[Analysis in translation] Lucien van der Walt, 2004,”‘Sifuna Zonke!’ (‘Nous voulons tout!’): une histoire de syndicalisme révolutionnaire en Afrique du Sud”

Lucien van der Walt, 2004, “‘Sifuna Zonke!’ (‘Nous voulons tout!’): une histoire de syndicalisme révolutionnaire en Afrique du Sud,” Afrique XXI, no. 3

Le syndicalisme révolutionnaire a joué un rôle central, aujourd’hui en grande partie oublié, dans le mouvement ouvrier sud-africain des débuts du vingtième-siècle. Dans les années 1920 notamment, les Industrial Workers of Africa s’illustrèrent dans la lutte contre le capitalisme racial, pour l’organisation et la défense des droits des travailleurs de couleur, Africains, Indiens ou métis. Coup de projecteur. Johannesburg, Afrique du Sud, mai 1918. Un groupe d’ouvriers africains et une poignée de radicaux blancs se rassemblent dans une petite salle derrière une épicerie générale sur le coin des rues Fox et McLaren, comme ils le font chaque semaine depuis plus d’une année. Plusieurs nouveaux visages sont présents, dont Rueben Cetiwe qui exprime le but de la réunion : « Nous sommes ici pour l’Organisation, dès que tous nos camarades ouvriers seront organisés, nous pourrons voir ce qu’il est possible de faire pour abolir le système capitaliste. Nous sommes ici pour le salut des travailleurs. Nous sommes ici pour nous organiser et combattre pour nos droits ».

C’est une réunion des Industrial Workers of Africa (IWA). Un syndicat qui a pour objectif d’organiser les travailleurs quelle que soient leurs origines et leur couleur de peau, notamment les ouvriers noirs,

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[ANALYSIS] + PDF: Lucien van der Walt, 1996, “Swazi Unions Demand Democracy”

This is pretty old, from my student days…

Lucien van der Walt, 1996,  “Swazi Unions Demand Democracy”, Workers Solidarity, volume 2, number 1, p. 10

pdflogosmall Get the PDF here

In 1994 the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) called a two day general strike for the 21- 22 of February. More than 10 000 workers participated. The Swazi economy was paralysed. The strike also received support from the unemployed and hawkers. The SFTU put 27 demands to the government. These demands includes a repeal of oppressive labour laws and the removal of the 1973 royal decree which banned political parties. Workers also called for the end of corruption and demanded a democratic and transparent government.

SUCCESS

The general strike marked a turning point in Swaziland’s labour history. Read more of this post

[Analysis in translation] Lucien van der Walt, ca 2001, “L’Anarchismo Rivoluzionario ed il Movimento Anti-Globalizzazione”

Italian

L’Anarchismo Rivoluzionario ed il Movimento Anti-Globalizzazione

Lucien van der Walt

Cariche di polizia contro la gioventù. Forze armate che blindano una delle maggiori città americane. Decine di migliaia di manifestanti sotto le bandiere dell’anticapitalismo. Giovani e lavoratori dell’occidente che si battono fisicamente contro il WTO (OMC in italiano, ndt) e l’imperialismo. Queste forti immagini della “battaglia di Seattle” del 30 novembre 1999 sono state impresse nella mente dei militanti di tutto il mondo, spingendo milioni e milioni di persone alla lotta contro questa guerra di classe dichiarata dall’alto e che alcuni chiamano “globalizzazione”. Seguita da altre proteste di massa a Washington e Davos, Seattle ha segnato in qualche modo un importante punto di svolta per il movimento operaio internazionale.

“Quell’Idea che si rifiuta di morire”

E gli anarchici erano nel folto di queste proteste e di queste azioni di solidarietà, a Rio come a Johannesburg, a Praga come a Istanbul, a New York e a Dublino, dimostrando una impressionante abilità organizzativa, acquistando in credibilità ed in consenso popolare.

Sui media borghesi, gli anarchici hanno assunto una preminenza che non si notava dagli anni ’60, ricevendo sorprendentemente più credito di quanto poi fosse realmente il ruolo svolto dagli anarchici nel nuovo movimento anti-globalizzazione. Per il New York Times l’anarchismo era “quell’Idea che si rifiuta di morire”. La sinistra autoritaria, scossa e surclassata dalla capacità strategica degli anarchici, ha ritenuto improvvisamente necessario lanciare una polemica greve e disonesta contro l’anarchismo.

Per colmo di ironia, poi, il movimento anarchico si fa a pezzi per il disaccordo che c’è su come ci si dovrebbe orientare verso il movimento anti-globalizzazione.

Orientarsi verso il Movimento

Mentre l’anarchismo di tradizione piattaformista e molti anarcosindacalisti si sono fortemente identificati nel nuovo movimento, molti altri compagni sembrano riluttanti a farsi coinvolgere di più nel nuovo movimento. Alcuni sono giustamente preoccupati per la presenza nel movimento di forze riformiste e borghesi come le ONG (organizzazioni non governative, ndt); altri evidenziano l’inatteso sostegno all’anti-globalizzazione da parte di gruppi di estrema destra come i fascisti ed i fondamentalisti islamici; altri ancora sospettano del ruolo di dirigenti sindacali di destra all’interno del movimento.

Queste preoccupazioni sono valide. Ma non dovrebbero essere usate come ragioni per non coinvolgersi nel movimento anti-globalizzazione. Questo nuovo movimento rappresenta un importante sviluppo per la classe operaia internazionale ed una massiccia opportunità per il movimento anarchico all’alba del XXI° secolo. Prendere il movimento, coinvolgervisi, dargli forma &endash; questa è la migliore possibilità disponibile oggi per impiantare l’anarchismo all’interno della classe operaia e cercare di prendere la via del ritorno al nostro giusto posto in un movimento di massa, che può scavare la fossa al capitalismo.

Anticapitalismo e non solo anti-globalizzazione

Una volta dentro il movimento anti-globalizzazione, dobbiamo starci con coscienza anticapitalista. “Anti-globalizzazione” è un termine vago che espone la resistenza al capitalismo ad ogni sorta di trappola.

Molti aspetti della globalizzazione &endash;se per essa intendiamo la creazione di un mondo-sistema a crescente integrazione economica, politica e sociale- dovrebbero essere ben accolti dagli anarchici. La rottura delle chiuse culture nazionali, i più vasti contatti internazionali, la coscienza di essere “cittadini del mondo”, la preoccupazione per gli sviluppi a mezza strada nel mondo- sono tutti processi positivi.

Noi non dovremmo stare con coloro i quali, sotto la bandiera della “sovranità” e della “nazionalita”, chiedono un rafforzamento delle culture nazionali, del cibo nazionale, chiudendo le frontiere alle influenze straniere e così via. Questo approccio &endash;anche se travestito di anti-imperialismo- è xenofobia e comporta il sostegno agli stati nazionali locali.

Dobbiamo sostenere le possibilità che si sviluppi una cultura cosmopolita ed internazionale, come pure la globalizzazione del lavoro e del movimento dei lavoratori che stanno emergendo con la globalizzazione. Dobbiamo opporci totalmente al fondamentalismo religioso, al nazionalismo ed al fascismo i cui problemi con la globalizzazione sono legati al timore che la gente si apra a nuove idee che possano sfidare pregiudizi e culture autoritarie. La cultura non è statica. Muta e si forgia attraverso la lotta, e noi anarchici dovremmo difendere solo quegli elementi delle culture nazionali che sono progressisti ed a favore della classe operaia.

Ma, allo stesso tempo, gli anarchici si oppongono agli aspetti neoliberisti e capitalisti della globalizzazione. Noi ci opponiamo agli attacchi al salario, agli attacchi al welfare, perché essi feriscono la classe operaia e perché difendono gli interessi dei capitalisti.

Questi aspetti capitalisti della globalizzazione stanno nella guerra di classe internazionale radicata nel capitalismo e nella sua attuale crisi di profitti. Nonostante il clamore sulla “new economy” e la nuova prosperità, il capitalismo è in crisi dal 1973. Il tasso medio di crescita negli anni ’50 era del 5% all’anno; scese al 2% negli anni ’70, all’1% negli anni ’80. Così il grande affare del capitalismo è stato quello di ristrutturare se stesso per sopravvivere e rinnovare il profitto tramite il modello neoliberista: flessibilità della forza lavoro, privatizzazione, contrattazione illegale e al ribasso, tagli al welfare, riforma regressiva del fisco, deregolamentazione dei movimenti delle merci e del denaro. Tutte queste politiche avvengono nell’interesse dei settori dominanti della classe capitalista, cioè le gigantesche compagnie transnazionali.

Fuori e contro lo Stato

Lo Stato-nazione capitalista non è vittima della globalizzazione capitalista come si sente dire da qualcuno che usa in genere un punto di vista nazionalista, capitalista-di-stato o riformista. Costoro sostengono che lo sviluppo di grandi compagnie e di grandi istituzioni multilaterali come il FMI e il WTO porta ad una perdita di sovranità di uno stato-nazione supposto come innocente, che viene forzato ad adattarsi alla nuova realtà della globalizzazione.

Questo genere di argomentazioni comporta serie implicazioni politiche. Esse distolgono l’attenzione dal reale ruolo dello stato-nazione nel guidare la ristrutturazione neoliberista. Inducono anche alla convinzione che lo stato-nazione, il “nostro” stato-nazione, sia una vittima innocente con cui dobbiamo allearci e che dobbiamo difendere dalla globalizzazione straniera. Al contrario, gli anarchici riconoscono nello stato-nazione uno dei principali protagonisti della globalizzazione ed, in particolare, degli aspetti capitalisti della globalizzazione.

Il FMI, la BM ed il WTO sono organizzazioni costituite da membri rappresentanti degli Stati-nazione, come è l’ONU. E’ lo Stato-nazione che ha implementato l’attacco neoliberista in tutto il mondo. E’ lo Stato-nazione che ha permesso alle grandi compagnie di operare globalmente, smantellando le chiuse economie nazionali del periodo 1945-1973, che era caratterizzato dalla massima che “ciò che va bene per Ford va bene per l’America”.

E’ la ristrutturazione neoliberista implementata e rinforzata dallo Stato-nazione che ha reso possibile lo sviluppo su scala globale del mercato internazionale del lavoro, dei movimenti internazionali dei capitali, delle catene internazionali di produzione (inclusi molti Stati-nazione del Terzo Mondo, compreso il Sud Africa: testimone ne sia il fatto che il governo capitalista del Sud Africa sta riducendo le tariffe più velocemente di quanto richiesto dal WTO. Quando il WTO chiese al Sud Africa di privatizzare la sua industria tessile in 12 anni, il governo le fece volontariamente in 8 anni! Quindi la globalizzazione capitalista non è qualcosa semplicemente imposta su di noi dal sistema globale, dall’imperialismo, etcÉ, anche se questi hanno un ruolo importante).

Lo Stato-nazione è parte del problema.

Perciò gli anarchici non sono d’accordo con gente come Ralph Nader che diceva:”Votate per me, così salverò la democrazia e vi salverò dalle grandi compagnie”. Gli anarchici sanno che il ruolo dello Stato è quello di servire queste compagnie: questo è ciò che fa lo Stato! E’ qui che noi ci separiamo da coloro che pensano che lo Stato sia un alleato del lavoro e dei poveri nella lotta contro la globalizzazione capitalista.

Come tali, gli anarchici non possono condividere l’idea di una coalizione antiglobalizzazione di destra/sinistra, né il mito liberale che si possa andare oltre la sinistra e la destra. (Testimoni ne siano le proteste di Seattle: i liberali diedero al paraifascista Pat Buchanan una piattaforma, ma piagnucolarono quando gli anarchici attaccarono la cittadella della Nike).

Contro il protezionismo nazionalista

Noi lottiamo fuori e contro lo Stato, cercando di organizzarci a livello internazionale. E’ vero: le importazioni di beni a costi più bassi minacciano l’occupazione nazionale. Ma la soluzione non è quella di chiedere allo Stato di vietare l’importazione di queste merci: bensì è quella di organizzare i lavoratori in tutti gli sweatshops (luoghi di lavoro durissimo e sindacalmente deregolamentato, ndt) del mondo. Noi lottiamo per l’unità internazionale del lavoro, per un salario minimo internazionale, standards internazionali di lavoro e mai per il protezionismo nazionalista o il bando del commercio.

Gli anarchici vogliono una lotta autogestita e tra le classi, piuttosto che entrare nel sistema. Gli anarchici vogliono costruire forme autogestite di lotta e di azione, anziché porre fede nella tecnocrazia, nelle elezioni, nei “nostri” governi. In questo quadro, l’uso della violenza è una questione tattica, non un principio: spaccare o bruciare sono scelte legate alla situazione. Questo è proprio ciò che i liberali ed i pacifisti rifiutano di capire.

Dentro il Movimento Anti-globalizzazione

Dobbiamo entrare nel nuovo movimento anti-globalizzazione. E’ vero: è pieno di riformisti ed elementi borghesi. Ma proprio per questo dobbiamo coinvolgerci! Starsene da parte è consegnare il nuovo movimento, con il suo immenso potenziale rivoluzionario, ai riformisti ed ai borghesi. Significa abdicare al nostro dovere rivoluzionario di fondere l’anarchismo rivoluzionario con le lotte della classe operaia, di impedire che la rivolta degli schiavi venga usata per portare un’altra elite al potere.

Non si tratta di sapere se dovremmo coinvolgerci, si tratta di sapere come.

Gli scopi di un coinvolgimento anarchico sono sicuramente:

1) Promuovere l’autogestione delle lotte: su ogni punto, gli anarchici devono battersi per forme organizzative, forme di protesta e forme di decisionalità che prevedano l’attivo coinvolgimento della classe operaia e l’opportunità di autogestire le lotte, acquistare fiducia e lottare dal basso.

Questo significa:

- occupazioni, piuttosto che sabotaggi elitari

- marce, proteste e manifestazioni anche dure, piuttosto che una politica di difesa

- comitati d’azione che operano su mandato e riconoscimento assembleare, piuttosto che delegare tutte le responsabilità ad un piccolo gruppo di leaders

- coalizioni decentrate che permettano il massimo di iniziativa dal basso

- costruire la capacità di organizzazione promovendo collegamenti orizzontali tra i gruppi, assicurandosi che le informazioni siano il più ampiamente disseminate alla base delle strutture

- lotte e richieste che promuovano la polarizzazione di classe e svelino le basi classiste del neoliberismo, possiamo sollevare vertenze “riformiste” con una presa da guerra di classe (per esempio, prendiamo una compagnia in crisi finanziaria; i padroni diranno di risparmiare attraverso l’esternalizzazione ed i licenziamenti; i militanti anarchici possono invece sollevare una richiesta apparentemente riformista che indichi la via del risanamento attraverso un taglio dell’80% degli stipendi dei manager. Questo svelerà la natura classista del sistema, l’abisso salariale di classe ed il rifiuto dei padroni di prendere in considerazione alternative che approfondiscono la polarizzazione di classe)

2) Lottare contro il governo: gli anarchici devono essere lì ad argomentare contro il protezionismo nazionalista, contro tesi di intervento statalista e contro le nazionalizzazioni. Invece dobbiamo puntare all’auto-emancipazione della classe operaia attraverso le sue stesse lotte, le sue organizzazioni, i suoi sforzi, sul bisogno di mobilitarsi fuori e contro lo Stato, sulla lotta di classe anticapitalista.

