File: secH2.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 (5377 lines) | stat: -rw-r--r-- 307,072 bytes parent folder | download
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<html>
<head>
<title>
H.2 What parts of anarchism do Marxists particularly misrepresent?
</title>
</head>
<H1>H.2 What parts of anarchism do Marxists particularly misrepresent?
</H1>
<p>
Many people involved in politics will soon discover that Marxist
groups (particularly Leninist and Trotskyist ones) organise
"debates"</i> about anarchism. These meetings are usually entitled
<i>"Marxism and Anarchism"</i> and are usually organised after anarchists
have been active in the area or have made the headlines somewhere.
<p>
These meetings, contrary to common sense, are usually not 
a debate as (almost always) no anarchists are invited to 
argue the anarchist viewpoint and, therefore, they present 
a one-sided account of <i>"Marxism and Anarchism"</i> in a 
manner which benefits the organisers. Usually, the format 
is a speaker distorting anarchist ideas and history for a 
long period of time (both absolutely in terms of the length 
of the meeting and relatively in terms of the boredom 
inflicted on the unfortunate attendees). It will soon 
become obvious to those attending that any such meeting is 
little more than an unprincipled attack on anarchism with 
little or no relationship to what anarchism is actually 
about. Those anarchists who attend such meetings usually 
spend most of their allotted (usually short) speaking time 
refuting the nonsense that is undoubtedly presented. Rather 
than a <b>real</b> discussion between the differences between
anarchism and "Marxism" (i.e. Leninism), the meeting simply
becomes one where anarchists correct the distortions and
misrepresentations of the speaker in order to create the
basis of a real debate. If the reader does not believe 
this summary we would encourage them to attend such a 
meeting and see for themselves.
<p>
Needless to say, we cannot hope to reproduce the many distortions
produced in such meetings. However, when anarchists do hit the
headlines (such as in the 1990 poll tax riot in London and the
in current anti-globalisation movement), various Marxist papers 
will produce articles on "Anarchism" as well. Like the meetings,
the articles are full of so many elementary errors that it 
takes a lot of effort to think they are the product of ignorance
rather than a conscious desire to lie (the appendix 
<a href="append3.html"><i>"Anarchism
and Marxism"</i></a> contains a few replies to such articles and other
Marxist diatribes on anarchism). In addition, many of the 
founding fathers of Marxism (and Leninism) also decided to
attack anarchism in similar ways, so this activity does have
a long tradition in Marxist circles (particularly in Leninist
and Trotskyist ones). Sadly, Max Nettlau's comments on Marx
and Engels are applicable to many of their followers today.
He argued that they <i>"acted with that shocking lack of honesty
which was characteristic of <b>all</b> their polemics. They worked
with inadequate documentation, which, according to their custom,
they supplemented with arbitrary declarations and conclusions
-- accepted as truth by their followers althhough they were 
exposed as deplorable misrepresentations, errors and unscrupulous
perversions of the truth."</i> [<b>A Short History of Anarchism</b>, 
p. 132] As the reader will discover, this summary has not lost its
relevance today. If they read Marxist "critiques" of anarchism
they will soon discover the same repetition of "accepted" truths,
the same inadequate documentation, the same arbitrary declarations
and conclusions as well as an apparent total lack of familiarity
with the source material they claim to be analysing.
<p>
This section of the FAQ lists and refutes many of the most
common distortions Marxists make with regards to anarchism. As 
will become clear, many of the most common Marxist attacks
on anarchism have little or no basis in fact but have simply
been repeated so often by Marxists that they have entered 
the ideology (the idea that anarchists think the capitalist
class will just disappear being, probably, the most famous
one, closely followed by anarchism being in favour of 
<i>"small-scale"</i> production). We will not bother to refute the 
more silly Marxist assertions (such as anarchists are against 
organisation or are not "socialists"). Instead, we will 
concentrate on the more substantial and most commonly 
repeated ones. Of course, many of these distortions and 
misrepresentations coincide and flow into each other, but 
there are many which can be considered distinct issues and 
will be discussed in turn.
<p>
Moreover, Marxists make many major and minor distortions of
anarchist theory in passing. For example, Engels asserted in his
infamous diatribe <i>"The Bakuninists at work"</i> that Bakunin 
<i>"[a]s
early as September 1870 (in his <b>Lettres a un francais</b> [Letters
to a Frenchman]) . . . had declared that the only way to drive
the Prussians out of France by a revolutionary struggle was to
do away with all forms of centralised leadership and leave
each town, each village, each parish to wage war on its own."</i>
[Marx, Engels and Lenin, <b>Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, 
p. 141] In fact, the truth is totally different. 
<p>
Bakunin does, of course, reject <i>"centralised leadership"</i> as it 
would be <i>"necessarily very circumscribed, very short-sighted, 
and its limited perception cannot, therefore, penetrate the 
depth and encompass the whole complex range of popular life."</i> 
However, it is a falsehood to state that he denies the need for 
co-ordination of struggles and federal organisations from the 
bottom up. As he puts it, the revolution must <i>"foster the 
self-organisation of the masses into autonomous bodies, 
federated from the bottom upwards."</i> With regards to the 
peasants, he thinks they will <i>"come to an understanding, and 
form some kind of organisation . . . to further their mutual 
interests . . . the necessity to defend their homes, their 
families, and their own lives against unforeseen attack . . . 
will undoubtedly soon compel them to contract new and mutually 
suitable arrangements."</i> The peasants would be <i>"freely organised 
from the bottom up."</i> [<i>"Letters to a Frenchman on the
present crisis"</i>, <b>Bakunin on 
Anarchism</b>, p. 196, p. 206 and p. 207] In this he repeated 
his earlier arguments concerning social revolution -- arguments 
that Engels was well aware of. In other words, Engels deliberately 
misrepresented Bakunin's political ideas.
<p>
Similarly, we find Trotsky asserting in 1937 that anarchists are
<i>"willing to replace Bakunin's patriarchal 'federation of free 
communes' by the more modern federation of free soviets."</i> 
[<i>"Stalinism and Bolshevism"</i>, <b>Socialist Review</b>, no. 146, 
pp. 14-19, p. 15] It is hard to know where to start in this 
incredulous rewriting of history. Firstly, Bakunin's federation 
of free communes was, in fact, based on workers' councils 
("soviets"). As he put it, <i>"the federative Alliance of all 
working men's associations . . . will constitute the Commune"</i>
and <i>"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>, p. 170 and p. 172] The similarities 
with workers councils are clear. Little wonder historian
Paul Avrich summarised as follows:
<p><blockquote><i>
"As early as the 1860's and 1870's, the followers of
Proudhon and Bakunin in the First International were
proposing the formation of workers' councils designed
both as a weapon of class struggle against capitalists 
and as the structural basis of the future libertarian
society."</i> [<b>The Russian Anarchists</b>, p. 73]
</blockquote><p>
As for the charge of supporting <i>"patriarchal"</i> communes,
nothing could be further from the truth. In his discussion
of the Russian peasant commune (the mir) Bakunin argued
that <i>"patriarchalism"</i> was one of its <i>"three dark features,"</i>
indeed <i>"the main historical evil . . . against which we are
obliged to struggle with all our might."</i> [<b>Statism and
Anarchy</b>, p. 206 and pp. 209-10] 
<p>
As can be seen Trotsky's summary of Bakunin's ideas is
totally wrong. Not only did his ideas on the organisation
of the free commune as a federation of workers' associations
predate the soviets by decades (and so much more <i>"modern"</i>
than Marxist conceptions), he also argued against patriarchal
relationships and urged their destruction in the Russian 
peasant commune (and elsewhere). Indeed, if any one fits
Trotsky's invention it is Marx, not Bakunin. After all,
Marx came round (eventually) to Bakunin's position that
the peasant commune could be the basis for Russia to jump 
straight to socialism (and so by-passing capitalism) but 
without Bakunin's critical analysis of that institution
and its patriarchal and other <i>"dark"</i> features. Similarly,
Marx never argued that the future socialist society would 
be based on workers' associations and their federation (i.e. 
workers' councils). His vision of revolution was formulated 
in typically bourgeois structures such as the Paris Commune's 
municipal council.
<p>
We could go on, but space precludes discussing every example.
Suffice to say, it is not wise to take any Marxist assertion
of anarchist thought or history at face value. A common technique
is to quote anarchist writers out of context or before they
become anarchists. For example, Marxist Paul Thomas argues
that Bakunin favoured <i>"blind destructiveness"</i> and yet quotes
more from Bakunin's pre-anarchist works (as well as Russian
nihilists) than Bakunin's anarchist works to prove his claim.
[<b>Karl Marx and the Anarchists</b>, pp. 288-90] Similarly, he
claims that Bakunin <i>"defended the <b>federes</b> of the Paris 
Commune of 1871 on the grounds that they were strong enough
to dispense with theory altogether,"</i> yet his supporting quote
does not, in fact say this. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 285] What Bakunin 
was, in fact, arguing was simply that theory must progress 
from experience and that any attempt to impose a theory on 
society would be doomed to create a <i>"Procrustean bed"</i> as no 
government could <i>"embrace the infinite multiplicity and 
diversity of the real aspirations, wishes and needs whose 
sum total constitutes the collective will of a people."</i> He
explicitly contrasted the Marxist system of <i>"want[ing] to
impose science upon the people"</i> with the anarchist desire
<i>"to diffuse science and knowledge among the people, so that
the various groups of human society, when convinced by
propaganda, may organise and spontaneously combine into
federations, in accordance with their natural tendencies
and their real interests, but never according to a plan
traced in advance and <b>imposed upon the ignorant masses</b>
by a few 'superior' minds."</i> [<b>The Political Theory of
Bakunin</b>, p. 300] A clear misreading of Bakunin's argument 
but one which fits nicely into Marxist preconceptions of 
Bakunin and anarchism in general.
<p>
This tendency to quote out of context or from periods when
anarchists were not anarchists probably explains why so
many of these Marxist accounts of anarchism are completely
lacking in references. Take, for example, the British SWP's
Pat Stack who wrote one of the most inaccurate diatribes
against anarchism the world has had the misfortunate to
see (namely <i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i> which was published in
issue no. 246 of <b>Socialist Review</b>). There is not a single 
reference in the whole article, which is just as well, given
the inaccuracies contained in it. Without references, the
reader would not be able to discover for themselves the
distortions and simple errors contained in it. For example,
Stack asserts that Bakunin <i>"claimed a purely 'instinctive 
socialism.'"</i> However, the truth is different and this quote 
from Bakunin is one by him comparing himself and Marx in 
the 1840s! 
<p>
In fact, the <b>anarchist</b> Bakunin argued that <i>"instinct 
as a weapon is not sufficient to safeguard the proletariat 
against the reactionary machinations of the privileged 
classes,"</i> as instinct <i>"left to itself, and inasmuch as 
it has not been transformed into consciously reflected, 
clearly determined thought, lends itself easily to 
falsification, distortion and deceit."</i> [<b>The Political 
Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 215] Bakunin saw the process of
class struggle as the means of transforming instinct into
conscious thought. As he put it, the <i>"goal, then, is to make
the worker fully aware of what he [or she] wants, to unjam
within him [or her] a steam of thought corresponding to
his [or her] instinct."</i> This is done by <i>"a single path,
that of <b>emancipation through practical action</b>,"</i> by
<i>"workers' solidarity in their struggle against the bosses,"</i>
of <i>"collective struggle of the workers against the bosses."</i>
This would be complemented by socialist organisations
<i>"propagandis[ing] its principles."</i> [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>,
p. 102, p. 103 and p. 109] Clearly, Stack is totally
distorting Bakunin's ideas on the subject.
<p>
This technique of quoting Bakunin when he spoke about (or when
wrote in) his pre-anarchist days in the 1840s, i.e. nearly 
20 years <b>before</b> he became an anarchist, or from Proudhon's 
posthumously published work on property (in which Proudhon saw
small-scale property as a bulwark against state tyranny) to
attack anarchism is commonplace. As such, it is always wise to 
check the source material and any references (assuming that they 
are provided). Only by doing this can it be discovered whether
a quote reflects the opinions of individuals when they were 
anarchists or whether they are referring to periods when they
were no longer, or had not yet become, anarchists.
<p>
Ultimately, though, these kinds of articles by Marxists
simply show the ideological nature of their own politics
and say far more about Marxism than anarchism. After all,
if their politics were so strong they would not need to
distort anarchist ideas! In addition, these essays are
usually marked by a lot of (usually inaccurate) attacks on
the ideas (or personal failings) of individual anarchists 
(usually Proudhon and Bakunin and sometimes Kropotkin). No 
modern anarchist theorist is usually mentioned, never mind 
discussed. Obviously, for most Marxists, anarchists must 
repeat parrot-like the ideas of these "great men." However, 
while Marxists may do this, anarchists have always rejected 
this approach. We deliberately call ourselves <b>anarchists</b> 
rather than Proudhonists, Bakuninists, Kropotkinists, or 
after any other person. As Malatesta argued in 1876 (the
year of Bakunin's death) <i>"[w]e follow ideas and not men, 
and rebel against this habit of embodying a principle in 
a man."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 198]
<p>
Therefore, anarchists, unlike many (most?) Marxists do not 
believe that some prophet wrote down the scriptures in past 
centuries and if only we could reach a correct understanding 
of these writings today we would see the way forward. Chomsky 
put it extremely well when he argued that: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"The whole concept of Marxist or Freudian or anything like 
that is very odd. These concepts belong to the history of 
organised religion. Any living person, no matter how gifted, 
will make some contributions intermingled with error and 
partial understanding. We try to understand and improve on 
their contributions and eliminate the errors. But how can you 
identify yourself as a Marxist, or a Freudian, or an X-ist,
whoever X may be? That would be to treat the person as a God 
to be revered, not a human being whose contributions are to be 
assimilated and transcended. It's a crazy idea, a kind of 
idolatry."</i> [<b>The Chomsky Reader</b>, pp. 29-30]
</blockquote><p>
This means that anarchists recognise that any person, no matter
how great or influential, are just human. They make mistakes,
they fail to live up to all the ideals they express, they are
shaped by the society they live in, and so on. Anarchists 
recognise this fact and extract the positive aspects of past
anarchist thinkers, reject the rest and develop what we consider 
the living core of their ideas. We develop the ideas and analyses
of these pioneers of the anarchist ideal, reject the rubbish
and embrace the good, learn from history and constantly try 
to bring anarchist ideas up-to-date (after all, a lot has
changed since the days of Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin
and this has to be taken into account). As Max Nettlau put it
with regards to Proudhon, <i>"we have to extract from his work
useful teachings that would be of great service to our modern
libertarians, who nevertheless have to find their own way
from theory to practice and to the critique of our present-day
conditions, as Proudhon did in his time. This does not call
for a slavish imitation; it implies using his work to inspire
us and enable us to profit by his experience."</i> [<b>A Short
History of Anarchism</b>, pp. 46-7] Similarly for other anarchists
-- we see them as a source of inspiration uppon which to build
rather than a template which to copy. This means to attack
anarchism by, say, attacking Bakunin's or Proudhon's personal
failings is to totally miss the point. While anarchists may be
inspired by the ideas of, say, Bakunin or Proudhon it does
not mean we blindly follow all of their ideas. Far from it!
We critically analysis their ideas and keep what is living
and reject what is useless or dead. Sadly, such common sense
is lacking in many who critique anarchism.
<p>
However, the typical Marxist approach does have its benefits 
from a political perspective. As Albert Meltzer pointed out, 
<i>"[i]t is very difficult for Marxist-Leninists to make an 
objective criticism of Anarchism, as such, because by its 
nature it undermines all the suppositions basic to Marxism. 
If Marxism is held out to be indeed <b>the</b> basic working class 
philosophy, and the proletariat cannot owe its emancipation to 
anyone but itself, it is hard to go back on it and say that the 
working class is not yet ready to dispense with authority placed
over it. Marxism therefore normally tries to refrain from
criticising anarchism as such -- unless driven to doing so,
when it exposes its own authoritarian . . . and concentrates
its attacks not on <b>anarchism,</b> but on <b>anarchists.</b>"</i> 
[<b>Anarchism: Arguments for and Against</b>, p. 37] Needless to
say, this technique is the one usually applied by Marxists 
(although, we must stress that often their account of the 
ideas of Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin are so distorted 
that they fail even to do this!).
<p>
So anarchist theory has developed since Proudhon, Bakunin and
Kropotkin. At each period in history anarchism advanced in its 
understanding of the world, the anarchism of Bakunin was a 
development of that of Proudhon, these ideas were again 
developed by the anarcho-communists of the 1880s and by
the syndicalists of the 1890's, by the Italian Malatesta,
the Russian Kropotkin, the Mexican Flores Magon and many other 
individuals and movements. Today we stand on their shoulders, 
not at their feet.
<p>
As such, to concentrate on the ideas of a few <i>"leaders"</i> misses 
the point totally. Ideas change and develop and anarchism has 
changed as well. While it contains many of the core insights 
of, say, Bakunin, it has also developed them and added to them. 
It has, concretely, taken into account, say, the lessons of the 
Russian and Spanish revolutions and so on. As such, even assuming 
that Marxist accounts of certain aspects of the ideas of Proudhon, 
Bakunin and Kropotkin were correct, they would have to be shown to 
be relevant to modern anarchism to be of any but historical interest.
Sadly, Marxists generally fail to do this and, instead, we are
subject to a (usually inaccurate) history lesson.
<p>
In order to understand, learn from and transcend previous theorists 
we must honestly present their ideas. Unfortunately many Marxists 
do not do this and so this section of the FAQ involves correcting 
the many mistakes, distortions, errors and lies that Marxists have
subjected anarchism to. Hopefully, with this done, a real dialogue
can develop between Marxists and anarchists. Indeed, this has 
happened between libertarian Marxists (such as council communists
and Situationists) and anarchists and both tendencies have benefited
from it. Perhaps this dialogue between libertarian Marxists and
anarchists is to be expected, as the mainstream Marxists have often
misrepresented the ideas of libertarian Marxists as well!
<p>
<a name="sech21"><h2>H.2.1 Do anarchists reject defending a revolution?</h2>
<p>
According to many Marxists anarchists either reject the idea 
of defending a revolution or think that it is not necessary.
<p>
The Trotskyists of <b>Workers' Power</b> present a typical Marxist
account of what <b>they</b> consider as anarchist ideas on this
subject:
<p><blockquote><i>
"the anarchist conclusion is not to build any sort of state
in the first place -- not even a democratic workers' state.
But how could we stop the capitalists trying to get their 
property back, something they will definitely try and do?
<p>
"Should the people organise to stop the capitalists raising
private armies and resisting the will of the majority? If
the answer is yes, then that organisation - whatever you
prefer to call it -- is a state: an apparatus designed to
enable one class to rule over another.
<p>
"The anarchists are rejecting something which is necessary
if we are to beat the capitalists and have a chance of
developing a classless society."</i> [<i>"What's wrong with 
anarchism?"</i>, <b>World Revolution: PragueS26 2000</b>, pp. 12-13,
p. 13]
</blockquote><p>
It would be simple to quote Malatesta on this issue and leave
it at that. As he argued in 1891, some people <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] Pretty much
common sense, so you would think! Sadly, this appears to not 
be the case. As Malatesta pointed out 30 years latter, the 
followers of Bolshevism <i>"are incapable of conceiving freedom 
and of respecting for all human beings the dignity they expect,
or should expect, from others. If one speaks of freedom they
immediately accuse one of wanting to respect, or at least
tolerate, the freedom to oppress and exploit one's fellow
beings."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 145] As such, we have to 
explain anarchist ideas on the defence of a revolution and 
why this necessity need not imply a state and, if it does,
then it signifies the end of the revolution.
<p>
The argument by <b>Workers' Power</b> is very common with the Leninist
left and contains numerous fallacies and so we shall base our
discussion on it. This discussion, of necessity, implies three
issues. Firstly, we have to show that anarchists have always
seen the necessity of defending a revolution. This shows that
the anarchist opposition to the <i>"democratic workers' state"</i>
(or <i>"dictatorship of the proletariat"</i>) has nothing to do with
beating the ruling class and stopping them regaining their
positions of power. Secondly, we have to discuss the anarchist
and Marxist definitions of what constitutes a <i>"state"</i> and
show what they have in common and how they differ. Thirdly,
we must summarise why anarchists oppose the idea of a <i>"workers'
state"</i> in order for the <b>real</b> reasons why anarchists oppose it
to be understood. Each issue will be discussed in turn.
<p>
For revolutionary anarchists, it is a truism that a revolution
will need to defend itself against counter-revolutionary threats.
Bakunin, for example, while strenuously objecting to the idea
of a <i>"dictatorship of the proletariat"</i> (see 
<a href="secH1.html#sech11">section H.1.1</a> for
details) also thought a revolution would need to defend itself.
In his words:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Immediately after established governments have 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 to
radiate revolution outward, to raise all of 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>
And:
<p><blockquote><i>
"the Alliance of all labour associations . . . will constitute
the Commune . . . there will be a standing federation of the
barricades and a Revolutionary Communal Council . . . [made
up of] delegates . . . invested will binding mandates and
accountable and revocable at all times . . . all provinces,
communes and associations . . . [will] delegate deputies
to an agreed place of assembly (all . . . invested will 
binding mandated and accountable and subject to recall), in 
order to found the federation of insurgent associations,
communes and provinces . . . and to organise a revolutionary
force with the capacity of defeating the reaction . . . it
is through the very act of extrapolation and organisation of
the Revolution with an eye to the mutual defences of insurgent
areas that the universality of the Revolution . . . will
emerge triumphant."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, vol. 1, pp. 155-6]
</blockquote><p>
Malatesta agreed, arguing for the <i>"creation of voluntary
militia, without powers to interfere as militia in the
life of the community, but only to deal with any armed
attacks by the forces of reaction to re-establish themselves,
or to resist outside intervention."</i> The workers must <i>"take
possession of the factories"</i> and <i>"federate amongst themselves"</i>
and only <i>"the people in arms, in possession of the land, the
factories and all the natural wealth"</i> could defend a revolution 
[<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 166, p. 165 and p. 170] Alexander
Berkman concurred: <i>"The armed workers and peasants are the
only effective defence of the revolution. By means of their
unions and syndicates they must always be on guard against
counter-revolutionary attack."</i> [<b>ABC of Anarchism</b>, p. 82]
Emma Goldman clearly and unambiguously stated that she
had <i>"always insisted that an armed attack on the Revolution
must be met with armed force"</i> and that <i>"an armed 
counter-revolutionary and fascist attack can be met in
no way except by an armed defence."</i> [<b>Vision on Fire</b>,
p. 222 and p. 217]
<p>
Clearly, anarchism has always recognised the necessity of
defending a revolution and proposed ideas to ensure it (ideas
applied with great success by, for example, the Makhnovists
in the Ukrainian Revolution and the C.N.T militias during
the Spanish). As such, any assertion that anarchism rejects
the necessity of defending a revolution are simply false.
<p>
Which, of course, brings us to the second assertion, namely
that any attempt to defend a revolution means that a state
has been created (regardless of what it may be called). For 
anarchists, such an argument simply shows that Marxists do 
not really understand what a state is. While the Trotskyist 
definition of a <i>"state"</i> is <i>"an apparatus designed to enable 
one class to rule another,"</i> the anarchist definition is 
somewhat different. Anarchists, of course, do not deny
that the modern state is (to use Malatesta's excellent
expression) <i>"the bourgeoisie's servant and <b>gendarme</b>."</i> 
[<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 20] Every state that has ever existed has
defended the power of a minority class and, unsurprisingly,
has developed certain features to facilitate this. The
key one is centralisation of power. This ensures that the
working people are excluded from the decision making process
and power remains a tool of the ruling class. As such, the
centralisation of power (while it may take many forms) is
the key means by which a class system is maintained and,
therefore, a key aspect of a state. As Kropotkin put, the
<i>"state idea . . . includes the existence of a power 
situated above society . . . a territorial concentration
as well as the concentration of many functions of the
life of societies in the hands of a few."</i> [<b>Selected
Writings on Anarchism and Revolution</b>, p. 213] This was 
the case with representative democracy:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"To attack the central power, to strip it of its prerogatives,
to decentralise, to dissolve authority, would have been to abandon
to the people the control of its affairs, to run the risk of a
truly popular revolution. That is why the bourgeoisie sought to
reinforce the central government even more. . ."</i> [Kropotkin,
<b>Words of a Rebel</b>, p. 143]
</blockquote><p>
This meant that the <i>"representative system was organised by 
the bourgeoisie to ensure their domination, and it will 
disappear with them. For the new economic phase that is about 
to begin we must seek a new form of political organisation, 
based on a principle quite different from that of representation. 
The logic of events imposes it."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 125] So while 
we agree with Marxists that the main function of the state is 
to defend class society, we also stress the structure of the 
state has evolved to execute that role. In the words of Rudolf 
Rocker:
<p><blockquote><i>
"[S]ocial institutions . . . do not arise arbitrarily, but
are called into being by special needs to serve definite
purposes . . . The newly arisen possessing classes had
need of a political instrument of power to maintain their
economic and social privileges over the masses of their
own people . . . Thus arose the appropriate social conditions
for the evolution of the modern state, as the organ of
political power of privileged castes and classes for the
forcible subjugation and oppression of the non-possessing
classes . . . Its external forms have altered in the course
of its historical development, but its functions have always
been the same . . . And just as the functions of the bodily
organs of . . . animals cannot be arbitrarily altered, so
that, for example, one cannot at will hear  with his eyes 
and see with his ears, so also one cannot at pleasure
transform an organ of social oppression into an instrument
for the liberation of the oppressed. The state can only
be what it is: the defender of mass-exploitation and 
social privileges, and creator of privileged classes."</i> 
[<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 20]
</blockquote><p>
As such, a new form of society, one based on the participation 
of all in the affairs of society (and a classless society can be 
nothing else) means the end of the state. This is because it has
been designed to <b>exclude</b> the participation a classless society
needs in order to exist. In anarchist eyes, it is an abuse of
the language to call the self-managed organisations by which 
the former working class manage (and defend) a free society a 
state. If it <b>was</b> simply a question of consolidating a revolution
and its self-defence then there would be no argument:
<p><blockquote><i>
"But perhaps the truth is simply this: . . . [some] take the 
expression 'dictatorship of the proletariat' to mean simply 
the revolutionary action of the workers in taking possession 
of the land and the instruments of labour, and trying to 
build a society and organise a way of life in which there 
will be no place for a class that exploits and oppresses the 
producers.
<p>
"Thus constructed, the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' would 
be the effective power of all workers trying to bring down 
capitalist society and would thus turn into Anarchy as soon 
as resistance from reactionaries would have ceased and no one 
can any longer seek to compel the masses by violence to obey 
and work for him. In which case, the discrepancy between us 
would be nothing more than a question of semantics. Dictatorship 
of the proletariat would signify the dictatorship of everyone,
which is to say, it would be a dictatorship no longer, just as 
government by everybody is no longer a government in the 
authoritarian, historical and practical sense of the word.
<p>
"But the real supporters of 'dictatorship of the proletariat'
do not take that line, as they are making quite plain in 
Russia. Of course, the proletariat has a hand in this, just
as the people has a part to play in democratic regimes,
that is to say, to conceal the reality of things. In reality,
what we have is the dictatorship of one party, or rather,
of one' party's leaders: a genuine dictatorship, with its
decrees, its penal sanctions, its henchmen and above all its
armed forces, which are at present [1919] also deployed in
the defence of the revolution against its external enemies,
but which will tomorrow be used to impose the dictator's
will upon the workers, to apply a break on revolution,
to consolidate the new interests in the process of emerging
and protect a new privileged class against the masses."</i> 
[Malatesta, <b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 2, pp. 38-9]
</blockquote><p>
The question is, therefore, one of <b>who</b> <i>"seizes power"</i> -- will 
it be the mass of the population or will it be a party claiming 
to represent the mass of the population. The difference is vital 
and it confuses the issue to use the same word <i>"state"</i> to describe 
two such fundamentally different structures as a <i>"bottom-up"</i> 
self-managed communal federation and a <i>"top-down"</i> hierarchical
centralised organisation (such as has been every state that has
existed). This explains why anarchists reject the idea of 
a <i>"democratic workers' state"</i> as the means by which a revolution
defends itself. Rather than signify working class power or
management of society, it signifies the opposite -- the seizure
of power of a minority (in this case, the leaders of the 
vanguard party).
<p>
Anarchists argue that the state is designed to exclude the
mass of the population from the decision making process. This, 
ironically for Trotskyism, was one of the reasons why leading
Bolsheviks (including Lenin and Trotsky) argued for a workers 
state. The centralisation of power implied by the state was
essential so that the vanguard party could ignore the <i>"the 
will of the majority."</i> This particular perspective was clearly 
a lesson they learned from their experiences during the Russian 
Revolution. 
<p>
As noted in <a href="secH1.html#sech12">section H.1.2</a>, 
Lenin was arguing in 1920 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>
This argument, as can be seen, was considered of general
validity and, moreover, was merely stating mainstream Bolshevik 
ideology. It was repeated in March 1923 by the Central Committee 
of the Communist Party in a statement issued to mark the 25th 
anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party. This
statement summarised the lessons gained from the Russian 
revolution. It stated that <i>"the party of the Bolsheviks 
proved able to stand out fearlessly against the vacillations 
within its own class, vacillations which, with the slightest 
weakness in the vanguard, could turn into an unprecedented 
defeat for the proletariat."</i> Vacillations, of course, are 
expressed by workers' democracy. Little wonder the statement 
rejects it: <i>"The dictatorship of the working class finds 
its expression in the dictatorship of the party."</i> [<i>"To the 
Workers of the USSR"</i> in G. Zinoviev, <b>History of the Bolshevik 
Party</b>, p. 213, p. 214] It should be noted that this Central
Committee included Trotsky who, in the same year, was stating 
that <i>"[i]f there is one question which basically not only does 
not require revision but does not so much as admit the thought 
of revision, it is the question of the dictatorship of the 
Party."</i> [<b>Leon Trotsky Speaks</b>, p. 158]
<p>
Needless to say, <b>Workers' Power</b> (like most Trotskyists) blame
the degeneration of the Russian revolution on the Civil War
and its isolation. However, as these statements make clear,
the creation of a party dictatorship was not seen in these
terms. Rather, it was considered a necessity to suppress
democracy and replace it by party rule. Indeed, as noted in
<a href="secH1.html#sech12">section H.1.2</a>, Trotsky was still arguing in 1937 for the 
<i>"objective necessity"</i> for the <i>"dictatorship of a party"</i> 
due to the <i>"heterogeneity"</i> of the working class. [<b>Writings 
1936-37</b>, pp. 513-4] Moreover, as we discuss in detail in 
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a>, the Bolshevik undermining of working class 
autonomy and democracy started <b>well</b> before the outbreak 
of civil war, thus confirming anarchist theory. These 
conclusions of leading Leninists simply justified the
actions undertaken by the Bolsheviks from the start.
<p>
This is why anarchists reject the idea of a <i>"democratic workers'
state."</i> Simply put, as far as it is a state, it cannot be
democratic and in as far as it is democratic, it cannot be a
state. The Leninist idea of a <i>"workers' state"</i> means, in fact,
the seizure of power by the party. This, we must stress, naturally
follows from the idea of the state. It is designed for minority
rule and excludes, by its very nature, mass participation. As can
be seen, this aspect of the state is one which the leading lights
of Bolshevik agreed with. Little wonder, then, that in practice 
the Bolshevik regime suppressed of any form of democracy which 
hindered the power of the party (see 
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a>). Maurice 
Brinton sums up the issue well when he argued that <i>"'workers' 
power' cannot be identified or equated with the power of the 
Party -- as it repeatedly was by the Bolsheviks . . . What 
'taking power' really implies is that the vast majority of the 
working class at last realises its ability to manage both 
production and society -- and organises to this end."</i> [<b>The 
Bolsheviks and Workers' Control</b>, p. xiv] 
<p>
In summary, therefore, anarchists reject the idea that the
defence of a revolution can be conducted by a state. As
Bakunin once put it, there is the <i>"Republic-State"</i> and
there is <i>"the system of the Republic-Commune, the
Republic-Federation, i.e. the system of <b>Anarchism.</b> This 
is the politics of the Social Revolution, which aims at 
the abolition of the <b>State</b> and establishment of the 
economic, entirely free organisation of the people -- 
organisation from bottom to top by means of federation."</i> 
[<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 314] Indeed, 
creating a new state will simply destroy the most important
gain of any revolution -- working class autonomy -- and its
replacement by another form of minority rule (by the party).
