File: secI5.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 (3345 lines) | stat: -rw-r--r-- 191,089 bytes parent folder | download
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<html>
<HEAD>

<TITLE>I.5 What could the social structure of anarchy look like?</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>

<h1>I.5 What could the social structure of anarchy look like?</h1>
<p>
The social and political structure of anarchy is similar to 
that of the economic structure, i.e., it is based on a voluntary 
federation of decentralised, directly democratic policy-making 
bodies. These are the neighbourhood and community assemblies and
their confederations. In these grassroots political units, the 
concept of <i>"self-management"</i> becomes that of <i>"self-government"</i>, a 
form of municipal organisation in which people take back control 
of their living places from the bureaucratic state and the capitalist 
class whose interests it serves. 
<p>
<i>"A new economic phase demands a new political phase,"</i> argued
Kropotkin, <i>"A revolution as profound as that dreamed of by
the [libertarian] socialists cannot accept the mould of an
out-dated political life. A new society based on equality of
condition, on the collective possession of the instruments of
work, cannot tolerate for a week . . . the representative
system . . . if we want the social revolution, we must seek
a form of political organisation that will correspond to the
new method of economic organisation. . . . The future belongs
to the free groupings of interests and not to governmental
centralisation; it belongs to freedom and not to authority."</i> 
[<b>Words of a Rebel</b>, pp. 143-4]
<p>
Thus the social structure of an anarchist society will be the opposite
of the current system. Instead of being centralised and top-down as
in the state, it will be decentralised and organised from the bottom
up. As Kropotkin argued, <i>"socialism must become <b>more popular</b>, more 
communalistic, and less dependent upon indirect government through 
elected representatives. It must become more <b>self-governing.</b>"</i> 
[<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 185] While anarchists
have various different conceptions of how this communal system
would be constituted (as we will see), they is total agreement
on these basic visions and principles.
<p>
This empowerment of ordinary citizens through decentralisation and 
direct democracy will eliminate the alienation and apathy that are 
now rampant in the modern city and town, and (as always happens when 
people are free) unleash a flood of innovation in dealing with the 
social breakdown now afflicting our urban wastelands. The gigantic 
metropolis with its hierarchical and impersonal administration, its 
atomised and isolated <i>"residents,"</i> will be transformed into a network 
of humanly scaled participatory communities (usually called <i>"communes"</i>), 
each with its own unique character and forms of self-government, which 
will be co-operatively linked through federation with other communities 
at several levels, from the municipal through the bioregional to the 
global.
<p>
Of course, it can (and has) been argued that people are just not
interested in <i>"politics."</i> Further, some claim that this disinterest 
is why governments exist -- people delegate their responsibilities and 
power to others because they have better things to do. Such an
argument, however, is flawed on empirical grounds. As we indicated
in 
<a href="secB2.html#secb26">section B.2.6</a>, 
centralisation of power in both the French and
American revolutions occurred <b>because</b> working people were taking
<b>too much</b> interest in politics and social issues, not the reverse
(<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]).
<p>
Simply put, the state is centralised to facilitate <b>minority rule</b> 
by excluding the mass of people from taking part in the decision 
making processes within society. This is to be expected as social 
structures do not evolve by chance -- rather they develop to meet 
specific needs and requirements. The specific need of the ruling 
class is to rule and that means marginalising the bulk of the 
population. Its requirement is for minority power and this is 
transformed into the structure of the state (and the capitalist 
company). 
<p>
Even if we ignore the historical evidence on this issue, anarchists
do not draw this conclusion from the current apathy that surrounds 
us. In fact, we argue that this apathy is not the cause of 
government but its result. Government is an inherently hierarchical 
system in which ordinary people are deliberately marginalised. The 
powerlessness people feel due to the workings of the system ensure 
that they are apathetic about it, thus guaranteeing that wealthy 
and powerful elites govern society without hindrance from the 
oppressed and exploited majority. 
<p>
Moreover, government usually sticks its nose into areas that 
most people have no real interest in. Some things, as in the 
regulation of industry or workers' safety and rights, a free 
society could leave to those affected to make their own 
decisions (we doubt that workers would subject themselves to 
unsafe working conditions, for example). In others, such as 
the question of personal morality and acts, a free people 
would have no interest in (unless it harmed others, of course). 
This, again, would reduce the number of issues that would
be discussed in a free commune.
<p>
Also, via decentralisation, a free people would be mainly 
discussing local issues, so reducing the complexity of many
questions and solutions. Wider issues would, of course, be
discussed but these would be on specific issues and so
more focused in their nature than those raised in the
legislative bodies of the state. So, a combination of 
centralisation and an irrational desire to discuss every 
and all questions also helps make <i>"politics"</i> seem boring 
and irrelevant.
<p>
As noted above, this result is not an accident and the 
marginalisation of <i>"ordinary"</i> people is actually celebrated 
in bourgeois <i>"democratic"</i> theory. As Noam Chomsky notes:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Twentieth century democratic theorists advise that 'The public 
mmust be put in its place,' so that the 'responsible men' may 
'live free of the trampling and roar of a bewildered herd,' 
'ignorant and meddlesome outsiders' whose 'function' is to be 
'interested spectators of action,' not participants, lending 
their weight periodically to one or another of the leadership 
class (elections), then returning to their private concerns. 
(Walter Lippman). The great mass of the population, 'ignorant
and mentally deficient,' must be kept in their place for the 
common good, fed with 'necessary illusion' and 'emotionally 
potent oversimplifications' (Wilson's Secretary of State 
Robert Lansing, Reinhold Niebuhr). Their 'conservative' 
counterparts are only more extreme in their adulation of the
Wise Men who are the rightful rulers -- in the service of the 
rich and powerful, a minor footnote regularly forgotten."</i> 
[<b>Year 501</b>, p. 18]
</blockquote><p>
As discussed in Section B.2.6 
(<a href="secB2.html#secb26"><i>"Who benefits from centralisation?"</i></a>) 
this marginalisation of the public from political life ensures that 
the wealthy can be <i>"left alone"</i> to use their power as they see fit. 
In other words, such marginalisation is a necessary part of a fully 
functioning capitalist society. Hence, under capitalism, libertarian 
social structures have to be discouraged. Or as Chomsky puts it, the 
<i>"rabble must be instructed in the values of subordination and a
narrow quest for personal gain within the parameters set by the
institutions of the masters; meaningful democracy, with popular
association and action, is a threat to be overcome."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 18] This philosophy can be seen in the statement of a US Banker 
in Venezuela under the murderous Jimenez dictatorship:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"You have the freedom here to do whatever you want to do with your 
money, and to me, that is worth all the political freedom in the 
world."</i> [quoted by Chomsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 99]
</blockquote><p>
Deterring libertarian alternatives to statism is a common feature of our
current system. By marginalising and disempowering people, the ability of
individuals to manage their own social activities is undermined and
weakened. They develop a <i>"fear of freedom"</i> and embrace authoritarian 
institutions and <i>"strong leaders,"</i> which in turn reinforces their 
marginalisation.
<p>
This consequence is hardly surprising. Anarchists maintain that the 
desire to participate and the ability to participate are in a symbiotic 
relationship: participation feeds on itself. By creating the social 
structures that allow participation, participation will increase. As 
people increasingly take control of their lives, so their ability to 
do so also increases. The challenge of having to take responsibility 
for decisions that make a difference is at the same time an opportunity 
for personal development. To begin to feel power, having previously felt 
powerless, to win access to the resources required for effective 
participation and learn how to use them, is a liberating experience. 
Once people become active subjects, making things happen in one aspect 
of their lives, they are less likely to remain passive objects, allowing 
things to happen to them, in other aspects. All in all, <i>"politics"</i> is far 
too important an subject to leave to politicians, the wealthy and 
bureaucrats. After all, it is what affects, your friends, community, 
and, ultimately, the planet you live on. Such issues cannot be left 
to anyone but you.
<p>
Hence a meaningful communal life based on self-empowered individuals is  
a distinct possibility (indeed, it has repeatedly appeared throughout
history). It is the hierarchical structures in statism and capitalism, 
marginalising and disempowering the majority, which is at the root of 
the current wide scale apathy in the face of increasing social and
ecological disruption. Libertarian socialists therefore call for a 
radically new form of political system to replace the centralised 
nation-state, a form that would be based around confederations of
self-governing communities. In other words, in anarchism <i>"<b>[s]ociety 
is a society of societies; a league of leagues of leagues; a 
commonwealth of commonwealths of commonwealths; a republic of 
republics of republics.</b> Only there is freedom and order, only 
there is spirit, a spirit which is self-sufficiency and community, 
unity and independence."</i> [Gustav Landauer, <b>For Socialism</b>, 
pp. 125-126]
<p>
To create such a system would require dismantling the nation-state 
and reconstituting relations between communities on the basis of
self-determination and free and equal confederation from below. In the
following subsections we  will examine in more detail why this new system
is needed and what it might look like. As we stressed in the introduction,
these are just suggestions of possible anarchist solutions to social
organisation. Most anarchists recognise that anarchist communities
will co-exist with non-anarchist ones after the destruction of the 
existing state. As we are anarchists we are discussing anarchist visions.
We will leave it up to non-anarchists to paint their own pictures of
a possible future.
<p>
<a name="seci51"><h2>I.5.1 What are participatory communities?</h2>
<p>
As Murray Bookchin argues in <b>The Rise of Urbanisation and the 
Decline of Citizenship</b> (reprinted as <b>From Urbanisation to
Cities</b>), the modern city is a virtual appendage of the capitalist
workplace, being an outgrowth and essential counterpart of the 
factory (where <i>"factory"</i> means any enterprise in which surplus 
value is extracted from employees). As such, cities are structured 
and administered primarily to serve the needs of the capitalist 
elite -- employers -- rather than the needs of the many -- their 
employees and their families. From this standpoint, the city must
be seen as (1) a transportation hub for importing raw materials 
and exporting finished products; and (2) a huge dormitory for 
wage slaves, conveniently locating them near the enterprises 
where their labour is to exploited, providing them with 
entertainment, clothing, medical facilities, etc. as well 
as coercive mechanisms for controlling their behaviour. 
<p>
The attitude behind the management of these <i>"civic"</i> functions 
by the bureaucratic servants of the capitalist ruling class is 
purely instrumental: worker-citizens are to be treated merely 
aas means to corporate ends, not as ends in themselves. This 
attitude is reflected in the overwhelmingly alienating features 
of the modern city: its inhuman scale; the chilling impersonality 
of its institutions and functionaries; its sacrifice of health, 
comfort, pleasure, and aesthetic considerations to bottom-line 
requirements of efficiency and <i>"cost effectiveness"</i>; the lack 
of any real communal interaction among residents other than
collective consumption of commodities and amusements; their 
consequent social isolation and tendency to escape into 
television, alcohol, drugs, gangs, etc. Such features make 
the modern metropolis the very antithesis of the genuine 
community for which most of its residents hunger. This 
contradiction at the heart of the system contains the 
possibility of radical social and political change.
<p>
The key to that change, from the anarchist standpoint, is the 
creation of a network of participatory communities based on 
self-government through direct, face-to-face democracy in 
grassroots neighbourhood and community assemblies. As we
argued in 
<a href="secI2.html#seci23">section I.2.3</a> 
such assemblies will be born in 
social struggle and so reflect the needs of the struggle 
and those within it so our comments here must be considered
as generalisations of the salient features of such communities
and <b>not</b> blue-prints. 
<p>
Traditionally, these participatory communities were called 
<b>communes</b> in anarchist theory (<i>"The basic social and economic 
cell of the anarchist society is the free, independent commune"</i> 
[A. Grachev, quoted by Paul Avrich, <b>The Anarchists in the
Russian Revolution</b>, p. 64]). Within anarchist thought, 
there are two main conceptions of the free commune. One
vision is based on workplace delegates, the other on 
neighbourhood assemblies. We will sketch each in turn.
<p>
Bakunin argued that 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 communes, regions, nations and finally
in a great federation, international and universal."</i> 
In other words, <i>"the federative Alliance of all working
men's associations . . . will constitute the commune."</i> 
[<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, p. 206 and p. 170]
<p>
This vision of the commune was created during many 
later revolutions (such as in Russia in 1905 and 1917
and Hungary in 1956). Being based on workplaces, this 
form of commune has the advantage of being based on 
groups of people who are naturally associated during 
most of the day (Bakunin considered workplace bodies
as <i>"the natural organisation of the masses"</i> as they
were <i>"based on the various types of work"</i> which 
<i>"define their actual day-to-day life"</i> [<b>The Basic
Bakunin</b>, p. 139]). This would facilitate the 
organisation of assemblies, discussion on social,
economic and political issues and the mandating and
recalling of delegates. Moreover, it combines political
and economic power in one organisation, so ensuring
that the working class actually manages society.
<p>
This vision was stressed by later anarchist thinkers.
For example, Spanish anarchist Issac Puente thought
that in towns and cities <i>"the part of the free 
municipality is played by local federation. . . 
Ultimate sovereignty in the local federation
of industrial unions lies with the general assembly
of all local producers."</i> [<b>Libertarian Communism</b>,
p. 27] The Russian anarchist G. P. Maximoff saw
the <i>"communal confederation"</i> as being <i>"constituted
by thousands of freely acting labour organisations."</i> 
[<b>The Program of Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 43]
<p>
Other anarchists counterpoise neighbourhood assemblies to 
workers' councils. These assemblies will be general meetings 
open to all citizens in every neighbourhood, town, and village, 
and will be the source of and final <i>"authority"</i> over public 
policy for all levels of confederal co-ordination. Such <i>"town 
meetings"</i> will bring ordinary people directly into the political 
process and give them an equal voice in the decisions that affect 
their lives. Such anarchists point to the experience of the
French Revolution of 1789 and the <i>"sections"</i> of the Paris 
Commune as the key example of <i>"a people governing itself 
directly -- when possible -- without intermediaries, without 
masters."</i> It is argued, based on this experience, that <i>"the 
principles of anarchism . . . dated from 1789, and that they 
had their origin, not in theoretical speculations, but in the 
<b>deeds</b> of the Great French Revolution."</i> [Peter Kropotkin, 
<b>The Great French Revolution</b>, vol. 1, p. 210 and p. 204] 
<p>
Critics of workers' councils point out that not all working
class people work in factories or workplaces. Many are
parents who look after children, for example. By basing
the commune around the workplace, such people are 
automatically excluded. Moreover, in most modern cities
many people do not live near where they work. It would
mean that local affairs could not be effectively discussed
in a system of workers' councils as many who take part
in the debate are unaffected by the decisions reached
(this is something which the supporters of workers' 
councils <b>have</b> noticed and argue for councils which 
are delegates from both the inhabitants <b>and</b> the 
enterprises of an area).
<p>
In addition, anarchists like Murray Bookchin argue that
workplace based systems automatically generate <i>"special
interests"</i> and so exclude community issues. Only community
assemblies can <i>"transcend the traditional special interests 
of work, workplace, status, and property relations, and
create a <b>general</b> interest based on shared community
problems."</i> [Murray Bookchin, <b>From Urbanisation to Cities</b>,
p. 254]
<p>
However, such communities assemblies can only be valid if
they can be organised rapidly in order to make decisions
and to mandate and recall delegates. In the capitalist city,
many people work far from where they live and so such
meetings have to be called for after work or at weekends.
Thus the key need is to reduce the working day/week and
to communalise industry. For this reason, many anarchists
continue to support the workers' council vision of the
commune, complemented by community assemblies for those
who live in an area but do not work in a traditional
workplace (e.g. parents bring up small children, the 
old, the sick and so on).
<p>
These positions are not hard and fast divisions, far from it.
Puente, for example, thought that in the countryside the
dominant commune would be <i>"all the residents of a village
or hamlet meeting in an assembly (council) with full
powers to administer local affairs."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 25]
Kropotkin supported the soviets of the Russian Revolution,
arguing that the <i>"idea of soviets . . . of councils of
workers and peasants . . . controlling the economic and
political life of the country is a great idea. All the
more so, since it necessarily follows that these councils
should be composed of all who take part in the production
of natural wealth by their own efforts."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's
Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 254] 
<p>
Which method, workers' councils or community assemblies, will 
be used in a given community will depend on local conditions,
needs and aspirations and it is useless to draw hard and
fast rules. It is likely that some sort of combination of 
the two approaches will be used, with workers' councils being
complemented by community assemblies until such time as
a reduced working week and decentralisation of urban centres
will make purely community assemblies the more realistic
option. It is likely that in a fully libertarian society,
community assemblies will be the dominant communal organisation
but in the period immediately after a revolution this may
not be immediately possible. Objective conditions, rather 
than predictions, will be the deciding factor. Under
capitalism, anarchists pursue both forms of organisation,
arguing for community <b>and</b> industrial unionism in the
class struggle (see sections 
<a href="secJ5.html#secj51">J.5.1</a> and 
<a href="secJ5.html#secj52">J.5.2</a>).
<p>
Regardless of the exact make up of the commune, they would
share identical features. They would be free associations, 
based upon the self-assumed obligation of those who join them. 
In free association, participation is essential simply because 
it is the <b>only</b> means by which individuals can collectively 
govern themselves (and unless they govern themselves, someone 
else will). <i>"As a unique individual,"</i> Stirner argues, <i>"you can
assert yourself alone in association, because the association 
does not own you, because you are one who owns it or who turns 
it to your own advantage."</i> The rules governing the association 
aare determined by the associated and can be changed by them 
(and so a vast improvement over <i>"love it or leave"</i>) as are 
the policies the association follows. Thus, the association 
<i>"does not impose itself as a spiritual power superior to my 
spirit. I have no wish to become a slave to my maxims, but
would rather subject them to my ongoing criticism."</i> [Max 
Stirner, <b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1, p. 17]
<p>
Thus participatory communities are freely joined and self-managed 
by their members. No more division between order givers and order 
takers as exist within the state or capitalist workplaces. Rather 
the associated govern themselves and while the assembled people 
collectively decide the rules governing their association, and 
are bound by them as individuals, they are also superior to them
in the sense that these rules can always be modified or repealed 
(see section A.2.11 -- 
<a href="secA2.html#seca211"><i>"Why are most anarchists in favour of direct 
democracy?"</i></a> -- for more details). As can be seen, a participatory 
commune is new form of social life, radically different from the 
state as it is decentralised, self-governing and based upon
individual autonomy and free agreement. Thus Kropotkin:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The 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>Words of a Rebel</b>, p. 125]
</blockquote><p>
This <i>"new form of political organisation has to be worked out 
the moment that socialistic principles shall enter our life. 
