Iain McKay

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About Iain McKay

Iain McKay is an independent anarchist writer and researcher. He was the main author of An Anarchist FAQ as well as numerous other works, including Mutual Aid: An Introduction and Evaluation. In addition, he has edited and introduced Property Is Theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology; Direct Struggle Against Capital: A Peter Kropotkin Anthology; and Kropotkin’s 1913 book Modern Science and Anarchy. He is also a regular contributor to Anarcho-Syndicalist Review as well as Black Flag and Freedom.

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When Labor announced a 50% tax rate on those earning more than £150,000 there was a whole spate of gnashing of teeth from the right-wing media. Let us put this in context: less that 2% of the British population earn more than £100,000, a mere 10% over £40,000. Britain is an extremely unequal society, with a few owning the bulk of income and wealth. It should also be noted that under Thatcher, the top-rate was reduced from 83% to 60% in 1979, before being cut to the current 40% in the 1988 budget. In other words, New Labor is being hauled over the coals for returning to “class war” (to quote the Torygraph’s headline) for having a lower top-rate than Thatcher’s first 9 years in power! Fe... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This January marked the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1905. The revolt started on January 22 when a peaceful, mildly reformist, protest march in St. Petersburg was shoot at by troops with more than 1,000 killed or injured. This day became known as “Bloody Sunday.” Rather than squelch the protests, the repression fanned the flames of rebellion. All across Russia, different sections of the people moved into active protest. The peasants and workers joined with the middle classes, intelligentsia and (minority) national groups against the absolutism and oppression of the Czarist monarchy. Each class had different aims however. However, the two forces which played the leading part in the revolution were the wor... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Part 5: Resistance “The great are only great because we are on our knees. Let us rise!”—Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Occupy, Resist, Produce! Lessons from Latin America’s Occupied Factories Marie Trigona Latin America’s occupied factory movement has built an expansive system of workers’ self-management through direct action and the expropriation of the means of production. The worker occupations lend insight to workers around the world, demonstrating that direct actions at the workplace can lead to revolutionary practices, self-determination, and worker control—three essential elements of a free society, and an essential component for an anarchist economics if we are to stu... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Marx famously said that history repeats itself, first time as tragedy, second time as farce. Tom Hanks has placed a Hollywood spin on Karl’s comments by producing and starring in “Charlie Wilson’s War”. It is about the role of Texas Democratic congressman Charlie Wilson in getting the US to arm those in Afghanistan fighting the Soviet Union occupation in the 1980s. It is, apparently, presented as a comedy. The firm is based on a book by George Crile and its original subtitle gives an indication of a key problem with both book and film: “The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History — the Arming of the Mujahideen.” For Crile, the key was that lots of Soviet soldiers were k... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The last issue of Black Flag had an article on the “Independent Working Class Association” (IWCA) called “Fighting on Home Turf: Community politics and the IWCA.” As the article noted, bar the Harringey Solidarity Group, there is “no compatible anarchist organizations doing the same sort of work.” For that reason it was good to hear what the IWCA was doing. Sadly, however, the author shied away from critiquing the IWCA and, in particular, its electoralism. Yes, many anarchists do “feel uneasy” about the IWCA standing in elections and it is a shame that all the author did was to state they were not going to “rerun arguments about elections.” I think that we should be discussi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
One of the strangest things most anarchists become aware of when they go on-line is the existence of self-proclaimed capitalist “anarchists.” Mostly based in North America, this ideology claims to be anarchist while, at the same time, vigorously supporting laissez-faire capitalism. For almost all anarchists, this seems an utter oxymoron. Anarchism has always been associated with the left, with socialism. While opposing all forms of state socialism, anarchists have always seen themselves as anti-capitalists, as socialists. Both Tucker and Kropotkin considered themselves socialists, as did Bakunin and Proudhon. While they disagreed about many things (such as how best to end capitalist exploitation), all schools of anarchism... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Introduction Economics, rightly, is subject to much scorn. As Malatesta memorably put it: “The priest keeps you docile and subjected, telling you everything is God’s will; the economist says it’s the law of nature.” Thus “no one is responsible for poverty, so there’s no point rebelling against it.” Proudhon, rightly, argued that “political economy… is merely the economics of the propertied, the application of which to society inevitably and organically engenders misery.” People suffering austerity across the world would concur with him: “The enemies of society are Economists.” Nothing has changed, except the usual alternative has been shown to be worse. O... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Published in Freedom, 7th October 2006 (vol. 67 no. 19). Freedom is the leading English-language anarchist newspaper, published fortnightly in London. Originally founded by Kropotkin in 1886, it is still going strong 120 years later. Freedom: What is the FAQ? It is a long, but comprehensive, webpage of “Frequently Asked Questions” about anarchism on the internet (www.anarchistfaq.org) and soon to be a book by AK Press. It covers most of the obvious questions you would expect, plus some more obscure ones. It attempts to present anarchism as a serious political theory and movement to those interested in finding out about it as well as being a resource for anarchists. How many people have contributed to the FAQ and is ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
“organization, that is to say, association for a specific purpose and with the structure and means required to attain it, is a necessary aspect of social life. A man in isolation cannot even live the life of a beast... Having therefore to join with other humans... he must submit to the will of others (be enslaved) or subject others to his will (be in authority) or live with others in fraternal agreement in the interests of the greatest good of all (be an associate). Nobody can escape from this necessity.” – Errico Malatesta[1] Introduction Rather than being a peripheral concept, organization is fundamentally a core aspect of any ideology as it is “the point where concepts lose their abstraction” a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Precursors of Syndicalism III After discussing the rise of syndicalist ideas in the First International (Precursors of Syndicalism I) and then in the Chicago-based International Working People’s Association (Precursors of Syndicalism II), we now turn to debates within the European anarchist movement before the rise of revolutionary syndicalism in France. In other words, communist-anarchism in the form of its most famous thinker, Peter Kropotkin. To do so shows that the standard narrative on anarchism and syndicalism is wrong. This narrative is simple and can be found in most Marxist diatribes against anarchism. With the embrace and failure of “propaganda by the deed” (acts of individual violence against membe... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
It is with a sad heart that I write this article – Iain Banks, the Scottish writer, has died at a far too early age. Reading the many interviews and obituaries, it is obvious that one of the good guys has shuffled off this moral coil. In terms of his writings, I’ve only read his science fiction works and I would recommend them to all anarchist SF fans – particularly the Culture series. To be honest, I’m surprised by how sad it makes me feel to think that there will be no more Culture books. I read The Hydrogen Sonata this year, which was fun (although not as fun as Surface Detail – particularly the wonderful chapter sketching the rise of artificial heavens and hells). I’ve read them all and the onl... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I thought I would discuss the current coronavirus crisis and how an anarchist society would deal with it. This will be speculative but hopefully convincing as far as any discussion of a future society can be — although I do end with a few demands that should be raised now. I should note that, for those looking for something to read when self-isolating, the An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) appendix on the Kronstadt revolt of 1921 has just been revised – lots to read there! I should note that I’ve not proof-read this as much as I tend to do so be prepared for more typos that usual. Before starting, I should mention that a leading British “primitivist” was once asked what would happen about epidemics in his ideal wo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
After the fall of Saddam’s dictatorship, a wave of looting erupted in towns and cities across Iraq. The media was outraged, often more concerned about stolen property than the civilians wounded and murdered by the US invasion. It was proclaimed that Iraq was falling into “anarchy.” This is unsurprising, if annoying, for anarchists. It is worthwhile to explain why the chaos in post-Saddam Iraq is not anarchy nor, in fact, a case against anarchism. Kropotkin once said that “without disorder, the Revolution is impossible” and he was right. Every revolution has been marked by “disorder,” by strikes, riots, looting and so on. However, in social revolutions such periods are short lived. Inspired by... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Unsurprisingly, the Economist was cock-a-hoop over the giving of the (non-)Nobel prize for economics to Edmund Phelps (“A natural choice: Edmund Phelps earns the economics profession’s highest accolade”, The Economist, Oct 12th 2006). The reasons why become clear. According to the magazine, “Phelps won his laurels in part for kicking the feet from under his intellectual forerunners” by presenting a neo-classical explanation for the breakdown of the so-called “Phillips curve” which presented a statistical tradeoff between inflation and unemployment (“unemployment was low in Britain when wage inflation was high, and high when inflation was low”). The problem was that economists &ldq... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
For an anarchist, it is annoying to see the right – whether Trump or Johnson, the Tories or the Republicans – proclaimed “libertarians” or “anti-government.” They are neither, not least because they are members of governments and so repeatedly and regularly use state power to further their own and their backers’ interests. Yet this does not stop the likes of economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman arguing that “we may not get the [stimulus] program we need, because anti-government ideologues, who briefly got quiet as the magnitude of the Covid-19 shock became apparent, are back to their usual tricks.” (Starve the Beast, Feed the Depression: Anti-government ideology is ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarchists have long argued that the working class, in its struggle against oppression, organizes itself and creates combative bodies which can not only fight hierarchy but can become the framework of a free society. In “From Riot to Revolution” I discussed this in regards to the current social conflict in Argentina. Unsurprisingly enough, the developments in Argentina have been analyzed by the various shades of the left. The results are illuminating, shedding a light on the way Leninism views working class struggle and the role of the vanguard party. Simply put, their attempts to analyze the events in Argentina exposes the substitutionist nature of vanguardism. Facing a working class which is applying direct self-managem... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
