During this wretched election season of 2016, I have been looking for a nonacademic and readable book which gives a reasonable explanation of the current political situation. Thomas Frank is a left-liberal—he describes himself as “a person of vivid pink sentiments.” (29) In this book, however, he does not provide another report of the horrors of the right-wing movement which has culminated in the crazed, ignorant, candidacy of Donald J. Trump (which he had previously written). Instead, in this work he focuses on the weaknesses of the Democratic Party. “Our current situation represents a failure of the Democratic Party as well.” (8) He was the author of the popular book What’s the Matter with Kansas? which... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) There is a 2011 documentary (directed by Jonathan Lee) titled, “Paul Goodman Changed My Life.” This was true for me and many others in the “sixties.” Paul Goodman (1911-1972) was the most well-known anarchist of the period (much better known at the time than was Murray Bookchin). He was widely influential in the student and anti-war movements. His books were extensively read. After his death, George Woodcock, the historian of anarchism, called him possibly “the only truly seminal libertarian thinker in our generation.” (quoted by editor in Goodman 2010; 13)
From my current perspective of revolutionary anarchism, I have come to see limitations and flaws in his views. But there remains a great deal of valu... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The Platypus Society is having a panel on “Marxism and Anarchism,” 3/17, in Chicago. It prepared a list of questions on the topic. These are my responses to the questions, in preparation for the discussion.
Announcement of Event
The Platypus Society is having a panel discussion in Chicago on “Radical Ideology Today: Marxism and Anarchism.” It will be at 7 pm on the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), room TBA, March 17, 2014, a Monday. This is part of a number of discussions on this topic which they are sponsoring in several cities (including NYC). At this point in time, I was told, they have invited Peter Hudis, of the Marxist-Humanist Institute, someone from the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party, a loca... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) A key question for any political theory is its conception of the state. This includes the view of the state by the trend calling itself “post-anarchism.” This name does not refer to being “after” or “beyond” anarchism. Mainly it refers to attempted integrations of anarchism with the philosophical views of post-structuralism and postmodernism, as developed by certain French philosophers (May 1994; Russell & Evren 2011). According to Ruth Kinna,“Anarchism’s third, post-anarchist, wave [is] usually dated to the rise of the alter-globalization movement in the late 1990s….” (Kinna 2017; 25) It was not so much a change in organizing strategies as a new theoretical approach. “P... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) “Just as the economists are the scientific representatives of the bourgeois class, so the socialists and communists are the theoreticians of the proletarian class.” --Karl Marx (1847/1935; p.106)
Paul Krugman is one of the most popular writers on economics in the U.S. He has the credentials of being a professor of economics at Princeton University and of having received the 2008 “Nobel Prize in Economics.” He has the national platform of a twice weekly column on the “op-ed” page of the New York Times. He has written a series of popular books as well as a textbook and maintains a blog. The book under review displays his felicity with language, his wit and humor, and a clarity which is remarkable for a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The explosion of rage and sorrow across the cities and towns of the United States is about more than the police murder of George Floyd. It is about the series of Black and Brown people murdered by cops recently and going back to the days of slavery. It is about men and women assaulted by armed police or vigilantes as they sat in their homes, walked or jogged on the street, drove their cars, birdwatched, stood in their building’s vestibule, shopped, or hung around at a street corner. It is both about completely innocent and respectable citizens or people who had committed very minor "crimes" (George Floyd was accused of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit bill) for which they got the death penalty. It is about millions of young men in... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Author’s Note: While I personally do not belive in God, I am against any “militant atheist” anti-religious campaigns. It is our practical political opinions which are important on whether anarchists can work together (abortion, GLBT liberation, sex, pacifism), not our views on God.
So long as there are states, we raise the old bourgeois-democratic demand of “separation of church and state.” The church is free to say anything it wishes about abortion rights and to try to persuade its followers. But it must not be able to impose its views by the power of the police and the courts. Separation of church and state also means that there must be no government-imposed atheism as under the so-called Communist states.
... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The Standing Rock Sioux in the U.S. have been fighting against the construction of a major gas pipeline which would threaten their water supply and violate their sacred sites. They have organized popular direct action against the construction company and the state and inspired people throughout the country and the world.
