry itself."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 731]
<p>
The best answer to Engels claims can be found in the class
struggle. Given that Engels was a capitalist (i.e. an owner
of a factory), he may have not been aware of the effectiveness
of <i>"working to rule"</i> when practised by workers. This basically
involves doing <b>exactly</b> what the boss tells you to do, regardless
of the consequences as regards efficiency, production and so on.
Quite simply, workers' refusing to practice autonomy can be an 
extremely effective and powerful weapon in the class struggle. 
<p>
This weapon has long been used by workers and advocated by
anarchists, syndicalists and wobblies. For example, the IWW
booklet <b>How to fire your boss</b> argues that <i>"[w]orkers often 
violate orders, resort to their own techniques of doing things, 
and disregard lines of authority simply to meet the goals of 
the company. There is often a tacit understanding, even by 
the managers whose job it is to enforce the rules, that these 
shortcuts must be taken in order to meet production quotas 
on time."</i> They argue, correctly, that <i>"if each of these rules 
and regulations were followed to the letter"</i> then <i>"[c]onfusion 
would result -- production and morale would plummet. And best 
of all, the workers can't get in trouble with the tactic 
because they are, after all, 'just following the rules.'"</i>
<p>
The British anarcho-syndicalists of the <b>Direct Action Movement</b>
agree and even quote an industrial expert on the situation:
<p><blockquote><i>
"If managers' orders were completely obeyed, confusion would 
result and production and morale would be lowered. In order to 
achieve the goals of the organisation workers must often violate 
orders, resort to their own techniques of doing things, and 
disregard lines of authority. Without this kind of systematic 
sabotage much work could not be done. This unsolicited sabotage 
in the form of disobedience and subterfuge is especially necessary 
to enable large bureaucracies to function effectively."</i> [<b>Social 
Psychology of Industry</b> by J.A.C. Brown, quoted in <b>Direct Action 
in Industry</b>]
</blockquote><p>
Another weapon of workers' resistance is what has been called
<i>"Working without enthusiasm"</i> and is related to the "work to
rule." This tactic aims at <i>"slowing production"</i> in order to
win gains from management:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Even the simplest repetitive job demands a certain minimum of
initiative and in this case it is failing to show any non-obligatory
initiative . . . [This] leads to a fall in production -- above all
in quality. The worker carries out every operation minimally;
the moment there is a hitch of any kind he [or she] abandons
all responsibility and hands over to the next man [or woman]
above him [or her] in the hierarchy; he works mechanically,
not checking the finished object, not troubling to regulate
his machine. In short he gets away with as much as he can,
but never actually does anything positively illegal."</i> [Pierre
Dubois, <b>Sabotage in Industry</b>, p. 51]
</blockquote><p>
The practice of <i>"working to rule"</i> and 
<i>"working without enthusiasm"</i> 
shows how out of touch Engels (like any capitalist) is with 
the realities of shop floor life. These forms of direct action 
is extremely effective <b>because</b> the workers refuse to act 
autonomously in industry, to work out the problems they face 
during the working day themselves, and instead place all the 
decisions on the authority required, according to Engels, to 
run the factory. The factory itself quickly grinds to a halt. 
What keeps it going is not the <i>"imperious"</i> will of authority, 
but rather the autonomous activity of workers thinking and 
acting for themselves to solve the numerous problems they face 
during the working day.
<p>
As Cornelius Castoriadis argues:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Resistance to exploitation expresses itself in a drop in
<b>productivity as well as exertion on the workers' part</b> . . .
At the same time it is expressed in the disappearance of
the <b>minimum</b> collective and spontaneous <b>management and
organisation</b> of work that the workers normally and of
necessity puts out. No modern factory could function for
twenty-four hours without this spontaneous organisation of
work that groups of workers, independent of the official
business management, carry out by filling in the gaps of
official production directives, by preparing for the
unforeseen and for regular breakdowns of equipment, by
compensating for management's mistakes, etc.
