There is a wing of the Anarchist Movement which contends that rejection of the State must, of necessity, walk hand in hand with rejection of the notion of any Creator's existence. The argument being, of course, that holding a religious faith necessitates self-subordination to the perceived will of a deity (or deities, such as with Hinduism), rather than remaining pristinely true to the anarchist's self-ownership axiom. Indeed, I have engaged in much spirited debate on this subject with friend and fellow Root Striker Jim Davies, to the extent that, while I was providing some modest suggestions to the development of The On-Line Freedom Academy website, Lesson 5 of that Web-based educational program appears as it does now.
Anarchist philosophy aside, the decision to believe or not believe in a Creator is a deeply individual one, and one which we cannot base on empirical evidence--for there is none to be had. The atheist will argue that this alone proves the non-existence of any deity, to say nothing of the fact that no Creator can create His, Her, or Itself. (One of the most cogent expositations on this theme I have ever read is in Jean Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness.) This is a powerful argument, and one which at once exhausts any and all avenues of logic when considering the question of God.
That said, it's confession time: I am both an Anarchist, and an agnostic. I find no contradiction in my position whatever, nor do I find one in the Anarchist True Believer. Of course, it's relatively simple to justify my own anarchistic agnosticism: Since I neither believe, nor disbelieve, I do not (and cannot) prostrate myself before Something or Someone which I am not even sure exists in the first place, much less understand the nature of. Why am I not on one side of this proverbial fence or the other? While pure logic does indeed dictate the absence of any Divine Presence, it is also limiting in the greater range of human experience. There is love, intuition, the emotional stimulation of music and poetry, the wonder of a sunset and the rush of the ski slope. Indeed, academic science has been studying for decades more esoteric dimensions of the human mind, such as ESP , precognition, psychic abilities, and even telekinesis. That said, there is no reason to ascribe any spiritual dimension to any of these human harmonics. Yet, there is equally no reason to not do so. It is my contention that our civilization, from its miniscule vantage point, understands so little about the human condition and our place in the cosmos that to pass final judgment on the question of a Creator is simply not possible. For we see, as William Blake said of man in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell," ". . . all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern." It may well be that all of these ranges of experience possess scientific explanations. It may well be that the scientific and spiritual are inextricably intertwined. Fact is, we don't know. And it may well be that we never will.
But what of the Anarchist who believes? I will grant (and this may raise some hackles, I'm well aware) that one cannot possibly ascribe to an "organized" religious faith and remain wholly true to anarchist principle. But what of Deism? Since its Enlightenment-period origins in the late 17th and throughout the 18th Centuries with the philosophes, Deism has held that there was and is a Creator who now plays little if any role in earthly (or even cosmic) affairs, and hence, affords no precepts in terms of human conduct. Hence, can there be any contradiction between Deism and Anarchism?
The answer must be a resounding No. For in this case, as with that of agnosticism or atheism, full individual freedom of conscience (along with that of property, body, and all other mental faculties) is essential to Anarchism and its Self-Ownership Axiom. And unlike the compulsory aggression of a State, ascribing or not ascribing to a spiritual belief is wholly voluntary. This is as it should be, and is, as a matter of natural justice.
Thus, I look forward to my life's continuing inquiry into these very profound questions. I in turn hold that no other Anarchist should hesitate in the least to exercise their conscience in similar fashion, arriving at whatever conclusion (or non-conclusion) they may.
Chances are you have already heard something about who anarchists are and what they are supposed to believe. Chances are almost everything you have heard is nonsense. Many people seem to think that anarchists are proponents of violence, chaos, and destruction, that they are against all forms of order and organization, or that they are crazed nihilists who just want to blow everything up. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Anarchists are simply people who believe human beings are capable of behaving in a reasonable fashion without having to be forced to. It is really a very simple notion. But it's one that the rich and powerful have always found extremely dangerous.
At their very simplest, anarchist beliefs turn on to two elementary assumptions. The first is that human beings are, under ordinary circumstances, about as reasonable and decent as they are allowed to be, and can organize themselves and their communities without needing to be told how. The second is that power corrupts. Most of all, anarchism is just a matter of having the courage to take the simple principles of common decency that we all live by, and to follow them through to their logical conclusions. Odd though this may seem, in most important ways you are probably already an anarchist - you just don't realize it.
Let's start by taking a few examples from everyday life:
* If there's a line to get on a crowded bus, do you wait your turn and refrain from elbowing your way past others even in the absence of police?
If you answered "yes", then you are used to acting like an anarchist! The most basic anarchist principle is self-organization: the assumption that human beings do not need to be threatened with prosecution in order to be able to come to reasonable understandings with each other, or to treat each other with dignity and respect.
Everyone believes they are capable of behaving reasonably themselves. If they think laws and police are necessary, it is only because they don't believe that other people are. But if you think about it, don't those people all feel exactly the same way about you? Anarchists argue that almost all the anti-social behavior which makes us think it's necessary to have armies, police, prisons, and governments to control our lives, is actually caused by the systematic inequalities and injustice those armies, police, prisons and governments make possible. It's all a vicious circle. If people are used to being treated like their opinions do not matter, they are likely to become angry and cynical, even violent - which of course makes it easy for those in power to say that their opinions do not matter. Once they understand that their opinions really do matter just as much as anyone else's, they tend to become remarkably understanding. To cut a long story short: anarchists believe that for the most part it is power itself, and the effects of power, that make people stupid and irresponsible.
* Are you a member of a club or sports team or any other voluntary organization where decisions are not imposed by one leader but made on the basis of general consent?