For months, thousands of Native Americans and others have attempted to stop the construction of a monster gas pipeline. They have filed legal claims and lobbied politicians, but what has been especially impressive has been the attempted blockade of construction. Throughout the world, indigenous peoples have played an important role in fighting pipelines, oil drilling, fracking, and the overall destruction of the environmen... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Anarchism vs. Trotskyism
An ISOer describes why he went from being an anarchist to being a Trotskyist. He expands on his experiences to make general criticisms of anarchism. I explain why his views are mistaken.
Recently a prominent member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) of the US published a criticism of anarchism in the ISO’s newpaper, the Socialist Worker (D’Amato, 2009). It was particularly interesting because it was based on his own life experience.
(The ISO is in the wing of Trotskyism which rejects Trotsky’s theory that the Soviet Union under Stalin remained a “degenerated workers’ state.” Instead the ISO regarded the USSR, more-or-less correctly, as “state capit... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) A response to Crimethinc's statement, "Why We Don't Make Demands." Wayne argues that revolutionary anarchists should propose to movements which they are part of to raise militant, radical, demands. Done in dialogue with the people, it moves the struggle forward and challenges the state and the capitalist class.
Recently Crimethinc (the “Ex-Workers’ Collective”) published a statement, “Why We Don’t Make Demands.” (Crimethinc 2015) I had previously written an article, “Should Anarchists Raise a Program of Demands?” (my answer being “yes”). (Price 2015) So it seems appropriate for me to respond to Crimethinc’s article, which is a serious presentation by anarchist revolution... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Editors’ Note: The following article responds to Gustavo Rodriguez’s “Leninism Without Lenin” / “Aproximaciones al Leninismo sin Lenin” in Utopian #7, which may be found on our website, www.utopianmag.com.
In reading Gustavo’s article, “Leninism Without Lenin,” I find it hard to get a handle on where he is going. Gustavo alludes to a number of real questions concerning Platformism/Specificism. In particular, he appears to regard it as equivalent to Leninism, i.e., the idea that a centralist party, the members of which consider themselves to be the vanguard of the working class and operating under laws of history, has as its self-appointed mission the supposed liberation of humanity whil... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness [mercy], and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah (Quoted frequently by Rev. Barber)
The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber became nationally known in 2013 for his role in organizing massive demonstrations of African-American and white working class and poor people in North Carolina. “Tens of thousands of people came for thirteen consecutive Moral Mondays” to rally at the statehouse. “By the end of the legislative session, nearly a thousand people had been arrested in the largest wave of mass civil disobedience since the lunch counter sit-ins of 1960.” (x)
Now he is the co-chair of the effort to re-build Dr. King’s Poor People&... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The anarchist writer and anthropology professor, David Graeber, has written a number of thick volumes. This is a smaller work, a collection of essays written between 2004 and 2010. They have, Graeber assures us, a “unifying theme.” They focus on questions of strategy for the global justice movement, including “revolution”, what Graeber means by the term, and what he thinks about it. In my opinion, this book, like his other writings, combines intelligent insights with muddled thinking and a non-revolutionary perspective (see Price, 2007; 2012).
Graeber’s main concern is that movement activists seem to be discouraged by the failures and limitations of the various struggles against the states and the corporations... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation lasted from 1989 to 1998. It was a long-lasting and serious effort to form a North American revolutionary anarchist federation. It would certainly be very useful to have a selection of the wide range of writings produced by the Federation, from its newspaper (also called Love & Rage) and its internal bulletins, together with a solid and informative introduction. This is not that book. Instead, it is a short volume with a highly personal selection of written work, reflecting the current politics of the editor.