<p>
"Under 'normal' conditions of exploitation, workers are
torn between the need to organise themselves in this way
in order to carry out their work -- otherwise there are
repercussions for them -- and their natural desire to 
do their work, on the one hand, and, on the other, the
awareness that by doing so they only are serving the 
boss's interests. Added to those conflicting concerns
are the continual efforts of factory's management 
apparatus to 'direct' all aspects of the workers'
activity, which often results only in preventing them
from organising themselves."</i> [<b>Political and Social
Writings</b>, vol. 2, p. 68]
</blockquote><p>
Needless to say, co-operation and co-ordination is required in
any collective activity. Anarchists do not deny this fact of
nature, but the example Engels considered as irrefutable simply 
shows the fallacy of his argument. If large-scale industry 
was run along the lines argued by Engels, it would quickly
grind to halt. 
<p>
Ironically, the example of Russia under Lenin and Trotsky 
reinforces this fact. <i>"Administrative centralisation"</i> was 
enforced on the railway workers which, in turn, <i>"led 
more to ignorance of distance and the inability to 
respond properly to local circumstances . . . 'I have no 
instructions' became all the more effective as a defensive 
and self-protective rationalisation as party officials vested 
with unilateral power insisted all their orders be strictly 
obeyed. Cheka ruthlessness instilled fear, but repression . . . 
only impaired the exercise of initiative that daily operations
required."</i> [William G. Rosenberg, <i>"The Social Background to
Tsektran,"</i> <b>Party, State, and Society in the Russian Civil War</b>,
Diane P. Koenker, William G. Rosenberg and Ronald Grigor
Suny (eds.), p. 369] Without the autonomy required to manage
local problems, the operation of the railways was seriously
harmed and, unsurprisingly, a few months after Trotsky
subjected to railway workers to the <i>"militarisation of 
labour"</i> in September 1920, there was a <i>"disastrous collapse 
of the railway network in the winter of 1920-1."</i> [Jonathan 
Aves, <b>Workers against Lenin</b>, p. 102]
<p>
As the experience of workers' in struggle shows, it is the 
<b>abolition</b> of autonomy which means the abolition of 
large-scale industry, not its exercise. This can be seen
from various forms of direct action such as "working to rule"
as well as Trotsky's attempts to impose the "militarisation
of labour" on the Russian workers. The conscious decision by 
workers to <b>not</b> exercise their autonomy brings industry 
grinding to a halt and are effective tools in the class 
struggle. As any worker know, it is only their ability to 
make decisions autonomously that keeps industry going.
<p>
Rather than abolishing authority making large-scale industry 
impossible, it is the abolishing of autonomy which quickly 
achieves this. The issue is how do we organise industry so 
that this essential autonomy is respected and co-operation
between workers achieved based on it. For anarchists, this 
is done by self-managed workers associations in which 
hierarchical authority is replaced by collective self-discipline 
(as discussed in <a href="secH1.html#sech18">section H.1.8</a>).
<p>
<a name="sech113"><H2>H.1.13 Is the way industry operates 
<i>"independent of all social organisation"</i>?</H2>
<p>
As noted in the 
<a href="secH1.html#sech112">last section</a>, 
Engels argued that applying the 
<i>"forces of nature"</i> meant <i>"a veritable despotism independent 
of all social organisation."</i> This meant that <i>"[w]anting to 
abolish authority in large-scale industry is tantamount to 
wanting to abolish industry itself."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 731]
<p>
For anarchists, Engels' comments ignore the reality of class 
society in an important way. Modern (<i>"large-scale"</i>) industry 
has not developed neutrally or naturally, independently of all 
social organisation as Engels claimed. Rather it has been 
shaped by the class struggle. As we argued in 
<a href="secD10.html">section D.10</a>, 
technology is a weapon in the class struggle. As Castoriadis 
argues:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Management organises production with a view of achieving
'maximum efficiency.' But the first result of this sort of
organisation is to stir up the workers' revolt against
production itself . . . To combat the resistance of the
workers, the management institutes an ever more minute 
division of labour and tasks . . . Machines are invented,
or selected, according to one fundamental criterion: Do
they assist in the struggle of management against workers,
do they reduce yet further the worker's margin of autonomy,
do they assist in eventually replacing him [or her]
altogether? In this sense, the organisation of production
today . . . is <b>class organisation.</b> Technology is
predominantly <b>class technology.</b> No . . . manager would
ever introduce into his plant a machine which would 
increase the freedom of a particular worker or of a
group of workers to run the job themselves, even if
such a machine increased production.