Anarchists have always argued that the defence of a revolution
must not be confused with the state and so argue for the
abolition of the state <b>and</b> the defence of a revolution 
(also see 
<a href="secH1.html#sech13">section H.1.3</a> for more 
discussion). Only when 
working class people actually run themselves society will 
a revolution be successful. For anarchists, this means 
that <i>"effective emancipation can be achieved only by the 
<b>direct, widespread, and independent action</b> . . . <b>of 
the workers themselves</b>, grouped . . . in their own 
class organisations . . . on the basis of concrete action 
and self-government, <b>helped but not governed</b>, by 
revolutionaries working in the very midst of, and not above 
the mass and the professional, technical, defence and other 
branches."</i> [Voline, <b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, p. 197] This 
means that anarchists argue that the capitalist state cannot 
be transformed or adjusted, but has to be smashed by a 
social revolution and replaced with organisations and 
structures created by working class people during their 
own struggles (see <a href="secH1.html#sech14">section H.1.4</a> 
for details).
<p>
For a further discussion of anarchist ideas on defending a 
revolution, please consult sections <a href="secI5.html#seci514">I.5.14</a> 
and <a href="secJ7.html#secj76">J.7.6</a>.
<p>
<a name="sech22"><h2>H.2.2 Do anarchists reject <i>"class conflict"</i> 
as <i>"the motor of change"</i> and <i>"collective struggle"</i> as 
the <i>"means"</i>?</h2> 
<p>
Of course not. Anarchists have always taken a keen interest in
the class struggle, in the organisation, solidarity and actions
of working class people. Indeed, class struggle plays a key
role in anarchist theory and to assert otherwise is simply to 
lie about anarchism. Sadly, Marxists have been known to make
such an assertion.
<p>
For example, Pat Stack of the British SWP argued that anarchists
<i>"dismiss . . .  the importance of the collective nature of
change"</i> and so <i>"downplays the centrality of the working class"</i> 
in the revolutionary process. This, he argues, means that for
anarchism the working class <i>"is not the key to change."</i> He 
stresses that for Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin <i>"revolutions 
were not about . . . collective struggle or advance."</i> Indeed,
that anarchism <i>"despises the collectivity."</i> Amazingly he 
argues that for Kropotkin, <i>"far from seeing class conflict 
as the dynamic for social change as Marx did, saw co-operation 
being at the root of the social process."</i> Therefore, 
<i>"[i]t follows 
that if class conflict is not the motor of change, the working 
class is not the agent and collective struggle not the means. 
Therefore everything from riot to bomb, and all that might 
become between the two, was legitimate when ranged against 
the state, each with equal merit."</i> [<i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i>,
<b>Socialist Review</b>, no. 246] Needless to say, he makes the
usual exception for anarcho-syndicalists, thereby showing
his total ignorance of anarchism <b>and</b> syndicalism (see 
<a href="secH2.html#sech28">section H.2.8</a>).
<p>
Indeed, these assertions are simply incredible. It is hard to believe
that anyone who is a leading member of a Leninist party could write
such nonsense which suggests that Stack is aware of the truth and
simply decides to ignore it. All in all, it is <b>very</b> easy to refute 
these assertions. All we have to do is, unlike Stack, to quote from 
the works of Bakunin, Kropotkin and other anarchists. Even the
briefest familiarity with the writings of revolutionary anarchism
would soon convince the reader that Stack really does not know 
what he is talking about.
<p>
Take, for example, Bakunin. Rather than reject class conflict,
collective struggle or the key role of the working class, Bakunin
based his political ideas on all three. As he put it, there was,
<i>"between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, an irreconcilable 
antagonism which results inevitably from their respective stations
in life."</i> He stressed <i>"war between the proletariat and the
bourgeoisie is unavoidable"</i> and would only end with the 
<i>"abolition
of the bourgeoisie as a distinct class."</i> In order the worker to
<i>"become strong"</i> they <i>"must unite"</i> with other workers 
in <i>"the
union of all local and national workers' associations into a
world-wide association, <b>the great International Working-Men's
Association.</b>"</i> It was only <i>"through practice and collective
experience . . . [and] the progressive expansion and development
of the economic struggle [that] will bring [the worker] more
to recognise his [or her] true enemies: the privileged classes,
including the clergy, the bourgeoisie, and the nobility; and the
State, which exists only to safeguard all the privileges of those
classes."</i> There was <i>"but a single path, that of <b>emancipation
through practical action</b> . . . [which] has only one meaning.
It means workers' solidarity in their struggle against the
bosses. It means <b>trades-unions, organisation, and the
federation of resistance funds.</b>"</i> Then, <i>"when the revolution 
-- brought about by the force of circumstancces -- breaks out, 
the International will be a real force and know what it has to 
do . . . take the revolution into its own hands . . . [and
become] an earnest international organisation of workers'
associations from all countries [which will be] capable of
replacing this departing political world of States and
bourgeoisie."</i> [<i>"The Policy of the International"</i>, <b>The Basic 
Bakunin</b>, pp. 97-8, p. 103 and p. 110]
<p>
Hardly the words of a man who rejected class conflict, the 
working class and the collective nature of change! Nor is
this an isolated argument from Bakunin, they recur continuously
throughout Bakunin's works. For example, he argued that
socialists must <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."</i> [<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 378] 
Similarly, he argued that <i>"equality"</i> was the <i>"aim"</i> 
of the International Workers' Association and <i>"the organisation
of the working class its strength, the unification of the
proletariat the world over . . . its weapon, its only
policy."</i> He stressed that <i>"to create a people's force
capable of crushing the military and civil force of the
State, it is necessary to organise the proletariat."</i> 
[quoted by K.J. Kenafick, <b>Michael Bakunin and Karl Marx</b>, 
p. 95 and p. 254] 
<p>
Strikes played a very important role in Bakunin's ideas (as 
they do in all revolutionary anarchist thought). He saw the 
strike as <i>"the beginnings of the social war of the proletariat 
against the bourgeoisie . . . Strikes are a valuable instrument 
from two points of view. Firstly, they electrify the masses 
. . . awaken in them the feeling of the deep antagonism which 
exists between their interests and those of the bourgeoisie
. . . secondly they help immensely to provoke and establish 
between the workers of all trades, localities and countries 
the consciousness and very fact of solidarity: a twofold 
action, both negative and positive, which tends to constitute 
directly the new world of the proletariat, opposing it almost 
in an absolute way to the bourgeois world."</i> [cited in Caroline 
Cahm, <b>Kropotkin and the Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism
1872-1886</b>, pp. 216-217] 
<p>
Indeed, for Bakunin, strikes train workers for social revolution 
as they <i>"create, organise, and form a workers' army, an army 
which is bound to break down the power of the bourgeoisie and 
the State, and lay the ground for a new world."</i> [Bakunin, <b>The
Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, pp. 384-5] Moreover, when
<i>"strikes spread from one place to another, they come close
to turning into a general strike. And with the ideas of
emancipation that now hold sway over the proletariat, a
general strike can result only in a great cataclysm which
forces society to shed its old skin."</i> The very process of
strikes, as noted, would create the framework of a socialist
society as <i>"strikes indicate a certain collective strength
already"</i> and <i>"because each strike becomes the point of
departure for the formation of new groups."</i> [<b>The Basic
Bakunin</b>, pp. 149-50] Thus the revolution would be <i>"an 
insurrection of all the people and the voluntary organisation 
of the workers from below upward."</i> [<b>Statism and Anarchy</b>,
p. 179] 
<p>
As we argue in sections 
<a href="secH1.html#sech14">H.1.4</a> and 
<a href="secI2.html#seci23">I.2.3</a>, the very process 
of collective class struggle would, for Bakunin and other
anarchists, create the basis of a free society. Thus, in
Bakunin's eyes, the <i>"future social organisation must be 
made solely from the bottom upwards, 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> He saw the free 
society as being based on <i>"the land, the instruments of work 
and all other capital [will] become the collective property 
of the whole of society and be utilised only by the workers, 
in other words by the agricultural and industrial 
associations."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>,
p. 206 and p. 174] In other words, the basic structure 
created by the revolution would be based on the working 
classes own combat organisations, as created in their
struggles within, but against, oppression and exploitation.
<p>
The link between present and future would be labour unions 
(workers' associations) created by working people in their
struggle against exploitation and oppression.  These played 
the key role in Bakunin's politics both as the means to abolish 
capitalism and the state and as the framework of a socialist 
society (this support for workers' councils predates Marxist 
support by five decades, incidentally). When he became an
anarchist, Bakunin always stressed that it was essential to 
<i>"[o]rganise always more and more the practical militant 
international solidarity of the toilers of all trades and 
of all countries, and remember . . . you will find an immense, 
an irresistible force in this universal collectivity."</i> [quoted 
by Kenafick, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 291] Quite impressive for someone 
who was a founding father of a theory which, according to 
Stack, downplayed the <i>"centrality of the working class,"</i> 
argued that the working class was <i>"not the key to change,"</i>
dismissed <i>"the importance of the collective nature of change"</i>
as well as <i>"collective struggle or advance"</i> and <i>"despises 
the collectivity"</i>! Clearly, to argue that Bakunin held any
of these views simply shows that the person making such 
statements does not have a clue what they are talking about. 
<p>
The same, needless to say, applies to all revolutionary anarchists.
Kropotkin built upon Bakunin's arguments and, like him, based
his politics on collective working class struggle and organisation.
He consistently stressed that <i>"the Anarchists have always advised 
taking an active part in those workers' organisations which carry 
on the <b>direct</b> struggle of Labour against Capital and its protector
-- the State."</i> Such struggle, <i>"betterr than any other indirect means, 
permits the worker to obtain some temporary improvements in the 
present conditions of work, while it opens his eyes to the evil done 
by Capitalism and the State that supports it, and wakes up his 
thoughts concerning the possibility of organising consumption, 
production, and exchange without the intervention of the capitalist 
and the State."</i> [<b>Evolution and Environment</b>, pp. 82-3] In his
article on <i>"Anarchism"</i> for the <b>Encyclopaedia Britannica</b>, he
stressed that anarchists <i>"have endeavoured to promote their
ideas directly amongst the labour organisations and to induce
those unions to a direct struggle against capital, without
placing their faith in parliamentary legislation."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's
Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 287]
<p>
Far from denying the importance of collective class struggle, he 
actually stressed it again and again. As he once wrote, <i>"to make 
the revolution, the mass of workers will have to organise 
themselves. Resistance and the strike are excellent means of 
organisation for doing this."</i> He argued that it was <i>"a question
of organising societies of resistance for all trades in each
town, of creating resistance funds against the exploiters, of
giving more solidarity to the workers' organisations of each
town and of putting them in contact with those of other towns,
of federating them . . . Workers' solidarity must no longer
be an empty word by practised each day between all trades and
all nations."</i> [quoted by Caroline Cahm, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 255-6]
Kropotkin could not have been clearer.
<p>
Clearly, Kropotkin was well aware of the importance of popular,
mass, struggles. As he put it, anarchists <i>"know very well that 
any popular movement is a step towards the social revolution. It 
awakens the spirit of revolt, it makes men [and women] accustomed 
to seeing the established order (or rather the established 
disorder) as eminently unstable."</i> [<b>Words of a Rebel</b>, p. 203]
As regards the social revolution, he argues that <i>"a decisive
blow will have to be administered to private property: from
the beginning, the workers will have to proceed to take over
all social wealth so as to put it into common ownership. This
revolution can only be carried out by the workers themselves."</i>
In order to do this, the masses have to build their own
organisation as the <i>"great mass of workers will not only 
have to
constitute itself outside the bourgeoisie . . . it will have
to take action of its own during the period which will precede
the revolution . . . and this sort of action can only be
carried out when a strong <b>workers' organisation</b> exists."</i>
This meant, of course, it was <i>"the mass of workers we have to
seek to organise. We . . . have to submerge ourselves in the
organisation of the people . . . When the mass of workers is
organised and we are with it to strengthen its revolutionary
idea, to make the spirit of revolt against capital germinate
there . . . then it will be the social revolution."</i> [quoted
by Caroline Cahm, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 153-4]
<p>
He saw the class struggle in terms of <i>"a multitude of acts
of revolt in all countries, under all possible conditions:
first, individual revolt against capital and State; then
collective revolt -- strikes and working-class insurrections
-- both preparing, in men's minds as in actiions, a revolt
of the masses, a revolution."</i> Clearly, the mass, collective
nature of social change was not lost on Kropotkin who pointed
to a <i>"multitude of risings of working masses and peasants"</i> 
as a positive sign. Strikes, he argued, <i>"were once 'a war
of folded arms'"</i> but now were <i>"easily turning to revolt, and
sometimes taking the proportions of vast insurrections."</i>
[<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 144] 
<p>
And Pat Stack argues that Kropotkin did not see <i>"class conflict 
as the dynamic for social change,"</i> nor <i>"class conflict"</i> 
as <i>"the 
motor of change"</i> and the working class <i>"not the agent and 
collective struggle not the means"</i>! Truly incredible and a
total and utter distortion of Kropotkin's ideas on the subject.
<p>
As for other anarchists, we discover the same concern over
class conflict, collective struggle and organisation and the
awareness of a mass social revolution by the working class.
Emma Goldman, for example, argued that anarchism <i>"stands for
direct action"</i> and that <i>"[t]rade unionism, the economic
area of the modern gladiator, owes its existence to direct
action . . . In France, in Spain, in Italy, in Russian, nay
even in England (witness the growing rebellion of English
labour unions), direct, revolutionary economic action has
become so strong a force in the battle for industrial
liberty as to make the world realise the tremendous 
importance of labour's power. The General Strike [is]
the supreme expression of the economic consciousness of
the workers . . . Today every great strike, in order to
win, must realise the importance of the solidaric general
protest."</i> [<b>Anarchism and Other Essays</b>, pp. 65-6] For
Malatesta, <i>"the most powerful force for social transformation
is the working class movement . . . Through the organisations
established for the defence of their interests, workers
acquire an awareness of the oppression under which they
live and of the antagonisms which divide them from their
employers, and so begin to aspire to a better life, get
used to collective struggle and to solidarity."</i> This meant
that anarchists <i>"must recognise the usefulness and importance
of the workers' movement, must favour its development, and
make it one of the levers of their action, doing all they
can so that it . . . will culminate in a social revolution."</i>
Anarchists must <i>"deepen the chasm between capitalists and
wage-slaves, between rulers and ruled; preach expropriation
of private property and the destruction of State."</i> The new
society would be organised <i>"by means of free association
and federations of producers and consumers."</i> [<b>Life and 
Ideas</b>, p. 113, pp. 250-1 and p. 184] Alexander Berkman,
unsurprisingly, argued the same thing. As he put it,
only <i>"the worst victims of present institutions"</i> could
abolish capitalism as <i>"it is to their own interest to
abolish them. . . labour's emancipation means at the same
time the redemption of the whole of society."</i> He stressed
that <i>"<b>only the right organisation of the workers</b> can
accomplish what we are striving for . . . Organisation from
the bottom up, beginning with the shop and factory, on the
foundation of the joint interests of the workers everywhere
. . . alone can solve the labour question and serve the
true emancipation of man[kind]."</i> [<b>The ABC of Anarchism</b>,
p. 44 and p. 60
<p>
As can be seen, the claim that Kropotkin or Bakunin, or 
anarchists in general, ignored the class struggle and 
collective working class struggle and organisation is 
either a lie or indicates ignorance. Clearly, anarchists
have placed working class struggle, organisation and
collective direct action and solidarity at the core of
their politics (and as the means of creating a libertarian
socialist society) from the start.
<p>
Also see <a href="secH2.html#sech28">section H.2.8</a> for a 
discussion of the relationship of anarchism to syndicalism.
<p>
<a name="sech23"><h2>H.2.3 Does anarchism <i>"yearn for what has gone before"</i>?</h2>
<p>
Pat Stack states that one of the <i>"key points of divergence"</i>
between anarchism and Marxism is that the former, <i>"far from 
understanding the advances that capitalism represented, tended 
to take a wistful look back. Anarchism shares with Marxism an 
abhorrence of the horrors of capitalism, but yearns for what 
has gone before."</i> [<i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i>, <b>Socialist Review</b>, 
no. 246]
<p>
Like his other <i>"key point"</i> (namely the rejection of class 
struggle -- see 
<a href="secH2.html#sech22">last section</a>), Stack is simply wrong. Even 
the quickest look at the works of Proudhon, Bakunin and 
Kropotkin would convince the reader that this is simply 
distortion. Rather than look backwards for their ideas of 
social life, anarchism has always been careful to base its 
ideas on the current state of society and what anarchist
thinkers considered positive current trends within society. 
<p>
The dual element of progress is important to remember. Capitalism 
is a class society, marked by exploitation, oppression and various 
social hierarchies. In such a society progress can hardly be neutral. 
It will reflect vested interests, the needs of those in power, the 
rationales of the economic system (e.g. the drive for profits) and 
those who benefit from it, the differences in power between nations 
and companies and so on. Equally, it will be shaped by the class 
struggle, the resistance of the working classes to exploitation 
and oppression, the objective needs of production, etc. As such, 
trends in society will reflect the various class conflicts, social 
hierarchies, power relationships and so on which exist within it.
<p>
This is particularly true of the economy. The development of
the industrial structure of a capitalist economy will be based
on the fundamental need to maximise the profits and power of
the capitalists. As such, it will develop (either by market
forces or by state intervention) in order to ensure this.
This means that various tendencies apparent in capitalist
society exist specifically to aid the development of capital.
This means that it does not follow that because a society which 
places profits above people has found a specific way of organising
production <i>"efficient"</i> it means that a socialist society will do.
As such, anarchist opposition to specific tendencies within
capitalism (such as the increased concentration and centralisation
of companies) does not mean a <i>"yearning"</i> for the past. Rather,
it shows an awareness that capitalist methods are precisely that
and that they need not be suited for a society which replaces 
the profit system with human and ecological need as the criteria 
for decision making.
<p>
For anarchists, this means questioning the assumptions of 
capitalist progress. This means that the first task of a 
revolution after the expropriation of the capitalists and
the destruction of the state will be to transform the 
industrial structure and how it operates, not keep it as 
it is. Anarchists have long argued that that capitalist methods 
cannot be used for socialist ends. In our battle to democratise 
and socialise the workplace, in our awareness of the importance 
of collective initiatives by the direct producers in transforming 
their work situation, we show that factories are not merely 
sites of production, but also of reproduction -- the reproduction 
of a certain structure of social relations based on the division 
between those who give orders and those who take them, between 
those who direct and those who execute. Equally, the structure of
industry has developed to maximise profits. Why assume that this
structure will be equally as efficient in producing useful products
by meaningful work which does not harm the environment?
<p>
A further aspect of this is that many of the struggles today, from 
the Zapatistas in Chiapas to those against Genetically Modified (GM) 
food and nuclear power are precisely based on the understanding that 
capitalist 'progress' can not be uncritically accepted. To resist 
the expulsion of people from the land in the name of progress or 
the introduction of terminator seeds is not to look back to <i>"what 
had gone"</i>, although this is also precisely what the proponents of 
capitalist globalisation often accuse us of. It is to put <b><i>"people 
before profit."</i></b> 
<p>
As such, only a sophist would confuse a critical evaluation of
trends within capitalism with a yearning for the past. It means
to buy into the whole capitalist notion of <i>"progress"</i> which has
always been part of justifying the inhumanities of the status
quo. Simply put, just because a process is rewarded by the
profit driven market it does not mean that it makes sense from
a human or ecological perspective. For example, as we argue in
<a href="secJ5.html#secj511">section J.5.11</a>, the 
capitalist market hinders the spread of
co-operatives and workers' self-management in spite of their 
well documented higher efficiency and productivity. From the 
perspective of the needs of the capitalists, this makes perfect 
sense. In terms of the workers and efficient allocation of 
resources, it does not. Would Marxists argue that because 
co-operatives and workers' self-management of production are
marginal aspects of the capitalist economy it means that they 
will play no part in a sane society or that if a socialist
expresses interest in them it means that are <i>"yearning"</i> for
a past mode of production? We hope not. 
<p>
This common Marxist failure to understand anarchist investigations 
of the future is, ironically enough, joined with a total failure
to understand the social conditions in which anarchists have
put forward their ideas. Ironically, for all his claims that 
anarchists ignore <i>"material conditions,"</i> it is Pat Stack (and
others like him) who does so in his claims against Proudhon. 
Stack argues that Proudhon (like all anarchists) was <i>"yearning 
for the past"</i> when he advanced his mutualist ideas. Nothing,
however, could be further from the truth. This is because the 
society in which the French anarchist lived was predominately 
artisan and peasant in nature. This was admitted by Marx and 
Engels in the <b>Communist Manifesto</b> (<i>"[i]n countries like 
France"</i> the peasants <i>"constitute far more than half of the 
population."</i> [<b>The Marx-Engels Reader</b>, p. 493]). As such, 
for Proudhon to incorporate the aspirations of the majority 
of the population is not to <i>"yearn for what has gone before"</i> 
but rather an extremely sensible position to take. 
<p>
Therefore, it is hardly an example of Proudhon <i>"yearning for
the past"</i> for Stack to mention that Marx dubbed Proudhon 
(<i>"the 
founder of modern anarchism"</i>) as <i>"the socialist of the small 
peasant or master craftsman."</i> It is simply unsurprising, a
simple statement of fact, as the French working classes were, 
at the time, predominately small peasants or master craftsmen 
(or artisans). As K. Steven Vincent points out Proudhon's 
<i>"social theories may not be reduced to a socialism for only 
the peasant class, nor was it a socialism only for the petite 
bourgeois; it was a socialism of and for French workers. And 
in the mid-nineteenth century . . . most French workers were 
still artisans."</i> Indeed, <i>"[w]hile Marx was correct in 
predicting the eventual predominance of the industrial 
proletariat vis-a-vis skilled workers, such predominance was 
neither obvious nor a foregone conclusion in France during 
the nineteenth century. The absolute number of small 
industries even increased during most of the century."</i>
[<b>Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the Rise of French Republican 
Socialism</b>, p. 5 and p. 282] Proudhon himself noted in 1851
that of a population of 36 million, 24 million were peasants
and 6 million were artisans. Of the remaining 6 million,
these included wage-workers for whom <i>"workmen's associations"</i>
would be essential as <i>"a protest against the wage system,"</i>
the <i>"denial of the rule of capitalists"</i> and for <i>"the 
management of large instruments of labour."</i> [<b>The General
Idea of the Revolution</b>, pp. 97-8]
<p>
To summarise, if the society in which you live is predominately 
made-up of peasants and artisans then it is hardly an insult to 
be called <i>"the socialist of the small peasant or master 
craftsman."</i> Equally, it can hardly represent a desire for <i>"what 
has gone before"</i> to tailor your ideas to the actual conditions 
in the country in which you live! And Stack accuses <b>anarchists</b> 
of ignoring <i>"material conditions"</i>! 
<p>
Neither can it be said that Proudhon ignored the development 
of industrialisation in France during his lifetime. Quite the 
reverse, in fact, as indicated above. Proudhon did <b>not</b>
ignore the rise of large-scale industry. He argued that
such industry should be managed by the workers' themselves
via workers associations. As he put it, <i>"certain industries"</i>
required <i>"the combined employment of a large number of
workers"</i> and so the producer is <i>"a collectivity."</i> In such
industries <i>"we have no choice"</i> and so <i>"it is necessary to
form an <b>association</b> among the workers"</i> because <i>"without
that they would remain related as subordinates and superiors,
and there would ensue two industrial castes of masters and
wage-workers, which is repugnant to a free and democratic
society."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 215-6]
<p>
All in all, Stack is simply showing his ignorance of both 
Proudhon's ideas <b>and</b> the society (the <i>"material 
conditions"</i>) 
in which they were shaped and were aimed for. As can be seen,
Proudhon incorporated the development of large-scale industry
within his mutualist ideas and so the need to abolish wage
labour by workers' associations and workers' control of
production. Perhaps Stack can fault Proudhon for seeking the 
end of capitalism too soon and for not waiting patiently will 
it developed further (if he does, he will also have to attack 
Marx, Lenin and Trotsky as well for the same failing!), but 
this has little to do with <i>"yearn[ing] for what has gone 
before."</i>
<p>
After distorting Proudhon's ideas on industry, Stack does the same
with Bakunin. He asserts the following:
<p><i><blockquote>
"Similarly, the Russian anarchist leader Bakunin argued that it 
was the progress of capitalism that represented the fundamental 
problem. For him industrialisation was an evil. He believed it 
had created a decadent western Europe, and therefore had held 
up the more primitive, less industrialised Slav regions as the 
hope for change."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Now, it would be extremely interesting to find out where, exactly,
Stack discovered that Bakunin made these claims. After all, they
are at such odds with Bakunin's anarchist ideas that it is temping 
to conclude that Stack is simply making it up. This, we suggest, 
explains the total lack of references for such an outrageous 
claim. Looking at his main source, we discover Paul Avrich 
writing that <i>"[i]n 1848"</i> (i.e. nearly 20 years <b>before</b> Bakunin 
became an anarchist!) Bakunin <i>"spoke of the decadence of Western 
Europe and saw hope in the primitive, less industrialised Slavs 
for the regeneration of the Continent."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 8] The
plagiarism, again, is obvious, as are the distortions. Given
that Bakunin became an anarchist in the mid-1860s, how his
pre-anarchist ideas are relevant to an evaluation of anarchism
escapes logic. It makes as much sense as quoting Marx to refute
fascism as Mussolini was originally the leader of the left-wing
of the Italian Socialist Party! 
<p>
It is, of course, simple to refute Stack's claims. We simply 
need to do that which he does not, namely quote Bakunin. For 
someone who thought <i>"industrialisation was an evil,"</i> a key
aspect of Bakunin's ideas on social revolution was the seizing
of industry and its placing under social ownership. As he put
it, <i>"capital and all tools of labour belong to the city 
workers -- to the workers associations. The whole organisation
of the future should be nothing but a free federation of workers
-- agricultural workers as well as factory wworkers and 
associations of craftsmen."</i> [<b>The Political Philosophy of
Bakunin</b>, p. 410] Bakunin argued that <i>"to destroy . . . all the 
instruments of labour . . . would be to condemn all humanity -- 
wwhich is infinity too numerous today to exist. . . on the simple 
gifts of  nature. . . -- to. . . death by starvation. Thus
capital cannot and must not be destroyed. It must be preserved."</i> 
Only when workers <i>"obtain not individual but <b>collective</b> 
property in capital"</i> and when capital is no longer 
<i>"concentrated in the hands of a separate, exploiting class"</i> 
will they be able <i>"to smash the tyranny of capital."</i> [<b>The 
Basic Bakunin</b>, pp. 90-1] He stressed that only <i>"associated
labour, this is labour organised upon the principles of
reciprocity and co-operation, is adequate to the task of
maintaining the existence of a large and somewhat civilised
society."</i> Moreover, the <i>"whole secret of the boundless 
productivity of human labour consists first of all in
applying . . . scientifically developed reason . . . and
then in the division of that labour."</i> [<b>The Political
Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, pp. 341-2] Hardly the thoughts of
someone opposed to industrialisation!
<p>
Rather than oppose industrialisation and urge the destruction
of industry, Bakunin considered one of the first acts of the 
revolution would be workers' associations taking over the means 
of production and turning them into collective property managed 
by the workers themselves. Hence Daniel Guerin's comment: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"Proudhon and Bakunin were 'collectivists,' which is to say they 
declared themselves without equivocation in favour of the common 
exploitation, not by the State but by associated workers of the 
large-scale means of production and of the public services. 
Proudhon has been quite wrongly presented as an exclusive 
enthusiast of private property."</i> [<i>"From Proudhon to Bakunin"</i>, 
<b>The Radical Papers</b>, Dimitrios I. Roussopoulos (ed.), p.32]
</blockquote><p>
Clearly, Stack does not have the faintest idea of what he is
talking about! Nor is Kropotkin any safer than Proudhon or 
Bakunin from Stack's distortions. He claims that:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Peter Kropotkin, another famous anarchist leader to emerge in 
Russia, also looked backwards for change. He believed the ideal 
society would be based on small autonomous communities, devoted 
to small scale production. He had witnessed such communities 
among Siberian peasants and watchmakers in the Swiss mountains."</i>
</blockquote><p>
First, we must note the plagiarism. Stack is summarising Paul 
Avrich's summary of Kropotkin's ideas. [<b>Anarchist Portraits</b>,
p. 62] Rather than go to the source material, Stack provides an
interpretation of someone else's interpretation of someone else's
ideas! Clearly, the number of links in the chain means that
something is going to get lost in the process and, of course,
it does. The something which "gets lost" is, unfortunately, 
Kropotkin's ideas.
<p> 
Ultimately, Stack is simply showing his total ignorance of Kropotkin's 
ideas by making such a statement. At least Avrich expanded upon his
summary to mention that Kropotkin's positive evaluation of using
modern technology and the need to apply it on an appropriate level 
to make work and the working environment as pleasant as possible. 
As Avrich summarises, <i>"[p]laced in small voluntary workshops, 
machinery would rescue human beings from the monotony and toil
of large-scale capitalist enterprise, allow time for leisure
and cultural pursuits, and remove forever the stamp of inferiority
traditionally borne by manual labour."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 63] Hardly
<i>"backward looking"</i> to desire the application of science and
technology to transform the industrial system into one based on
the needs of people rather than profit!
<p>
Stack must be hoping that the reader has, like himself, not read 
Kropotkin's classic work <b>Fields, Factories and Workshops</b> for if 
they have then they would be aware of the distortion Stack subjects 
Kropotkin's ideas to. While Avrich does present, in general, a
reasonable summary of Kropotkin's ideas, he does place it into 
a framework of his own making. Kropotkin while stressing the
importance of decentralising industry within a free society
did not look backward for his inspiration. Rather, he looked
to trends within existing society, trends he thought pointed
in an anti-capitalist direction. This can be seen from the fact
he based his classic work <b>Field, Factories and Workshops</b> on 
detailed analysis of current developments in the economy and 
came to the conclusion that industry would spread across the 
global (which has happened) and that small industries will 
continue to exist side by side with large ones (which also 
has been confirmed). From these facts he argued that a 
socialist society would aim to decentralise production, 
combining agriculture with industry and both using modern 
technology to the fullest. 
<p>
As we discuss the fallacy that Kropotkin (or anarchists in
general) have argued for <i>"small autonomous communities, 
devoted to small scale production"</i> in 
<a href="secI3.html#seci38">section I.3.8</a>, we
will not do so here. Suffice to say, Kropotkin's vision 
was one of federations of decentralised communities in
which production would be based on the <i>"scattering of 
industries over the country -- so as to bring the factory 
amidst the fields . . . agriculture . . . combined with 
industry . . . to produce a combination of industrial with 
agricultural work."</i> He considered this as <i>"surely the next 
step to be made, as soon as a reorganisation of our present 
conditions is possible."</i> Indeed, he though that this step
<i>"is imposed by the very necessity of <b>producing for the
producers themselves.</b>"</i> Kropotkin attempted to show, based 
on a detailed analysis of modern economic statistics and 
trends, a vision of a decentralised, federated communal 
society  where <i>"the workers"</i> were <i>"the real managers of 
industries"</i> and what this would imply once society was
free of capitalism. Needless to say, he did not think
that this <i>"next step"</i> would occur until <i>"a reorganisation
of our present conditions [was] possible."</i> [<b>Fields, 
Factories and Workshops Tomorrow</b>, pp. 157-8] In other
words, until after a social revolution which expropriated 
industry and the land and placed social wealth into the 
hands of the producers. Until then, the positive trends he 
saw in modern society would remain circumcised by the 
workings of the capitalist market. 