Questo significa:

- lottare per una concreta solidarietà internazionale con i lavoratori negli sweatshops e con contratti illegali, attraverso campagne, azioni informate alla prospettiva superiore di conquistare standards internazionali di lavoro (un salario minimo globale, condizioni globali di base per l’occupazione,..) e un sindacalismo globale di base. Queste sono le reali basi della classe operaia per opporsi alle importazioni a buon mercato: migliori salari per tutti, piuttosto che una corsa al ribasso o il protezionismo sciovinista,

- regole di base per le condizioni di lavoro, attraverso una prassi di azione solidale, piuttosto che appelli al WTO

- disvelamento delle basi di classe del neoliberismo quando tenta di ridurre i salari e peggiorare le condizioni di lavoro o di aprire l’economia alle privatizzazioni ed alla speculazione, di qui il bisogno di una risposta di classe che non si faccia illusioni nel capitalismo di stato,

- opporsi alle privatizzazioni perché colpiscono la classe operaia attraverso i licenziamenti ed il peggioramento dei servizi sociali e non perché noi pensiamo che le nazionalizzazioni siano un passo verso il socialismo ed il controllo operaio. Invece di invocare le nazionalizzazioni in alternativa alle privatizzazioni

&endash;cosa che comunque non avverrebbe e non rafforzerebbe affatto la classe operaia- gli anarchici dovrebbero battersi per l’autogestione operaia e comunitaria dei servizi sociali e delle infrastrutture, sottolineando il diritto della classe operaia ad una vita decente.

Scopi ed obiettivi

Lo scopo di queste tattiche e di queste richieste è semplice. Questi punti vanno sostenuti come strumenti per sviluppare una forte e democratica coalizione internazionale della classe operaia incentrata sui sindacati, sulle comunità, sui cittadini, gli studenti, etcÉ Inoltre questi punti tendono anche ad aiutare lo sviluppo di una coscienza libertaria ed anticapitalista all’interno della lotta di classe internazionale, sviluppando l’opposizione allo Stato ed al capitale insieme al desiderio, alla necessità ed alla fiducia in una possibilità di socialismo autogestito e senza Stato. Molti del movimento anti-globalizzazione non accetteranno questi scopi. Ma questo è proprio il motivo per cui è vitale il nostro intervento nel movimento anti-globalizzazione come militanti con le idee chiare ed una tattica precisa.

E’ anche per questo che abbiamo bisogno di organizzazioni politiche anarchiche basate sull’unità teorica e tattica e sulla responsabilità collettiva, gruppi tipo quelli delineati da Nestor Makhno e Peter Arsinov nella Piattaforma Organizzativa dei Comunisti Libertari del 1926. Unità, chiarezza, dedizione sono i nostri indispensabili mezzi rivoluzionari contro il borioso nemico capitalista, enormemente più potente di noi.

Ma noiÉ.possiamo vincere!

(questo articolo è prima apparso su North American Anarchist, giornale della NEFAC (Canada-USA), poi su Red & Black Revolution, rivista del WSM irlandese)

[Analysis in translation] Lucien van der Walt, 2004, “Üvahy o rase a anarchismuv Jižní Africe v letech 1904-2004″

Lucien van der Walt, 2004, “Üvahy o rase a anarchismuv Jižní Africe v letech 1904-2004,” A-Kontra, 3/ 2004, pp. 26-28

Czech translation of Lucien van der Walt, 2004, “Perspectives on Race and Anarchism in South Africa, 1904-2004,” Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, volume 8 number 1, pp. 1, 14-16, which is here.

pdflogosmall Get the PDF here

[Events] Lucien van der Walt, 2014, lecture at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

Film Pre-Preview and Discussion: Varieties of Anarchism from here

 
(11.08.2014) The International Dissidence research group and the Cluster of Excellence “Normative Orders” held a film pre-preview and a discussion on “Varieties of Anarchism: Anarchist Projects and the Struggles that Define them” on 7 August 2014.After the film pre-screening Prof. Lucien van der Walt (Rhodes University, South Africa) held a lecture on the historical classification of anarchist movements and their differences. The audience discussed the topic with the film director Marcel Seehuber and Prof. Lucien van der Walt.

 

[Interview] KDVS Interview with Lucien van der Walt, co-author of “Black Flame”

From here

Richard Estes and Ron Glick interviewed  Lucien van der Walt, co-author of Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, on their show “Speaking In Tongues,”KDVS, 90.3 FM, University Of California, Davis. The interview took place on September 25, 2009.The interview covers issues like defining anarchism, anarchism and trade unions today,  the issue of centralisation, anarchism and globalisation then and now, the Soviet Union and Communism,  the Spanish Civil War, anarchism and immigration today, the relationship between class struggle and other forms of oppression, anarchism after Seattle, and anarchism and postmodernism.

The transcript (edited slightly for clarity) is below. If you’d like an audio recording of the interview, go here or here. For a higher quality recording of the entire show, go here.

And thanks to Richard and Ron, who have interviewed several AK authors and collective members on their show.


KDVS Interview with Lucien van der Walt

RICHARD ESTES: Our first guest today is LUCIEN VAN DER WALT. He is based at the University of Witwatersrand…rand….srand…excuse me, Witwatersrand. Is that right?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Witwatersrand.

RICHARD ESTES: … Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He teaches, you teach, Development, Economic Sociology and Labour Studies. The reason I invited you to be on the air with us today is because several months ago I had the opportunity to encounter your book that you co-authored with Michael Schmidt, who’s a Johannesburg-based investigative journalist, entitled Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism.

RON GLICK: I just want to say that this is the first time that we’ve had a live guest from Africa on this programme, which is very exciting.

RICHARD ESTES: It is a first and, in this instance, it is also, I think, noteworthy… Anarchism is something that I think, in terms of the general public perception and understanding, in comparison to other political values and ideas, is not well understood and not well defined in the public consciousness. So, for that reason, I wanted to have you on the air today because I thought your book was extraordinarily well-timed and provides a context for people to engage the subject and to evaluate their own political values in comparison to it. I enjoyed the book very much for that reason. So, thanks for making some time available—and I also want to note that you are also up back in South Africa and I think it’s 2am, is that right?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Ja, no, it’s around about then.

RICHARD ESTES: So…

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: But thanks for having me on the show, no problem at all.

[DEFINING ANARCHISM AND SYNDICALISM]

RICHARD ESTES: The first thing I want to ask you, because it’s one of the primary subjects of the book, is sort of a simple question…what is it that you believe to be anarchism, and what, in your view, do you consider to be improperly described as anarchism?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Well, as you know, the whole idea of “anarchism,” the whole word, has gathered a lot of connotations over time which have obscured people’s ability to understand it. I mean, in the public mind in the States I imagine it’s pretty similar to a lot of other English-speaking countries: anarchism is seen as chaos, disorder, and so on. But once you get beyond that, there’s a whole lot of things that get thrown into a bit of a grab-bag called anarchism.

Now when you look closely at anarchism, to understand what its core ideas are, you have to look at its history, you have to look at when it emerges. And when you look at its emergence, you have to go back to the 1860s, you find it emerging in the union movement, the workers’ movement, in the socialist movement.

So to answer your question about what we see as anarchism, and this is the central argument in our book, we would understand anarchism as a movement that aimed, through struggle, to create a free, stateless, socialist society based on cooperation and mutual aid, a movement that sees the motor of history as the struggle of ordinary people, working-class people, just ordinary folks, peasants, small farmers…trying to create that world across borders internationally.

That would be the basics of it—a class struggle-based, socialist movement, libertarian in its aims, libertarian in its message, trying to create a sort of a free cooperative, socialist order.

Now, the thing is, “anarchism,” besides the label of chaos and so on, has been used a lot in the academy—and I think this is one of the problems it faces in its perception as compared to, say, Marxism or liberalism—it has been used in the academy to relate to a whole bunch of quite unrelated doctrines ranging from the ideas of Max Stirner, who was an extreme individualist, all the way through to various fairly abstruse philosophies around individual autonomy and so on. I don’t know…does that answer you?

RICHARD ESTES: It just seems to me, that with Marxism you have Marx. So like…

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Right…

RON GLICK: …so like there’s this person you can point to. With totalitarianism: Hanna Arendt, and with anarchism? With fascism, Mussolini, and with anarchism there isn’t…certainly, I don’t know where you exactly point to. You also have in the title of the book “syndicalism.” Maybe you could define that for us as well?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Alright, before I get onto that, let me say that if you were looking for your, say, Marx or Engels of anarchism, I think you’d have to look at Mikhail Bakunin, and you’d have to look at Peter Kropotkin. So Bakunin and Kropotkin would be the two main figures.

These would be the two key figures; the key influences on the movement; the people who really…articulate and express and codify a lot of its doctrine. This is not to say that they invented everything—they never claimed to. They codified a lot of ideas that were out there, expressed them; acted as the sort of mouthpiece of the movement. Those would be the two big guys…the Big Two.

Now, in terms of “syndicalism,” right, syndicalism at a minimum means the idea of a revolutionary trade union movement. The idea of syndicalism was that you could essentially use trade unions, rather than the state, rather than political parties, rather than some small group of guerrillas running around the mountains in berets. Actual unions, run by ordinary people in their workplaces, to bring about this new anarchist society.

So in that sense, syndicalism, the idea of revolutionary trade unionism, is a strategy, a strategy developed within the anarchist movement, a strategy that was there from the start.

But, partly because of the connotations attached to anarchism, partly because there is a bit of a tendency, in a lot of the literature, in a lot of activist milieu, in a lot of the union movement, to see syndicalism as something altogether different to anarchism, we’ve had to single out the words a bit there, “anarchism” and “syndicalism,” but we see syndicalism as part of a broad anarchist tradition.

[TRADE UNIONISM AND ANARCHISM TODAY]

RICHARD ESTES: Ron brought up this question of syndicalism because one of the questions I found interesting in the book…there’s, I think, a couple of chapters that address the relationship of anarchism to the unions, you know, union movements broadly defined. And here in the United States, basically trade unionism, trade union movements generally, have been facing a great deal of difficulty over the last several decades. And so, when I was reading those passages in the book, one of the things that came to my mind is the strategies and tactics associated with anarchism and syndicalism, are they still viable today, and if so, how?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Alright, well, part of the reason we placed emphasis on unions was that in the historic anarchist movement, from its emergence back in the 1860s, unions were a central part of its strategy—for most anarchists, syndicalism was the way to go.

Not only focussing on unions, but certainly seeing unions as absolutely central, and it’s through trade unions that anarchism made many of its biggest impacts historically. For example you had a situation in Argentina in the 1910s when there were two major union federations. These were the two big centres in the country and they were both different variants of anarchism and syndicalism.

So this is the kind of influence it had in the past. If you would, imagine what it would be like in the States if, say the AFL-CIO was an anarchist or a syndicalist organisation. But this wasn’t actually that uncommon. So the emphasis on unions partly reflects the historical reality in which, certainly into the 20s and 30s, anarchists and syndicalists led, founded, major union federations around the world.

The question, though, is how do you actually get back to that? You spoke about strategy and tactics? Well, the strategy of syndicalism is quite straightforward. You run a sort of militant, radical, participatory, democratic, transformative trade unionism, you tie it up to other social movements in communities, you tie it up to social justice issues, issues such as racial prejudice and so on.

But, tactics, how do you actually get there? How do you actually get to that position of influence?

Now, at one level, the potential is there in that trade unionism, even in the States, continues to be an absolutely central force—and in the States itself, the AFL-CIO has seen a bit of a turnaround recently with, in figures I saw earlier this year, over a million new members being recruited. Once you look outside the States, you look at places like Brazil, South Africa, or South Korea, you see trade unionism playing not just a central role, but actually expanding its influence all the time.

Okay, but on another level, how do you actually link that to the anarchist movement? And this is a very tricky thing.

There is a lot of debate on that, and the book gets into a lot of it. I don’t claim to have a magical formula here. What I would say, looking historically at anarchism, unions were absolutely critical. Looking at the present, I’d say that unions still have that potential to be critical.

But how to fit those two together? That’s the trick and I think a lot will depend on context, a lot will depend on programme, a lot will depend on what people who find themselves part of an anarchist tradition actually do.

RICHARD ESTES: So would it be fair to say that people today, who might have a view that unions have become too sclerotic, are too difficult to transform, and that anarchism should move in a different direction, would be advocating a perspective that is either misguided or is potentially suicidal?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Well, I think there again we have to look at context. One of the things that happened during the 20th century was the rise of quite centralised forms of trade unionism. So, trade unionism that was anarchist, or syndicalist, would be a unionism that was very flat, very participatory, a unionism that allowed for quite a development of a counter-culture, a proletarian counter-culture.

Now, in the 20th century, as unions have become more centralised, more entangled in the state, more tied to political parties, the amount of space in those unions to actually change them seems to often be quite narrow. I mean, if we look at the South African case, we see that while the unions’ official policy is actually quite far to the left, there is actually not always that much space within the union to contest what that “left” would mean. So these issues of intolerance and centralism are going to play a critical role.

What I would say is: look at the historical experience. It would be vital to find ways to get an anarcho-syndicalist or anarchist programme back into the union and it won’t be easy. It’s certainly going to take a lot of creativity, a lot of activity.

Right now, that may not be on the agenda; that may not even be practical for people in a lot of circumstances. Right now, people may be investing their energy better into community organising, into alternative institution-building, but in the long term, I think it would be absolutely impossible to get the sort of change anarcho-syndicalism, or anarchism in general, has aimed at without some sort of link into the unions.

How exactly to do that, I think it’s difficult to be prescriptive, but I think as a strategic objective it would be absolutely crucial.

[ANARCHISM AND CENTRALISATION]

RON GLICK: It seems that what you’ve described as the rise of an anarchist philosophy comes in response to the centralisation of capital in the emergence of the industrial revolution. And here we are now in the age of global capital and centralisation of that power with things like the Fortune 500 and, you know, global capital can move around and move around so quickly and easily. Is, is it really viable? It seems like this is an idea, a philosophy that has never really been able to compete successfully with more centralised power structures.

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Well I think, I think it’s important to bear in mind that anarchism wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to any centralisation as such. The question would be what is the form of centralisation that you are actually aiming at. Now, if you’re going to build a movement from below upwards, a movement based on participation, assembly, inevitably you’re going to end up having delegates and you going to end up having coordinating structures.

In that sense, anarchism can pose a form of centralisation and I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all, but it’s important that that would be a federalist, non-coercive centralisation from below. And I think it can coordinate…potentially, anarchist movements could coordinate in a way that would be as efficient, but yet far more participatory than the centralisation we see on the part of capital and the state.

[GLOBALISATION: THEN AND NOW]

Now, to move on from that, your question around globalisation, your question around the rise of large companies, and so on: could anarchism pose…could it respond to, could it engage with this new world order?

I think one of the key points we wanted to make in this book is that anarchism did emerge very much in concrete circumstances that are not much different than ours. If you look at the period from the 1880s into the 1920s, the 1930s, we’re actually talking about a period of very deep globalisation—a period in which capital movement internationally, while slower, was at least as extensive as it is today, in which international trade was actually freer than it is today.

So, you might think of anarchism as a movement which has got a lot to offer to contemporary anti-globalisation, counter-globalisation activists, because it operated, in its period of greatest influence, the 1880s to the 1920s, in a world that wasn’t actually that different than what we have now.