And it is self-evident that this new form will have to be 
<b>more popular, more decentralised, and nearer to the folk-mote 
self-government</b> than representative government can  ever be."</i> 
[Kropotkin, <b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 184] He, 
like all anarchists, considered the idea that socialism could 
be created by taking over the current state or creating a new 
one as doomed to failure. Instead, he recognised that socialism 
would only be built using new organisations that reflect the 
spirit of socialism (such as freedom, self-government and so 
on). Kropotkin, like Proudhon and Bakunin before him, therefore 
argued that <i>"<b>[t]his was the form that the social revolution 
must take</b> -- the independent commune. . . [whose] inhabitants 
have decided that they <b>will</b> communalise the consumption of 
commodities, their exchange and their production."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 163]
<p>
In a nutshell, a participatory community is a free association, 
based upon the mass assembly of people who live in a common area, 
the means by which they make the decisions that affect them, 
their communities, bio-regions and the planet. Their essential 
task is to provide a forum for raising public issues and deciding 
them. Moreover, these assemblies will be a key way of generating 
a community (and community spirit) and building and enriching 
social relationships between individuals and, equally important, 
of developing and enriching individuals by the very process of 
participation in communal affairs. By discussing, thinking and 
listening to others, individuals develop their own abilities and
powers while at the same time managing their own affairs, so 
ensuring that no one else does (i.e. they govern themselves 
and are no longer governed from above by others). As Kropotkin 
argued, self-management has an educational effect on those who 
practice it:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The 'permanence' of the general assemblies of the sections
-- that is, the possibility of calling the  general assembly
whenever it was wanted by the members of the section and of
discussing everything in the general assembly. . . will educate 
every citizen politically. . . The section in permanence
-- the forum always open -- is the only wayy . . . to
assure an honest and intelligent administration."</i> [<b>The
Great French Revolution</b>, vol. 1, pp. 210-1]
</blockquote><p>
As well as integrating the social life of a community and
encouraging the political and social development of its
members, these free communes will also be integrated into 
the local ecology. Humanity would life in harmony with nature 
as well as with itself:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"We can envision that their squares will be interlaced by 
streams, their places of assembly surrounded by groves, their 
physical contours respected and tastefully landscaped, their 
soils nurtured carefully to foster plant variety for ourselves, 
our domestic animals, and wherever possible the wildlife they 
may support on their fringes."</i> [Murray Bookchin, <b>The Ecology 
of Freedom</b>, p. 344]
</blockquote><p>
The commune itself would aim for a balanced mix of agriculture
and industry, as described by Peter Kropotkin in his classic work 
<b>Fields, Factories and Workshops</b>. Thus a free commune would aim to 
integrate the individual into social and communal life, rural and 
urban life into a balanced whole and human life into the wider 
ecology. In this way the free commune would make human habitation 
fully ecological, ending the sharp and needless (and dehumanising 
and de-individualising) division of human life from the rest of 
the planet. The commune will be a key means of the expressing 
diversity within humanity and the planet as well as improving 
the quality of life in society:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The Commune . . . will be entirely devoted to improving the communal
life of the locality. Making their requests to the appropriate 
Syndicates, Builders', Public Health, Transport or Power, the
inhabitants of each Commune will be able to gain all reasonable
living amenities, town planning, parks, play-grounds, trees in
the street, clinics, museums and art galleries. Giving, like the
medieval city assembly, an opportunity for any interested person
to take part in, and influence, his town's affairs and appearance,
the Commune will be a very different body from the borough council. . .
<p>
"In ancient and medieval times cities and villages expressed the
different characters of different localities and their inhabitants.
In redstone, Portland or granite, in plaster or brick, in pitch of
roof, arrangements of related buildings or patterns of slate and 
thatch each locality added to the interests of travellers . . .
each expressed itself in castle, home or cathedral.
<p>
"How different is the dull, drab, or flashy ostentatious monotony
of modern England. Each town is the same. The same Woolworth's,
Odeon Cinemas, and multiple shops, the same 'council houses' or
'semi-detached villas' . . . North, South, East or West, what's
the difference, where is the change?
<p>
"With the Commune the ugliness and monotony of present town and
country life will be swept away, and each locality and region,
each person will be able to express the joy of living, by living
together."</i> [Tom Brown, <b>Syndicalism</b>, p. 59]
</blockquote><p>
The size of the neighbourhood assemblies will vary, but it will probably
fluctuate around some ideal size, discoverable in practice, that will
provide a viable scale of face-to-face interaction and allow for both 
a variety of personal contacts and the opportunity to know and form a
personal estimation of everyone in the neighbourhood. Some anarchists 
have suggested that the ideal size for a neighbourhood assembly might 
be under one thousand adults. This, of course, suggests that any town
or city would itself be a confederation of assemblies -- as was, of
course, practised very effectively in Paris during the Great French
Revolution. 
<p>
Such assemblies would meet regularly, at the very least monthly
(probably more often, particularly during periods which require
fast and often decision making, like a revolution), and deal with 
a variety of issues. In the words of the CNT's resolution on
libertarian communism:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"the foundation of this administration will be the commune. 
These communes are to be autonomous and will be federated at 
regional and national levels to achieve their general goals. 
The right to autonomy does not preclude the duty to implement 
agreements regarding collective benefits.
<p>
"[The] commune . . . without any voluntary restrictions will 
undertake to adhere to whatever general norms may be agreed by 
majority vote after free debate. In return, those communities 
which industrialisation . . .  may agree upon a different model 
of co-existence and will be entitled to an autonomous 
administration released from the general commitments . . .
<p>
". . . the commune is to be autonomous and confederated with the
other communes . . . the commune will have the duty to concern 
itself with whatever may be of interest to the individual.
<p>
"It will have to oversee organising, running and beautification of 
the settlement. It will see that its inhabitants; are housed and 
that items and products be made available to them by the producers' 
unions or associations.
<p>
"Similarly, it is concern itself with hygiene, the keeping of
communal statistics and with collective requirements such as
education, health services and with the maintenance and 
improvement of local means of communication.
<p>
"It will orchestrate relations with other communes and will 
take care to stimulate all artistic and cultural pursuits.
<p>
"So that this mission may be properly fulfilled, a communal
council is to be appointed . . . None of these posts will
carry any executive or bureaucratic powers . . . [its members]
will perform their role as producers coming together in session 
at the close of the day's work to discuss the detailed items 
which may not require the endorsement of communal assemblies.
<p>
"Assemblies are to be summoned as often as required by 
communal interests, upon the request of the communal council
or according to the wishes of the inhabitants of each
commune . . . 
<p>
"The inhabitants of a commune are to debate among themselves 
their internal problems . . . Federations are to deliberate 
over major problems affecting a country or province and all 
communes are to be represented at their reunions and assemblies, 
thereby enabling their delegates to convey the democratic 
viewpoint of their respective communes . . . every commune 
which is implicated will have its right to have its say . . . 
On matters of a regional nature, it is the duty of the regional 
federation to implement agreements . . . So the starting point 
is the individual, moving on through the commune, to the 
federation and right on up finally to the confederation."</i> 
[quoted by Jose Peirats, <b>The CNT in the Spanish Revolution</b>, 
vol. 1, pp. 106-7]
</blockquote><p>
Thus the communal assembly discusses that which affects the
community and those within it. As these local community 
associations, will be members of larger communal bodies,
the communal assembly will also discuss issues which affect
wider areas, as indicated, and mandate their delegates to
discuss them at confederation assemblies (see 
<a href="secI5.html#seci52">next section</a>). 
This system, we must note, was applied with great success
during the Spanish revolution (see 
<a href="secI8.html">section I.8</a>) and so
cannot be dismissed as wishful thinking.
<p>
However, of course, the actual framework of a free society will 
be worked out in practice. As Bakunin correctly argued, society 
<i>"can, and must, organise itself in a different fashion [than what 
came before], but not from top to bottom and according to an ideal 
plan"</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, p. 205] What does 
seem likely is that confederations of communes will be required. 
We turn to this in the <a href="secI5.html#seci52">next section</a>.
<p>
<a name="seci52"><h2>I.5.2 Why are confederations of participatory communities needed?</h2>
<p>
Since not all issues are local, the neighbourhood and community 
assemblies will also elect mandated and recallable delegates to 
the larger-scale units of self-government in order to address 
issues affecting larger areas, such as urban districts, the city 
or town as a whole, the county, the bio-region, and ultimately 
the entire planet. Thus the assemblies will confederate at 
several levels in order to develop and co-ordinate common 
policies to deal with common problems. 
<p>
In the words of the CNT's resolution on libertarian communism:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The inhabitants of a commune are to debate among themselves their 
internal problems . . . Federations are to deliberate over major 
problems affecting a country or province and all communes are to be 
represented at their reunions and assemblies, thereby enabling 
their delegates to convey the democratic viewpoint of their 
respective communes.
<p>
"If, say, roads have to be built to link villages of a county 
or any matter arises to do with transportation and exchange 
of produce between agricultural and industrial counties, then
naturally every commune which is implicated will have its right 
to have its say.
<p>
"On matters of a regional nature, it is the duty of the regional 
federation to implement agreements which will represent the 
sovereign will of all the region's inhabitants. So the starting 
point is the individual, moving on through the commune, to the 
federation and right on up finally to the confederation.
<p>
"Similarly, discussion of all problems of a national nature
shall flow a like pattern . . . "</i> [quoted by Jose Peirats, 
<b>The CNT in the Spanish Revolution</b>, p. 107]
</blockquote><p>
In other words, the commune <i>"cannot any longer acknowledge 
any superior: that, above it, there cannot be anything, save the 
interests of the Federation, freely embraced by itself in concert 
with other Communes."</i> [Kropotkin, <b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1, 
p. 259] 
<p>
Federalism is applicable at all levels of society. As Kropotkin 
pointed out, anarchists <i>"understand that if no central government 
was needed to rule the independent communes, if national 
government is thrown overboard and national unity is obtained by 
free federation, then a central <b>municipal</b> government becomes 
equally useless and noxious. The same federative principle would 
do within the commune."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, 
pp. 163-164] Thus the whole of society would be a free federation, 
from the local community right up to the global level. And this 
free federation would be based squarely on the autonomy and 
self-government of local groups. With federalism, co-operation 
replaces coercion.
<p>
This need for co-operation does not imply a centralised body. 
To exercise your autonomy by joining self-managing organisations 
and, therefore, agreeing to abide by the decisions you help make 
is not a denial of that autonomy (unlike joining a hierarchical 
structure, where you forsake autonomy <b>within</b> the organisation). 
In a <b>centralised</b> system, we must stress, <b>power</b> rests at the 
top and the role of those below is simply to obey (it matters not 
if those with the power are elected or not, the principle is the 
same). In a <b>federal</b> system, power is <b>not</b> delegated into the 
hands of a few (obviously a <i>"federal"</i> government or state is a 
centralised system). Decisions in a federal system are made at 
the base of the organisation and flow upwards so ensuring that
power remains decentralised in the hands of all. Working together 
to solve common problems and organise common efforts to reach
common goals is not centralisation and those who confuse the 
two make a serious error -- they fail to understand the
different relations of authority each generates and confuse
obedience with co-operation.
<p>
As in the economic federation of collectives, the lower levels will 
control the higher, thus eliminating the current pre-emptive powers 
of centralised government hierarchies. Delegates to higher-level 
co-ordinating councils or conferences will be instructed, at every 
level of confederation, by the assemblies they represent, on how to 
deal with any issue. These instructions will be binding, committing 
delegates to a framework of policies within which they must act and 
providing for their recall and the nullification of their decisions 
if they fail to carry out their mandates. Delegates may be selected 
by election and/or sortition (i.e. random selection by lot, as for 
jury duty currently). 
<p>
Most anarchists recognise that there will be a need for <i>"public 
officials"</i> with specific tasks within the social confederation. 
We stress the word <i>"tasks"</i> as <i>"powers"</i> would not be the best word 
to describe their activities simply because their work is 
essentially administrative in nature. For example, an individual 
or a group of individuals may be elected to look into alternative 
power supplies for a community and report back on what they discover.
They cannot impose their decision <b>onto</b> the community as they
do not have the power to do so. They simply present their findings 
to the body which had mandated them. These findings are <b>not</b> a 
law which the electors are required to follow, but a series of 
suggestions and information from which the electors chose what 
they think is best. Or, to use another example, someone may be 
elected to overlook the installation of a selected power supply 
but the decision on what power supply to use and which specific 
project to implement has been decided upon by the whole community. 
Similarly with any delegate elected to a confederal council.
Such a delegate will have their decisions mandated by their
electors and are subject to recall by those electors. If such
a delegate starts to abuse their position or even vote in ways
opposed to by the communal assembly then they would quickly
be recalled and replaced.
<p>
As such a person is an elected delegate of the community, they are 
a <i>"public official"</i> in the broadest sense of the word but that
does not mean that they have power or authority. Essentially they
are an agent of the local community who is controlled by, and 
accountable to, that community. Clearly, such <i>"officials"</i> are 
unlike politicians. They do not, and cannot, make policy 
decisions on behalf of those who elected them, and so they 
do not have governmental power over those who elected them.
By this method the <i>"officials"</i> remain the servants of the 
public and are not given power to make decisions for people. 
In addition, these <i>"officials"</i> will be rotated frequently to 
prevent a professionalisation of politics and the problem of 
politicians being largely on their own once elected. And, of
course, they will continue to work and live with those who
elected them and receive no special privileges due to their
election (in terms of more income, better housing, and so on).
<p>
Therefore, such <i>"public officials"</i> would be under the strict control of
the organisations that elected them to administration posts. But, as
Kropotkin argued, the general assembly of the community <i>"in permanence -
the forum always open -- is the only way . . .to assure an honest and
intelligent administration . . . [and is based upon] <b>distrust of all 
executive powers.</b>"</i> [<b>The Great French Revolution</b> Vol. 1, p. 211]
<p>
As Murray Bookchin argues, a <i>"confederalist view involves a clear 
distinction between policy making and the co-ordination and execution 
of adopted policies. Policy making is exclusively the right of popular 
community assemblies based on the practices of participatory democracy. 
Administration and co-ordination are the responsibility of confederal 
councils, which become the means for interlinking villages, towns, 
neighbourhoods, and cities into confederal networks. Power flows from 
the bottom up instead of from the top down, and in confederations, 
the flow of power from the bottom up diminishes with the scope of 
the federal council ranging territorially from localities to
regions and from regions to ever-broader territorial areas."</i> 
[<b>From Urbanisation to Cities</b>, p. 253]
<p>
Thus the people will have the final word on policy, which is the 
essence of self-government, and each citizen will have his or her 
turn to participate in the co-ordination of public affairs. In 
other words, the <i>"legislative branch"</i> of self-government will be 
the people themselves organised in their community assemblies and 
their confederal co-ordinating councils, with the <i>"executive 
branch"</i> (public officials) limited to implementing policy 
formulated by the legislative branch, that is, by the people.
<p>
Besides rotation of public officials, means to ensure the 
accountability of such officials to the people will include 
a wider use of elections and sortitions, open access to 
proceedings and records of <i>"executive"</i> activities by 
computer or direct inspection, the right of citizen 
assemblies to mandate delegates to higher-level confederal 
meetings, recall their officials, and revoke their decisions, 
and the creation of accountability boards, elected or selected 
by lot (as for jury duty), for each important administrative 
branch, from local to national. 
<p>
Thus confederations of communes are required to co-ordinate joint
activity and discuss common issues and interests. Confederation is 
also required to protect individual, community and social freedom.
The current means of co-ordinating wide scale activity -- centralism
via the state -- is a threat to freedom as, to quote Proudhon, <i>"the
citizen divests himself of sovereignty, the town and the Department
and province above it, absorbed by central authority, are no longer 
anything but agencies under direct ministerial control."</i> He continues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The Consequences soon make themselves felt: the citizen and the
town are deprived of all dignity, the state's depredations multiply,
and the burden on the taxpayer increases in proportion. It is no
longer the government that is made for the people; it is the people
who are made for the government. Power invades everything, dominates
everything, absorbs everything. . ."</i> [<b>The Principle of Federation</b>,
p. 59]
</blockquote><p>
Moreover, <i>"[t]he principle of political centralism is openly
opposed to all laws of social progress and of natural evolution.
It lies in the nature of things that every cultural advance is
first achieved within a small group and only gradually finds
adoption by society as a whole. Therefore, political decentralisation
is the best guaranty for the unrestricted possibilities of new
experiments. For such an environment each community is given the
opportunity to carry through the things which it is capable of
accomplishing itself without imposing them on others. Practical
experimentation is the parent of ever development in society. So
long as each distinct is capable of effecting the changes within
its own sphere which its citizens deem necessary, the example of
each becomes a fructifying influence on the other parts of the
community since they will have the chance to weigh the advantages
accruing from them without being forced to adopt them if they are
not convinced of their usefulness. The result is that progressive
communities serve the others as models, a result justified by
the natural evolution of things."</i> [Rudolf Rocker, <b>Pioneers
of American Freedom</b>, pp. 16-7]
<p>
The contrast with centralisation of the state could not be more
clear. As Rocker argues, <i>"[i]n a strongly centralised state, the
situation is entirely reversed and the best system of representation
can do nothing to change that. The representatives of a certain
district may have the overwhelming majority of a certain district
on his [or her] side, but in the legislative assembly of the central
state, he [or she] will remain in the minority, for it lies in the
nature of things that in such a body not the intellectually most
active but the most backward districts represent the majority. Since
the individual district has indeed the right to give expression of
its opinion, but can effect no changes without the consent of 
the central government, the most progressive districts will be 
condemned to stagnate while the most backward districts will 
set the norm."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 17]
<p>
Little wonder anarchists have always stressed what Kropotkin termed
<i>"local action"</i> and considered the libertarian social revolution as
<i>"proceed[ing] by proclaiming independent Communes which Communes
will endeavour to accomplish the economic transformation within
. . . their respective surroundings."</i> [Peter Kropotkin, <b>Act For
Yourselves</b>, p. 43] Thus the advanced communities will inspire 
the rest to follow them by showing them a practical example of 
what is possible. Only decentralisation and confederation can
promote the freedom and resulting social experimentation which 
will ensure social progress and make society a good place to live.
<p>
Moreover, confederation is required to maximise self-management.
As Rocker explains, <i>"[i]n a smaller community, it is far easier
for individuals to observe the political scene and become 
acquainted with the issues which have to be resolved. This is
quite impossible for a representative in a centralised government.
Neither the single citizen nor his [or her] representative
is completely or even approximately to supervise the huge 
clockwork of the central state machine. The deputy is forced
daily to make decisions about things of which he [or she] has 
no personal knowledge and for the appraisal of which he must
therefore depend on others [i.e. bureaucrats and lobbyists].