<p>
He did not, as is often asserted, argue for <i>"small-scale 
production"</i> (he still saw the need for factories, for 
example) but rather for production geared to <i><b>appropriate</b></i>
levels, based on the objective needs of production (without
the distorting effects generated by the needs of capitalist
profits and power) and, of necessity, the needs of those
who work in and live alongside industry (and today we
would add, the needs of the environment). In other words, 
the transformation of capitalism into a society human 
beings could live full and meaningful lives in. Part of 
this would involve creating an industry based on human 
needs. <i>"Have the factory and the workshop at the gates 
of your fields and gardens and work in them,"</i> he argued. 
<i>"Not those large establishments, of course, in which huge 
masses of metals have to be dealt with and which are better 
placed at certain spots indicated by Nature, but the countless
variety of workshops and factories which are required to
satisfy the infinite diversity of tastes among civilised
men [and women]."</i> The new factories and workplaces would
be <i>"airy and hygienic, and consequently economical, . . .
in which human life is of more account than machinery and
the making of extra profits."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 197] Under 
capitalism, he argued, the whole discourse of economics 
(like industrial development itself) was based on the 
logic and rationale of the profit motive:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Under the name of profits, rent and interest upon capital,
surplus value, and the like, economists have eagerly
discussed the benefits which the owners of land or capital,
or some privileged nations, can derive, either from the
under-paid work of the wage-labourer, or from the
inferior position of one class of the community towards
another class, or from the inferior economical development
of one nation towards another nation. . . 
<p>
"In the meantime the great question -- 'What have we to
produce, and how?' necessarily remained in the background
. . . The main subject of social economy -- that is, the
<b>economy of energy required for the satisfaction of human
needs</b> -- is consequently the last subject which one
expects to find treated in a concrete form in economical
treatises."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 17]
</blockquote><p>
Kropotkin's ideas were, therefore, an attempt to discuss
how a post-capitalist society could develop, based on an
extensive investigation of current trends within capitalism,
and reflecting the needs which capitalism ignores. As noted 
above, current trends within capitalism have positive 
(socialistic) and negative (capitalistic) aspects as 
capitalist industry has not developed neutrally (it has 
been distorted by the twin requirements to maintain 
capitalist profits and power). 
<p>
For this reason Kropotkin considered the concentration of 
capital (which most Marxists base their arguments for 
socialism on) did not, in fact, represent an advance for
socialism as it was <i>"often nothing but an amalgamation of 
capitalists for the purpose of <b>dominating the market</b>, 
not for cheapening the technical process."</i> [<b>Fields, 
Factories and Workshops Tomorrow</b>, p. 154] Indeed, by
basing themselves on the trends of capital towards big
business, Leninism simply locks itself into the logic
of capitalism and, by implication, sees a socialist 
society which will basically be the same as capitalism, 
using the technology, industrial structure and industry 
developed under class society without change. After all, 
did Lenin not argue that <i>"Socialism is merely state 
capitalist monopoly made to benefit the whole people"</i>? 
<p>
Rather than condemn Kropotkin, Stack's comments (and those
like them) simply show the poverty of the Leninist critique 
of capitalism and its vision of the socialist future.
<p>
All in all, anyone who claims that anarchism is <i>"backward looking"</i>
or <i>"yearns for the past"</i> simply has no idea what they are talking
about.
<p>
<a name="sech24"><h2>H.2.4 Do anarchists think <i>"the state is the main enemy"</i> rather than just <i>"one aspect"</i> of class society?</h2>
<p>
Pat Stack argues that <i>"the idea that dominates anarchist thought"</i> 
is <i>"that the state is the main enemy, rather than identifying the 
state as one aspect of a class society that has to be destroyed."</i>
[<i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i>, <b>Socialist Review</b>, no. 246]] Paul Thomas
states that <i>"Anarchists insist that the basis source of social
injustice is the state."</i> [<b>Karl Marx and the Anarchists</b>, p. 2]
<p>
On the face of it, such assertions make little sense. After
all, was not the first work by the first self-declared anarchist
called <b>What is Property?</b> and contain the revolutionary maxim
<b><i>"property is theft"</i></b>? Surely this fact alone would be enough to 
put to rest the notion that anarchists view the state as the
main problem in the world? Obviously not. Flying in the face
of this well known fact as well as anarchist theory, Marxists 
have constantly repeated the falsehood that anarchists consider
the state as the main enemy. Indeed, Stack and Thomas are simply 
repeating an earlier assertion by Engels:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Bakunin has a peculiar theory of his own, a medley of Proudhonism
and communism. The chief point concerning the former is that he
does not regard capital, i.e. the class antagonism between
capitalists and wage workers which has arisen through social
development, but the <b>state</b> as the main enemy to be abolished.
. . . our view [is] that state power is nothing more than the
organisation which the ruling classes -- landowners and capitalists
-- have provided for themselves in order to  protect their social
privileges, Bakunin [on the other hand] maintains that it is the
<b>state</b> which has created capital, that the capitalist has his
capital <b>only be the grace of the state.</b> As, therefore, the
state is the chief evil, it is above all the state which must
be done away with and then capitalism will go to blazes of
itself. We, on the contrary, say: Do away with capital, the
concentration of all means of production in the hands of a
few, and the state will fall of itself. The difference is an
essential one . . . the abolition of capital <b>is</b> precisely
the social revolution."</i> [Marx, Engels and Lenin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 71]
</blockquote><p>
As will come as no surprise, Engels did not bother to indicate 
where he discovered Bakunin's ideas on these matters. Similarly,
his followers raise this kind of assertion as a truism, apparently
without the need for evidence to support the claim. This is
hardly surprising as anarchists, including Bakunin, have expressed 
an idea distinctly at odds with Engels' claims, namely that the 
social revolution would be marked by the abolition of capitalism 
and the state at the same time. Indeed, this vision of a <b>social</b>
revolution (i.e. one that combined political, social <b>and</b> 
economic goals) occurred continuously throughout Bakunin's
writings when he was an anarchist. Indeed, to claim that he,
or anarchists in general, just opposed the state suggests a
total unfamiliarity with anarchist theory. For Bakunin, like all
anarchists, the abolition of the state occurs at the same time
as the abolition of capital. This joint abolition <b>is</b> precisely
the social revolution.
<p>
In 1865, for example, we discover Bakunin arguing that anarchists
<i>"seek the destruction of all States"</i> in his <i>"Program of the
Brotherhood."</i> Yet he also argued that a member of this association
<i>"must be socialist"</i> and see that <i>"labour"</i> was the <i>"sole producer
of social assets"</i> and so <i>"anyone enjoying these without working
is an exploiter of another man's labour, a thief."</i> They must also
<i>"understand that there is no liberty in the absence of equality"</i>
and so the <i>"attainment of the widest liberty"</i> is possible only
<i>"amid the most perfect (de jure and de facto) political, 
economic and social equality."</i> The <i>"sole and supreme objective"</i>
of the revolution <i>"will be the effective political, economic
and social emancipation of the people."</i> This was because political
liberty <i>"is not feasible without political equality. And the
latter is impossible without economic and social equality."</i>
This mean that the <i>"land belongs to everyone. But usufruct of
it will belong only to those who till it with their own hands."</i>
As regards industry, <i>"through the unaided efforts and economic
powers of the workers' associations, capital and the instruments
of labour will pass into the possession of those who will apply
them . . . through their own labours."</i> He opposed sexism, for
women are <i>"equal in all political and social rights."</i> Ultimately,
<i>"[n]o revolution could succeed . . . unless it was simultaneously
a political and a social revolution. Any exclusively political
revolution . . . will, insofar as it consequently does not have
the immediate, effective, political and economic emancipation
of the people as its primary objective, prove to be . . . illusory,
phony . . . The revolution should not only be made for the
people's sake: it should also be made by the people and can
never succeed unless it implicates all of the rural as well as
the urban masses"</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1, pp. 134-41]
<p>
In 1868, Bakunin was arguing the same ideas. The <i>"Association
of the International Brethren seeks simultaneously universal,
social, philosophical, economic and political revolution, so
that the present order of things, rooted in property,
exploitation, domination and the authority principle"</i> will
be destroyed. The <i>"revolution as we understand it will . . .
set about the . . . complete destruction of the State . . .
The natural and necessary upshot of that destruction"</i> will
include the <i>"[d]issolution of the army, magistracy, bureaucracy,
police and clergy"</i> and <i>"[a]ll productive capital and instruments
of labour . . . be[ing] confiscated for the benefit of
toilers associations, which will have to put them to use in
collective production"</i> as well as the <i>"[s]eizure of all Church
and State properties."</i> The <i>"federated Alliance of all labour
associations . . . will constitute the Commune."</i> The people
<i>"must make the revolution everywhere, and . . . ultimate
direction of it must at all times be vested in the people
organised into a free federation of agricultural and
industrial associations . . . organised from the bottom up."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 152-6]
<p>
As these the words of a person who considered the state as
the <i>"chief evil"</i> or <i>"that the state is the main enemy"</i>? 
Of course not, rather Bakunin clearly identified the state as 
one aspect of a class society that has to be destroyed. As
he put it, the <i>"State, which has never had any task other
than to regularise, sanction and . . . protect the rule of
the privileged classes and exploitation of the people's
labour for the rich, must be abolished. Consequently, this
requires that society be organised from the bottom up
through the free formation and free federation of worker
associations, industrial, agricultural, scientific and
artisan alike, . . . founded upon collective ownership of
the land, capital, raw materials and the instruments of
labour, which is to say, all large-scale property . . . 
leaving to private and hereditary possession only those
items that are actually for personal use."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 182] 
<p>
In summary, rather than seeing the state as the main evil to be 
abolished, Bakunin always stressed that a revolution must be
economic <b>and</b> political in nature, that it must ensure political,
economic and social liberty and equality. As such, he argued
for both the destruction of the state and the expropriation of
capital (an act conducted, incidentally, by a federation of
workers' associations or workers' councils). While the apparatus
of the state was being destroyed (<i>"Dissolution of the army, 
magistracy, bureaucracy, police and clergy"</i>), capitalism was
also being uprooted and destroyed (<i>"All productive capital and 
instruments of labour . . . confiscated for the benefit of
toilers associations"</i>). To assert that Bakunin ignored the 
necessity of abolishing capitalism and the other evils of
the current system while focusing exclusively on the state,
is simply distorting his ideas.
<p>
Kropotkin, unsurprisingly, argued along identical lines as
Bakunin. He stressed that <i>"the revolution will burn on until 
it has accomplished its mission: the abolition of property-owning 
and of the State."</i> This revolution, he re-iterated, would be a 
<i>"mass rising up against property and the State."</i> Indeed, Kropotkin 
always stressed that <i>"there is one point to which all socialists 
adhere: the expropriation of capital must result from the coming 
revolution."</i> This mean that <i>"the area of struggle against capital, 
and against the sustainer of capital -- government"</i> could be one 
in which <i>"various groups can act in agreement"</i> and so <i>"any struggle 
that prepares for that expropriation should be sustained in unanimity 
by all the socialist groups, to whatever shading they belong."</i> 
[<b>Words of a Rebel</b>, p. 75 and p. 204] Little wonder Kropotkin 
wrote his famous article <i>"Expropriation"</i> on this subject! As he 
put it:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Expropriation -- that is the guiding word of the coming
revolution, without which it will fail in its historic
mission: the complete expropriation of all those who have
the means of exploiting human beings; the return to the
community of the nation of everything that in the hands of
anyone can be used to exploit others."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 207-8]
</blockquote><p>
Strange words if Marxist assertions were true. As can be seen,
Kropotkin is simply following Bakunin's ideas on the matter.
He, like Bakunin, was well aware of the evils of capitalism 
and that the state protects these evils: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"When a workman sells his labour to an employer and knows perfectly well 
that some part of the value of his produce will be unjustly taken by 
the employer; when he sells it without even the slightest guarantee 
of being employed so much as six consecutive months, it is a sad 
mockery to call that a free contract. . .  As long as three-quarters 
of humanity are compelled to enter into agreements of that description, 
force is of course necessary, both to enforce the supposed agreements
and to maintain such a state of things. Force -- and a great deal of 
force -- is necessary to prevent the labourers from taking possession 
of what they consider unjustly appropriated by the few; and force is 
necessary to continually bring new 'uncivilised nations' under the 
same conditions."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 69]
</blockquote><p>
Little wonder he called anarchism <i>"the no-government system of
socialism."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 46] For Kropotkin, the <i>"State is there 
to protect exploitation, speculation and private property; it is 
itself the by-product of the rapine of the people. The proletariat
must reply on his own hands; he can expect nothing of the State. 
It is nothing more than an organisation devised to hinder 
emancipation at all costs."</i> [<b>Words of a Rebel</b>, p. 27] Rather
than see the state as the main evil, he clearly saw it as the
protector of capitalism -- in other words, as one aspect of
a class system which needed to be replaced by a better society. 
<p>
Similarly with all other anarchists. Emma Goldman, for
example, summarised for all anarchists when she argued that
anarchism <i>"stands for . . . the liberation of the human body
from the domination of property; liberation from the shackles 
and restraint of government."</i> [<b>Anarchism and Other Essays</b>,
p. 62] Errico Malatesta in the <i>"Anarchist Programme"</i> he 
drafted listed <i>"Abolition of private property"</i> before 
<i>"Abolition of government"</i> and argued that <i>"the present state of
society"</i> was one in <i>"which some have inherited the land and all
social wealth, while the mass of the people, disinherited in all
respects, is exploited and oppressed by a small possessing class."</i>
It ends by arguing that anarchism wants <i>"the complete destruction
of the domination and exploitation of man by man"</i> and for 
<i>"expropriation of landowners and capitalists for the benefit
of all; and the abolition of government."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, 
p. 184, p. 183, p. 197 and p. 198] Nearly three decades 
previously, we find Malatesta arguing the same idea. As he
put it in 1891, anarchists <i>"struggle for anarchy, and for
socialism, because we believe that anarchy and socialism must
be realised immediately, that is to say that in the revolutionary
act we must drive government away, abolish property . . .
human progress is measured by the extent government power
and private property are reduced."</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, pp. 53-4] He 
stressed that, for <i>"all anarchists,"</i> it was definitely a case
that the <i>"abolition of political power is not possible without
the simultaneous destruction of economic privilege."</i> [<b>Life
and Ideas</b>, p. 158]
<p>
As Brian Morris correctly summarises:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Another criticism of anarchism is that it has a narrow view 
of politics: that it sees the state as the fount of all evil, 
ignoring other aspects of social and economic life. This is a 
misrepresentation of anarchism. It partly derives from the way 
anarchism has been defined, and partly because Marxist historians 
have tried to exclude anarchism from the broader socialist movement. 
But when one examines the writings of classical anarchists. . .
as well as the character of anarchist movements. . . it is 
clearly evident that it has never had this limited vision.
It has always challenged all forms of authority and exploitation, 
and has been equally critical of capitalism and religion as it 
has been of the state."</i> [<i>"Anthropology and Anarchism,"</i> <b>Anarchy: 
A Journal of Desire Armed</b>, no. 45, p, p. 40]
</blockquote><p>
All in all, Marxist claims that anarchists view the state as
the <i>"chief evil"</i> or see the destruction of the state as the
<i>"main idea"</i> of anarchism are simply talking nonsense. In 
fact, rather than anarchists having a narrow view of social 
liberation, it is, in fact, Marxists who do so. By concentrating
almost exclusively on the (economic) class source of exploitation,
they blind themselves to other forms of exploitation and
domination that can exist independently of economic class
relationships. This can be seen from the amazing difficulty
that many of them got themselves into when trying to analyse
the Stalinist regime in Russia. Anarchists are well aware that
the state is just one aspect of the current class system. We
just recognise that all the evils of that system must be 
destroyed at the same time to ensure a <b>social</b> revolution
rather than just a change in who the boss is.
<p>
<a name="sech25"><h2>H.2.5 Do anarchists think <i>"full blown"</i> socialism will be created overnight?</h2>
<p>
Another area in which Marxists misrepresent anarchism is in the 
assertion that anarchists believe a completely socialist society 
(an ideal or <i>"utopian"</i> society, in other words) can be created 
<i>"overnight."</i> As Marxist Bertell Ollman puts it, <i>"[u]nlike 
anarcho-communists, none of us [Marxists] believe that 
communism will emerge full blown from a socialist revolution. 
Some kind of transition and period of indeterminate length for 
it to occur are required."</i> [Bertell Ollman (ed.), <b>Market 
Socialism: The Debate among Socialists</b>, p. 177] This assertion, 
while it is common, fails to understand the anarchist vision of 
revolution. We consider it a <b>process</b> and not an event -- as 
Malatesta argued, <i>"[b]y revolution we do not mean just the 
insurrectionary act."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 156] 
<p>
Once this is understood, the idea that anarchists think
a <i>"full blown"</i> anarchist society will be created <i>"overnight"</i>
is a fallacy. As Murray Bookchin pointed out, <i>"Bakunin,
Kropotkin, Malatesta were not so naive as to believe that
anarchism could be established overnight. In imputing this
notion to Bakunin, Marx and Engels wilfully distorted the
Russian anarchist's views."</i> [<b>Post-Scarcity Anarchism</b>,
p. 213]
<p>
Indeed, Kropotkin stressed that anarchists <i>"do not believe that in 
any country the Revolution will be accomplished at a stroke, in the 
twinkling of a eye, as some socialists dream."</i> Moreover, <i>"[n]o 
fallacy more harmful has ever been spread than the fallacy of 
a 'One-day Revolution.'"</i> [<b>The Conquest of Bread</b>, p. 81] Bakunin
argued that a <i>"more or less prolonged transitional period"</i> would
<i>"naturally follow in the wake of the great social crisis"</i> implied
by social revolution. [<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, 
p. 412] The question, therefore, is not whether there will be
a <i>"transitional"</i> society after a revolution but what <b>kind</b>
of transition will it be. 
<p>
As such, anarchists are aware that a <i>"full blown"</i> communist 
society will not come about immediately. Rather, the creation of
such a society will be a <b>process</b> which the revolution will start
off. As Alexander Berkman put it, <i>"you must not confuse the social 
revolution with anarchy. Revolution, in some of its stages, is a 
violent upheaval; anarchy is a social condition of freedom and 
peace. The revolution is the <b>means</b> of bringing anarchy about 
but it is not anarchy itself. It is to pave the road for anarchy, 
to establish condition which will make a life of liberty possible."</i> 
However, the <i>"end shapes the means"</i> and so <i>"to achieve its purpose 
the revolution must be imbued with and directed by the anarchist 
spirit and ideas .  . . the social revolution must be anarchist 
in method as in aim."</i> [<b>ABC of Anarchism</b>, p. 81]
<p>
In his classic introduction to anarcho-communist ideas, Alexander 
Berkman also acknowledged that <i>"full blown"</i> communism was not 
likely after a successful revolution. <i>"Of course,"</i> he argued, 
"when the social revolution has become thoroughly organised and 
production is functioning normally there will be enough for 
everybody. But in the first stages of the revolution, during 
the process of re-construction, we must take care to supply 
the people as best we can, and equally, which means rationing."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 67] Clearly, in such circumstances 
<i>"full blown"</i>
communism would be impossible and, unsurprisingly, Berkman
argues that would not exist. However, the principles that
inspire communism and anarchism could be applied immediately.
This meant that both the state and capitalism would be 
abolished. While arguing that <i>"[t]here is no other way of 
securing economic equality, which alone is liberty"</i> than
communist anarchism, he also states that it is <i>"likely . . . 
that a country in social revolution may try various economic
experiments . . . different countries and regions will probably 
try out various methods, and by practical experience learn the 
best way. The revolution is at the same time the opportunity 
and justification for it . . ."</i> Rather that dictate to the 
future, Berkman argued that his <i>"purpose is to suggest, in 
board outline the principles which must animate the revolution, 
the general lines of action it should follow if it is to 
accomplish its aim  -- the reconstruction of society on a 
foundation of freedom and equality."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 80]
<p>
As regards Malatesta, he argued along similar lines.
While arguing for the <i>"complete destruction of the
domination and exploitation of man by man"</i> by the
<i>"expropriation of landlords and capitalists for the
benefit of all"</i> and <i>"the abolition of government,"</i> he
recognised that in <i>"the post-revolutionary period, in the
period of reorganisation and transition, there might be
'offices for the concentration and distribution of the
capital of collective enterprises', that there might or
might not be titles recording the work done and the 
quantity of goods to which one is entitled."</i> However,
he stressed that this <i>"is something we shall have to wait
and see about, or rather, it is a problem which will have
many and varied solutions according to the system of
production and distribution which will prevail in the
different localities and among the many . . . groupings
that will exist."</i> He argued that while, eventually, all
groups of workers (particularly the peasants) while
eventually <i>"understand the advantages of communism or
at least of the direct exchange of goods for goods,"</i>
this may not happen <i>"in a day."</i> If some kind of money 
was used, then it people should <i>"ensure that [it] truly 
represents the useful work performed by its possessors"</i> 
rather than being <i>"a powerful means of exploitation and 
oppression"</i> is currently is. [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, pp. 198-9
and pp. 100-1]
<p>
Rather than seeing a <i>"full blown"</i> communist society appearing 
instantly from a revolution, anarcho-communists see a period of 
transition in which the degree of communism in a given community 
or area is dependent on the objective conditions facing it. 
This period of transition would see different forms of social 
experimentation but the desire is to see libertarian communist 
principles as the basis of as much of this experimentation as 
possible. To claim that anarcho-communists ignore reality and 
see communism as being created overnight is simply a distortion 
of their ideas. Rather, they are aware that the development towards
communism is dependent on local conditions, conditions which 
can only be overcome in time and by the liberated community
re-organising production and extending it as required.
<p>
Clearly, our argument contradicts the widely held view that 
anarchists believed an utopian world would be created instantly
after a revolution. Of course, by asserting that anarchists think 
<i>"full blown communism"</i> will occur without some form of transitional
period, Marxists paint a picture of anarchism as simply utopian, 
a theory which ignores objective reality in favour of wishful 
thinking. However, as seen above, such is not the case. Anarchists 
are aware that <i>"full blown communism"</i> is dependent on objective 
conditions and, therefore, cannot be implemented until those 
conditions are meet. Until such time as the objective conditions
are reached, various means of distributing goods, organising and
managing production, and so on will be tried. Such schemes will
be based as far as possible on communistic principles.
<p>
Therefore, immediately after a successful revolution a period 
of reconstruction will begin in which society is slowly 
transformed towards <i>"full blown"</i> communism. The speed and
nature of this transformation will, of course, depend on local
conditions and needs. However, unlike Marxists, such a period 
of transition would be based on libertarian and communist
principles. The organisation of society would be anarchist
-- the state would be abolished and replacedd by a free
federation of workers and community associations. The economic
structure would be socialist -- production would be based on 
self-managed workplaces and the principles of distribution 
would be as communistic as possible under the existing 
objective conditions.
<p>
It also seems strange for Marxists to claim that anarchists
thought a <i>"full blown"</i> communist society was possible 
<i>"over-night"</i> 
given that anarchists had always stressed the difficulties facing 
a social revolution. Kropotkin, for example, continually stressed 
that a revolution would face extensive economic disruption.
In his words:
<p><blockquote><i>
"A political revolution can be accomplished without shaking the
foundations of industry, but a revolution where the people lay
hands upon property will inevitably paralyse exchange and 
production . . . This point cannot be too much insisted upon; 
the reorganisation of industry on a new basis . . . cannot be 
accomplished in a few days; nor, on the other hand, will people 
submit to be half starved for years in order to oblige the 
theorists who uphold the wage system. To tide over the period 
of stress they will demand what they have always demanded in 
such cases -- communisation of supplies -- the giving of 
rations."</i> [<b>The Conquest of Bread</b>, pp. 72-3]
</blockquote><p>
The basic principles of this "transition" period would, 
therefore, be based on the <i>"socialising of production, 
consumption and exchange."</i> The state would be abolished 
and <i>"federated Communes"</i> would be created. The end of 
capitalism would be achieved by the <i>"expropriation"</i> of 
<i>"everything that enables any man -- be he financier, 
mill-owner, or landlord - - to appropriate the product 
of others' toil."</i> Distribution of goods would be based 
on <i>"no stint or limit to what the community possesses 
in abundance, but equal sharing and dividing of those 
commodities which are scare or apt to run short."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 136, p. 61 and p. 76] Clearly, while not <i>"full blown"</i>
communism by any means, such a regime does lay the ground
for its eventual arrival. As Max Nettlau summarised, 
<i>"[n]othing but a superficial interpretation of some of
Kropotkin's observations could lead one to conclude that
anarchist communism could spring into life through an act
of sweeping improvisation, with the waving of a magic
wand."</i> [<b>A Short History of Anarchism</b>, p. 80]
<p>
This was what happened in the Spanish Revolution, for example.
Different collectives operated in different ways. Some tried
to introduce free communism, some a combination of rationing
and communism, others introduced equal pay, others equalised
pay as much as possible and so on. Over time, as economic 
conditions changed and difficulties developed the collectives
changed their mode of distribution to take them into account.
These collectives indicate well the practical aspects of
anarchist and its desire to accommodate and not ignore reality.
<p>
Lastly, and as an aside, it this anarchist awareness of the 
disruptive effects of a revolution on a country's economy which, 
in part, makes anarchists extremely sceptical of pro-Bolshevik
rationales that blame the difficult economic conditions facing 
the Russian Revolution for Bolshevik authoritarianism (see
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a> for a fuller discussion 
of this). If, as Kropotkin 
argued, a social revolution inevitably results in massive 
economic disruption then, clearly, Bolshevism should be 
avoided if it cannot handle such inevitable events. In such 
circumstances, centralisation would only aid the disruption, 
not reduce it. This awareness of the problems facing a social 
revolution also led anarchists to stress the importance of 
local action and mass participation. As Kropotkin put it, the 
<i>"immense constructive work demanded by a social revolution 
cannot be accomplished by a central government . . . It has 
need of knowledge, of brains and of the voluntary collaboration
of a host of local and specialised forces which alone can
attack the diversity of economic problems in their local
aspects."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, pp. 255-6]
Without this local action, co-ordinated joint activity would 
remain a dead letter. 
<p>
In summary, anarchists acknowledge that <b>politically</b> there is 
no transitional period (i.e. the state must be abolished and 
replaced by a free federation of self-managed working class
organisations). Economically anarchists recognise that different 
areas will develop in different ways and so there will be various
economical transitional forms. Rather than seeing <i>"full blown
communism"</i> being the instant result of a socialist revolution,
anarchist-communists actually argue the opposite -- <i>"full blown
communism"</i> will develop only after a successful revolution and
the inevitable period of social reconstruction which comes after
it. A <i>"full blown"</i> communist economy will develop as society becomes
ready for it. What we <b>do</b> argue is that any transitional economic
form must be based on the principles of the type of society
it desires. In other words, any transitional period must be
as communistic as possible if communism is your final aim and,
equally, it must be libertarian if your final goal is freedom.
<p>
Also see <a href="secI2.html#seci22">section I.2.2</a> 
for further discussion on this issue.
<p>
<a name="sech26"><h2>H.2.6 How do Marxists misrepresent Anarchist ideas on mutual aid?</h2>
<p>
Anarchist ideas on mutual aid are often misrepresented by
Marxists. Looking at Pat Stack's <i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i> article,
for example, we find a particularly terrible misrepresentation
of Kropotkin's ideas. Indeed, it is so incorrect that it is
either a product of ignorance or a desire to deceive (and
as we shall indicate, it is probably the latter). Here is
Stack's account of Kropotkin's ideas:
<p><blockquote><i>
"And the anarchist Peter Kropotkin, far from seeing class 
conflict as the dynamic for social change as Marx did, saw 
co-operation being at the root of the social process. He 
believed the co-operation of what he termed 'mutual aid' 
was the natural order, which was disrupted by centralised 
states. Indeed in everything from public walkways and 
libraries through to the Red Cross, Kropotkin felt he was 
witnessing confirmation that society was moving towards 
his mutual aid, prevented only from completing the journey 
by the state. It follows that if class conflict is not the 
motor of change, the working class is not the agent and 
collective struggle not the means."</i> [<i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i>,
<b>Socialist Review</b>, no. 246]
</blockquote><p>
There are three issues with Stack's summary. Firstly, Kropotkin 
did not, in fact, reject class conflict as the <i>"dynamic of social 
change"</i> nor reject the working class as its <i>"agent."</i> Secondly, 
all of Stack's examples of <i>"Mutual Aid"</i> do not, in fact, appear 
in Kropotkin's classic book <b>Mutual Aid</b>. They do, however, 
appear in other works by Kropotkin's, but <b>not</b> as examples 
of <i>"mutual aid."</i> Thirdly, in <b>Mutual Aid</b> Kropotkin discusses
such aspects of working class <i>"collective struggle"</i> as strikes
and unions. All in all, it is Stack's total and utter lack of 
understanding of Kropotkin's ideas which immediately stands 
out from his comments.
<p>
As we have discussed how collective, working class direct action,
organisation and solidarity in the class struggle was at the
core of Kropotkin's politics in 
<a href="secH2.html#sech22">section H.2.2</a>, we will not do
so here. Rather, we will discuss how Stack lies about Kropotkin's
ideas on mutual aid. As just noted, the examples Stack lists
are not to be found in Kropotkin's classic work <b>Mutual Aid</b>.
Now, <b>if</b> Kropotkin <b>had</b> considered them as examples of <i>"mutual
aid"</i> then he would have listed them in that work. This does
not mean, however, that Kropotkin did not mention these examples.
He does, but in other works (notably his essay <b>Anarchist
Communism</b>) and he does <b>not</b> use them as examples of mutual 
aid. Just as Stack's examples are not mentioned in <b>Mutual Aid</b>, 
so Kropotkin fails to use the words <i>"mutual aid"</i> in his essay 
<b>Anarchist-Communism: Its Basis and Principles</b>. Here is 
Kropotkin's own words as regards Stack's "examples":
<p><blockquote><i>
"We maintain, moreover, not only that communism is a desirable 
state of society, but that the growing tendency of modern
society is precisely towards communism -- free communism -- 
notwithstanding the seemingly contradictory growth of
individualism. In the growth of individualism . . . we see 
merely the endeavours of the individual towards emancipating
himself from the steadily growing powers of capital and the
State. But side by side with this growth we see also . . .  
the latent struggle of the producers of wealth to maintain 
the partial communism of old, as well as to reintroduce 
communist principles in a new shape, as soon as favourable 
conditions permit it. . .  the communist tendency is 
continually reasserting itself and trying to make its way 
into public life. The penny bridge disappears before the
public bridge; and the turnpike road before the free road. The 
same spirit pervades thousands of other institutions. Museums,
free libraries, and free public schools; parks and pleasure 
grounds; paved and lighted streets, free for everybody's use; 
water supplied to private dwellings, with a growing tendency 
towards disregarding the exact amount of it used by the individual;
tramways and railways which have already begun to introduce the 
season ticket or the uniform tax, and will surely go much
further in this line when they are no longer private property: 
all these are tokens showing in what direction further progress is
to be expected. 
<p>
"It is in the direction of putting the wants of the individual 
<b>above</b> the valuation of the service he has rendered, or might 
render, to society; in considering society as a whole, so 
intimately connected together that a service rendered to any 
individual is a service rendered to the whole society."</i> 
[<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamplets</b>, pp. 59-60]
</blockquote><p>
As is clear, the examples Stack selects have nothing to do with 
mutual aid in Kropotkin's eyes. Rather, they are examples of 
communistic tendencies within capitalism, empirical evidence
that can be used to not only show that communism can work but
also that it is not a utopian social solution but an expression
of tendencies within society. Simply put, he is using examples
from existing society to show that communism is not impossible.
<p>
Similarly with Stack's other examples. Kropotkin argued that:
<p><blockquote><i>
"we are struck with the infinitesimal part played by government in 
our life. . .  [A] striking feature of our century tells in favour 
of the . . . no-government tendency. It is the steady enlargement of
the field covered by private initiative, and the recent growth of 
large organisations resulting merely and simply from free agreement. 
The railway net of Europe -- a confederation of so many scores of 
separate societies -- and the direct transport of passengers and 
merchandise over so many lines which were built independently and 
federated together, without even so much as a Central Board of 
European Railways, is a most striking instance of what is already 
done by mere agreement. . . . 
<p>
"But there also is no lack of free organisations for nobler pursuits. 