It has been a year since the people of Argentina took to the streets to protest yet more iniquitous government responses to the deepening economic crisis. Once hailed as a model for neo-liberalism, the popular uprising exposed the human results of over 20 long years of structural adjustment plans and “free-market reforms.” The economy is a mess, with poverty and unemployment at disgusting levels. In the past four years of recession, the poverty rate has ballooned from 31 to 53 percent of the population of 37 million, and unemployment has climbed from 14 to 21.4 percent, according to official figures. The revolt reached massive levels. Seven million workers took part in a general strike. The president declared a state of e... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Socialist Workers Party obviously thinks the “anti-capitalist” demonstrators are the next big thing and ideal recruiting fodder. Chris Bamberry, a leading member, puts their aim clearly enough: “The test for the SWP will be how it shapes and directs the anti-capitalist movement.” Another, Julie Waterson, knows precisely what they want out of it: “A cadre of Bolsheviks.” As usual, working class and radical movements are seen purely in instrumental terms, as means of increasing the size and influence of the party. Rather than seeing their politics as being informed by the class struggle they see the class struggle simply as means gaining members. Those considered as possible new members of the Pa... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
As capitalism goes into crisis (again), there have been bailouts of the financial sector as well as calls for the bailing out of certain industries. In America, the big three car companies having been asking for state help. There are many reasons for rejecting this: ‘When it comes to bailing out the auto industry, count me in the “let them starve” camp. The auto industry has been outsourcing American jobs for 25 years now with little regard for the devastated communities they’ve left in their wake (seriously, re-watch Roger & Me sometime). The big three have also used their lobbying might to oppose every environmental regulation in their sights. And on top of all of that, their cars suck.’ ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I had the distinct displeasure of looking at Mike Gonzalez’s new book, “A Rebel’s Guide to Marx,” recently. Gonzalez, for those who do not know, is a long time leading member of the SWP hierarchy. Given how the SWP seem incapable of writing anything truth or accurate about anarchism, I was prepared for the worse when it came to his account of Marx’s conflict with Bakunin. I was not disappointed. According to Gonzalez Bakunin was no friend of the working class because he was opposed to working class people organizing! This was because it would result in “authoritarianism.” He was addicted to conspiracy, arguing for secret cells which would attack the state on behalf of the working class and wa... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Dedication Aron Baron was born into a poor Jewish family in the Kiev province of the Ukraine in July, 1891. He was sent to Siberia following the 1905 Revolution and eventually made it to the United States in 1912. In Chicago he met his first wife, Fanya, and was active with the Russian Workers Union and the Industrial Workers of the World. They returned to the Ukraine in 1917. Baron was an editor of the Nabat journal and participant in the movement of the same name. He was an active speaker and organizer. The arrests and imprisonment by the Cheka for Baron’s revolutionary agitation began in 1919, and never seemed to end. In September of 1921 Fanya Baron was shot by the Cheka. Years of exile and imprisonment follow... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This is a write up of the talk I gave at the 2016 London Anarchist bookfair. I covered most of what I planned in my notes although some of it was summarized more than indicated here. It covers the basic myths and realities of the period and concentrates on non-Anarchist sources – academics and Leninists themselves. This is not because the anarchist critique is lacking, no far from it. It is done to show that the anarchist critique has the support of a substantial body of evidence. As indicated in the talk, all quotes are from section H of An Anarchist FAQ. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution. We can expect a mountain of articles (although less than in 1967!) about how wonderful the Bolsheviks were and, o... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
2004 marked the 80th anniversary of the death of Lenin. Given that Leninism is still the dominant theory in what passes for a revolutionary movement in Britain, it is useful to discuss the only reason why this authoritarian is still taken seriously. This is the Russian Revolution, held to be the first successful socialist revolution. The fact that it quickly produced a party dictatorship presiding over a state capitalist economy seems irrelevant in Leninist quarters. For anarchists, the Russian Revolution is seen as a classic example of a social revolution in which the self-activity of working people played a key role. In their soviets, factory committees and other organizations, the Russian masses were trying to transform society fr... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Murray Bookchin died at home on the 30th of July at the age of 85, surrounded by his family. From the 1960s onwards, Bookchin was, rightly, considered one of the world’s leading anarchist thinkers. His death, while not unexpected, is still a sad day for our movement. It is hard to know where to start. Bookchin contributed so much to the development of anarchism over since the 1960s that to summarize his work is difficult, if not impossible. I still remember how thrilled I was to read “Post-Scarcity Anarchism” – this was an author who knew what anarchism was about. Reading “Toward an Ecological Society” and “The Spanish Anarchists” confirmed this. Bookchin placed ecological though... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
With the crisis in the finance markets rumbling on, it is hard to make any comments on it as it is sure to become redundant. Its roots lie in the nature of financial capital, in its tendency to generate bubbles as resources are poured into specific markets in an attempt to make money. Before the housing bubble, it was dot.com. Before dot.com, it was the Savings & Loans fiasco… The creation of such bubbles is just as regular as the denials that a bubble exists. Seeking profits, banks create credit and financial institutions speculate. The margins for error decrease as capital accumulates while rising inequality makes aggregate demand teeter on the edge. Rising debt cannot cover the repayments, new buyers cannot enter the ma... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I’m not sure whether Joseph Kay (“Co-ops or conflicts?”, Freedom vol. 69, No. 23–4) actually read my article on co-operatives before writing his piece. I would guess not, as it has the feel of a standard libertarian communist response against co-operatives within capitalism. If so, that is a shame as I may need to repeat myself somewhat as the analysis I presented was not really addressed. I had hoped that my article (“Bailouts or co-operatives?”) had made clear that suggesting co-operatives was a short-term solution for those workers facing closing workplaces or whose bosses are seeking bailouts. I did not address the issue of (so-called) “self-managed exploitation” simply because that... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Brown is now discovering that proclaiming the end of “Boom and Bust” does not, in fact, mean much. The amazing thing about the current economic panicking is not that it is happening but that some people seem surprised by it. While on the way up many “experts” seem to forget it, capitalism has always been marked by a business cycle. During the good times, it is proclaimed with sadly predictable regularity that this upswing will be permanent and the business cycle has come to an end (as in the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, 1960s and so on). As bad times approach, it is proclaimed with equal predictability that the “fundamentals” are “good” and the economy is “strong.” Then the crises h... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Revolutionary: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint (the SWP does not respond) R: ‘Ello, Stalinist? SWP: What do you mean ‘Stalinist’? R: I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint! SWP: We don’t have time for your contribution, sorry. R: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this ideology what I embraced not half an hour ago at this very conference. SWP: Oh yes, the, uh, the Russian Bolshevik… What’s, uh… wrong with it? R: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. Its dead, that’s what’s wrong with it! SWP: No, no, its, uh, ... its resting. R: Look, matey, I know (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
One of the strangest arguments against anarchist ways of organizing is that it is “undemocratic.” This argument is usually associated with Trotskyists. As it crops up with sadly regular frequency, it is worthwhile to discuss this accusation in detail. Anarchists are for federations of self-managed groups. This means that the membership of such organizations decide policy directly at open meetings. Anyone delegated from that group to do specified tasks or to attend a federal meeting are given a strict and binding mandate. Failure to implement that agreed mandate means that the delegate is instantly replaced. In this way power remains in the hands of all and decisions flow from the bottom up. Anyone placed into a position o... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the front lines of the globalization debate, Naomi Klein, Flamingo, ISBN 0 007150474 Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor’s Last Century, Howard Zinn, Dana Frank and Robin D. G. Kelly, Beacon Press, Boston, ISBN 0-08070-5013-X The current wave of “anti-capitalist” demonstrations and protests are, of course, just the most recent expression of a conflict that has marked capitalism from the start: the class struggle. For as long as wage slavery has existed, workers have been fighting against it. As long as the state has existed, its subjects have resisted it. The intensity and forms of social struggle have changed, depending on the cir... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This article is based on a talk give at the Radical Routes Conference, “Practical Economics: Radical alternatives to a failed economic system,” held on May 23, 2009. To quote someone who sums up the intellectual times in which we live, Sarah Palin: “Now is not the time to experiment with socialism.” This, during the worse crisis since the 1930s! Anarchists would say that is precisely the time – but only as long as we are talking about libertarian socialism! Capitalism in crisis (again!), and the failure of state socialism could not be more clear. Social democracy has become neo-liberal (New Labor? New Thatcherites!) while this year also marks the 20th anniversary of the collapse of Stalinism in Ea... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
To quote someone who sums up the intellectual times in which we live, Sarah Palin: “now is not the time to experiment with socialism” This, during the worse crisis since the 1930s! Anarchists would say that is precisely the time – but only as long as we are talking about libertarian socialism! Capitalism in crisis (again!) and the failure of state socialism could not be more clear. Social democracy has become neo-liberal (New Labour? New Thatcherites!) while this year also marks the 20th anniversary of the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe. With its state capitalism and party dictatorship, Stalinism made the disease (capitalism) more appealing than the cure (socialism)! In this anarchists should be feel vindic... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
First Letter Dear FRFI It seems doubly ironic that you entitled your rant against anarchism “the anarchist school of falsification” (issue no. 174). Firstly, this rant was falsely presented as a review of an anarchist pamphlet and, secondly, the article was itself riddled with falsehoods. It claims that “most anarchists have little knowledge” of their own history, then talks about Kropotkin and the syndicalist Jouhaux supporting the allies in the First World War. Both these facts are contained in the pamphlet you claim to be reviewing! Kropotkin is on page 19 and page 12 talks about the betrayal of the French CGT leadership. Presumably the pamphlet “falsifies” history by informing its... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The election of Donald Trump came as a surprise to many, given the obvious demagogery, incoherence and authoritarianism he exhibited as a candidate. It matters little that he lost the popular vote, the fact is that enough people in specific states were willing to vote for him – and now we all have to live with the outcome. The result of decades of right-wing glorification of the wealthy, calls to run the state as a business (i.e., as a dictatorship), and the like can now be seen in all their glory. A better argument for anarchism would be hard to find. That does not mean, of course, passively awaiting the next election as the myth of democracy would have us believe. It means resisting – and there have been promising signs... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