If you answered "yes", then you belong to an organization which works on anarchist principles! Another basic anarchist principle is voluntary association. This is simply a matter of applying democratic principles to ordinary life. The only difference is that anarchists believe it should be possible to have a society in which everything could be organized along these lines, all groups based on the free consent of their members, and therefore, that all top-down, military styles of organization like armies or bureaucracies or large corporations, based on chains of command, would no longer be necessary. Perhaps you don't believe that would be possible. Perhaps you do. But every time you reach an agreement by consensus, rather than threats, every time you make a voluntary arrangement with another person, come to an understanding, or reach a compromise by taking due consideration of the other person's particular situation or needs, you are being an anarchist - even if you don't realize it.
Anarchism is just the way people act when they are free to do as they choose, and when they deal with others who are equally free - and therefore aware of the responsibility to others that entails. This leads to another crucial point: that while people can be reasonable and considerate when they are dealing with equals, human nature is such that they cannot be trusted to do so when given power over others. Give someone such power, they will almost invariably abuse it in some way or another.
* Do you believe that most politicians are selfish, egotistical swine who don't really care about the public interest? Do you think we live in an economic system which is stupid and unfair?
If you answered "yes", then you subscribe to the anarchist critique of today's society - at least, in its broadest outlines. Anarchists believe that power corrupts and those who spend their entire lives seeking power are the very last people who should have it. Anarchists believe that our present economic system is more likely to reward people for selfish and unscrupulous behavior than for being decent, caring human beings. Most people feel that way. The only difference is that most people don't think there's anything that can be done about it, or anyway - and this is what the faithful servants of the powerful are always most likely to insist - anything that won't end up making things even worse.
But what if that weren't true?
And is there really any reason to believe this? When you can actually test them, most of the usual predictions about what would happen without states or capitalism turn out to be entirely untrue. For thousands of years people lived without governments. In many parts of the world people live outside of the control of governments today. They do not all kill each other. Mostly they just get on about their lives the same as anyone else would. Of course, in a complex, urban, technological society all this would be more complicated: but technology can also make all these problems a lot easier to solve. In fact, we have not even begun to think about what our lives could be like if technology were really marshaled to fit human needs. How many hours would we really need to work in order to maintain a functional society - that is, if we got rid of all the useless or destructive occupations like telemarketers, lawyers, prison guards, financial analysts, public relations experts, bureaucrats and politicians, and turn our best scientific minds away from working on space weaponry or stock market systems to mechanizing away dangerous or annoying tasks like coal mining or cleaning the bathroom, and distribute the remaining work among everyone equally? Five hours a day? Four? Three? Two? Nobody knows because no one is even asking this kind of question. Anarchists think these are the very questions we should be asking.
* Do you really believe those things you tell your children (or that your parents told you)?
It doesn't matter who started it." "Two wrongs don't make a right." "Clean up your own mess." "Do unto others..." "Don't be mean to people just because they're different." Perhaps we should decide whether we're lying to our children when we tell them about right and wrong, or whether we're willing to take our own injunctions seriously. Because if you take these moral principles to their logical conclusions, you arrive at anarchism.
Take the principle that two wrongs don't make a right. If you really took it seriously, that alone would knock away almost the entire basis for war and the criminal justice system. The same goes for sharing: we're always telling children that they have to learn to share, to be considerate of each other's needs, to help each other; then we go off into the real world where we assume that everyone is naturally selfish and competitive. But an anarchist would point out: in fact, what we say to our children is right. Pretty much every great worthwhile achievement in human history, every discovery or accomplishment that's improved our lives, has been based on cooperation and mutual aid; even now, most of us spend more of our money on our friends and families than on ourselves; while likely as not there will always be competitive people in the world, there's no reason why society has to be based on encouraging such behavior, let alone making people compete over the basic necessities of life. That only serves the interests of people in power, who want us to live in fear of one another. That's why anarchists call for a society based not only on free association but mutual aid. The fact is that most children grow up believing in anarchist morality, and then gradually have to realize that the adult world doesn't really work that way. That's why so many become rebellious, or alienated, even suicidal as adolescents, and finally, resigned and bitter as adults; their only solace, often, being the ability to raise children of their own and pretend to them that the world is fair. But what if we really could start to build a world which really was at least founded on principles of justice? Wouldn't that be the greatest gift to one's children one could possibly give?
* Do you believe that human beings are fundamentally corrupt and evil, or that certain sorts of people (women, people of color, ordinary folk who are not rich or highly educated) are inferior specimens, destined to be ruled by their betters?
If you answered "yes", then, well, it looks like you aren't an anarchist after all. But if you answered "no', then chances are you already subscribe to 90% of anarchist principles, and, likely as not, are living your life largely in accord with them. Every time you treat another human with consideration and respect, you are being an anarchist. Every time you work out your differences with others by coming to reasonable compromise, listening to what everyone has to say rather than letting one person decide for everyone else, you are being an anarchist. Every time you have the opportunity to force someone to do something, but decide to appeal to their sense of reason or justice instead, you are being an anarchist. The same goes for every time you share something with a friend, or decide who is going to do the dishes, or do anything at all with an eye to fairness.