One of the noblest achievements of our century is undoubtedly the 
Lifeboat Association. . . . The Hospitals Association and hundreds 
of like organisations, operating on a large scale and covering each 
a wide field, may also be mentioned under this head.  . .  hundreds 
of societies are constituted every day for the satisfaction of some 
of the infinitely varied needs of civilised man. . . in short, there 
is not a single direction in which men exercise their faculties 
without combining together for the accomplishment of some common 
aim. Every day new societies are formed, while every year the old 
ones aggregate together into larger units, federate across the 
national frontiers, and co-operate in some common work. . . One of 
the most remarkable societies which has recently arisen is undoubtedly 
the Red Cross Society . . . 
<p>
"These facts -- so numerous and so customary that we pass by without 
even noticing them -- are in our opinion one of the most prominent 
features of the second half of the nineteenth century. The just-mentioned 
organisms grew up so naturally, they so rapidly extended and so easily 
aggregated together, they are such unavoidable outgrowths of the 
multiplication of needs of the civilised man, and they so well replace 
State interference, that we must recognise in them a growing factor of 
our life. Modern progress is really towards the free aggregation of 
free individuals so as to supplant government in all those functions 
which formerly were entrusted to it, and which it mostly performed so 
badly."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 65-7]
</blockquote><p>
As is clear, Kropotkin was using these examples <b>not</b> as expressions
of <i>"mutual aid"</i> but rather as evidence that social life can be organised
without government. Just as with communism, he gave concrete examples
of libertarian tendencies within society to prove the possibility of
an anarchist society. And just like his examples of communistic 
activities within capitalism, his examples of co-operation without
the state are not listed as examples of <i>"mutual aid."</i>
<p>
All this would suggest that Stack has either not read Kropotkin's 
works or that he has and consciously decided to misrepresent his 
ideas. In fact, its a combination of the two. Stack (as proven 
by his talk at <b>Marxism 2001</b>) gathered his examples of <i>"mutual 
aid"</i> from Paul Avrich's essay <i>"Kropotkin's Ethical Anarchism"</i> 
contained in his <b>Anarchist Portraits</b>. As such, he has not
read the source material. Moreover, he simply distorted what
Avrich wrote. In other words, not only has he not read Kropotkin's
works, he consciously decided to misrepresent the secondary
source he used. This indicates the quality of almost all Marxist 
critiques of anarchism.
<p>
For example, Avrich correctly notes that Kropotkin did not 
<i>"deny that the 'struggle for existence' played an important
role in the evolution of species. In <b>Mutual Aid</b> he declares 
unequivocally that 'life <b>is</b> struggle; and in that struggle
the fittest survive.'"</i> Kropotkin simply argued that co-operation
played a key role in determining who was, in fact, the fittest.
Similarly, Avrich lists many of the same examples Stack presents 
but not in his discussion of Kropotkin's ideas on mutual aid. 
Rather, he correctly lists them in his discussion of how 
Kropotkin saw examples of anarchist communism in modern
society and was <i>"manifesting itself 'in the thousands of
developments of modern life.'"</i> This did not mean that Kropotkin 
did not see the need for a social revolution, quite the reverse. 
As Avrich notes, Kropotkin <i>"did not shrink from the necessity 
of revolution"</i> as he <i>"did not expect the propertied classes 
to give up their privileges and possession without a fight."</i> 
This <i>"was to be a <b>social</b> revolution, carried out by the 
masses themselves"</i> achieved by means of <i>"expropriation"</i> of
social wealth. [Paul Avrich, <b>Anarchist Portraits</b>, p. 58, 
p. 62 and p. 66]
<p>
So much for Stack's claims. As can be seen, they are not only
a total misrepresentation of Kropotkin's work, they are also
a distortion of his source! 
<p>
A few more points need to be raised on this subject. 
<p>
Firstly, Kropotkin never claimed that mutual aid <i>"was the natural 
order."</i> Rather, he stressed that Mutual Aid was (to use the 
subtitle of his book on the subject) <i>"a factor of evolution."</i> 
Never denying the importance of struggle or competition as a 
means of survival, he argued that co-operation within a species
was the best means for it to survive in a hostile environment.
This applied to life under capitalism. In the hostile environment
of class society, then the only way in which working class people
could survive would be to practice mutual aid (in other words,
solidarity). Little wonder, then, that Kropotkin listed strikes
and unions as expressions of mutual aid in capitalist society.
Moreover, if we take Stack's arguments at face value, then he
clearly is arguing that solidarity is not an important factor
in the class struggle and that mutual aid and co-operation 
cannot change the world! Hardly what you would expect a socialist
to argue. In other words, his inaccurate diatribe against 
Kropotkin backfires on his own ideas.
<p>
Secondly, Stack's argument that Kropotkin argued that co-operation
was the natural order is in contradiction with his other claims
that anarchism <i>"despises the collectivity"</i> and <i>"dismiss[es] the 
importance of the collective nature of change."</i> How can you have
co-operation without forming a collective? And, equally, surely
support for co-operation clearly implies the recognition of the
<i>"collective nature of change"</i>? Moreover, if Stack had bothered
to <i><b>read</b></i> Kropotkin's classic he would have been aware that he
listed both unions and strikes as expressions of <i>"mutual aid"</i> 
(a fact, of course, which would undermine Stack's argument that
anarchists reject collective working class struggle and 
organisation). 
<p>
Thirdly, <b>Mutual Aid</b> is primarily a work of popular science 
and not a work on revolutionary anarchist theory like, say, 
<b>The Conquest of Bread</b> or <b>Words of a Rebel</b>. As such, it
does not present a full example of Kropotkin's revolutionary
ideas and how mutual aid fits into them. However, it does
present some insights on the question of social progress
which indicate that he did not think that <i>"co-operation"</i> 
was <i>"at the root of the social process,"</i> as Stack claims.
For example, he notes that <i>"[w]hen Mutual Aid institutions
. . . began . . . to lose their primitive character, to be
invaded by parasitic growths, and thus to become hindrances
to process, the revolt of individuals against these institutions
took always two different aspects. Part of those who rose up
strove to purify the old institutions, or to work out a
higher form of commonwealth."</i> But at the same time, others
<i>"endeavoured to break down the protective institutions of
mutual support, with no other intention but to increase their
own wealth and their own powers."</i> In this conflict <i>"lies the
real tragedy of history."</i> He also noted that the mutual aid 
tendency <i>"continued to live in the villages and among the 
poorer classes in the towns."</i> Indeed, <i>"in so far as"</i> as new 
<i>"economical and social institutions"</i> were <i>"a creation of the 
masses"</i> they <i>"have all originated from the same source"</i> of 
mutual aid. [<b>Mutual Aid</b>, pp. 18-9 and p. 180]
<p>
Kropotkin was well aware that mutual aid (or solidarity) 
could not be applied between classes in a class society.
Indeed, his chapters on mutual aid under capitalism 
contain the strike and union. As he put it in an earlier
work:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"What solidarity can exist between the capitalist and the
worker he exploits? Between the head of an army and the
soldier? Between the governing and the governed?"</i> [<b>Words
of a Rebel</b>, p. 30]
</blockquote><p>
In summary, Stack's assertions about Kropotkin's theory of
<i>"Mutual Aid"</i> are simply false. He simply distorts the source
material and shows a total ignorance of Kropotkin's work (which
he obviously has not bothered to read before criticising it).
A truthful account of <i>"Mutual Aid"</i> would involve recognising
that Kropotkin show it being expressed in both strikes and
labour unions and that he saw solidarity between working 
people as the means of not only surviving within the hostile
environment of capitalism but also as the basis of a mass
revolution which would end it. 
<p>
<a name="sech27"><h2>H.2.7 Who do anarchists see as their <i>"agents of social change"</i>?</h2>
<p>
It is often charged, usually without any evidence, that
anarchists do not see the working class as the <i>"agent"</i>
of the social revolution. Pat Stack, for example, states
<i>"the failure of anarchism [is] to understand the centrality 
of the working class itself."</i> He argues that for Marx, <i>"the 
working class would change the world and in the process 
change itself. It would become the agent for social advance 
and human liberty."</i> For Bakunin, however, <i>"skilled artisans 
and organised factory workers, far from being the source of 
the destruction of capitalism, were 'tainted by pretensions 
and aspirations'. Instead Bakunin looked to those cast aside 
by capitalism, those most damaged, brutalised and marginalised. 
The lumpen proletariat, the outlaws, the 'uncivilised, 
disinherited, illiterate', as he put it, would be his agents 
for change."</i> [<i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i>, <b>Socialist 
Review</b>, no. 
246] He fails to provide any references for 
his accusations. This is unsurprising, as to do so would
mean that the reader could check for themselves the validity
of Stack's claims.
<p>
Take, for example, the quote <i>"uncivilised, disinherited, 
illiterate"</i> Stack uses as evidence. This expression is
from an essay written by Bakunin in 1872 and which expressed
what he considered the differences between his ideas and
those of Marx. The quote can be found on page 294 of
<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>. On the previous page, we discover
Bakunin arguing that <i>"for the International to be a real
power, it must be able to organise within its ranks the
immense majority of the proletariat of Europe, of America,
of all lands."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 293] This is
the context in which Bakunin made the comments Stack quotes.
As such, he clearly is quoting out of context in terms of
Bakunin's article. Moreover, as we will indicate, Stack's
also quotes them outside the historical context as well as
Bakunin's ideas taken as a whole.
<p>
Let us begin with Bakunin's views on <i>"skilled artisans and 
organised factory workers."</i> In <b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, for 
example, we discover Bakunin arguing that the <i>"proletariat 
. . . must enter the International [Workers' Association] 
en masse, form factory, artisan, and agrarian sections, and 
unite them into local federations"</i> for <i>"the sake of its own
liberation."</i> [<b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, p. 51] This perspective
is the predominant one in Bakunin's ideas. For example, he
argued that anarchists saw <i>"the new social order"</i> being
<i>"attained . . . through the social (and therefore
anti-political) organisation and power of the working
masses of the cities and villages."</i> He argued that <i>"only
the trade union sections can give their members  . . .
practical education and consequently only they can draw 
into the organisation of the International the masses of 
the proletariat, those masses without whose practical
co-operation . . . the Social Revolution will never be
able to triumph."</i> The International, in Bakunin's words,
<i>"organises the working masses . . .  from the bottom
up"</i> and that this was <i>"the proper aim of the organisation
of trade union sections."</i> He stressed that revolutionaries
must <i>"[o]rganise the city proletariat in the name of
revolutionary Socialism . . . [and] unite it into one
preparatory organisation together with the peasantry."</i>
[<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 300, p. 310, 
p. 319 and p. 378]
<p>
This support for organised workers and artisans can also be 
seen from the rest of the essay in which Bakunin discusses 
the <i>"flower of the proletariat."</i> He goes on to discuss the 
policy that the <b>International Workingmen's Association</b> 
should follow (i.e. the organised revolutionary workers).
He argued that its <i>"sections and federations [must be]
free to develop its own policies . . . [to] attain real
unity, basically economic, which will necessarily lead to 
real political unity . . . The foundation for the unity of 
the International . . . has already been laid by the common 
sufferings, interests, needs, and real aspirations of the 
workers of the whole world."</i> He stressed that <i>"the 
International has been . . . the work of the proletariat 
itself . . . It was their keen and profound instinct as 
workers . . . which impelled them to find the principle
and true purpose of the International. They took the common 
needs  already in existence as the foundation and saw the
<b>international organisation of economic conflict against 
capitalism</b> as the true objective of this association. In 
giving it exclusively this base and aim, the workers at 
once established the entire power of the International. 
They opened  wide the gates to all the millions of the 
oppressed and exploited."</i> The International, as well as 
<i>"organising local, national and international strikes"</i> 
and <i>"establishing national and international trade unions,"</i> 
would discuss <i>"political and philosophical questions."</i> The 
workers <i>"join the International for one very practical purpose:
solidarity in the struggle for full economic rights against the 
oppressive exploitation by the bourgeoisie."</i> [<b>Bakunin on 
Anarchism</b>, pp. 297-8, pp. 298-9 and pp. 301-2]
<p>
All this, needless to say, makes a total mockery of Stack's claim 
that Bakunin did not see <i>"skilled artisans and organised factory 
workers"</i> as <i>"the source of the destruction of capitalism"</i> and 
<i>"agents for change."</i> Indeed, it is hard to find a greater
distortion of Bakunin's ideas. Rather than dismiss <i>"skilled 
artisans"</i> and <i>"organised factory workers"</i> Bakunin desired to 
organise them along with agricultural workers into unions and 
get these unions to affiliate to the <b>International Workers' 
Association</b>. He argued again and again that the working class, 
organised in workers associations, were the means of making a 
revolution (i.e. <i>"the source of the destruction of capitalism,"</i> 
to quote Stack). 
<p>
Only in <b>this</b> context can we understand Bakunin's comments 
as any apparent contradiction generated by quoting out of
context is quickly solved by looking at Bakunin's work. This 
reference to the <i>"uncivilised, disinherited, illiterate"</i> comes 
from a polemic against Marx. From the context, it can quickly 
be seen that by these terms Bakunin meant the bulk of the 
working class. In his words:
<p><blockquote><i>
"To me the flower of the proletariat is not, as it is to the 
Marxists, the upper layer, the aristocracy of labour, those 
who are the most cultured, who earn more and live more 
comfortably that all the other workers. Precisely this 
semi-bourgeois layer of workers would, if the Marxists
had their way, constitute their <b>fourth governing class.</b>
This could indeed happen if the great mass of the proletariat
does not guard against it. By virtue of its relative well-being 
and semi-bourgeois position, this upper layer of workers is 
unfortunately only too deeply saturated with all the political 
and social prejudices and all the narrow aspirations and 
pretensions of the bourgeoisie. Of all the proletariat, this 
upper layer is the least socialist, the most individualist.
<p>
"By the <b>flower of the proletariat</b>, I mean above all that great 
mass, those millions of the uncultivated, the disinherited, the 
miserable, the illiterates . . . I mean precisely that eternal 
'meat' (on which governments thrive), that great <b>rabble of the 
people</b> (underdogs, 'dregs of society') ordinarily designated by 
Marx and Engels by the phrase . . . Lumpenproletariat"</i> [<b>Bakunin 
on Anarchism</b>, p. 294]
</blockquote><p>
Thus Bakunin contrasted a <i>"semi-bourgeois"</i> layer to the <i>"great 
mass of the proletariat."</i> In a later work, <b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, 
Bakunin makes the same point. He argues there was <i>"a special 
category of relatively affluent workers, earning higher wages,
boasting of their literary capacities and . . . impregnated
by a variety of bourgeois prejudices . . . in Italy . . . 
they are insignificant in number and influence . . . In Italy 
it is the extremely poor proletariat that predominates. Marx 
speaks disdainfully, but quite unjustly, of this 
<b>Lumpenproletariat.</b> For in them, and only in them, and not 
in the bourgeois strata of workers, are there crystallised 
the entire intelligence and power of the coming Social 
Revolution."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 334] Again it is clear that 
Bakunin is referring to a small minority within the working 
class and <b>not</b> dismissing the working class as a whole. He 
explicitly pointed to the <i>"<b>bourgeois-influenced</b> minority
of the urban proletariat"</i> and contrasted this minority to 
<i>"the mass of the proletariat,
both rural and urban."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>,
p. 254]
<p>
Clearly, Stack is distorting Bakunin's ideas on this subject 
when he claims that Bakunin thought <b>all</b> workers were <i>"tainted by 
pretensions and aspirations."</i> In fact, like Marx, Engels and 
Lenin, Bakunin differentiated between different types of 
workers. This did not mean he rejected organised workers or 
skilled artisans nor the organisation of working people into 
revolutionary unions, quite the reverse. As can be seen, 
Bakunin argued there was a group of workers who accepted 
bourgeois society and did relatively well under it. It was 
<b>these</b> workers who were <i>"frequently no less egoistic than 
bourgeois exploiters, no less pernicious to the International 
than bourgeois socialists, and no less vain and ridiculous 
than bourgeois nobles."</i> [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 108] It is 
comments like this that Marxists quote out of context and 
use for their claims that Bakunin did not see the working 
class as the agent of social change. However, rather than 
refer to the whole working class, Stack quotes Bakunin's 
thoughts in relation to a minority strata within it. Clearly, 
from the context, Bakunin <b>did not</b> mean <b>all</b> working class 
people. 
<p>
Also, let us not forget the historical context. After all,
when Bakunin was writing, the vast majority of the working 
population across the world was, in fact, illiterate and
disinherited. To get some sort of idea of the numbers of 
working people who would have been classed as <i>"the 
uncultivated, the disinherited, the miserable, the 
illiterates"</i> we have to provide some numbers. In Spain, 
for example, <i>"in 1870, something like 60 per cent of the 
population was illiterate."</i> [Gerald Brenan, <b>The Spanish 
Labyrinth</b>, p. 50] In Russia, in 1897 (i.e. 21 years after 
Bakunin's death), <i>"only 21% of the total population of 
European Russia was literate. This was mainly because of 
the appallingly low rate of literacy in the countryside -- 
17% compared to 45% in the towns."</i> [S.A. Smith, <b>Red 
Petrograd</b>, p. 34] Stack, in effect, is excluding the 
majority of the working masses from the working class 
movement <b>and</b> the revolution in the 1860-70s by his 
comments. Little wonder Bakunin said what he said. By 
ignoring the historical context (as he ignores the context 
of Bakunin's comments), Stack misleads the reader and 
presents a distinctly distorted picture of Bakunin's 
thought.
<p>
In other words, Bakunin's comments on the <i>"flower of the
proletariat"</i> apply to the majority of the working class 
during his lifetime and for a number of decades afterwards
and <b>not</b> to an underclass, not to what Marx termed the 
"lumpenproletariat". As proven above, Bakunin's idea of 
what the <i>"lumpenproletariat"</i> is not what Marxists mean by 
the term. If Bakunin had meant the same as Marx by the 
"lumpenproletariat" then this would not make sense as the 
"lumpenproletariat" for Marx were not wage workers. This 
can best be seen when he argues that the International
must organise this <i>"flower of the proletariat"</i> and conduct 
economic collective struggle against the capitalist class. 
In his other works (and in the specific essay these quotes
are derived from) Bakunin stressed the need to organise all 
workers and peasants into unions to fight the state and bosses 
and his arguments that workers associations should not only
be the means to fight capitalism but also the framework of 
an anarchist society. Clearly, Sam Dolgoff's summary of 
Bakunin's ideas on this subject is the correct one:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Bakunin's <b>Lumpenproletariat</b> . . . was broader than Marx's, 
since it included all the submerged classes: unskilled, 
unemployed, and poor workers, poor peasant proprietors, 
landless agricultural labourers, oppressed racial minorities, 
alienated and idealistic youth, declasse intellectuals, and 
'bandits' (by whom Bakunin meant insurrectionary 'Robin Hoods' 
like Pugachev, Stenka Razin, and the Italian Carbonari)."</i> 
[<i>"Introduction"</i>, <b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, pp. 13-4]
</blockquote><p>
Nor is Stack the only anarchist to make such arguments as
regards Bakunin. Paul Thomas quotes Bakunin arguing that the 
working class <i>"remains socialist without knowing it"</i> because 
of <i>"the very force of its position"</i> and <i>"all the conditions 
of its material existence"</i> and then, incredulously, adds that 
<i>"[i]t is for this reason that Bakunin turned away from the 
proletariat and its scientific socialism"</i> towards the 
peasantry. [<b>Karl Marx and the Anarchists</b>, p. 291] A more
distorted account of Bakunin's ideas would be hard to find (and
there is a lot of competition for that particular honour). The
quotes Thomas provides are from Bakunin's <i>"The Policy of the
International"</i> in which he discusses his ideas on how the
International Working-Men's Association should operate (namely
<i>"the collective struggle of the workers against the bosses"</i>). 
At the time (and for some time after) Bakunin called himself 
a revolutionary socialist and argued that by class struggle,
the worker would soon <i>"recognise himself [or herself] to be
a revolutionary socialist, and he [or she] will act like
one."</i> [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 103] As such, the argument
that the social position workers are placed makes them 
<i>"socialist without knowing"</i> does not, in fact, imply that
Bakunin thought they would become Marxists (<i>"scientific
socialism"</i>) and, therefore, he turned against them. Rather,
it meant that, for Bakunin, anarchist ideas were a product
of working class life and it was a case of turning instinctive
feelings into conscious thought by collective struggle. As 
noted above, Bakunin did not <i>"turn away"</i> from these ideas nor 
the proletariat. Indeed, Bakunin held to the importance of 
organising the proletariat (along with artisans and peasants)
to the end of his life. Quite simply, Thomas is distorting 
Bakunin's ideas.
<p>
Lastly, we have to point out a certain irony (and hypocrisy) in 
Marxist attacks on Bakunin on this subject. This is because Marx, 
Engels and Lenin held similar views on the corrupted <i>"upper strata"</i> 
of the working class as Bakunin did. Indeed, Marxists have a
specific term to describe this semi-bourgeois strata of workers,
namely the <i>"labour aristocracy."</i> Marx, for example, talked about
the trade unions in Britain being <i>"an aristocratic minority"</i>
and the <i>"great mass of workers . . . has long been outside"</i>
them (indeed, <i>"the most wretched mass has never belonged."</i>)
[Marx-Engels, <b>Collected Works</b>, vol. 22, p. 614] 
<p>
Engels also talked about <i>"a small, privileged, 'protected' minority"</i>
within the working class, which he also called <i>"the working-class
aristocracy."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, vol. 27, p. 320 and p. 321] Lenin quotes
him arguing that the <i>"English proletariat is actually becoming
more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations
is apparently aiming at the possession of . . . a bourgeois 
proletariat <b>alongside</b> the bourgeoisie."</i> [quoted by Lenin, 
<b>Collected Works</b>, vol. 22, p. 283] Like Lenin, Engels explained
this by the dominant position of Britain within the world market.
Indeed, Lenin argued that <i>"a section of the British proletariat
becomes bourgeois."</i> For Lenin, imperialist <i>"superprofits"</i> make it
<i>"<b>possible to bribe</b> the labour leaders and the upper stratum of
the labour aristocracy."</i> This <i>"stratum of workers-turned-bourgeois,
or the labour aristocracy, who are quite philistine in their
mode of life, in the size of their earnings and in their entire
outlook . . . are the real <b>agents of the bourgeoisie in the
working-class</b> movement, the labour lieutenants of the capitalist
class."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 284 and p. 194]
<p>
As can be seen, this is similar to Bakunin's ideas and, ironically 
enough, nearly identical to Stack's distortion of those ideas 
(particularly in the case of Marx). However, only someone with a 
desire to lie would suggest that any of them dismissed the working 
class as their <i>"agent of change"</i> based on this selective quoting. 
Unfortunately, that is what Stack does with Bakunin. Ultimately,
Stack's comments seem hypocritical in the extreme attacking 
Bakunin while remaining quiet on the near identical comments 
of his heroes.
<p>
All in all, once a historic and textual context is placed on
Bakunin's words, it is clear which social class was considered
as the social revolution's <i>"agents of change"</i>: the working class
(i.e. wage workers, artisans, peasants and so on). In this,
other revolutionary anarchists follow him. For anarchists, the
social revolution will be made by the working class. Ultimately,
for anyone to claim that Bakunin, for any social anarchist,
rejects the working class as an agent of social change simply
shows their ignorance of the politics they are trying to attack.
<p>
<a name="sech28"><h2>H.2.8 What is the relationship of anarchism 
to syndicalism?</h2>
<p>
One of the most common Marxist techniques when they discuss
anarchism is to contrast the likes of Bakunin and Kropotkin 
to the revolutionary syndicalists. The argument runs along 
the lines that "classical" anarchism is individualistic and 
rejects working class organisation and power and syndicalism 
is a step forward from it (i.e. a step closer to Marxism). 
Sadly, such arguments simply show the ignorance of the author
rather than any form of factual basis. When the ideas of
revolutionary anarchists like Bakunin and Kropotkin are
compared to revolutionary syndicalism, the similarities are
soon discovered. 
<p>
This kind of argument can be found in Pat Stack's essay <i>"Anarchy 
in the UK?"</i> After totally distorting the ideas of anarchists like 
Bakunin and Kropotkin, Stack argues that anarcho-syndicalists 
<i>"tended to look to the spontaneity and anti-statism of anarchism, 
the economic and materialist analysis of Marxism, and the 
organisational tools of trade unionism. Practically every serious 
anarchist organisation came from or leant on this tradition . . . 
The huge advantage they had over other anarchists was their 
understanding of the power of the working class, the centrality 
of the point of production (the workplace) and the need for 
collective action."</i> [<b>Socialist Review</b>, no. 246]
<p>
Given that Stack's claims that anarchists reject the <i>"need for
collective action,"</i> do not understand <i>"the power of the working
class"</i> and the <i>"centrality"</i> of the workplace are simply inventions, 
it would suggest that Stack's <i>"huge advantage"</i> does not, in fact, 
exist and is pure nonsense. Bakunin, Kropotkin and all revolutionary 
anarchists, as proven in 
<a href="secH2.html#sech22">section H.2.2</a>, already understood all this 
and based their politics on the need for collective working class 
struggle at the point of production. As such, by contrasting 
anarcho-syndicalism with anarchism (as expressed by the likes of
Bakunin and Kropotkin) Stack simply shows his utter and total
ignorance of his subject matter.
<p>
Moreover, if he bothered to read the works of the likes of Bakunin 
and Kropotkin he would discover that many of their ideas were
identical to those of revolutionary syndicalism. For example,
Bakunin argued that the <i>"organisation of the trade sections, 
their federation in the International, and their representation 
by Chambers of Labour, . . . [allow] the workers  . . . [to] 
combin[e] theory and practice . . . [and] bear in themselves 
the living germs of <b>the 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 Rudolf Rocker, 
<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 45] Like the syndicalists, he argued 
<i>"the natural organisation of the masses . . . is organisation 
based on the various ways that their various types of work 
define their day-to-day life; it is organisation by trade 
association"</i> and once <i>"every occupation . . . is represented
within the International [Working-Men's Association], its
organisation, the organisation of the masses of the people
will be complete."</i> Moreover, Bakunin stressed that the working 
class had <i>"but a single path, that of <b>emancipation through
practical action</b></i> which meant <i>"workers' solidarity in their 
struggle against the bosses"</i> by <i>"<b>trades-unions, organisation, 
and the federation of resistance funds</b>"</i> [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, 
p. 139 and p. 103]
<p>
Like the syndicalists, Bakunin stressed working class self-activity
and control over the class struggle:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Toilers count no longer on anyone but yourselves. Do not demoralise
and paralyse your growing strength by being duped into alliances
with bourgeois Radicalism . . . Abstain from all participation in
bourgeois Radicalism and organise outside of it the forces of the
proletariat. The bases of this organisation are already completely
given: they are the workshops and the federation of workshops, the
creation of fighting funds, instruments of struggle against the
bourgeoisie, and their federation, not only national, but
international.
<p>
"And when the hour of revolution sounds, you will proclaim the
liquidation of the State and of bourgeois society, anarchy,
that is to say the true, frank people's revolution . . . 
and the new organisation from below upwards and from the
circumference to the centre."</i> [quoted by K.J. Kenafick, 
<b>Michael Bakunin and Karl Marx</b>, pp. 120-1]
</blockquote><p>
This new society would be organised <i>"by free federation, from
below upwards, of workers' associations, industrial as well
as agricultural . . . in districts and municipalities at
first; federation of these into regions, of the regions
into nations, and the nations into a fraternal Internationalism."</i>
Moreover, <i>"capital, factories, all the means of production and
raw material"</i> would be owned by <i>"the workers' organisations"</i>
while the land would be given <i>"to those who work it with their
own hands."</i> [quoted by Kenafick, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 241 and p. 240]
<p>
The similarities with revolutionary syndicalism could not be
clearer. Little wonder that all serious historians see the 
obvious similarities between anarcho-syndicalism and Bakunin's 
anarchism. For example, George R. Esenwein's (in his study of
early Spanish anarchism) comments that syndicalism <i>"had deep 
roots in the Spanish libertarian tradition. It can be traced 
to Bakunin's revolutionary collectivism."</i> He also notes that 
the class struggle was <i>"central to Bakunin's theory."</i> 
[<b>Anarchist Ideology and the Working Class Movement in Spain, 
1868-1898</b>, p. 209 and p. 20] 
<p>
Caroline Cahm, likewise, points to <i>"the basic syndicalist ideas 
of Bakunin"</i> and that he <i>"argued that trade union organisation 
and activity in the International [Working Men's Association] 
were important in the building of working-class power in the 
struggle against capital . . . He also declared that trade union 
based organisation of the International would not only guide the 
revolution but also provide the basis for the organisation of the 
society of the future."</i> Indeed, he <i>"believed that trade unions had 
an essential part to play in the developing of revolutionary
capacities of the workers as well as building up the organisation 
of the masses for revolution."</i> [<b>Kropotkin and the Rise of 
Revolutionary Anarchism</b>, p. 219, p. 215 and p. 216]
<p>
Paul Avrich, in his essay <i>"The Legacy of Bakunin,"</i> agrees. <i>"Bakunin,"</i> 
he argued, <i>"perhaps even more than Proudhon, was a prophet of
revolutionary syndicalism, who believed that a free federation of 
trade unions would be the 'living germs of a new social order which 
is to replace the bourgeois world.'"</i> [<b>Anarchist Protraits</b>, pp. 14-15] 
<p>
Needless to say, anarchists agree with this perspective. Arthur 
Lehning, for example, summarises the anarchist perspective when
he commented that <i>"Bakunin's collectivist anarchism . . . 
ultimately formed the ideological and theoretical basis of 
anarcho-syndicalism."</i> [<i>"Introduction"</i>, <b>Michael Bakunin: 
Selected Writings</b>, p. 29] Kropotkin argued that syndicalism 
<i>"is nothing other than the rebirth of the International -- 
federalist, worker, Latin."</i> [quoted by Martin A. Miller, 
<b>Kropotkin</b>, p. 176] Malatesta stated in 1907 that he had 
<i>"never ceased to urge the comrades into that direction which 
the syndicalists, forgetting the past, call <b>new</b>, even though
it was already glimpsed and followed, in the International,
by the first of the anarchists."</i> [<b>The Anarchist Reader</b>,
p. 221] Little wonder that Rudolf Rocker stated the following 
in his classic introduction to anarcho-syndicalism:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Modern Anarcho-syndicalism is a direct continuation of those
social aspirations which took shape in the bosom of the First
International and which were best understood and most strongly
held by the libertarian wing of the great workers' alliance."</i>
[<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 49]
</blockquote><p>
Murray Bookchin just states the obvious: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"Long before syndicalism became a popular term in the French
labour movement of the late [eighteen]nineties, it already
existed in the Spanish labour movement of the early seventies.
The anarchist-influenced Spanish Federation of the old IWMA
was . . . distinctly syndicalist."</i> [<i>"Looking Back at Spain,"</i> 
pp. 53-96, <b>The Radical Papers</b>, p. 67]
</blockquote>
<p>
Perhaps, in the face of such evidence (and the writings of
Bakunin himself), Marxists could claim that the sources we 
quote are either anarchists or "sympathetic" to anarchism. 
To counter this is very easy, we need only quote Marx and 
Engels. Marx attacked Bakunin for thinking that the <i>"working 
class . . . must only organise themselves by trades- unions"</i> 
and <i>"not occupy itself with <b>politics.</b>"</i> Engels argued along
the same lines, having a go at the anarchists because in the 
<i>"Bakuninist programme a general strike is the lever employed 
by which the social revolution is started"</i> and that they 
admitted <i>"this required a well-formed organisation of the 
working class"</i> (i.e. a trade union federation). Indeed, he
summarised Bakunin's strategy as being to <i>"organise, and
when <b>all</b> the workers, hence the majority, are won over,
dispose all the authorities, abolish the state and 
replace it with the organisation of the International."</i> 
[Marx, Engels and Lenin, <b>Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, 
p. 48, p. 132, p. 133 and p. 72] Ignoring the 
misrepresentations of Marx and Engels about the ideas of 
their enemies, we can state that they got the basic point 
of Bakunin's ideas -- the centrality of trade union 
organisation and struggle as well as the use of strikes 
and the general strike. Therefore, you do not have to read 
Bakunin to find out the similarities between his ideas and
syndicalism, you can read Marx and Engels. Clearly, most
Marxist critiques of anarchism haven't even done that!