<p>
"The workers are by no means helpless in this struggle.
They constantly invent methods of self-defence. They
break the rules, while 'officially' keeping them. They
organise informally, maintain a collective solidarity
and discipline."</i> [<b>The Meaning of Socialism</b>, pp. 9-10]
</blockquote><p>
As such, one of the key aspects of the class struggle
is the conflict of workers against attempts by management
to eliminate their autonomy within the production process.
This struggle generates the machines which Engels claims
produce a <i>"veritable despotism independent of all social
organisation."</i> Regardless of what Engels implies, the way
industry has developed is not independent of class society
and its "despotism" has been engineered that way. For
example, it may be a fact of nature that ten people may be
required to operate a machine, but that machine is not
such a fact, it is a human invention and so can be changed.
Nor is it a fact of nature that work organisation should be
based on a manager dictating to the workers what to do --
rather it could be organised by the workers themselves,
using collective self-discipline to co-ordinate their
joint effort.
<p>
As one shop steward put it, workers are <i>"not automatons.
We have eyes to see with, ears to hear with, and mouths
to talk."</i> As David Noble comments, <i>"[f]or management 
. . . that was precisely the problem. Workers controlled
the machines, and through their unions had real authority
over the division of labour and job content."</i> [<b>Forces
of Production</b>, p. 37] This autonomy was what managers
constantly struggled against and introduced technology
to combat. As such, Engels' notion that machinery was
"despotic" hide the nature of class society and the fact
that authority is a social relationship, a relationship
between people and not people and things. And, equally,
that different kinds of authority meant different kinds
of organisation and different social relationships to do
the collective tasks. It was precisely to draw attention
to this that anarchists called themselves anti-authoritarians.
<p>
Clearly, Engels is simply ignoring the actual relations
of authority within capitalist industry and, like the
capitalism he claims to oppose, is raising the needs of
the bosses to the plane of "natural fact." Indeed, is 
this not the refrain of every boss or supporter of 
capitalism? Right-libertarian guru Ludwig von Mises 
spouted this kind of refrain when he argued that 
<i>"[t]he root of the syndicalist idea is to be seen 
in the belief that entrepreneurs and capitalists are 
irresponsible autocrats who are free to conduct their 
affairs arbitrarily. Such a dictatorship must not be 
tolerated . . . The fundamental error of this argument 
is obvious [sic!]. The entrepreneurs and capitalists are 
not irresponsible autocrats. They are unconditionally 
subject to the sovereignty of the consumers. The market 
is a consumers' democracy."</i> [<b>Human Action</b>, p. 814] In
other words, it is not the bosses fault work is so hard 
or that they dictate to the worker. No, of course not, 
it is the despotism of the machine, of nature, of the 
market, of the customer, anyone and anything <b>but</b> 
the person <b>with</b> authority who is actually giving 
the orders and punishing those who do not obey! 
<p>
Needless to say, like Engels essay, von Mises' argument 
is fundamentally flawed simply because the boss is not 
just repeating the instructions of the market (assuming 
that it is a "consumers' democracy," which it is not). 