The editor does not choose to select writings on many aspects of the period in which Love and Rage existed. Anti-patriarchal struggles, for example. Struggles of African-America... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) In “An Anarchist FAQ,” Iain McKay writes, “…anarchists have, traditionally, been weak on…economics (which is ironic, as Proudhon made his name by his economic critiques)” (2008; p. 13). This is why David Graeber, the anarchist anthropologist, deserves praise for writing a major work on political economy. He has written, he says, a “book [on] the history of money, debt, and credit” (2011; p. 212). “My own aims are…to understand the moral grounds of economic life, and by extension, human life…” (p. 89). The book was influenced by the Great Recession of 2008 and following, which should have been “…the beginning of an actual public conversation about the na... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) To understand the importance of this work, it is necessary to put it in some context. In the United States, there are two major parties, one of which completely denies the reality of climate change, and therefore the need to do anything about it. (The other party officially recognizes the reality of climate change, but denies the need to do anything drastic; it does little to change anything.) The historian Timothy Snyder comments, “…The United States…is the only country where climate science is still resisted by certain political and business elites. These deniers tend to present the empirical findings of scientists as a conspiracy….The full consequences of climate change may reach America only decades after warm... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Books about the worldwide capitalist crisis have been rolling off the presses and pouring into bookstores. They cover the political range from conservative to liberal, and somewhat further left. So it is worthwhile to review a book on the topic by radicals from the Marxist tradition of the Monthly Review magazine. The authors (Foster is the current editor of MR) root their theorizing in the 1966 work, Monopoly Capital by Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, from 1966. The Great Financial Crisis is composed of essays written for MR over two years, just before and during the full crisis in Fall 2008, sandwiched between two new essays. The book is short (156 pages) and, for a book on economics, clearly and nontechnically written.
The authors raise key... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) In the United States there has been recently a rise of interest in “socialism,” especially among young adults (“millennials”). Different political views have reacted to this rise in various ways. Conservatives are appalled (“Have we forgotten the lessons of the Cold War?”). The leadership of the Democratic Party (the moderate center) is disturbed (“We’re for capitalism, after all!”) The liberal-left is pleased, so long as “socialism” is interpreted to mean liberal-left politics—not taking away the wealth of the capitalists and creating a democratic, nonprofit, economy.
Anarchists also have various responses. Some hope to create a libertarian (anti-authoritarian) social... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Errico Malatesta (1853—1932) was a younger comrade and friend of Michael Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin, who were among the “founders” of revolutionary anarchism. He may be seen as continuing their theory and practice where they left off—after Bakunin died and after Kropotkin betrayed anarchist principles to support the imperialist Allies in World War I. He was of a generation which included significant anarchist figures, including Emma Goldman, Luigi Fabbri, Pierre Monatte, and Nester Makhno, among others. Living through World War I, the Russian revolution, and the rise of fascism, he made important contributions—which remain valuable for anarchists today. These were expressed in his direct, plain-spoken, style, ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The Utopian Vision
Anarchism is the end of all forms of domination, hierarchy, and oppression. It opposes capitalism, white supremacy, male supremacy, homophobia, imperialism, militarism, environmental destruction, and so on. Anarchism is the most extreme form of democracy, freedom, and self-management, applied throughout society. Time and again, revolutions have resulted in popular assemblies, neighborhood gatherings, workplace committees, etc. These have sent elected individuals to associated councils, individuals who were immediately recallable and controllable by the grassroots assemblies. These decentralized assemblies expressed the need of human beings for face-to-face association, going back to the small “tribes” and v... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Marvin Mandell, coeditor of New Politics, has written a review of my book, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives. He described it as “well considered, well researched, and well written,” and says, “Price has given us much to chew on.” He concluded, “Marxists and anarchists can learn from each other, and, in fact, need each other.” I agree with this thought, and regard Mandell as a fellow believer in socialism-from-below. But limitations of space cause me to focus on our differences.
What is the State?
In my book, I define the state as a socially-alienated bureaucratic-military machine, with specialized layers of officials, police, and soldiers, which stands over and against th... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The BRING THE RUCKUS (BTR) position paper proposes that the “priority” of its organization be the destruction of white supremacy. This is supposedly based on a “strategic argument.” It points out that white people have “special privileges... such as preferred access to the best schools, neighborhoods, jobs, and health care...and better treatment by the police,” among other advantages. This leads to white workers “agree[ing] to police the rest of the population,” and to politically “unit[ing]” with the ruling class against the rest of the working class. Unlike many, the Ruckusites do not deny the strategic importance of the working class, as the social force capable of stopping and ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Max Stirner was the pen name of Johann Kasper Schmidt (1806–56). He was part of a milieu of young philosophers who sought to develop further the philosophy of the great German thinker Georg W. F. Hegel, who had died in 1831. This milieu has been referred to as the Young Hegelians or Left Hegelians. While Hegel’s system had solidified into a reactionary form, they mainly tried to rework it in more humanistic, naturalistic, and democratic directions. The most well-known of these young men today (there were women in the grouping, but their names have dropped out of history) are Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. (Engels had been a personal friend of Stirner’s for a time.) Michael Bakunin—later a founder of revolutionary so... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) This essay is slightly expanded from one which was rejected by a US anarchist magazine for political reasons. It deals with a disagreement among activists: Should we propose that the movement raise a program of demands? I think that anarchists should, but with a more libertarian-democratic version than the liberals and state socialists. The essay is followed by a response to the political points raised by the editors of the anarchist journal.