Now, you might object that all this is well and good as a way for small groups of people to get on with each other, but managing a city, or a country, is an entirely different matter. And of course there is something to this. Even if you decentralize society and puts as much power as possible in the hands of small communities, there will still be plenty of things that need to be coordinated, from running railroads to deciding on directions for medical research. But just because something is complicated does not mean there is no way to do it democratically. It would just be complicated. In fact, anarchists have all sorts of different ideas and visions about how a complex society might manage itself. To explain them though would go far beyond the scope of a little introductory text like this. Suffice it to say, first of all, that a lot of people have spent a lot of time coming up with models for how a really democratic, healthy society might work; but second, and just as importantly, no anarchist claims to have a perfect blueprint. The last thing we want is to impose prefab models on society anyway. The truth is we probably can't even imagine half the problems that will come up when we try to create a democratic society; still, we're confident that, human ingenuity being what it is, such problems can always be solved, so long as it is in the spirit of our basic principles-which are, in the final analysis, simply the principles of fundamental human decency.
[This now classic text, originally penned by Author and Anthropologist David Graeber.]
Excerpted from For Reasons of State, 1973
A French writer, sympathetic to anarchism, wrote in the 1890s that "anarchism has a broad back, like paper it endures anything''---including, he noted those whose acts are such that "a mortal enemy of anarchism could not have done better.'' There have been many styles of thought and action that have been referred to as "anarchist.'' It would be hopeless to try to encompass all of these conflicting tendencies in some general theory or ideology. And even if we proceed to extract from the history of libertarian thought a living, evolving tradition, as Daniel Guerin does in Anarchism, it remains difficult to formulate its doctrines as a specific and determinate theory of society and social change. The anarchist historian Rudolph Rocker, who presents a systematic conception of the development of anarchist thought towards anarchosyndicalism, along lines that bear comparison to Guerins work, puts the matter well when he writes that anarchism is not
a fixed, self-enclosed social system but rather a definite trend in the historic development of mankind, which, in contrast with the intellectual guardianship of all clerical and governmental institutions, strives for the free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and social forces in life. Even freedom is only a relative, not an absolute concept, since it tends constantly to become broader and to affect wider circles in more manifold ways. For the anarchist, freedom is not an abstract philosophical concept, but the vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers, capacities, and talents with which nature has endowed him, and turn them to social account. The less this natural development of man is influenced by ecclesiastical or political guardianship, the more efficient and harmonious will human personality become, the more will it become the measure of the intellectual culture of the society in which it has grown.
One might ask what value there is in studying a "definite trend in the historic development of mankind'' that does not articulate a specific and detailed social theory. Indeed, many commentators dismiss anarchism as utopian, formless, primitive, or otherwise incompatible with the realities of a complex society. One might, however, argue rather differently: that at every stage of history our concern must be to dismantle those forms of authority and oppression that survive from an era when they might have been justified in terms of the need for security or survival or economic development, but that now contribute to---rather than alleviate---material and cultural deficit. If so, there will be no doctrine of social change fixed for the present and future, nor even, necessarily, a specific and unchanging concept of the goals towards which social change should tend. Surely our understanding of the nature of man or of the range of viable social forms is so rudimentary that any far-reaching doctrine must be treated with great skepticism, just as skepticism is in order when we hear that "human nature'' or "the demands of efficiency'' or "the complexity of modern life'' requires this or that form of oppression and autocratic rule.
Nevertheless, at a particular time there is every reason to develop, insofar as our understanding permits, a specific realization of this definite trend in the historic development of mankind, appropriate to the tasks of the moment. For Rocker, "the problem that is set for our time is that of freeing man from the curse of economic exploitation and political and social enslavement''; and the method is not the conquest and exercise of state power, nor stultifying parliamentarianism, but rather "to reconstruct the economic life of the peoples from the ground up and build it up in the spirit of Socialism.''
But only the producers themselves are fitted for this task, since they are the only value-creating element in society out of which a new future can arise. Theirs must be the task of freeing labor from all the fetters which economic exploitation has fastened on it, of freeing society from all the institutions and procedure of political power, and of opening the way to an alliance of free groups of men and women based on co-operative labor and a planned administration of things in the interest of the community. To prepare the toiling masses in the city and country for this great goal and to bind them together as a militant force is the objective of modern Anarcho-syndicalism, and in this its whole purpose is exhausted. [P. 108]
As a socialist, Rocker would take for granted "that the serious, final, complete liberation of the workers is possible only upon one condition: that of the appropriation of capital, that is, of raw material and all the tools of labor, including land, by the whole body of the workers.'' As an anarchosyndicalist, he insists, further, that the workers' organizations create "not only the ideas, but also the facts of the future itself'' in the prerevolutionary period, that they embody in themselves the structure of the future society---and he looks forward to a social revolution that will dismantle the state apparatus as well as expropriate the expropriators. "What we put in place of the government is industrial organization.''
Anarcho-syndicalists are convinced that a Socialist economic order cannot be created by the decrees and statutes of a government, but only by the solidaric collaboration of the workers with hand and brain in each special branch of production; that is, through the taking over of the management of all plants by the producers themselves under such form that the separate groups, plants, and branches of industry are independent members of the general economic organism and systematically carry on production and the distribution of the products in the interest of the community on the basis of free mutual agreements. [p. 94]
Rocker was writing at a moment when such ideas had been put into practice in a dramatic way in the Spanish Revolution. Just prior to the outbreak of the revolution, the anarchosyndicalist economist Diego Abad de Santillan had written:
...in facing the problem of social transformation, the Revolution cannot consider the state as a medium, but must depend on the organization of producers.