Rather, they give their own instructions based on
their own sovereignty over the workers. The workers could,
of course, manage their own affairs and meet the demands
of consumers directly. The "sovereignty" of the market
(just like the "despotism" of machines and joint action)
is independent of the social relationships which exist
within the workplace, but the social relationships themselves
are not predetermined by them. Thus the same workshop can
be organised in different ways. As such, the way industry
operates <b>is</b> dependent on social organisation. The workers
can manage their own affairs or be subjected to the rule
of a boss. To say that "authority" still exists simply
means to confuse agreement with obedience.
<p>
The importance of differentiating between types of
organisation and ways of making decisions can be seen from 
the experience of the class struggle. During the Spanish 
Revolution anarchists organised militias to fight the fascists. 
One was lead by anarchist militant Durruti. His military adviser, 
P�rez Farras, a professional soldier, was concerned about the 
application of libertarian principles to military organisation. 
Durruti replied:
<p><blockquote><i>
"I have already said and I repeat; during all my life, I have 
acted as an anarchist. The fact of having been given political 
responsibility for a human collective cannot change my convictions. 
It is under these conditions that I agreed to play the role
given to me by the Central Committee of the Militias.
<p>
"I thought -- and what has happened confirms my belief -- that a 
workingmen's militia cannot be led according to the same rules as
an army. I think that discipline, co-ordination and the fulfilment 
of a plan are indispensable. But this idea can no longer be
understood in the terms of the world we have just destroyed. 
We have new ideas. We think that solidarity among men must
awaken personal responsibility, which knows how to accept 
discipline as an autonomous act.
<p>
"Necessity imposes a war on us, a struggle that differs from 
many of those that we have carried on before. But the goal of our
struggle is always the triumph of the revolution. This means not 
only victory over the enemy, but also a radical change in man.
For this change to occur, man must learn to live in freedom and 
develop in himself his potentialities as a responsible individual.
The worker in the factory, using his tools and directing production, 
is bringing about a change in himself. The fighter, like the
worker, uses his gun as a tool and his acts must lead to the 
same goals as those of the worker. 
<p>
"In the struggle he cannot act like a soldier under orders but 
like a man who is conscious of what he is doing. I know it is not 
easy to get such a result, but what one cannot get by reason, one 
can never get through force. If our revolutionary army must be
maintained through fear, we will have changed nothing but the 
colour of fear. It is only by freeing itself from fear that a 
free society can be built."</i> [quoted by Abel Paz, <b>Durruti: The 
People Armed</b>, p. 225]
</blockquote><p>
Is it really convincing to argue that the individuals who made
up the militia are subject to the same social relationships as
those in a capitalist or Leninist army? The same, surely, goes
for workers associations and wage labour. Ultimately, the
flaw in Engels' argument can be best seen simply because he 
thinks that the <i>"automatic machinery of a big factory is much 
more despotic than the small capitalist who employ workers ever 
have been."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 731] Authority and liberty become 
detached from human beings, as if authoritarian social 
relationships can exist independently of individuals! It 
is a <b>social</b> relationship anarchists oppose, not an 
abstraction.
<p>
As such, Engels' argument is applicable to <b>any</b> society
and to <b>any</b> task which requires joint effort. If, for
example, a table needs four people to move it then those
four people are subject to the "despotism" of gravity!
Under such "despotism" can we say its irrelevant whether
these four people are slaves to a master who wants the
table moved or whether they agree between themselves to
move the table and on the best way to do it? In both
cases the table movers are subject to the same "despotism" 
of gravity, yet in the latter example they are <b>not</b> 
subject to the despotism of other human beings they
are subject to in the former. Clearly, Engels is playing
with words!
<p> 
The fallacy of Engels' basic argument can be seen from 
this simple example. He essentially uses a <b>liberal</b>
concept of freedom (i.e. freedom exists prior to society 
and is reduced within it) when attacking anarchism. Rather 
than see freedom as a product of interaction, as Bakunin 
did, Engels sees it as a product of isolation. Collective 
activity is seen as a realm of necessity (to use Marx's 
phrase) and not one of freedom. Indeed, machines and the
forces of nature are considered by Engels' as "despots"!