[THE SOVIET UNION AND COMMUNISM]

RICHARD ESTES: One of the things I think is an important subject is there’s a contrast between anarchism and, I guess the right way to say it would be State Socialism, or Marxist-Leninism that’s put into practice. What, precisely, are the points of contention between that Marxist-Leninism and anarchism in relation to understanding class relationships, and to what extent is anarchism a different model than the State Socialist model that was attempted in the 20th century?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: I think that this is actually quite crucial. The Marxist tradition, while it is not a homogenous tradition, the actually-existing, the actually organised Marxist movement of the 19th and 20th centuries, was one very much dominated by a centralist vision—the vision that got its expression in Soviet Union, or the People’s Republic of China.

And in anarchism’s birth, anarchism’s emergence in the 1860s, it was very much, a reaction not just against capitalism, not just against the state, but against what the anarchists like Bakunin saw as an incipient, centralised, authoritarian model of state socialism.

Now, the differences are at the level of the understanding of society, and there’re differences at the level of the vision and the strategy. I want to talk about the vision and the strategy more.

Generally speaking, classical Marxism, whether it was in the original social democratic, or later in its Leninist form, saw the state as the engine of transformation. The basic idea was that you would take over the state, you would use the state to transform society from above. You would create your socialist citizens from above: even if people weren’t ready, they could be compelled to become ready. The revolution wouldn’t necessarily need to move at the speed of the slowest soldier. Rather, the vanguard of the class, at least the self-defined vanguard, would seize power and move to put in socialism from above.

Now, the anarchist model was very different from that, whereas Marxism-Leninism saw the building of a highly centralised, quite militarised party organisation with the aim of capturing state power, the anarchist tradition, including syndicalism, stressed the participatory model—that was based on participation, it was based on intellectual emancipation, it was based in training people in the here-and-now to run society in a democratic, participatory way in the future.

I mean, this was the idea that your means would have to match your ends. The way you organise now is going to shape what you get in the future. If you build a centralised, militarised party organisation aiming to seize state power and implement socialism from above, you’re being perfectly consistent.

If, on the other hand, you want to create a democratic, horizontal society, well, you would actually have to start to do that now.

Tied to that was the idea in anarchism that, if this new society meant anything, it would have to be something that ordinary people created. By definition, you could not create a horizontal society from above. You can’t, as Martin Buber says somewhere, take a young oak sapling, strip off its bark, strip off the leaves, use it as a club, and later stick it in the ground and hope that it is going to turn back into an oak tree.

So, in terms of stressing a democratic approach, in terms of stressing a non-authoritarian approach, in terms of making democracy not a tactic, but absolutely central, anarchists broke with what they saw as the tendency in Marxism to sacrifice people to goals rather than seeing people’s emancipation as the goal in-and-of itself.

[MARXISM, ANARCHISM, CAPITALISM, AND THE SPANISH REVOLUTION]

RON GLICK: To me, the intersection between Marxism, anarchism and capitalism is the Spanish Civil War. Could you explain the dynamics going on there and how that affected the growth of one system over another?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Sure. I just want to mention one thing about the relationship between anarchism and Marxism which plays out in this situation, which is that there’s a bit of an overlap. Anarchists do take something from Marxism and that’s, above all, Marxist economics. So there, there’s a bit of an overlap. We would be exaggerating if we set them up as entirely separate systems.

However, the differences harden over time, especially once you get the rise of the Soviet Union. Now, the Soviet Union, the formation of the Soviet Union, beginning from 1917 onwards, is absolutely central to the rise of Marxism in the 20th century. Before then, Marxism is not the mass movement it sort of becomes later.

Before then, Marxism is essentially a movement in Europe. It is not a movement that has any real traction in the rest of the world. Once the Soviet Union is established, the Communist Parties have really got a very powerful force in their corner.

Now, when you get to Spain, in 1936 there is essentially an attempted military coup. Francisco Franco, who’s a general who is influenced by the ideas of fascism, particularly Mussolini-style fascism, rather than Hitler-style Nazism, tries to seize power. He’s thrown back by a left coalition, which includes a large anarchist proportion, as well as the Spanish Communist Party.

Now civil war breaks out, which is why most people remember the events from ’36 to ’39 as the Spanish Civil War. What happens in the areas where anarchists are strong, is a large-scale application of the anarchist vision. What I mean is people self-managing factories, self-managing land, implementing social reforms, trying to implement the anarchist vision.

But within that left camp which is fighting against Franco’s camp, a civil war starts to break out between the Communists and the anarchists, and the Soviet Union’s calculation, then under Josef Stalin, is that a revolution in Spain (which the anarchists are actually doing) has to be stopped.

At one level, it would challenge the hegemony that the Communist International is trying to create in the workers’ movement—anarchism in Spain is vastly, vastly more influential than Communism. At another level, Stalin, seeing the interests of “socialism” as equivalent to the interests of the Soviet Union, believes that a revolution there would essentially destabilise the relations he’s trying to set up with Britain and France.

So, what this actually means, in practice, is besides the civil war against Franco and his forces, the anarchists find themselves under attack from Stalin, the Communist Party in Spain, and, by the time that the left, liberal coalition—the Republican forces, as they’re usually called—are defeated by Franco, the revolution that the anarchists had tried to put into place, has already been destroyed by other left forces, foremost amongst which is the Communist Party.

RON GLICK: This reminds me somewhat of what happened with the razing of the Warsaw Ghetto, where Stalin didn’t want this independent group to gain any traction against the Nazis, and wouldn’t arm them.

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: I mean, I think part of the problem is that what Bakunin and Kropotkin feared—which was that “socialism” would become a tool of a new ruling elite and of state policy—had become a reality by the 1920s and the 1930s.

Before the Soviet Union was founded, Marxism was simply another movement out there. Guys you would know in the union, guys you would know in the political sphere—people you would engage with.

But from then on Marxism finds itself in a position where, on the one hand, Marxist-Leninist parties are playing an incredibly progressive role in all sorts of areas—for example, in the States, playing a very important role in championing black rights, in organising in the Deep South, and so on. But, on the other hand, they’re being continually constrained by the realpolitik, by the power calculations of the Soviet leadership.

And you see this pattern play out again and again and again. So this is, to me, part of the tragedy of Marxism-Leninism—on one hand, it achieved a great many good things, but on another hand, this subordination of particular struggles to the interests and politics of the Soviet Union.

That has been something which…which essentially crippled it from the start as a people’s movement.

[ANARCHISM AND CONTEMPORARY IMMIGRATION]

RICHARD ESTES: Lucien, I have a question regarding a subject that I don’t recall really being very prominent in your book, but I have a feeling that it might be an important one in relation to anarchism in the contemporary social environment. One of the primary features of the kind of globalisation process that we’ve experienced in the last thirty or forty years has been a tremendous, almost exponential increase in immigration—both sanctioned by states as well as unsanctioned—and extraordinary, transnational movements of peoples around the world. What is the anarchist perspective about that immigration process, and does it potentially present opportunities for anarchism that didn’t previously exist?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Right. Well, from the 1920s to the 1970s, when the world economy is characterised by quite closed national economies, whether it’s the Soviet model of central planning, or the Keynesian model in the West of demand-management, or import-substitution models in the “global south”—or the third world, or the colonial/postcolonial world, or whatever we want to call the other countries—building a vision of an international workers’ movement is actually quite abstract, in the sense that wage levels were determined very much by national conditions, in that people’s identities, their movement, all sorts of things were set up by very particular national experiences.

Now, with the deregulation of population movements and the international migration that you’re talking about, you really do start to get international connections on a scale you haven’t seen for a hundred years.

At one level this can, of course, pose huge problems in terms of backlashes against immigrants (for example, in South Africa, we had huge riots last year). On the other hand, it creates that potential for arguments around class as a unifying force to have much larger interest.

And, I mean, a third level is also a sort of circulation of political traditions that you get as a result. You get people coming into Western countries, who bring in very radical traditions that are very energising; traditions of struggle that are very impressive, traditions of struggle that are very much able to get things going again in places where they’ve stopped.

So, I think it’s got a lot of threats, but it’s also got a lot of potential in terms of people’s identities, in terms of the political project that would resonate with people.

[CLASS POLITICS AND OTHER FORMS OF OPPRESSION]

RICHARD ESTES: One other thing I was wondering about too. You have a chapter towards the end that addresses issues of race and gender in regard to anarchism. Is the anarchist explanation for racial and gender divisions in society really adequate in the sense that it seems to reduce those divisions down to primarily being a class-based cause? Aren’t there other causes and other influences there that need to be incorporated into an anarchist analysis?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Well, I think here we come to an important aspect of the whole anarchist explanation, and we can tie it back to the question you posed earlier around Marxism.

Now, Marxism, as you know, one part of its power is its very simple explanation…you can essentially reduce everything to economics. Economics is defined as the heart of society, and therefore anything that happens in society has an economic basis.

Now, the anarchists did try, in general, to move away from that reductionism. But certainly it was characteristic of anarchist theory that class, while not necessarily always primary, is always central to explain social phenomena, such as race and gender.

Saying “central not primary” in the sense that…what this would mean in terms of race and gender would be that, for the classical anarchist movement…certainly it would be that issues of class expressed through the state, expressed through capital, expressed through labour market competition, would help explain the question of, say, racial prejudice.

But that wouldn’t be the only explanation…that would be central, but there are a lot of other factors there which would have an independent logic, which you can’t reduce. If you look at that chapter again, you’ll see that the approach wasn’t simply on reducing issues to class issues, but also seeing their roots in culture; their roots in prejudices that people have; their roots, even in pre-capitalist formations…

RICHARD ESTES: That’s my last question, adequacy …

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: But, in terms of adequacy I’m not entirely…it’s a difficult thing to say what’s adequate or not, but certainly the argument that was made was that class was central, but not the sole explanation. That was the general tendency.

Is this a good argument? Well, I think it’s a good argument.

Particularly around political strategy. Often questions of race and gender are simply reduced to people’s attitudes, without asking the question of where the attitudes come from. By stressing class, you’re also able to look at the role that class-based movements, such as trade unions, can play in securing advantages for black folk, for women, and so on.

At a second level, it also enriches your understanding of class politics, because if you reduce class, if you reduce working class organisation, to the issue of wages and working conditions, to sort of pork-chop issues, then you are actually going to miss a lot of the anarchist project, which is about emancipating people from all forms of social and economic inequalities.

So, ideally, what you would want to do is not end up with an economic reductionism. You would want to end up with a radical class politics that is feminist, that is anti-racist, that brings these things together in the form of popular movements that are simultaneously anti-capitalist, simultaneously deeply opposed to issues of gender and racial oppression and national oppression. So you’d like to try to synthesize these into a single coherent struggle.

RON GLICK: You’re listening to KVVS, 90.3 FM. Lucien, we had a big protest here [University of California] on campus yesterday about tuition and pay cuts, and certainly issues of class and, so we’re going to have some people come on, but I wanted to ask you one more question and then…

[ANARCHISM AFTER SEATTLE]

RICHARD ESTES: I want to ask you one closing question. What year was that thing in Seattle…do you remember…was that 2000, 2001?

RON GLICK: That was 1999…

RICHARD ESTES: 1999. There was this big anti-globalization protest, and was it a GATT meeting or a…

RON GLICK: It was WTO…

RICHARD ESTES: Yeah, a WTO meeting in Seattle, it was called “the Battle for Seattle.” There was group that were described as anarchists…are you familiar what happened there, and how does that fit in?

RON GLICK: I think you’re alluding to the “Black Bloc” by the way…

RICHARD ESTES: Just for clarification…

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Well, I think one of the interesting things that’s been happening over the last twenty years is the re-emergence of a significant anarchist current. One of the expressions has been a range of anarchist activity in the “anti-globalisation,” or “counter-globalisation” movement.

And the one that the grabbed media attention, I think, was this Black Bloc, which as I understand was essentially groups of people wearing black and balaclavas and trying to push protests in the direction of riots and so on. Now, I’m less concerned with whether that was a good tactic or not, than with the significance, the overall significance of that development.

The overall significance is this: that anarchism, over the last two or three decades, has been reviving as a very important force in many contexts…it’s equivalent to the rebirth of an open Marxism in the 1960s.

Anarchism, as a pole of attraction over the last few years, is becoming extremely powerful and, in this sense, this is partly what our book is trying to do: as the new anarchist movement emerges internationally as a movement that starts to get a significant influence, it’s important to debate and clarify the issues, which is why we’ve pulled together a book which, is a mixture of theory and history and philosophy.

Ja, I think I’ll leave that there.

[ANARCHISM AND POSTMODERNISM]

RICHARD ESTES: Let me ask you one last question; it may be an overly theoretical question, so feel free to be, you know, dismissive of it. But it comes to mind in light of the remarks you just made. One of the things I tend to encounter quite frequently is this tendency among what I would call, I guess, the Marxist-Leninist and parliamentary socialist left to ascribe a lot of the current problems, politically, that they experience to postmodernism, which they seem to broadly define as this sort of excessive relativisation of class and culture to the point where there is no such thing as a meaningful class or cultural identity, or they’re all the same, which I personally believe is a gross distortion of postmodernism from my own readings. But, in any event, they seem to be ascribing a great deal of blame to it in terms of their own predicament, and really criticizing it quite severely. While, as you’ve noted, anarchism seems to have thrived, it seems to have done quite well, during this very same postmodern period. So, I guess my question is: Do anarchists really share this perspective that more parliamentary socialist and Marxist-Leninists have about postmodernism? Or do they relate to it in an entirely different way?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: Well, I think there’s two things here.

The one is that one of the strengths of postmodernism is its focus on a more open-ended view of society and a more open-ended view of history. If you look at classical Marxist-Leninism it ended up with a very, very mechanical, narrow, reductionist view of how things work, to the extent you could virtually read off people’s identities solely from their occupation, and their political views solely from their source of income. So that’s a strength, and I think anarchists would appreciate that…in that anarchism is a much more open model, although it makes class central, it’s a much more open than a Marxist model.

However, I do think that anarchism, historically, was very much a movement, a modernist movement that stressed rationalism, that stressed conscious human control of events, one that did see things as having a fixity, as having a stability, as having a pattern and a purpose far beyond anything that postmodernism would conceive. So, I would certainly say that someone like Bakunin or Kropotkin would be very, very critical of postmodern relativism.

On the one hand, it’s also very, very moralistic actually, anarchism. It stresses morals. I’m not saying “moralistic” in a bad sense. On the other hand, it’s very much enamoured of the idea of rationality as a tool to change society.

RICHARD ESTES: Well, LUCIEN VAN DER WALT, we really appreciate you making this time available to us today, and if people are interested in the book, it’s entitled Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. It’s available through AK Press so you can check out akpress.org to find out more about it.

RON GLICK: And do you have a website or anything that you’d like to give out? In South Africa?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: I think you could just Google my name…you’ll come up with a bunch of stuff. There is a blog at AK Press, but it’s got an extremely long URL. So I don’t actually remember the whole thing. Just Google my name and you’ll come to my own website.

RON GLICK: Well, thanks so much. It’s really been an interesting discussion…and get some sleep.

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: No, thanks very much for having me and thanks for the questions. It’s been absolutely brilliant!

RICHARD ESTES AND RON GLICK: Thank you!