That such a system necessarily leads to serious errors and
mistakes is self-evident. And since the citizen for the same
reason is not able to inspect and criticise the conduct of
his representative, the class of professional politicians
is given added opportunity to fish in troubled waters."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 17-18]
<p>
In other words, confederations are required to protect society
and the individual against the dangers of centralisation. As
Bakunin stressed, there are two ways of organising society,
<i>"as it is today, from high to low and from the centre to 
circumference by means of enforced unity and concentration"</i> 
and the way of the future, by federalism <i>"starting with the
free individual, the free association and the autonomous
commune, from low to high and from circumference to centre,
by means of free federation."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected
Writings</b>, p. 88] In other words, <i>"the organisation of 
society from the bottom up."</i> [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 131]
<p>
Thus confederations of participatory communities are required 
to co-ordinate joint activities, allow social experimentation and 
protect the distinctiveness, dignity, freedom and self-management 
of communities and so society as a whole. This is why <i>"socialism 
is federalist"</i> and <i>"true federalism, the political organisation of 
socialism, will be attained only when these popular grass-roots 
institutions [namely, <i>"communes, industrial and agricultural 
associations"</i>] are organised in progressive stages from the bottom 
up."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 402]
<p>
<a name="seci53"><h2>I.5.3 What will be the scales and levels of confederation?</h2>
<p>
This can only be worked out in practice. In general, it would 
be save to say that confederations would be needed on a wide
scale, including in towns and cities. No village, town or city 
could be self-sufficient nor would desire to be -- communication
and links with other places are part and parcel of live and
anarchists have no desire to retreat back into an isolated
form of localism:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"No community can hope to achieve economic autarchy, nor
should it try to do so. Economically, the wide range of
resources that are needed to make many of our widely used
goods preclude self-enclosed insularity and parochialism.
Far from being a liability, this interdependence among
communities and regions can well be regarded as an asset
-- culturally as well as politically . . .  Divested
of the cultural cross-fertilisation that is often a
product of economic intercourse, the municipality tends
to shrink into itself and disappear into its own civic
privatism. Shared needs and resources imply the existence
of sharing and, with sharing, communication, rejuvenation
by new ideas, and a wider social horizon that yields a
wider sensibility to new experiences."</i> [Murray Bookchin,
<b>From Urbanisation to Cities</b>, p. 237]
</blockquote><p>
This means that the scale and level of the confederations
created by the communes will be varied and extensive. It
would be hard to generalise about them, particularly as
different confederations will exist for different tasks
and interests. Moreover, any system of communes would start 
off based on the existing villages, towns and cities of 
capitalism. That is unavoidable and will, of course, help
determine the initial scale and level of confederations.
<p>
It seems likely that the scale of the confederation will
be dependent on the inhabited area in question. A village,
for example, would be based on one assembly and (minimally)
be part of a local confederation covering all the villages
nearby. In turn, this local confederation would be part
of a district confederation, and so on up to (ultimately)
a continental and world scale. Needless to say, the higher
the confederation the less often it would meet and the 
less it would have to consider in terms of issues to 
decide. On such a level, only the most general issues and
decisions could be reached (in effect, only guidelines
which the member confederations would apply as they saw
fit).
<p>
In urban areas, the town or city would have to be broken
down into confederations and these confederations would
constitute the town or city assembly of delegates. Given
a huge city like London, New York or Mexico City it would
be impossible to organise in any other way. Smaller towns
would probably be able to have simpler confederations. We
must stress hear that few, if any, anarchists consider it
desirable to have huge cities in a free society and one of
the major tasks of social transformation will be to break
the metropolis into smaller units, integrated with the
local environment. However, a social revolution will take
place in these vast metropolises and so we have to take 
them into account in our discussion.
<p>
Thus the issue of size would determine when a new level of
confederation would be needed. A town or village of several 
thousand people could be organised around the basic level of
the commune and it may be that a libertarian socialist society 
would probably form another level of confederation once this
level has been reached. Such units of confederation would, as
noted above, include urban districts within today's large cities, 
small cities, and rural districts composed of several nearby 
towns. The next level of confederation would, we can imagine,
be dependent on the number of delegates required. After a
certain number, the confederation assembly may became difficult
to manage, so implying that another level of confederation
is required. This would, undoubtedly, be the base for
determining the scale and level of confederation, ensuring
that any confederal assembly can actually manage its activities
and remain under the control of lower levels.
<p>
Combined with this consideration, we must also raise the issue
of economies of scale. A given level of confederation may be
required to make certain social and economic services efficient
(we are thinking of economies of scale for such social needs 
as universities, hospitals, and cultural institutions). While
every commune may have a doctor, nursery, local communal stores 
and small-scale workplaces, not all can have a university, 
hospital, factories and so forth. These would be organised on
a wider level, so necessitating the appropriate confederation
to exist to manage them.
<p>
However, face-to-face meetings of the whole population are 
impractical at this size. Therefore, the decision making body 
at this level would be the <b>confederal council,</b> which would 
consist of mandated, recallable, and rotating delegates from 
the neighbourhood assemblies. These delegates would co-ordinate 
policies which have been discussed and voted on by the 
neighbourhood assemblies, with the votes being summed across 
the district to determine district policy by majority rule. 
The issues to be discussed by these confederal meetings/assemblies 
would be proposed by local communes, the confederal council would 
collate these proposals and submit them to the other communes in 
the confederation for discussion. Thus the flow of decision making 
would be from the bottom up, with the <i>"lowest"</i> bodies having the 
most power, particularly the power to formulate, suggest, correct 
and, if need be, reject decisions made at <i>"higher"</i> levels in the 
confederation.
<p>
Ties between bioregions or larger territories based on the 
distribution of such things as geographically concentrated 
mineral deposits, climate dependent crops, and production 
facilities that are most efficient when concentrated in one 
area will unite communities confederally on the basis of common
material needs as well as values. At the bioregional and higher 
levels of confederation, councils of mandated, recallable, and 
rotating delegates will co-ordinate policies at those levels, 
but such policies will still be subject to approval by the 
neighbourhood and community assemblies through their right 
to recall their delegates and revoke their decisions. 
<p>
In the final analysis, libertarian socialism cannot function 
optimally -- and indeed may be fatally undermined -- unless the 
present system of competing nation-states is replaced by a 
co-operative system of decentralised bioregions of self-governing 
communities confederated on a global scale. For, if a libertarian
socialist nation is forced to compete in the global market for 
scarce raw materials and hard cash with which to buy them, the 
problems of <i>"petty-bourgeois co-operativism,"</i> previously noted,
will have merely been displaced to a higher level of organisation. 
That is, instead of individual co-operatives acting as collective 
capitalists and competing against each other in the national 
market for profits, raw materials, etc., the nation or community
<b>as a whole</b> will become the <i>"collective capitalist"</i> and compete 
against other nations in the global capitalist market -- a situation 
that is bound to reintroduce many problems, e.g. militarism, 
imperialism, and alienating/disempowering measures in the
workplace, justified in the name of <i>"efficiency"</i> and <i>"global
competitiveness."</i> 
<p>
To some extent such problems can be reduced in the revolutionary 
period by achieving self-sufficiency within bioregions as
Kropotkin argued (see 
<a href="secI3.html#seci38">section I.3.8</a>). This should be easier to
achieve in a libertarian socialist economy as artificial needs 
are not manufactured by massive advertising campaigns of giant 
profit-seeking corporations. As a social revolution would, as 
Kropotkin predicted, suffer (initially) from isolation and
disrupted trade patterns such a policy would have to be 
applied anyway and so interbioregional trade would be
naturally be limited to other members of the libertarian 
socialist federation to a large degree. However, to eliminate 
the problem completely, anarchists envision a global council 
of bioregional delegates to co-ordinate global co-operation 
based on policies formulated and approved at the grassroots 
by the confederal principles outlined above. As noted above,
most anarchists think that the <i>"higher"</i> the confederation,
the more its decisions will be guidelines rather than
anything else.
<p>
In summary, the size and scale of confederations will depend 
on practical considerations, based on what people found were 
optimal sizes for their neighbourhood assemblies and the needs 
of co-operation between them, towns, cities, regions and so on. 
We cannot, and have no wish, to predict the development of a 
free society. Therefore the scale and levels of confederation 
will be decided by those actually creating an anarchist world. 
All we can do is make a few suggestions of what seems likely.
<p>
<a name="seci54"><h2>I.5.4 How will anything ever be decided by all these meetings?</h2>
<p>
Anarchists have little doubt that the confederal structure
will be an efficient means of decision making and will not
be bogged down in endless meetings. We have various reasons
for thinking this.
<p>
Firstly, we doubt that a free society will spend all its time 
in assemblies or organising confederal conferences. Certain 
questions are more important than others and few anarchists 
desire to spend all their time in meetings. The aim of a free 
society is to allow individuals to express their desires and 
wants freely -- they cannot do that if they are continually 
at meetings (or preparing for them). So while communal and 
confederal assemblies will play an important role in a free 
society, do not think that they will be occurring all the 
time or that anarchists desire to make meetings the focal 
point of individual life. Far from it! 
<p>
Thus communal assemblies may occur, say, once a week, or 
fortnightly or monthly in order to discuss truly important 
issues. There would be no real desire to meet continuously 
to discuss every issue under the sun and few people would
tolerate this occurring. This would mean that such meetings
would current regularly and when important issues needed to
be discussed, <b>not</b> continuously (although, if required, 
continuous assembly or daily meetings may have to be 
organised in emergency situations but this would be rare).
<p>
Secondly, it is extremely doubtful that a free people would
desire waste vast amounts of time at such meetings. While
important and essential, communal and confederal meetings 
would be functional in the extreme and not forums for hot
air. It would be the case that those involved in such meetings
would quickly make their feelings known to time wasters and
those who like the sound of their own voices. Thus Cornelius
Castoriadis:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It might be claimed that the problem of numbers remains
and that people never would be able to express themselves
in a reasonable amount of time. This is not a valid
argument. There would rarely be an assembly over twenty
people where everyone would want to speak, for the very
good reason that when there is something to be decided
upon there are not an infinite number of options or an
infinite number of arguments. In unhampered rank-and-file
workers' gatherings (convened, for instance, to decide
on a strike) there have never been 'too many' speeches.
The two or three fundamental opinions having been 
voiced, and various arguments exchanged, a decision
is soon reached.
<p>
"The length of speeches, moreover, often varies inversely
with the weight of their content. Russian leaders sometimes
talk on for four hours at Party Congresses without saying
anything . . . For an account of the laconicism of
revolutionary assemblies, see Trotsky's account of the
Petrograd soviet of 1905 -- or accounts of the meetings
of factory representatives in Budapest in 1956."</i> [<b>Political
and Social Writings</b>, vol. 2, pp. 144-5]
</blockquote><p>
As we shall see below, this was definitely the case during
the Spanish Revolution as well.
<p>
Thirdly, as these assemblies and congresses are concerned 
purely with joint activity and co-ordination, it is likely 
that they will not be called very often. Different associations, 
syndicates and co-operatives have a functional need for co-operation 
and so would meet more regularly and take action on practical 
activity which affects a specific section of a community or 
group of communities. Not every issue that a member of a 
community is interested in is necessarily best discussed at 
a meeting of all members of a community or at a confederal 
conference. 
<p>
In other words, communal assemblies and conferences will 
have specific, well defined agendas, and so there is little 
danger of <i>"politics"</i> taking up everyone's time. Hence, far 
from discussing abstract laws and pointless motions which 
no one actually knows much about, the issues discussed in
these conferences will be on specific issues which are 
important to those involved. In addition, the standard 
procedure may be to elect a sub-group to investigate an 
issue and report back at a later stage with recommendations. 
The conference can change, accept, or reject any proposals. 
<p>
As Kropotkin argued, anarchy would be based on <i>"free agreement,
by exchange of letters and proposals, and by congresses at 
which delegates met to discuss well specified points, and 
to come to an agreement about them, but not to make laws. 
After the congress was over, the delegates [would return] 
. . . not with a law, but with the draft of a contract to 
be accepted or rejected."</i> [<b>Conquest of Bread</b>, p. 131]
<p>
By reducing conferences to functional bodies based on concrete 
issues, the problems of endless discussions can be reduced, if 
not totally eliminated. In addition, as functional groups would 
exist outside of these communal confederations (for example, 
industrial collectives would organise conferences about their 
industry with invited participants from consumer groups), 
there would be a limited agenda in most communal get-togethers.
<p>
The most important issues would be to agree on the guidelines for
industrial activity, communal investment (e.g. houses, hospitals, 
etc.) and overall co-ordination of large scale communal activities. 
In this way everyone would be part of the commonwealth, deciding 
on how resources would be used to  maximise human well-being and 
ecological survival. The problems associated with <i>"the tyranny 
of small decisions"</i> would be overcome without undermining 
individual freedom. (In fact, a healthy community would enrich 
and develop individuality by encouraging independent and critical 
thought, social interaction, and empowering social institutions 
based on self-management).
<p>
Is such a system fantasy? Given that such a system has existed
and worked at various times, we can safely argue that it is
not. Obviously we cannot cover <b>every</b> example, so we point to 
just two -- revolutionary Paris and Spain.
<p>
As Murray Bookchin points out, Paris <i>"in the late eighteenth 
century was, by the standards of that time, one of the largest 
and economically most complex cities in Europe: its population 
approximated a million people . . . Yet in 1793, at the height 
of the French Revolution, the city was managed <b>institutionally</b> 
almost entirely by [48] citizen assemblies. . . and its affairs 
were co-ordinated by the <b>Commune</b> .. . and often, in fact, by 
the assemblies themselves, or sections as they were called, which 
established their own interconnections without recourse to the 
<b>Commune.</b>"</i> [<b>Society and Nature</b>, no. 5, p. 96] 
<p>
Here is his account of how communal self-government worked in 
practice:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"What, then, were these little-know forty-eight sections of
Paris . . .How were they organised? And how did they function?
<p>
"Ideologically, the <b>sectionnaires</b> (as their members were called)
believed primarily in sovereignty of the people. This concept
of popular sovereignty, as Albert Soboul observes, was for them
'not an abstraction, but the concrete reality of the people
united in sectional assemblies and exercising all their rights.'
It was in their eyes an inalienable right, or, as the section
de la Cite declared in November 1792, 'every man who assumes
to have sovereignty [over others] will be regarded as a
tyrant, usurper of public liberty and worthy of death.'
<p>
"Sovereignty, in effect, was to be enjoyed by <b>all</b> citizens,
not pre-empted by 'representatives' . . . The radical
democrats of 1793 thus assumed that every adult was, to one
degree or another, competent to participate in management
public affairs. Thus, each section . . . was structured
around a <b>face-to-face democracy</b>: basically a general
assembly of the people that formed the most important
deliberative body of a section, and served as the incarnation
of popular power in a given part of the city . . . each
elected six deputies to the Commune, presumably for the 
pursue merely of co-ordinating all the sections in the
city of Paris.
<p>
"Each section also had its own various administrative
committees, whose members were also recruited from the
general assembly."</i> [<b>The Third Revolution</b>, vol. 1,
p. 319]
</blockquote><p>
Little wonder Kropotkin argued that these <i>"sections"</i> showed 
<i>"the principles of anarchism, expressed some years later in 
England by W. Godwin, . . . had their origin, not in 
theoretical speculations, but in the <b>deeds</b> of the Great 
French Revolution"</i> [<b>The Great French Revolution</b>, 
vol. 1, p. 204]
<p>
Communal self-government was also practised, and on a far
wider scale, in revolutionary Spain. All across Republican
Spain, workers and peasants formed communes and federations
of communes (see 
<a href="secI8.html">section I.8</a> for fuller details). As Gaston
Leval summarises the experience:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"There was, in the organisation set in motion by the Spanish 
Revolution and by the libertarian movement, which was its 
mainspring, a structuring from the bottom to the top, which 
corresponds to a real federation and true democracy . . . the 
controlling and co-ordinating Comites, clearly indispensable, do 
not go outside the organisation that has chosen them, they remain 
in their midst, always controllable by and accessible to the 
members. If any individuals contradict by their actions their 
mandates, it is possible to call them to order, to reprimand 
them, to replace them. It is only by and in such a system that 
the 'majority lays down the law.'
<p>
"The syndical assemblies were the expression and the practice 
of libertarian democracy, a democracy having nothing in common 
with the democracy of Athens where the citizens discussed and 
disputed for days on end on the Agora; where factions, clan 
rivalries, ambitions, personalities conflicted, where, in view 
of the social inequalities precious time was lost in 
interminable wrangles. Here a modern Aristophenes would 
have had no reason to write the equivalent of <b>The Clouds</b>.
<p>
"Normally those periodic meetings would not last more than a 
few hours. They dealt with concrete, precise subjects concretely 
and precisely. And all who had something to say could express 
themselves. The Comite presented the new problems that had 
arisen since the previous assembly, the results obtained by 
the application of such and such a resolution . . relations 
with other syndicates, production returns from the various 
workshops or factories. All this was the subject of reports 
and discussion. Then the assembly would nominate the commissions, 
the members of these commissions discussed between themselves 
what solutions to adopt, if there was disagreement, a majority 
report and a minority report would be prepared.
<p>
"This took place in <b>all</b> the syndicates <b>throughout Spain</b>, 
in <b>all</b> trades and <b>all</b> industries, in assemblies which, in 
Barcelona, from the very beginnings of our movement brought 
together hundreds or thousands of workers depending on the 
strength of the organisations. So much so that the awareness 
of the duties, responsibilities of each spread all the time 
to a determining and decisive degree. . . 
<p>
"The practice of this democracy also extended to the agricultural 
regions . . . the decision to nominate a local management Comite 
for the villages was taken by general meetings of the inhabitants 
of villages, how the delegates in the different essential tasks 
which demanded an indispensable co-ordination of activities were 
proposed and elected by the whole assembled population. But it is 
worth adding and underlining that in all the collectivised villages 
and all the partially collectivised villages, in the 400 Collectives 
in Aragon, in the 900 in the Levante region, in the 300 in the 
Castilian region, to mention only the large groupings . . . the 
population was called together weekly, fortnightly or monthly and 
kept fully informed of everything concerning the commonweal.
<p>
"This writer was present at a number of these assemblies in 
Aragon, where the reports on the various questions making up 
the agenda allowed the inhabitants to know, to so understand, 
and to feel so mentally integrated in society, to so participate 
in the management of public affairs, in the responsibilities, 
that the recriminations, the tensions which always occur when 
the power of decision is entrusted to a few individuals, be 
they democratically elected without the possibility of 
objecting, did not happen there. The assemblies were public, 
the objections, the proposals publicly discussed, everybody 
being free, as in the syndical assemblies, to participate 
in the discussions, to criticise, propose, etc. Democracy 
extended to the whole of social life."</i> [<b>Collectives in
the Spanish Revolution</b>, pp. 205-7]
</blockquote><p>
These collectives organised federations embracing thousands
of communes and workplaces, whole branches of industry, 
hundreds of thousands of people and whole regions of Spain. 
<p>
In other words, it <b>is</b> possible. It <b>has</b> worked. With the 
massive improvements in communication technology it is even 
more viable than before. Whether or not we reach such a 
self-managed society depends on whether we desire to be 
free or not.