As if despotism was not a specific set of relationships
between <b>humans.</b> As Bookchin argues:
<p><blockquote><i>
"To Engels, the factory is a natural fact of technics, not
a specifically bourgeois mode of rationalising labour;
hence it will exist under communism as well as capitalism.
It will persist 'independently of all social organisation.' 
To co-ordinate a factory's operations requires 'imperious 
obedience,' in which factory hands lack all 'autonomy.' 
Class society or classless, the realm of necessity
is also a realm of command and obedience, of ruler and
ruled. In a fashion totally congruent with all class
ideologists from the inception of class society, Engels
weds Socialism to command and rule as a natural fact.
Domination is reworked from a social attribute into a
precondition for self-preservation in a technically
advanced society."</i> [<b>Towards an Ecological Society</b>,
p. 206]
</blockquote><p>
Given this, it can be argued that Engels' <i>"On Authority"</i> 
had a significant impact in the degeneration of the 
Russian Revolution into state capitalism. By deliberately 
obscuring the differences between self-managed and authoritarian 
organisation, he helped provide Bolshevism with ideological 
justification for eliminating workers self-management in 
production. After all, if self-management and hierarchical 
management both involve the same <i>"principle of authority,"</i> 
then it does not really matter how production is organised 
and whether industry is managed by the workers or by 
appointed managers (as Engels stressed, authority in industry 
was independent of the social system and all forms of 
organisation meant subordination). Murray Bookchin draws 
the obvious conclusion from Engels' (and Marx's) position:
<i>"Obviously, the factory conceived of as a 'realm of necessity' 
[as opposed to a 'realm of freedom'] requires no need 
for self-management."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 126] 
<p>
Hence the Bolsheviks need not to consider whether replacing 
factory committees with appointed managers armed with 
<i>"dictatorial powers"</i> would have any effect on the position 
of workers in socialism (after all, the were subject to 
subordination either way). Engels had used the modern 
factory system of mass production as a direct analogy 
to argue against the anarchist call for workers' councils, 
for autonomy, for participation, for self-management. 
Authority, hierarchy, and the need for submission and 
domination is inevitable given the current mode of 
production, both Engels and Lenin argued. Little wonder, 
then, the worker become the serf of the state (see
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a> for more details). 
In his own way, Engels 
contributed to the degeneration of the Russian Revolution 
by providing the rationale for the Bolsheviks disregard for 
workers' self-management of production. 
<p>
Simply put, Engels was wrong. The need to co-operate and
co-ordinate activity may be independent of social development,
but the nature of a society does impact on how this
co-operation is achieved. If it is achieved by hierarchical
means, then it is a class society. If it is achieved by
agreements between equals, then it is a socialist one. As
such, how industry operates <b>is</b> dependent on society it 
is part of. An anarchist society would run industry based 
on the free agreement of workers united in free associations 
(see 
<a href="secH1.html#sech111">section H.1.11</a>). 
This would necessitate making and 
sticking to joint decisions but this co-ordination would be 
between equals, not master and servant. By not recognising
this fact, Engels fatally undermined the cause of socialism.
<p>
<a name="sech114"><H2>H.1.14 Why does Engel's "On Authority" harm Marxism?</H2>
<p>
Ironically, Engels' essay <i>"On Authority"</i> also strikes at the
heart of Marxism and its critique of anarchism. Forgetting
what he had written in 1873, Engels argued in 1894 that
for him and Marx the <i>"ultimate political aim is to overcome
the whole state and therefore democracy as well."</i> [quoted
by Lenin, <i>"State and Revolution"</i>, <b>Essential Works of
Lenin</b>, p. 331] Lenin argued that <i>"the abolition of the
state means also the abolition of democracy."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 332]
<p>
However, Lenin quoted Engels' "On Authority" which stated
that any form of collective activity meant "authority" and
so the subjection of the minority to the majority (<i>"if
possible"</i>) and <i>"the imposition of the will of another
upon ours."</i> [Engels, <b>Marx-Engels Reader</b>, p. 731 and 
p. 730]
<p>
Aware of the contradiction, Lenin stresses that 
<i>"someone may even begin to fear we are expecting 
the advent of an order of society in which the 
subordination of the minority to the majority will 
not be respected."</i> That was not the case, however. 