“We have seen how the Revolution began with popular risings ever since the first months of 1789. To make a revolution it is not, however, enough that there should be such risings — more or less successful. It is necessary that after the risings there should be left something new in the institutions, would permit new forms of life to be elaborated and established.” Kropotkin, The Great French Revolution Anarchism is often portrayed by historians and others as somewhat utopian, having no real idea of how to get from capitalism to a free society. Lenin, for example, asserted that anarchists “while advocating the destruction of the state machine, have absolutely no idea of what the proletariat will put in its ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Richard Dawkins, Britain’s leading evolutionary theorists, has been presenting an extremely interesting and informative series on Darwinism (“The Genius of Charles Darwin”, Channel 4). It is a three part series to commemorate the 150th anniversary of discovery of natural selection (next year marks the same anniversary of the publication of “On Origin of Species”). The first part was informative, although Dawkins did simply state, in passing, how Darwin was influenced in developing his ideas by economics, namely Malthus’s infamous essay on population. No mention of how that essay, refuted in practice since it was written, became popular in ruling class circles to counter attempts at social reform (i... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Part 1 George Monbiot, the green activist and writer, has never let his ignorance of anarchism stop him from commenting on it. It takes a willfully ignorant person to write the nonsense about anarchism contained in his self-contradictory book, “The Age of Consent.” Sadly, many of those reading and reviewing that book were equally ignorant (Johann Harri, please take a bow) and so he had little to worry about. One thing seems sure, like many a liberal and Marxist he dislikes our ideas and seeks to smear us by means of “guilt by association.” This he did recently in The Guardian when discussing neo-liberalism. As he put it, the neo-liberal “project was assisted by ideas which arose in a very differen... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This year is the centenary of George Orwell’s birth. To mark this event, BBC2 showed an innovative documentary about his life and work called “George Orwell: A Life in Pictures.” To get round the fact that there are no known recordings of Orwell’s voice or film of him, the BBC recreated key aspects of his life by means of pseudo-authentic documentaries and interviews. An actor voiced Orwell’s words to illustrate aspects of his ideas and life. Thus we have a 1930s style movie-news clip of him on the Aragon front explaining the way to make a great cup of tea and a particularly stiff-upper lip round table discussion between him and two pacifists (one of which was Alex Comfort) to allow Orwell’s position on t... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
My Disillusionment in Russia by Emma Goldman Anarchism by Peter Kropotkin As in the 1960s, the upsurge in anarchist activitism has resulted in a similar upsurge in classic anarchist titles being produced by mainstream publishers. A new generation of radicals are becoming interested in anarchism and a new generation of capitalists want to make money from them! This is a positive side-effect of the prominence we have achieved in the news reporting of the anti-capitalist movement. Hopefully these new radicals will take the opportunity to learn from some old ones, particularly as these books are so good. After a few decades of being out of print, Emma Goldman’s classic account of her experiences in Lenin’s Russi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Part I This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. While the Bolshevik Myth appears to be on the decline, some radicals are some infatuated with it and so, unfortunately, anarchists still need to explain why Leninism lead to Stalinism. An effective way of doing so is to contrast the claims of Leninists with reality. Chris Harman’s “How the Revolution was Lost” is an attempt by the British SWP to explain the rise of Stalinism while exonerating the politics of Bolshevism at the same time.[1] First published in 1967 to mark the 50th anniversary of the revolution, this essay is still used by the party and contains all the basic themes they, and other Leninists, use to defend the Bolsheviks. Therefore... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The strikes in November, 2007, in France against Sarkozy’s so-called reforms were inspiring. In Britain, we are so used to people grumbling but ultimately accepting any crap imposed by the government and bosses that it is refreshing to see so many people talking direct action and showing solidarity. The attempt to “reform” the pension system is, of course, Sarkozy’s first attempt to “do a Thatcher” and try to break French working class militancy. He has staked his self-proclaimed “reformist” credentials on facing down the protests, aiming to stand firm on an issue which created three weeks of strikes in 1995 and led to a U-turn and then collapse of Chirac’s government. One of Sark... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci once wrote that “to tell the truth is a communist and revolutionary act.” If we apply this maxim to most of the left, we would draw the obvious conclusion that it is neither communist nor revolutionary. The Socialist Workers Party is a classic example of this mentality, rewriting history to suit the recruitment needs of the organization. One of the ironies of history is that the Trotskyists who spent so much time combating the “Stalin school of falsification” have created their own. I The SWP is notorious, of course, for its inaccurate diatribes on anarchism. Pat Stack’s laughably bad “Anarchy in the UK?” (Socialist Review, no. 246) is just the la... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Resistible Rise of Benito Mussolini, Tom Behan, Bookmarks, 2003, £8 “If the anarchists are not careful, their enemies will write their history” (Gaetano Salvemini) [1] The rise of fascism in Italy is a subject that should be of interest to anarchists. This is because Mussolini’s rise cannot be detached from the biennio rosso, the two red years of 1919 and 1920. This reached its peak with the factory occupations of 1920, when hundreds of thousands of workers took over their workplaces and peasants squatted the land they used but did not own. Italy was on the verge of social revolution. Fascism was a response to this, a tool by the ruling class to crush working class organization, resistance a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
April 29th saw the death of economist John Kenneth Galbraith at the grand old age of 97. While his books were popular in the 1950s and 1960s, his influence and ideas grew out of fashion in the 1980s with the rise of neo-liberalism. This is understandable, as his analysis was far too realistic to be usable by the ruling elite to justify their power, profits or policies. Galbraith firmly saw the role that economics played in justifying capitalism and elite rule. In Galbraith’s vision, economic power was a fact which could not and should not be ignored and any form of economics which did was just apologetics for injustice and inequality. As he put it, “the most damaging feature” of mainstream economics “is the ar... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
March 17th 2006 marked the 85th anniversary of the crushing of the Kronstadt rebellion by the Bolsheviks. The saga of Kronstadt is a microcosm of the Russian Revolution. It had been an early supporter and practitioner of soviet power, forming a free commune in 1917 which was relatively independent of the authorities. The Kronstadt sailors had been in the vanguard of the revolutionary events of 1905 and 1917. In 1917, Trotsky called them the “pride and glory of the Russian Revolution.” In 1921 he and Lenin crushed their revolt. For anarchists, Kronstadt exposes the myth that Bolshevism was a genuine form of socialism. It marked the death of the Russian Revolution. The revolt The revolt of February/March 1921 cann... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The question of how we get to a primitivist utopia Dear Freedom Karen Goaman’s summary of my ideas (issue 10/1/04) is at such odds to what I actually wrote I don’t know where to begin. Perhaps it is just me, but it often seems that supporters of primitivism speak a different language to the rest of us. After all, I said in my first reply that I doubted that people who went to the trouble of having a revolution would leave everything pretty much the same as before (as asserted in the first “Green and Black Bulletin”). But, no, apparently by this I meant the opposite! So when she labels me a lover of “modern industrial society” she is distorting my position slightly. Then there is the w... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
First Letter Dear Weekly Worker I read Joe Wills letter in reply to Richard Griffin with interest. Wills dismisses Richard’s comments on liberal electoral democracy as a “nihilist world outlook” that suggests “the working class have not improved their lives one iota since the dark days of feudalism.” I was under the impression that working class direct action had improved our lives, not paternalistic actions by liberal parliaments. Obviously I was wrong to think that reforms were a product of working class self-activity (and the fear it provoked in ruling circles). Thanks for clarifying that — I now know where the real power to change society lies. Looking at “democratic central... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
First letter Dear Freedom It seems to me that Tavis Reddick (Freedom 6th April) totally misses the point in his comments on class struggle. I will ignore the comments on “those who would divide ... may be seeking to rule” as the slanderous nonsense they are and concentrate on the key issue, namely the importance of class analysis and struggle. Travis simply does not understand the nature of the society he lives in. He argues that “capitalism can’t really be said to exist for the benefit of anyone, can it?” The fact that the capitalist class seems intent on maintaining both the system and its position in it suggests otherwise. Simply put, capitalism benefits capitalists. “Capitalists a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
My half of an exchange of letters in Freedom from 1999 discussing whether communist-anarchism can be a form of anarchism and how its ideas relate to those of Proudhon’s. They show the continuity of communist-anarchists ideas with those of Proudhon’s, indicating the voluntary nature of communist-anarchism and why consistent anarchists need to be against private property. As they cover common fallacies about communist-anarchism, property and Proudhon, I hope they will be of a wider interest. I should note that, sadly, Richard Garner subsequently rejected individualist anarchism and became a right-wing “libertarian” (of the “anarcho”-capitalist type). First letter on Property and Anarchist Communism ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Letter on “group issues” in a free society Dear Freedom Richard Garner’s letter (Freedom, 21st April) raised some interesting questions. He states that under his system there would be no “group issues” and so the “problem ... lies not with anarchism but with communism.” Taken literally, of course, this implies that Garner’s version of “anarchy” there would be no forms of association at all. No groups, no families, no clubs: nothing bar the isolated individual. It implies no economic activity bar peasant farming and one-person artisan workplaces. Why? Simply because any form of organization implies “group issues.” Two people deciding to live together... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
First Letter to Anarchy Dear Anarchy I was deeply disappointed by the last issue of Anarchy. The reason is simple. While denouncing what it considers the “repeated pronouncements of contempt for many (often even most) anarchists” and those who present “no hint ... that the people denounced might have genuinely radical and intelligent reasons for thinking and acting as they do,” we were subjected to exactly this as regards “Platformism.” In the various articles bashing the Platform, at no time was there any attempt to explain why some anarchists have felt an affinity to that document and the tradition is created (and, yes, it does have a tradition and influence even if some contributor... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Critique of Green and Black Bulletin no. 1 Dear Freedom I was disappointed in the first the “Green and Black Bulletin.” This is not because I am against Freedom covering ecological issues. No, far from it. A regular column on green issues would benefit Freedom immensely. I know that anarchism and ecology are intertwined and that any relevant and decent form of anarchism must be rooted in an ecological perspective. No, the reason I have reservations about this Bulletin is two fold. Firstly, it proclaims it will be a “primitivist” column, thus excluding most forms of ecological anarchism. To suggest that anarcho-primitivism is ”’green anarchism” is blinkered, not to mention sectar... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