RICHARD ESTES: …and good evening!

Related Link: http://www.revolutionbythebook.akpress.org/kdvs-intervi…walt/

[Interview] “Still Fanning the Flames: An interview with Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt on anarchist and syndicalist history and theory”

From AK Press, here

Still fanning the flames: An interview with Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt

By Kate Khatib| October 15, 2009

Dearest readers: We’re absolutely thrilled to bring you this wonderful new interview with Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt, the authors of AK’s stunning new book Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. In recent months, we’ve posted excerpts from the book, and a roundup of recent reviews, but with today’s post, we’re able to bring you, for the first time, Michael and Lucien’s own thoughts on the book, its genesis, and its usefulness in our current context. Read and enjoy!

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AK PRESS: There has been quite a buzz around Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. This is, am I right, volume one of what you call Counter-Power. Can you tell us a bit about what how people have responded to the book?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re very happy with it. Of course, not everyone agrees with us on everything: that’s only to be expected, and anyway, we make it clear in the opening chapter that we want debate and welcome critique. Some folks, of course, don’t like the book at all—but no book can please everyone! Anyway, we want to stir things up a bit.

AK: Who is the book aimed at?

MICHAEL SCHMIDT: We have three main audiences in mind: activists on the left, university students and faculty, and the general reader interested in ideas, history and politics. The book is pretty much free of jargon, and tries to be as accessible as possible.

AK: What makes the book different to the existing general studies, such as Woodcock’s Anarchism?

Michael: Let’s start by making it quite clear that we greatly respect the earlier syntheses of writers like Woodcock, Joll, Marshall, Kedward—not to mention writers from within the movement, like Max Nettlau and Daniel Guérin. These inspired us, and helped lay the basis for our own project.

That said, one of the distinctive contributions of Black Flame is its global scope. We have set out to develop a genuinely global history of anarchism and syndicalism. In most studies, the focus has really been on parts of Western Europe, and to a lesser extent North America. In our project, we have placed movements in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australasia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Latin America centre-stage.

This is a single global story we are telling, though: we are not setting up any arbitrary divisions, positing any sort of binary “Northern” versus “Southern” anarchism. There is one movement, although it varies according to local conditions and initiatives.

AK: Why does a global perspective matter?

Lucien: It has a number of concrete implications. For one thing, “Spanish exceptionalism”—the notion that Spain, alone, developed a significant anarchist mass, popular, movement, especially in the early 20th century —simply cannot be defended anymore. It only works if you compare Spain to a narrow range of West European countries, and even then it falters when you look at the strength of contemporaneous movements in France and Portugal.

And once you look globally, you find mass movements of comparable, sometimes even greater, influence in countries ranging from Argentina, to China, to Cuba, to Mexico, to Peru, to the Ukraine and so on. What gets a bit lost in studies that focus on Western Europe is that most of anarchist and syndicalist history took place elsewhere. In other words, you can’t understand anarchism unless you understand that much of its history was in the east and the south, not only in the north and the west.

AK: The book also spends quite a lot of time looking at issues of tactics and strategy.

Michael: Exactly. Looking at the movement, looking globally, trying to find patterns, you are forced to think seriously about the issues that mattered to the movement. The existing general works have rather little to say about the debates over tactics and strategy that preoccupied the movement.

Lucien: But you can’t, for example, get into the literature on, say syndicalism in South Africa, without seeing that people were always debating, grappling with immediate pressing issues, like colonial domination, trying to relate the big theory to their concrete circumstances of racial animosity and a deeply divided working class.

Michael: So, part of the strength of the book is that looks at how actual movements grappled with issues like nationality, colonialism, race and women’s oppression, and immersed themselves in organised labour.

AK: You have also raised questions about how we define the core of the anarchist and syndicalist tradition…

Lucien: Once you look globally, then you certainly have to start to rethink the “canon” of anarchist and syndicalist theorists. Mikhail Bakunin and Pyotr Kropotkin, the giants of anarchist thought, obviously feature heavily. They had a truly global impact. Kropotkin was, for example, the best known socialist writer in East Asia in the first decades of the twentieth century.

But beyond the Big Two, the movement had an amazing array of writers and thinkers, truly cosmopolitan. In our view, a serious list of key figures has to be global and include figures from within but also without the West, such as Li Pei Kan (“Ba Jin”) and Liu Sifu (“Shifu”) of China, Armando Borghi and Errico Malatesta of Italy, Nestor Ivanovich Makhno and Piotr Arshinov, of the Ukraine, Juana Rouco Buela of Argentina, Lucia Sanchez Saornil and Jaime Balius of Spain, Ricardo Flores Magón, Juana Belém Gutiérrez de Mendoza, Antonio Gomes y Soto and Praxedis Guerrero of Mexico, Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis of the Netherlands, Ōsugi Sakae, Kōtuku Shūsui, and Kanno Sugako of Japan, Lucy Parsons of the USA, Enrique Roig de San Martín of Cuba, Shin Ch’aeho of Korea, Rudolph Rocker of Germany, Neno Vasco and Maria Lacerda de Moura of Brazil, Abraham Guillen of Uruguay, S.P. Bunting and T.W. Thibedi of South Africa and others.

AK: What about Proudhon, then?

Lucien: In the book we argue that Proudhon (along with Karl Marx) was a formative influence on the anarchist movement.

It was to Proudhon—above all—that the movement was indebted for its stress on anti-statism, anti-capitalism, anti-landlordism and its focus on autonomy from the state, on radical democracy, and self-management. In this sense, Bakunin could say that Proudhon was the “master of us all”. Marxist economics were also absorbed (critically) by the anarchist movement, praised by Bakunin as “profound”, “luminous”, “scientific” and “decisive”. Some of these ideas themselves owed a debt to Proudhon.

However, Proudhon’s basic approach was to undermine the system by the creation of a non-capitalist sector based on cooperatives and self-employment, creating a sort of market socialism complete with competition. He did not favor strikes or direct action or unions.

Proudhon’s vision of transformation from below through building an alternative economy remains far more influential these days than many recognise. To take an example, many South African unions, and even the local Communist Party, favor building a self-employed “social sector” as a step towards socialism. This is straight from Proudhon.

Michael: The problem is that this strategy—sometimes called “mutualism”—is that it’s not very practical for most people, who lack basic resources. It does not really address the question of big industry, which cannot be replaced by piecemeal initiatives. Besides, Bakunin felt that it was unlikely that cooperatives could really win out against big business.

Bakunin proposed direct action instead: strikes, uprisings, the collectivization of the means of production and the abolition of the market. All defining features of anarchism as we argue below. That is why Bakunin stated that anarchism was “Proudhonism, greatly developed and taken to its ultimate conclusion.” It was indebted to Proudhon, but it was not Proudhonism.

AK: How exactly did you undertake a work on this scale?

Michael: Two things! One is the practical side: we worked for nine years on this project, debated endlessly, ran it by numerous reviewers and checked and rechecked everything. So, part one of the job was just plain old hard work.

On the methodological side: we defined the project clearly, and we embarked on a work of synthesis. It is simply not possible to undertake a project on this scale solely—even primarily—on the basis of primary, original sources. Like all such works, we drew heavily on existing scholarship, critically engaging a vast and diverse secondary literature by an amazing array of writers.

AK: Many studies view anarchism quite loosely as a general tendency opposed to centralism or to statism throughout history. Others identify figures like William Godwin in the 1790s, and then onto Max Stirner and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, before we get to Bakunin and Kropotkin. You disagree quite strongly. Why?

Lucien: Seeing anarchism as a universal tendency in human history is only possible if we define anarchism very loosely indeed, allowing all sorts of really quite unrelated ideas and movements to get grouped together.

You can’t put an extreme anti-social individualist like Max Stirner in the same camp as Bakunin, a libertarian socialist committed to class struggle … unless you use a very vague understanding of anarchism as a loose anti-statism. And then you have to also keep “anti-statism” pretty vague: Stirner, for instance, did not advocate the actual abolition of the state.

But reducing anarchism to anti-statism is very problematic. At one level, it’s actually pretty meaningless. The dictator Joseph Stalin’s declared goal was the withering away of the state. The neo-liberal Margaret Thatcher built her career on popular anti-statist sentiment. If anarchism is simply defined as opposition to the state, there is no logical reason to exclude either from the story of anarchism. They are usually excluded, of course, which is either arbitrary, or a tacit admission that the anarchism = anti-statism equation is an inadequate definition, because it can’t provide clear criteria for inclusion or exclusion.

Even so, there is a great deal of arbitrary inclusion going on in many works: you can find wildly different people ranging from Lao Tze, to Mohandas Gandhi, to Ché Guevara, to Murray Rothbard, to John Zerzan, labeled “anarchists” these days—and why not, anyway, using such a definition?

So, you need to have a more solid definition than anarchism = anti-statism, with better developed criteria. Otherwise there is nothing to distinguish anarchism from any other set of ideas, whether Marxist-Leninist, or neo-liberal, or primitivist or whatever—and no point looking at anarchism-as-anarchism since it’s an empty label.

At a second level, reducing anarchism to anti-statism is quite a-historical. It is only possible to posit a universal “anarchist” tendency throughout history, regardless of social conditions, if we treat anarchism as a sort of built-in human impulse. But if that is the case, then society should be naturally anarchist, and an anarchist movement would never have had to emerge anyway. Besides, the bloody history of humanity is hardly supportive of claims that people are somehow inherently hard-wired anarchists.

AK: What’s your solution?

Lucien: You need to explain the emergence of anarchism in relation to specific social contexts. The fact of the matter is that a conscious, identifiable, anarchist movement only emerged from the 1860s, and it emerged in the context of the rise of the modern working class.

That is, anarchism emerged as part of the struggles of the working class in the context of the new world of industrial capitalism and the modern state, and as part of the left, the socialist movement. More specifically, it emerged in the First International (1864-1877), and around the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy, founded by Bakunin and joined by Kropotkin.

This is very significant.  The First International was a global body, bring together radical workers and intellectuals from Europe, the Americas, Australasia and Africa, among them Bakunin and Karl Marx—it was a hothouse of ideas and debates, an early example of globalisation-from-below.

And if we look at the actual writings of that movement, and its organized expressions, it’s clear that anarchism is about libertarian, revolutionary, internationalist, class struggle for a classless, stateless, egalitarian, self-managed and cooperative society. This all gets lost when vague notions, like anarchism = anti-statism, are used. As if anti-capitalism, for example, or an orientation to the masses, the broad working class and the peasantry, are not absolutely central to anarchist history, theory, and struggle!

Michael: So, for us, the broad anarchist tradition does not include figures such as Lao, Godwin, Stirner, Zerzan and so on, who reject the positions that emerged from within the libertarian socialist, labour union, majority of the First International. Anarchist history is the history of the movement, the tradition, which started with Bakunin and the Alliance.

Lucien: The tradition’s ideas draw heavily on the economics of Karl Marx, a profound thinker, and even more deeply on the revolutionary ideas of the great French radical Proudhon. Both men made an immense contribution—Proudhon, for example, was the key source of anarchist ideas like self-management—but anarchism, proper, was neither Marxism not Proudhonist mutualism.

AK: You speak nonetheless of the “broad anarchist tradition”. As part of this, you set up a very close link between anarchism and syndicalism. Can you tell us more about this?

Michael: By the “broad anarchist tradition” we mean the tradition that shares these basic ideas, and the class-centred analysis of society in which they are embedded. Accepting these ideas, this lineage, places you in the broad anarchist tradition regardless of what label you personally prefer. The label is not the main thing. You can call yourself an anarchist and have nothing to do with anarchism. You can consider yourself, I don’t know, a good classical Marxist, but actually embrace anarchist praxis—that would actually make you part of the anarchist, not Marxist tradition. The ideas, not the label, are the key.

Now, syndicalism—revolutionary trade unionism aiming at direct workers’ control of production—is a labour movement rooted in anarchism, emerging in the 1870s. It emerged within anarchism, with Bakunin. It is not an unrelated movement that anarchists latched onto because of structural and ideological similarities.

Lucien: The broad anarchist tradition therefore includes the syndicalist movement—even those syndicalists who did not call themselves anarchists; the content, not the label, is what counts. So, as far as we are concerned, then, if Stirner has nothing to do with anarchism, Big Bill Haywood and the revolutionary syndicalist IWW, for instance, are integral parts of the broad anarchist tradition.

AK: So why keep speaking of anarchism AND syndicalism?

Lucien: We don’t phrase things that way because we want to set up a false division between the two. No. It’s just that two terms are not precisely interchangeable: not all anarchists accepted syndicalism, not all syndicalists identified overtly, or even consciously, with anarchism. Plus, precisely because of some of the confusion about the anarchism/ syndicalism relationship that’s out there, we couldn’t assume that the label “anarchism” would be understood to include syndicalism.

AK: What distinguishes anarchism, or should I say, the “broad anarchist tradition”, then?

Lucien: Like liberalism, anarchism opposes the oppression of the individual, by race, gender, class, arbitrary law and so on. Against liberalism (and like the larger socialist movement), it stresses that capitalism is inequitable, exploitative and divisive, and so totally incompatible with real individual freedom. Yet unlike mainstream Marxism and social democracy, it does not see the solution as more state control.

The aim is individual freedom through a cooperative, participatory, stateless socialist society controlled and planned from below through assemblies, groups and councils. It was, and is, resolutely modernist, aiming at conscious human control of history, and the use of science and technology to better the human condition. It is something quite different to an “anything goes” approach, or to a post-modern scepticism about radical change.

Of course, once the movement emerged it developed some of its own myths, some of which have backfired a bit. While Kropotkin’s early work stressed that anarchism emerged in the First International, his later work pioneers the claim that anarchism was a universal tendency in human history. This is simply propaganda, an attempt to legitimize a new and very controversial movement—and has caused a great deal of needless confusion.

AK: But doesn’t this narrower definition lose some of the richness and diversity of the anarchist tradition?

Michael: We are perfectly happy to debate our approach: all we ask is that people engage seriously with our reasoning and evidence, and avoid just asserting that we are wrong. Saying that Woodcock or whoever used another definition does not actually refute us. Saying we are being “sectarian” or have an “agenda” does not—in any way—show that we are wrong. That’s not debate; it’s actually closing down debate. We ask that engage with our methodology, and assess in concrete terms the usefulness of our definitions of that tradition.

Besides, you can’t really engage with the ideas of anarchism until you know what they are, and define them clearly. So, while we sacrifice the illusion of breadth that loose approaches provide, we gain focus, precision and depth. Godwin is out, for example, but Shifu is in, and we can get into the ideas of the latter in detail, and usefully examine them as part of the same intellectual and political tradition as those of Guerrero, or Makhno, or Parsons, or Thibedi.

Lucien: This allows us to really get to grips with the real debates and developments in the movement. And the result—which was a surprise to us, too, as the project developed—was a genuine, international breadth to the movement that has most often been too focused on the North Atlantic. So, a precise definition allowed us to actually work very systematically, and unearth an amazing amount of material, an incredibly rich history.

As we indicated earlier, we really are talking about a very diverse and contested tradition. For example, anarchist analysis has usually seen class, understood in terms of both power and wealth, as central. But while figures like Bakunin used a very open, non-reductionist, non-determinist approach to class, there were certainly currents that were crudely class-reductionist and economically determinist.