We have followed this norm and we find no need for the hypothesis of a superior power to organized labor, in order to establish a new order of things. We would thank anyone to point out to us what function, if any, the State can have in an economic organization, where private property has been abolished and in which parasitism and special privilege have no place. The suppression of the State cannot be a languid affair; it must be the task of the Revolution to finish with the State. Either the Revolution gives social wealth to the producers in which case the producers organize themselves for due collective distribution and the State has nothing to do; or the Revolution does not give social wealth to the producers, in which case the Revolution has been a lie and the State would continue.
Our federal council of economy is not a political power but an economic and administrative regulating power. It receives its orientation from below and operates in accordance with the resolutions of the regional and national assemblies. It is a liaison corps and nothing else.
Engels, in a letter of 1883, expressed his disagreement with this conception as follows:
The anarchists put the thing upside down. They declare that the proletarian revolution must begin by doing away with the political organization of the state....But to destroy it at such a moment would be to destroy the only organism by means of which the victorious proletariat can assert its newly-conquered power, hold down its capitalist adversaries, and carry out that economic revolution of society without which the whole victory must end in a new defeat and a mass slaughter of the workers similar to those after the Paris commune.
In contrast, the anarchists---most eloquently Bakunin---warned of the dangers of the "red bureaucracy,'' which would prove to be "the most vile and terrible lie that our century has created.'' The anarchosyndicalist Fernand Pelloutier asked: "Must even the transitory state to which we have to submit necessarily and fatally be a collectivist jail? Can't it consist in a free organization limited exclusively by the needs of production and consumption, all political institutions having disappeared?''
I do not pretend to know the answers to this question. But it seems clear that unless there is, in some form, a positive answer, the chances for a truly democratic revolution that will achieve the humanistic ideals of the left are not great. Martin Buber put the problem succinctly when he wrote: "One cannot in the nature of things expect a little tree that has been turned into a club to put forth leaves.'' The question of conquest or destruction of state power is what Bakunin regarded as the primary issue dividing him from Marx. In one form or another, the problem has arisen repeatedly in the century since, dividing "libertarian'' from "authoritarian'' socialists.
Despite Bakunin's warnings about the red bureaucracy, and their fulfillment under Stalin's dictatorship, it would obviously be a gross error in interpreting the debates of a century ago to rely on the claims of contemporary social movements as to their historical origins. In particular, it is perverse to regard Bolshevism as "Marxism in practice.'' Rather, the left-wing critique of Bolshevism, taking account of the historical circumstances surrounding the Russian Revolution, is far more to the point.
The anti-Bolshevik, left-wing labor movement opposed the Leninists because they did not go far enough in exploiting the Russian upheavals for strictly proletarian ends. They became prisoners of their environment and used the international radical movement to satisfy specifically Russian needs, which soon became synonymous with the needs of the Bolshevik Party-State. The "bourgeois'' aspects of the Russian Revolution were now discovered in Bolshevism itself: Leninism was adjudged a part of international social-democracy, differing from the latter only on tactical issues.
If one were to seek a single leading idea within the anarchist tradition, it should, I believe, be that expressed by Bakunin when, in writing on the Paris Commune, he identified himself as follows:
I am a fanatic lover of liberty, considering it as the unique condition under which intelligence, dignity and human happiness can develop and grow; not the purely formal liberty conceded, measured out and regulated by the State, an eternal lie which in reality represents nothing more than the privilege of some founded on the slavery of the rest; not the individualistic, egoistic, shabby, and fictitious liberty extolled by the School of J.-J. Rousseau and other schools of bourgeois liberalism, which considers the would-be rights of all men, represented by the State which limits the rights of each---an idea that leads inevitably to the reduction of the rights of each to zero. No, I mean the only kind of liberty that is worthy of the name, liberty that consists in the full development of all the material, intellectual and moral powers that are latent in each person; liberty that recognizes no restrictions other than those determined by the laws of our own individual nature, which cannot properly be regarded as restrictions since these laws are not imposed by any outside legislator beside or above us, but are immanent and inherent, forming the very basis of our material, intellectual and moral being---they do not limit us but are the real and immediate conditions of our freedom.
These ideas grew out of the Enlightenment; their roots are in Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality, Humboldt's Limits of State Action, Kant's insistence, in his defense of the French Revolution, that freedom is the precondition for acquiring the maturity for freedom, not a gift to be granted when such maturity is achieved. With the development of industrial capitalism, a new and unanticipated system of injustice, it is libertarian socialism that has preserved and extended the radical humanist message of the Enlightenment and the classical liberal ideals that were perverted into an ideology to sustain the emerging social order. In fact, on the very same assumptions that led classical liberalism to oppose the intervention of the state in social life, capitalist social relations are also intolerable. This is clear, for example, from the classic work of Humboldt, The Limits of State Action, which anticipated and perhaps inspired Mill. This classic of liberal thought, completed in 1792, is in its essence profoundly, though prematurely, anticapitalist. Its ideas must be attenuated beyond recognition to be transmuted into an ideology of industrial capitalism.
Humboldt's vision of a society in which social fetters are replaced by social bonds and labor is freely undertaken suggests the early Marx., with his discussion of the "alienation of labor when work is external to the worker...not part of his nature...[so that] he does not fulfill himself in his work but denies himself...[and is] physically exhausted and mentally debased,'' alienated labor that "casts some of the workers back into a barbarous kind of work and turns others into machines,'' thus depriving man of his "species character'' of "free conscious activity'' and "productive life.'' Similarly, Marx conceives of "a new type of human being who needs his fellow men....[The workers' association becomes] the real constructive effort to create the social texture of future human relations.'' It is true that classical libertarian thought is opposed to state intervention in social life, as a consequence of deeper assumptions about the human need for liberty, diversity, and free association. On the same assumptions, capitalist relations of production, wage labor, competitiveness, the ideology of "possessive individualism''---all must be regarded as fundamentally antihuman. Libertarian socialism is properly to be regarded as the inheritor of the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment.