<p>
<a name="seci55"><h2>I.5.5 Aren't participatory communities and confederations just new states?</h2>
<p>
No. As we have seen in 
<a href="secB2.html">section B.2</a>, a state can be defined both by its
structure and its function. As far as structure is concerned, a state
involves the politico-military and economic domination of a certain
geographical territory by a ruling elite, based on the delegation of 
power into the hands of the few, resulting in hierarchy (centralised 
authority). As Kropotkin argued, <i>"the word 'State' . . . should be 
reserved for those societies with the hierarchical system and 
centralisation."</i> [<b>Ethics</b>, p. 317f] 
<p>
In a system of federated participatory communities, however, there 
is no ruling elite, and thus no hierarchy, because power is retained 
by the lowest-level units of confederation through their use of 
direct democracy and mandated, rotating, and recallable delegates 
to meetings of higher-level confederal bodies. This eliminates the 
problem in "representative" democratic systems of the delegation 
of power leading to the elected officials becoming isolated from 
and beyond the control of the mass of people who elected them. As 
Kropotkin pointed out, an anarchist society would make decisions 
by <i>"means of congresses, composed of delegates, who discuss among 
themselves, and submit <b>proposals</b>, not <b>laws</b>, to their constituents"</i>, 
and so is based on <b>self</b>-government, <b>not</b> representative government 
(i.e. statism). [<b>The Conquest of Bread</b>, p. 135] 
<p>
In addition, in representative democracy, elected officials who must 
make decisions on a wide range of issues inevitably gather an unelected
bureaucracy around them to aid in their decision making, and because of
its control of information and its permanency, this bureaucracy soon has
more power than the elected officials (who themselves have more power 
than the people). In the system we have sketched, policy proposals 
formulated by higher-level confederal bodies would often be presented 
to the grassroots political units for discussion and voting (though 
the grassroots units could  also formulate policy proposals directly), 
and these higher-level bodies would often need to consult experts in
formulating such proposals. But these experts would not be retained as 
a permanent bureaucracy, and all information provided by them would be
available to the lower-level units to aid in their decision making, thus
eliminating the control of information on which bureaucratic power is
based. 
<p>
Perhaps it will be objected that communal decision making is just a form
of <i>"statism"</i> based on direct, as opposed to representative, democracy --
<i>"statist"</i> because the individual is still be subject to the rules of the
majority and so is not free. This objection, however, confuses statism
with free agreement (i.e. co-operation). Since participatory communities,
like productive syndicates, are voluntary associations, the decisions they 
make are based on self-assumed obligations (see section A.2.11 -- 
<a href="secA2.html#seca211"><i>"Why are most
anarchists in favour of direct democracy?"</i></a>), and dissenters can leave the 
association if they so desire. Thus communes are no more <i>"statist"</i> than
the act of promising and keeping ones word.
<p>
In addition, in a free society, dissent and direct action can be 
used by minorities to press their case (or defend their freedom) 
as well as debate. As Carole Pateman argues, <i>"[p]olitical disobedience 
is merely one possible expression of the active citizenship on which a 
self-managing democracy is based."</i> [<b>The Problem of Political Obligation</b>, 
p. 162] In this way, individual liberty can be protected in a communal 
system and society enriched by opposition, confrontation and dissent. 
<p>
Without self-management and minority dissent, society would become
an ideological cemetery which would stifle ideas and individuals 
as these thrives on discussion (<i>"those who will be able to create
in their mutual relations a movement and a life based on the
principles of free understanding . . . will understand that 
<b>variety, conflict even, is life and that uniformity is death</b>"</i> 
[Kropotkin, <b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 143]). 
Therefore it is likely that a society based on voluntary 
agreements and self-management would, out of interpersonal 
empathy and self-interest, create a society that encouraged 
individuality and respect for minorities.
<p>
Therefore, a commune's participatory nature is the opposite of 
statism. April Carter, in <b>Authority and Democracy</b> agrees. She 
states that <i>"commitment to direct democracy or anarchy in the 
socio-political sphere is incompatible with political authority"</i> 
and that the <i>"only authority that can exist in a direct democracy 
is the collective 'authority' vested in the body politic . . . it 
is doubtful if authority can be created by a group of equals who 
reach decisions be a process of mutual persuasion."</i> [p. 69 and 
p. 380] Which echoes, we must note, Proudhon's comment that <i>"the 
true meaning of the word 'democracy'"</i> was the <i>"dismissal of 
government."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1, p. 42] Bakunin
argued that when the <i>"whole people govern"</i> then <i>"there will
be no one to be governed. It means that there will be no
government, no State."</i> [<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>,
p. 287] Malatesta, decades later, made the same point -- 
<i>"government by everybody is no longer government in the 
authoritarian, historical and practical sense of the word."</i> 
[<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 2, p. 38] And, of course,
Kropotkin argued that by means of the directly democratic 
sections of the French Revolution the masses <i>"practic[ed] 
what was to be described later as Direct Self-Government"</i> 
and expressed <i>"the principles of anarchism."</i> [<b>The Great 
French Revolution</b>, vol. 1, p. 200 and p. 204]  
<p>
Anarchists assert that individuals and the institutions they 
create cannot be considered in isolation. Authoritarian 
institutions will create individuals who have a servile 
nature, who cannot govern themselves. Anarchists, therefore, 
consider it common sense that individuals, in order to be free, 
<b>must</b> have take part in determining the general agreements they 
make with their neighbours which give form to their communities. 
Otherwise, a free society could not exist and individuals would 
be subject to rules others make <b>for</b> them (following orders is 
hardly libertarian). Therefore, anarchists recognise the social 
nature of humanity and the fact any society based on contracts 
(like capitalism) will be marked by authority, injustice and 
inequality, <b>not</b> freedom. As Bookchin points out, <i>"[t]o speak of 
'The Individual' apart from its social roots is as meaningless 
as to speak of a society that contains no people or institutions."</i> 
[<i>"Communalism: The Democratic Dimension of Anarchism"</i>, 
<b>Society and Nature</b> no. 8, p. 15]
<p>
Society cannot be avoided and <i>"[u]nless everyone is to be psychologically
homogeneous and society's interests so uniform in character that dissent
is simply meaningless, there must be room for conflicting proposals, 
discussion, rational explication and majority decisions - in short,
democracy."</i> [Bookchin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 15-16] Those who reject democracy 
in the name of liberty (such as many supporters of capitalism claim 
to do) usually also see the need for laws and hierarchical authority 
(particularly in the workplace). This is unsurprising, as such 
authority is the only means left by which collective activity 
can be co-ordinated if <i>"democracy"</i> (i.e. self-management) is 
rejected (usually as <i>"statist"</i>, which is ironic as the resulting 
institutions, such as a capitalist company, are far more statist 
than self-managed ones). 
<p>
However, it should be noted that communities can expel individuals or
groups of individuals who constantly hinder community decisions. As
Malatesta argued, <i>"for if it is unjust that the majority should
oppress the minority, the contrary would be quite as unjust; and if the
minority has a right to rebel, the majority has a right to defend itself
. . . it is true  that this solution is not completely satisfactory. The
individuals put out of the association would be deprived of many social
advantages, which an isolated person or group must do without, because
they can only be procured  by the co-operation of a great number of human
beings. But what would you have? These malcontents cannot fairly demand
that the wishes of many others should be sacrificed for their sakes."</i> 
[<b>A Talk about Anarchist-Communism</b>, p. 29]
<p>
Nevertheless, such occurrences would be rare (for reasons discussed in
<a href="secI5.html#seci56">section I.5.6</a>), and their possibility merely indicates that free
association also means the freedom <b>not</b> to associate. This a very
important freedom for both the majority and the minority, and  must be
defended. However, as an isolated life is impossible, the need for
communal associations is essential. It is only by living together in a
supportive community can individuality be encouraged and developed along
with individual freedom. However, anarchists are aware that not everyone
is a social animal and that there are times that people like to withdraw
into their own personal space. Thus our support for free association
and federalism along with solidarity, community and self-management.
<p>
Lastly, that these communities and confederations are not just states
with new names in indicated by two more considerations. Firstly, in regard
to the activities of the confederal conferences, it is clear that they
would <b>not</b> be passing laws on personal behaviour or ethics, i.e. not
legislating to restrict the liberty of those who live in these communities
they represent. For example, a community is unlikely to pass laws
outlawing homosexuality or censoring the press, for reasons discussed in
the 
<a href="secI5.html#seci56">next section</a>. 
Hence they would not be <i>"law-making bodies"</i> in the modern
sense of the term, and thus not statist. Secondly, these confederations
have no means to enforce their decisions. In other words, if a confederal
congress makes a decision, it has no means to force people to act or not
act in a certain way. We can imagine that there will be ethical reasons
why participants will not act in ways to oppose joint activity -- as they
took part in the decision making process they would be considered childish
if they reject the final decision because it did not go in their favour.
Moreover, they would also have to face the reaction of those who also
took part in the decision making process. It would be likely that those
who ignored such decisions (or actively hindered them) would soon face
non-violent direct action in the form of non-co-operation, shunning,
boycotting and so on.
<p>
So, far from being new states by which one section of a community imposes 
its ethical standards on another, the anarchist commune is just a public
forum. In this forum, issues of community interest (for example,
management of the commons, control of communalised economic activity, and
so forth) are discussed and policy agreed upon. In addition, interests
beyond a local area are also discussed and delegates for confederal
conferences are mandated with the wishes of the community. Hence,
administration of things replaces government of people, with the community
of communities existing to ensure that the interests of all are managed by
all and that liberty, justice and equality are more than just ideals.
<p>
For these reasons, a libertarian-socialist society would not create a new
state as far as structure goes. But what about in the area of function? 
<p>
As noted in <a href="secB2.html#secb21">section B.2.1</a>, 
the function of the state is to enable the
ruling elite to exploit subordinate social strata, i.e. to derive an
economic surplus from them, which it does by protecting certain economic
monopolies from which the elite derives its wealth, and so its power. But
this function is completely eliminated by the economic structure of
anarchist society, which, by abolishing private property, makes it
impossible for a privileged elite to form, let alone exploit <i>"subordinate
strata"</i> (which will not exist, as no one is subordinate in power to anyone
else). In other words, by placing the control of productive resources in
the hands of the workers councils and community assemblies, every worker
is given free access to the means of production that he or she needs to
earn a living. Hence no one will be forced to pay usury (i.e. a use-fee)
in the form of appropriated surplus value (profits) to an elite class that
monopolises the means of production. In short, without private property,
the state loses its reason for existence. 
<p>
<a name="seci56"><h2>I.5.6 Won't there be a danger of a <i>"tyranny of the majority"</i> under 
      libertarian socialism?</h2>
<p>
While the <i>"tyranny of the majority"</i> objection does contain an 
important point, it is often raised for self-serving reasons. 
This is because those who raised the issue (for example, creators 
of the 1789 US constitution like Hamilton and Madison) saw the 
<i>"minority"</i> to be protected as the rich. In other words, the 
objection is not opposed to majority tyranny as such (they 
have no objections when the majority support their right to 
their riches) but rather attempts of the majority to change 
their society to a fairer one. However, as noted, the objection
to majority rule <b>does</b> contain a valid point and one which 
anarchists have addressed -- namely, what about minority freedom 
within a self-managed society.
<p>
There is, of course, this danger in <b>any</b> society, be its
decision making structure direct (anarchy) or indirect (by some
form of government). Anarchists are at the forefront in expressing 
concern about it (see, for example, Emma Goldman's classic essay 
<i>"Minorities versus Majorities"</i> in <b>Anarchism and Other Essays</b>). 
We are well aware that the mass, as long as the individuals 
within it do not free themselves, can be a dead-weight on 
others, resisting change and enforcing conformity. As Goldman 
argued, <i>"even more than constituted authority, it is social 
uniformity and sameness that harass the individual the most."</i> 
[<b>Red Emma Speaks</b>, p. 93] Hence Malatesta's comment that
anarchists <i>"have the special mission of being vigilant custodians
of freedom, against all aspirants to power and against the possible
tyranny of the majority."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 161]
<p>
However, rather than draw elitist conclusions from this fact of life
under capitalism and urge forms of government and organisation which 
restrict popular participation (and promote rule, and tyranny, by the 
few) -- as classical liberals do -- libertarians argue that only a 
process of self-liberation through struggle and participation can 
break up the mass into free, self-managing individuals. Moreover, 
we also argue that participation and self-management is the only 
way that majorities can come to see the point of minority ideas
and for seeing the importance of protecting minority freedoms. 
This means that any attempt to restrict participation in the 
name of minority rights actually enforces the herd mentality, 
undermining minority and individual freedom rather than protecting 
it. As Carole Pateman argues: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"the evidence supports the arguments . . . that we do learn
to participate by participating and that feelings of political
efficacy are more likely to be developed in a participatory
environment. Furthermore, the evidence indicates that
experience of a participatory authority structure might also
be effective in diminishing tendencies towards non-democratic
attitudes in the individual."</i> [<b>Participation and Democratic
Theory</b>, p. 105]
</blockquote><p>
However, while there is cause for concern (and anarchists are
at the forefront in expressing it), the <i>"tyranny of the majority"</i> 
objection fails to take note of the vast difference between direct 
and <i>"representative"</i> forms of democracy.
<p>
In the current system, as we pointed out in 
<a href="secB5.html">section B.5</a>, voters are 
mere passive spectators of occasional, staged, and highly rehearsed 
debates among candidates pre-selected by the corporate elite, who 
pay for campaign expenses. More often the public is expected to 
choose simply on the basis of political ads and news sound bites. 
Once the choice is made, cumbersome and ineffective recall procedures 
insure that elected representatives can act more or less as they 
(or rather, their wealthy sponsors) please. The function, then, 
of the electorate in bourgeois <i>"representative government"</i> is 
ratification of <i>"choices"</i> that have been <b>already made for them!</b>
<p>
By contrast, in a direct, libertarian democracy, decisions are made
following public discussion in community assemblies open to all. After
decisions have been reached, outvoted minorities -- even minorities of 
one -- still have ample opportunity to present reasoned and persuasive
counter-arguments to try to change the decision. This process of debate,
disagreement, challenge, and counter-challenge, which goes on even after
the defeated minority has temporarily acquiesced in the decision of the
majority, is virtually absent in the representative system, where <i>"tyranny
of the majority"</i> is truly a problem. In addition, minorities can secede
from an association if the decision reached by it are truly offensive to
them. 
<p>
And let us not forget that in all likelihood, issues of personal conduct 
or activity will not be discussed in the neighbourhood assemblies. Why? 
Because we are talking about a society in which most people consider
themselves to be unique, free individuals, who would thus recognise and
act to protect the uniqueness and freedom of others. Unless people are
indoctrinated by religion or some other form of ideology, they can be
tolerant of others and their individuality. If this is not the case 
now, then it has more to do with the existence of authoritarian social 
relationships -- relationships that will be dismantled under 
libertarian socialism -- and the type of person they create rather
than some innate human flaw. 
<p>
Thus there will be vast areas of life in a libertarian socialist
community which are none of other people's business. Anarchists 
have always stressed the importance of personal space and <i>"private"</i> 
areas. Indeed, for Kropotkin, the failure of many <i>"utopian"</i> 
communities directly flowed from a lack personal space. One of
the mistakes made by such <i>"utopian"</i> communities within capitalism
was <i>"the desire to manage the community after the model of a
family, to make it 'the great family.' They lived all in the 
same house and were thus forced to continuously meet the same
'brethren and sisters.' It is already difficult often for two
real brothers to live together in the same house, and family
life is not always harmonious; so it was a fundamental error to
impose on all the 'great family' instead of trying, on the
contrary, to guarantee as much freedom and home life to each
individual."</i> [<b>Small Communal Experiments and Why they Fail</b>,
pp. 8-9]
<p>
Thus in an anarchist society, continual agreement on all issues
is not desired. The members of a free society <i>"need only
agree as to some advantageous method of common work, and are
free otherwise to live in their own way."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 22]
<p>
Which brings us to another key point. When anarchists talk of
democratising or communalising the household or any other
association, we do not mean that it should be stripped of its
private status and become open to the <i>"tyranny of the majority"</i> 
or regulation by general voting in a single, universal public
sphere. Rather, we mean that households and other relationships
should take in libertarian characteristics and be consistent
with the liberty of all its members. Thus a society based
on self-management does not imply the destruction of private
spheres of activity -- it implies the extension of anarchist
principles into all spheres of life, both private and public.
It does not mean the subordination of the private by the public,
or vice versa. 
<p>
So, in other words, it is highly unlikely that the <i>"tyranny of
the majority"</i> will exert itself where most rightly fear it --
in their homes, how they act with friends, their personal space,
how they act, and do on. As long as individual freedom and
rights are protected, it is of little concern what people get up
to (included the rights of children, who are also individuals
and <b>not</b> the property of their parents). Direct democracy in 
anarchist theory is purely concerned with common resources and 
their use and management. It is highly unlikely that a free society 
would debate issues of personal behaviour or morality and instead
would leave them to those directly affected by them -- as it should 
be, as we all need personal space and experimentation to find the 
way of life that best suits us. 
<p>
Today an authoritarian worldview, characterised by an inability to 
think beyond the categories of domination and submission, is imparted 
by conditioning in the family, schools, religious institutions, clubs,
fraternities, the army, etc., and produces a type of personality that 
is intolerant of any individual or group perceived as threatening to the
perpetuation of that worldview and its corresponding institutions and
values. Thus, as Bakunin argues, <i>"public opinion"</i> is potentially intolerant
<i>"simply because hitherto this power has not been humanised itself; it 
has not been humanised because the social life of which it is ever the
faithful expression is based . . . in the worship of divinity, not on
respect for humanity; in authority, not on liberty; on privilege, not on
equality; in the exploitation, not on the brotherhood, of men; on iniquity
and falsehood, not on justice and truth. Consequently its real action,
always in contradiction of the humanitarian theories which it professes,
has constantly exercised a disastrous and depraving influence."</i> [<b>God and
the State</b>, p. 43f] In other words, <i>"if society is ever to become free,
it will be so through liberated individuals, whose free efforts make
society."</i> [Emma Goldman, <b>Anarchism and Other Essays</b>, p. 44]
<p>
In an anarchist society, however, a conscious effort will be 
made to dissolve the institutional and traditional sources of the
authoritarian/submissive type of personality, and thus to free <i>"public 
opinion"</i> of its current potential for intolerance. In addition, it should
be noted that as anarchists recognise that the practice of self-assumed
political obligation implied in free association also implies the right to
practice dissent and disobedience as well. As Carole Pateman notes, <i>"[e]ven
if it is impossible to be unjust to myself, I do not vote for myself alone,
but alone with everyone else. Questions about injustice are always 
appropriate in political life, for there is no guarantee that participatory
voting will actually result in decisions in accord with the principles
of political morality."</i> [<b>The Problem of Political Obligation</b>, p. 160]
<p>
If an individual or group of individuals feel that a specific decision 
threatens their freedom (which is the basic principle of political
morality in an anarchist society) they can (and must) act to defend 
that freedom. <i>"The political practice of participatory voting rests 
in a collective self-consciousness about the meaning and implication of
citizenship. The members of the political association understand that to
vote is simultaneously to commit oneself, to commit one's fellow citizens,
and also to commit oneself to them in a mutual undertaking . . . a refusal
to vote on a particular occasion indicates that the refusers believe . . .