Likewise, the question of syndicalism. It was hotly debated—could unions provide a concrete, practical means of attaining the revolutionary future it sought, or would they weaken struggles, bureaucratizing and co-opting workers? Or national liberation: should anarchists and syndicalists involve themselves in anti-imperialist struggles, and, if so, to what end?

AK: Does your book attempt to incorporate current academic thinking on issues such as race and gender?

Michael: What we do is locate these debates within the historical circumstances of the times. We recover, we tap, the rich veins of anarchist and syndicalist thought on the national question, on women’s struggles, on union strategy …

Lucien: Our aim is not to “update” anarchism by blending it with current academic approaches; not at all. What we set out to do was to find out what the actual historical anarchist and syndicalist movement actually thought, actually did, in relation to national and racial oppression, in relation to labour movements. Only with this historical depth is it possible to make judgements, and realistic to develop comparisons and contrasts with other approaches.

So, readers waiting for us to incorporate, say, so-called “whiteness studies”, or “intersectionalist” approaches to race, class and gender are going to be left waiting.

First, because we want to understand anarchism / syndicalism in its own terms. Second, because it’s a distinct intellectual tradition that has a great deal of insight into issues of social and economic inequality, as well as a strategy around these issues. Its interesting in itself, it does not have to conform to academic or leftist fashions. It’s not an abstract lecture room theory, but a tradition defined by a combination of theory and practice—a radical, libertarian praxis.

AK: Anarchism has an image of being extreme, purist … even utopian …

Michael: Generally speaking, though, most anarchists were quite pragmatic, most supported syndicalism and immersed themselves in unions and community movements, and most were active anti-imperialists. Most anarchists were what we call “mass anarchists”: they favoured immersion in the movements of ordinary working and poor people, pushing those movements through anti-authoritarian education and example to develop along the lines of radical democracy and direct action.

To take an example, anarchists and syndicalists founded and ran powerful unions in many countries (including Brazil, China, Peru and many others), while and anarchists like Yu Rim and Shin (to take an example) are famous anti-colonialists in their homeland, Korea.

Actually this is where our series title comes from: by “counter-power” we have in mind the attempts of the anarchists and syndicalists to organize right now, immediately, alternative ways of doing things, of relating to each other, and of fighting back against the parasitic ruling class. The idea was generally to build tomorrow today, acting to create the new society in the ruins of the old.

Lucien: As for utopian, sure, anarchism is utopian if we think a world of justice, equality, fellowship is utopian. But utopian outlooks are not to be despised. Unless we can really think out of the box, aspire to the best of all possible futures, we set our sights very low. Way too low. Unless we see the present as a passing moment that will one day seem absurd, and disgraceful, we end up accepting far too much of its evils. I mean, it would have been dismissed as utopian to think, 200 years ago, that forced labour like slavery could be abolished, or 100 years ago to say women were full human beings. Right now, it seems utopian to think we can get rid of hunger, militarism, racism!

AK: In closing, why would the book be of interest to the general reader?

Lucien: Well, the question is itself a bit problematic. Given its subject matter, the book already has quite a defined audience: it is going to be of particular interest to people who are interested in issues like unions, working class history and anti-colonial struggles and so on, to people interested in political theory and ideas, and it is going to be of interest to people on the left more generally.

Why? Well, for people interested in unions and history, we think the book tells a very important part of the story of ordinary people’s struggles. It’s a history that has often been lost, obscured or misunderstood, but it’s absolutely critical to understanding the history of those struggles. For people interested in political thought, the book provides a very thorough introduction to anarchist ideas and debates, comparing and contrasting these to classical Marxism, nationalism and liberalism. And for activists, we think the book will be stimulating and revealing—at worst, it will provide food for thought, and, at best, a new way of looking at things and hopefully, a spur to further research and exploration of the rich international praxis of anarchism.

AK: So, now we wait for Counter-Power volume 2, a global history of the movement, Global Fire: 150 Fighting Years of Anarchism and Syndicalism?

Michael: Yes. Black Flame lays out the theory, and the big historical themes, like the role of the movement in rent strikes, or in organizing in the colonies and so on. Global Fire is the big narrative, aiming at a truly global coverage of the movement. Like we said, there is so much stuff out there. One book really can’t cover it all. From Albania to Zimbabwe, it’s going to be here if we can find it.

Lucien: Black Flame is quite a rich work, which repays several readings. Global Fire, likewise, is ambitious and bold. As for its release date, there is much work in the rewriting and peer-review process still to be done, so we are keeping that close to our chests for now!

AK: Thanks for your time, and good luck!

Lucien: Thanks for the interview and the support.

Michael: Red and black regards to AK Press!

Michael Schmidt is a Johannesburg-based investigative journalist and journalism trainer, with more than twenty years experience in the field as a reporter for South Africa’s leading newspapers including the Sunday Times and ThisDay, and as a co-editor of the anarchist news and analysis website anarkismo.net. A seasoned activist, his work has taken him to Chiapas, to Guatemala during the civil war, to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Darfur, Lebanon, and beyond.

Lucien van der Walt is based at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where he teaches in development, economic sociology, and labour studies. His recently completed PhD on anarchism and syndicalism in early twentieth-century South Africa was awarded the prestigious 2008 Labor History international prize. He has written and lectured widely on contemporary working-class struggles and the relationship between race and class, and, together with Steven Hirsch, he is the editor of the forthcoming volume, Anarchism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution (Brill 2010).

[Analysis in translation] Lucien van der Walt, 2012, “O istorie a anti-imperialismului anarhist”

Romanian translation, from website of IASR (Initiativa Anarho-Sindicalista) from Romania, with the article itself here.

Lucien van der Walt, 2012, “O istorie a anti-imperialismului anarhist”

O istorie a anti-imperialismului anarhist – Lucien van der Walt

În cadrul mişcării anarhiste există o tradiţie îndelungată de luptă împotriva imperialismului. Ea începe o dată cu anii ’60 ai secolului XIX şi continuă până astăzi. Din Cuba şi până în Egipt, din Irlanda şi până în Macedonia, din Coreea şi până în Algeria şi Maroc mişcarea anarhistă a plătit cu sânge opoziţia sa în faţa dominaţiei şi controlului imperialist.

Cu toate că anarhiştii au avut o participare activă în luptele de eliberare naţională, totuşi, ei au susţinut mereu că distrugerea imperialismului şi a asupririi naţionale nu pot fi realizate decât cu preţul distrugerii Statului şi a Capitalismului şi crearea unei societăţi internaţionale anarho-comuniste. Acest lucru nu înseamnă însă că anarhiştii nu iau parte la luptele de eliberare naţională, care nu au astfel de scopuri precum cele de mai sus. În schimb, însă, anarhiştii sunt alături de luptele împotriva imperialismului din principiu, dar caută schimbarea caracterului de luptă naţională de eliberare în cel de luptă pentru eliberare socială. Astfel de mişcări ar trebui să fie atât anticapitaliste, cât şi anti-imperialiste, ar trebui să fie bazate pe internaţionalism decât pe un şovinism îngust, ar trebui să facă legătura directă între luptele din centrele imperialiste cu luptele din regiunile opresate, şi să fie controlate de clasa muncitoare şi de ţărănime, reflectând în acelaşi timp interesele lor.

Cu alte cuvinte, noi suntem solidari cu mişcările anti-imperialiste, însă îi condamnăm pe aceia care se folosesc de aceste mişcări pentru a promova programe/agende culturale reacţionare (cum ar fi de exemplu, cei care se opun drepturilor femeilor în numele culturii) şi luptăm împotriva încercărilor capitaliştilor locali şi a clasei de mijloc de a deturna aceste mişcări. Ne opunem represiunii statale împotriva mişcărilor anti-imperialiste, la fel cum respingem dreptul statului de a decide care este şi care nu un protest legitim. Oricum, nu există nicio eliberare dacă toate schimbările poartă culoarea sau limbajul clasei capitaliste.

ÎMPOTRIVA NAŢIONALISMULUI

În acest punct ne diferenţiem noi de curentul politic care a dominat luptele de eliberare naţională încă din anii ’40 ai secolului XX: ideologia naţionalismului.

Naţionalismul este o strategie politică care argumentează faptul că elementul-cheie al oricărei lupte anti-imperialiste este întemeierea statului naţional independent. Naţionaliştii susţin că în cadrul acestor state independente se va putea exercita voinţa naţiunii. Astfel, Kwame Nkrumah, vârful de lance în lupta pentru întemeierea statului naţional independent al Ghanei, susţinea că obiectivul era „să căutaţi pentru început obţinerea puterii politice, iar restul va veni de la sine”.

Pentru a atinge acest ţel, naţionaliştii susţineau necesitatea unităţii claselor sociale din cadrul naţiunii opresate împotriva opresorului imperialist. Naţionaliştii tind să minimalizeze importanţa diferenţelor de clasă în cadrul naţiunii opresate, argumentând că experienţa comună a opresiunii naţionale face neimportante aceste diferenţe sau că noţiunea de „clasă” este un concept străin sau irelevant.

Astfel, naţionaliştii caută să ascundă diferenţele de clasă în căutarea întemeierii statului-naţiune.

Interesele de clasă care se ascund în spatele naţionalismului sunt evidente. Naţionalismul a fost, din punct de vedere istoric, o ideologie dezvoltată şi pusă în practică de burghezie şi de clasa de mijloc în cadrul naţiunii opresate. Este o formă de anti-imperialism care doreşte eliminarea imperialismului, dar păstrarea capitalismului, un anti-imperialism burghez care doreşte, mai pe scurt, să creeze un spaţiu mai larg, mai multe oportunităţi,  mai multe posibilităţi de a exploata clasa muncitoare locală şi de a dezvolta capitalismul burgheziei locale.

Astfel, devine clar rolul nostru, ca anarhişti, în relaţiile cu naţionaliştii: putem lupta alături de naţionalişti pentru reforme limitate şi pentru a-i învinge pe imperialişti, dar luptăm împotriva statismului şi capitalismului naţionaliştilor.

Rolul nostru este să câştigăm suportul maselor pentru viziunea anarhistă împotriva dominaţiei imperialiste, să-i câştigăm pe muncitori şi pe ţărani din mâinile naţionalismului şi să internaţionalizăm programul clasei muncitoare: anarhismul. Aceste lucruri cer participarea activă în luptele de eliberare naţională, însă necesită independenţă politică faţă de naţionalişti. Eliberarea naţională trebuie să fie diferenţiată de naţionalism, care este programul de clasă al burgheziei: noi suntem împotriva imperialismului, dar, de asemenea, suntem şi împotriva naţionalismului.

BAKUNIN ŞI INTERNAŢIONALA I

Susţinerea luptei de eliberare naţională vine direct din opoziţia anarhismului faţă de structurile politice ierarhice şi de inegalităţile economice, precum şi din promovarea confederaţiilor internaţionale liber constituite, formate din comune şi asociaţii muncitoreşti auto-organizate. În acelaşi timp, totuşi, angajarea anarhismului pentru emanciparea generală socială şi economică înseamnă că anarhismul respinge soluţiile statiste la opresiunea naţională, soluţii care nu afectează guvernul şi capitalismul.

Dacă cineva poate fi considerat părintele fondator al anarhismului revoluţionar, atunci acesta este Mihail Bakunin (1818-1876). Rădăcinile politice ale lui Bakunin se află în mişcările de eliberare naţională din Europa de Est şi el a rămas ataşat toată viaţă la ceea ce azi am putea numi „decolonizare”. Când Bakunin a trecut de la naţionalismul panslavist la anarhism în anii ’60 ai secolului XIX, imediat după dezastruoasa insurecţie poloneză din 1863, el a continuat să susţină luptele pentru auto-determinarea naţională.

El se îndoia că „Europa imperialistă” va putea să ţină în lanţuri coloniile: „Două treimi din umanitate, 800 de milioane de asiatici adormiţi în servitutea lor se vor trezi inevitabil şi vor începe să se mişte[1]. Bakunin a continuat să-şi declare „simpatia sa pentru orice ridicare naţională împotriva oricărei forme de opresiune”, afirmând că fiecare om „are dreptul de a fi el însuşi…nimeni nu are dreptul să-i impună îmbrăcămintea, obiceiurile, limba şi legile sale[2].

EUROPA DE EST

Întrebarea crucială este, totuşi, în ce direcţie se îndreptă mişcarea de eliberare naţională şi la ce va ajunge? Pentru Bakunin, eliberarea naţională trebuie obţinută „în interesul politic, dar şi în cel economic al maselor”:  dacă lupta anti-colonială este dusă „cu interesul ambiţios de a pune bazele unui Stat puternic” sau dacă „este purtată fără popor” şi„în consecinţă, depinde de succesul unei clase privilegiate”, ea va deveni „o mişcare retrogradă, dezastruoasă, contra-revoluţionară[3].

Orice revoluţie exclusiv politică – dusă pentru apărarea independenţei naţionale sau pentru schimbări interne – şi al cărei scop imediat nu va fi reala şi imediata emancipare politică şi economică a poporului va fi o revoluţie falsă. Obiectivele sale vor fi de neatins şi, în consecinţă, reacţionare[4].

Astfel, dacă eliberarea naţională va trebui să obţină mai mult decât înlocuirea unor opresori străini cu unii locali, atunci această mişcare va trebui să se unească cu lupta revoluţionară a muncitorimii şi a ţărănimii împotriva Capitalismului şi a Statului. Fără obiective sociale revoluţionare, eliberarea naţională va fi doar o simplă revoluţie burgheză.

Lupta de eliberare naţională a clasei muncitoare şi a ţărănimii trebuie să fie în mod hotărât una împotriva Statului, pentru că Statul a fost apărătorul unei clase privilegiate, iar sistemul statal va continua să recreeze problema opresiunii naţionale: „pentru a exista, un Stat va trebui să fie invadatorul altor state…trebuie să fie gata să ocupe o ţară străină şi să supună milioane de oameni”.

Lupta de eliberare naţională a naţionalităţilor opresate trebuie să fie internaţionalistă în caracter deoarece trebuie să înlocuiască obsesiile în legătură cu diferenţele culturale cu idealurile universale ale libertăţii umanităţii, trebuie să se alinieze alături de lupta de clasă internaţională „pentru emanciparea politică şi economică de sub jugul Statului” a claselor pe care le reprezintă şi, în cele din urmă, trebuie să fie parte a unei revoluţii internaţionale: „o revoluţie socială…este prin însăşi natura sa internaţională în scopurile sale”, iar naţionalităţile opresate „trebuie, în consecinţă, să-şi lege aspiraţiile şi forţele de aspiraţiile şi forţele celorlalte ţări[5]. „Calea etatistă care implică crearea unor State…separate” este „în întregime una ruinantă pentru marile mase ale poporului” pentru că nu distruge puterea de clasă, ci schimbă doar naţionalitatea clasei conducătoare[6]. În schimb, Statul trebuie schimbat şi înlocuit cu o coaliţie de structuri comunitare şi muncitoreşti „organizate de jos în sus…în conformitate cu principiile unei federaţii libere[7].

Aceste idei au început să fie puse în practică în Europa de Est începând cu anul 1870, anarhiştii jucând un rol activ în revolta din anul 1873 din Bosnia şi Herzegovina împotriva imperialismul austro-ungar. Anarhiştii au făcut parte de asemenea şi din Mişcarea Naţională Revoluţionară din Macedonia care a acţionat împotriva Imperiului Otoman. 60 de anarhişti şi-au dat viaţa în această luptă, mai ales în timpul marii revolte din 1903.