Rudolf Rocker describes modern anarchism as "the confluence of the two great currents which during and since the French revolution have found such characteristic expression in the intellectual life of Europe: Socialism and Liberalism.'' The classical liberal ideals, he argues, were wrecked on the realities of capitalist economic forms. Anarchism is necessarily anticapitalist in that it "opposes the exploitation of man by man.'' But anarchism also opposes "the dominion of man over man.'' It insists that "socialism will be free or it will not be at all. In its recognition of this lies the genuine and profound justification for the existence of anarchism.'' From this point of view, anarchism may be regarded as the libertarian wing of socialism. It is in this spirit that Daniel Guérin has approached the study of anarchism in Anarchism and other works. Guérin quotes Adolph Fischer, who said that "every anarchist is a socialist but not every socialist is necessarily an anarchist.'' Similarly Bakunin, in his "anarchist manifesto'' of 1865, the program of his projected international revolutionary fraternity, laid down the principle that each member must be, to begin with, a socialist.
A consistent anarchist must oppose private ownership of the means of production and the wage slavery which is a component of this system, as incompatible with the principle that labor must be freely undertaken and under the control of the producer. As Marx put it, socialists look forward to a society in which labor will "become not only a means of life, but also the highest want in life,'' an impossibility when the worker is driven by external authority or need rather than inner impulse: "no form of wage-labor, even though one may be less obnoxious that another, can do away with the misery of wage-labor itself.'' A consistent anarchist must oppose not only alienated labor but also the stupefying specialization of labor that takes place when the means for developing production
mutilate the worker into a fragment of a human being, degrade him to become a mere appurtenance of the machine, make his work such a torment that its essential meaning is destroyed; estrange from him the intellectual potentialities of the labor process in very proportion to the extent to which science is incorporated into it as an independent power...
Marx saw this not as an inevitable concomitant of industrialization, but rather as a feature of capitalist relations of production. The society of the future must be concerned to "replace the detail-worker of today...reduced to a mere fragment of a man, by the fully developed individual, fit for a variety of labours...to whom the different social functions...are but so many modes of giving free scope to his own natural powers.'' The prerequisite is the abolition of capital and wage labor as social categories (not to speak of the industrial armies of the "labor state'' or the various modern forms of totalitarianism since capitalism). The reduction of man to an appurtenance of the machine, a specialized tool of production, might in principle be overcome, rather than enhanced, with the proper development and use of technology, but not under the conditions of autocratic control of production by those who make man an instrument to serve their ends, overlooking his individual purposes, in Humboldt's phrase.
Anarchosyndicalists sought, even under capitalism, to create "free associations of free producers'' that would engage in militant struggle and prepare to take over the organization of production on a democratic basis. These associations would serve as "a practical school of anarchism.'' If private ownership of the means of production is, in Proudhon's often quoted phrase, merely a form of "theft''---"the exploitation of the weak by the strong''---control of production by a state bureaucracy, no matter how benevolent its intentions, also does not create the conditions under which labor, manual and intellectual, can become the highest want in life. Both, then, must be overcome.
In his attack on the right of private or bureaucratic control over the means of production,, the anarchist takes his stand with those who struggle to bring about "the third and last emancipatory phase of history,'' the first having made serfs out of slaves, the second having made wage earners out of serfs, and the third which abolishes the proletariat in a final act of liberation that places control over the economy in the hands of free and voluntary associations of producers (Fourier, 1848). The imminent danger to "civilization'' was noted by de Tocqueville, also in 1848:
As long as the right of property was the origin and groundwork of many other rights, it was easily defended---or rather it was not attacked; it was then the citadel of society while all the other rights were its outworks; it did not bear the brunt of attack and, indeed, there was no serious attempt to assail it. but today, when the right of property is regarded as the last undestroyed remnant of the aristocratic world, when it alone is left standing, the sole privilege in an equalized society, it is a different matter. Consider what is happening in the hearts of the working-classes, although I admit they are quiet as yet. It is true that they are less inflamed than formerly by political passions properly speaking; but do you not see that their passions, far from being political, have become social? Do you not see that, little by little, ideas and opinions are spreading amongst them which aim not merely at removing such and such laws, such a ministry or such a government, but at breaking up the very foundations of society itself?
The workers of Paris, in 1871, broke the silence, and proceeded
to abolish property, the basis of all civilization! Yes, gentlemen, the Commune intended to abolish that class property which makes the labor of the many the wealth of the few. It aimed at the expropriation of the expropriators. It wanted to make individual property a truth by transforming the means of production, land and capital, now chiefly the means of enslaving and exploiting labor, into mere instruments of free and associated labor.
The Commune, of course, was drowned in blood. The nature of the "civilization'' that the workers of Paris sought to overcome in their attack on "the very foundations of society itself'' was revealed, once again, when the troops of the Versailles government reconquered Paris from its population. As Marx wrote, bitterly but accurately:
The civilization and justice of bourgeois order comes out in its lurid light whenever the slaves and drudges of that order rise against their masters. Then this civilization and justice stand forth as undisguised savagery and lawless revenge...the infernal deeds of the soldiery reflect the innate spirit of that civilization of which they are the mercenary vindicators....The bourgeoisie of the whole world, which looks complacently upon the wholesale massacre after the battle, is convulsed by horror at the destruction of brick and mortar. [Ibid., pp. 74, 77]
Despite the violent destruction of the Commune, Bakunin wrote that Paris opens a new era, "that of the definitive and complete emancipation of the popular masses and their future true solidarity, across and despite state boundaries...the next revolution of man, international in solidarity, will be the resurrection of Paris''---a revolution that the world still awaits.