A while back I wrote an article for Freedom on anarchism and trade unions called “There is Power in a Union.” It was a basic introduction to anarchist ideas on the subject and an edited version of it was published in that paper. It was produced to complement a leafleting of a trade union activist meeting in London by the Anarchist Workers Network (AWN). The AWN is now defunct, having failed to produce enough activity or people to take the burden from its founders. Which was, it should be mentioned, the fate of its immediate precursor, the Anarchist Trade-Union Network (ATUN). The key issues were raised at the end of the article: “We need to think about how we can work within the labor movement (at the ran... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Louise Michel, Nic Maclellan (ed.) Rebel Lives Series, Ocean Press (ISBN: 1876175761) January 9th marked the 100th anniversary of Louise Michel’s death. Michel was simply amazing, revolution personified. Known as “The Red Virgin,” she played an important role in the creation of the Paris Commune by leading the people of Montmontre to stop the government seizing the guns of the National Guard. She fought on the barricades during the final days of revolt when not tending the wounded. Escaping the mass slaughter of 35,000 Parisians after the Commune was defeated, she was arrested, tried and exiled to New Caledonia along with thousands of other rebels. There, she supported the indigenous people in their revolt against F... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
In January 1920, G. ZINOVIEV, President of the Central Executive Committee of the Third International, sent a letter to the Industrial Workers of the World. It appeared in a 1920 issue of One Big Union Monthly, a regular publication of the IWW that appeared up until about World War 2. It is an interesting document. Given what Zinoviev wrote in the letter and the actual conditions that existed in Russia at the time, we can safely say that Stalinism did not invent doublethink or systematic lying as a political principle. As we will prove, the arguments and descriptions of Zinoviev amount to little more than a deliberate distortion. In plain words, lies pure and simple. It may be argued that Zinoviev lied because of the dire situ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
(This is, more or less, the speech given at a debate organized by the Leninist Party “Alliance for Workers Liberty” in November, 2003. The debate was entitled “Marxism or Anarchism?” although it would have been better called “Leninism or Anarchism?” I’ve made a few clarification to the text at a few points in light of the subsequent contributions at the meeting, but the text is approximately 95% the same. I’ve also taken the liberty of adding footnotes so that interested readers can investigate the issues further. These reference “An Anarchist FAQ”. Given how badly the AWL came across at the meeting I doubt I will be invited back any time soon!). Introduction Before start... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Maurice Brinton was the pseudnum under which Christopher Pallis (1923–2005) wrote and translated for the British libertarian socialist group Solidarity from 1960 until the early 1990s. He was its leading and most influential member, unsurprisingly given the quality and insightfulness of his work, and his ideas still influence many today across the world. Brinton’s translations of libertarian socialist Cornelius Castoriadis work (under the pseudonym “Paul Cardan”) contributed immensely to enriching libertarian politics in the English speaking world. Indeed, many of his translations were used as the basis of the essential three volume collection of Castoriadis’ work entitled “Political and Social Wri... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This talk was given in January and February 2018 at the Five Leaves bookshop in Nottingham. As the name suggests, it discusses what anarchism is via the ideas and lives of twelve libertarians. The first part covered six male anarchists and the second six female ones. The decision to split the talks into two based on “Founding Fathers and Mothers” was not mine’s and perhaps not the best as it creates some duplication and, of course, somewhat obscures that male and female libertarians interacted and influenced each other. Still, I think it went well and helped bring out some issues which are often forgotten in introductory talks. Both presentations can be found here and both included a few slides in appendices which w... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Milton Friedman, one of the economics guru who inspired Thatcherism has died at the age of 94. Needless to say, the praise for this supporter of capitalism was flowing. As would be expected – if your dogma favors the ruling class, being proven wrong is no hindrance. Friedman produced more than his fair share of pain and suffering in the world. His ideas inspired the policies of Reagan as well as Thatcher. His personal invention in Chili ensured that Pinochet placed his ideological followers into leading economic positions where they imposed his ideas onto a terrorized Chilean people. The ironic thing was, wherever his dogmas were applied the exact opposite occurred. For example, his asserted in “Capitalism and Free... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid is usually, and rightly, called his masterpiece. While the high quality of all his work makes it hard to say whether this classic can be considered his best, it is fair to say that it is probably his most famous and one of his most widely read. Suffice to say, that it is rarely out of print testifies to its importance as well as the quality and timelessness of its message. It is often called an anarchist classic. This is not entirely accurate. Yes, it is a classic and it was written by an anarchist, indeed the leading anarchist thinker of the time. However, it is not a book about anarchism. It is, first and foremost, a work of popular science, a “best-selling work,” which made cooperation &ldq... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I’m not sure why, but there seems to be a tendency by academics to discuss anarchism without actually bothering to find out much, if anything, about. George Monbiot does this quite regularly, with equally regular amusement for those who have even a basic understanding of libertarian theory. The latest is Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics at UCL, in his new book “Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise”. The anarchist in question is Kropotkin, specifically his ideas on “mutual aid.” However, it is clear that Jones is hardly knowledgeable on the subject. The basic mistakes are staggering. The Jura Federation was not founded in 1871. Kropotkin did not battle Marx in the First International (that was another bearded... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
A vision of a cooperative commonwealth has always been at the heart of socialism. The earliest socialists suggested cooperative villages, workplaces and consumer societies. This was echoed by libertarian socialists. Bakunin was “convinced that the cooperative will be the preponderant form of social organization in the future” and could “hardly oppose” their creation under capitalism. Proudhon called his vision of a cooperative economy mutualism, arguing workers’ associations were “a new principle and model of production that must replace present-day corporations.” This was seen as part of the transcendence of capitalism: “the abolition of the State… consists of an incessan... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Mutualism is a libertarian form of market socialism. It is most associated with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the first person to call himself an anarchist. However, he did not invent the term but rather picked it up from workers in Lyons when he stayed there in the 1840s. Mutualism reached the peak of its influence when the Paris Commune of 1871 applied Proudhon’s ideas on federalism and workers’ co-operatives before being bloodily crushed. Mutualism aims to create a system of self-employed workers and co-operatives honestly exchanging goods and services in a market without interest, rent, profit, landlords or capitalists. Rejecting social revolution, it aims to destroy capitalism and the state by means of reform – a com... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
With the current crisis, many on the right are proclaiming their usual mantras on the need to attack working class pay and conditions to solve the economic problems. The idea is that by cutting wages and breaking unions the crisis will be ended and the conditions made favorable for economic growth to return. With increasing growth, so wealth will trickle down and everyone will benefit. The worse thing that we could do is to organize, struggle and resist those seeking to solve the problems we face, problems caused by the elite, by reducing our living standards and rights. The idea that social struggle and working class organization are harmful was expressed constantly in the 1970s and 80s. With the postwar Keynesian consensus crumblin... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
After the shootings at the anti-EU demonstrations in Gothenburg, the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) decided to give its two pence’s worth of “advice” to the anti-globalization movement (“After Gothenburg: Where now for anti-capitalism?” by Mark Fischer, Weekly Worker, no. 389, Thursday June 21 2001). This advice can be summarized up as follows: “you will be stuck physically and politically if these groups and the anti-democratic anarcho-prejudices they embody are not vigorously challenged... Against anarchist provocations and hopeless confrontations with state forces.” In other words, the globalization movement must police itself and “challenge” the anarchi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Conservative politician Nicolas Sarkozy has won the French Presidential election. He managed to convince 53% of the population that he represents change and this message has dutifully been repeated in the media over here. Yet he is basically the chosen successor to the incumbent party so, surely, it makes far more sense to say the French were looking for “more of the same” rather than the Royal victory would have been the mandate for “change.” Failing to note that he had been a politician for 20 years, he played the right-wing populist card of portraying himself as an outsider and attacking politicians (and trade unions, immigrants and other usual suspects) for stealing the wealth of hard working French people... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The world’s first explicitly anarchist-feminist group was created as part of the thriving nineteenth-century Anarchist movement in Argentina. It produced the first anarcha-feminist newspaper, La Voz de la Mujer. Sadly, the history of anarchist-feminism in Argentina has rarely been acknowledged, at best mentioned in passing, at worse ignored or forgotten. La Voz de la Mujer was published in Buenos Aires only nine times, beginning on January 8, 1896 and ending almost exactly one year later on New Year’s Day. Its donors included “Women Avengers Group,” “One Who Wants to Fill a Cannon with the Heads of the Bourgeois,” “Long Live Dynamite,” “Long Live Free Love,” “A Feminis... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarchism is generally not associated with economics. There is no “anarchist” school of economics as there are “Marxist,” “Keynesian” and so on ones. This does not mean there are no anarchist texts on economics. Proudhon springs to mind here, with his numerous works on the subject – the three volumes on property (most famous being the first, What is Property?) and the two volumes of System of Economic Contradictions (of which, only the first has been translated) – as does Kropotkin, with his Fields, Factories and Workshops. However, in spite of various important works, there is no well-established body of work which can be called anarchist economics. There are various reasons for this. ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
It is hard not to be moved by the sight of a black man becoming President of the United States. Nor is it possible not to feel hope at the sight of so many people taking a keen interest in their society, expressing joy at the prospect of change. Nor is seeing the Bush Junta finally get a (limited) comeuppance without some pleasure. Equally, it is hard not to be optimistic about an American election result in which someone labeled by his opponents as a “Marxist” and “socialist” gets the majority. Sure, most people (correctly) would have dismissed this as the nonsense it was, but it suggests that after decades of “socialism for the rich” (neo-liberalism) the prospect of social democratic reforms have lost m... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
As should be well known by now, Paul Krugman won this year’s (non-)Nobel prize in economics for his work on trade theory. Krugman is pretty much your standard neo-classical Keynesian, but he is left-of-center and since the 2000 election campaign has spent much time exposing struggle the Bush Administration and its enablers. For example, while in the 1990s he refuted right-wing attempts to show that inequality was not rising in America while thinking that nothing could really be done about it, in the 2000s he has raised addressing this issue to forefront. Unsurprisingly, given this, the awarding of the prize has proved some right-winger to proclaim him as a “left-wing hack” and an “anti-capitalist”... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I always have mixed feelings when I see Leninists attack anarchism in their press. On the one hand, I despair as I know they will waste a lot of space getting it wrong. And that a lot of time will be required to correct the errors, distortions and stupidities they inflict on the world (as I have already done in “An Anarchist FAQ”). I also feel hope as it shows that anarchism is growing so much that they feel they have to spend time attacking us. We have three classic examples of this in International Socialist Review issue no. 53. For some reason, while attacking anarchists and anarchism Marxists feel they have to take our best ideas, experiments and activists. Often they discuss anarchist activists and strangely fail to ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