[that] the proposal . . . infringes the principle of political morality 
on which the political association is based . . A refusal to vote [or the
use of direct action] could be seen as an appeal to the 'sense of justice'
of their fellow citizens."</i> [Carole Pateman, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 161]
<p>
As they no longer <i>"consent"</i> to the decisions made by their community they 
can appeal to the <i>"sense of justice"</i> of their fellow citizens by direct 
action and indicate that a given decision may have impacts which the 
majority were not aware. Hence direct action and dissent is a key aspect
of an anarchist society and help ensure against the tyranny of the majority.
Anarchism rejects the <i>"love it or leave it"</i> attitude that marks classical
liberalism as well as Rousseau (this aspect of his work being inconsistent 
with its foundations in participation).
<p>
This vision of self-assumed obligation, with its basis in individual
liberty, indicates the basic flaw of Joseph Schumpeter's argument
against democracy as anything bar a political <b>method</b> of arriving
at decisions (in his case who will be the leaders of a society). 
Schumpeter proposed the <i>"mental experiment"</i> of imagining a country
which, democratically, persecuted Jews, witches and Christians
(see his famous work <b>Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy</b>). He
argues that we should not approve of these practices just because
they have been decided upon by the democratic method and, therefore,
democracy cannot be an end in itself. 
<p>
However, such systematic persecution would conflict with the 
rules of procedure required if a country's or community's 
political method is to be called <i>"democratic."</i> This is 
because, in order to be democratic, the minority must be in a
position for its ideas to become the majority's via argument 
and convincing the majority (and that requires freedom of 
discussion and association). A country or community in which 
the majority persecutes or represses a minority automatically 
ensures that the minority can never be in a position to 
become the majority (as the minority is barred by force from 
becoming so) or convince the majority of the errors of its way 
(even if it cannot become the majority physically, it can become 
so morally by convincing the majority to change its position). 
Schumpeter's example utterly violates democratic principles 
and so cannot be squared with the rules of democratic procedure. 
Thus majority tyranny is an outrage against both democratic 
theory <b>and</b> individual liberty (unsurprisingly, as the former 
has its roots in the latter). 
<p>
This argument applies with even more force to a self-managed 
community too and so any system in which the majority tyrannises over 
a minority is, by definition, <b>not</b> self-managed as one part of the 
community is excluded from convincing the other (<i>"the enslavement of 
part of a nation denies the federal principal itself."</i> [P-J Proudhon, 
<b>The Principle of Federation</b>, p. 42f]). Thus individual freedom and 
minority rights are essential to direct democracy/self-management.
<p>
It should be stressed, however, that most anarchists do not think that 
the way to guard against possible tyranny by the majority is to resort to
decision-making by consensus (where no action can be taken until every
person in the group agrees) or a property system (based in contracts).
Both consensus (see section A.2.12 -- 
<a href="secA2.html#seca212"><i>"Is consensus an alternative to 
direct democracy?"</i></a>) and contracts (see section A.2.14 -- 
<a href="secA2.html#seca214"><i>"Why is 
voluntarism not enough?"</i></a>) soon result in authoritarian social 
relationships developing in the name of "liberty."
<p>
For example, decision making by consensus tends to eliminate the 
creative role of dissent and mutate into a system that pressures 
people into psychic and intellectual conformity -- hardly a 
libertarian ideal. In the case of property and contract based systems, 
those with property have more power than those without, and so they soon 
determine what can and cannot be done -- in other words, the <i>"tyranny of 
the minority"</i> and hierarchical authority. Both alternatives are deeply 
flawed. 
<p>
Hence most anarchists have recognised that majority decision making, 
though not perfect, is the best way to reach decisions in a political 
system based on maximising individual (and so social) freedom. Direct 
democracy in grassroots confederal assemblies and workers' councils 
ensures that decision making is <i>"horizontal"</i> in nature (i.e. between 
<b>equals</b>) and not hierarchical (i.e. governmental, between order giver 
and order taker). In other words, it ensures liberty.
<p>
<a name="seci57"><h2>I.5.7 What if I don't want to join a commune?</h2>
<p>
As would be expected, no one would be <b>forced</b> to join a commune nor 
take part in its assemblies. To suggest otherwise would be contrary 
to anarchist principles. We have already indicated (in the last two 
sections) why the communes would not be likely to restrict individuals 
with new <i>"laws."</i> Thus a commune would be a free society, in which 
individual liberty would be respected and encouraged.
<p>
However, what about individuals who live within the boundaries of a 
commune but decide not to join? For example, a local neighbourhood 
may include households that desire to associate and a few that do 
not (this is actually happened during the Spanish Revolution). What
happens to the minority of dissenters?
<p>
Obviously individuals can leave to find communities more in line 
with their own concepts of right and wrong if they cannot convince 
their neighbours of the validity of their ideas. And, equally 
obviously, not everyone will want to leave an area they like. So 
we must discuss those who decide to not to find a more suitable 
community. Are the communal decisions binding on non-members? 
Obviously not. If an individual or family desire <b>not</b> to join 
a commune (for whatever reason), their freedoms must be respected. 
However, this also means that they cannot benefit from communal 
activity and resources (such a free housing, hospitals, and so 
forth) and, possibly, have to pay for their use. As long as they 
do not exploit or oppress others, an anarchist community would 
respect their decision. After all, as Malatesta argued, <i>"free 
and voluntary communism is ironical if one has not the right 
and the possibility to live in a different regime, collectivist, 
mutualist, individualist -- as one wishes, always on condition 
that there is no oppression or exploitation of others."</i> 
[<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 103]
<p>
Many who oppose anarchist self-management in the name of freedom  
often do so because they desire to oppress and exploit others. In other
words, they oppose participatory communities because they (rightly) fear
that this would restrict their ability to oppress, exploit and grow rich 
off the labour of others. This type of opposition can be seen from history, 
when rich elites, in the name of liberty, have replaced democratic forms 
of social decision making with representative or authoritarian ones 
(see 
<a href="secB2.html#secb26">section B.2.6</a>). 
Regardless of what defenders of capitalism claim,
<i>"voluntary bilateral exchanges"</i> affect third parties and can harm others
indirectly. This can easily be seen from examples like concentrations 
of wealth which have effects across society, or crime in the local
community, or the ecological impacts of consumption and production.
This means that an anarchist society would be aware that inequality
and so statism could develop again and take precautions against it.
As Malatesta put it, some <i>"seem almost to believe that after having 
brought down government and private property we would allow both 
to be quietly built up again, because of respect for the <b>freedom</b>
of those who might feel the need to be rulers and property owners. 
A truly curious way of interpreting our ideas."</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 41]
<p>
So, it goes without saying that the minority, as in any society, 
will exist within the ethical norms of the surrounding society and 
they will be <i>"forced to adhere"</i> to them in the same sense that they 
are <i>"forced to adhere"</i> to not murdering people. Few people would 
say that forcing people not to commit murder is a restriction of 
their liberty. Therefore, while allowing the maximum of individual 
freedom of dissent, an anarchist community would still have to apply 
its ethical standards to those beyond that community. Individuals 
would not be allowed to murder, harm or enslave others and claim that 
they are allowed to do so because they are not part of the local 
community (see 
<a href="secI5.html#seci58">section I.5.8</a> 
on crime in an anarchist society). 
<p>
Similarly, individuals would not be allowed to develop private property 
(as opposed to possession) simply because they wanted to. Such a <i>"ban"</i> 
on private property would not be a restriction on liberty simply because 
stopping the development of authority hardly counts as an authoritarian 
act (for an analogy, supporters of capitalism do not think that banning 
theft is a restriction of liberty and because this view is -- currently -- 
accepted by the majority, it is enforced on the minority). Even the word 
<i>"ban"</i> is wrong, as it is the would-be capitalist who is trying to ban 
freedom for others on their <i>"property."</i> Members of a free society would 
simply refuse to recognise the claims of private property -- they would
simply ignore the would-be capitalist's pretensions and <i>"keep out"</i> signs.
Without a state, or hired thugs, to back up their claims, they would 
just end up looking silly. <i>"Occupancy and use"</i> (to use Tucker's term) 
would be the limits of possession -- and so property would become <i>"that 
control of a thing by a person which will receive either social sanction, 
or else unanimous individual sanction, when the laws of social expediency 
shall have been fully discovered."</i> [B. Tucker, <b>Instead of a Book</b>, p. 131]
<p>
Tucker explains this system further:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Suppose that all the municipalities have adopted the voluntary 
principle, and that compulsory taxation has been abolished. Now
after this let us suppose that the Anarchistic view that occupancy
and use should condition and limit landholding becomes the prevailing
view. Evidently then these municipalities will proceed to formulate
and enforce this view. What the formula will be no one can foresee. 
But continuing with our suppositions, we will say that they decide
to protect no one in the possession of more than ten acres. In
execution of this decision, they . . . notify all holders of more
than ten acres within their limits that . . . they will cease to
protect them in the possession of more than ten acres . . ."</i> [<b>The
Individualist Anarchists</b>, pp. 159-60]
</blockquote><p>
A similar process would occur for housing, with tenants <i>"would not
be forced to pay [the landlord] rent, nor would [the landlord] be
allowed to seize their property. The Anarchistic associations would
look upon . . . tenants very much as they would look upon . . . 
guests."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 162]
<p>
Therefore anarchists support the maximum of experiments while ensuring 
that the social conditions that allow this experimentation are protected
against concentrations of wealth and power. As Malatesta put it, <i>"Anarchism 
involves all and only those forms of life that respect liberty and recognise 
that every person has an equal right to enjoy the good things of nature and 
the products of their own activity."</i> [<b>The Anarchist Revolution</b>, p. 14] 
<p>
This means that Anarchists do not support the liberty of being a boss 
(anarchists will happily work <b>with</b> someone but not <b>for</b> someone). Of 
course, those who desire to create private property against the wishes of 
others expect those others to respect their wishes. So, when the would-be 
propertarians happily fence off their "property" and exclude others from it, 
could not these others remember these words from Woody Guthrie's <b>This Land 
is Your Land</b>, and act accordingly?
<p><center>
 	       <i><b>"As I went rumbling that dusty highway<br>
	        I saw a sign that said private property<br>
	        But on the other side it didn't say nothing<br>
	        This land was made for you and me"</b></i> 
</center><p>
While happy to exclude others from "their" property, such owners seem more
than happy to use the resources held in common by others. They are the 
ultimate "free riders," desiring the benefits of society but rejecting the 
responsibilities that go with it. In the end, such "individualists" usually
end up supporting the state (an institution they claim to hate) precisely
because it is the only means by which private property and their "freedom" 
to exercise authority can be defended.
<p>
So, as a way to eliminate the problem of minorities seeking power and
property for themselves, an anarchist revolution places social wealth 
(starting with the land) in the hands of all and promises to protect 
only those uses of it which are considered just by society as a whole. 
In other words, by recognising that "property" is a product of society, 
an anarchist society will ensure than an individual's "property" is 
protected by his or her fellows when it is based purely upon actual
occupancy and use. Thus attempts to transform minority dissent into,
say, property rights would be fought by simply ignoring the "keep
out" signs of property owned, but not used, by an individual or
group.
<p>
Therefore, individuals are free not to associate, but their claims of
"ownership"  will be based around <b>use</b> rights, not property rights.
Individuals will be protected by their fellows only in so far as what
they claim to "own" is related to their ability to personally use said 
"property." As Kropotkin argued, <i>"when we see a peasant who is in
possession of just the amount of land he can cultivate, we do not 
think it reasonable to turn him off his little farm. He exploits 
nobody, and nobody would have the right to interfere with his work. 
But if he possesses under the capitalist law more than be can cultivate 
himself, we consider that we must not give him the right of keeping 
that soil for himself, leaving it uncultivated when it might be 
cultivated by others, or of making other cultivate it for his
benefit."</i> [<b>Act for Yourselves</b>, p. 104] Without a state to back 
up and protect property "rights," we see that all rights are, in 
the end, what society considers to be fair (the difference between 
law and social custom is discussed in 
<a href="secI7.html#seci73">section I.7.3</a>). What the state 
does is to impose "rights" which do not have such a basis (i.e. those 
that protect the property of the elite) or "rights" which have been 
corrupted by wealth and would have been changed because of this 
corruption had society been free to manage its own affairs.
<p>
In summary, individuals will be free not to join a participatory 
community, and hence free to place themselves outside its decisions 
and activities on most issues that do not apply to the fundamental 
ethical standards of a society. Hence individuals who desire to 
live outside of anarchist communities would be free to live as 
they see fit but would not be able to commit murder, rape, create 
private property or other activities that harmed individuals. It 
should be noted, moreover, that this does not mean that their 
possessions will be taken from them by <i>"society"</i> or that <i>"society"</i> 
will tell them what to do with their possessions. Freedom, in a 
complex world, means that such individuals will not be in a position 
to turn their possessions into <b>property</b> and thus recreate capitalism 
(for the distinction between <i>"property"</i> and <i>"possessions,"</i> see 
<a href="secB3.html#secb31">section B.3.1</a>). This 
will not be done by "anarchist police" or 
by "banning" voluntary agreements, but purely by recognising that 
<i>"property"</i> is a social creation and by creating a social system 
that will encourage individuals to stand up for their rights and 
co-operate with each other. 
<p>
<a name="seci58"><h2>I.5.8 What about crime?</h2>
<p>
For anarchists, <i>"crime"</i> can best be described as anti-social acts, or
behaviour which harms someone else or which invades their personal space.
Anarchists argue that the root cause for crime is not some perversity of
human nature or <i>"original sin,"</i> but is due to the type of society by which
people are moulded. For example, anarchists point out that by eliminating
private property, crime could be reduced by about 90 percent, since about
90 percent of crime is currently motivated by evils stemming from private
property such as poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and alienation. 
Moreover, by adopting anarchist methods of non-authoritarian child rearing
and education, most of the remaining crimes could also be eliminated,
because they are largely due to the anti-social, perverse, and cruel
<i>"secondary drives"</i> that develop because of authoritarian, pleasure-negative 
child-rearing practices (See section J.6 -- 
<a href="secJ6.html"><i>"What methods of child rearing 
do anarchists advocate?"</i></a>) 
<p>
<i>"Crime"</i>, therefore, cannot be divorced from the society within which it
occurs. Society, in Emma Goldman's words, gets the criminals it deserves. 
For example, anarchists do not think it unusual nor unexpected that 
crime exploded under the pro-free market capitalist regimes of Thatcher 
and Reagan. Crime, the most obvious symptom of social crisis, took 
30 years to double in Britain (from 1 million incidents in 1950 to 
2.2 million in 1979). However, between 1979 and 1992 the crime rate 
more than doubled, exceeding the 5 million mark in 1992. These 13 
years were marked by a government firmly committed to the <i>"free 
market"</i> and <i>"individual responsibility."</i> It was entirely predictable 
that the social disruption, atomisation of individuals, and increased 
poverty caused by freeing capitalism from social controls would 
rip society apart  and increase criminal activity. Also 
unsurprisingly (from an anarchist viewpoint), under these pro-market
governments we also saw a reduction in civil liberties, increased state
centralisation, and the destruction of local government. As Malatesta put
it, the classical liberalism which these governments represented could
have had no other effect, for <i>"the government's powers of repression must
perforce increase as free competition results in more discord and
inequality."</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 46]
<p>
Hence the paradox of governments committed to <i>"individual rights,"</i> the
<i>"free market"</i> and <i>"getting the state off our backs"</i> increasing state power 
and reducing rights while holding office during a crime explosion is no
paradox at all. <i>"The conjuncture of the rhetoric of individual freedom and
a vast increase in state power,"</i> argues Carole Pateman, <i>"is not unexpected
at a time when the influence of contract doctrine is extending into the
last, most intimate nooks and crannies of social life. Taken to a conclusion,
contract undermines the conditions of its own existence. Hobbes showed
long ago that contract -- all the way down -- requires absolutism and the
sword to keep war at bay."</i> [<b>The Sexual Contract</b>, p. 232]
<p>
Capitalism, and the contract theory on which it is built, will inevitably
rip apart society. Capitalism is based upon a vision of humanity as isolated 
individuals with no connection other than that of money and contract. Such 
a vision cannot help but institutionalise anti-social acts. As Kropotkin 
argued <i>"it is not love and not even sympathy upon which Society is based 
in mankind. It is the conscience -- be it only at the stage of an instinct 
-- of human solidarity. It is the unconscioous recognition of the force
that is borrowed by each man [and woman] from the practice of mutual aid;
of the close dependency of every one's happiness upon the happiness of all; 
and of the sense of justice, or equity, which brings the individual to 
consider the rights of every other individual as equal to his [or her] 
own."</i> [<b>Mutual Aid</b>, p. 16]
<p>
The social atomisation required and created by capitalism destroys the basic 
bonds of society - namely human solidarity - and hierarchy crushes the 
individuality required to understand that we share a common humanity with 
others and so understand <b>why</b> we must be ethical and respect others rights. 
<p>
We should also point out that prisons have numerous negative affects on
society as well as often re-enforcing criminal (i.e. anti-social) behaviour. 
Kropotkin originated the accurate description of prisons as <i>"Universities
of Crime"</i> wherein the first-time criminal learns new techniques and have 
adapt to the prevailing ethical standards within them. Hence, prisons would 
have the effect of increasing the criminal tendencies of those sent there 
and so prove to be counter-productive. In addition, prisons do not affect 
the social conditions which promote many forms of crime.
<p>
We are not saying, however, that anarchists reject the concept of individual 
responsibility. While recognising that rape, for example, is the result of
a social system which represses sexuality and is based on patriarchy (i.e.
rape has more to do with power than sex), anarchists do not "sit back" and
say <i>"it's society's fault."</i> Individuals have to take responsibility for
their own actions and recognise that consequences of those actions. Part
of the current problem with "law codes" is that individuals have been
deprived of the responsibility for developing their own ethical code, and so
are less likely to develop "civilised" social standards (see 
<a href="secI7.html#seci73">section I.7.3</a>).
<p>
Therefore, while anarchists reject the ideas of law and a specialised
justice system, they are not blind to the fact that anti-social action may
not totally disappear in a free society. Therefore, some sort of <i>"court"</i> 
system would still be necessary to deal with the remaining crimes and to
adjudicate disputes between citizens.
<p>
These courts would function in one of two ways. One possibility
is that the parties involved agree to hand their case to a third 
party. Then the <i>"court"</i> in question would be the arrangements 
made by those parties. The second possibility is when the parties 
cannot not agree (or if the victim was dead). Then the issue could
be raised at a communal assembly and a <i>"court"</i> appointed to look 
into the issue. These <i>"courts"</i> would be independent from the commune, 
their independence strengthened by popular election instead of executive
appointment of judges, by protecting the jury system of selection of
random citizens by lot, and by informing jurors of their right to judge
the law itself, according to their conscience, as well as the facts of a
case. As Malatesta pointed out, <i>"when differences were to arise between
men [sic!], would not arbitration voluntarily accepted, or pressure
of public opinion, be perhaps more likely to establish where the right
lies than through an irresponsible magistrate which has the right to
adjudicate on everything and everybody and is inevitably incompetent
and therefore unjust?"</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 43]
<p>
In the case of a <i>"police force,"</i> this would not exist either as a 
public or private specialised body or company. If a local community 
did consider that public safety required a body of people who could 
be called upon for help, we imagine that a new system would be created. 
