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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.)
Deric Shannon, Anthony Nocella II, John Asimakopoulos November 16, 2011 Over the last couple of months we’ve finished this book while watching a new global phenomenon evolve. Occupation isn’t typically referred to as a movement, but a tactic. Yet people have begun referring to the “Occupy Movement”—a movement whose primary concerns are the inequalities that are endemic to capitalist society. That is, there has never been a historical moment under capitalism that has not been typified by the wealthy largely owning and operating the world at the expense of the rest of us and this series of attempts at taking (and keeping for periods of time) public space seem aimed against exactly those organizing p... (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.)
[1] All quotations in this introduction are taken from the authors’ essays in this anthology. [2] It is believed that Bukharin here refers to more than just Russian anarchism and Russian anarchists. In his pamphlet he makes no distinction and speaks in a global sense. On the other hand, Russian anarchists have the same ideas and programs as anarchists in other countries. [3] See The ABC of Communism by Bukharin and Preobrazhensky, Editorial Avanti!, Milan, p. 85. [4] See Marx: “The Alliance of Socialist Democracy and the International Working Men’s Association” in Works of Marx, Engels and Lasalle edited by Avanti!, Milan, vol. 2. (English translation from Marx-EngelsLenin, Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndic... (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.)

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