There are a few sure things about reading history books. Firstly, and most obviously, you generally know how it ends (badly, in the case of the Paris Commune). What is important is what you learn from the events discussed. Secondly, when it is a Marxist account you are guaranteed that it will (at best) ignore or (at worse) distort the anarchist involvement and analysis of events. In this, Leninist Donny Gluckstein’s account of the Paris Commune[1] does not disappoint – he both ignores key aspects of the anarchist critique and distorts what parts he does cover. Perhaps this is unsurprising, given that he is associated with the British SWP and its caricatures of anarchism are infamous. The Paris Commune should be wel... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
For lovers of freedom, 2006 has been a good year with P.W. Botha, Milton Friedman and now General Pinochet shuffling off this mortal coil. Pinochet was the head of the military dictatorship which overthrew (with the aid and backing of the CIA) the democratically elected Chilean government of Marxist Salvador Allende on September 11th, 1973. Officially,his troops killed or disappeared over 3,000 people (according to Human Rights and Church groups, it is over 10,000). Thousands were tortured and tens of thousands went into exile. The standard defense of the regime was that it stopped Chili becoming a socialist state. Did Pinochet stop Chili sliding into “Communist dictatorship”? No, but he did stop the Chilean working class... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The firefighters strike has provoked a rash of media and New Labor politician hysteria and venom. Terms like “modernization,” “union dinosaurs” and such like have been bandied about like people knew what they meant. Here is a modest attempt to help everyone to understand the media and New Laborite Newspeak. “40% pay rise” — A totally unacceptable figure, unless it’s for politicians and bosses “placing lives in danger” — A totally unacceptable thing to do, unless politicians and bosses do it (see “modernization”). “modernization” — a return to the workplace feudalism of the 19th century. “flexibility” &mdash... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Elizabeth Anderson, Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about it. Princeton University Press, 2017, $27.95 hardcover. This is both an important book which raises a key issue and one which simply states the obvious. It is both a well-researched work and one which ignores a school of thinkers who were pioneers on the subject. It is one which both challenges assumptions and takes them for granted. In short, it is both perceptive and frustrating. Elizabeth Anderson is a professor of philosophy and women’s studies at the University of Michigan and her book seeks to raise the issue of workplace hierarchy and its negative effects. Her book comprises a preface, two essays (“When th... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
May 1st is a day of special significance for the labor movement. While it has been hijacked in the past by the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, the labor movement festival of May Day is a day of world-wide solidarity. A time to remember past struggles and demonstrate our hope for a better future. A day to remember that an injury to one is an injury to all. The history of Mayday is closely linked with the anarchist movement and the struggles of working people for a better world. Indeed, it originated with the execution of four anarchists in Chicago in 1886 for organizing workers in the fight for the eight-hour day. Thus May Day is a product of “anarchy in action” — of the struggle of working p... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Given that anarchist ideas are on the rise (particularly in the “anti-capitalist” movement), it comes as no surprise that the guardians of Leninist dogma seek to discredit anarchism. To do so, they rarely ever attack anarchist ideas as such. Instead, they concentrate on individuals and their personal failings. When that does not suffice, they stoop to distortion, half-truths and even inventions to combat the anarchist menace. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve fact checked Leninist articles and discovered the references provided rarely support the claims made (and, on numerous occasions, say the exact opposite). [1] Which, of course, seems strange: after all, if anarchism was so bad, they would not need to d... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
As discussed in “The Symbols of Anarchy” in An Anarchist FAQ [AK Press, 2008] anarchists at first used the red flag as their symbol of choice, with the Black Flag slowly replacing it over a period of many decades from the 1880s. Both flags, however, had their roots in working class struggle and protest, both were anti-capitalist symbols raised by working class people in revolt against exploitation and oppression. As the person who first raised the Black Flag as an explicitly anarchist symbol in Paris on March 9th 1883, Louise Michel, put it the “black flag is the flag of strikes and the flag of those who are hungry.” (The Red Virgin: Memoirs of Louise Michel [The University of Alabama Press, 1981], p. 168) Giv... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
It goes without saying that the SWP are cock-a-hoop over Galloway being elected to Parliament on the Respect ticket. That he did so only by being parachuted into an East London consistency with a large Muslim community is commented upon less. Sadly, Galloway’s previous constituent’s in Glasgow did not have the chance to pass judgment on their “representative” — for the obvious reason that he would not have won there. As such, any claim that Respect has broken the mold of British left-wing politics are still moot in the extreme. SWP leader Alex Callinicos analysis of the general election betrays the limitations of any victory celebrations. (“The general election was a bitter blow for Blairism”... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Jeremy Sapienza, an “anarcho”-capitalist, wrote an essay on anarcho-syndicalism. This is a reply to it and a critique of his main assumptions and arguments. Sapienza states: “I have been studying left-anarchism for quite a while now, and I’ve been impressed with the strong anti-statism of many of the factions. I have a lot of respect for the voluntary anarcho-socialists, who truly would let everyone do their own thing, form their own communities, as long as they were allowed to create their own and not be disturbed. Their true goal is to destroy the State, and I could hardly condemn them for that.” In other words, he is impressed with actual anarchists! Given that anarchism (what he... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
As in any social movement which is just beginning, the current “anti-globalization” movement is a mixed bag with contradictory ideas. This is to be expected. Only by discussion and activity can those involved clarify and develop their political ideas. Part of this process is, by necessity, a critical evaluation of past social movements and revolutionary ideals. This, again, is natural and positive. Without discussion, without honest and principled debate, any movement with stagnant. Sadly, Louis Proyect’s “A Marxist Critique of Bakunin” is not honest nor principled. Rather, it is little more than a confused (and somewhat hysterical) cobbling together of Marxist prejudices and fallacies. His essay proves ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
After the New Economy, Doug Henwood, The New Press (ISBN 1-56584-770-9), 2003 This is an excellent book and is highly recommended. It cuts through the crap of the hype associated with the excesses of rhetoric produced during the US bubble of the 1990s. It exposes the various claims of the “new economy” to the harsh like to reality, showing that while they were taken dreadfully seriously at the time in the media they reflected little more than wishful thinking. The book is broken into five main sections. Novelty covers whether the “New Economy” was, in fact, that new. As Henwood recounts, capitalism experiences similar hype-fests whenever it goes into an extended boom. Indeed, you know when a crash is co... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Anarchist Past and Other Essays, Nicholas Walter, David Goodway (editor), Five Leaves Publications, 2007 (£9.99) This is an excellent collection of articles by the late Nicholas Walter. As can be gathered by its title, it is about anarchist history and covers (in a roughly chronological order) most of key events and people of anarchism – Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin, the Paris Commune, Kropotkin, the Russian Revolution, Goldman, Bookchin,Ward as well as other, less famous anarchists, like Joseph Lane and Charlotte Wilson. The articles are drawn from many sources, such as Freedom, Anarchy and The Raven. All anarchists will gain something from this collection. His reviews of Paul Avrich’s The Russian Anarchist... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Anarchists of Casas Viejas, Jerome R. Mintz, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1994 This is a wonderful book. For those who do not already know, Casas Viejas was an Andalusian village whose CNT branch rose in revolt in January 1933. Two civil guards were killed in the course of the uprising and, after a few hours, assault guards arrived to retake the village. Using torture, they discovered a family implicated in the uprising and a siege soon occurred at their house, in which one assault guard and eight villagers died (two of whom were gunned down trying to escape the house after the Assault Guards had set it on fire). Most of those involved in the uprising fled the village in the face of these superior forces — includi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This is an excellent, if flawed, little pamphlet. Written by a group of people in the Solidarity Federation, the UK section of the International Workers Association, it is an attempt to explain how a libertarian communist society could work. The aim of such a society is “to guarantee liberty and equality” for all and, unsurprisingly, these principles are at the heart of both their model and their criticism of capitalism. The pamphlet itself is split into three parts. They present a good, if condensed, critique of capitalism, contrasting the “free market” economic ideology used to justify capitalism with its reality. As they note, the modern economy is far from the idyllic picture painted in the economic textbo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Bakunin: The Creative Passion Mark Leier Thomas Dunne Books At last! A biography of Bakunin by someone who knows what they are writing about. I have long despaired at the utter ignorance and lack of commonsense when academics and others have approached anarchism, particularly Bakunin. Whether the product of ignorance or maliciousness, they seem intend on misrepresenting Bakunin’s ideas and life. Leier refutes such accounts and sets the record straight. He does this with flair and knowledge, making his book highly recommended. Informal, yet informed, Leier presents an excellent introduction to the life and ideas of Bakunin. Even the biggest Bakunin fan (and I admit to being one!) will find something new or of inte... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Bloody Brilliant! This pamphlet does a remarkable job in summarizing the basic ideas of Bakunin, the founder of revolutionary anarchism. It covers his analysis of modern class society, the state, bourgeois democracy and Marxism. On every count, Bakunin has been vindicated. This new edition also contains a new section on Bakunin’s views on religion. Moreover, it gives a good account of his ideas on how to create an anarchist society and what that society could look like. Bakunin’s ideas on revolutionary unionism and the role of the anarchist organization are explained extremely well in a short space. It exposes Marxist claims that Bakunin rejected collective class struggle and organization as the nonsense they are. ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd, Alexander Rabinowitch, Indiana University Press, 2007, ISBN: 0-253-34943-5 This is an important book. It describes in great detail the evolution of the Bolshevik regime over the first year of its existence. It recounts how during that time it went from a relatively popular government to, in effect, a party dictatorship (the revisions of the party ideology to incorporate the reality of the regime came shortly after this period). It makes good use of the archives which the fall of Stalinism has made available to scholars across the world. Rabinowitch continues his account of the Revolution started in Prelude to Revolution (about the July Days revolt in 1917) an... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This is the English translation of the principle piece of evidence in an anti-terrorism case in France. Nine people were arrested in 2008, mostly in the village of Tarnac, under the charge of sabotaging overhead electrical lines on the French railways. With only little circumstantial evidence available, the French Interior Minister has associated them with a ultra-left insurrectionary movement and singled out this book as a “manual for terrorism.” It is not that, but is it a manual for revolution? There is something I like to call “Daily-Mail-Land”, in which “political correctness” has gone mad, an Englishman’s castle has been squatted by gay asylum seekers in burkas claiming benefits from &l... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Conscience of a Liberal, Paul Krugman (W.W. Norton & Co., 2007) “economists who continue to consider economic forces alone ... without taking into account the ideology of the State, or the forces that each State necessarily places at the service of the rich ... remain completely outside the realities of the economic and social world.” (Peter Kropotkin[1]) This is both an interesting and a frustrating book. It is interesting because of its evidence on rising inequality in America and its causes as well as the vigorous defense of unions. It is frustrating because its ideological framework ensures that obvious conclusions (at least to an anarchist) are avoided and its suggestions on what to do are so l... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