The consistent anarchist, then, should be a socialist, but a socialist of a particular sort. He will not only oppose alienated and specialized labor and look forward to the appropriation of capital by the whole body of workers, but he will also insist that this appropriation be direct, not exercised by some elite force acting in the name of the proletariat. He will, in short, oppose
the organization of production by the Government. It means State-socialism, the command of the State officials over production and the command of managers, scientists, shop-officials in the shop....The goal of the working class is liberation from exploitation. This goal is not reached and cannot be reached by a new directing and governing class substituting itself for the bourgeoisie. It is only realized by the workers themselves being master over production.
These remarks are taken from "Five Theses on the Class Struggle'' by the left-wing Marxist Anton Pannekoek, one of the outstanding left theorists of the council communist movement. And in fact, radical Marxism merges with anarchist currents.
As a further illustration, consider the following characterization of "revolutionary Socialism'':
The revolutionary Socialist denies that State ownership can end in anything other than a bureaucratic despotism. We have seen why the State cannot democratically control industry. Industry can only be democratically owned and controlled by the workers electing directly from their own ranks industrial administrative committees. Socialism will be fundamentally an industrial system; its constituencies will be of an industrial character. Thus those carrying on the social activities and industries of society will be directly represented in the local and central councils of social administration. In this way the powers of such delegates will flow upwards from those carrying on the work and conversant with the needs of the community. When the central administrative industrial committee meets it will represent every phase of social activity. Hence the capitalist political or geographical state will be replaced by the industrial administrative committee of Socialism. The transition from the one social system to the other will be the social revolution. The political State throughout history has meant the government of men by ruling classes; the Republic of Socialism will be the government of industry administered on behalf of the whole community. The former meant the economic and political subjection of the many; the latter will mean the economic freedom of all---it will be, therefore, a true democracy.
This programmatic statement appears in William Paul's The State, its Origins and Functions, written in early 1917---shortly before Lenin's State and Revolution, perhaps his most libertarian work (see note 9). Paul was a member of the Marxist-De Leonist Socialist Labor Party and later one of the founders of the British Communist Party. His critique of state socialism resembles the libertarian doctrine of the anarchists in its principle that since state ownership and management will lead to bureaucratic despotism, the social revolution must replace it by the industrial organization of society with direct workers' control. Many similar statements can be cited.
What is far more important is that these ideas have been realized in spontaneous revolutionary action, for example in Germany and Italy after World War I and in Spain (not only in the agricultural countryside, but also in industrial Barcelona) in 1936. One might argue that some form of council communism is the natural form of revolutionary socialism in an industrial society. It reflects the intuitive understanding that democracy is severely limited when the industrial system is controlled by any form of autocratic elite, whether of owners, managers and technocrats, a "vanguard'' party, or a state bureaucracy. Under these conditions of authoritarian domination the classical libertarian ideals developed further by Marx and Bakunin and all true revolutionaries cannot be realized; man will not be free to develop his own potentialities to their fullest, and the producer will remain "a fragment of a human being,'' degraded, a tool in the productive process directed from above.
The phrase "spontaneous revolutionary action'' can be misleading. The anarchosyndicalists, at least, took very seriously Bakunin's remark that the workers' organizations must create "not only the ideas but also the facts of the future itself'' in the prerevolutionary period. The accomplishments of the popular revolution in Spain, in particular, were based on the patient work of many years of organization and education, one component of a long tradition of commitment and militancy. The resolutions of the Madrid Congress of June 1931 and the Saragossa Congress in May 1936 foreshadowed in many ways the acts of the revolution, as did the somewhat different ideas sketched by Santillan (see note 4) in his fairly specific account of the social and economic organization to be instituted by the revolution. Guérin writes "The Spanish revolution was relatively mature in the minds of libertarian thinkers, as in the popular consciousness.'' And workers' organizations existed with the structure, the experience, and the understanding to undertake the task of social reconstruction when, with the Franco coup, the turmoil of early 1936 exploded into social revolution. In his introduction to a collection of documents on collectivization in Spain, the anarchist Augustin Souchy writes:
For many years, the anarchists and the syndicalists of Spain considered their supreme task to be the social transformation of the society. In their assemblies of Syndicates and groups, in their journals, their brochures and books, the problem of the social revolution was discussed incessantly and in a systematic fashion.
All of this lies behind the spontaneous achievements, the constructive work of the Spanish Revolution.
The ideas of libertarian socialism, in the sense described, have been submerged in the industrial societies of the past half-century. The dominant ideologies have been those of state socialism or state capitalism (of increasingly militarized character in the United States, for reasons that are not obscure). But there has been a rekindling of interest in the past few years. The theses I quoted by Anton Pannekoek were taken from a recent pamphlet of a radical French workers' group (Informations Correspondance Ouvrière). The remarks by William Paul on revolutionary socialism are cited in a paper by Walter Kendall given at the National Conference on Workers' Control in Sheffield, England, in March 1969. The workers' control movement has become a significant force in England in the past few years. It has organized several conferences and has produced a substantial pamphlet literature, and counts among its active adherents representatives of some of the most important trade unions. The Amalgamated Engineering and Foundryworkers' Union, for example, has adopted, as official policy, the program of nationalization of basic industries under "workers' control at all levels.'' On the Continent, there are similar developments. May 1968 of course accelerated the growing interest in council communism and related ideas in France and Germany, as it did in England.