Such a system would <i>"not be entrusted to, as it is today, to a special, 
official body: all able-bodied inhabitants [of a commune] will be called
upon to take turns in the security measures instituted by the commune."</i> 
[James Guillaume, <b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 371] This system would be
based around a voluntary militia system, in which all members of the
community could serve if they so desired. Those who served would not
constitute a professional body; instead the service would be made 
up of local people who would join for short periods of time and be 
replaced if they abused their position. Hence the likelihood that 
a communal militia would become corrupted by power, like the current 
police force or a private security firm exercising a policing 
function, would be vastly reduced. Moreover, by accustoming a 
population to intervene in anti-social as part of the militia, 
they would be empowered to do so when not an active part of it, 
so reducing the need for its services even more.
<p>
Such a body would not have a monopoly on protecting others, but
would simply be on call if others required it. It would no more 
be a monopoly of defence (i.e. a <i>"police force"</i>) than the current 
fire service is a monopoly. Individuals are not banned from putting 
out fires today because the fire service exists, similarly individuals 
will be free to help stop anti-social crime by themselves, or in 
association with others, in an anarchist society.
<p>
Of course there are anti-social acts which occur without witnesses and
so the <i>"guilty"</i> party cannot be readily identified. If such acts did
occur we can imagine an anarchist community taking two courses of
action. The injured party may look into the facts themselves or appoint 
an agent to do so or, more likely, an ad hoc group would be elected at 
a community assembly to investigate specific crimes of this sort. Such 
a group would be given the necessary <i>"authority"</i> to investigate the crime 
and be subject to recall by the community if they start trying to abuse 
whatever authority they had. Once the investigating body thought it had
enough evidence it would inform the community as well as the affected parties 
and then organise a court. Of course, a free society will produce different 
solutions to such problems, solutions no-one has considered yet and so
these suggestions are just that, suggestions.
<p>
As is often stated, prevention is better than cure. This is as true of 
crime as of disease. In other words, crime is best fought by rooting out
its <b>causes</b> as opposed to punishing those who act in response to these
causes. For example, it is hardly surprising that a culture that promotes
individual profit and consumerism would produce individuals who do not
respect other people (or themselves) and see them as purely means to 
an end (usually increased consumption). And, like everything else in
a capitalist system, such as honour and pride, conscience is also 
available at the right price -- hardly an environment which encourages 
consideration for others, or even for oneself. 
<p>
In addition, a society based on hierarchical authority will also 
tend to produce anti-social activity because the free development 
and expression it suppresses. Thus, irrational authority (which is 
often claimed to be the only cure for crime) actually helps produce 
it. As Emma Goldman argued, crime <i>"is naught but misdirected energy. 
So long as every institution of today, economic, political, social, 
moral conspires to misdirect human energy into wrong channels; so 
long as most people are out of place doing things they hate to do, 
living a life they loathe to live, crime will be inevitable, and 
all the laws on the statues can only increase, but never do away 
with, crime"</i> [<b>Red Emma Speaks</b>, p. 57]
<p>
Eric Fromm, decades latter, makes the same point:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It would seem that the amount of destructiveness to be found in 
individuals is proportionate to the amount to which expansiveness 
of life is curtailed. By this we do not refer to individual 
frustrations of this or that instinctive desire but to the 
thwarting of the whole of life, the blockage of spontaneity
of the growth and expression of man's sensuous, emotional, and 
intellectual capacities. Life has an inner dynamism of its 
own; it tends to grow, to be expressed, to be lived . . . the 
drive for life and the drive for destruction are not mutually 
interdependent factors but are in a reversed interdependence. 
The more the drive towards life is thwarted, the stronger is 
the drive towards destruction; the more life is realised, the 
less is the strength of destructiveness. <b>Destructiveness is the 
outcome of unlived life.</b> Those individual and social conditions 
that make for suppression of life produce the passion for 
destruction that forms, so to speak, the reservoir from which 
particular hostile tendencies -- either against others or against 
oneself -- are nourished"</i> [<b>The Fear of Freedom</b>, p. 158]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, by reorganising society so that it empowers everyone and
actively encourages the use of all our intellectual, emotional and
sensuous abilities, crime would soon cease to be the huge problem that 
it is now. As for the anti-social behaviour or clashes between individuals
that might still exist in such a society, it would be  dealt with in a
system based on respect for the individual and a recognition of the
social roots of the problem. Restraint would be kept to a minimum.
<p>
Anarchists think that public opinion and social pressure would be the 
main means of preventing anti-social acts in an anarchist society, with 
such actions as boycotting and ostracising used as powerful sanctions to
convince those attempting them of the errors of their way. Extensive 
non-co-operation by neighbours, friends and work mates would be the best 
means of stopping acts which harmed others. 
<p>
An anarchist system of justice, we should note, would have a lot to 
learn from aboriginal societies simply because they are examples of 
social order without the state. Indeed many of the ideas we consider 
as essential to justice today can be found in such societies. As 
Kropotkin argued, <i>"when we imagine that we have made great advances 
in introducing, for instance, the jury, all we have done is to return 
to the institutions of the so-called 'barbarians' after having changed 
it to the advantage of the ruling classes."</i> [<b>The State: Its Historic 
Role</b>, p. 18]
<p>
Like aboriginal justice (as documented by Rupert Ross in <b>Returning
to the Teachings: Exploring Aboriginal Justice</b>) anarchists contend 
that offenders should not be punished but justice achieved by the 
teaching and healing of all involved. Public condemnation of the 
wrongdoing would be a key aspect of this process, but the wrong doer 
would remain part of the community and so see the effects of their 
actions on others in terms of grief and pain caused. It would be 
likely that wrong doers would be expected to try to make amends 
for their act by community service or helping victims and their 
families.
<p>
So, from a practical viewpoint, almost all anarchists oppose prisons
on both practical grounds (they do not work) and ethical grounds 
(<i>"We know what prisons mean -- they mean broken down body and spirit, 
degradation, consumption, insanity"</i> Voltairine de Cleyre, quoted by 
Paul Avrich in <b>An American Anarchist</b>, p. 146]). The Makhnovists 
took the usual anarchist position on prisons:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Prisons are the symbol of the servitude of the people, they are always 
built only to subjugate the people, the workers and peasants. . . Free 
people have no use for prisons. Wherever prisons exist, the people are 
not free. . . In keeping with this attitude, they [the Makhnovists] 
demolished prisons wherever they went."</i> [Peter Arshinov, <b>The History 
of the Makhnovist Movement</b>, p. 153] 
</blockquote><p>
With the exception of Benjamin Tucker, no major anarchist writer supported 
the institution. Few anarchists think that private prisons (like private 
policemen) are compatible with their notions of freedom. However, all 
anarchists are against the current <i>"justice"</i> system which seems to them 
to be organised around <b>revenge</b> and punishing effects and not fixing 
causes. 
<p>
However, there are psychopaths and other people in any society who are
too dangerous to be allowed to walk freely. Restraint in this case would
be the only option and such people may have to be isolated from others
for their own, and others, safety. Perhaps mental hospitals would be
used, or an area quarantined for their use created (perhaps an 
island, for example). However, such cases (we hope) would be rare. 
<p>
So instead of prisons and a legal code based on the concept of
punishment and revenge, anarchists support the use of pubic opinion 
and pressure to stop anti-social acts and the need to therapeutically
rehabilitate those who commit anti-social acts. As Kropotkin argued,
<i>"liberty, equality, and practical human sympathy are the most effective
barriers we can oppose to the  anti-social instinct of certain among us"</i> 
and <b>not</b> a parasitic legal system. [<b>The Anarchist Reader</b>, p. 117]
<p>
<a name="seci59"><h2>I.5.9 What about Freedom of Speech under Anarchism?</h2>
<p>
Many express the idea that <b>all</b> forms of socialism would endanger 
freedom of speech, press, and so forth. The usual formulation of this
argument is in relation to state socialism and goes as follows: if the
state (or <i>"society"</i>) owned all the means of communication, then only the
views which the government supported would get access to the media. 
<p>
This is an important point and it needs to be addressed. However, before 
doing so, we should point out that under capitalism the major media are
effectively controlled by the wealthy. As we argued in 
<a href="secD3.html">section D.3</a>, the
media are <b>not</b> the independent defenders of freedom that they like to
portray themselves as. This is hardly surprising, since newspapers,
television companies, and so forth are capitalist enterprises owned by the
wealthy and with managing  directors and editors who are also wealthy
individuals with a vested interest  in the status quo. Hence there are
institutional factors which ensure that the <i>"free press"</i> reflects the
interests of capitalist elites.
<p>
However, in democratic capitalist states there is little overt censorship.
Radical and independent publishers can still print their papers and books
without state intervention (although market forces ensure that this
activity can be difficult and financially unrewarding). Under socialism,
it is argued, because <i>"society"</i> owns the means of communication and
production, this liberty will not exist. Instead, as can be seen from
all examples of <i>"actually existing socialism,"</i> such liberty is crushed 
in favour of the government's point of view.
<p>
As anarchism rejects the state, we can say that this danger does not
exist under libertarian socialism. However, since social anarchists argue
for the communalisation of production, could not restrictions on free
speech still exist? We argue no, for three reasons. 
<p>
Firstly, publishing houses, radio stations, and so on will be run 
by their workers directly. They will be supplied by other syndicates, 
with whom they will make agreements, and <b>not</b> by <i>"central planning"</i> 
officials, who would not exist. In other words, there is no bureaucracy 
of officials allocating (and so controlling) resources (and so the 
means of communication). Hence, anarchist self-management will ensure 
that there is a wide range of opinions in different magazines and 
papers. There would be community papers, radio stations, etc., and 
obviously they would play an increased role in a free society. But 
they would not be the only media. Associations, political parties, 
industrial syndicates, and so on would have their own media and/or 
would have access to the resources of communication workers' syndicates, 
so ensuring that a wide range of opinions can be expressed.
<p>
Secondly, the <i>"ultimate"</i> power in a free society will be the individuals
of which it is composed. This power will be expressed in communal and
workplace assemblies that can recall delegates and revoke their
decisions. It is doubtful that these assemblies would tolerate a set of
would-be bureaucrats determining what they can or cannot read, see, or
hear. 
<p>
Thirdly, individuals in a free society would be interested in hearing 
different viewpoints and discussing them. This is the natural
side-effect of critical thought (which self-management would encourage), 
and so they would have a vested interest in defending the widest possible
access to different forms of media for different views. Having no vested
interests to defend, a free society would hardly encourage or tolerate
the censorship associated with the capitalist media (<i>"I listen to criticism 
because I am <b>greedy.</b> I listen to criticism because I am <b>selfish.</b> I
would not deny myself another's insights"</i> [<b>The Right to be Greedy</b>]).
<p>
Therefore, anarchism will <b>increase</b> freedom of speech in many important 
ways, particularly in the workplace (where it is currently denied under 
capitalism). This will be a natural result of a society based on maximising
freedom and the desire to enjoy life. 
<p>
We would also like to point out that during both the Spanish and Russian 
revolutions, freedom of speech was protected within anarchist areas. 
<p>
For example, the Makhnovists in the Ukraine <i>"fully applied the revolutionary
principles of freedom of speech, of thought, of the Press, and of political
association. In all the cities and towns occupied . . . Complete freedom
of speech, Press, assembly, and association of any kind and for everyone
was immediately proclaimed."</i> [Peter Arshinov, <b>The History of the Makhnovist
Movement</b>, p. 153] This is confirmed by Michael Malet who notes that <i>"[o]ne
of the most remarkable achievements of the Makhnovists was to preserve a
freedom of speech more extensive than any of their opponents."</i> [<b>Nestor
Makhno in the Russian Civil War</b>, p. 175]
<p>
In revolutionary Spain republicans, liberals, communists, Trotskyites and 
many different anarchist groups all had freedom to express their views. 
Emma Goldman writes that <i>"[o]n my first visit to Spain in September 1936,
nothing surprised me so much as the amount of political freedom I found
everywhere. True, it did not extend to Fascists . . . [but] everyone of
the anti-Fascist front enjoyed political freedom which hardly existed
in any of the so-called European democracies."</i> [<b>Vision on Fire</b>,
 p.147] This is confirmed in a host of other eye-witnesses, 
including George Orwell in <b>Homage to Catalonia</b> (in fact, it was
the rise of the pro-capitalist republicans and communists that 
introduced censorship). 
<p>
Both movements were fighting a life-and-death struggle against communist,
fascist and pro-capitalist armies and so this defence of freedom of 
expression, given the circumstances, is particularly noteworthy.
<p>
Therefore, based upon both theory and practice, we can say that anarchism 
will not endanger freedom of expression. Indeed, by breaking up the 
capitalist oligopoly which currently exists and introducing workers'
self-management of the press, a far wider range of opinions will become
available in a free society. Rather than reflect the interests of a
wealthy elite, the media would reflect the interests of society as
a whole and the individuals and groups within it.
<p>
<a name="seci510"><h2>I.5.10 What about political parties?</h2>
<p>
Political parties and other interest groups will exist in an anarchist 
society as long as people feel the need to join them. They will not be
<i>"banned"</i> in any way, and their members will have the same rights as 
everyone else. Individuals who are members of political parties or
associations can take part in communal and other assemblies and try to
convince others of the soundness of their ideas. 
<p>
However, there is a key difference between such activity and politics
under a capitalist democracy. This is because the elections to positions of
responsibility in an anarchist society will not be based on party tickets
nor will it involve the delegation of power. Emile Pouget's description 
of the difference between the syndicalist trade union and elections drives
this difference home:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The constituent part of the trade union is the individual. Except
that the union member is spared the depressing phenomenon manifest
in democratic circles where, thanks to the veneration of universal
suffrage, the trend is towards the crushing and diminution of the
human personality. In a democratic setting, the elector can avail
of his [or her] will only in order to perform an act of abdication:
his role is to 'award' his 'vote' to the candidate whom he [or she]
wishes to have as his [or her] 'representative.'
<p>
"Affiliation to the trade union has no such implication . . . In joining
the union, the worker merely enters into a contract -- which he may at
any time abjure --  with comrades who are his equals in will and potential
. . . In the union, say, should it come to the appointment of a trade
union council to take charge of administrative matters, such 'selection'
is not to be compared with 'election': the form of voting customarily
employed in such circumstances is merely a means whereby the labour can
be divided and is not accompanied by any delegation of authority. The
strictly prescribed duties of the trade union council are merely
administrative. The council performs the task entrusted to it, without
ever overruling its principals, without supplanting them or acting
in their place.
<p>
"The same might be said of all decisions reached in the union: all are
restricted to a definite and specific act, whereas in democracy, election
implies that the elected candidate has been issued by his [or her] elector 
with a carte blanche empowering him [or her] to decide and do as he [or
she] pleases, in and on everything, without even the hindrance of the
quite possibly contrary views of his [or her] principals, whose opposition,
in any case, no matter how pronounced, is of no consequence until such
time as the elected candidate's mandate has run its course.
<p>
"So there cannot be any possible parallels, let alone confusion, between
trade unions activity and participation in the disappointing chores of
politics."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 2, pp. 67-68]
</blockquote><p>
In other words, when individuals are elected to administrative posts they
are elected to carry out their mandate, <b>not</b> to carry out their party's
programme. Of course, if the individuals in question had convinced their
fellow workers and citizens that their programme was correct, then this
mandate and the programme would be identical. However this is unlikely in
practice. We would imagine that the decisions of collectives and communes
would reflect the complex social interactions and diverse political
opinions their members and of the various groupings within the
association.
<p>
Hence anarchism will likely contain many different political groupings and
ideas. The relative influence of these within collectives and communes
would reflect the strength of their arguments and the relevance of their
ideas, as would be expected in a free society. As Bakunin argued, <i>"[t]he
abolition of this mutual influence would be death. And when we vindicate
the freedom of the masses, we are by no means suggesting the abolition of
any of the natural influences that individuals or groups of individuals
exert on them. What we want is the abolition of influences which are
artificial, privileged, legal, official."</i> [quoted by Malatesta in 
<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 50]
<p>
It is only when representative government replaces self-management that 
political debate results in <i>"elected dictatorship"</i> and centralisation of 
power into the hands of one party which claims to speak for the whole of 
society, as if the latter had one mind. 
<p>
<a name="seci511"><h2>I.5.11 What about interest groups and other associations?</h2>
<p>
Anarchists do not think that social life can be reduced to political 
and economic associations alone. Individuals have many different 
interests and desires which they must express in order to have a
truly free and interesting  life. Therefore an anarchist society 
will see the development of numerous voluntary associations and 
groups to express these interests. For example, there would be 
consumer groups, musical groups, scientific associations, art 
associations, clubs, housing co-operatives and associations, 
craft and hobby guilds, fan clubs, animal rights associations,
groups based around sex, sexuality, creed and colour and so forth. 
Associations will be created for all human interests and activities. 
<p>
As Kropotkin argued:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"He who wishes for a grand piano will enter the association of musical
instrument makers. And by giving the association part of his half-days'
leisure, he will soon possess the piano of his dreams. If he is fond of
astronomical studies he will join the association of astronomers. . . 
and he will have the telescope he desires by taking his share of the
associated work. . .In short, the five or seven hours a day which each
will have at his disposal, after having consecrated several hours to the
production of necessities, would amply suffice to satisfy all longings for
luxury, however varied. Thousands of associations would undertake to 
supply them."</i> [<b>The Conquest of Bread</b>, p. 120]
</blockquote><p>
We can imagine, therefore, an anarchist society being based around
associations and interest groups on every subject which fires the
imagination of individuals and for which individuals want to meet in 
order to express and further their interests. Housing associations, 
for example, would exist to allow inhabitants to manage their local 
areas, design and maintain their homes and local parks and gardens.
Animal rights and other interest groups would produce information on 
issues they consider important, trying to convince others of the 
errors of eating meat or whatever. Consumer groups would be in dialogue
with syndicates about improving products and services, ensuring that
syndicates produce what is required by consumers. Environment groups 
would exist to watch production and make sure that it is not creating 
damaging side effects and informing both syndicates and communes of
their findings. Feminist, homosexual, bisexual and anti-racist groups 
would exist to put their ideas across, highlighting areas in which social 
hierarchies and prejudice still existed. All across society, people 
would be associating together to express themselves and convince others 
of their ideas on many different issues.
<p>
Hence in a anarchist society, free association would take on a stronger
and more positive role than under capitalism. In this way, social life
would  take on many dimensions, and the individual would have the choice of
thousands of societies to join to meet his or her interests or create new
ones with other like-minded people. Anarchists would be the last to deny
that there is more to life than work!