In science, the validity of a theory is generally proven by its predictive abilities. A theory suggests certain outcomes and if those predictions come to be then it becomes accepted as valid. Strangely, while proclaiming itself “scientific socialism” (something, like so much else, appropriated from Proudhon), Marxists refuse to apply that criteria to the socialist movement. Wisely, for Marxism has simply proven Bakunin’s analysis of it correct. Against Marx, he argued, firstly, that socialists standing for election would produce reformism, not revolution, and, secondly, that the “dictatorship of the proletariat” would be simply a dictatorship over the proletariat. Both came to pass. If the left we... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor of the Social Sciences, Steve Keen, Zed Books (ISBN: 1864030704) To paraphrase Nietzsche, economics is dead we have killed it with our disbelief. To see why, Steve Keen’s excellent book is essential reading (as is his webpage: www.debunkingeconomics.com). It is an important work and recommended for any one interesting in finding out about the limitations of mainstream economics. And what limitations they are! Keen goes into the crazy assumptions, methodology and contradictions of neoclassical economics in some detail, debunking key aspects of the dogma and showing not only when they contradict reality but also when they are logically inconsistent and contradict itself. Keen argues t... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This work, volume 11 of The Collected Works of Peter Kropotkin, is in two parts. The first part is Kropotkin’s classic book “Modern Science and Anarchism.” The second part is concerned with his thoughts on the latest theories and experiments in biology and evolutionary thought. As will become clear, the combining of these two very different works is not as contradictory as it first seems. “Modern Science and Anarchism” is Kropotkin’s attempt to place anarchist theory in the scientific tendencies of 19th Century thought. In doing so, he stresses the importance of the inductive-deductive method, “the method ... of natural sciences,” namely the analysis of everyday society and the basing o... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This is an excellent book, crammed full of useful (and disgusting) “McNuggets” of information on the whole process of producing “fast food.” From the industrialization of farming, to the monopolization of food processing, to the standardization of food consumption throughout whole sections of North America, Schlosser’s book exposes the horrors of modern corporate capitalism. He documents the impact of the rise of fast food on almost all aspects of North America, from farming to health, from working practices to landscape, and beyond. Like the “fast food” economy he dissects, Schlosser’s work is far ranging, covering such notable scum bags as Walt Disney (whose father, ironically, was a ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
How we shall bring about the revolution: Syndicalism and the cooperative commonwealth, Emile Pataud and Emile Pouget, Pluto Press This book was written in 1909 by two leading French revolutionary syndicalists. Originally translated into English and published in 1913 by two British anarchists, it can be considered as representative of the ideas of the then syndicalist French union, the CGT. Successfully applying the ideas of Bakunin and the libertarian wing of the First International, the activism, militancy and ideas of the CGT had inspired many across the globe, including many of those active in our own “syndicalist revolt” of the 1910s. The work itself is a novel in which the two Emile’s present a summary o... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Imagine: A Socialist Vision for the 21st Century, Tommy Sheridan and Alan McCombes, Rebel Inc., £7.99 For the few that do not know, Tommy Sheridan is the Scottish Socialist Party’s leader and sole Member of the Scottish Parliament. He reached public awareness during the poll tax revolt, playing a leading role in the Strathclyde, Scottish and British Anti-Poll Tax Federations. Back then both he and McCombes were leading members of Militant. With the expulsion of that group from Labor, it split and the largest faction subsequently became an independent party. In Scotland, undoubtedly due to their activity against the Poll Tax, they have managed to form a viable, if small, political party which has had some impact in electio... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This is an impressive addition to anarchist history. The reports, debates and motions of the International Anarchist Congress held between August 24th and 31st 1907 are available for the first time in English. This meeting, held in Amsterdam, attracted the leading lights of the international libertarian movement – Errico Malatesta, Emma Goldman, Pierre Ramus, Christiaan Cornelissen and a host of others (Peter Kropotkin being an notable absentee). A long list of subjects was to be discussed: syndicalism, anti-militarism, the 1905 Russian Revolution, organization, co-operatives and much more. Most of this is still relevant and so this book is not just for those interested in anarchist history, it is of interest to modern activists. ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Kronstadt 1917–1921: The Fate of a Soviet Democracy, Israel Getzler, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 0-521-89442-5 Originally published in 1983, this excellent study of revolutionary Kronstadt has been reprinted. While most accounts of Kronstadt tend to concentrate on the 1921 revolt against the Bolshevik dictatorship, Getzler’s book spans the whole period of “red” Kronstadt. Starting in February 1917, he discusses the ups and downs of the revolution. By focusing attention on Kronstadt between March 1917 and July 1918, when actual soviet power and democracy flourished there, he presents important context with which to evaluate the Kronstadter’s “Third Revolution” of March 1921. Getzl... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
On Fire: The Battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement (One-Off Press: ISBN 1 902593 54 5) This is an excellent book. It contains sixteen eye-witness accounts and analyzes of the protests at Genoa earlier this year. All shades of opinion within the libertarian wing of anti-capitalist movement are contained in it and so it is a diverse but always interesting (and at times, moving) account of ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things in difficult circumstances. That is in itself enough to recommend it. These are the accounts of the people who want to make history rather than the interpretations of journalists (mainstream or so-called “revolutionary”) and the specialists in ideology (again, mainstream or “revo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Pluto Press, 1989 (Translated by John Beverly Robinson (1923)) This year marks the 200th anniversary of Proudhon’s birth, the person who first used the word “anarchist” in a positive light. This was in his 1840 book What is Property? so making anarchism as a named socio-economic theory and movement 170 years old next year. While not as famous as he once was, Proudhon was during his lifetime and for sometime after one of the world’s leading socialist thinkers. Kropotkin became a socialist after reading Proudhon, while Bakunin was a friend and proclaimed his anarchism as simply “Proudhonism widely developed and pushed ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Proudhon’s work is a classic for many reasons. Not only did it put a name to a tendency within socialism (“I am an Anarchist”) and raise a battle-cry against inequality (“Property is Theft!”), it also sketched a new, free, society: anarchy. The bulk of the book contains Proudhon’s searing critique of property. This rests on two key concepts. Firstly, property allowed the owner to exploit its user (“property is theft”). Secondly, that property created authoritarian social relationships between the two (“property is despotism”). These are interrelated, as it is the oppression that property creates which ensures exploitation while the appropriation of our common heritage by the... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The rise of fascism in Italy is a subject of interest to anarchists as Mussolini’s rise cannot be detached from the biennio rosso, the two red years of 1919 and 1920. Italy was on the verge of social revolution, reaching a peak with the factory occupations of 1920. Fascism was a response to this, a “preventive counter‑revolution” (to use Luigi Fabbri’s expression). Unfortunately, there are few decent books on this period in English. This made Tom Behan’s “The Resistible Rise of Benito Mussolini’ (Bookmarks, 2003) potentially very important. It claims to be the about the “Arditi del Popolo “ (AdP), the world’s first anti‑fascist movement which, while managing to d... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction Colin Ward Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-280477-4 £6.99 Colin Ward’s new book is an introduction to anarchism, produced as part of the “very short introduction” series of the Oxford University Press. Ward, for anyone who does not know, is one of Britain’s most famous anarchists writers. His work, on numerous subjects, is uniformly excellent and, unsurprisingly, this new book is as good as you would expect. He paints a compelling picture of anarchism as a people’s movement, opposed to both the state and capitalism. He covers the major moments of anarchism’s revolutionary achievement as well as providing a good summary of its major... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Scientific Basis, Albert R. Parsons, University Press of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, ISBN: 1-4102-0496-5 “Hurrah for anarchy!” These were the last words of two of the five anarchists murdered by the state in 1887. They were murdered by the state because of their revolutionary politics, union organizing and their role at the head of the strike movement for the eight hour day which started on May 1st, 1886. The nominal reason for their trial and murder was the bomb explosion which killed one of the policemen sent to break up an anarchist meeting on May 4th. The meeting was protesting the killing of a picket the day before by the police. The real reason for their deaths was their anarc... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Statism and Anarchy is the first complete English translation of the last work by the Russian anarchist Michael Bakunin. Given his influence, it is surprising that this 1873 work was his only book and even this is technically incomplete (referring as it does to a second part which was never written). It aimed to influence Russian populism and the “to the people” movement although most of it is an account of European history in the 19th century. If that were all, there would be little interest in it but Bakunin also prophetically critiques Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat” as nothing more that a dictatorship over the proletariat. Coming after his battles with Marx in the International Working Men&r... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism Lucien Van der Walt and Michael Schmidt AK Press (2009) This is an excellent work. Wide ranging, both in terms of subjects covered and geography. The latter makes a welcome break from most accounts of anarchism which are sadly all-too Eurocentric. The former sees anarchist analysis expanded from the usual subjects of political authority and economic class into gender and imperialism (and national liberation struggles). It covers such perennial issues as anarchist organization (including Platformism), the Spanish Revolution and a host of others. Black Flame gets almost everything right. It concentrates on the mainstream of anarchism, class strugg... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Carlo Tresca is one of those rebel workers whose memory deserves to be honored and Pernicone’s excellent biography does just that. Pernicone’s has previously produced an excellent history of the Italian anarchist movement (“Italian Anarchism: 1864–1892”, Princeton University Press, 1993) and this work is of equal quality and of interest to anarchists. He obviously understands anarchism and writes with sympathy and knowledge about it. Such historians are rare. Tresca was born to a middle-class family in Italy in the 1879. He soon became a socialist and became active in the Italian Railroad Workers’ Federation before emigrating to America at the age of 25. Once there he was elected secretary of the I... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Originally published in 1988 a few years before the crisis in Stalinism, Pat Devine’s model of a planned economy has been republished with a new preface during the crisis in neo-liberalism. He comprehensively discusses capitalist planning, central planning and market socialism before sketching his own economic vision. Obviously inspired by Marx, Devine’s system is at odds with Marx’s comments on social planning – it retains money and so the wages-system (if not wage-labor) with “an incomes policy to render effective the planned allocation of resources according to socially agreed priorities.” (199) Despite his critique of market socialism, it retains markets with Devine squaring that particular cir... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