<p>
Latter anarchists, needless to say, supported the syndicalist
movement and, moreover, drew attention to its anarchist roots.
Emma Goldman noted that in the First International <i>"Bakunin and
the Latin workers"</i> forged ahead <i>"along industrial and Syndicalist
lines"</i> and stated that syndicalism <i>"is, in essence, the economic
expression of Anarchism"</i> and that <i>"accounts for the presence of
so many Anarchists in the Syndicalist movement. Like Anarchism,
Syndicalism prepares the workers along direct economic lines,
as conscious factors in the great struggles of to-day, as well
as conscious factors in the task of reconstructing society."</i> 
After seeing syndicalist ideas in action in France in 1900,
she <i>"immediately began to propagate Syndicalist ideas."</i> 
[<b>Red Emma Speaks</b>, p. 66, p. 68 and p. 67]
<p>
Kropotkin argued anarchist communism <i>"wins more and more ground 
among those working-men who try to get a clear conception as to
the forthcoming revolutionary action. The syndicalist and 
trade union movements, which permit the workingmen to realise 
their solidarity and to feel the community of their interests 
better than any election, prepare the way for these conceptions."</i>
[<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 174] His support
for anarchist participation in the labour movement was strong,
considering it a key method of preparing for a revolution and
spreading anarchist ideas amongst the working classes. As he
put it:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The <b>syndicat</b> is absolutely necessary. It is the sole force
of the workers which continues the direct struggle against
capital without turning to parliamentarism."</i> [quoted by
Miller, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 177]
</blockquote><p>
<i>"Revolutionary Anarchist Communist propaganda within the
Labour Unions,"</i> he argued, <i>"had always been a favourite
mode of action in the Federalist or 'Bakuninist' section
of the International Working Men's Association. In Spain
and in Italy it had been especially successful. Now it
was resorted to, with evident success, in France and
<b>Freedom</b> [the British Anarchist paper] eagerly advocated
this sort of propaganda."</i> [<b>Act For Yourselves</b>, pp. 119-20]
Caroline Cahm notes in her excellent account of Kropotkin's
ideas between 1872 and 1886, he <i>"was anxious to revive the
International as an organisation for aggressive strike action
to counteract the influence of parliamentary socialists on
the labour movement."</i> This resulted Kropotkin advocating a
<i>"remarkable fusion of anarchist communist ideas with both
the bakuninist [sic!] internationalist views adopted by
the Spanish Federation and the syndicalist ideas developed 
in the Jura Federation in the 1870s."</i> This included seeing
the importance of revolutionary labour unions, the value of
the strikes as a mode of direct action and syndicalist action
developing solidarity. [Cahm, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 257]
<p>
Clearly, any one claiming that there is a fundamental difference
between anarchism and syndicalism is talking nonsense. Syndicalist
ideas were being argued by the likes of Bakunin and Kropotkin
before syndicalism emerged in the French CGT in the 1890s as
a clearly labelled revolutionary theory. Rather than being in 
conflict, the ideas of syndicalism find their roots in the ideas 
of Bakunin and "classical" anarchism. This would be quickly seen 
if the actual writings of Bakunin and Kropotkin were consulted. 
There <b>are,</b> of course, differences between anarchism and 
syndicalism, but they are <b>not</b> those usually listed by
Marxists. <a href="secJ3.html#secj39">Section J.3.9</a> 
discusses these differences. As will
quickly be discovered, they are <b>not</b> based on a rejection of
working class organisation, direct action, solidarity and
collective struggle! 
<p>
Indeed, rather than acknowledge these similarities to Bakunin's
ideas, Stack prefers to rewrite history by claiming (at his
meeting on <i>"Marxism and Anarchism"</i> at the SWP's <b>Marxism 2001</b> 
conference) that Georges Sorel was the father of syndicalism!
Any one familiar with the history of syndicalism and the ideas
of Sorel would, of course, know the syndicalist movement had 
been in existance for a number of years before Sorel wrote
<b>Refections on Violence</b>. As such, he discussed from afar
a movement which already existed. As the editor to a recent
edition of Sorel's book notes, <i>"the immediate backdrop"</i> of
<b>Reflections on Violence</b> was <i>"the rise of the French
syndicalist movement"</i> which <i>"Sorel had been following
. . . since the late 1890s."</i> It was only <i>"after 1902, when
the Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT) launched a
series of spectacular strikes, that syndicalism came to the
forefront of Sorel's attention."</i> In summary, <i>"Sorel did not
create or even inspire the syndicalist movement."</i> [<b>Reflections 
on Violence</b>, pp. viii-ix] Rather, syndicalism came about when
anarchists (as Bakunin recommended thirty years previously)
entered the trade unions. Indeed, Sorel acknowledges this in 
his work, arguing that historians <i>"will one day see in
this entry of the anarchists into the <b>syndicats</b> one of 
the greatest events that has been produced in our time."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 35]
<p>
Ultimately, claims like Pat Stack's simply shows how unfamiliar 
the author is with the ideas they are pathetically attempting to 
critique. Anarchists from Bakunin onwards shared most of the
same ideas as syndicalism (which is unsurprising as most of the
ideas of anarcho-syndicalism have direct roots in the ideas
of Bakunin). In other words, for Stack, the <i>"huge advantage"</i> 
anarcho-syndicalists have <i>"over other anarchists"</i> is that they,
in fact, share the same <i>"understanding of the power of the 
working class, the centrality of the point of production (the 
workplace) and the need for collective action"</i>! This, in itself,
shows the bankruptcy of Stack's claims and those like it.
<p>
<a name="sech29"><H2>H.2.9 Do anarchists have <i>"liberal"</i> politics?</h2>
<p>
Another assertion by Marxists is that anarchists have 
<i>"liberal"</i> politics or ideas. For example, one Marxist 
argues that the <i>"programme with which Bakunin armed his 
super-revolutionary vanguard called for the 'political, 
economic and social equalisation of classes and individuals 
of both sexes, beginning with the abolition of the right of 
inheritance.' This is <b>liberal</b> politics, implying nothing 
about the abolition of capitalism."</i> [Derek Howl, <i>"The 
Legacy of Hal Draper,"</i> <b>International Socialism</b>, no. 52, 
p. 148] That Howl is totally distorting Bakunin's ideas 
can quickly be seen by looking at the whole of the
programme. Simply put, Howl is knowingly quoting Bakunin
out of context in order to discredit his ideas.
<p>
Howl is quoting from item 2 of the <i>"Programme of the Alliance."</i> 
Strangely he fails to quote the end of that item, namely when 
it states this <i>"equalisation"</i> was <i>"in pursuance of the decision 
reached by the last working men's Congress in Brussels, the
land, the instruments of work and all other capital may
become the collective property of the whole of society and
be utilised only by the workers, in other words by the
agricultural and industrial associations."</i> If this was
not enough to indicate the abolition of capitalism, item
4 states that the Alliance <i>"repudiates all political action
whose target is anything except the triumph of the workers'
cause over Capital."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, 
p. 174] Howl's dishonesty is clear. Bakunin <b>explicitly</b>
argued for the abolition of capitalism in the same item Howl 
(selectively) quotes from. If the socialisation of land and 
capital under the control of workers' associations is not 
the abolition of capitalism, we wonder what is!
<p>
Equally as dishonest as this quoting out of context is Howl's
non-mention of the history of the expression <i>"political,
economic and social equalisation of classes and individuals
of both sexes."</i> After Bakunin sent the Alliance programme to
the General Council of the <b>International Workingmen's 
Association</b>, he received a letter date March 9, 1869 from
Marx which argued that the term <i>"the equalisation of classes"</i> 
<i>"literally interpreted"</i> would mean <i>"harmony of capital and 
labour"</i> as <i>"persistently preached by the bourgeois socialists."</i>
The letter argues that it was <i>"not the logically impossible 
'equalisation of classes', but the historically necessary, 
superseding 'abolition of classes'"</i> which was the <i>"true 
secret of the proletarian movement"</i> and which <i>"forms the 
great aim of the International Working Men's Association."</i>
Significantly, the letter adds the following:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Considering, however, the context in which that phrase 
'equalisation of classes' occurs, it seems to be a mere 
slip of the pen, and the General Council feels confident 
that you will be anxious to remove from your program an 
expression which offers such a dangerous misunderstanding."</i>
[Marx-Engels, <b>Collected Works</b>, vol 21, p. 46]
</blockquote><p>
And, given the context, Marx was right. The phrase <i>"equalisation
of classes"</i> placed in the context of the political, economic
and social equalisation of individuals obviously implies the
abolition of classes. The logic is simple. If both worker and
capitalist shared the same economic and social position then 
wage labour would not exist (in fact, it would be impossible 
as it is based on social and economic <b>inequality</b>) and so 
class society would not exist. Similarly, if the tenant and the 
landlord were socially equal then the landlord would have no
power over the tenant, which would be impossible. Bakunin 
agreed with Marx on the ambiguity of the term and the Alliance 
changed its Programme to call for <i>"the final and total abolition 
of classes and the political, economic and social equalisation 
of individuals of either sex."</i> [Bakunin, <b>Ibid.</b>] This change 
ensured the admittance of the Alliance sections into the 
International Workingmen's Association (although this did 
not stop Marx, like his followers, bringing up the <i>"equality 
of classes"</i> years later). However, Howl repeating the changed 
phrase <i>"equalisation of classes"</i> out of context helps discredit
anarchism and so it is done.
<p>
Simply put, anarchists are <b>not</b> liberals as we are well aware of
the fact that without equality, liberty is impossible except for
the rich. As Nicolas Walter put it, <i>"[l]ike liberals, anarchists
want freedom; like socialists, anarchists want equality. But we
are not satisfied by liberalism alone or by socialism alone.
Freedom without equality means that the poor and weak are less
free than the rich and strong, and equality without freedom means
that we are all slaves together. Freedom and equality are not
contradictory, but complementary; in place of the old polarisation
of freedom versus equality -- according to which we are told that
more freedom means equals less equality, and more equality equals
less freedom -- anarchists point out that in practice you cannot
have one without the other. Freedom is not genuine if some people
are too poor or too weak to enjoy it, and equality is not genuine
is some people are ruled by other."</i> [<b>Reinventing Anarchy</b>, p. 43]
Clearly, anarchists do <b>not</b> have liberal politics. Quite the
reverse, as we subject it to extensive critique from a working
class perspective.
<p>
To the claim that anarchism <i>"combines a socialist critique of 
capitalism with a liberal critique of socialism,"</i> anarchists say
that this is mistaken. [Paul Thomas, <b>Karl Marx and the Anarchists</b>,
p. 7] Rather, anarchism is simply a socialist critique of both
capitalism and the state. Freedom under capitalism is fatally
undermined by inequality -- it simply becomes the freedom to
pick a master. This violates liberty and equality. Equally, as
regards the state. <i>"Any State at all,"</i> argued Bakunin, <i>"no matter
what kind, is a domination and exploitation. It is a negation of
Socialism, which wants an equitable human society delivered from
all tutelage, from all authority and political domination as well
as economic exploitation."</i> [quoted by Kenafick, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 95-6]
As such, state structures violate not only liberty but also equality.
There is no real equality in power between, say, the head of the 
government and one of the millions who may, or may not, have voted 
for them. As the Russian Revolution proved, there can be no meaningful 
equality between a striking worker and the "socialist" political 
police sent to impose the will of the state.
<p>
This means that if anarchists are concerned about freedom (both 
individual <b>and</b> collective) it is not because we are influenced
by liberalism. Quite the reverse, as liberalism happily tolerates
hierarchy and the restrictions of liberty implied by private
property, wage labour and the state. As Bakunin argued, capitalism
turns <i>"the worker into a subordinate, a passive and obedient
servant."</i> [<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 188] As such,
anarchism rejects liberalism, although (as Bakunin put it), <i>"[i]f
socialism disputes radicalism, this is hardly to reverse it but
rather to advance it."</i> [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 87] Therefore,
anarchism rejects liberalism, not because it supports the idea
of freedom, but precisely because it does not go far enough
and fails to understand that without equality, freedom is little
more than freedom for the master. 
<p>
Lastly, a few words on the mentality that could suggest that anarchist
concern for liberty means that it is a form of liberalism. Rather
than suggest the bankruptcy of anarchism it, in fact, suggests the
bankruptcy of the politics of the person making the accusation.
After all, the clear implication is that a concern with individual,
collective and social freedom is alien to socialist ideas. It also
strikes at the heart of socialism -- its concern for equality --
as it clearly implies that some have more power (namely the right
to suppress the liberty of others) than the rest. As such, it
suggests a superficial understanding of <b>real</b> socialism. 
<p>
Ultimately, to argue that a concern for freedom means <i>"liberalism"</i> 
(or, equally, <i>"individualism"</i>) indicates that the person is not a 
socialist. After all, a concern that every individual controls their 
daily lives (i.e. to be free) means a wholehearted support for 
collective self-management of group affairs. It means a vision 
of a revolution (and post-revolutionary society) based on direct 
working class participation and management of society from below 
upwards. To dismiss this vision by dismissing the principles which 
inspire it as <i>"liberalism"</i> means to support rule from above by the 
"enlightened" elite (i.e. the party) and the hierarchical state 
structures. It means arguing for <b>party</b> power, not <b>class</b> power, 
as liberty is seen as a <b>danger</b> to the revolution and so the 
people must be protected against the "petty-bourgeois"/"reactionary" 
narrowness of the people. Rather than seeing free debate of ideas 
and mass participation as a source of strength, it sees it as a 
source of "bad influences" which the masses must be protected from.
<p>
Moreover, it suggests a total lack of understanding of the difficulties 
that a social revolution will face. Unless it is based on the active
participation of the majority of a population, any revolution will
fail. The construction of socialism, of a new society, will face
thousands of unexpected problems and seek to meet the needs of
millions of individuals, thousands of communities and hundreds of
cultures. Without the individuals and groups within that society 
being in a position to freely contribute to that constructive task, 
it will simply wither under the bureaucratic and authoritarian
rule of a few party leaders. As such, individual liberties are an
essential aspect of <b>genuine</b> social reconstruction -- without
freedom of association, assembly, organisation, speech and so on,
the active participation of the masses will be replaced by an
isolated and atomised collective of individuals subjected to 
autocratic rule from above. 
<p>
Ultimately, as Rudolf Rocker suggested, the <i>"urge for social justice
can only develop properly and be effective, when it grows out of
man's sense of personal freedom and it based on that. In other
words <b>Socialism will be free, or it will not be at all.</b> In its
recognition of this lies the genuine and profound justification
for the existence of Anarchism."</i> [<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 20]
<p>
<a name="sech210"><h2>H.2.10 Are anarchists against leadership?</h2>
<p>
It is a common assertion by Marxists that anarchists reject
the idea of <i>"leadership"</i> and so think in terms of a totally
spontaneous revolution. This is also generally understood to
imply that anarchists do not see the need for revolutionaries
to organise together to influence the class struggle in the
here and now. Hence the British SWP's Duncan Hallas:
<p><blockquote><i>
"That an organisation of socialist militants is necessary
is common ground on the left, a few anarchist purists
apart. But what kind of organisation? One view, widespread
amongst newly radicalised students and young workers, is
that of the libertarians . . . [They have] hostility to
centralised, co-ordinated activity and profound suspicion
of anything smacking of 'leadership.' On this view nothing
more than a loose federation of working groups is necessary
or desirable. The underlying assumptions are that centralised
organisations inevitably undergo bureaucratic degeneration
and that the spontaneous activities of working people are
the sole and sufficient basis for the achievement of 
socialism . . . some libertarians draw the conclusion that
a revolutionary socialist party is a contradiction in terms.
This, of course, is the traditional anarcho-syndicalist
position."</i> [<b>Towards a revolutionary socialist party</b>, p. 39]
</blockquote><p>
Ignoring the usual patronising references to the age and
experience of non-Leninists, this argument can be faulted
on many levels. Firstly, while libertarians do reject 
centralised structures, it does <b>not</b> mean we reject 
co-ordinated activity. This may be a common Marxist 
argument, but it is a straw man one. Secondly, anarchists
do <b>not</b> reject the idea of <i>"leadership."</i> We simply reject
the idea of hierarchical leadership. Thirdly, while all
anarchists do think that a <i>"revolutionary socialist party"</i>
is a contradiction in terms, it does not mean that we
reject the need for revolutionary organisations (i.e.
organisations of anarchists). While opposing centralised
and hierarchical political parties, anarchists have long
saw the need for anarchist groups and federations to discuss
and spread our ideas and influence. We will discuss each issue
in turn.
<p>
The first argument is the least important. For Marxists, 
co-ordination equals centralism and to reject centralisation
means to reject co-ordination of joint activity. For anarchists,
co-ordination does not each centralism or centralisation. This
is why anarchism stresses federation and federalism as the means
of co-ordinating joint activity. Under a centralised system,
the affairs of all are handed over to a handful of people at
the centre. Their decisions are then binding on the mass of
the members of the organisation whose position is simply that 
of executing the orders of those whom the majority elect. This
means that power rests at the top and decisions flow from the
top downwards. As such, the "revolutionary" party simply mimics 
the very society it claims to oppose.
<p>
In a federal structure, in contrast, decisions flow from the
bottom up by means of councils of elected, mandated and 
recallable <b>delegates</b>. In fact, we discover anarchists 
like Bakunin and Proudhon arguing for elected, mandated and 
recallable delegates rather than for representatives in 
their ideas of how a free society worked years before the 
Paris Commune applied them in practice. The federal structure 
exists to ensure that any co-ordinated activity accurately 
reflects the decisions of the membership. As such, anarchists 
<i>"do not deny the need for
co-ordination between groups, for discipline, for meticulous
planning, and for unity in action. But they believe that
co-ordination, discipline, planning, and unity in action must
be achieved <b>voluntarily,</b> by means of a self-discipline
nourished by conviction and understanding, not by coercion
and a mindless, unquestioning obedience to orders from above."</i>
[<b>Post-Scarcity Anarchism</b>, p. 215] In other words, co-ordination
comes <b><i>from below</i></b> rather than being imposed from above by a
few leaders. To use an analogy, federalist co-ordination is the
co-ordination created in a strike by workers resisting their
bosses. It is created by debate amongst equals and flows from
below upwards. Centralised co-ordination is the co-ordination
imposed from the top-down by the boss. 
<p>
As such, anarchists reject the "centralised" model of the party
as it is a "revolutionary" grouping organised on the capitalist
model. As such, it is not revolutionary at all. It simply 
reproduces the very problems within the "revolutionary" 
movement that, ironically, inspired the initial revolt of its 
members towards socialism. The idea that the membership should 
run the organisation becomes simply that the majority designates 
its rulers and, like the bourgeois system of parliamentary
democracy it is copied from, quickly becomes drained of any
real meaning and becomes a veil thrown over the unlimited
power of the rulers. The membership does not run the party
simply because it elects delegates once a year who, in turn,
designate the central committee -- no more than the people
are sovereign in a parliamentary-style republic because they
vote for the deputies who designate the government. Moreover,
it trains the membership in accepting a division between
leaders and led which, if applied during a revolution, will
quickly mean that the party, <b>not</b> the masses, have real power.
<p>
Ultimately, centralised organisations become very undemocratic
and, equally as important, <b>ineffective.</b> Hierarchical 
organisations kill people's enthusiasm and creativity. Such
organisations are organisations where plans and ideas are not 
adopted because they are the best but simply because it is what
a handful of leaders <b>think</b> are best for everyone else. Really
effective organisations are those which make decisions based
frank and open co-operation and debate, where dissent is <b>not</b>
stifled and ideas are adopted because of their merit, and not
<b>who</b> suggests them (i.e. the leaders of the party). In their 
quest for power and command, authoritarians usually end up 
manipulating processes, railroad their agendas, and in the 
process alienate people -- exactly those people who are new to 
organising for social change. They cause experienced organisers 
to quit and put-off people who might otherwise join the movement.
<p>
This is why anarchists stress federalist organisations. It ensures
that co-ordination flows from below and there is no institutionalised
leadership. By organising in a way that reflects the kind of society
we want, we train ourselves in the skills and decision making processes
required to make a free and classless society work. In other words,
that means and ends are united and this ensures that the means used
will result in the desired ends. Simply put, libertarian means must
be used if you want libertarian ends.
<p>
Secondly, anarchists are not against all forms of <i>"leadership."</i>
We are against hierarchical and institutionalised forms of 
leadership. In other words, of giving <b>power</b> to leaders. This 
is the key difference, as Albert Meltzer explains. <i>"Some
people in some circumstance,"</i> he argues, <i>"do naturally 'give a
lead.' But this should not mean they are a class apart. Any
revolutionary in a factory where the majority have no 
revolutionary experience, will at times, 'give a lead.' But
no anarchist would form an <b>institutionalised leadership,</b>
nor wait for a lead, but give one."</i> [<b>Anarchism: Arguments
for and against</b>, p. 36] 
<p>
This means, as we argue in 
<a href="secJ3.html#secj36">section J.3.6</a>, that anarchists seek
to influence the class struggle as <b>equals.</b> Rather than aim
for positions of power, anarchists want to influence people
by the power of their ideas as expressed in the debates that
occur in the organisations created in the social struggle 
itself. This is because anarchists recognise that there is
an unevenness in the level of ideas within the working class.
This fact is obvious. Some workers accept the logic of the
current system, others are critical of certain aspects,
others (usually a minority) are consciously seek a better
society (and are anarchists, ecologists, Marxists, etc.)
and so on. Only constant discussion, the clash of ideas, 
combined with collective struggle can develop and narrow 
the unevenness of ideas within the oppressed. As Malatesta 
argued, <i>"[o]nly freedom or the struggle for freedom can be 
the school for freedom."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 59]
<p>
From this perspective, it follows that any attempt to create
an institutionalised leadership structure means the end of
the revolutionary process. Such <i>"leadership"</i> automatically
means a hierarchical structure, one in which the leaders 
have power and make the decisions for the rest. This just
reproduces the old class division of labour between those
who think and those who act (i.e. between order givers
and order takers). Rather than the revolutionary masses
taking power in such a system, it is the <i>"leaders"</i> (i.e.
a specific party hierarchy) who do so and the masses role
becomes, yet again, simply that of selecting which boss
tells them what to do.
<p>
As such, the anarchist federation does not reject the need
of <i>"leadership"</i> in the sense of giving a led, of arguing
its ideas and trying to win people to them. It does reject
the idea that <i>"leadership"</i> should become separated from the
mass of the people. Simply put, no party, no group of leaders
have all the answers and so the active participation of all
is required for a successful revolution. <i>"To give full scope
to socialism,"</i> argued Kropotkin, <i>"entails rebuilding from
top to bottom a society dominated by the narrow individualism
of the shopkeeper . . . it is a question of completely
reshaping all relationships . . . In every street, in every
hamlet, in every group of men gathered around a factory or
along a section of the railway line, the creative, 
constructive, and organisational spirit must be awakened in
order to rebuild life -- in the factory, in the village,
in the store, in production, and in distribution of
supplies."</i> Hence the need to <i>"<b>shatter the state</b>"</i> and
<i>"rebuild a new organisation, by beginning from the very
foundations of society -- the liberated village commune,
federalism, groupings from simple to compound, free
workingmen's [and women's] associations."</i> Such a task
could <b>not</b> be <i>"carried out within the framework of the
state and the pyramidal organisation which is the essence
of the state."</i> [<b>Selected Writings on Anarchism and 
Revolution</b>, pp. 261-2]
<p>
As such, anarchists reject the idea of turning the organs
created in the class struggle and revolutionary process into
hierarchical structures. By turning them from organs of
self-management into organs for nominating <i>"leaders,"</i> the
constructive tasks and political development of the 
revolution will be aborted before they really begin. The
active participation of all will become the picking of new
masters and the revolution will falter. For this reason,
anarchists <i>"differ from the Bolshevik type of party in
their belief that genuine revolutionaries must function
<b>within the framework of the forms created by the
revolution,</b> not within forms created by the party. . . 
Anarcho-communists seek to persuade the factory committees,
assemblies or soviets to make themselves into <b>genuine
organs of popular self-management,</b> not to dominate them,
manipulate them, or hitch them to an all-knowing political
party. Anarcho-communists do not seek to rear a state
structure over these popular revolutionary organs."</i> 
[Bookchin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 217]
<p>
This means that <i>"an organisation is needed to propagate
ideas systematically -- and not ideas alone, but <b>ideas
which promote the concept of self-management.</b>"</i> In other
words, there <i>"is a need for a revolutionary organisation
-- but its function must always be kept cleaarly in mind.
Its first task is propaganda . . . In a revolutionary 
situation, the revolutionary organisation presents the
most advanced demands: it is prepared at every turn of
events to formulate -- in the most concrete fashion --
the immediate task that should be performed to advance
the revolutionary process. It provides the boldest 
elements in action and in the decision-making organs
of the revolution."</i> [Bookchin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 216-7]
But what it does not is supplant those organs or 
decision-making process by creating institutionalised,
hierarchical leadership structures. As such, it is
not a question of organisation versus non-organisation,
or "leadership" versus non-"leadership" but rather what
<b><i>kind</i></b> of organisation and the 
<b><i>kind</i></b> of leadership.
<p>
Clearly, then, anarchists do not reject or dismiss the
importance of politically aware minorities organising
and spreading their ideas within social struggles. As 
Caroline Cahm summarised in her excellent study of 
Kropotkin's thought between 1872 and 1886, <i>"Kropotkin
stressed the role of heroic minorities in the preparation
for revolution."</i> [<b>Kropotkin and the Rise of Revolutionary
Anarchism, 1872-86</b>, p. 276] However, as John Crump correctly
argues, the <i>"key words here are <b>in the preparation for
revolution.</b> By their courage and daring in opposing 
capitalism and the state, anarchist minorities could
teach by example and thereby draw increasing numbers into
the struggle. But Kropotkin was not advocating substitutionism;
the idea that a minority might carry out the revolution in
place of the people was as alien to him as the notion that
a minority would exercise rule after the revolution. In
fact, Kropotkin recognised that the former would be a
prescription for the latter."</i> [<b>Hatta Shuzo and Pure
Anarchism in Interwar Japan</b>, p. 9] In Kropotkin's own
words:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The idea of anarchist communism, today represented by
feeble minorities, but increasingly finding popular
expression, will make its way among the mass of the
people. Spreading everywhere, the anarchist groups
. . . will take strength from the support they find
among the people, and will raise the red flag of the
revolution . . . On that day, what is now the minority
will become the People, the great mass, and that mass
rising against property and the State, will march
forward towards anarchist communism."</i> [<b>Words of a
Rebel</b>, p. 75]
</blockquote><p>
This influence would be gained simply by the correctness of
our ideas and the validity of our suggestions. This means
that anarchists seek influence <i>"through advice and example,
leaving the people . . .  to adopt our methods and solutions
if these are, or seem to be, better than those suggested and
carried out by others."</i> As such, any anarchist organisation 
would <i>"strive acquire overwhelming influence in order to draw 
the [revolutionary] movement towards the realisation of our
ideas. But such influence must be won by doing more and
better than others, and will be useful if won in that way."</i>
This means rejecting <i>"taking over command, that is by becoming
a government and imposing one's own ideas and interests
through police methods."</i> [Malatesta, <b>The Anarchist 
Revolution</b>, pp. 108-9]
<p>
Moreover, unlike leading Marxists like Lenin and Karl Kautsky, 
anarchists think that socialist ideas are developed <b>within</b> 
the class struggle rather than outside it by the radical 
intelligentsia. According to Lenin (who was only agreeing 
with Kautsky, the leading light of German and International 
Social Democracy at the start of the twentieth century) 
socialist (or <i>"Social-Democratic"</i>) <i>"consciousness could only
be brought to them [the workers] from without. The history
of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively
by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union
consciousness."</i> Socialist ideas did not arise from the
labour movement but from the <i>"educated representatives 
of the propertied classes, the intellectuals."</i>  [<i>"What 
is to Be Done?"</i>, <b>Essential Works of Lenin</b>, p. 74]
<p>
Anarchists reject this perspective. Kropotkin argued that 
<i>"modern socialism has emerged out of the depths of the people's
consciousness. If a few thinkers emerging from the bourgeoisie
have given it the approval of science and the support of
philosophy, the basis of the idea which they have given
their own expression has nonetheless been the product of
the collective spirit of the working people. The rational
socialism of the International is still today our greatest
strength, and it was elaborated in working class organisation,
under the first influence of the masses. The few writers who
offered their help in the work of elaborating socialist
ideas have merely been giving form to the aspirations that
first saw their light among the workers."</i> [<b>Words of a Rebel</b>,
p. 59] In other words, anarchists are a part of the working
class (either by birth or by rejecting their previous class
background and becoming part of it), the part which has 
generalised its own experiences, ideas and needs into a 
theory called <i>"anarchism"</i> and seeks to convince the rest 
of the validity of its ideas and tactics. This would 
be a dialogue, based on both learning <b>and</b> teaching.
<p>
As such, this means that the relationship between the 
specifically anarchist groups and oppressed peoples in
struggle is a two way one. As well as trying to influence the
social struggle, anarchists also try and learn from the class
struggle and try to generalise from the experiences of their 
own struggles and the struggles of other working class people. 
Rather than seeing the anarchist group as some sort of teacher, 
anarchists see it as simply part of the social struggle and
its ideas can and must develop from active participation 
within the class struggle. As anarchists agree with Bakunin
and reject the idea that their organisations should take
power on behalf of the masses, it is clear that such groups
are not imposing alien ideas upon people but rather try to
clarify the ideas generated by working class people in struggle.
It is an objective fact that there is a great difference in
the political awareness within the masses of oppressed people.
This uneven development means that they do not accept, all at 
once or in their totality, revolutionary ideas. There are layers. 
Groups of people, by ones and twos and then in larger numbers, 
become interested, read literature, talk with others, and create
new ideas. The first groups that explicitly call their ideas 
<i>"anarchism"</i> have the right and duty to try to persuade others 
to join them. This is not opposed to the self-organisation of 
the working class, rather it is how the working class 
self-organises.  
<p>
Thirdly, as we discuss in 
<a href="secJ3.html">section J.3</a>, anarchists recognise the
need to create specifically anarchist organisations to spread
anarchist ideas and influence the class struggle. As we discuss
the different kinds of anarchist organisations in that section,
we will not do so here. Suffice to say, the idea that anarchists
reject this need to organise politically in order to achieve
a revolution is not to be found in the theory and practice of
all the major anarchist thinkers. 
<p>
Ultimately, if spontaneity was enough to create (and ensure the 
success of) a social revolution then we would be living in a
libertarian socialist society. The fact that we are not suggests
that spontaneity, however important, is not enough in itself.
This simple fact of history is understood by anarchists and
all the major anarchist thinkers.
<p>
See <a href="secJ3.html">section J.3</a> for more details on what organisations anarchists
create and their role in anarchist revolutionary theory. 
<a href="secJ3.html#secj36">Section J.3.6</a> has a fuller discussion of the role of anarchist groups in 
the class struggle. For a discussion of the role of anarchists in 
a revolution, see <a href="secJ7.html#secj75">section J.7.5</a>. For 
a fuller discussion why
anarchists reject the idea of a revolutionary socialist party
see section H.3.4 (<a href="secH3.html#sech34">"Why are vanguard 
parties anti-socialist?"</a>).