He simply rejected the idea that democracy was <i>"the 
recognition of this principle"</i> arguing that <i>"democracy 
is a <b>state</b> which recognises the subordination of 
the minority to the majority, i.e. an organisation 
for the systematic use of <b>violence</b> by one class 
against the other, by one section of the population 
against another."</i> He argued that <i>"the need for violence 
against people in general, the need for the <b>subjection</b> 
of one man to another, will vanish, since people will 
<b>become accustomed</b> to observing the elementary 
conditions of social life <b>without force</b> and <b>without
subordination.</b>"</i> [Lenin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 332-3]
<p>
Talk about playing with words! Earlier in his work Lenin
summarised Engels "On Authority" by stating that <i>"is it
not clear that . . . complex technical units, based on
the employment of machinery and the ordered co-operation
of many people, could function without a certain amount
of subordination, without some authority or power."</i> [<b>Op.
Cit.</b>, p. 316] Now, however, he argues that communism
would involve no <i>"subordination"</i> while, at the same time,
be based on the <i>"the principle of the subordination of
the minority to the majority"</i>! A contradiction? Perhaps
no, as he argues that the minority would <i>"become
accustomed"</i> to the conditions of <i>"social life"</i> 
-- in other words the recognition that stiicking to your
agreements you make with others does not involve
"subordination." This, ironically, would confirm 
anarchist ideas as we argue that making agreements
with others, as equals, does not involve domination
or subordination but rather is an expression of
autonomy, of liberty.
<p>
Similarly, we find Engels arguing in <b>Anti-Duhring</b> that
socialism would <i>"puts an end to the former subjection of
men to their own means of production"</i> and that <i>"productive
labour, instead of being a means of subjugating men, will
become a means of their emancipation."</i> [<b>Marx-Engels
Reader</b>, p. 720 and p. 721] This work was written in
1878, six years after <i>"On Authority"</i> when he stressed
that <i>"the automatic machinery of a big factory is much
more despotic than the small capitalists who employ
workers ever have been"</i> and <i>"subdu[ing] the forces of
nature . . . avenge themselves"</i> upon <i>"man"</i> by 
<i>"subjecting
him . . . to a veritable despotism independent of all
social organisation."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 731] Engels is 
clearly contradicting himself. When attacking the anarchists, 
he argues that the <i>"subjection"</i> of people to the means of 
production was inevitable and utterly <i>"independent of all 
social organisation."</i> Six years later he argues that 
socialism will abolish this inescapable subjection to 
the <i>"veritable despotism"</i> of modern industry!
<p>
As can be seen from both Engels and Lenin, we have a 
contradiction within Marxism. On the one hand, they argue 
that authority ("subjection") will always be with us, no 
matter what, as "subordination" and "authority" is 
independent of the specific social society we live in. On
the other, they argue that Marxist socialism will be 
without a state, "without subordination," "without force" 
and will end the "subjection of men to their own means of 
production." The two positions cannot be reconciled. 
<p>
Simply put, if Engels "On Authority" is correct then,
logically, it means that not only is anarchism impossible
but also Marxist socialism. Lenin and Engels are trying to 
have it both ways. On the one hand, arguing that anarchism 
is impossible as any collective activity means subjection 
and subordination, on the other, that socialism will end 
that inevitable subjection. And, of course, arguing that 
democracy will be "overcome" while, at the same time, 
arguing that it can never be. Ultimately, it shows that
Engels essay is little more than a cheap polemic without
much merit.