During the height of the Occupy Wall Street encampments, a dispute broke out among activists. Various liberals and state socialists advocated that the movement raise a program, a set of demands on the capitalist class and the state. This approach was opposed by a number of anarchists. Given the ec... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) There are a number of radicals who reject the “two-party system”. These are socialists (of various sorts) and left-liberals who do not accept the anarchist goal of abolition of the state as well as capitalism. But the Leftists I am writing about agree with anarchists that it is a mistake to support the Democratic Party and its politicians and its organization (the modern Republican Party is not an attraction for Leftists). They agree that the Democrats, like the Republicans, are agents of the big business owners; that the Democrats support capitalism as a system; that they support the imperialism and war-making of the national state as it is; that, while the Democrats play lip service to the danger of climate change, they actual... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The quotation at the right is from the beginning of “The Two Souls of Socialism,” by Hal Draper (1992), published as a pamphlet in 1966. Draper’s editor notes, “Its political impact on a generation of socialists in the United States and Great Britain has been considerable.” (Haberkern, 1992, p. xvii) It influenced that wing of Trotskyism which rejected Trotsky’s belief that the Soviet Union under Stalin (and after) was some sort of “workers’ state.” Instead, these semi-Trotskyists held (correctly) that the U.S.S.R. had developed a bureaucratic ruling class which collectively exploited the workers.
Draper’s pamphlet was rewritten as the first half of a work by David McNally, &ldquo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) At a March conference of the U.S.—Northeastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists (US-NEFAC), we discussed a document some of us had written. It covered the current economic crisis and the likely prospects for the coming period. No one claimed to know for sure what the immediate future would bring—would the Great Recession be over soon or would recovery collapse into a new crisis? When will there be a new working class upsurge? But we expect that the overall economic direction will be downhill, despite short-term ups and downs; that there would be no return to the relative prosperity of the 50s or even the 90s; that there is a likelihood of a second Great Depression, worse than the 30s; that ecological and environmental decay wi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) This book brings together a set of analyzes of popular struggles in a number of countries—as its subtitle indicates. It is written by a someone within “the libertarian or left communist milieu” of Marxism (43), although he expresses a friendly attitude toward anarchism. Overall it has a conclusion, a rejection of “a methodology repeated again and again whereby different variants of the far-left set themselves up as the cheering section and often minor adjuncts to ‘progressive’ movements and governments strictly committed to the restructuring (or creation) of a nation-state adequate to…world capitalism. This methodology involves imagining…a healthy ‘left’ wing of a bourgeois or na... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) In 1985, I participated in a “dialogue” between the unorthodox-Trotskyist organization I was then a member of and an anarcho-syndicalist organization. The topic was “Where do anarchists and Marxists differ, and can we learn from each other?” From my current perspective as a revolutionary anarchist, I now believe that much of what I then said was wrong.
By the mid ‘fifties, the radical organization I was a member of—the Revolutionary Socialist League—no longer felt comfortable describing itself as Trotskyist or Leninist. We had held a libertarian-democratic-proletarian interpretation of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky. Almost all the other Marxists interpreted them as authoritarian and statist (and were fo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Theses, October 2000, and Discussion
These “theses” were written in October, 2000, shortly after the beginning of the new Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, and were posted on The Utopian website. Along with the theses, we are reprinting a comment by Wayne Price and my response, which were also posted on the site.
Since the theses were written, a good deal has changed. Hundreds more have died. The Barak government in Israel was voted out and a coalition headed by Ariel Sharon took office—strengthening what I see as Sharon’s strategy of blocking agreement on the establishment of a truncated Palestinian state. The Bush Administration in the U.S. backed Israeli positions somewhat more than the Clinton Administration... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)