Given the highly conservative cast of our highly ideological society, it is not too surprising that the United States has been relatively untouched by these developments. But that too may change. The erosion of cold-war mythology at least makes it possible to raise these questions in fairly broad circles. If the present wave of repression can be beaten back, if the left can overcome its more suicidal tendencies and build upon what has been accomplished in the past decade, then the problem of how to organize industrial society on truly democratic lines, with democratic control in the workplace and in the community, should become a dominant intellectual issue for those who are alive to the problems of contemporary society, and, as a mass movement for libertarian socialism develops, speculation should proceed to action.
In his manifesto of 1865, Bakunin predicted that one element in the social revolution will be "that intelligent and truly noble part of youth which, though belonging by birth to the privileged classes, in its generous convictions and ardent aspirations, adopts the cause of the people.'' Perhaps in the rise of the student movement of the 1960s one sees steps towards a fulfillment of this prophecy.
Daniel Guérin has undertaken what he has described as a "process of rehabilitation'' of anarchism. He argues, convincingly I believe, that "the constructive ideas of anarchism retain their vitality, that they may, when re-examined and sifted, assist contemporary socialist thought to undertake a new departure...[and] contribute to enriching Marxism.'' >From the "broad back'' of anarchism he has selected for more intensive scrutiny those ideas and actions that can be described as libertarian socialist. This is natural and proper. This framework accommodates the major anarchist spokesmen as well as the mass actions that have been animated by anarchist sentiments and ideals. Guérin is concerned not only with anarchist thought but also with the spontaneous actions of popular revolutionary struggle. He is concerned with social as well as intellectual creativity. Furthermore, he attempts to draw from the constructive achievements of the past lessons that will enrich the theory of social liberation. For those who wish not only to understand the world, but also to change it, this is the proper way to study the history of anarchism.
Guérin describes the anarchism of the nineteenth century as essentially doctrinal, while the twentieth century, for the anarchists, has been a time of "revolutionary practice.'' Anarchism reflects that judgment. His interpretation of anarchism consciously points toward the future. Arthur Rosenberg once pointed out that popular revolutions characteristically seek to replace "a feudal or centralized authority ruling by force'' with some form of communal system which "implies the destruction and disappearance of the old form of State.'' Such a system will be either socialist or an "extreme form of democracy...[which is] the preliminary condition for Socialism inasmuch as Socialism can only be realized in a world enjoying the highest possible measure of individual freedom.'' This ideal, he notes, was common to Marx and the anarchists. This natural struggle for liberation runs counter to the prevailing tendency towards centralization in economic and political life.
A century ago Marx wrote that the workers of Paris "felt there was but one alternative---the Commune, or the empire---under whatever name it might reappear.''
The empire had ruined them economically by the havoc it made of public wealth, by the wholesale financial swindling it fostered, by the props it lent to the artificially accelerated centralization of capital, and the concomitant expropriation of their own ranks. It had suppressed them politically, it had shocked them morally by its orgies, it had insulted their Voltairianism by handing over the education of their children to the frères Ignorantins, it had revolted their national feeling as Frenchmen by precipitating them headlong into a war which left only one equivalent for the ruins it made---the disappearance of the empire.
The miserable Second Empire "was the only form of government possible at a time when the bourgeoisie had already lost, and the working class had not yet acquired, the faculty of ruling the nation.''
It is not very difficult to rephrase these remarks so that they become appropriate to the imperial systems of 1970. The problem of "freeing man >from the curse of economic exploitation and political and social enslavement'' remains the problem of our time. As long as this is so, the doctrines and the revolutionary practice of libertarian socialism will serve as an inspiration and guide.
This essay is a revised version of the introduction to Daniel
Guérin's Anarchism: From Theory to Practice. In a slightly
different version, it appeared in the New York Review of Books, May
 Octave Mirbeau, quoted in James Joll, The Anarchists, pp.
 Rudolf Rocker, Anarchosyndicalism, p. 31.
 Cited by Rocker, ibid., p. 77. This quotation and that in the
next sentence are from Michael Bakunin, "The Program of the
Alliance,'' in Sam Dolgoff, ed. and trans., Bakunin on Anarchy, p.
 Diego Abad de Santillan, After the Revolution, p. 86. In the
last chapter, written several months after the revolution had begun,
he expresses his dissatisfaction with what had so far been achieved
along these lines. On the accomplishments of the social revolution in
Spain, see my American Power and the New Mandarins, chap. 1, and
references cited there; the important study by Broué and Témime
has since been translated into English. Several other important
studies have appeared since, in particular: Frank Mintz,
L'Autogestion dans l'Espagne révolutionaire (Paris: Editions
Bélibaste, 1971); César M. Lorenzo, Les Anarchistes espagnols et
le pouvoir, 1868--1969 (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1969); Gaston
Leval, Espagne libertaire, 1936--1939: L'Oeuvre constructive de la
Révolution espagnole (Paris: Editions du Cercle, 1971). See also
Vernon Richards, Lessons of the Spanish Revolution, enlarged 1972
 Cited by Robert C. Tucker, The Marxian Revolutionary Idea, in
his discussion of Marxism and anarchism.
 Bakunin, in a letter to Herzen and Ogareff, 1866. Cited by Daniel
Guérin, Jeunesse du socialisme libertaire, p. 119.