<p>
Even worse for Marxism is Engels' comment that authority and
autonomy <i>"are relative things whose spheres vary with the
various phases of society"</i> and that <i>"the material conditions
of production and circulation inevitably develop with
large-scale industry and large-scale agriculture, and
increasingly tend to enlarge the scope of this authority."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 732] Given that this is <i>"a veritable
despotism"</i> and Marxism aims at <i>"one single vast plan"</i>
in modern industry, then the scope for autonomy, for
freedom, is continually reduced during the working day.
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 723 and p. 731] The only possible solution
is reducing the working day to a minimum and so the time
spent as a slave to the machine is reduced. The idea that
work should be transformed into creative, empowering and
liberating experience is automatically destroyed by Engels
argument. Like capitalism, Marxist-Socialism is based on
"work is hell" and the domination of the producer. Hardly
an inspiring vision of the future.
<p>
<a name="sech115"><H2>H.1.15 Why does Engels' argument that revolution is 
<i>"the most authoritarian thing there is"</i> totally miss the point?</H2>
<p>
As well as the argument that "authority" is essential for
every collective activity, Engels raises another argument
against anarchism. This second argument is that revolutions 
are by nature authoritarian. In his words, a <i>"revolution is 
certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the 
act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon 
the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon -- 
authoritarian means, if such there be at all; and if the 
victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it 
must maintain this rule by means of the terror its arms 
inspire in the reactionaries."</i> [<b>Marx-Engels Reader</b>, p. 733]
<p>
However, such an analysis is without class analysis and so 
will, by necessity, mislead the writer and the reader. Engels 
argues that revolution is the imposition by <i>"one part of the 
population"</i> on another. Very true -- but Engels fails to 
indicate the nature of class society and, therefore, of a 
social revolution. In a class society <i>"one part of the 
population"</i> constantly <i>"imposes its will upon the other 
part"</i> -- those with power imposes its decisions to those 
beneath them in the social hierarchy. In other words, the 
ruling class imposes its will on the working class everyday 
in work by the hierarchical structure of the workplace and 
in society by the state. Discussing the "population" as 
if it was not divided by classes and so subject to specific 
forms of authoritarian social relationships is liberal 
nonsense. 
<p>
Once we recognise that the "population" in question is divided 
into classes we can easily see the fallacy of Engels argument. 
In a social revolution, the act of revolution is the overthrow 
of the power and authority of an oppressing and exploiting 
class by those subject to that oppression and exploitation. 
In other words, it is an act of <b>liberation</b> in which the 
hierarchical power of the few over the many is eliminated 
and replaced by the freedom of the many to control their 
own lives. It is hardly authoritarian to destroy authority! 
Thus a social revolution is, fundamentally, an act of 
liberation for the oppressed who act in their own interests
to end the system in which <i>"one part of population imposes its
will upon the other"</i> everyday. 
<p>
Malatesta states the obvious:
<p><blockquote><i>
"To fight our enemies effectively, we do not need to deny
the principle of freedom, not even for one moment: it is
sufficient for us to want real freedom and to want it for
all, for ourselves as well as for others.
<p>
"We want to expropriate the property-owning class, and with
violence, since it is with violence that they hold on to
social wealth and use it to exploit the working class. Not
because freedom is a good thing for the future, but because
it is a good thing, today as well as tomorrow, and the
property owners, be denying us the means of exercising
our freedom, in effect, take it away from us.
<p>
"We want to overthrow the government, all governments --
and overthrow them with violence since it is by the use
of violence that they force us into obeying -- and once
again, not because we sneer at freedom when it does not
serve our interests but because governments are the
negation of freedom and it is not possible to be free
without getting rid of them . . . 