Această tradiţie a anarhismului anti-imperialist a fost continuată 15 ani mai târziu în Ucraina, unde mişcarea mahnovistă a organizat o imensă revoltă ţărănească care nu numai că a zdrobit ocupaţia germană din Ucraina şi a rezistat armatelor invadatoare roşii şi albe, dar a redistribuit pământul în multe zone, a întemeiat zone auto-organizate conduse de consilii muncitoreşti şi ţărăneşti şi a creat o Armată Revoluţionară Insurgentă aflată sub controlul muncitorilor şi ţăranilor.

EGIPT ŞI ALGERIA

Tot în anii ’70 ai secolului al XIX-lea anarhiştii au început să se organizeze şi în Egipt, mai ales în Alexandria, unde a apărut în 1877 un ziar local anarhist[8], iar un grup anarhist din Egipt a fost reprezentat la Congresul „Internaţionalei Saint-Imier” (facţiunea anarhistă desprinsă din Internaţionala I după 1872) din septembrie 1877[9]. O „Federaţie Egipteană”, în care erau incluse şi „grupuri din Alexandria şi Constantinopol”, a fost reprezentată în 1881 la Congresul Internaţional Social Revoluţionar de bine-cunoscutul Errico Malatesta[10]. Malatesta, care a trăit ca refugiat politic în Egipt între 1878 şi 1882[11], s-a implicat în „revolta Paşei”, din 1882, ca urmare a preluării în 1876 a finanţelor egiptene de către o comisie franco-engleză care reprezenta interesele creditorilor internaţionali. El a sosit aici special pentru a urmări „un obiectiv revoluţionar în conexiune cu revolta autohtonilor în zilele paşilor arabi[12] şi „pentru a lupta alături de egipteni împotriva colonialiştilor britanici[13].

În Algeria, mişcarea anarhistă a apărut în secolul al XIX-lea. Confederaţia Generală Sindicalist-Revoluţionară a Muncii (CGS-RM) a avut o secţiune în Algeria. Ca şi alte organizaţii anarhiste, CGS-RM s-a opus colonialismului francez, iar într-o declaraţie comună a CGS-RM, a Uniunii Anarhiste şi a Asociaţiei Federaţiilor Anarhiste emisă în 1930 cu ocazia aniversării a 100 de ani de ocupaţie franceză a Algeriei, se spune: „Civilizaţie? Progres? Noi spunem: crimă![14].

Un militant proeminent în CGS-RM, dar şi în Uniunea Anarhistă şi în Grupul Anarhiştilor Indigeni Algerieni, a fost Sail Mohamed (1894-1953), un anarhist algerian, activ în mişcarea anarhistă din 1910 şi pană la moartea sa, în 1953. Sail Mohamed a fost fondatorul unor organizaţii precum Asociaţia pentru Drepturile Indigenilor Algerieni şi Grupul Anarhiştilor Indigeni Algerieni. În 1929 a fost secretarul „Comitetului pentru Apărarea Algerienilor de Provocările Centenarului”. Sail Mahomed a fost, de asemenea, editorul ziarului anarhist Terre Libre – ediţia nord-africană şi un colaborator regulat al publicaţiilor anarhiste în legătură cu problema algeriană[15].

EUROPA ŞI MAROC

Opoziţia împotriva imperialismului a fost o parte crucială a campaniilor anarhiste antimilitariste din centrele imperialiste, care au subliniat faptul că războaiele colonialiste nu serveau intereselor muncitorilor, ci doar celor ale capitalismului.

Confederaţia Generală a Muncii din Franţa (CGT), de exemplu, a consacrat o parte însemnată din presa sa expunerii rolului capitaliştilor francezi în Africa de Nord. Primul număr din La Bataille Syndicaliste (Lupta Sincicalistă), care a apărut pe 27 aprilie 1911, a scos la iveală „sindicatul Marocan”: „oamenii ascunşi” care dictau ministerelor şi diplomaţilor şi care căutau să izbucnească un război care să ducă la creşterea cererii de armament, pământuri şi drumuri şi la creşterea taxelor pentru impozite asupra populaţiei indigene[16].

În Spania, „Săptămâna Tragică” a început luni, 26 iulie 1909, când sindicatul Solidarad Obrero (Solidaritatea Muncitorescă), condus de un comitet format din anarhişti şi socialişti, a chemat la grevă generală împotriva concentrării rezerviştilor – în marea majoritate muncitori – pentru războiul colonial din Maroc[17]. Până marţi, muncitorii aveau sub control Barcelona, „trandafirul anarhismului”, au oprit trenurile cu trupe militare, tramvaiele au fost răsturnate, comunicaţiile au fost întrerupte şi au fost ridicate baricade. Până joi au izbucnit luptele cu trupele guvernamentale, iar 150 de muncitori au fost ucişi în luptele de stradă.

Rezerviştii erau înrăiţi datorită ultimelor campanii dezastruoase din Cuba, Filipine şi Puerto Rico[18], însă „Săptămâna Tragică” trebuie înţeleasă ca o răscoală anti-imperialistă care face parte din îndelungata tradiţie anarhistă spaniolă anti-imperialistă. „Refuzul rezerviştilor din Catalonia de a lupta împotriva luptătorilor marocani din Munţii Riff”, „unul dintre cele mai semnificative” evenimente ale timpurilor moderne[19], reflecta concepţia comună că războiul era purtat doar în interesul proprietarilor de mine din Mţii Riff[20], iar conscripţia era „un act deliberat de război de clasă şi de exploatare din partea centrului[21].

În 1911, nou-fondata Confederaţia Naţională a Muncii (CNT), de orientare anarho-sindicalistă şi succesoare a Solidarad Obrero, şi-a marcat apariţia printr-o grevă generală în ziua de 16 septembrie cu următoarele 2 obiective: apărarea greviştilor din Bilbao şi opoziţia faţă de războiul din Maroc[22]. În 1922, din nou, după o înfrângere dezastruoasă în Maroc în luna august în urma bătăliei cu trupele lui Abd el-Krim, în care mai mult de 10.000 de soldaţi spanioli au fost ucişi, „poporul spaniol, plin de indignare, a cerut nu numai oprirea războiului, dar şi aducerea în faţa justiţiei a celor responsabili de acest masacru şi a politicienilor care au favorizat operaţiunile din Africa”, iar această indignare şi-a exprimat-o în revolte şi greve în regiunile industriale[23].

CUBA

În războiul colonial cubanez (1895-1904), anarhiştii cubanezi şi sindicatele lor s-au alăturat forţelor separatiste şi au dus o propagandă activă împotriva războiului în rândul trupelor spaniole. La fel ca şi cubanezii, anarhiştii spanioli au făcut propagandă împotriva războiului în rândul ţăranilor, muncitorilor şi soldaţilor din propria lor ţară[24]. „Toţi anarhiştii spanioli s-au pronunţat împotriva războiului şi i-au chemat pe muncitori la nesupunere faţă de autorităţile militare şi să refuze să lupte în Cuba”, lucru ce a dus la câteva revolte în rândul recruţilor[25].

Opunându-se naţionalismului burgheziei şi statismului, anarhiştii au căutat să dea revoltei coloniale un caracter social revoluţionar. La congresul său ţinut în 1892 în Cuba, Alianţa Muncitorilor a recomandat clasei muncitoare din Cuba să intre în rândurile „socialismului revoluţionar” şi să urmeze calea independenţei, subliniind faptul că:

„…ar fi absurd ca cineva, care caută libertatea individuală, să încerce să se opună libertăţii colective a oamenilor…[26].

Când l-a asasinat pe preşedintele spaniol Canovas în 1897, anarhistul Michele Angiolillo şi-a motivat actul atât prin dorinţa de a răzbuna represiunea la care erau supuşi anarhiştii spanioli, cât şi atrocităţile pe care le comitea Spania în războaiele sale coloniale[27].

Pe lângă rolul său în lupta anticolonială, mişcarea muncitorească cubaneză, condusă de anarhişti, a avut un rol extrem de important în depăşirea diviziunii dintre muncitorii negri, albi-cubanezi şi cei de origine spaniolă. Anarhiştii cubanezi  „au reuşit să aducă cu succes în rândurile mişcării muncitoreşti numeroşi oameni de culoare, amestecându-i pe spanioli cu cubanezii”, „întărind astfel conştiinţa de clasă şi să elimine diferenţele bazate pe rasă şi etnie dintre muncitori[28].

Alianţa Muncitorilor „a depăşit barierile rasiale cum nu o mai făcuse niciun sindicat până atunci în Cuba” în eforturile sale pentru a mobiliza „întregul popor în susţinerea grevelor şi demonstraţiilor[29]. În sindicat negrii s-au înscris într-un „număr foarte mare”, însă sindicatul a pornit de asemenea la lupta împotriva discriminărilor rasiale la locurile de muncă. Prima grevă din 1889, de exemplu, a avut printre revendicări şi „dreptul indivizilor de culoare să  muncească acolo[30]. Această revendicare a apărut şi în anii următori, la fel ca şi negrii şi albii „să poată sta în aceleaşi cafenele”, revendicare apărută la marşul de 1 Mai 1890 din Havana[31].

Periodicul anarhist El Producter, întemeiat în 1887, a denunţat „discriminarea la care sunt supuşi Afro-Cubaneziii de către angajatori, patronii de magazine şi de către administraţie, în special”. Iar prin campanii şi greve „care au mobilizat mase mari de oameni de diverse rase şi etnii”, muncitorimea anarhistă din Cuba a putut elimina „majoritatea metodelor de muncă disciplinată rămase din perioada sclaviei” cum ar fi „discrimarea rasială împotriva ne-albilor, precum şi pedepsirea corporală a ucenicilor şi calfelor[32].

MEXIC, NICARAGUA ŞI AUGUSTINO SANDINO

În Mexic, anarhiştii au condus răscoalele ţăranilor indieni precum revolta lui Chavez Lopez din 1869 şi cea condusă de Francisco Zalacosta din anii ’70 ai secolului XIX. Manifestările mai târzii ale anarhismului şi anarho-sindicalismului mexican – Partidul Liberal Mexican, sindicatul revoluţionar „Casa Muncitorilor Lumii” (COM), secţiunea mexicană a sindicatului „Muncitorii Industriali ai Lumii” (Industrial Workers of the World / IWW) – au luptat mereu împotriva dominaţiei economice şi politice a SUA şi s-au opus discriminării rasiale a muncitorilor mexicani din întreprinderile cu patroni străini, precum şi a celor ce munceau în SUA[33].

În deceniul 2 al secolului XX, concentrarea secţiunii naţionale a IWW asupra „chestiunilor zilnice combinate cu promisiunea unui viitor control al muncitorilor asupra fabricilor a atins o coardă sensibilă printre muncitorii care erau prinşi într-o revoluţie naţionalistă pentru recuperarea controlului asupra bogăţiilor naturale, sistemelor productive şi infrastructurii economice aflate până atunci în mâinile străinilor[34].

În Nicaragua, Augustino Cesar Sandino (1895-1934), conducătorul războiului de gherilă purtat împotriva ocupaţiei SUA din 1927-1933, este un erou naţional şi astăzi. „Drapelul roşu-negru” al armatei lui Sandino „avea o origine anarho-sindicalistă, acesta fiind introdus în Mexic de emigranţii spanioli[35].

Politica eclectică a lui Sandino poate fi încadrată într-un „anarho-comunism special[36], fiind considerată „un anarho-comunism radical[37]asimilat în Mexic…în timpul revoluţiei mexicane”, acolo el primind „o educaţie politică despre ideologia sindicalistă, cunoscută sub numele de anarhosindicalism, socialism libertar sau comunism raţional[38].

În ciuda slăbiciunii politice, mişcarea condusă de Sandino, EDSNN, s-a orientat treptat către o orientare stângistă deoarece Sandino a realizat că „numai muncitorii şi ţăranii vor merge până la capăt” în această luptă. Astfel, a crescut atenţia acordată organizării de cooperative ţărăneşti în teritoriile eliberate. Forţele SUA s-au retras în 1933, iar forţele EDSNN au fost demobilizate în mare parte. În 1934 Sandino a fost asasinat, iar cooperativele au fost desfiinţate din ordinele generalului Somoza, noul conducător pro-american al Nicaraguei.

LIBIA ŞI ERITREEA

În anii ’80 şi ’90 din secolul XIX în Italia „anarhiştii şi foştii anarhişti” „au fost unii dintre cei mai aprigi oponenţi ai aventurii militare a Italiei din Eritreea şi Abyssinia[39]. Mişcarea anarhistă italiană s-a implicat în aceste lupte prin campanii antimilitariste importante la începutul secolului XX, şi care, în curând, s-au concentrat asupra invaziei militare italiene în Libia din 19 septembrie 1911.

Augusto Masetti, un soldat anarhist care, în timp ce l-a împuşcat pe un colonel ce se adresa trupelor gata de plecare în Libia, a strigat „Jos Războiul! Trăiască Anarhia!” a devenit un simbol „popular al campaniei; un număr special al ziarului anarhist L’Agitatore, care i-a susţinut acţiunea, a scris pe prima pagina „Revolta anarhistă străluceşte în violenţa războiului” a dus la o strângere a rândurilor anarhiştilor. În timp ce majoritatea deputaţilor Partidului Socialist a votat pentru anexarea Libiei[40], anarhiştii au contribuit la organizarea de mari demonstraţii împotriva războiului şi la o grevă generală parţială şi „au încercat să oprească trupele care plecau din regiunile Marches şi Liguria spre punctele de îmbarcare pentru Libia[41].

Campania a fost foarte populară printre ţărani şi muncitori[42], iar până în 1914 frontul grupurilor antimilitariste, dominat de anarhişti şi deschis tuturor revoluţionarilor, avea 20.000 de membri şi colabora îndeaproape cu Tineretul Socialist[43].

Primul-ministru Antonio Salandra a trimis armata împotriva demonstraţiilor cu caracter antimilitarist şi care cereau desfiinţarea batalioanelor disciplinare din armată şi eliberarea lui Masetti, toate conduse de anarhişti, din 7 iunie 1914[44], fapt ce a declanşat „Săptămâna Roşie” din iunie 1914[45], o revoltă populară ce s-a transformat într-o grevă generală condusă de anarhişti şi de Uniunea Sindicală Italiană (USI). Rebelii au deţinut controlul asupra oraşului Ancona timp de 10 zile, în toate marile oraşe au fost ridicate baricade, orăşelele din regiunea Marches s-au proclamat comune auto-guvernate, iar peste tot unde revolta a avut loc „au fost înălţate steagurile roşii, au fost atacate bisericile, căile ferate au fost distruse, vilele de odihnă au fost distruse, taxele au fost desfiinţate, iar preţurile au fost reduse[46]. Mişcarea s-a prăbuşit după ce aripa sindicală a Partidului Socialist Italian a renunţat la grevă, însă pentru recucerirea controlului asupra Anconei a fost nevoie de intervenţia a 10.000 de soldaţi[47]. După ce Italia a intrat în Primul Război Mondial în mai 1915, USI şi mişcarea anarhistă şi-au păstrat poziţiile anti-războinice şi anti-imperialiste, până în 1920, când au declanşat o amplă campanie împotriva invaziei Albaniei de către Italia şi a intervenţiei străine împotriva Revoluţiei din Rusia[48].