<p>
<a name="sech211"><h2>H.2.11 Are anarchists <i>"anti-democratic"</i>?</h2>
<p>
One of the common arguments against anarchism is that it is
<i>"anti-democratic"</i> (or <i>"elitist"</i>). For example, the British 
<b>Socialist Workers Party</b> journal <b>International Socialism</b> 
(number 52) denounces anarchism for being <i>"necessarily deeply 
anti-democratic"</i> due to its <i>"thesis of the absolute sovereignty 
of the individual ego as against the imposition of <b>any</b>
'authority' over it,"</i> which, its is claimed, is the <i>"distinctly
anarchist concept."</i> Then Hal Draper is quoted arguing that 
<i>"[o]f all ideologies, anarchism is the most fundamentally 
anti-democratic in principle, since it is not only unalterably
hostile to democracy in general but particularly to any 
socialist democracy of the most ideal kind that could be 
imagined."</i> This is because <i>"[b]y the 'principle of authority' 
the consistent anarchist means principled opposition to any 
exercise of authority, including opposition to authority 
derived from the most complete democracy and exercised in 
completely democratic fashion."</i> The author of the review argues 
that this position is an <i>"idealist conception"</i> in which <i>"<b>any</b> 
authority is seen as despotic; 'freedom' and 'authority' (and 
therefore 'freedom' and 'democracy' are opposites. This 
presumption of opposition to 'authority' was fostered by 
liberalism."</i> Needless to say, he contrasts this with the 
<i>"Marxist"</i> <i>"materialist understanding of society"</i> in which it 
<i>"was clear that 'authority' is necessary in <b>any</b> society where 
labour is collaborative."</i> [Derek Howl, <i>"The Legacy of Hal Draper,"</i> 
<b>International Socialism</b>, no. 52, p. 145]
<p>
Such as argument is, of course, just ridiculous. Indeed, it is
flawed on so many levels its hard to know where to start. The
obvious place to start is the claim that anarchism is the most
<i>"fundamentally anti-democratic in principle."</i> Now, given that
there are fascists, monarchists, supporters (like Trotsky) of 
<i>"party dictatorship"</i> and a host of others who advocate minority 
rule (even by one person) over everyone else, can it be argued with
a straight face that anarchism is the most <i>"anti-democratic"</i>
because it argues for the liberty of all? Is the idea and
practice of absolute monarchy <b>really</b> more democratic than
anarchism? Clearly not, although this does indicate the quality
of this kind of argument.
<p>
Another obvious point is that anarchists do not see <b>any</b> authority 
as <i>"despotic."</i> As we indicated in 
<a href="secH1.html#sech18">section H.1.8</a>, this common Marxist 
assertion is simply not true. Anarchists have always been very clear 
on the fact they reject specific kinds of authority and not <i>"authority"</i> 
as such. In fact, by the term <i>"principal of authority,"</i> Bakunin
meant <b>hierarchical</b> authority, and not <i>"authority"</i> as such. This 
explains why Kropotkin argued that <i>"the origin of the anarchist 
inception of society . . . [lies in] the criticism . . .  of the 
hierarchical organisations and the authoritarian conceptions of 
society"</i> and stressed that anarchism <i>"refuses all hierarchical 
organisation."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 158 and 
p. 137]
<p>
This means, just to state the obvious, that making and sticking 
by collective decisions are <b>not</b> acts of authority. Rather 
they simply expressions of individual autonomy. Clearly in most 
activities there is a need to co-operate with other people. 
Indeed, <b>living</b> involves the <i>"absolute sovereignty of the 
individual ego"</i> (as if anarchists like Bakunin used such terms!)
being <i>"restricted"</i> by exercising that <i>"sovereignty."</i> Take, for
example, playing football. This involves finding others who seek
to play the game, organising into teams, agreeing on rules and so
on. All terrible violations of the <i>"absolute sovereignty of the 
individual ego,"</i> yet it was precisely the <i>"sovereignty"</i> of the
<i>"individual"</i> which produced the desire to play the game in the
first place. What sort of <i>"sovereignty"</i> is it that negates itself
when it is exercised? Clearly, then, the Marxist "summary" of 
anarchist ideas on this matter, like of many others, is poverty 
stricken.
<p>
And, unsurprisingly enough, we find anarchist thinkers like Bakunin
and Kropotkin attacking this idea of <i>"the absolute sovereignty 
of the individual ego"</i> in the most severe terms. Indeed, they
thought was a bourgeois theory which simply existed to justify
the continued domination and exploitation of working class 
people by the ruling class. Kropotkin quite clearly recognised
its anti-individual and unfree nature by labelling it <i>"the 
authoritarian individualism which stifles us"</i> and stressing its
<i>"narrow-minded, and therefore foolish"</i> nature. [<b>Conquest of
Bread</b>, p. 130] Similarly, it would do the Marxist argument little
good if they quoted Bakunin arguing that the <i>"freedom of 
individuals is by no means an individual matter. It is a 
collective matter, a collective product. No individual can 
be free outside of human society or without its co-operation"</i>
or that he considered <i>"individualism"</i> as a <i>"bourgeois
principle."</i> [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 46 and p. 57] 
Perhaps, of course, these two famous anarchists 
were not, in fact, <i>"consistent"</i> anarchists, but that claim is 
doubtful. 
<p>
Anarchism does, of course, derive from the Greek for <i>"without 
authority"</i> or <i>"without rulers"</i> and this, unsurprisingly, informs 
anarchist theory and visions of a better world. This means that 
anarchism is against the <i>"domination of man by man"</i> (and woman 
by woman, woman by man, and so on). However, <i>"[a]s knowledge 
has penetrated the governed masses . . . the people have 
revolted against the form of authority then felt most intolerable. 
This spirit of revolt in the individual and the masses, is the 
natural and necessary fruit of the spirit of domination; the 
vindication of human dignity, and the saviour of social life."</i> 
Thus <i>"freedom is the necessary preliminary to any true and 
equal human association."</i> [Charlotte Wilson, <b>Anarchist Essays</b>, 
p. 54 and p. 40] In other words, anarchist comes from the 
struggle of the oppressed against their rulers and is an 
expression of individual and social freedom. Anarchism was 
born from the class struggle.
<p>
Taking individual liberty as a good thing, the next question is
how do free individuals co-operate together in such a way as
to ensure their continued liberty. This, of course, means that
any association must be one of equality between the associating
individuals. This can only be done when everyone involved takes
a meaningful role in the decision making process and because of
this anarchists stress the need for <b>self-government</b> (usually 
called <i><b>self-management</b></i>) of both individuals and groups. 
Self-management within free associations and decision making 
from the bottom-up is the only way domination can be eliminated. 
This is because, by making our own decisions ourselves, we 
automatically end the division of society into governors and 
governed (i.e. end hierarchy). As Anarchism clearly means 
support for freedom and equality, it automatically implies 
opposition to all forms of hierarchical organisation and 
authoritarian social relationship. This means that anarchist
support for individual liberty does not end, as many Marxists 
assert, in the denial of organisation or collective decision
making but rather in support for <b>self-managed</b> collectives. 
Only this form of organisation can end the division of society 
into rulers and ruled, oppressor and oppressed, exploiter and 
exploited and create an environment in which individuals can 
associate without denying their freedom and equality.
<p>
This is why anarchists stress such things as decision making by
mass assemblies and the co-ordination of decisions by the free
federation of mandated and recallable delegates. This would 
allow those affected by a decision to have a say in it, so 
allowing them to manage their own affairs directly and without 
hierarchy. 
<p>
Therefore, the <b>positive</b> side of anarchism (which naturally 
flows from its opposition to authority) results in a political 
theory which argues that people must control their own struggles,
organisations and affairs directly. This means we support mass 
assemblies and their federation via councils of mandated delegates 
subject to recall if they break their mandates (i.e. they act as 
they see fit, i.e. as politicians or bureaucrats, and not as the 
people who elected them desire). This way people directly govern 
themselves and control their own lives. Rather than imply an 
"individualism"</i> which denies the importance of association and
the freedom it can generate, anarchism implies an opposition to
hierarchy in all its forms and the support free association of 
equals. In other words, anarchism can generally be taken to mean 
support for self-government or self-management, both by individuals
and by groups. 
<p>
In summary, anarchist support for individual liberty incurs a
similar support for self-managed groups. In such groups, individuals
co-operate as equals to maximise their liberty. This means, for 
anarchists, Marxists are just confusing co-operation with coercion, 
agreement with authority, association with subordination. Thus the
Marxist <i>"materialist"</i> concept of authority distorts the anarchist 
position and, secondly, is a supra-historical in the extreme. 
Different forms of decision making are lumped together, independent 
of the various forms it may assume. To equate hierarchical and 
self-managed decision making, antagonistic and harmonious forms
of organisation, alienated authority or authority retained in the
hands of those directly affected by it, can only be a source of
confusion. Rather than being a <i>"materialistic"</i> approach, the 
Marxist one is pure philosophical idealism -- the postulating of
a-historic concepts independently of the individuals and societies
that generate specific social relationships and ways of working
together.
<p>
Similarly, it would be churlish to note that Marxists themselves
have habitually rejected democratic authority when it suited them.
Even that <i>"higher type of democracy"</i> of the soviets was ignored
by the Bolshevik party once it was in power. In response to the 
<i>"great Bolshevik losses in the soviet elections"</i> during the 
spring and summer of 1918 which resulted in <i>"big gains by the
SRs and particularly by the Mensheviks,"</i> <i>"Bolshevik armed force 
usually overthrew the results of these provincial elections."</i> 
In addition, <i>"the government continually postponed the new general 
elections to the Petrograd Soviet, the term of which had ended in 
March 1918. Apparently, the government feared that the opposition 
parties would show gains."</i> Moreover, the Bolsheviks <i>"pack[ed]
local soviets once they could not longer count on an electoral majority"</i>
by giving representation to organisations they dominated. [Samuel 
Farber, <b>Before Stalinism</b>, pp. 23-4, p. 22 and p. 33] This, needless to 
say, made these elections meaningless and made the regime "soviet" 
in name only. The Bolsheviks simply undermined soviet democracy to 
ensure their hold in power.
<p>
In the workplace, the Bolsheviks replaced workers' economic 
democracy with <i>"one-man management"</i> appointed from above, by 
the state. Lenin was at the forefront of this process, arguing 
that workers' must <i>"<b>unquestioningly obey the single will</b> of 
the leaders of labour"</i> in April 1918 along with granting 
<i>"individual executives dictatorial power (or 'unlimited' 
powers)."</i> He argued that <i>"the appointment of individuals, 
dictators with unlimited powers"</i> was, in fact, <i>"in general 
compatible with the fundamental principles of Soviet government"</i> 
simply because <i>"the history of revolutionary movements"</i> had <i>"shown"</i> 
that <i>"the dictatorship of individuals was very often the 
expression, the vehicle, the channel of the dictatorship of 
revolutionary classes."</i> He notes that <i>"[u]ndoubtably, the 
dictatorship of individuals was compatible with bourgeois 
democracy."</i> [<b>The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government</b>, 
p. 34 and p. 32] This nonsense reached its heights (or, more 
correctly, depths) with Trotsky's ideas on the <i>"militarisation 
of labour"</i> he advanced in late 1919 and early 1920 as a
means of reconstructing Russia in a socialist (!) manner
after the (fast approaching) end of the Civil War. Need
we also mention that Trotsky also abolished democratic forms 
of organisation in the military <b>before</b> the start of the
Civil War -- as he put it, the <i>"elective 
basis is politically pointless and technically inexpedient and 
has already been set aside by decree."</i> [quoted by M. Brinton, 
<b>The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control</b>, pp. 37-8]
<p>
These are a few examples of Trotsky's argument that you
cannot place <i>"the workers' right to elect representatives
above the party. As if the Party were not entitled to
assert its dictatorship even if that dictatorship clashed
with the passing moods of the workers' democracy!"</i> He
continued by stating the <i>"Party is obliged to maintain
its dictatorship . . . regardless of temporary vacillations
even in the working class . . . The dictatorship does not
base itself at every moment on the formal principle of
a workers' democracy."</i> [quoted by Brinton, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 78]
He repeated this argument nearly two decades later, stating
that the <i>"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] Ultimately, for Leninists, the revolution is seen
purely as a way for the "revolutionary" party to take power.
Trotsky, for example, argued that <i>"the proletariat can take 
power only through its vanguard"</i> and that a <i>"revolutionary 
party, even having seized power . . . is still by no means 
the sovereign ruler of society."</i> Note, the party is <i>"the 
sovereign ruler of society,"</i> <b>not</b> the working class. He
stressed this by arguing that those <i>"who propose the 
abstraction of Soviets to the party dictatorship should 
understand that only thanks to the party dictatorship were 
the Soviets able to lift themselves out of the mud of 
reformism and attain the state form of the proletariat."</i> 
[<i>"Stalinism and Bolshevism"</i>, <b>Socialist Review</b>, no. 146, 
p. 16 and p. 18]
<p>
So, remember when Lenin or Trotsky argue for <i>"the dictatorship of
individuals,"</i> the over-riding of the democratic decisions of the 
masses by the party, the elimination of workers factory committees 
in favour of appointed managers armed with <i>"dictatorial"</i> power or 
when the Bolshevik disbanded soviets with non-Bolshevik majorities, 
it is <b>anarchism</b> which is fundamentally <i>"anti-democratic"</i>! 
All in all, that anyone can claim that anarchism is more 
<i>"anti-democratic"</i> than Leninism is a joke. However, all these
anti-democratic acts do fit in nicely with Howl's <i>"materialist"</i> 
Marxist concept that <i>"'authority' is necessary in <b>any</b> society 
where labour is collaborative."</i> As such, since <i>"authority"</i> is
essential and all forms of collective decision making are 
necessarily <i>"authoritarian"</i> and involve <i>"subordination,"</i> then
it clearly does not really matter how collectives are organised 
and how decisions are reached. Hence the lack of concern for 
the liberty of the working people subjected to the (peculiarly 
bourgeois-like) forms of authority preferred by Lenin and 
Trotsky. It was precisely for this reason, to differentiate 
between egalitarian (and so libertarian) forms of organisation 
and decision making and authoritarian ones, that anarchists 
called themselves <i>"anti-authoritarians."</i> 
<p>
Even if we ignore all the anti-democratic acts of Bolshevism (or
justify them in terms of the problems facing the Russian Revolution,
as most Leninists do), the anti-democratic nature of Marxist ideas
still come to the fore. The Leninist support for centralised state 
power brings their attack on anarchism as being <i>"anti-democratic"</i> 
into clear perspective. Ultimately, Marxism results in the affairs
of millions being decided upon by a handful of people in the 
Central Committee of the vanguard party. As an example, we will
discuss Trotsky's arguments against the Makhnovist movement in the
Ukraine. 
<p>
Trotsky argued that the Makhnovists were against <i>"Soviet power."</i> 
This, he argued, was simply <i>"the authority of all the local soviets
in the Ukraine"</i> because they all <i>"recognise the central power
which they themselves have elected."</i> Consequently, the Makhnovists
reject not only central authority about also the local soviets
as well. Trotsky also argued that there were no <i>"appointed"</i> 
persons in Russia as <i>"there is no authority in Russia but that 
which is elected by the whole working class and working peasantry. 
It follows [!] that commanders appointed by the central Soviet 
Government are installed in their positions by the will of the 
working millions."</i> He stressed that one can speak of <i>"appointed"</i> 
persons <i>"only under the bourgeois order, when Tsarist officials 
or bourgeois ministers appointed at their own discretion commanders 
who kept the soldier masses subject to the bourgeois classes."</i> 
[<b>The Makhno Movement</b>] When the Makhnovists tried to call 
the fourth regional conference of peasants, workers and partisans
to discuss the progression of the Civil War in early 1919, Trotsky,
unsurprisingly enough, banned it. 
<p>
In other words, because the Bolshevik government had been elected 
one year previously under a regime which had manipulated and 
overturned soviet elections, he (as its representative) had the 
right to ban a conference which would have expressed the wishes 
of millions of workers, peasants and partisans fighting for the 
revolution! The fallacious nature of his arguments is easily
seen. Rather than executing the will of millions of toilers,
Trotsky was simply executing his own will. He did not consult
those millions nor the local soviets who had, in Bolshevik 
ideology, surrendered their power to the handful of people in
the central committee of the Bolshevik Party. By banning the
conference he was very effectively undermining the practical, 
functional democracy of millions and replacing it with a purely 
formal "democracy" based on empowering a few leaders at the
centre. Yes, indeed, truly democracy in action when one person 
can deny a revolutionary people its right to decide its own
fate!
<p>
Unsurprisingly, the anarchist Nestor Makhno replied by 
arguing that he considered it <i>"an inviolable right of
the workers and peasants, a right won by the revolution,
to call congresses on their own account, to discuss their
affairs. That is why the prohibition by the central
authorities on the calling of such congresses . . .
represent a direct and insolent violation of the rights of
the workers."</i> [quoted by Peter Arshinov, <b>The History of
the Makhnovist Movement</b>, p. 129] We will leave it to the
readers to decide which of the two, Trotsky or Makhno, 
showed the fundamentally <i>"anti-democratic"</i> perspective.
<p>
Lastly, there are a few theoretical issues that need to be
raised on this matter. Notice, for example, that no attempt 
is made to answer the simple question of why having 51% of 
a group automatically makes you right! It is taken for 
granted that the minority should subject themselves to the 
will of the majority before that will is even decided upon. 
Does that mean, for example, that Marxists refuse minorities 
the right of civil disobedience if the majority acts in a way 
which harms their liberties and equality? If, for example, the 
majority in community decides to implement race laws, does that 
mean that Marxists would <b>oppose</b> the discriminated minority 
taking direct action to change those laws? Or, to take an 
example closer to Marxism, in 1914 the leaders of the Social 
Democratic Party in the German Parliament voted for war credits. 
The anti-war minority of that group went along with the majority 
in the name of "democracy," "unity" and "discipline". Would Howl 
and Draper argue that they were right to do so? If they were not
right to betray the ideas of Marxism and the international working
class, then why not? They did, after all, subject themselves to
the <i>"most perfect socialist democracy"</i> and so, presumably, made
the correct decision. Simply put, the arguments that anarchists
are <i>"anti-democratic"</i> are question-begging in the extreme.
<p>
As a general rule-of-thumb, anarchists have little problem 
with the minority accepting the decisions of the majority
after a process of free debate and discussion. As we argue
in <a href="secA2.html#seca211">section A.2.11</a>, 
such collective decision making is 
compatible with anarchist principles -- indeed, is based 
on them. By governing ourselves directly, we exclude others 
governing us. However, we do not make a fetish of this, 
recognising that, in certain circumstances, the minority 
must and should ignore majority decisions. For example, 
if the majority of an organisation decide on a policy 
which the minority thinks is disastrous then why should 
they follow the majority? Equally, if the majority make 
a decision which harms the liberty and equality of a
non-oppressive and non-exploitative minority, then that 
minority has the right to reject the "authority" of the
majority. Hence Carole Pateman:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The essence of liberal social contract theory is that individuals
ought to promise to, or enter an agreement to, obey representatives,
to whom they have alienated their right to make political decisions
. . . Promising . . . is an expression of individual freedom and
equality, yet commits individuals for the future. Promising also
implies that individuals are capable of independent judgement and
rational deliberation, and of evaluating and changing their own
actions and relationships; promises may sometimes justifiably be
broken. However, to promise to obey is to deny or limit, to a
greater or lesser degree, individuals' freedom and equality and
their ability to exercise these capacities. To promise to obey
is to state that, in certain areas, the person making the promise
is no longer free to exercise her capacities and decide upon her
own actions, and is no longer equal, but subordinate."</i> [<b>The
Problem of Political Obligation</b>, p. 19]
</blockquote><p>
Thus, for anarchists, a democracy which does not involve individual
rights to dissent, to disagree and to practice civil disobedience
would violate freedom and equality, the very values Marxists usually 
claim to be at the heart of their politics. The claim that anarchism 
is <i>"anti-democratic"</i> basically hides the argument that the minority 
must become the slave of the majority -- with no right of dissent 
when the majority is wrong (in practice, of course, it is usually
meant the orders and laws of the minority who are elected to power). 
In effect, it wishes the minority to be subordinate, not equal, 
to the majority. Anarchists, in contrast, because we support 
self-management also recognise the importance of dissent and 
individuality -- in essence, because we are in favour of 
self-management ("democracy" does not do the concept justice) we 
also favour the individual freedom that is its rationale. We 
support the liberty of private individuals because we believe in 
self-management ("democracy") so passionately. 
<p>
Indeed, Howl and Draper fail to understand the rationale for 
democratic decision making -- it is not based on the idea that 
the majority is always right but that individual freedom requires 
democracy to express and defend itself. By placing the collective 
above the individual, they undermine democratic values and replace 
them with little more than tyranny by the majority (or, more likely, 
those who claim to represent the majority).
<p>
Progress is determined by those who dissent and rebel against the 
status quo and the decisions of the majority. That is why anarchists 
support the right of dissent in self-managed groups -- in fact,
as we argue in <a href="secA2.html#seca211">section A.2.11</a>, 
dissent, refusal, revolt by 
individuals and minorities is a key aspect of self-management. 
Given that Leninists do not support self-management (rather they, 
at best, support the Lockean notion of electing a government as 
being "democracy") it is hardly surprising they, like Locke, views 
dissent as a danger and something to denounce. Anarchists, on
the other hand, recognising that self-management's (i.e. direct 
democracy's) rationale and base is in individual freedom, recognise 
and support the rights of individuals to rebel against what they 
consider as unjust impositions. As history shows, the anarchist 
position is the correct one -- without rebellion, numerous 
minorities would never have improved their position and society
would stagnant. Indeed, Howl's and Draper's comments are just a 
reflection of the standard capitalist diatribe against strikers 
and protestors -- they don't need to protest, for they live in 
a "democracy."
<p>
So, yes, anarchists do support individual freedom to resist even
democratically made decisions simply because democracy <b>has to be</b> 
based on individual liberty. Without the right of dissent, democracy
becomes a joke and little more than a numerical justification 
for tyranny. This does not mean we are <i>"anti-democratic,"</i> indeed
the reverse as we hold true to the fundamental rationale for
democratic decision-making -- it allows individuals to combine
as equals and not as subordinates and masters. Moreover, diversity 
is essential for any viable eco-system and it is essential in any 
viable society (and, of course, any society worth living in). This
means that a healthy society is one which encourages diversity,
individuality, dissent and, equally, self-managed associations 
to ensure the freedom of all.
<p>
As Malatesta argued, <i>"[t]here are matters over which it is worth 
accepting the will of the majority because the damage caused by 
a split would be greater than that caused by error; there are 
circumstances in which discipline becomes a duty because to 
fail in it would be to fail in the solidarity between the 
oppressed and would mean betrayal in face of the enemy . . . 
What is essential is that individuals should develop a sense 
of organisation and solidarity, and the conviction that fraternal 
co-operation is necessary to fight oppression and to achieve a 
society in which everyone will be able to enjoy his [or her] 
own life."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, pp. 132-3] 
<p>
As such, anarchists are not against majority decision making as
such. We simply recognise it has limitations. In practice, the
need for majority and minority to come to an agreement is one
most anarchists would recognise: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"But such an adaptation [of the minority to the decisions
of the majority] on the one hand by one group must be reciprocal,
voluntary and must stem from an awareness of need and of
goodwill to prevent the running of social affairs from being
paralysed by obstinacy. It cannot be imposed as a principle
and statutory norm. . .
<p>
"So . . . anarchists deny the right of the majority to govern
in human society in general . . . how is it possible . . . to 
declare that anarchists should submit to the decisions of the 
majority before they have even heard what those might be?"</i> 
[Malatesta, <b>The Anarchist Revolution</b>, pp. 100-1]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, while accepting majority decision making as a key
aspect of a revolutionary movement and a free society, anarchists
do not make a fetish of it. We recognise that we must use our
own judgement in evaluating each decision reached simply because
the majority is not always right. We must balance the need for
solidarity in the common struggle and needs of common life with
critical analysis and judgement. As Malatesta argues:
<p><blockquote><i>
"In any case it is not a question of being right or wrong; it
is a question of freedom, freedom for all, freedom for each
individual so long as he [or she] does not violate the equal
freedom of others. No one can judge with certainty who is
right and who is wrong, who is closer to the truth and which
is the best road for the greatest good for each and everyone.
Experience through freedom is the only means to arrive at the
truth and the best solutions; and there is no freedom if there
is not the freedom to be wrong.
<p>
"In our opinion, therefore, it is necessary that majority and
minority should succeed in living together peacefully and
profitably by mutual agreement and compromise, by the
intelligent recognition of the practical necessities of
communal life and of the usefulness of concessions which
circumstances make necessary."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 72]
</blockquote><p>
Needless to say, our arguments apply with even more force to
the decisions of the <b>representatives</b> of the majority, who are
in practice a very small minority. Leninists usually try and
confuse these two distinct forms of decision making. When 
Leninists discuss majority decision making they almost always 
mean the decisions of those elected by the majority -- the 
central committee or the government -- rather than the majority 
of the masses or an organisation. Ultimately, the Leninist
support for democracy (as the Russian Revolution showed) is
conditional on whether the majority supports them or not. 
Anarchists are not as hypocritical or as elitist as this,
arguing that everyone should have the same rights the
Leninists usurp for their leaders.
<p>
Therefore the Marxist attack on anarchism as <i>"anti-democratic"</i> 
is not only false, it is ironic and hypocritical. Firstly,
anarchists do <b>not</b> argue for <i>"the absolute sovereignty of 
the individual ego."</i> Rather, we argue for individual freedom.
This, in turn, implies a commitment to self-managed forms of
social organisation. This means that anarchists do not confuse
agreement with (hierarchical) authority. Secondly, Marxists do
not explain why the majority is always right or why their
opinions are automatically the truth. Thirdly, the logical
conclusions of their arguments would result in the absolute
enserfment of the individual to the representatives of the
majority. Fourthly, rather than being supporters of democracy, 
Marxists like Lenin and Trotsky explicitly argued for minority 
rule and the ignoring of majority decisions when they clashed 
with the decisions of the ruling party. Fifthly, their support 
for "democratic" centralised power means, in practice, the 
elimination of democracy in the grassroots. As can be seen 
from Trotsky's arguments against the Makhnovists, the 
democratic organisation and decisions of millions can be 
banned by a single individual.
<p>
All in all, Marxists claims that anarchists are <i>"anti-democratic"</i> 
just backfire on Marxism.
<p>
<a name="sech212"><h2>H.2.12 Does anarchism survive only in the absence of a strong workers' movement?</h2>
<p>
Derek Howl argues that anarchism <i>"survives only in the absence
of a strong workers themselves."</i> This was based, apparently,
anarchism is the politics of <i>"non-proletarians."</i> As he puts
it, there <i>"is a class basis of this. Just as Proudhon's
'anarchism' reflected the petty bourgeoisie under pressure,
so too Bakuninism as a movement rested upon non-proletarians
. . . In Italy Bakuninism was based upon the large 'lumpen
bourgeoisie', doomed petty bourgeois layers. In Switzerland
the Jura Federation . . . was composed of a world of cottage
industry stranded between the old world and the new, as were
pockets of newly proletarianised peasants that characterised
anarchism in Spain."</i> He quotes Hal Draper statement that 
anarchism <i>"was an ideology alien to the life of modern 
working people."</i> [<i>"The Legacy of Hal Draper,"</i> 
<b>International Socialism</b>, no. 52, p. 148]
<p>
Ignoring the obvious contradiction of <i>"newly proletarianised
peasants"</i> being <i>"non-proletarians,"</i> we have the standard
Marxist <i>"class analysis"</i> of anarchism. This is to assert that
anarchism is <i>"non-proletarian"</i> while Marxism is <i>"proletarian."</i>
On the face of it, such an assertion seems to fly in the face 
of historical facts. After all, when Marx and Engels were 
writing the <b>Communist Manifesto</b>, the proletariat was a tiny 
minority of the population of a mostly rural, barely 
industrialised Germany and France. Perhaps it was Engels 
experiences as a capitalist in England that allowed him an 
insight into <i>"the life of modern working people?"</i>
<p>
Beyond this there are a few problems with this type of argument.
Firstly, there is the factual problems. Simply put, anarchism
appealed to <i>"modern"</i> working people and Marxism has appealed
to the <i>"non-proletarian"</i> groups and individuals (and vice versa, 
of course). This can be seen from the examples Howl lists as well 
as the rise of syndicalist ideas after the reformism of the first 
Marxist movement (social democracy) became apparent. Simply put, 
the rise of Marxism within the labour movement is associated with
its descent into reformism, <b>not</b> revolution. Secondly, there is 
the slight ideological problem that Lenin himself argued that the 
working class, by its own efforts, did not produce socialist ideas 
which were generated far from <i>"the life of modern working people"</i> 
by the intelligentsia. Lastly, there is the assumption that two 
long dead Germans, living in an environment where <i>"modern working 
people"</i> (proletarians) were a small minority of the working 
population, could really determine for all history which is 
(and is not) <i>"proletarian"</i> politics.
<p>
Taking the countries Howl lists, we can see that any claim
that anarchism is <i>"alien"</i> to the working class is simply false.
Looking at each case, it is clearly the case that the <b>politics</b>
of the people involved signify their working class credentials
for Marxists, <b>not</b> their actual economic or social class. Thus 
we have the sociological absurdity that makes anarchist workers 
<i>"petty bourgeois"</i> while actual members of the bourgeoisie (like 
Engels) or professional revolutionaries (and the sons of middle 
class families like Marx, Lenin and Trotsky) are considered as 
representatives of <i>"proletarian"</i> politics. Indeed, when these
radical members of the middle-class repress working class people
(as did Lenin and Trotsky were in power) they <b>remain</b> figures
to be followed and their acts justified in terms of the "objective"
needs of the working people they are oppressing! Ultimately, for 
most Marxists, whether someone is <i>"non-proletariat"</i> depends on 
their ideological viewpoint and not, in fact, their actual class.
<p>
Hence we discover Marx and Engels (like their followers) blaming
Bakunin's success in the International, as one historian notes, 
<i>"on the middle-class leadership of Italy's socialist movement 
and the backwardness of the country. But if middle-class leaders 
were the catalysts of proletarian revolutionary efforts in Italy, 
this was also true of every other country in Europe, not excluding 
the General Council in London."</i> [T.R. Ravindranathan, <b>Bakunin and 
the Italians</b>, p. 168] And by interpreting the difficulties for
Marxism in this way, Marx and Engels (like their followers)
need not question their own ideas and assumptions. As Nunzio
Pernicone notes, <i>"[f]rom the outset, Engels had consistently
underestimated Bakunin as a political adversary and refused
to believe that Italian workers might embrace anarchist 
doctrines."</i> However, <i>"even a casual perusal of the 
internationalist and dissident democratic press would have
revealed to Engels that Bakuninism was rapidly developing
a following among Italian artisans and workers. But this
reality flew in the face of his unshakeable belief that
Italian internationalists were all a 'gang of declasses,
the refuse of the bourgeoisie.'"</i> Even after the rise of 
the Italian Marxism in the 1890s, <i>"the anarchist movement 
was proportionately more working-class than the PSI"</i> and
the <i>"the number of bourgeois intellectuals and professionals
that supported the PSI [Italian Socialist Party] was
vastly greater"</i> than those supporting anarchism. Indeed,
<i>"the percentage of party membership derived from the 
bourgeoisie was significantly higher in the PSI than among
the anarchists."</i> [<b>Italian Anarchism, 1864-1892</b>, p. 82 and 
p. 282] Ironically, given Engels diatribes against the Italian
anarchists stopping workers following <i>"proletarian"</i> (i.e.
Marxist) politics and standing for elections, <i>"as the PSI 
grew more working-class, just before the outbreak of war [in 
1914], its Directorate [elected by the party congress] grew more 
anti-parliamentary."</i> [Gwyn A. Williams, <b>Proletarian Order</b>, 
p. 29] 
<p>
As we noted in <a href="secA5.html#seca55">section A.5.5</a>, 
the role of the anarchists and 
syndicalists compared to the Marxists during the 1920 near 
revolution suggested that the real <i>"proletarian"</i> revolutionaries 
were, in fact, the former and <b>not</b> the latter. All in all,
the history of the Italian labour movement clearly show that,
for most Marxists, whether a group represents the <i>"proletariat"</i>
is simply dependent on their ideological commitment, <b>not</b>
their actual class. 