<p>
<a name="seci512"><h2>I.5.12 Would an anarchist society provide health care and other public services?</h2>
<p>
It depends on the type of anarchist society you are talking about.
Different anarchists propose different solutions.
<p>
In an individualist-mutualist society, for example, health care
and other public services would be provided by individuals or
co-operatives on a pay-for-use basis. It would be likely that
individuals or co-operatives/associations would subscribe to
various insurance providers or enter into direct contracts
with health care providers. Thus the system would be similar
to privatised health care but without the profit margins as
competition, it is hoped, would drive prices down to cost.
<p>
Other anarchists reject such a system. They are favour of
socialising health care and other public services. They argue
that a privatised system would only be able to meet the
requirements of those who can afford to pay for it and so 
would be unjust and unfair. The need for medical attention is 
not dependent on income and so a civilised society would
recognise this fact. Under capitalism, profit-maximising 
medical insurance sets premiums according to the risks of 
the insured getting ill or injured, with the riskiest may 
not being able to find insurance at any price. Private 
insurers shun entire industries, such as logging, as too 
dangerous for their profits due to the likelihood of accidents 
or illness. They review contracts regularly and drop people who 
get sick. Hardly a vision to inspire a free society or one 
compatible with equality and mutual respect.
<p>
Moreover, competition would lead to inefficiencies as prices 
would be inflated to pay for advertising, competition related 
administration costs, paying dividends to share-holders and so on. 
For example, in 1993, Canada's health plans devoted 0.9% of spending 
to overhead, compared to U.S. figures of 3.2% for Medicare and 12% 
for private insurers. In addition, when Canada adopted its publicly 
financed system in 1971, it and the U.S. both spent just over 7% 
of GDP on health care. By 1990, the U.S. was up to 12.3%, verses 
Canada's 9%. 
<p>
As can be seen, social anarchists point to what happens under 
capitalism when discussing the benefits of a socialised system
of health care in an anarchist society. Competition, they argue,
harms health-care provision. According to Alfie Kohn:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"More hospitals and clinics are being run by for-profit 
corporations; many institutions, forced to battle for 'customers,' 
seem to value a skilled director of marketing more highly than a 
skilled caregiver. As in any other economic sector, the race for 
profits translates into pressure to reduce costs, and the easiest 
way to do it here is to cut back on services to unprofitable 
patients, that is, those who are more sick than rich . . ."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
He concludes:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The result: hospital costs are actually <b>higher</b> in areas 
where there is more competition for patients."</i> [Alfie Kohn, 
<b>No Contest</b>, p. 240]
</blockquote><p>
As Robert Kuttner notes: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The American health-care system is a tangle of inequity and 
inefficiency -- and getting worse as private-market forces 
seek to rationalise it. A shift to a universal system 
of health coverage would cut this Gordian knot at a stroke. 
It would not only deliver the explicitly medical aspects 
of health more efficiently and fairly, but, by socialising 
costs of poor health, it would also create a powerful 
financial incentive for society as a whole to stress primary 
prevention. . . every nation with a universal system
spends less of its GDP on health care than the United States
. . . And nearly every other nation with a universal system
has longer life spans from birth (though roughly equivalent
life spans from adulthood) . . . most nations with universal
systems also have greater patient satisfaction.
<p>
"The reasons . . . should be obvious. By their nature, universal
systems spend less money on wasteful overhead, and more on
primary prevention. Health-insurance overhead in the United 
States alone consumes about 1 percent of the GDP, compared
to 0.1 percent in Canada. Though medical inflation is a
problem everywhere, the universal systems have had far
lower rates of cost inflation . . . In the years between
1980 and 1987, total health costs in the United States
increased by 2.4 times the rate of GDP growth. In nations
with universal systems, they increased far more slowly.
The figures for Sweden, France, West Germany, and Britain
were 1.2, 1.6, 1.8, and 1.7 percent, respectively . . .
<p>
[. . . ]
<p>
"Remarkably enough, the United States spends most money 
on health care, but has the fewest beds per thousand in
population, the lowest admission rate, and the lowest
occupancy rate -- coupled with the highest daily cost,
highest technology-intensiveness, and greatest number
of employees per bed."</i> [<b>Everything for Sale</b>, pp. 155-6]
</blockquote><p>
In 1993, the US paid 13.4% of its GDP towards health care,
compared to 10% for Canada, 8.6% for Sweden and Germany,
6.6% for Britain and 6.8% for Japan. Only 40% of the US
population was covered by public health care and over 35 
million people, 14% of the population, went without health 
insurance for all of 1991, and about twice that many were 
uninsured for some period during the year. In terms of
health indicators, the US people are not getting value
for money. Life expectancy is higher in Canada, Sweden,
Germany, Japan and Britain. The USA has the highest levels
of infant mortality and is last in basic health indicators
as well as having fewer doctors per 1,000 people than the 
OECD average. All in all, the US system is miles begin the
universal systems of other countries.
<p>
Of course, it will be argued that the USA is not an anarchy and
so comparisons are pointless. However, it seems strange that
the more competitive system, the more privatised system, is
less efficient and less fair than the universal systems. It
also seems strange that defenders of competition happily
use examples from <i>"actually existing"</i> capitalism to illustrate
their politics but reject negative examples as being a product
of an <i>"impure"</i> system. They want to have their cake and eat
it to.
<p>
Therefore, most anarchists are in favour of a socialised and
universal health-care system for both ethical and efficiency
reasons. Needless to say, an anarchist system of socialised 
health care would differ in many ways to the current systems 
of universal health-care provided by the state.
<p>
Such a system of socialised health-care will be built from
the bottom-up and based around the local commune. In a social
anarchist society, <i>"medical services . . . will be free of
charge to all inhabitants of the commune. The doctors will
not be like capitalists, trying to extract the greatest
profit from their unfortunate patients. They will be employed
by the commune and expected to treat all who need their
services."</i> Moreover, prevention will play an important
part, as <i>"medical treatment is only the <b>curative</b> side of
the science of health care; it is not enough to treat the
sick, it is also necessary to prevent disease. That is the
true function of hygiene."</i> [James Guillaume, <b>Bakunin on 
Anarchism</b>, p. 371] 
<p>
How would an anarchist health service work? It would be based
on self-management, of course, with close links to the local
commune and federations of communes. Each hospital or health
centre would be autonomous but linked in a federation with
the others, allowing resources to be shared as and when required
while allowing the health service to adjust to local needs and
requirements as quickly as possible.
<p>
The Spanish Revolution indicates how an anarchist health service
would operate. In rural areas local doctors would usually join the 
village collective and provided their services like any other
worker. Where local doctors were not available, <i>"arrangements
were made by the collectives for treatment of their members by
hospitals in nearby localities. In a few cases, collectives
themselves build hospitals; in many they acquired equipment
and other things needed by their local physicians."</i> For example,
the Monzon comercal (district) federation of collectives in Aragon 
established maintained a hospital in Binefar, the Casa de Salud 
Durruti. By April 1937 it had 40 beds, in sections which included 
general medicine, prophylaxis and gynaecology. It saw about 25 
outpatients a day and was open to anyone in the 32 villages of 
the comarca. [Robert Alexander, <b>The Anarchists in the Spanish 
Civil War</b>, vol. 1, p. 331 and pp. 366-7]
<p>
The socialisation of the health care took on a slightly different
form in Catalonia but on the same libertarian principles. Gaston 
Leval provides us with an excellent summary:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The socialisation of health services was one of the greatest
achievements of the revolution. To appreciate the efforts of
our comrades it must be borne in mind that the rehabilitated
the health service in all of Catalonia in so short a time
after July 19th. The revolution could count on the co-operation
of a number of dedicated doctors whose ambition was not to
accumulate wealth but to serve the afflicted and the
underprivileged.
<p>
"The Health Workers' Union was founded in September, 1936. In
line with the tendency to unite all the different classifications,
trades, and services serving a given industry, <b>all</b> health
workers, from porters to doctors and administrators, were
organised into one big union of health workers
<p>
[. . .]
<p>
"Our comrades laid the foundations of a new health service . . .
The new medical service embraced all of Catalonia. It constituted
a great apparatus whose parts were distributed according to
different needs, all in accord with an overall plan. Catalonia
was divided into nine zones . . . In turn, all the surrounding
villages and towns were served from these centres.
<p>
"Distributed throughout Catalonia were twenty-seven towns with
a total of thirty-sex health centres conducting services so
thoroughly that every village, every hamlet, every isolated
peasant in the mountains, every woman, every child, anywhere,
received adequate, up-to-date medical care. In each of the
nine zones there was a central syndicate and a Control 
Committee located in Barcelona. Every department was 
autonomous within its own sphere. But this autonomy was not
synonymous with isolation. The Central Committee in Barcelona,
chosen by all the sections, met once a week with one delegate
from each section to deal with common problems and to 
implement the general plan. . . 
<p>
"The people immediately benefited from the projects of the
health syndicate. The syndicate managed all hospitals and
clinics. Six hospitals were opened in Barcelona. . . Eight
new sanitariums were installed in converted luxurious homes
ideally situated amidst mountains and pine forests. It was
no easy task to convert these homes into efficient hospitals
with all new facilities. . ."</i> [quoted by Sam Dolgoff, <b>The
Anarchist Collectives</b>, pp. 99-100]
</blockquote><p>
People were no longer required to pay for medical services. Each 
collective, if it could afford it, would pay a contribution to 
its health centre. Building and facilities were improved and 
modern equipment introduced. Like other self-managed industries,
the health service was run at all levels by general assemblies 
of workers who elected delegates and hospital administration.
<p>
In the Levante, the CNT built upon its existing Sociedad de 
Socorros Mutuos de Levante (a health service institution founded 
by the union as a kind of mutual benefit society which had numerous 
doctors and specialists). During the revolution, the Mutua had 
50 doctors and was available to all affiliated workers and
their families.
<p>
Thus, all across Spain, the workers in the health service
re-organised their industry in libertarian lines and in 
association with the local collective or commune and the
unions of the CNT. As Gaston Leval summarises:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Everywhere that we were able to study the towns and little
cities transformed by the revolution, the hospitals, the
clinics, the polyclincs and other health establishments
have been municipalised, enlarged, modernised, put under
the safekeeping of the collectivity. And where they didn't
exist, they were improvised. The socialisation of medicine
was a work for the benefit of all."</i> [quoted by Robert
Alexander, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 677]
</blockquote><p>
We can expect a similar process to occur in the future
anarchist society. Workers in the health industry will
organise their workplaces, federate together to share
resources and information, to formulate plans and improve
the quality of service to the public. The communes and 
their federations, the syndicates and federations of syndicates
will provide resources and effectively own the health system,
ensuring access for all.
<p>
Similar systems would operate in other public services. For example,
in education we expect the members of communes to organise a
system of free schools. This can be seen from the Spanish revolution.
Indeed, the Spanish anarchists organised Modern Schools before the
outbreak of the revolution, with 50 to 100 schools in various parts
funded by local anarchist groups and CNT unions. During the revolution
everywhere across Spain, syndicates, collectives and federations
of collectives formed and founded schools. Indeed, education <i>"advanced
at an unprecedented pace. Most of the partly or wholly socialised
collectives and municipalities built at least one school. By 1938,
for example, every collective in the Levant Federation had its own
school."</i> [Gaston Leval, quoted by Sam Dolgoff, <b>The Anarchist
Collectives</b>, p. 168] These schools aimed, to quote the CNT's 
resolution on Libertarian Communism, to <i>"help mould men with
minds of their own -- and let it be clear that when we use the
word 'men' we use it in the generic sense -- to which end it will
be necessary for the teacher to cultivate every one of the child's
faculties so that the child may develop every one of its capacities
to the full."</i> [quoted by Jose Periats, <b>The CNT in the Spanish
Revolution</b>, p. 70] The principles of libertarian education, of
encouraging freedom instead of authority in the school, was
applied on vast scale (see 
<a href="secJ5.html#secj513">section J.5.13</a> for more details on
Modern Schools and libertarian education).
<p>
This educational revolution was not confined to collectives or
children. For example, the Federacion Regional de Campesinos de 
Levante formed institutes in each of its five provinces. The 
first was set up in October 1937 in an old convent with 100 
students. The Federation also set up two <i>"universities"</i> in 
Valencia and Madrid which taught a wide variety of agricultural
subjects and combined learning with practical experience in an
experimental form attached to each university. The Aragon 
collectives formed a similar specialised school in Binefar. The 
CNT was heavily involved in transforming education in Catalonia. 
In addition, the local federation of the CNT in Barcelona
established a school to train women workers to replace male
ones being taken into the army. The school was run by the
anarchist-feminist group the Mujeres Libres. [Robert Alexander, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 406, p. 670 and pp. 665-8 and p. 670]
<p>
Ultimately, the public services that exist in a social anarchist
society will be dependent on what members of that society desire.
If, for example, a commune or federation of communes desires a
system of communal health-care or schools then they will allocate
resources to implement it. They will allocate the task of creating
such a system to, say, a special commission based on volunteers
from the interested parties such as the relevant syndicates,
professional associations, consumer groups and so on. For example,
for communal education a commission or working group would include
delegates from the teachers union, from parent associations, from
student unions and so on. The running of such a system would be
based, like any other industry, on those who work in it. Functional
self-management would be the rule, with doctors managing their
work, nurses theirs and so on, while the general running of, say, 
a hospital would be based on a general assembly of all workers
there who would elect and mandate delegates, the administration
staff and decide the policy the hospital would follow. Needless 
to say, other interested parties would have a say, including 
patients in the health system and students in the education 
system.
<p>
Thus, as would be expected, public services would be organised
by the public, organised in their syndicates and communes. They
would be based on workers' self-management of their daily work
and of the system as a whole. Non-workers who took part in the
system (patients, students) would not be ignored and would also 
place a role in providing essential feedback to assure quality 
control of services and to ensure that the service is responsive
to users needs. The resources required to maintain and expand
the system would be provided by the communes, syndicates and
their federations. For the first time, public services would
truly be public and not a statist system imposed upon the
public from above.
<p>
Needless to say, any system of public services would not be imposed
on those who did not desire it. They would be organised for and
by members of the communes. Therefore, individuals who were
not part of a local commune or syndicate would have to pay to
gain access to the communal resources. However, it is unlikely
that an anarchist society would be as barbaric as a capitalist
one and refuse entry to cases who were ill and could not pay,
nor turn away emergencies because they did not have enough money
to pay. And just as other workers need not join a syndicate
or commune, so doctors, teachers and so on could practice their
trade outside the communal system as either individual artisans
or as part of a co-operative. However, given the availability
of free medical services it is doubtful they would grow rich
doing so. Medicine, teaching and so on would revert back to what
usually initially motivates people to take these up professions -- 
the desire to help others and make a positive impact in peoples 
lives.
<p>
<a name="seci513"><h2>I.5.13 Won't an anarchist society be vulnerable to the power hungry?</h2>
<p>
A common objection to anarchism is that an anarchist society will
be vulnerable to be taken over by thugs or those who seek power. A
similar argument is that a group without a leadership structure 
becomes open to charismatic leaders so anarchy would just lead to 
tyranny. 
<p>
For anarchists, such arguments are strange. Society already <b>is</b>
run by thugs and/or the off-spring of thugs. Kings were originally
just successful thugs who succeeded in imposing their domination
over a given territorial area. The modern state has evolved from
the structure created to impose this domination. Similarly with
property, with most legal titles to land being traced back to
its violent seizure by thugs who then passed it on to their
children who then sold it or gave it to their offspring. The
origins of the current system in violence can be seen by the
continued use of violence by the state and capitalists to enforce
and protect their domination over society. When push comes to
shove, the dominant class will happily re-discover their thug
past and employ extreme violence to maintain their privileges.
The descent of large parts of Europe into Fascism during the 
1930s, or Pinochet's coup in Chile in 1973 indicates how far 
they will go. As Peter Arshinov argued (in a slightly different
context):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Statists fear free people. They claim that without authority
people will lose the anchor of sociability, will dissipate
themselves, and will return to savagery. This is obviously
rubbish. It is taken seriously by idlers, lovers of authority
and of the labour of others, or by blind thinkers of bourgeois
society. The liberation of the people in reality leads to the
degeneration and return to savagery, not of the people, but
of those who, thanks to power and privilege, live from the
labour of the people's arms and from the blood of the people's
veins . . . The liberation of the people leads to the savagery
of those who live from its enslavement."</i> [<b>The History of the
Makhnovist Movement</b>, p. 85]
</blockquote><p>
Anarchists are not impressed with the argument that anarchy
would be unable to stop thugs seizing power. It ignores the
fact that we live in a society where the power-hungry already
hold power. As an argument against anarchism it fails and is,
in fact, an argument against capitalist and statist societies.
<p>
Moreover, it also ignores fact that people in an anarchist society 
would have gained their freedom by overthrowing every existing and 
would-be thug who had or desired power over others. They would have
defended that freedom against those who desired to re-impose it. 
They would have organised themselves to manage their own affairs 
and, therefore, to abolish all hierarchical power. And we are to 
believe that these people, after struggling to become free, would 
quietly let a new set of thugs impose themselves? As Kropotkin 
argued:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The only way in which a state of Anarchy can be obtained
is for each man [or woman] who is oppressed to act as if
he [or she] were at liberty, in defiance of all authority
to the contrary . . . In practical fact, territorial
extension is necessary to ensure permanency to any given
individual revolution. In speaking of the Revolution, we
signify the aggregate of so many successful individual
and group revolts as will enable every person within the
revolutionised territory to act in perfect freedom . . .
without having to constantly dread the prevention or the
vengeance of an opposing power upholding the former system
. . . Under these circumstance it is obvious that any
visible reprisal could and would be met by a resumption of
the same revolutionary action on the part of the individuals
or groups affected, and that the <b>maintenance</b> of a state
of Anarchy in this manner would be far easier than the
gaining of a state of Anarchy by the same methods and in
the face of hitherto unshaken opposition . . . They have
it in their power to apply a prompt check by boycotting
such a person and refusing to help him with their labour
or to willing supply him with any articles in their
possession. They have it in their power to use force 
against him. They have these powers individually as well
as collectively. Being either past rebels who have been
inspired with the spirit of liberty, or else habituated to
enjoy freedom from their infancy, they are hardly to rest
passive in view of what they feel to be wrong."</i> [Kropotkin,
<b>Act for Yourselves</b>, pp. 87-8]
</blockquote><p>
Thus a free society would use direct action to resist the
would-be ruler just as it had used direct action to free
itself from existing rulers. An anarchist society would be
organised in a way which would facilitate this direct action
as it would be based on networks of solidarity and mutual aid.
An injury to one is an injury to all and a would-be ruler
would face a whole liberated society acting against him or
her. Faced with the direct action of the population (which
would express itself in non-co-operation, strikes, demonstrations,
occupations, insurrections and so on) a would be power seeker
would find it difficult to impose themselves. Unlike those
accustomed to rulership in existing society, an anarchist
people would be a society of rebels and so difficult to 
dominate and conquer.