IRLANDA & JAMES CONNOLLY

În Irlanda, pentru a cita un alt caz, sindicaliştii revoluţionari James Connolly şi Jim Larkin au căutat în deceniul al doilea al secolului XX să unească muncitorii ce erau divizaţi de diferenţele religioase, având ca scop transformarea Sindicatului Irlandez al Transportului şi a Uniunii Generale a Muncitorilor într-un „Unic Mare Sindicat[49]. Socialismul urma să fie instaurat în urma unei mari greve generale: „cei care pun bazele organizaţiilor industriale pentru scopurile practice din zilele noastre pregătesc, în acelaşi timp, cadrul societăţii viitoare…principiul controlului democratic va funcţiona prin intermediul muncitorilor organizaţi în mod corect…în Uniuni Industriale, iar…statul politic, teritorial al societăţii capitaliste nu îşi va mai găsi locul şi nici utilitatea…[50].

Connolly, care a fost un anti-imperialist ferm, s-a opus dictonului naţionalist „muncitorimea mai poate aştepta” şi că o Irlandă independentă trebuie să fie capitalistă: care ar fi diferenţa în practică, scria acesta, dacă şomerii ar fi fost adunaţi „pentru a intona imnul Zilei Sf. Patrick, în timp ce aprozii ar purta uniforme verzi şi Harpa fără Coroană, iar mandatele care te izgonesc de pe străzi ar fi ştampilate cu armele Republicii Irlandeze?[51]. La sfârşit, el insista că „problema irlandeză este o problemă socială, întreaga luptă îndelungată a poporului irlandez împotriva opresorilor săi este, într-un final, în urma unei analiza serioase, doar o luptă pentru stăpânirea mijloacelor de viaţă, a surselor de producţie din Irlanda[52].

Connolly era sceptic chiar şi în privinţa abilităţii burgheziei naţionale de a lupta în mod consistent împotriva imperialismului, pe care a descris-o [burghezia, n.tr.] drept un bloc anti-muncitoresc laş şi sentimental, şi s-a opus oricărei alianţe cu această clasă socială: fosta radicală clasă de mijloc „a îngenuncheat în faţa lui Baal şi este legată cu 1000 de sfori…de capitalismul englez, ca şi împotriva oricărui ataşament istoric sau sentimental, fapt ce a îndepărtat-o de patriotismul irlandez”, astfel că „numai clasa muncitoare rămâne drept moştenitoarea incoruptibilă a luptei pentru libertate în Irlanda[53]. Connolly a fost executat în 1916 datorită implicării sale în Revolta de Paşti, care a fost scânteia Războiului de independenţă a Irlandei (1919-1922), una din primele secesiuni de succes din Imperiul britanic.

REVOLUŢIA ANARHISTĂ ÎN COREEA

Mai este un ultim exemplu pe care trebuie să-l menţionăm. Mişcarea anarhistă şi-a făcut apariţia în Asia de Est la începutul secolului XX, având o influenţă destul de importantă în China, Japonia şi Coreea. După ce Japonia a anexat Coreea în 1910, s-a dezvoltat o mişcare împotriva ocupaţiei atât în Coreea, cât şi în Japonia şi care s-a răspândit şi în China. În Japonia, proeminentului anarhist Kotoku Shusui i s-a făcut o înscenare şi a fost executat în iulie 1910, fiind ucis de fapt pentru că publicaţia editată de el Ziarul Comunelor a desfăşurat o largă campanie împotriva expansionismului japonez[54].

Pentru anarhiştii coreeni, locul central în activitatea lor politică l-a avut lupta pentru decolonizare: aceştia au avut un rol important în revolta din 1919 împotriva ocupaţiei japoneze, iar în 1924 au întemeiat Federaţia Anarhistă Coreeană (KAF), care avea la bază Manifestul Revoluţionar Coreean, în care se spunea:

declarăm că politica banditească a Japoniei este inamica existenţei naţiunii noastre şi este dreptul nostru să alungăm Japonia imperialistă prin mijloace revoluţionare[55].

În Manifest se arăta în mod clar că răspunsul la problema naţională nu era crearea unui „stat naţional suveran”, ci o revoluţie socială a ţăranilor şi săracilor împotriva guvernului colonial şi a burgheziei locale.

Mai mult, această luptă era văzută în termeni internaţionalişti de KAF, care a întemeiat în 1928 Federaţia Anarhistă Răsăriteană, organizaţie care grupa China, Taiwan, Japonia, Vietnamul, precum şi alte ţări, şi care chema „proletariatul lumii, în special pe cel din coloniile răsăritene” să se unească împotriva „imperialismului capitalist internaţional”. Chiar în Coreea, anarhiştii au pus bazele unei reţele ilegale – Federaţia Anarho-Comunistă Coreeană – care urma să se implice în activităţi de gherilă, muncă de propagandă şi organizare sindicalistă[56].

În 1929, anarhiştii coreeni au organizat în Manciuria o zonă liberă armată – Asociaţia Poporului Coreean – care reunea două milioane de luptători de gherilă şi ţărani coreeni organizaţi în ferme-cooperative voluntare. Asociaţia Poporului Coreean din Manciuria a reuşit să reziste câţiva ani în faţa atacurilor armatei japoneze şi a staliniştilor coreeni, susţinuţi de URSS, până când au fost obligaţi să intre în ilegalitate[57]. Rezistenţa a continuat şi în anii ’30, în ciuda represiunii intense şi mai multe acţiuni comune sino-coreene au fost organizate după ce Japonia a invadat China în 1937[58].

ÎN CONCLUZIE – SPRE O DECONSTRUCŢIE A IMPERIALISMULUI

Anarhiştii nu pot rămâne „neutri” în nicio luptă împotriva imperialismului. Fie că este vorba de lupta împotriva datoriilor lumii a treia, de lupta împotriva ocupaţiei israeliene a Palestinei sau de opoziţia în faţa atacurilor SUA din Orientul Mijlociu, noi nu suntem neutri, noi nu putem fi niciodată neutri. Noi suntem anti-imperialişti.

Dar noi nu suntem naţionalişti. Noi recunoaştem faptul că imperialismul este adânc înrădăcinat în capitalism si că simpla înlocuire a elitelor străine cu cele locale nu va rezolva problemele într-un mod avantajos pentru proletariat şi ţărănime.

Întemeierea de noi state naţionale înseamnă, în fapt, întemeierea de noi state capitaliste care, în schimb, servesc intereselor conducătorilor locali pe seama clasei muncitoare şi a ţărănimii. Astfel, majoritatea mişcărilor naţionaliste care şi-a atins scopurilor s-a întors apoi împotriva muncitorimii o dată ajunsă la putere, zdrobind cu vigoare stânga politică şi mişcarea sindicală. Cu alte cuvinte, opresiunea continuă în forme noi.

În acelaşi timp, imperialismul nu poate fi distrus de formarea noilor state naţionale. Statele naţionale independente, chiar şi ele, fac parte din sistemul statal internaţional şi din sistemul capitalist internaţional, un sistem în care puterea statelor imperialiste stabileşte încă regulile jocului. Cu alte cuvinte, represiunea externă continuă în forme noi.

Acest lucru înseamnă că noile state – şi capitaliştii locali care le controlează – îşi vor da seama curând că nu vor putea fi capabile să concureze împotriva controlului imperialist şi vor încerca, în schimb, să-şi promoveze propriile interese în cadrul acestui imperialism. Acest lucru înseamnă că ele vor menţine legături economice strânse cu centrele occidentale, în timp ce se vor folosi de propria putere statală pentru a se întări, sperând, ca într-un final, să atingă ele însele statutul imperialist. În practică, modul cel mai eficace pentru clasa conducătoare locală în dezvoltarea capitalismului este zdrobirea clasei muncitoare şi a fermelor micilor producători cu scopul de a putea vinde materii prime şi mărfuri la preţuri foarte mici pe piaţa mondială.

Astfel, acest lucru nu reprezintă o soluţie. Trebuie să distrugem imperialismul pentru a crea astfel condiţiile propice auto-guvernării oamenilor din întreaga lume. Însă acest lucru necesită şi distrugerea sistemului capitalist şi a celui statal. În acelaşi timp, lupta noastră este şi una împotriva clasei conducătoare din lumea a treia: opresiunea locală nu reprezintă o soluţie. Elitele locale sunt inamice în cadrul mişcărilor de eliberare naţională, fiind şi mai mult după realizarea noilor state naţionale. Numai proletariatul şi ţărănimea pot distruge capitalismul şi imperialismul şi să înlocuiască dominaţia elitelor locale şi străine cu auto-organizarea şi cu egalitatea economică şi socială.

În consecinţă, noi suntem pentru autonomia, unitatea şi solidaritatea internaţională a clasei muncitoare, de-a lungul tuturor ţărilor şi continentelor, şi pentru întemeierea unui sistem internaţional anarho-comunist bazat pe auto-activitatea clasei muncitoare şi a ţărănimii. După cum a spus şi Sandino, „ÎN ACEASTĂ LUPTĂ, NUMAI MUNCITORII ŞI ŢĂRANII VOR MERGE PÂNĂ LA CAPĂT!


[1] Citat în D. Geurin, Anarchism, Monthly Review, 1970, p. 68

[2] Ibidem

[3] Ibidem, p.68

[4] M. Bakunin, “National Catechism”, [1866] în S. Dolgoff (edit.), Bakunin on Anarchy, [Editura] George Allen and Unwin, London, 1971,  p. 99

[5] M. Bakunin, “Statism and Anarchy” [1873] în S. Dolgoff (edit.), op cit., p. 341-343

[6] Ibidem

[7] Citat din S. Cipko, 1990, “Mikhail Bakunin and the National Question”, p. 3 în The Raven, 9, (1990), p.11

[9] G. Woodcock, Anarchism: a History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements, [Editura] Penguin, 1975, p.236-238

[10] H. Oliver, The International Anarchist Movement in Late Victorian London, [Editurile] Croom Helm, Londra / Rowman and Littlefield, New Jersey, 1983,  p.15

[11] V. Richards, Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Freedom Press, London, 1993,  p.229

[12] Ibidem; P. Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: a history of anarchism, Fontana, 1994, p.347

[13] D. Poole, Appendix: About Malatesta, în E. Malatesta, Fra Contadini: a Dialogue on Anarchy, Bratach Dubh Editions, Anarchist Pamphlets no. 6, London, 1981, p.42

[14] Citat din Sail Mahomed, Appels Aux Travailleurs Algeriens, Volonte Anarchiste / Edition Du Groupe Fresnes Antony, Paris (Editat de Sylvain Boulouque), 1994

[15] citat din Sylvain Boulouque, “Sail Mohamed: ou la vie et la revolte d’un anarchiste Algerien” în S. Mahomed, op cit.

[16] F.D., “Le Syndicait Marocain”, Le Bataille Syndicaliste, nr. 1, 27 aprilie 1911

[17] R. Kedward, The Anarchists: the men who shocked an era, Library of the Twentieth Century, 1972, p.67

[18] Ibidem, p.67

[19] Nevinson a fost un critic englez al imperialismului; citatul este din 1909, în P. Trewhela, “George Padmore: a critique ” în Searchlight South Africa, vol. 1, nr. 1, 1988, p.50

[20] B. Tuchman citat în Trewhela, op. cit., p.50

[21] R. Kedward, op. cit., p.67

[22] M. Bookchin, The Spanish Anarchists: the heroic years 1868-1936, Harper Colophon Books: New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London, 1977, p.163

[23] A. Paz, Durruti: the People Armed, Black Rose, Montreal, 1987, p.39

[24] J. Casanovas, Labour and Colonialism in Cuba in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century, teză de doctorat, State University of New York, editată la Stony Brook, 1994

[25] Ibidem, p.436

[26] F. Fernandez, Cuba: the anarchists and liberty, ASP, London, 1989, p.2

[27] J. Casanovas, op. cit., p.436

[28] Ibidem, p.438

[29] Ibidem, p.366

[30] Ibidem, p.367

[31] Ibidem, p.381, 393-394

[32] J. Casanovas, “Slavery, the Labour Movement and Spanish Colonialism in Cuba, 1850-1890″, International Review of Social History, nr. 40, 1995, p. 381-382. Aceste lupte sunt prezentate în detaliu în Casanovas, Labour and Colonialism in Cuba …, 1994, capitolele 8 şi 9

[33] vezi N. Caulfield, “Wobblies and Mexican Workers in Petroleum, 1905-1924″, International Review of Social History, nr. 40, 1995, p.52; Idem, “Syndicalism and the Trade Union Culture of Mexico” (lucrare prezentată la Simpozionul Sindicalismul: Experienţe Istorice Suedeze şi Internaţionale, Universitatea din Stockholm, Suedia, 13-14 martie 1998); J. Hart, Anarchism and the Mexican Working Class, 1860-1931, Texas University Press, 1978

[34] N. Caulfield, “Wobblies and Mexican Workers in Petroleum, 1905-1924″…, 1995; Idem, “Syndicalism and the Trade Union Culture of Mexico”

[35] D.C. Hodges, The Intellectual Foundations of the Nicaraguan Revolution în Appendix, The Symbols of Anarchy, The Anarchist FAQ, http://flag.blackened.net/intanark/faq/

[36] Ibidem

[37] vezi Navarro-Genie, Sin Sandino No Hay Sandinismo: lo que Bendana pretende (lucrare nepublicată încă: n.a./n.tr.)

[38] A. Bendana, A Sandinista Commemoration of the Sandino Centennial (discurs ţinut cu ocazia comemorării a 61 de ani de la moartea Generalului Sandino, la Olaf Palme Convention Centre din Managua), distribuit de Centre for International Studies, Managua, 1995

[39] C. Levy, “Italian Anarchism, 1870-1926″ în D. Goodway (editor), For Anarchism: history, theory and practice, Routledge, London/ New York, 1989, p.56

[40] G. Williams, A Proletarian Order: Antonio Gramsci, factory councils and the origins of Italian communism 1911-1921, Pluto Press, 1975, p.36-37

[41] C. Levy, op. cit., p.56; G. Williams, op. cit., p.37

[42] G. Williams, op. cit., p.35

[43] C. Levy, op. cit., p.56

[44] Ibidem, p.56-57

[45] Ibidem, p.56-57

[46] Ibidem, p.56-57; G. Williams, op. cit., p.51-52; citatul este din G. Williams

[47] G. Williams, op. cit., p.36

[48] vezi C. Levy, op. cit., p.64, 71; G. Williams, op. cit.