<p>
As regards the Jura Federation, we discover that its support was
wider than suggested by Marxists. As Marxist Paul Thomas noted,
<i>"Bakunin's initial support in Switzerland -- like Marx's in
England -- came from resident aliens, political refugees . . .
but he also gathered support among <b>Gastarbeitier</b> for whom
Geneva was already a centre, where builders, carpenters and
and workers in heavy industry tended to be French or Italian
. . . Bakunin . . .  also marshalled considerable support among
French speaking domestic workers and watchmakers in the Jura."</i> 
[<b>Karl Marx and the Anarchists</b>, p. 390] It would be interesting
to hear a Marxist claim that <i>"heavy industry"</i> represented the
past or <i>"non-proletarian"</i> elements! Similarly, E. H. Carr in his
(hostile) biography of Bakunin, noted that the <i>"sections of the
International at Geneva fell into two groups."</i> Skilled craftsmen
formed the <i>"Right wing"</i> while <i>"the builders, carpenters, and
workers in the heavier trades, the majority of whim were
immigrants from France and Italy, represented the Left."</i> 
Unsurprisingly, these different groups of workers had different
politics. The craftsmen <i>"concentrated on . . . reform"</i> while
the latter <i>"nourished hopes of a complete social upheaval."</i> 
Bakunin, as would be expected, <i>"fanned the spirit of revolt"</i>
among these, the proletarian, workers and soon had a <i>"commanding
position in the Geneva International."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin</b>, 
p. 361] It 
should be noted that Marx and the General Council of the
International consistently supported the reformist wing of the
International in Geneva which organised political alliances
with the middle-class liberals during elections. Given these 
facts, it is little wonder that Howl concentrates on the 
support Bakunin received from domestic workers producing 
watches. To mention the support for Bakunin by organised, 
obviously proletarian, workers would undermine his case and 
so it is ignored.
<p>
Lastly, there is Spain. It seems funny that a Marxist would use
Spain as an example <b>against</b> the class roots of anarchism. 
After all, that is one of the countries where anarchism dominated
the working class movement. As one historian points out, <i>"it
was not until the 1860s -- when anarchism was introduced --
that a substantive working class movement began to emerge"</i>
and <i>"throughout the history of Spanish anarchism, its survival
depended in large measure on the anarchists' ability to
maintain direct links with the workers."</i> [George R. Esenwein,
<b>Anarchist Ideology and the Working-Class Movement in Spain,
1868-1898</b>, p. 6 and p. 207] As well as organising <i>"newly
proletarianised peasants,"</i> the <i>"Bakuninists"</i> also organised
industrial workers -- indeed, far more successfully than
the Socialists. Indeed, the UGT only started to approach 
the size of the CNT once it had started to organise <i>"newly 
proletarianised peasants"</i> in the 1930s (i.e. anarchist 
unions organised more of the industrial working class than
the Socialist ones). From such a fact, we wonder if Marxists 
would argue that socialism rested on <i>"non-proletarian"</i> 
elements?
<p>
Moreover, the logic of dismissing anarchism as <i>"non-proletarian"</i> 
because it organised <i>"newly proletarianised peasants"</i> is simply 
laughable. After all, capitalism needed landless labours in order 
to start. This meant that the first proletarians existing in rural 
areas and were made up of ex-peasants. When these ex-peasants arrived
in the towns and cities, they were still <i>"newly proletarianised
peasants."</i> To ignore these groups of workers would mean, of
course, that they would lack basic socialist ideas once they 
reached urban areas, so potentially harming the labour movement
there. And, of course, a large section of Bolshevik support in 
1917 was to be found in <i>"newly proletarianised peasants"</i> whether 
in the army or working in the factories. Ironically enough, the 
Mensheviks argued that the Bolsheviks gained their influence 
from worker-peasant industrial <i>"raw recruits"</i> and not from the 
genuine working class. [Orlando Figes, <b>A People's Tragedy</b>, 
p. 830] As such, to dismiss anarchism because it gained converts 
from similar social strata as the Bolsheviks seems, on the face 
of it, a joke. 
<p>
As can be seen Howl's attempts to subject anarchism to a <i>"class
analysis"</i> simply fails. He selects the evidence which fits his
theory and ignores that which does not. However, looking at the
very examples he bases his case on shows how nonsensical it is.
Simply put, anarchist ideas appealed to many types of workers,
including typically <i>"proletarian"</i> ones who worked in large-scale
industries. What they seem to have in common is a desire for
radical social change, organised by themselves in their own
combative class organs (such as unions). Moreover, like the 
early British workers movement, they considered that these
unions, as well as being organs of class struggle, could also
be the framework of a free socialist society. Such a perspective
is hardly backward (indeed, since 1917 most Marxists pay 
lip-service to this vision!).
<p>
Which brings us to the next major problem with Howl's argument,
namely the fate of Marxism and the <i>"strong"</i> labour movement
it allegedly is suited for. Looking at the only nation which 
did have a <i>"modern"</i> working class during the most of Marx's 
life, Britain, the <i>"strong"</i> labour movement it produced was 
(and has) not been anarchist, it is true, but neither was it 
(nor did it become) Marxist. Rather, it has been a mishmash of 
conflicting ideas, predominately reformist state socialist ones 
which owe little, if anything, to Marx. Indeed, the closest 
Britain came to developing a wide scale revolutionary working 
class movement was during the <i>"syndicalist revolt"</i> of the 1910s. 
Ironically, some Marxists joined this movement simply because 
the existing Marxist parties were so reformist or irrelevant 
to the <i>"life of modern working people."</i> 
<p>
Looking at the rise of capitalism in other countries, we find
the same process. The rise of social democracy (Marxism) in 
the international labour movement simply signified the rise 
of reformism. Instead of producing a <b>revolutionary</b> labour 
movement, Marxism helped produce the opposite (although,
initially, hiding reformist activity behind revolutionary
rhetoric). So when Howl asserts that anarchism <i>"survives in 
the absence of a strong workers' movement,"</i> we have to wonder 
what planet he is on. 
<p>
Thus, to state matters more correctly, anarchism flourishes
during those periods when the labour movement and its members
are radical, taking direct action and creating new forms of
organisation which are still based on workers' self-management.
This is to be expected as anarchism is both based upon and
is the result of workers' self-liberation through struggle.
In less militant times, the effects of bourgeois society and 
the role of unions within the capitalist economy can de-radicalise 
the labour movement and lead to the rise of bureaucracy within it. 
It is then, during periods when the class struggle is low, that 
reformist ideas spread. Sadly, Marxism aided that spread by its 
tactics -- the role of electioneering focused struggle away from
direct action and into the ballot-box and so onto leaders rather
than working class self-activity.
<p>
Moreover, if we look at the current state of the labour movement, 
then we would have to conclude that Marxism is <i>"an ideology alien 
to the life of modern working people."</i> Where are the large Marxist 
working class unions and parties? There are a few large reformist 
socialist and Stalinist parties in continental Europe, but these 
are not Marxist in any meaningful sense of the word. Most of the 
socialist ones used to be Marxist, although they relatively quickly 
stopped being revolutionary in any meaningful sense of the word 
a very long time ago (some, like the German Social Democrats, 
organised counter-revolutionary forces to crush working class 
revolt after the First World War). As for the Stalinist parties, 
it would be better to consider it a sign of shame that they get 
any support in the working class at all. Simply put, in terms of 
revolutionary Marxists, there are various Trotskyist sects arguing 
amongst themselves on who is the <b>real</b> vanguard of the proletariat, 
but <b>no</b> Marxist labour movement.
<p>
Which, of course, brings us to the next point, namely the ideological
problems for Leninists themselves by such an assertion. After all,
Lenin himself argued that <i>"the life of modern working people"</i> could
only produce <i>"trade-union consciousness."</i> Indeed, according to him,
socialist ideas were developed independently of working people by
the socialist (middle-class) <i>"intelligentsia."</i> As he put it in
<b>What is to be done?</b>, <i>"the working class, exclusively by their 
own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness 
. . . the theoretical doctrine of Social-Democracy arose quite 
independently of the spontaneous growth of the labour movement; 
it arose as a natural and inevitable outcome of ideas among the 
revolutionary socialist intelligentsia."</i> This meant that <i>"Social 
Democratic [i.e. socialist] consciousness . . . could only be brought 
to them [the workers] from without."</i> [<b>Essential Works of Lenin</b>, 
pp. 74-5] Clearly, then, for Lenin, socialism was an ideology
which was alien to the life of modern working class people. 
<p>
Lastly, there is the question of whether Marx and Engels can
seriously be thought of as being able to decree once and for
all what is and is not <i>"proletarian"</i> politics. Given that
neither of these men were working class (one was a capitalist!)
it makes the claim that they would know <i>"proletarian"</i> politics
suspect. Moreover, they formulated their ideas of what constitute
<i>"proletarian"</i> politics before a modern working class actually
developed in any country bar Britain. This means, that from the
experience of one section of the proletarian in one country in
the 1840s, Marx and Engels have decreed for all time what is and
is not a <i>"proletarian"</i> set of politics! On the face of it, it is
hardly a convincing argument, particularly as we have over 150
years of experience of these tactics with which to evaluate them!
<p>
Based on this perspective, Marx and Engels opposed all other 
socialist groups as <i>"sects"</i> if they did not subscribe to their
ideas. Ironically, while arguing that all other socialists were
fostering their sectarian politics onto the workers movement, 
they themselves fostered their own perspective onto it.
Originally, because the various sections of the International
worked under different circumstances and had attained different 
degrees of development, the theoretical ideals which reflected 
the real movement would also diverge. The International, therefore, 
was open to all socialist and working class tendencies its general 
policies would be, by necessity, based on conference decisions 
that reflected this divergence. These decisions would be determined 
by free discussion within and between sections of all economic, 
social and political ideas. Marx, however, replaced this policy 
with a common program of <i>"political action"</i> (i.e. electioneering) 
by mass political parties via the fixed Hague conference of 1872. 
Rather than having this position agreed by the normal exchange 
of ideas and theoretical discussion in the sections guided by 
the needs of the practical struggle, Marx imposed what <b>he</b> 
considered as the future of the workers movement onto the 
International -- and denounced those who disagreed with him 
as sectarians. The notion that what Marx considered as necessary 
might be another sectarian position imposed on the workers' 
movement did not enter his head nor those of his followers. 
<p>
Thus the Marxist claim that true working class movements are based 
on mass political parties based on hierarchical, centralised, 
leadership and those who reject this model and political action 
(electioneering) are sects and sectarians is simply their option
and little more. Once we look at the workers' movement without 
the blinkers created by Marxism, we see that Anarchism was a 
movement of working class people using what they considered 
valid tactics to meet their own social, economic and political 
goals -- tactics and goals which evolved to meet changing 
circumstances. Seeing the rise of anarchism and syndicalism 
as the political expression of the class struggle, guided by 
the needs of the practical struggle they faced naturally 
follows when we recognise the Marxist model for what it 
is -- just one possible interpretation of the future of the 
workers' movement rather than <b>the</b> future of that movement
(and as the history of Social Democracy indicates, the 
predictions of Bakunin and the anarchists within the First 
International were proved correct). 
<p>
This tendency to squeeze the revolutionary workers' movement into
the forms decreed by two people in the mid-nineteenth century has
proved to be disastrous for it. Even after the total failure of
social democracy, the idea of <i>"revolutionary"</i> parliamentarianism
was fostered onto the Third International by the Bolsheviks in spite
of the fact that more and more revolutionary workers in advanced
capitalist nations were rejecting it in favour of direct action
and autonomous working class self-organisation. Anarchists and
libertarian Marxists based themselves on this actual movement of
working people, influenced by the failure of <i>"political action,"</i>
while the Bolsheviks based themselves on the works of Marx and
Engels and their experiences in a backward, semi-feudal society
whose workers had already created factory committees and soviets 
by direct action. It was for this reason that the anarcho-syndicalist
Augustin Souchy said he referred <i>"to the tendencies that exist in
the modern workers' movement"</i> when he argued at the Second Congress 
of the Communist International:
<p><blockquote><i>
"It must be granted that among revolutionary workers the tendency
toward parliamentarism is disappearing more and more. On the
contrary, a strong anti-parliamentary tendency is becoming 
apparent in the ranks of the most advanced part of the proletariat.
Look at the Shop Stewards' movement [in Britain] or Spanish
syndicalism . . . The IWW is absolutely antiparliamentary . . .
I want to point out that the idea of antiparliamentarism is
asserting itself more strongly in Germany . . . as a result of
the revolution itself . . . We must view the question in this
light."</i> [<b>Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress 1920</b>,
vol 1, pp. 176-7]
</blockquote><p>
Of course, this perspective of basing yourself on the ideas and
tactics generated by the action class struggle was rejected in
favour of a return to the principles of Marx and Engels and their
vision of what constituted a genuine <i>"proletarian"</i> movement. If 
these tactics were the correct ones, then why did they not lead 
to a less dismal set of results? After all, the degeneration of
social democracy into reformism would suggest their failure and
sticking <i>"revolutionary"</i> before their tactics (as in <i>"revolutionary
parliamentarianism"</i>) changes little. Marxists, like anarchists, are
meant to be materialists, not idealists. What was the actual outcome 
of the Leninist strategies? Did they result in successful proletarian 
revolutions. No, they did not. The revolutionary wave peaked and
fell and the Leninist parties themselves very easily and quickly
became Stalinised. Significantly, those areas with a large anarchist,
syndicalist or quasi-syndicalist (e.g. the council communists) 
workers movements (Italy, Spain and certain parts of Germany) 
came closest to revolution and by the mid-1930s, only Spain with 
its strong anarchist movement had a revolutionary labour movement.
Therefore, rather than representing <i>"non-proletarian"</i> or <i>"sectarian"</i> 
politics forced upon the working class, anarchism reflected the 
politics required to built a <b>revolutionary</b> workers' movement 
rather than a reformist mass party.
<p>
As such, perhaps we can finally lay to rest the idea that Marx
predicted the whole future of the labour movement and the path 
it must take like some kind of socialist Nostradamus. Equally,
we can dismiss Marxist claims of the <i>"non-proletarian"</i> nature 
of anarchism as uninformed and little more than an attempt to 
squeeze history into an ideological prison. As noted above, 
in order to present such an analysis, the actual class 
compositions of significant events and social movements have 
to be manipulated. This is the case of the Paris Commune, 
for example, which was predominantly a product of artisans 
(i.e. the <i>"petit bourgeoisie"</i>), <b>not</b> the industrial working 
class and yet claimed by Marxists as an example of the 
<i>"dictatorship of the proletariat."</i> Ironically, many of the 
elements of the Commune praised by Marx can be found in the 
works of Proudhon and Bakunin which pre-date the uprising. 
Similarly, the idea that workers' fighting organisations 
("soviets") would be the means to abolish the state and the 
framework of a socialist society can be found in Bakunin's works,
decades before Lenin paid lip-service to this idea in 1917. For a 
theory allegedly resting on <i>"non-proletarian"</i> elements it has 
successfully predicted many of the ideas Marxists claim to have 
learnt from proletarian class struggle! 
<p>
So, in summary, the claims that anarchism is <i>"alien"</i> to working
class life, that it is <i>"non-proletarian"</i> or <i>"survives in the
absence of a strong workers' movement"</i> are simply false. Looking
objectively at the facts of the matter quickly shows that this 
is the case.
<p>
<a name="sech213"><h2>H.2.13 Do anarchists reject <i>"political"</i> struggles and action?</h2>
<p>
A common Marxist claim is that anarchists and syndicalists 
ignore or dismiss the importance of <i>"political"</i> struggles or
action. This is not true. Rather, as we discuss in 
<a href="secJ2.html#secj210">section
J.2.10</a>, we think that <i>"political"</i> struggles should be 
conducted by the same means as social and economic struggles, 
namely by direct action, solidarity and working class 
self-organisation.
<p>
As this is a common assertion, it is useful to provide a quick 
summary of why anarchists do not, in fact, reject <i>"political"</i> 
struggles and action as such. Rather, to quote Bakunin, 
anarchism <i>"does not reject politics generally. It will 
certainly be forced to involve itself insofar as it will 
be forced to struggle against the bourgeois class. It 
only rejects bourgeois politics . . . [as it] establishes 
the predatory domination of the bourgeoisie."</i> [<b>The Political 
Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 313] For Kropotkin, it was a
truism that it was <i>"absolutely impossible . . . to confine
the ideas of the working mass within the narrow circle of
reductions in working hours and wage increases . . . The
social question compels attention."</i> This fact implied two
responses: <i>"the workers' organisation propels itself either 
into the sterile path of parliamentary politics as in
Germany, or into the path of revolution."</i> [quoted by 
Caroline Cahm, <b>Kropotkin and the rise of Revolutionary
Anarchism, 1872-1886</b>, p. 241] 
<p>
So while Marxists often argue that anarchists exclusively 
interested in economic struggle and reject <i>"politics"</i> or 
<i>"political action,"</i> the truth of the matter is different.
We are well aware of the importance of political issues,
although anarchists reject using bourgeois methods in
favour of direct action. Moreover, we are aware that any
social or economic struggle has its political aspects and
that such struggles bring the role of the state as defender
of capitalism and the need to struggle against it into 
focus:
<p><blockquote><i>
"There is no serious strike that occurs today without the
appearance of troops, the exchange of blows and some acts of
revolt. Here they fight with the troops; there they march on
the factories; . . . in Pittsburgh in the United States, the
strikers found themselves masters of a territory as large as
France, and the strike became the signal for a general revolt 
against the State; in Ireland the peasants on strike found
themselves in open revolt against the State. Thanks to 
government intervention the rebel against the factory becomes 
the rebel against the State."</i> [quoted by Caroline Cahm, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 256]
</blockquote><p>
As Malatesta argued, from <i>"the economic struggle one must
pass to the political struggle, that is to struggle against
government; and instead of opposing the capitalist millions
with the workers' few pennies scraped together with difficulty,
one must oppose the rifles and guns which defend property
with the more effective means that the people will be able 
to defeat force by force."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, pp. 193-4] So
anarchists are well aware of the need to fight for political
issues and reforms, and so are <i>"not in any way opposed to
the political struggle, but in their opinion this struggle,
too, must take the form of direct action, in which the 
instruments of economic [and social] power which the 
working class has at its command are the most effective.
The most trivial wage-fight shows clearly that, whenever
the employers find themselves in difficulties, the state
stops in with the police, and even in some cases with the
militia, to protect the threatened interests of the possessing
classes. It would, therefore, be absurd for them to overlook
the importance of the political struggle."</i> [Rudolf Rocker,
<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 65]
<p>
This means that the question of whether to conduct political 
struggles is <b>not</b> the one which divides anarchists from
Marxists. Rather, it is a question of <b>how</b> this struggle
is fought. For anarchists, this struggle is best fought using
<b>direct action</b> (see 
<a href="secJ2.html">section J.2</a>) and fighting working class 
organisations based in our workplaces and communities. For
Marxists, the political struggle is seen as being based on
standing candidates in bourgeois elections. This can be seen 
from the resolution passed by the socialist ("Second") 
International in 1893. This resolution was designed to 
exclude anarchists and stated that only <i>"those Socialist
Parties and Organisations which recognise the organisation
of workers and of political action."</i> By <i>"political action"</i> 
it mean <i>"that the working-class organisations seek, in as
far as possible, to use or conquer political rights and the
machinery of legislation for the furthering of the interests
of the proletariat and the conquest of political power."</i> 
[quoted by Susan Milner, <b>The Dilemmas of Internationalism</b>,
p. 49] Significantly, while this International and its member 
parties (particular the German Social Democrats) were happy to 
expel anarchists, they never expelled the leading reformists 
from their ranks.
<p>
So, in general, anarchists use the word <i>"political action"</i> to 
refer exclusively to the taking part of revolutionaries in 
bourgeois elections (i.e. electioneering or parliamentarianism). 
It does not mean a rejection of fighting for political reforms 
or a lack of interest in political issues, quite the reverse in
fact. The reason <b>why</b> anarchists reject this tactic is discussed
in section J.2.6 (<a href="secJ2.html#secj26">"What are the effects 
of radicals using electioneering?"</a>), which means we will give a 
short summary here.
<p>
Simply put, for anarchists, the net effect of socialists using
bourgeois elections would be to put them (and the movements 
they represent) into the quagmire of bourgeois politics and
influences. In other words, the parties involved will be shaped
by the environment they are working within and not vice versa.
As Bakunin argued, the <i>"inevitable result"</i> of electing workers
into bourgeois state would be to see them <i>"become middle class
in their outlook"</i> due to them being <i>"transferred to a purely
bourgeois environment and into an atmosphere of purely
bourgeois political ideas."</i> This meant that as <i>"long as
universal suffrage is exercised in a society where the people,
the mass of workers, are <b>economically</b> dominated by a minority
holding exclusive possession the property and capital of the
country . . . elections . . . . can only be illusory,
anti-democratic in their results."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 216 and
p. 213] This meant that <i>"the election to the German
parliament of one or two workers . . . from the Social
Democratic Party"</i> was <i>"not dangerous"</i> and, in fact, was
<i>"highly useful to the German state as a lightning-rod, or
a safety-valve."</i> Unlike the <i>"political and social theory"</i> 
of the anarchists, which <i>"leads them directly and inexorably
to a complete break with all governments and all forms of
bourgeois politics, leaving no alternative but social 
revolution,"</i> Marxism, he argued, <i>"inexorably enmeshes and
entangles its adherents, under the pretext of political 
tactics, in endless accommodation with governments and the
various bourgeois political parties -- that is, it thrusts
them directly into reaction."</i> [Bakunin, <b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, 
p. 193 and pp. 179-80] In the case of the German Social
Democrats, this became obvious in 1914, when they supported
their state in the First World war, and after 1918, when 
they crushed the German Revolution.
<p>
For Kropotkin, the idea that you could somehow <i>"prepare"</i> for a
revolution by electioneering was simply a joke. <i>"As if the
bourgeoisie,"</i> he argued, <i>"still holding on to its capital,
could allow them [the socialists] to experiment with socialism
even if they succeeded in gaining control of power! As if the
conquest of the municipalities were possible without the
conquest of the factories."</i> He saw that <i>"those who yesterday 
were considered socialists are today letting go of socialism, 
by renouncing its mother idea [" the need to replace the wage 
system and to abolish individual ownership of . . . social 
capital"] and passing over into the camp of the bourgeoisie, 
while retaining, so as to hide their turnabout, the label of 
socialism."</i> [<b>Words of a Rebel</b>, p. 181 and p. 180]
<p>
Ultimately, the bourgeois tactics used ended up with bourgeois
results. As Emma Goldman argued, socialism <i>"was led astray by
the evil spirit of politics"</i> and <i>"landed in the [political]
trap and has now but one desire -- to adjust itself to the
narrow confines of its cage, to become part of the authority,
part of the very power that has slain the beautiful child 
Socialism and left begin a hideous monster."</i> [<b>Red Emma 
Speaks</b>, p. 80] The net effect of <i>"political action"</i> was the
corruption of the socialist movement into a reformist party
which betrayed the promise of socialism in favour of making
existing society better (so it can last longer). This process
confirmed Bakunin's predictions as well as Kropotkin's 
comments:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The middle class will not give up its power without a struggle.
It will resist. And in proportion as Socialists will become
part of the Government and share people with the middle class,
their Socialism will grow paler and paler. This is, indeed,
what Socialism is rapidly doing. Were this no so, the middle
classes . . . would not share their power with the Socialists."</i> 
[<b>Evolution and Environment</b>, p. 102]
</blockquote><p>
In addition, as we argue in sections 
<a href="secH1.html#sech15">H.1.5</a> and 
<a href="secJ2.html#secj25">J.2.5</a>, direct
action is either based on (or creates) forms of self-managed
working class organisations. The process of collective struggle,
in other words, necessitates collective forms of organisation
and decision making. These combative organisations, as well as
conducting the class struggle under capitalism, can also be the
framework of a free society (see 
<a href="secH1.html#sech14">section H.1.4</a>). However, standing
in elections does <b>not</b> produce such alternative social structures
and, indeed, hinders them as the focus for social changes becomes
a few leaders working in existing (i.e. bourgeois) structures and
bodies. 
<p>
As can be seen, anarchists reject <i>"political"</i> struggle (i.e.
electioneering) for good (and historically vindicated) reasons.
This makes a mockery of Marxists assertions (being with Marx)
that anarchists like Bakunin <i>"opposed all political action
by the working class since this would imply 'recognition'
of the existing state."</i> [Derek Howl, <i>"The Legacy of Hal 
Draper,"</i> <b>International Socialism</b>, no. 52, p. 147] This, 
in fact, is a common Marxist claim, namely that anarchists 
reject <i>"political struggle"</i> on principle (i.e. for idealistic
purposes). In the words of Engels, Bakunin was <i>"opposed to all 
political action by the working class, since this would in fact 
involve recognition of the existing state."</i> [Marx, Engels and 
Lenin, <b>Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 49] Sadly, like 
all Marxists, he failed to indicate where, in fact, Bakunin 
actually said that. As can be seen, this was <b>not</b> the case.
Bakunin, like all revolutionary anarchists, reject <i>"political
action"</i> (in the sense of electioneering) simply because they
feared that such tactics would be counterproductive and
undermine the revolutionary nature of the labour movement. As
the experience of Marxist Social Democracy showed, he was
proved correct.
<p>
In summary, while anarchists reject standing of socialists in
elections (<i>"political action,"</i> narrowly defined), we do not
reject the need to fight for political reforms or specific
political issues. However, we see such action as being based
on collective working class <b>direct action</b> organised around
combative organs of working class self-management and power
rather than the individualistic act of placing a cross on a
piece of power once every few years and letting leaders fight
your struggles for you.
<p>
<a name="sech214"><h2>H.2.14 Are anarchist organisations either <i>"ineffective,"</i> <i>"elitist"</i> or the <i>"downright bizarre"</i>?
</h2>
<p>
Marxists often accuse anarchist organisations of being <i>"elitist"</i> 
or <i>"secret."</i> Pat Stack (of the British SWP) ponders the history 
of anarchist organisation (at least the SWP version of that 
history):
<p><blockquote><i>
"how otherwise [than Leninist vanguard political parties] do 
revolutionaries organise? Apart from the serious efforts of 
anarcho-syndicalists to grapple with this problem, anarchists 
have failed to pose any serious alternative. In as much as they 
do, they have produced either the ineffective, the elitist or 
the downright bizarre. Bakunin's organisation, the 'Alliance of 
Social Democracy', managed all three: 'The organisation had two 
overlapping forms, one secret, involving only the "intimates", 
and one public, the Alliance of Social Democracy. Even in its 
open, public mode, the alliance was to be a highly centralised 
organisation, with all decisions on the national level approved 
by the Central Committee. Since it was the real controlling body, 
the secret organisation was even more tightly centralised . . . 
with first a Central Committee, then a "central Geneva section" 
acting as the "permanent delegation of the permanent Central 
Committee", and, finally, within the central Geneva section a 
"Central Bureau", which was to be both the "executive power . . . 
composed of three, or five, or even seven members" of the secret 
organisation and the executive directory of the public 
organisation.'
<p>
"That this was far more elitist and less democratic than Lenin's 
model is clear."</i>
</blockquote><p>
There are, as is obvious, numerous problems with Stack's assertions.
Firstly, he makes absolutely <b>no</b> attempt to discuss anarchist
ideas on the question of revolutionary organisation. In 
<a href="secJ3.html">section J.3</a>, we discuss the 
various approaches anarchists have historically
suggested in this area and Stack fails to mention any of them.
Rather, he prefers to present a somewhat distorted account of the
ideas of Bakunin on the structural aspects of his organisation, 
ideas which died with him in 1876! Secondly, as Stack fails to
discuss how anarchists (including Bakunin) see their organisations
operating, its hard to determine whether they are <i>"ineffective"</i>
or <i>"elitist."</i> This is hardly surprising, as they are neither.
Thirdly, even as regards his own example (Bakunin's Alliance) his
claim that it was <i>"ineffectual"</i> seems inappropriate in the 
extreme. Whether it was <i>"elitist"</i> or <i>"downright bizarre"</i> 
is hard
to determine, as Stack quotes an unnamed author and their quotes
from its structure. Fourthly, and ironically for Stack, Lenin's
<i>"model"</i> shared many of the same features as those of Bakunin's!
<p>
As noted, Stack fails to discuss any of the standard anarchist
ideas on how revolutionaries should organise. As we discuss
in <a href="secJ3.html">section J.3</a>, 
there are three main types: the <i>"synthesis"</i>
federation, the <i>"class struggle"</i> federation and the <i>"Platform."</i> 
In the twenty-first century, these are the main types of 
anarchist organisation. As such, it would be extremely hard 
to argue that these are <i>"elitist,"</i> <i>"ineffective"</i> or <i>"downright 
bizarre."</i> What these organisational ideas have in common is
the vision of an anarchist organisation as a federation of 
autonomous self-managed groups which work with others as equals. 
How can directly democratic organisations, which influence others 
by the force of their ideas and by their example, be <i>"elitist"</i>
or <i>"downright bizarre"</i>? Little wonder, then, that Stack used 
an example from 1868 to attack anarchism in the twenty-first 
century! If he actually presented an honest account of anarchist 
ideas then his claims would quickly be seen to be nonsense. And 
as for the claim of being <i>"ineffective,"</i> well, given that Stack's
article is an attempt to combat anarchist influence in the 
anti-globalisation movement it would suggest the opposite.
<p>
For a modern account of how anarchist groups operate, organise
and try to influence the class struggle directly, by the <i>"natural 
influence"</i> (to use Bakunin's expression) of its members in working 
class organisations see <a href="secJ3.html">section J.3</a>. 
<p>
Even looking at the example of Bakunin's Alliance, we can see
evidence that Stack's summary is simply wrong. Firstly, it seems 
strange for Stack to claim that the Alliance was <i>"ineffective."</i> 
After all, Marx spent many years combating it (and Bakunin's 
influence) in the First International. Indeed, so effective 
was it that anarchist ideas dominated most sections of that 
organisation, forcing Marx to move the General Council to 
America to ensure that it did not fall into the hands of the 
anarchists (i.e. the of majority). Moreover, it was hardly 
<i>"ineffective"</i> when it came to building the International. As 
Marxist Paul Thomas notes, <i>"the International was to prove 
capable of expanding its membership only at the behest of the
Bakuninists [sic!]"</i> and <i>"[w]herever the International was 
spreading, it was doing so under the mantle of Bakuninism."</i> 
[<b>Karl Marx and the Anarchists</b>, p. 315and p. 319] Yet Stack 
considers this as an example of an <i>"ineffective"</i> organisation!
<p>
As regards Stack's summary of Bakunin's organisation goes, we
must note that Stack is quoting an unnamed source on Bakunin's 
views on this subject. We, therefore, have no way of evaluating 
whether this is a valid summary of Bakunin's ideas on this matter. 
As we indicate elsewhere (see 
<a href="secJ3.html#secj37">section J.3.7</a>) Leninist summaries 
of Bakunin's ideas on secret organising usually leave a lot to be 
desired (by usually leaving a lot out or quoting out of context 
certain phrases). As such, and given the total lack of relevance
of this model for anarchists since the 1870s, we will not bother
to discuss this summary. Simply put, it is a waste of time to 
discuss an organisational model which no modern anarchist supports.
<p>
However, as we discuss in 
<a href="secJ3.html#secj37">section J.3.7</a>, there is a key way 
in which Bakunin's ideas on this issue were far <b>less</b> 
<i>"elitist"</i> and <b>more</b> <i>"democratic"</i> than Lenin's 
model. Simply, 
Bakunin always stressed that his organisation <i>"rules out any 
idea of dictatorship and custodial control."</i> 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>Michael 
Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, p. 172] In other words, Bakunin
saw the social revolution in terms of popular participation and
control, <b>not</b> the seizing of power by a "revolutionary" party
or group. 
<p>
The <i>"main purpose and task of the organisation,"</i> argued Bakunin,
would be to <i>"help the people to achieve self-determination."</i> It 
would <i>"not threaten the liberty of the people because it is free 
from all official character"</i> and <i>"not placed above the people like 
state power."</i> Its programme <i>"consists of the fullest realisation of 
the liberty of the people"</i> and its influence is <i>"not contrary to 
the free development and self-determination of the people, or its 
organisation from below according to its own customs and instincts 
because it acts on the people only by the natural personal influence 
of its members who are not invested with any power."</i> Thus the
revolutionary group would be the <i>"helper"</i> of the masses, with an 
"organisation within the people itself."</i> [quoted by Michael Confino, 
<b>Daughter of a Revolutionary</b>, p. 259, p. 261, p. 256 and p. 261] The revolution itself 
would see <i>"an end to all masters and to domination of every kind, 
and the free construction of popular life in accordance with 
popular needs, not from above downward, as in the state, but 
from below upward, by the people themselves, dispensing with 
all governments and parliaments -- a voluntary alliance of 
agricultural and factory worker associations, communes, 
provinces, and nations; and, finally, . . . universal human 
brotherhood triumphing on the ruins of all the states."</i>
[<b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, p. 33]
<p>
Unlike Lenin, Bakunin did not confuse party power with people power. 