<p>
"The freedom to oppress, to exploit, to oblige people
to take up arms [i.e. conscription], to pay taxes,
etc., is the denial of freedom: and the fact that
our enemies make irrelevant and hypocritical use of
the word freedom is not enough to make us deny the
principle of freedom which is the outstanding 
characteristic of our movement and a permanent,
constant and necessary factor in the life and progress
of humanity."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 51]
</blockquote><p>
It seems strange that Engels, in effect, is arguing that the 
abolition of tyranny is tyranny against the tyrants! As
Malatesta so clearly argued, anarchists <i>"recognise violence
only as a means of legitimate self-defence; and if today
they are in favour of violence it is because they maintain
that slaves are always in a state of legitimate defence."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 59] As such, Engels fails to understand the 
revolution from a <b>working class</b> perspective (perhaps 
unsurprisingly, as he was a capitalist). The "authority" 
of the "armed workers" over the bourgeois is, simply,
the defence of the workers' freedom against those who
seek to end it by exercising/recreating the very 
authoritarian social relationships the revolution sought 
to end in the first place. Ultimately, Engels is like the 
liberal who equates the violence of the oppressed to
end oppression with that the oppressors!
<p>
Needless to say, this applies to the class struggle as well.
Is, for example, a picket line really authoritarian because 
it tries to impose its will on the boss, police or scabs? 
Rather, is it not defending the workers' freedom against 
the authoritarian power of the boss and their lackeys (the 
police and scabs)? Is it "authoritarian" to resist authority 
and create a structure -- a strike assembly and picket line -- 
which allows the formally subordinated workers to manage their 
own affairs directly and without bosses? Is it "authoritarian" 
to combat the authority of the boss, to proclaim your freedom 
and exercise it? Of course not. Little wonder Bakunin talked
about "the development and organisation" of the "social (and, 
by consequence, anti-political) power of the working masses" 
and "the revolutionary organisation of the natural power of 
the masses"! 
<p>
Structurally, a strikers' assembly and picket line -- which 
are forms of self-managed association -- cannot be compared 
to an "authority" (such as a state). To try and do so fails 
to recognise the fundamental difference. In the strikers' 
assembly and picket line the strikers themselves decide 
policy and do not delegate power away into the hands of an 
authority (any strike committees execute the strikers 
decisions or is replaced). In a state, <b>power</b> is delegated 
into the hands of a few who then use that power as they see 
fit. This by necessity disempowers those at the base, who 
are turned into mere electors and order takers (i.e. an 
authoritarian relationship is created). Such a situation 
can only spell death of a social revolution, which requires 
the active participation of all if it is to succeed. It also,
incidentally, exposes a central fallacy of Marxism, namely that 
it claims to desire a society based on the participation of 
everyone yet favours a form of organisation -- centralisation 
-- that excludes that participation. 
<p>
Georges Fontenis summarises anarchist ideas on this subject
when he writes:
<p><blockquote><i>
"And so against the idea of State, where power is exercised by 
a specialised group isolated from the masses, we put the idea 
of direct workers power, where accountable and controlled 
elected delegates (who can be recalled at any time and are 
remunerated at the same rate as other workers) replace 
hierarchical, specialised and privileged bureaucracy; 
where militias, controlled by administrative bodies such 
as soviets, unions and communes, with no special privileges 
for military technicians, realising the idea of the armed 
people, replace an army cut off from the body of Society 
and subordinated to the arbitrary power of a State or 
government."</i> [<b>Manifesto of Libertarian Communism</b>, p. 24]
</blockquote><p>
Anarchists, therefore, are no more impressed with this aspect
of Engels critique than his "organisation equals authority" 
argument. In summary, his argument is simply a liberal analysis 
of revolution, totally without a class basis or analysis and so 
fails to understand the anarchist case nor answer it. To argue 
that a revolution is made up of two groups of people, one of
which "imposes its will upon the other" fails to indicate 
the social relations that exist between these groups (classes)
and the relations of authority between them which the revolution 
is seeking to overthrow. As such, Engels critique totally misses 
the point.
<p>
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