System of Economic Contradictionsor, The Philosophy of Poverty Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Pierre-Joseph Proudhon made his name with his first Memoir on property, 1840’s “What is Property?” After two more Memoirs in 1841 and 1842, his next major work was 1846’s “System of Economic Contradictions” in which he first used “mutualism” to describe his libertarian socialism (inspired by the workers in Lyons where he stayed in 1843). Only the first volume has been translated into English, although here I cover both. As with later anarchists, Proudhon critiques and rejects the twin evils of capitalism (“monopoly and what follows”) and nationalization (“exploitation by... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice, Rudolf Rocker, AK Press, ISBN: 1902593928 I once gave a copy of this book to a friend to read on his journey home. He was so engrossed by it he missed his stop and had to spend an hour in a small station waiting for the next train to North Wales. Fortunately, he had a good book to read! And what a book it is. This little classic is essential reading for any anarchist or someone interesting in anarchism or anarcho-syndicalism. Written in 1937, at the behest of Emma Goldman, it was an attempt to explain the ideas inspiring the Spanish social revolution and resistance to Franco. In this he succeeded — and little wonder. Rocker was no academic. He was a long standing anarchist milita... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This collection of four essays contains the last works of Murray Bookchin. As such, it is of interest to all greens and radicals. Eirik Eiglad, the editor of the journal “Communalism”, provides an introduction and end piece to the book. Of the four essays, the first three were written when Bookchin was still considered himself an anarchist. The first, “What is Social Ecology?” is a good introduction to Bookchin’s ideas and is useful for those unaware of his important contribution to libertarian ideas and ecological politics. The second and third are okay, although the third does present (I think) a psychological clue of why he broke with anarchism. The second essay (“Radical Politics in an E... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The CNT in the Spanish Revolution: Volume 1, Jose Peirats, The Meltzer Press The Meltzer Press should be congratulated on producing Peirats classic history of the CNT. It is a wonderful book and a vital resource on the history and politics of the CNT. While its cost may put people off buying it, all I can say is that it is worth the money. It is a goldmine of useful information and facts, presenting an honest and comprehensive account of the CNT from its founding in 1911 to approximately the end of 1937. In this classic work you will find in full the CNT’s concept of libertarian communism as agreed at its congress in May, 1936. It is a truly beautiful document and, regardless of the claims of Liberal and Marxist historia... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Spanish Civil War, Antony Beevor Originally published in 1982, this work has obviously been re-published to take advantage of the success of Antony Beevor’s later work Stalingrad. It is a good thing that it was. Beevor has produced an exceedingly good, if short, work on the Spanish Civil War. Unsurprisingly, his account is primarily a military history, but do not let that put you off — he clearly understands the role of the revolution in Spain and how it impacted on the course and nature of the war (and in the conflicts in the Republican side). Beevor attempts to analysis the Spanish Civil War from three angles: class interest, centralism versus regionalism and authoritarian rule versus libertarian instinct. Un... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
We, the Anarchists: A Study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927–1937, Stuart Christie, The Meltzer Press This is an important book. Christie has done a great service in producing this study of the FAI. One of the most famous and most misrepresented anarchist organizations of all time, this book is essential for refuting these misrepresentations and for understanding the successes and failure of revolutionary anarchism in Spain during the 1930s. The main aspect of this work is its demolition of what can be called the “bullying militant” analysis of the FAI and its influence in the CNT. Basically, so this myth goes, the FAI (usually a “highly centralized and secret” FAI at that) managed t... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
What is Anarchism? Alexander Berkman, AK Press Alexander Berkman’s “What is Anarchism?” is simply one of the best introductions to the ideas of what is often called class struggle anarchism (or communist anarchism, as it was called in 1927 when the book was originally written). Berkman had been an active anarchist militant in America for over 25 years and this book summarizes the ideas and ideals which drove that activism. Drawing upon his experiences in the labor and unemployed movements as well as his time in revolutionary Russia, Berkman’s book is an excellent and very readable account of the basics of anarchism. Despite being nearly 80 years old, his work is remarkably undated. His account of the in... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Undoubtedly, Bakunin is one of the key anarchist thinkers and activists of the 19th century. Building upon the federalist and libertarian socialist ideas of his friend Pierre-Joseph Proudhon as well as those in the European labor movement, Bakunin shaped anarchism into its modern form. His revolutionary, class struggle based anarchism soon became the dominant form of anarchism in the First International. He combated the state socialism of Marx and Engels and laid the foundations for both communist-anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism. His predictions about Marxism have been confirmed and his critique of capitalism, the state and religion as just as valid as when they were first expounded. Both the Russian and Spanish revolutions have co... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This is a very interesting and useful work. It takes you back to when Lenin and Trotsky were unknown and how this changed as the British left tried to understand developments in the Russian Revolution. Inspired by C.B. Macpherson's claim that the USSR while not a democratic system of government could be viewed as representing a "Non-Liberal Democracy" as it aimed to eliminate classes, Ian Bullock's book utilizes an impressive array of primary sources to show "the myth of soviet democracy in the early appeal of the Russian Revolution." (5) As such, it should be of interest for libertarian socialists as well as scholars, particularly as it is full of interesting facts: for example, the Scottish section of the Independent Labor Party (ILP) vot... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The laissez-faire ideological defenders of capitalism are very forthright in their support for “privatization.” Many of these are also keen to argue that Hitler was a left-winger. Rather than look at the business backers and role of the Nazi regime as provider of serfs to said capitalists, they simply note that “Nazi” stood for “National Socialist.” Such are the intellectual times we live in. Given this, it comes as a surprise that a recent issue of the “Journal of Economic Perspectives” shows how the first use of the term “privatization” was by the Nazi regime rather than, as previously, thought by Peter Drucker. According to Germa Bel, the term seems to have been first int... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Since the 1970s, capitalist economic policy has been rooted in “fighting inflation,” an euphemism for “crushing the workers.” This policy is rooted in the notion of the “Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment” (or NAIRU) and, like most of the silly and/or nasty ideas in modern economics, has its roots in the works of Milton Friedman. It is this dogma which drove Brown’s decision to make the Bank of England “independent” of political control back in 1997 and so allow it to meet inflation targets by any means it sees fit. How turning policy decisions on the economy over to unelected and unaccountable technocrats based on a specific (right-wing) interpretation of how inflati... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Since the 1970s, capitalist economic policy has been rooted in “fighting inflation,” an euphemism for “crushing the workers.” This policy is rooted in the notion of the “Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment” (or NAIRU) and, like most of the silly and/or nasty ideas in modern economics, has its roots in the works of the late and unlamented Milton Friedman. The NAIRU is based on the idea that there is some rate of unemployment below which inflation starts to rise. The problem is, it is invisible. There is no way of determining what that rate is beyond looking at what actually happens to the inflation rate. So the economic policy across much of the world is based on a group of technocrats t... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Surprise! Austerity is kicking in and, as predicted, the economy is continuing its downward trend. If anything, the speed is increasing with growth in 2010 falling from 1.2% in the second quarter, to 0.8% in the third quarter until, finally, negative 0.5% in the last quarter. Rest assured, though, there is a culprit at hand to explain the last set-back. To paraphrase Michael Jackson: “don’t blame it on the banks, “don’t blame it on the dogma, “don’t blame it on the cuts, “blame it on the weather!” Needless to say, “the experts” in the City were both “surprised” and “shocked” by the announcement. The markets had been expectin... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Strange Case of Tory Anarchism, Peter Wilkin, Libri Publishing What have we done to deserve this? Really, what is it about anarchism which makes non-anarchists think they can appropriate our names and attach it to the ideologies and systems anarchism developed in protest against? Thus we have an oxymoron like “anarcho-capitalism” inflicted upon us, despite anarchism’s well-known socialist credentials. Now Peter Wilkin has produced a book on “Tory Anarchism.” All that really needs to be said of this book is quote Wilkin himself: “It needs to be stressed that Tory anarchists are not anarchists in the traditional sense of the term” (32) So why call them anarchists? After all, George O... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
“The atmosphere then, the feelings were very special. It was beautiful. A feeling of — how shall I say it — of power, not in the sense of domination, but in the sense of things being under our control, of under anyone’s. Of possibility. We had everything. We had Barcelona: It was ours. You’d walk out in the streets, and they were ours — here, CNT; there, comite this or that. It was totally different. Full of possibility. A feeling that we could, together, really do something. That we could make things different.” Anarchist militant Enriqueta Rovira [1] The 19th of July, 2006, marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the Spanish Revolution. On this day in 1936, the people of Spain took ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Why is the Spanish Revolution important? Why should it be remembered today? Noam Chomsky summarizes why: “over most of Republican Spain there was a quite inspiring anarchist revolution that involved both industry and agriculture over substantial areas [...] by both human measures and indeed anyone’s economic measures, quite successful […] production continued effectively; workers in farms and factories proved quite capable of managing their affairs without coercion from above, contrary to what lots of socialists, communists, liberals and others wanted to believe.” This wide-ranging and inspiring social revolution – even today often ignored in histories of the Spanish Civil War – did... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Author’s Note: This is almost my chapter in the anthology Bloodstained: One Hundred Years of Leninist Counterrrevolution (Oakland/Edinburgh: AK Press, 2017). Some revisions were made during the editing process which are not included here. In addition, references to the 1913 French edition of Kropotkin’s Modern Science and Anarchy have been replaced with those from the 2018 English-language translation. However, the bulk of the text is the same, as is the message and its call to learn from history rather than repeat it. I would, of course, urge you to buy the book. There were three Revolutions in 1917 – the February revolution which started spontaneously with strikes on International Women’s Day; the October r... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