His organisation, for all it faults (and they were many), did not 
aim to take power in the name of the working class and exercise
power through a centralised, top-down, state. Rather, its influence 
would be based on the <i>"natural influence"</i> of its members within
mass organisations. The influence of anarchists would, therefore,
be limited to the level by which their specific ideas were accepted
by other members of the same organisations after discussion and
debate. As regards the nature of the labour movement, we must point 
out that Bakunin provided the same <i>"serious"</i> answer as the 
anarcho-syndicalists -- namely, revolutionary labour unionism.
As we discuss in <a href="secH2.html#sech28">section H.2.8</a>, 
Bakunin's ideas on this matter
are nearly identical to those of the syndicalists Stack praises.
<p>
As noted, however, no anarchist group has reproduced the internal
structure of the Alliance, which means that Stack's point is simply
historical in nature. Sadly this is not the case with his own politics
as the ideas he attacks actually parallel Lenin's model in many ways 
(although, as indicated above, how Bakunin's organisation would 
function in the class struggle was fundamentally different, as Lenin's 
party sought power for itself). Given that Stack is proposing Lenin's 
model as a viable means of organising revolutionaries, it is useful 
to summarise it. We shall take as an example two statements issued 
by the Second World Congress of the Communist International in 1920 
under the direction of Lenin. These are <i>"Twenty-One Conditions of 
Communism"</i> and <i>"Theses on the Role of the Communist Party in the 
Proletarian Revolution."</i> These two documents provide a vision of 
Leninist organisation which is fundamentally elitist.
<p>
Lenin's <i>"model"</i> is clear from these documents. The parties adhering 
to the Communist International had to have two overlapping forms, 
one legal (i.e. public) and another <i>"illegal"</i> (i.e. secret). It was
the <i>"duty"</i> of these parties <i>"to create everywhere a parallel illegal organisational appartus."</i> [<b>Proceedings and Documents of the Second 
Congress 1920</b>, vol. 2, p. 767]
<p>
Needless to say, this illegal organisation would be the real 
controlling body, as it would have to be made up of trusted 
communists and could only be even more tightly centralised 
than the open party as its members could only be appointed
from above by the illegal organisation's central committee. 
To stress that the <i>"illegal"</i> (i.e. secret) organisation
controlled the party, the Communist International agreed
that while <i>"the Communist Parties must learn to systematically
combine legal and illegal activity,"</i> the legal work <i>"must
be under the actual control of the illegal party at all
times."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, vol. 1, p. 199]
<p>
Even in its open, public mode, the Communist Party was to 
be a highly centralised organisation, with all decisions on 
the national level made by the Central Committee. The parties
must be as centralised as possible, with a party centre which
has strength and authority and is equipped with the most
comprehensive powers. Also, the party press and other 
publications, and all party publishing houses, must be 
subordinated to the party presidium. This applied on 
an international level as well, with the decisions of its 
Communist International's Executive Committee were binding on 
all parties belonging to the Communist International. 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, vol. 2, p. 769]
<p>
Moreover, <i>"Communist cells of all kinds must be subordinate
to each other in a strictly hierarchical order of rank as
precisely as possible."</i> Democratic centralism itself was
fundamentally hierarchical, with its <i>"basic principles"</i> 
being that <i>"the higher bodies shall be elected by the
lower, that all instructions of the higher bodies are
categorically and necessarily binding on the lower."</i> 
Indeed, <i>"there shall be a strong party centre whose 
authority is universally and unquestionably recognised
for all leading party comrades in the period between
congresses."</i> Any <i>"advocacy of broad 'autonomy' for the
local party organisations only weakens the ranks of the
Communist Party"</i> and <i>"favours petty-bourgeois, anarchist
and disruptive tendencies."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, vol. 1, p. 198]
<p>
It seems strange for Stack to argue that Bakunin's ideas
(assuming he presents an honest account of them, of course) 
were <i>"far more elitist and less democratic than Lenin's model"</i> 
as it obviously was not. Indeed, the similarities between Stack's 
summary of Bakunin's ideas and Leninist theory are striking. The 
Leninist party has the same division between open and secret (legal
and illegal) structures as in Bakunin's, the same centralism and 
top-down nature. Lenin argued that <i>"[i]n all countries, even in
those that are freest, most 'legal,' and most 'peaceful' . . .
it is now absolutely indispensable for every Communist Party to
systematically combine legal and illegal work, legal and illegal
organisation."</i> He stressed that <i>"[o]nly the most reactionary
philistine, no matter what cloak of fine 'democratic' and
pacifist phrases he may don, will deny this fact or the 
conclusion that of necessity follows from it, viz., that all
legal Communist parties must immediately form illegal organisations
for the systematic conduct of illegal work."</i> [<b>Collected Works</b>,
vol. 31, p. 195] 
<p>
This was due to the threat of state repression, which also faced
Bakunin's Alliance. As Murray Bookchin argues, <i>"Bakunin's emphasis on
conspiracy and secrecy can be understood only against the social
background of Italy, Spain, and Russia the three countries in
Europe where conspiracy and secrecy were matters of sheer survival."</i> 
[<b>The Spanish Anarchists</b>, p. 24]
<p>
For anarchists, the similarity in structure between Bakunin and Lenin
is no source of embarrassment. Rather, we argue that it is due to
a similarity in political conditions in Russia and <b>not</b> similarities
in political ideas. If we look at Bakunin's ideas on social revolution
and the workers' movement we see a fully libertarian perspective
-- of a movement from the bottom-up, based oon the principles of
direct action, self-management and federalism. Anarchists since 
his death have applied <b>these</b> ideas to the specific anarchist 
organisation as well, rejecting the non-libertarian elements of 
Bakunin's ideas which Stack correctly (if somewhat hypocritically 
and dishonestly) denounce. All in all, Stack has shown himself to 
be a hypocrite or, at best, a <i>"most reactionary philistine"</i> (to
use Lenin's choice expression).
<p>
In addition, it would be useful to evaluate the effectiveness 
of Stack's Leninist alternative. Looking at the outcome of the 
Russian Revolution, we can only surmise that it is not very
effective. This is because its goal is meant to be a socialist
society based on soviet democracy. Did the Russian Revolution 
actually result in such a society? Far from it. The Kronstadt 
revolt was repressed in 1921 because it demanded soviet power (see
<a href="secH5.html">section H.5</a>). 
Nor was this an isolated example. The Bolsheviks 
had been disbanding soviets with elected non-Bolshevik majorities 
since early 1918 (i.e. <b>before</b> the start of the Civil War) and 
by 1920 leading Bolsheviks were arguing that dictatorship of the
proletariat could only be expressed by means of the dictatorship
of the party (see <a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a> 
for details). Clearly, the Bolshevik 
method is hardly <i>"effective"</i> in the sense of achieving its stated 
goals. Nor was it particularly effective before the revolution
either. During the 1905 revolution, the Bolsheviks opposed the
councils of workers' deputies (soviets) which had been formed
and gave them an ultimatum: either accept the programme of the 
Bolsheviks or else disband! The soviets ignored them. In February 
1917 the Bolshevik party opposed the actions that produced the 
revolution which overthrew the Tsar. Simply put, the one event
that validates the Bolshevik model is the October Revolution 
of 1917 and even that failed. 
<p>
The weakness of Stack's diatribe can be seen from his use of 
the Alliance example. Moreover, it backfires on his own politics. 
The similarities between Bakunin's ideas and Lenin's on this 
subject are clear. The very issues which Stack raises as being 
<i>"elitist"</i> in Bakunin (secret and open organisation, centralisation, 
top-down decision making) are shared by Lenin. Given that no other 
anarchist organisation has ever followed the Alliance structure 
(and, indeed, it is doubtful the Alliance followed it!), it makes 
a mockery of the scientific method to base a generalisation on 
an exception rather than the norm (indeed, the only exception). 
For Stack to use Bakunin's ideas on this issue as some kind of 
evidence against anarchism staggers belief. Given that anarchists 
reject Bakunin's ideas on this subject while Leninists continue to 
subscribe to Lenin's, it is very clear that Stack is being extremely 
hypocritical in this matter.
<p>
All in all, anarchists would argue that it is Leninist ideas on
the vanguard party which are <i>"elitist,"</i> <i>"ineffective"</i> and <i>"downright
bizarre."</i> As we discuss in 
<a href="secH3.html#sech34">section H.3.4</a>, the only thing the Leninist 
"revolutionary"</i> party is effective for is replacing one set of 
bosses with a new set (the leaders of the party).
<p>
<a name="sech215"><h2>H.2.15 Do anarchists reject discipline?</h2>
<p>
The idea that anarchists reject the need for discipline, or
are against organisation, or base their ideas on the whim of
the individual, are common place in Marxism. Simply put, the 
idea that anarchists reject <i>"discipline"</i> is derived from the 
erroneous Marxist assertion that anarchism is basically a 
form of <i>"individualism"</i> and based on the <i>"absolute sovereignty 
of the individual ego"</i> (see 
<a href="secH2.html#sech211">section H.2.11</a>). From this (incorrect)
position, it is logically deduced that anarchism must reject the 
need for <i>"discipline"</i> (i.e. the ability to make and stick to 
collective decisions). Needless to say, this is false. Anarchists
are well aware of the need to organise together and, therefore,
the need to stick by decisions reached. The importance of 
solidarity in anarchist theory is an expression of this 
awareness.
<p>
However, there is <i>"discipline"</i> and <i>"discipline."</i> There can be no
denying that in a capitalist workplace or army there is <i>"discipline"</i>
yet few, if any, sane persons would argue that this distinctly
top-down and hierarchical <i>"discipline"</i> is something to aspire to,
particularly if you seek a free society. This cannot be compared
to a making and sticking by a collective decision reached by free 
discussion and debate within a self-governing associations. As 
Bakunin argued:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Discipline, mutual trust as well as unity are all excellent 
qualities when properly understood and practised, but disastrous
when abused . . . [one use of the word] discipline almost always 
signifies despotism on the one hand and blind automatic submission
to authority on the other . . . 
<p>
"Hostile as I am to [this,] the authoritarian conception of 
discipline, I nevertheless recognise that a certain kind of 
discipline, not automatic but voluntary and intelligently 
understood is, and will ever be, necessary whenever a greater 
number of individuals undertake any kind of collective work or 
action. Under these circumstances, discipline is simply the 
voluntary and considered co-ordination of all individual efforts 
for a common purpose. At the moment of revolution, in the
midst of the struggle, there is a natural division of functions
according to the aptitude of each, assessed and judged by the
collective whole: Some direct and others carry out orders.
But no function remains fixed and it will not remain permanently
and irrevocably attached to any one person. Hierarchical order
and promotion do not exist, so that the executive of yesterday
can become the subordinate of tomorrow. No one rises above the
others, and if he does rise, it is only to fall back again a
moment later, like the waves of the sea forever returning to
the salutary level of equality.
<p>
"In such a system, power, properly speaking, no longer exists.
Power is diffused to the collectivity and becomes the true
expression of the liberty of everyone, the faithful and
sincere realisation of the will of all . . . this is the
only true discipline, the discipline necessary for the
organisation of freedom. This is not the kind of discipline
preached by the State . . . which wants the old, routine-like,
automatic blind discipline. Passive discipline is the foundation
of every despotism."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, pp. 414-5]
</blockquote><p>
Clearly, anarchists see the need for <b>self</b>-discipline rather
than the hierarchical <i>"discipline"</i> associated with capitalism
and other class systems. It simply means that <i>"anyone who 
associates and co-operates with others for a common purpose
must feel the need to co-ordinate his [or her] actions with
those of his [or her] fellow members and do nothing that harms
the work of others and, thus, the common cause; and respect
the agreements that have been made -- except when wishing 
sincerely to leave the association when emerging differences
of opinion or changed circumstances or conflict over preferred
methods make co-operation impossible or inappropriate."</i> [Malatesta,
<b>The Anarchist Revolution</b>, pp. 107-8] As such, we reject
hierarchical <i>"discipline,"</i> considering it as confusing agreement
with authority, co-operation with coercion and helping with
hierarchy.
<p>
Anarchists are not alone in this. A few Marxists have also seen
this difference. For example, Rosa Luxemburg repeated (probably
unknowingly) Bakunin's distinction between forms of <i>"discipline"</i> 
when she argued, against Lenin, that:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Lenin . . . declares that 'it is no longer the proletarians but
certain intellectuals in our party who need to be educated in
the matters of organisation and discipline' . . . He glorifies
the educative influence of the factory, which, he says, accustoms
the proletariat to 'discipline and organisation' . . .
<p>
"Saying all this, Lenin seems to demonstrate . . . his conception
of socialist organisation is quite mechanistic. The discipline
Lenin has in mind being implanted in the working class not only
by the factory but also by the military and the existing state
bureaucracy -- by the entire mechanism of the centralised
bourgeois state.
<p>
"We misuse words and we practice self-deception when we apply
the same term -- discipline -- to such dissimilar notions as:
(1) the absence of thought and will in a body with a thousand
automatically moving hands and legs, and (2) the spontaneous
co-ordination of the conscious, political acts of a body of
men. What is there in common between the regulated docility
of an oppressed class and the self-discipline and organisation
of a class struggling for its emancipation?
<p>
"The self-discipline of the social democracy is not merely the
replacement of the authority of the bourgeois rulers with the
authority of a socialist central committee. The working class
will acquire the sense of the new discipline, the freely 
assumed self-discipline of the social democracy, not as a
result of the discipline imposed on it by the capitalist
state, but by extirpating, to the last root, its old habits
of obedience and servility."</i> [<b>Rosa Luxemburg Speaks</b>, 
pp. 119-20]
</blockquote><p>
Like Luxemburg, anarchists stress the difference in forms of
decision making and reject authoritarian organisations along
with hierarchical <i>"discipline"</i> (see 
<a href="secH1.html#sech18">section H.1.8</a>). This
support for self-discipline within self-managed organisations
flows directly from the anarchist awareness of the <b>collective</b>
nature of social change: as <i>"[t]oday, in revolutionary action 
as in labour itself, collectivism must replace individualism. 
Understand clearly that in organising yourselves you will be
stronger than all the political leaders in the world."</i> [Bakunin, 
quoted by K.J. Kenafick, <b>Michael Bakunin and Karl Marx</b>, 
p. 244]
<p>
For anarchists, collective organisation and co-operation does 
not mean the end of individuality. As Bakunin argued: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"You will think, you will exist, you will act collectively,
which nevertheless will not prevent in the least the full
development of the intellectual and moral faculties of
each individual. Each of you will bring to you his own
talents, and in all joining together you will multiply 
your value a hundred fold. Such is the law of collective
action . . . in giving your hands to each other for this
action in common, you will promise to each other a mutual
fraternity which will be . . . a sort of free contract . . .
Then proceed collectively to action you will necessarily
commence by practising this fraternity between yourselves
. . . by means of regional and local organisations . . .
you will find in yourselves strength that you had never
imagined, if each of you acted individually, according
to his own inclination and not as a consequence of a
unanimous resolution, discussed and accepted beforehand."</i> 
[quoted by Kenafick, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 244-5]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, anarchists see the need for <i>"discipline,"</i> assuming
that it is created in appropriately libertarian ways. We reject
it if it simply means blindly following the orders of those in 
power, which is usually does mean within modern society and,
sadly, large parts of the labour and socialist movements. However, 
this does not mean that the majority is always right. As 
Malatesta argued, <i>"[t]here are matters over which it is worth 
accepting the will of the majority because the damage caused 
by a split would be greater than that caused by error; there 
are circumstances in which discipline becomes a duty because 
to fail in it would be to fail in the solidarity between the 
oppressed and would mean betrayal in face of the enemy. But 
when is convinced that the organisation is pursuing a course
which threatens the future and makes it difficult to remedy
the harm done, then it is a duty to rebel and to resist even
at the risk of providing a split."</i> Therefore, <i>"anarchists
should extend our activities into all organisations to
preach unity among all workers, decentralisation, freedom
of initiative, within the common framework of solidarity
 . . . What is essential is that individuals should develop 
a sense of organisation and solidarity, and the conviction 
that fraternal co-operation is necessary to fight oppression 
and to achieve a society in which everyone will be able to 
enjoy his [or her] own life."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, pp. 132-3]
<p>
In other words, anarchists reject the idea that obeying orders
equals <i>"discipline"</i> and recognise that real discipline means
evaluating the needs of solidarity and equality with your
fellow workers and acting accordingly.
<p>
<a name="sech216"><h2>H.2.16 Does the Spanish Revolution show the failure of anarchism?</h2>
<p>
The actions of the anarchists of the CNT and FAI during the
Spanish Civil War is almost always mentioned by Marxists when
they attack anarchism. Take, for example, Pat Stack. He argues
as follows:
<p><blockquote><i>
"This question of state power, and which class holds it, was to 
prove crucial for revolutionaries during the Spanish Civil War and 
in particular during the revolutionary upheavals in Catalonia. Here 
anarchism faced its greatest test and greatest opportunity, yet it 
failed the former and therefore missed the latter. 
<p>
"When the government in the region under the leadership of Companys 
admitted its impotence and offered to dissolve, effectively handing 
power to the revolutionary forces, the anarchists turned them down. 
CNT leader and FAI . . . militant Garcia Oliver explained, 'The 
CNT and the FAI decided on collaboration and democracy, renouncing 
revolutionary totalitarianism which would lead to the strangulation 
of the revolution by the anarchist and Confederal dictatorship. We 
had to choose, between Libertarian Communism, which meant anarchist 
dictatorship, and democracy, which meant collaboration.' The choice 
was between leaving the state intact and paving the way for Franco's 
victory or building a workers' government in Catalonia which could 
act as a focal point for the defeat of Franco and the creation of 
the structures of a new workers' state. In choosing the former the 
anarchists were refusing to distinguish between a capitalist 
state and a workers' state . . . The movement that started 
by refusing to build a workers' state ended up by recognising a 
capitalist one and betraying the revolution in the process."</i> 
[<i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i>, <b>Socialist Review</b>, no. 246]
</blockquote><p>
While we have addressed this issue in sections 
<a href="secI8.html#seci810">I.8.10</a> and 
<a href="secH8.html#seci811">I.8.11</a>,
it is useful to summarise a few key points on this issue. First,
there is the actual objective situation in which the decision to
collaborate was made in. Strangely, for all his talk of anarchists
ignoring <i>"material conditions,"</i> Stack fails to mention any when he
discusses the decisions of Spanish Anarchism. As such, he critique
is pure idealism, without any attempt to ground it in the objective
circumstances facing the CNT and FAI. Second, the quote provided as 
the only evidence for Stack's analysis dates from a year after the
decision was made. Rather than reflect the actual concerns of the
CNT and FAI when they made their decision, they reflect the attempts
of the leaders of an organisation which had significantly departed
from its libertarian principles to justify their actions. While this
obviously suits Stack's idealist analysis of events, its use can be
flawed for this reason. Thirdly, clearly the decision of the CNT and
FAI <b>ignored</b> anarchist theory. As such, it seems ironic to blame
anarchism when anarchists ignores its recommendations, yet this is
what Stack argues. Lastly, there is the counter-example of Aragon,
which clearly refutes Stack's analysis. 
<p>
To understand why the CNT and FAI made the decisions it did, it is
necessary to do what Stack fails to do, namely to provide some
context. The decision to ignore anarchist theory, ignore the state
rather than smashing it and work with other anti-fascist organisations
was made immediately after the army had been defeated on the streets
of Barcelona on the 20th of July, 1936. It is this fact, the success
of a popular insurrection in one region against a <b>nation wide</b> military
coup, which helps place the CNT's decisions into context. Catalonia is 
but one region in Spain. While the CNT had great strength in many 
regions of that country, it was not uniform. Some areas, such as 
around Madrid and in Asturias, the socialist UGT was stronger 
(although the CNT had been making inroads in both areas). This meant
any decision to introduce libertarian communism in Catalonia would 
have, in all likelihood, meant isolation within Republican Spain 
and the possibility that the CNT would have to fight both the 
Republican state <b>as well as</b> Franco. 
<p>
As such, the <b>real</b> choice facing the CNT was not <i>"between leaving 
the state intact . . . or building a workers' government in Catalonia 
which could act as a focal point for the defeat of Franco"</i> but rather 
something drastically different. Either work with other anti-fascists 
against Franco so ensuring unity against the common enemy and implement 
anarchism after victory <b>or</b> immediately implement libertarian 
communism and possibly face a conflict on two fronts, against Franco 
<b>and</b> the Republic (and, possibly, imperialist intervention against 
the social revolution). This situation made the CNT-FAI decided to
collaborate with other anti-fascist groups in the Catalan <b>Central 
Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias</b>. To downplay these objective 
factors and simply blame the decision on anarchist politics is a 
joke. As we argue in 
<a href="secI8.html#seci810">section I.8.10</a> 
in more detail, this dilemma 
was the one which was driving the decisions of the CNT leadership, 
<b>not</b> any failings in anarchist politics (see 
<a href="secI8.html#seci811">section I.8.11</a> for
a discussion of why applying anarchist ideas would have been the
correct decision, although hindsight is always twenty-twenty).
<p>
Similarly, the Garica Oliver quote provided by Stack dated from 
a year <b>after</b> the events of July 1936. As discussed in 
<a href="secI8.html#seci811">section 
I.8.11</a>, these comments are justifications of CNT-FAI actions and 
were designed for political effect. As such, they simply cannot 
be taken at face value for two reasons. 
<p>
Firstly, the decision to collaborate was obviously driven by fear 
of Franco and the concern not to divide the forces fighting him. 
As the 1937 report to the AIT put it, the CNT had a <i>"difficult 
alternative: to completely destroy the state, to declare war 
against the Rebels, the government, foreign capitalists . . . or 
collaborating."</i> [quoted by Robert Alexander, <b>The Anarchists in 
the Spanish Civil War</b>, vol. 2, p. 1156] That was the reality 
facing the CNT -- not Stack's pondering of Garcia Oliver quotes 
ripped from their historical context. 
<p>
Secondly, Oliver's arguments are totally contradictory. After all, 
he is arguing that libertarian communism (a society based on 
directly democratic free associations organised and run from 
the bottom up) is an <i>"anarchist dictatorship"</i> and <b>less</b> 
democratic than the capitalist Republic Garica Oliver had 
been fighting against for most of his life! Moreover, 
libertarian communism <b>was</b> the revolution. As such, to choose 
it over capitalist democracy to stop <i>"the strangulation of the 
revolution"</i> makes no sense, as the revolution which was created 
by the rank-and-file of the anarchist movement after the defeat 
of Franco was based on libertarian communist ideas and ideals!
<p>
For these reasons, it is safe to take Garica Oliver's words with
a large pinch of salt. To rely upon them for an analysis of the
actions of the Spanish Anarchists or the failings of anarchism
suggests an extremely superficial perspective. This is particularly
the case when we look at both the history of the CNT and anarchist
theory. According to anarchist ideas, the social revolution, to 
quote Bakunin, must <i>"totally destroy the State,"</i> expropriate 
capital and the land <i>"on behalf of workers' associations"</i> and
create <i>"the federative Alliance of all working men's associations"</i> 
which <i>"will constitute the Commune."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected 
Writings</b>, p. 170] Therefore, it is <i>"not true to say that we 
completely ignore politics. We do not ignore it, for we definitely 
want to destroy it."</i> [Bakunin, <b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, 
p. 331] As can be seen, the CNT ignored these recommendations. Given 
that the CNT did <b>not</b> destroy the state, nor create a federation of
workers' councils, then how can anarchist theory be blamed? It
seems strange to point to the failure of anarchists to apply their
politics as an example of the failure of those politics, yet this
is what Stack is doing.
<p>
As we discuss in 
<a href="secI8.html#seci811">section I.8.11</a>, 
the CNT leadership, going against
anarchist theory, decided to postpone the revolution until <b>after</b> 
Franco was defeated. As the Catalan CNT leadership put it in August 
1936:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Reports have also been received from other regions. There has been
some talk about the impatience of some comrades who wish to go
futher than crushing fascism, but for the moment the situation in
Spain as a whole is extremely delicate. In revolutionary terms,
Catalonia is an oasis within Spain.
<p>
"Obviously no one can foresee the changes which may follow the
civil war and the conquest of that part of Spain which is still
under the control of mutinous reactionaries."</i> [quoted by Jose
Peirats, <b>The CNT in the Spanish Revolution</b>, vol. 1, pp. 151-2]
</blockquote><p>
As can be seen, concern that Catalonia would be isolated from the
rest of the Republic is foremost in their minds. Equally, there is
the acknowledgement that many CNT members were applying anarchist
politics by fighting fascism via a revolutionary war. This can
be seen by the rank and file of the CNT and FAI ignoring the 
decision "postpone" the revolution in favour of an anti-fascist
war. All across Republican Spain, workers and peasants started to 
expropriate capital and the land, placing it under workers' 
self-management. They did so on their own initiative. They also 
applied anarchist ideas in full in Aragon, where the <b>Council of 
Aragon</b> was created in October 1936 at a meeting of delegates 
from CNT unions, village collectives and militia columns. In 
other words, the creation of a federation of workers' 
associations as argued by Bakunin. Little wonder Stack fails 
to mention what happened in Aragon, it would undermine his
argument against anarchism to mention it.
<p>
To contrast Catalonia and Aragon shows the weakness of Stack's 
argument. The same organisation, with the same politics, yet 
different results. How can anarchist ideas be blamed for what
happened in Catalonia when they had been applied in Aragon? Such 
a position could not be logically argued and, unsurprisingly, 
Aragon usually fails to get mentioned by Marxists when discussing
Anarchism during the Spanish Civil War. The continuity of what 
happened in Aragon with the ideas of anarchism and the CNT's 1936 
Zaragoza Resolution on Libertarian Communism is clear.
<p>
In summary, how could anarchism have <i>"failed"</i> during the Spanish
Revolution when it was ignored in Catalonia (for fear of fascism) 
and applied in Aragon? How can it be argued that anarchist politics 
were to blame when those very same politics had formed the Council 
of Aragon? It cannot. Simply put, the Spanish Civil War showed
the failure of certain anarchists to apply their ideas in a
difficult situation rather than the failure of anarchism.
<p>
Needless to say, Stack also claims that the <b>Friends of Durruti</b>
group developed towards Marxism. As he puts it:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Interestingly the one Spanish anarchist group that developed the 
most sophisticated critique of all this was the Friends of Durutti. 
As Felix Morrow points out, 'They represented a conscious break with 
the anti-statism of traditional anarchism. They explicitly declared 
the need for democratic organs of power, juntas or soviets, in the 
overthrow of capitalism, and the necessary state measures of 
repression against the counter-revolution.' The failure of the 
Spanish anarchists to understand exactly that these were the stark 
choices´┐Ż workers' power, or capitalist power followed by reaction."</i>
</blockquote><p>
The <b>Friends of Durruti</b> (FoD) were an anarchist grouping within the 
CNT and FAI which, like a large minority of others, strongly and 
consistently opposed the policy of anti-fascist unity. However,
rather than signify a <i>"conscious break"</i> with anarchism, it signified
a conscious <b>return</b> to it. This can be clearly seen when we compare
their arguments to those of Bakunin. As noted by Stack, the FoD
argued for <i>"juntas"</i> in the overthrow of capitalism and to defend
against counter-revolution. This is <b>exactly</b> what revolutionary 
anarchists have argued for since Bakunin (see 
<a href="secH2.html#sech21">section H.2.1</a> 
for details)! The continuity of the ideas of 
FoD with the pre-Civil War politics of the CNT and the ideas of 
revolutionary anarchism are clear. As such, the FoD 
were simply arguing for a return to the traditional positions of 
anarchism and cannot be considered to have broken with it. If Stack 
or Morrow knew anything about anarchism, then they would have known 
this.
<p>
(See <i><a href="append32.html#app8">"Did the Friends of Durruti 'break with' anarchism?"</a></i> in the 
<i><a href="append32.html">"Marxists and Spanish Anarchism"</a></i> appendix for a much fuller 
discussion of this topic.)
<p>
As such, the failure of the Spanish anarchists was not the <i>"stark
choice"</i> between <i>"workers' power"</i> and <i>"capitalist power"</i> but rather
the making of the wrong choice in the real dilemma of introducing 
anarchism (which would, by definition, be based on workers' power, 
organisation and self-management) or collaborating with other 
anti-fascist groups in the struggle against the greater enemy of 
Franco (i.e. fascist reaction). That Stack does not see this
suggests that he simply has no appreciation of the dynamics of
the Spanish Revolution and prefers abstract sloganeering to a
serious analysis of the problems facing it.
<p>
Stack ends by summarising:
<p><blockquote><i>
"The most important lesson . . . is that whatever ideals and gut 
instincts individual anarchists may have, anarchism, both in 
word and deed, fails to provide a roadworthy vehicle for human 
liberation. Only Marxism, which sees the centrality of the working 
class under the leadership of a political party, is capable of 
leading the working class to victory."</i>
</blockquote><p>
As a useful antidote to these claims, we need simply quote Trotsky 
on what the Spanish anarchists should have done. In his words: 
<i>"Because the leaders of the CNT renounced dictatorship <b>for 
themselves</b> they left the place open for the Stalinist dictatorship."</i> 
[our emphasis, <b>Writings 1936-7</b>, p. 514] Hardly an example of
"workers' power"!
<p>
Or, as he put it in his essay <i>"Stalinism and Bolshevism,"</i> a
<i>"revolutionary party, even having seized power (of which the 
anarchist leaders were incapable in spite of the heroism of the 
anarchist workers), is still by no means the sovereign ruler of 
society."</i> [<i>"Stalinism and Bolshevism"</i>, <b>Socialist Review</b>, 
no. 146, p. 16] Rather than seeing <i>"democratic organs of power, 
juntas or soviets, in the overthrow of capitalism"</i> as being the 
key issue, Trotsky considered the party as being the decisive 
factor. Indeed, the idea that such organs ("juntas" or "soviets,"
to use Stack's words) could replace the party dictatorship is 
dismissed:
<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>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 18]
</blockquote><p>
Clearly, the leading Marxist at the time was not arguing for the
<i>"centrality of the working class under the leadership of a political
party."</i> He was arguing for the dictatorship of a "revolutionary"
party <i><b>over</b></i> the working class. Rather than the working class being 
"central" to the running of a revolutionary regime, Trotsky saw the 
party being in the central position. What sort of <i>"victory"</i> is 
possible when the party has dictatorial power over the working class 
and the <i>"sovereign ruler"</i> of society? Simply the kind of 
<i>"victory"</i> that leads to Stalinism.
<p>
Anarchists reject this vision. They also reject the first step along 
this path, namely the identification of party power with workers' power. 
Simply put, if the "revolutionary" party is in power then the working 
class is not. Rather than seeing working class organisations as the 
means by which working people run society, Leninists see them purely 
in instrumental terms -- the means by which the party can seize power.
As the Russian Revolution proved beyond doubt, in a conflict between
workers' power and party power Leninists will suppress the former
to ensure the latter (see <a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a>). As Trotsky argued in 1939
(18 years after he made similar arguments when he was in power)
the <i>"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]
<p>
To paraphrase Stack, the most important lesson from both the Russian
and Spanish revolutions is that whatever ideals and gut instincts 
individual Leninists may have, Leninism, both in word and deed, fails 
to provide a roadworthy vehicle for human liberation. Only Anarchism, 
which sees the centrality of the working class management of the class
struggle and revolution, is capable of ensuring the creation of a
real, free, socialist society. 
<p>
Therefore, rather than see the failure of anarchism, the Spanish 
Revolution showed the failure of anarchists to apply their politics 
due to exceptionally difficult objective circumstances, a mistake
which almost all anarchists acknowledge and have learned from. 
This does not justify the decision, rather it helps to explain 
it. Moreover, the Spanish Revolution also has a clear example of 
anarchism being applied in the Council of Aragon. As such, it is 
hard to blame anarchism for the failure of the CNT when the same 
organisation applied its ideas successfully there. Simply put, 
Marxist claims that the Spanish Revolution shows the failure of 
anarchist ideas are not only wrong, they are extremely superficial 
and not rooted in the objective circumstances of the time.
<p>
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