 Fernand Pelloutier, cited in Joll, Anarchists. The source is
"L'Anarchisme et les syndicats ouvriers,'' Les Temps nouveaux,
1895. The full text appears in Daniel Guérin, ed., Ni Dieu, ni
Maître, an excellent historical anthology of anarchism.
 Martin Buber, Paths in Utopia, p. 127.
 "No state, however democratic,'' Bakunin wrote, "not even the
reddest republic---can ever give the people what they really want,
i.e., the free self-organization and administration of their own
affairs from the bottom upward, without any interference or violence
from above, because every state, even the pseudo-People's State
concocted by Mr. Marx, is in essence only a machine ruling the masses
from above, from a privileged minority of conceited intellectuals,
who imagine that they know what the people need and want better than
do the people themselves....'' "But the people will feel no better
if the stick with which they are being beaten is labeled `the
people's stick' '' (Statism and Anarchy , in Dolgoff,
Bakunin on Anarchy, p. 338)---"the people's stick'' being the
Marx, of course, saw the matter differently.
For discussion of the impact of the Paris Commune on this
dispute, see Daniel Guérin's comments in Ni Dieu, ni Maître;
these also appear, slightly extended, in his Pour un marxisme
libertaire. See also note 24.
 On Lenin's "intellectual deviation'' to the left during 1917,
see Robert Vincent Daniels, "The State and Revolution: a Case Study
in the Genesis and Transformation of Communist Ideology,'' American
Slavic and East European Review, vol. 12, no. 1 (1953).
 Paul Mattick, Marx and Keynes, p. 295.
 Michael Bakunin, "La Commune de Paris et la notion de
l'état,'' reprinted in Guérin, Ni Dieu, ni Maître. Bakunin's
final remark on the laws of individual nature as the condition of
freedom can be compared to the creative thought developed in the
rationalist and romantic traditions. See my Cartesian Linguistics
and Language and Mind.
 Shlomo Avineri, The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx,
p. 142, referring to comments in The Holy Family. Avineri states
that within the socialist movement only the Israeli kibbutzim
"have perceived that the modes and forms of present social
organization will determine the structure of future society.'' This,
however, was a characteristic position of anarchosyndicalism, as
 Rocker, Anarchosyndicalism, p. 28.
 See Guérin's works cited earlier.
 Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme.
 Karl Marx, Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie,
cited by Mattick, Marx and Keynes, p. 306. In this connection, see
also Mattick's essay "Workers' Control,'' in Priscilla Long, ed.,
The New Left; and Avineri, Social and Political Thought of Marx.
 Karl Marx, Capital, quoted by Robert Tucker, who rightly
emphasizes that Marx sees the revolutionary more as a "frustrated
producer'' than a "dissatisfied consumer'' (The Marxian
Revolutionary Idea). This more radical critique of capitalist
relations of production is a direct outgrowth of the libertarian
thought of the Enlightenment.
 Marx, Capital, cited by Avineri, Social and Political Thought
of Marx, p. 83.
 Pelloutier, "L'Anarchisme.''
 "Qu'est-ce que la propriété?'' The phrase "property is
theft'' displeased Marx, who saw in its use a logical problem, theft
presupposing the legitimate existence of property. See Avineri,
Social and Political Thought of Marx.
 Cited in Buber's Paths in Utopia, p. 19.
 Cited in J. Hampden Jackson, Marx, Proudhon and European
Socialism, p. 60.
 Karl Marx, The Civil War in France, p. 24. Avineri observes
that this and other comments of Marx about the Commune refer
pointedly to intentions and plans. As Marx made plain elsewhere, his
considered assessment was more critical than in this address.
 For some background, see Walter Kendall, The Revolutionary
Movement in Britain.
 Collectivisations: L'Oeuvre constructive de la Révolution
espagnole, p. 8.
 For discussion, see Mattick, Marx and Keynes, and Michael
Kidron, Western Capitalism Since the War. See also discussion and
references cited in my At War With Asia, chap. 1, pp. 23--6.
 See Hugh Scanlon, The Way Forward for Workers' Control.
Scanlon is the president of the AEF, one of Britain's largest trade
The institute was established as a result of the sixth
Conference on Workers' Control, March 1968, and serves as a center
for disseminating information and encouraging research.
 Guérin, Ni Dieu, ni Maître, introduction.
 Arthur Rosenberg, A History of Bolshevism, p. 88.
I'm guessing this is a socialist type of anarchist. He missed out a lot of good examples IMO. Lysander Spooner is one that comes to mind. Emma Goldman is a terrible example. She most likely set back anarchism due to violent activities she was involved in. George Orwell was a bit of a socialist as well.
It is untrue that most anarchist do think anarcho capitalism is not anarchy. He is basing this on opinions with those he associates with. Individualism is human nature not egotistical as he claims. Altruism is what destroys human beings in the long run.
Can land be considered as a possession? If so how much? The workers can technically make a factory function without an owner but there would be no incentive for the workers to work harder. Just some thoughts on both sides to ponder.
This argument was pretty silly. Humans don't all work the same and thus the opportunity to leech off those that work harder would run rampant in this system. Without incentive people won't work as hard. Then of course there is choice. There are many people out there that just want to get a paycheck and move on. Some don't want to engage in worker meetings or run a business. The choice must be there.
Thoughts and ways of thinking evolve. If you get stuck in the way they the founders of the thought were thinking there is no progress. There are advantages to having an economy. Without it, I wouldn't be typing on this keyboard.