What a bloody insane way to organize an economy. What other conclusion can be drawn from the panic that is sweeping the financial markets? Starting with problems in the US housing market, the credit crunch has spread across the world. A mere six months ago the chairman of the US Federal Reserve asserted that “the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the sub-prime market seems likely to be contained.” The investors in the stock markets have confirmed that he was wrong. Fears of panic are in the air. The bubble so many denied has burst. In America, for example, the Washington Post‘s main source on the housing market in its bubble years was David Lereah, the chief economist with the Na... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
These are two letters and part of a leaflet related to an article in the SWP’s Socialist Review by Pat Stack on anarchism. This article (imaginatively entitled “Anarchy in the UK?”) was an attempt to rubbish anarchism in the eyes of the “anti-globalization” movement at the time (around 2000). It had to be the worse article on anarchism I had seen (and there is stiff competition for that honor, usually from the SWP!). The first letter was published in an edited form. That produced a reply from an SWP and I sent in the second letter, which was not published (no reason was given). I also used Pat Stack’s article in a leaflet handed out at one of the SWP’s Marxism events. In it I contrasted what ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Instead of trying to squeeze Marxism into syndicalism, it would be better to ask why so many “Marxists” rejected the legacy of Marx and embraced positions (revolutionary unionism, primacy of economic struggle, the general strike, unions as the structure of a socialist society, etc.) which were expounded by Bakunin and attacked by the founders of their ideology. Looking at what the syndicalists themselves said, the ideas of Bakunin and what Marx and Engels advocated, it quickly becomes apparently that Marxism was not one of the “core ideological elements” of syndicalism. In reality, syndicalism was simply, as so many syndicalists and others stressed, a new name for the ideas raised in the IWMA and for which Bakunin wa... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Technology has an obvious effect on individual freedom, in some ways increasing it, in others restricting it. However, since capitalism is a social system based on inequalities of power, it is a truism that technology will reflect those inequalities, as it does not develop in a social vacuum. No technology evolves and spreads unless there are people who benefit from it and have sufficient means to disseminate it. In a capitalist society, technologies useful to the rich and powerful are generally the ones that spread. This can be seen from capitalist industry, where technology has been implemented specifically to deskill the worker, so replacing the skilled, valued craftperson with the easily trained (and eliminated!) “mass work... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
When I saw the headline on the front page of the Mail on Sunday that Thatcher could be having a state funeral, I was quite disgusted. That this story was published with the consent of No 10, it simply reinforced the obvious fact that New Labor really is the child of Thatcherism – and how bankrupt it is. However, when I thought about it I started to think that in a way it would be a fitting testimony of a bankrupt ideology which has failed, and failed big time. After all, as a firm advocate of privatization and “market forces” the fact that her funeral is to be nationalized is a shocking insult to her political legacy and memory. Surely, it should be privatized? Shares sold to raise funs for a private event, with private in... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The current period is marked by an increase in workers’ anger and action. Trade unions have started to reassert themselves. Strikes, while increasing, are nowhere near the levels of 20 and 30 years ago. However, it is still early days. What happens next depends on what direction trade union militants decide to take. Currently, the various parties of the left, led by the SWP in England/Wales and the SSP in Scotland, are trying to get the more militant unions to break their financial links to New Labor. Anarchists cannot help but agree. Why fund your oppressors? Yet while agreeing on this, we radically object to the suggestion that unions should tie themselves to a new, “more leftwing,” party. To do so will simply rep... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Considering the attempts by the SWP to monopolize and colonize the anti-globalization movement, I thought that it would be useful to attend Marxism 2001. After all, given the events of the past few years (J18, Seattle, May Day, etc.) I thought that it may draw some real people rather than a bunch of party hacks. Armed with two leaflets and some copies of Black Flag and Freedom, I headed off to the event. Day One My first political discussion (if you can call it that) was with a Spartacus League member outside the registration building. I was handing out a leaflet (on why Leninism is most definitely not “Socialism from Below”) when she asked me what kind of anarchist I was and whether I thought that revolt by “dis... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
George Osborne, the Tory shadow chancellor, decided to show how much the Conservatives respect the intellect of the people. In “A blueprint for fairness” (The Guardian, 20/08/08) he asserts his party are now “developing a policy agenda that delivers fairness and social justice”! It is hard not to laugh. He proclaims that it is shocking that “the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor now at its widest since the Victorian era” and that “there is nothing progressive about growing inequality, falling mobility and rising poverty.” Which is true, but what he failed to mention (never mind address) is that is precisely what happened under Thatcher and Major. So the real reason for Britai... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Big Ideas That Changed the World: Democracy, Tony Benn, Channel 5, 21st June 2005 Channel Five has produced a series of programs on “Big Ideas that changed the world.” Tony Benn presented the one of “democracy.” As would be expected, Benn came across well. The program was interesting and, rightly, did not dwell purely on political democracy. He rightly noted that democracy means “people power” (democracy comes from the Greek for “strength of the people” rather than demarchy which would be “rule by the people”). As such, he rightly broadened his discussion to bring in the trade unions and other popular movements rather dwell on elections, “majority rule” and other... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Voltairine De Cleyre Reader, A. J. Brigati (Editor), AK Distribution (ISBN: 1902593871), £10.00 Gates of Freedom: Voltairine De Cleyre and the Revolution of the Mind, Eugenia C. Delamotte, University of Michigan Press (ISBN: 0472098675), £17.95 Exquisite Rebel: The Essays of Voltairine De Cleyre – Anarchist, Feminist, Genius, Sharon Presley and Crispin Sartwell (Editors), State University of New York Press (ISBN: 0791460940), £15.50 Typical. The anarchist movement waits nine decades for a book of Voltairine De Cleyre’s writings to appear and three turn up at once! Was it worth the wait? Yes, most definitely. In her short life, Voltairine de Cleyre distinguished herself as a leadi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
As to be expected, the Weekly Worker used the events in Genoa as yet another opportunity to attack anarchism and anarchists. Sadly for them, the various articles in issue no. 394 present not only a distorted account of anarchism but also what anarchists did at Genoa. The basic flaw in their argument and analysis is simple. They equate the Black Block with all anarchists. Indeed, such inaccuracy is to be expected as they also equate “Ya Basta!” with anarchism even though they are not anarchists. But facts are clearly the last thing the Weekly Worker cares about. For example, Sarah McDonald stated that “the anarchists did not want to march with anyone,” so ignoring the majority of anarchists who did march... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Daily Mail (27th July 2009) got itself into a little bit of a frenzy recently when it reported that David Cameron suggested that “the better-off must share the pain of repairing public finances” and so “tax credits for households on £50,000 a year or more could no longer be justified.” This would mean 130,000 families losing an average £500 a year. Cameron is quoted as saying that “we’ve got to be able to demonstrate to people that this is fair and seen to be fair and that everyone is putting their shoulder to the wheel” and “that means the wealthy have to pay their fair share.” This was presented as a “tax raid” on the middle classes by the Mail, as &l... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The SWP are at it again. Obviously trying to recruit from the anti-globalization movement, they yet again try to rubbish anarchism. Since libertarian ideas are perceived to be dominant in that movement, what better why to try and gain a foothold than attacking those ideas? Sadly for the SWP, they cannot do that accuracy or honesty. Nor can they do so with showing the bankruptcy of their own ideology. In Socialist Worker (12 May 2001) Kevin Ovenden produced an article claiming to be about Bakunin entitled “Anarchist founder.” The article is so flawed that the only charitable thing that can be said of it is that at least it gets the dates right. Ovenden argues that Bakunin, in the process of taking part in workers&rs... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Jonathan Aves, Tauris Academic Studies, I.B. Tauris Publishers Published in 1996 by an academic publishers, Aves book is essential reading for anyone interested in the outcome of the Russian Revolution. For decades Trotskyists have been arguing that the Russian working class had been decimated during the Civil War period and was incapable of collective decision making and organization, so necessitating Bolshevik Party dictatorship over them. Workers Against Lenin provides extensive evidence to refute those claims. In his work Aves provides an extremely well researched and readable account of labor protests during the period of 1920 to 1922. Rather than a working class which, according to many Trotskyists “did not exist,&... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
As part of our agitation in the student protests, anarchists have raised the necessity of direct action such as occupations. This has a wider application than students and anarchists have long argued that as part of any social revolution workers would need to occupy their workplaces. In this, we are part of a long and glorious tradition of militant workers struggle. This can be seen from a recent SWP book on this subject imaginatively entitled Occupy! The book starts with the September 1920 Italian Occupations and, unsurprisingly, it forgets to mention that it was the Italian anarcho-syndicalists and anarchists (like Armando Borghi and Errico Malatesta) who suggested the tactic to begin with in March of that year (see section A.5.5 o... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The “free market” capitalist argument is that unemployment is caused by the real wage of labor being higher than the market clearing level. The basic argument is that the market for labor is like any other market and as the price of a commodity increases, the demand for it falls. In terms of labor, high prices (wages) causes lower demand (unemployment). Workers, it is claimed, are more interested in money wages than real wages (which is the amount of goods they can buy with their money wages). This leads them to resist wage cuts even when prices are falling, leading to a rise in their real wages and so they price themselves out of work without realizing it. From this analysis comes the argument that if workers were allowe... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)


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February 2, 2021; 4:42:20 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
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