<p>
Anarchists point to the example of the rise of Fascism in
Italy, Spain and Germany to prove their point. In areas
with strong anarchist movements the fascists were 
resisted most strongly. While in Germany Hitler took
power with little or no opposition, in Italy and
Spain the fascists had to fight long and hard to
gain power. The anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist
organisations fought the fascists tooth and nail,
with some success before betrayal by the Republicans
and Marxists. From this historical experience anarchists
argue that an anarchist society would quickly and
easily defeat would-be thugs as people would be 
used to practising direct action and self-management
and would have no desire to stop practising them.
<p>
As for self-management resulting in <i>"charismatic"</i> leaders, well 
the logic is astounding. As if hierarchical structures are <b>not</b> 
based on leadership structures and do not require a charismatic 
leader! Such an argument is inherently self-contradictory -- as
well as ignoring the nature of modern society and its leadership
structures. Rather than mass assemblies being dominated by
leaders, it is the case that hierarchical structures are the
natural breeding ground for dictators. All the great dictators
the world have seen have come to the forefront in <b>hierarchical</b>
organisations, <b>not</b> libertarian structured ones. Hitler, for
example, did not come to power via a libertarian organisation.
Rather he used a highly centralised and hierarchically organised
party to take control of a centralised, hierarchical state. The
very disempowerment of the population in capitalist society results 
in them looking to leaders to act for them and so <i>"charismatic"</i> 
leaders are a natural result. An anarchist society, by empowering 
all, would make it more difficult, not less, for a would-be 
leader to gain power -- few people, if any, would be willing 
to sacrifice and negate themselves for the benefit of another.
<p>
As would be expected, given our comments above, anarchists think
an anarchist society must defend itself against attempts to 
re-introduce the state or private property. The question of
defence of an anarchist society is discussed in the 
<a href="secI5.html#seci514">next section</a>
and so we will not do so here.
<p>
Our discussion on the power hungry obviously relates to the more general
the question of whether ethical behaviour be rewarded in an anarchist 
society. In other words, could an anarchist society be stable or would
the unethical take over?
<p>
It is one of the most disturbing aspects of living in a world where the 
rush to acquire wealth is the single most important aspect of living is 
what happens to people who follow an ethical path in life.
<p>
Under capitalism, the ethical generally do not succeed as well as those 
stab their fellows in the back, those who cut corners, indulge in sharp 
business practises, drive competitors into the ground and live their lives 
with an eye on the bottom line but they do survive. Loyalty to a firm or
a group, bending over backwards to provide a service, giving a helping 
hand to somebody in need, placing friendship above money, count for 
nothing when the bills come in. People who act ethically in a capitalist 
society are usually punished and penalised for their ethical, moral and 
principled behaviour. Indeed, the capitalist market rewards unethical
behaviour as it generally reduces costs and so gives those who do it
a competitive edge.
<p>
It is different in a free society. Anarchism is based on two principles 
of association, equal access to power and wealth. Everybody in an anarchist 
society irrespective of what they do, or who they are or what type of work 
they perform is entitled to share in society's wealth. Whether a community 
survives or prospers depends on the combined efforts of the people in that 
community. Ethical behaviour would become the norm in an anarchist community; 
those people who act ethically would be rewarded by the standing they achieve 
in the community and by others being more than happy to work with and aid
them. People who cut corners, try to exercise power over others, refuse
to co-operate as equals or otherwise act in an unethical manner would 
lose their standing in an anarchist society. Their neighbours and work
mates would refuse to co-operate with them (or reduce co-operation to 
a minimum) and take other forms of non-violent direct action to point
out that certain forms of activity was inappropriate. They would discuss
the issue with the unethical person and try to convince them of the errors
of their way. In a society where the necessities are guaranteed,
people would tend to act ethically because ethical behaviour raises an
individuals profile and standing within such a community. Capitalism and
ethical behaviour are mutually exclusive concepts; anarchism encourages and
rewards ethical behaviour.
<p>
Therefore, as can be seen, anarchists argue that a free society would
not have to fear would-be thugs, <i>"charismatic"</i> leaders or the unethical.
An anarchist society would be based on the co-operation of free individuals.
It is unlikely that they would tolerate such behaviour and would use
their own direct action as well as social and economic organisations to
combat it. Moreover, the nature of free co-operation would reward ethical
behaviour as those who practice it would have it reciprocated by their
fellows.
<p>
One last point. Some people seem to think that anarchism is about 
the powerful being appealed to <b>not</b> to oppress and dominate others. 
Far from it. Anarchism is about the oppressed and exploited refusing 
to let others dominate them. It is <b>not</b> an appeal to the <i>"better 
side"</i> of the boss or would-be boss; it is about the solidarity and
direct action of those subject to a boss <b>getting rid of the boss</b> --
whether the boss agrees to it or not! Once this is clearly understood
the idea that an anarchist society is vulnerable to the power-hungry
is clearly nonsense -- anarchy is based on resisting power and so
is, by its very nature, more resistant to would-be rulers than
a hierarchical one.
<p>
<a name="seci514"><h2>I.5.14 How could an anarchist society defend itself?
</h2>
<p>
Anarchists are well aware that an anarchist society will have
to defend itself from both inside and outside attempts to 
re-impose capitalism and the state. Indeed, every revolutionary
anarchist has argued that a revolution will have to defend itself.
<p>
Unfortunately, Marxists have consistently misrepresented anarchist
ideas on this subject. Lenin, for example, argued that the
<i>"proletariat needs the state only temporarily. We do not at all
disagree with the anarchists on the question of the abolition
of the state as an <b>aim.</b> We maintain that, to achieve this aim,
we must temporarily make use of the instruments, resources and
methods of state power <b>against</b> the exploiters, just as the
dictatorship of the oppressed class is temporarily necessary 
for the abolition of classes. Marx chooses the sharpest and
clearest way of stating his position against the anarchists:
after overthrowing the  yoke of the capitalists, should 
workers 'lay down their arms' or use them against the
capitalists in order to crush their resistance? But what is
the systematic use of arms by one class against the other,
if not a 'transitory form' of state."</i> [<i>"The State and
Revolution"</i>, <b>Essential Works of Lenin</b>, p. 316]
<p>
Fortunately, as Murray Bookchin points out, anarchists are <i>"not 
so naive as to believe anarchism could be established overnight. In
imputing this notion to Bakunin, Marx and Engels wilfully distorted
the Russian anarchist's views. Nor did the anarchists . . . believe
that the abolition of the state involved 'laying down arms' 
immediately after the revolution. . ."</i> [<b>Post-Scarcity Anarchism</b>,
p. 213] Even a basic familiarity with the work of anarchist thinkers
would make the reader aware that Bookchin is right. As we shall
see, anarchists have consistently argued that a revolution and
an anarchist society needs to be defended against those who would
try and re-introduce hierarchy, domination, oppression and 
exploitation (even, as with Leninists, they call themselves
<i>"socialists"</i>). As Malatesta argued in 1891:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Many suppose that . . . anarchists, in the name of their principles,
would wish to see that strange liberty respected which violates and
destroys the freedom and life of others. They seem almost to believe
that after having brought down government and private property
we would allow both to be quietly built up again, because of a
respect for the <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]
</blockquote><p>
Anarchists reject the idea that defending a revolution, or even 
the act of revolution itself, represents or requires a <i>"state."</i> As
Malatesta argued, the state <i>"means the delegation of power, that
is the abdication of initiative and sovereignty of all into the
hands of a few."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 40] Luigi Fabbri stresses this when
he argued that, for anarchists, <i>"the essence of the state . . . 
[is] centralised power <b>or to put it another way the coercive
authority</b> of which the state enjoys the monopoly, in that
organisation of violence know as 'government'; in the
hierarchical despotism, juridical, police and military
despotism that imposes laws on everyone."</i> [<i>"Anarchy and 
'Scientific' Communism"</i>, in <b>The Poverty of Statism</b>, 
pp. 13-49, Albert Meltzer (ed.), pp. 24-5] Therefore the
state is the delegation of power, the centralisation of
authority into the hands of a few at the top of society
rather than a means of defending a revolution against the
expropriated ruling class. To confuse the defence of a
revolution and the state is, therefore, a great mistake
as it introduces an inequality of power into a so-called
socialist society. In the words of Voline:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"<b>All political power inevitably creates a privileged 
situation</b> for the men who exercise it. Thus is violates, 
from the beginning, the equalitarian principle and strikes 
at the heart of the Social Revolution . . . [and] becomes 
the source of other privileges . . . <b>power is compelled to 
create a bureaucratic and coercive apparatus</b> indispensable 
to all authority . . . <b>Thus it forms a new privileged
caste,</b> at first politically and later economically. . .
It sows everywhere the seed of inequality and soon infects
the whole social organism . . . It <b>predisposes the masses
to passivity,</b> and all sprite and initiative is stifled by
the very existence of power, in the extent to which it is
exercised."</i> [<b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, p. 249]
</blockquote><p>
Unsurprisingly, anarchists think a revolution should defend
itself in the same way that it organises itself -- from the
bottom up, in a self-managed way. The means to defend an
anarchist society or revolution are based around the organs
of self-management that revolution creates. In the words of
Bakunin:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"[T]he federative Alliance of all working men's associations . . . 
constitute the Commune . . .. Commune will be organised by the 
standing federation of the Barricades and by the creation of
a Revolutionary Communal Council composed of one or two
delegates from each barricade . . . vested with plenary but
accountable and removable mandates . . . all provinces, communes
and associations . . . <b>reorganising</b> on revolutionary lines
. . . [would] send . . . their representatives to an agreed
meeting place . . . vested with similar mandates to constitute
the federation of insurgent associations, communes and provinces 
. . . [which would] organise a revolutionary force capable of 
defeating reaction . . . it is the very fact of the expansion 
and organisation of the revolution for the purpose of self-defence 
among the insurgent areas that will bring about the triumph of 
the revolution. . . 
<p>
"Since revolution everywhere must be created by the people, and
supreme control must always belong to the people organised in
a free federation of agricultural and industrial associations
. . . organised from the bottom upwards by means of revolutionary
delegation. . . "</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, pp. 170-2]
</blockquote><p>
Thus we have a dual framework of revolution. On the one hand, the
federation of workers' councils based on self-managed assemblies
nominating mandated and accountable delegates. On the other, we
have a federation of barricades, again based on self-management
and mandated delegates, which actually defends the revolution
against reaction. The success of the revolution depends on 
spreading it and organising joint self-defence. He stressed 
the importance of co-ordinating defence two years later, in
1870:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"[L]et us suppose . . . it is Paris that starts [the revolution] 
. . . Paris will naturally make haste to organise itself as best 
it can, in revolutionary style, after the workers have joined into 
associations and made a clean sweep of all the instruments of
labour, every kind of capital and building; armed and organised
by streets and <b>quartiers</b>, they will form the revolutionary
federation of all the <b>quartiers</b>, the federative commune. . .
All the French and foreign revolutionary communes will then
send representatives to organise the necessary common services
. . . and to organise common defence against the enemies of
the Revolution, together with propaganda, the weapon of
revolution, and practical revolutionary solidarity with 
friends in all countries against enemies in all countries."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 178-9]
</blockquote><p>
As can be seen, the revolution not only abolishes the state by
a free federation of workers associations, it also expropriates
capital and ends wage labour. Thus the <i>"political revolution
is transformed into social revolution."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 171]
Which, we must add, destroys another Marxist myth that claims
that anarchists think, to quote Engels, that <i>"the state is
the chief evil, [and] it is above all the state which must
be done away with and then capitalism will go to blazes,"</i> in
other words, the <i>"abolition of the state"</i> comes before the
<i>"social revolution."</i> [Marx and Engels, <b>The Marx-Engels
Reader</b> p. 728] As can be clearly seen, anarchists consider
the social revolution to be, <b>at the same time</b>, the abolition 
of the state <b>along with</b> the abolition of capitalism.
<p>
Therefore, Bakunin was well aware of the needs to defend a revolution
after destroying the state and abolishing capitalism. It is clear
that after a successful rising, the revolutionary population does 
<b>not</b> <i>"lay down their arms"</i> but rather organises itself in a federal
to co-ordinate defence against reactionary areas which seek to
destroy it. 
<p>
Nor was Bakunin alone in this analysis. For example, we discover 
Errico Malatesta arguing that during a revolution we should <i>"[a]rm 
all the population."</i> The revolution would have <i>"armed the people 
so that it can resist any armed attempt by reaction to re-establish 
itself."</i> This revolution would involve <i>"creation of a voluntary 
militia, without powers to interfere as militia in the life of the 
community, but only to deal with any armed attacks by the forces 
of reaction to re-establish themselves, or to resist outside 
intervention by countries as yet not in a state of revolution."</i> 
Like Bakunin, Malatesta stresses the importance of co-ordinating
activity via free federations of workers' associations -- <i>"the
development of the revolution would be the task of volunteers,
by all kinds of committees, local, intercommunal, regional
and national congresses which would attend to the co-ordination
of social activity,"</i> the <i>"[o]rganisation of social life
by means of free association and federations of producers
and consumers, created and modified according to the wishes
of their members,"</i> and so be <i>"under the direct control of the
people."</i> Again, like Bakunin, the revolution would abolish
state and capital, and <i>"the workers . . . [should] take possession
of the factories . . . federate among themselves . . . the
peasants should take over the land and the produce usurped
by the landlords."</i> Ultimately, the <i>"most powerful means for
defending the revolution remains always that of taking away
from the bourgeois the economic means on which their power
rests, and of arming everybody (until such time as one will
have managed to persuade everybody to throw away their
arms as useless and dangerous toys), and of interesting
the mass of the population in the victory of the revolution."</i> 
[<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 170, p. 165, p. 166, pp. 165-6, p. 184, 
p. 175, p. 165 and p. 173] 
<p>
Malatesta stresses that a government is not required to
defend a revolution:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"But, by all means, let us admit that the governments of the still
unemancipated countries were to want to, and could, attempt to
reduce free people to a state of slavery once again. Would this
people require a government to defend itself? To wage war men
are needed who have all the necessary geographical and mechanical
knowledge, and above all large masses of the population willing
to go and fight. A government can neither increase the abilities
of the former nor the will and courage of the latter. And the 
experience of history teaches us that a people who really want to 
defend their own country are invincible: and in Italy everyone
knows that before the corps of volunteers (anarchist formations)
thrones topple, and regular armies composed of conscripts or
mercenaries disappear."</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, pp. 40-1]
</blockquote><p>
The Spanish anarchist D. A. Santillan argued that the <i>"local 
Council of Economy will assume the mission of defence and raise 
voluntary corps for guard duty and if need be, for combat"</i> in 
the <i>"cases of emergency or danger of a counter-revolution."</i> 
These Local Councils would be a federation of workplace
councils and would be members of the Regional Council of
the Economy which, like the Local Council, would be <i>"constitute[d]
by delegations or through assemblies."</i> [<b>After the Revolution</b>, p. 80
and pp. 82-83] Yet again we see the defence of the revolution
based on the federation of workers' councils and so directly
controlled by the revolutionary population.
<p>
Lastly, we turn to the Spanish CNT's 1936 resolution on Libertarian
Communism. In this document is a section entitled <i>"Defence of the
Revolution"</i> which argues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"We acknowledge the necessity to defend the advances made
through the revolution . . . So . . . the necessary steps will
be taken to defend the new regime, whether against the perils of
a foreign capitalist invasion . . . or against counter-revolution
at home. It must be remembered that a standing army constitutes 
the greatest danger for the revolution, since its influence could 
lead to dictatorship, which would necessarily kill off the
revolution. . . 
<p>
"The people armed will be the best assurance against any
attempt to restore the system destroyed from either within 
or without. . .
<p>
"Let each Commune have its weapons and means of defence
. . . the people will mobilise rapidly to stand up to
the enemy, returning to their workplaces as soon as they 
may have accomplished their mission of defence. . . . 
<p>
"1. The disarming of capitalism implies the surrender of 
weaponry to the communes which be responsible for ensuring
defensive means are effectively organised nationwide.
<p>
"2. In the international context, we shall have to
mount an intensive propaganda drive among the proletariat
of every country so that it may take an energetic protest, 
calling for sympathetic action against any attempted
invasion by its respective government. At the same time, 
our Iberian Confederation of Autonomous Libertarian Communes 
will render material and moral assistance to all the world's 
exploited so that these may free themselves forever from the 
monstrous control of capitalism and the State."</i> [quoted by 
Jose Peirats, <b>The CNT in the Spanish Revolution</b>, vol. 1, 
p. 110]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, an anarchist society defends itself in a non-statist
fashion. Defence is organised in a libertarian manner, based on 
federations of free communes and workers' councils and incorporating
self-managed workers' militias. This was exactly what the CNT-FAI
did in 1936 to resist Franco's fascists. The militia bodies that 
were actually formed by the CNT in the revolution were internally 
self-governing, not hierarchical. Each militia column was 
administered by its own <i>"war committee,"</i> made up of elected 
delegates, which in turn sent delegates to co-ordinate action
on a specific front. Similarly, the Makhnovists during the Russian 
Revolution also organised in a democratic manner, subject to
the decisions of the local workers' councils and their congresses.
<p>
Thus Anarchist theory and practice indicate that defence of a 
revolution need not involve a hierarchical system like the 
Bolshevik Red Army where the election of officers, soldiers' 
councils and self-governing assemblies were abolished by 
Trotsky in favour of officers appointed from above (see 
Trotsky's article <b>The Path of the Red Army</b> in which he 
freely admits to abolishing the soldiers <i>"organs of 
revolutionary self-government"</i> the Soviets of Soldiers' 
Deputies as well as <i>"the system of election"</i> of commanders 
by the soldiers themselves in favour of a Red Army <i>"built 
from above"</i> with appointed commanders).
<p>
As can be seen, the only armed force for the defence of the 
an anarchist society would be the voluntary, self-managed militia 
bodies organised by the free communes and federations of workers' 
associations. The militias would be unified and co-ordinated 
by federations of communes while delegates from each militia
unit would co-ordinate the actual fighting. In times of peace 
the militia members would be living and working among the rest 
of the populace, and, thus, they would tend to have the same 
outlook and interests as their fellow workers. 
<p>
Instead of organising a new state, based on top-down command
and hierarchical power, anarchists argue that a revolutionary
people can build and co-ordinate a militia of their own and 
control the defence of their revolution directly and democratically,
through their own organisations (such as unions, councils of 
delegates elected from the shop floor and community, and so on).
Where they have had the chance, anarchists have done so, with
remarkable success. Therefore, an anarchist society can be
defended against attempts to re-impose hierarchy and bosses
(old or new).
<p>
For more discussion of this issue, see section J.7.6 (
<a href="secJ7.html#secj76"><i>"How 
could an anarchist revolution defend itself?"</i></a>)
<p>
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