[49] în legătură cu Connolly şi Larkin v. E. O’Connor, Syndicalism in Ireland, 1917-1923, Cork University Press, Ireland, 1988. Nu intenţionez în această lucrare să intru într-o dezbatere detailiată despre Connolly, însă ţin să menţionez că recentele cercetări încearcă să-l aproprie pe acesta de stalinism, troţkism şi/sau marxism, în general, fără a mai menţiona de naţionalismul irlandez şi/sau catolicism, dată diind şi ambiguitatea propriilor sale viziuni asupra sindicalismului de după 1904 – vezi în acest sens materialele din O. B. Edwards, B. Ransom (edit.), James Connolly: selected political writings, Jonathan Cape, London, 1973

[50] J. Connolly, “Socialism Made Easy” [1909] în Edwards şi Ransom (edit), op. cit., p.271, 274

[51] Ibidem, p.262

[52] J. Connolly, Labour in Irish History [1903-1910], (Corpus de Texte Electronice, University College, Cork, Ireland), p. 183

[53] Ibidem, p.25

[54] Ha Ki-Rak, A History of Korean Anarchist Movement, Anarchist Publishing Committee, Korea, 1986, p. 27-29

[55]Ibidem, p.19-28

[56] Ibidem, p. 35-69

[57] Ibidem, p. 71-93

[58] Ibidem, p. 96-113

Initiativa Autonoma—Craiova

CHAPTER [+PDF] Lucien van der Walt, Michael Schmidt, 2013, “Black Flame”, in Robert Graham (ed.), Anarchism: a documentary history of libertarian ideas: volume 3: The New Anarchism (1974-2008), Black Rose Books: Montréal, New York, London, pp. 453-460.

Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt, 2013, “Black Flame”, in Robert Graham (ed.), Anarchism: a documentary history of libertarian ideas: volume 3: The New Anarchism (1974-2008), Black Rose Books: Montréal, New York, London, pp. 453-460.

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Editor’s introduction by Robert Graham: In thevolume-3ir controversial book, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, Counterpower Volume I (Oakland: AK Press, 2009), Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt argue that “there is only one anarchist tradition,” the tradition of class struggle anarchism “rooted in the work of Bakunin” and his international Alliance of Socialist Democracy (page 71), thereby excluding, among others, the Daoists (Volume One, Selection I), Godwin (Volume One, Selection 4), Stirner (Volume One, Selection 11), and even Proudhon (Volume One, Selections 8,9,12 & 18), from the anarchist “canon,” a position distinctly at odds with the approach taken in this anthology. In addition to defending a narrow definition of anarchism[sic.], they argue in support of a Platformist position (Volume One, Selection 115,) that for anarchists to be effective they need to form ideologically unified anarchist groups “with a shared analysis, strategy, and tactics, coordinated action, and an organizational discipline.”

CHAPTER: Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt, 2013, “Black Flame”, in Robert Graham (ed.), Anarchism: a documentary history of libertarian ideas: volume 3: The New Anarchism (1974-2008), pp. 454-460.

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“Anarchism” is often wrongly identified as chaos, disorganization, and destruction. It is a type of socialism, and is against capitalism and landlordism, but it is also a *libertarian* type of socialism. For anarchism, individual freedom and individuality are extremely important, and are best developed in a context of democracy and equality. Individuals, however, are divided into classes based on exploitation and power under present-day systems of capitalism and landlordism. To end this situation it is necessary to engage in class struggle and revolution, creating a free socialist society based on common ownership, self-management, democratic planning from below, and production for need, not profit. Only such a social order makes individual freedom possible.

The state, whether heralded in stars and stripes or a hammer and sickle, is part of the problem. It concentrates power in the hands of the few at the apex of its hierarchy, and defends the system that benefits a ruling class of capitalists, landlords, and state managers. It cannot be used for revolution, since it only creates ruling elites – precisely the class system that anarchists want to abolish. For anarchists the new society will be classless, egalitarian, participatory, and creative, all features incompatible with a state apparatus.

Now, “every anarchist is a socialist, but not every socialist is an anarchist” [Volume Two, Selection 551]. Since its emergence, socialism has been divided into two main tendencies: libertarian socialism, which rejects the state and hierarchy more generally; and political socialism, which advocates “a political battle against capitalism waged through centrally organized workers’ parties aimed at seizing and utilizing State power to usher in socialism” (W. Thorpe, *The Workers Themselves*). Anarchism is an example of the first strand; classical Marxism is an example of revolutionary political socialism, while social democracy stands for a peaceful and gradual political socialism.

For anarchism it is a struggle by the working class and peasantry-the “popular classes”-that can alone fundamentally change society. These two groups constitute the great majority of humanity, and are the only ones with a basic interest in changing society as well as the power to do so. The emancipation of the popular classes -and consequently, the creation of a free society and the emancipation of all human beings – must be undertaken by those classes, themselves. Struggles against the economic, social, and political injustices of the present must be waged from below by “ordinary” people, organized democratically, and outside of and against the state and mainstream political parties.

In stressing individual freedom, and believing that such freedom is only realized through cooperation and equality, anarchism emphasizes the need to organize the popular classes in participatory and democratic movements, and the significance of direct action. It is critical to build movements that are able to develop a counterpower to confront and supplant the power of the ruling class and

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the state. At the same time, it is essential to create a revolutionary popular counterculture that challenges the values of class society with a new outlook based on democracy, equality, and solidarity.

The most important strand in anarchism has, we argue, always been syndicalism: the view that unions – built through daily struggles, a radically democratic practice, and popular education – are crucial levers of revolution, and can even serve as the nucleus of a free socialist order. Through a revolutionary general strike, based on the occupation of workplaces, working people will be able to take control of production and reorient it toward human need, not profit. Syndicalism envisages a radically democratic unionism as prefiguring the new world, and aims to organize across borders and in promotion of a revolutionary popular counterculture. It rejects bureaucratic styles of unionism as well as the notion that,unions should only concern themselves with economic issues or electing prolabour political parties…

The broad anarchist tradition stresses class, but this should not be mistaken for a crude workerism that fetishizes male factory workers in heavy boots and hardhats. The working class and peasantry are understood in expansive terms: the working class includes all wageworkers who lack control of their work, whether employed in agriculture, industry, or services, including casual and informal workers as well as their families and the unemployed; the peasantry includes all small farmers who are subject to the control and exploitation of other classes, including sharecroppers and labour tenants.

The stress on class also does not mean a narrow focus on economic issues. What characterizes, the broad anarchist tradition is not economism but a concern with struggling.against the many injustices of the present. As the popular classes are international, multinational, and multiracial, anarchism is internationalist, underscoring common class interests worldwide, regardless of borders, cultures, race, and sex. For anarchists, a worker in Bangalore has more in common with a worker in Omsk, Johannesburg, Mexico City, or Seoul than with the Indian elite. Karl Marx’s ringing phrase “Working men of all countries, unite!” is, taken in its most literal and direct sense.

To create a world movement requires, in turn, taking seriously the specific problems faced by particular groups like oppressed nationalities, races, and women, and linking their struggles for emancipation to the universal class struggle. There is a powerful anti-imperialist, antimilitarist, antiracist, and feminist impulse – “feminist” in the sense of promoting women’s emancipation – in the broad anarchist tradition, all within a class framework…

[We disagree with approaches that leave these features out of anarchism. For example [According to Eltzbacher … anyone who held an antistatist position must be an anarchist, even if they disagreed over fundamental issues like the nature of society, law, property, or the means of changing society. This minimalist defini-

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ion of anarchism overlapped with the tendency of many anarchists and syndicalists to invent myths about their own history. Kropotkin was not alone in constructing an imagined prehistory for the anarchist movement, a supposed genealogy of anarchist ideas and movements that dated back to the antiquity of Asia and Europe …

There are obvious problems here. If an anarchist is someone who “negates” the state, it is by no means clear how anarchism differs from the most radical economic liberals, like Murray Rothbard, who envisage a stateless society based on private property and an unrestrained free market. Likewise, classical Marxism’s ultimate objective is a stateless society without alienation and compulsion. Using Eltzbacher’s definition, both Rothbard and Marx could arguably earn a place in the pantheon of anarchist sages; it would be arbitrary to exclude them. In other words, Eltzbacher’s definition fails the basic task of clearly delineating anarchism from other ideas and therefore cannot be regarded as adequate.

The tendency to project anarchism onto all of human history has related problems: on the one hand, no serious examination of Lao-tzu [Volume One, Selection I], the Anabaptists, and Bakunin can maintain that they shared the same views and goals, so it is not clear why they should be grouped together; and on the other hand, if anarchism is a universal feature of society, then it becomes very difficult indeed to explain why it arises, or to place it in its historical context, to delineate its boundaries, and analyze its class character and role at a particular time…

The obvious temptation is to take refuge in psychological explanations. Peter Marshall, for example, claims that the “first anarchist” was the first person who rebelled against “authority,” and that anarchism was rooted in human nature, “a timeless struggle” between “those who wanted to rule and those who refused to be ruled or to rule in turn,” premised on a “drive for freedom,” a “deeply felt human need.” The radical environmentalist and libertarian socialist Murray Bookchin made the same argument, adding a Freudian touch: anarchism is a “great libidinal movement of humanity to shake off the repressive apparatus created by hierarchical society” and originates in the “age-old drive” of the oppressed for freedom.

Yet there is no real evidence for this line of argument, and it fails to explain why anarchism has been significant in some periods and almost entirely absent in others. If anarchism is a human drive, why have its fortunes varied so dramatically over time? Only a historical and social analysis can really explain the rise and fall of anarchism, and this requires recourse to social science, not psychology …

Having rejected the contention that antistatism and a belief in individual freedom constitute the defining features of anarchism, we have suggested that a

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more adequate definition of anarchism can be derived from an examination of the intellectual and social trend that defined itself as anarchist from the 1860s onward. Given that antistatism is at best a *necessary* component of anarchist thought, but not a *sufficient* basis on which to classify a set of ideas or a particular thinker as part of the anarchist tradition, it follows that Godwin [Volume One, Selection 41, Stirner [Volume One, Selection I I], and Tolstoy [Volume One, Selections 47 & 75] cannot truly be considered anarchists. Thinkers and activists who follow in the footsteps of these writers cannot, in turn, be truly considered anarchists or part of the anarchist tradition, even if they may perhaps be considered libertarians.

It follows from there that commonly used categories such as “philosophical anarchism” (often used in reference to Godwin or Tucker), “individualist anarchism” (used in reference to Stirner or the mutualists), “spiritual anarchism” (used in reference to Tolstoy and his cothinkers), or “lifestyle anarchism” (usually used in reference to latter-day Stirnerites) fall away. Because the ideas designated by these names are not part of the anarchist tradition, their categorization [as] variants of anarchism is misleading and arises from a misunderstanding of anarchism. Likewise, adding the rider “class struggle” or “social” to the word anarchist implies that there are anarchists who do not favour class struggle or who are individualists, neither of which is an accurate usage …

It is possible to identify libertarian and libertarian socialist tendencies throughout recorded history, analyse the ideas of each tendency, and examine their historical role. Yet anarchism, we have argued, is not a universal aspect of society or the psyche. It emerged from within the socialist and working-class movement 150 years ago, and its novelty matters. It was also very much a product of modernity and emerged against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism [Volume One, Chapter 3]. The ideas of anarchism themselves are still profoundly marked by the modern period and modernist thought. Its stress on individual freedom, democracy, and egalitarianism, its embrace of rationalism, science, and modern technology, its belief that history may be designed and directed by humankind, and its hope that the future can be made better than the past – in short, the idea of progress – all mark anarchism as a child of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, like liberalism and Marxism. Premodern libertarian ideas were expressed in the language of religion and a hankering for a lost idyllic past; anarchism, like liberalism and Marxism, embraces rationalism and progress. Nothing better expresses this linkage than the notion of “scientific socialism,” a term widely used by Marxists, but actually coined by Proudhon [Volume One, Selection 8].

Not only is it the case that anarchism *did* not exist in the premodern world; it is also the case that it *could* not have, for it is rooted in the social and intellec-

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tual revolutions of the modern world. And as modernity spread around the globe from the northern Atlantic region, the preconditions for anarchism spread too. By the time of Bakunin, the Alliance, and the First International, the conditions were ripe for anarchism in parts of Europe, the Americas, and Africa; within thirty years, the modernization of Asia had opened another continent.. . . .

“Class struggle” anarchism, sometimes called revolutionary or communist l anarchism, is not a type of anarchism; in our view, it is the *only* anarchism …

[W]e develop a distinction within the broad anarchist tradition between two main strategic approaches, which we call “mass anarchism” and “insurrectionist anarchism.” Mass anarchism stresses that only mass movements can create a revolutionary change in society, that such movements are typically built through in struggles around immediate issues and reforms (whether concerning wages, police brutality, high prices, and so on), and that anarchists must participate in such movements to radicalize and transform them into levers of revolutionary change. What is critical is that reforms are won *from below*: these victories must be distinguished from reforms applied from above, which undermine popular move ments.

The insurrectionist approach, in contrast, claims that reforms are illusory, that movements like unions are willing or unwitting bulwarks of the existing order, and that formal organizations are authoritarian [Volume One, Selection 351. Consequently, insurrectionist anarchism emphasizes armed action – “pro- paganda by the deed” – as the most important means of evoking a spontaneous revolutionary upsurge. What distinguishes insurrectionist anarchism from mass anarchism is not necessarily violence as such but its place in strategy: for insurrectionist anarchism, propaganda by the deed, carried out by conscious anarchists, is seen as a means of generating a mass movement; for most mass anarchism, violence operates as a means of self-defence for an *existing* mass movement…

At the heart of the mass anarchist tradition is the view that it is necessary to build a popular revolutionary movement – centred on a revolutionary counter- culture and the formation of organs of counterpower – in order to lay the basis for a new social order in place of capitalism, landlordism, and the state. Such a movement might engage in struggles around reforms, but it ultimately must aim to constitute the basis of a new society within the shell of the old, an incipient new social order that would finally explode and supersede the old one. Insurrectionist anarchism is impossibilist, in that it views reforms as impossible and futile; mass anarchism is *possibilist*, believing that it is both possible and desirable to win, to force reforms from the ruling classes, and that such concessions strengthen rather than undermine popular movements and struggles, and can improve popular conditions. Through direct action,’for example, progressive changes in law

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can be demanded and enforced, without the need for participation in the apparatus of the state. Syndicalism is a powerful expression of the mass anarchist perspective [Vol-ume One, Chapter 12]. Historically, it was above all syndicalism that provided the anarchist tradition with a mass base and appeal. Not all mass anarchists were syndicalists, however. Some were supporters of syndicalism, but with reservations, usually around the “embryo hypothesis”: the view that union structures form an adequate basis for a postcapitalist society [Volume One, Selections 25- 27]. There were other mass anarchists who were antisyndicalist, for they did not believe unions could make a revolution. Here we see two main variants: those who rejected the workplace in favour of community struggles, and those who favoured workplace action with some independence from the unions …

One of the key debates we discuss in this volume is the question of whether anarchists and syndicalists need political groups dedicated to the promotion of the ideas of the broad anarchist tradition, and if so, what form such groups should take. When the editors of the Paris-based anarchist newspaper *Dielo Truda* (“Workers’ Cause”) issued the *Organizational Platform of the Libertarian Communists* in 1926 [Volume One, Selection 115], they were met by a storm of controversy. Some anarchists saw the editors’ advocacy of a unified anarchist political organization with collective discipline as an attempt to “Bolshevisen anarchism” and accused its primary authors, Arshinov and Makhno, of going over to classical Marxism. We argue, on the contrary, that the *Platform* and “Platformism” were not a break with the anarchist tradition but a fairly orthodox restatement of well-established views.

From the time of Bakunin -who was part of the anarchist International Alliance of Socialist Democracy, which operated within the First International – the great majority of anarchists and syndicalists advocated the formation of specific anarchist political groups *in addition* to mass organizations like syndicalist unions.

In other words, most supported organizational dualism: the mass organization, such as unions, must work in tandem with specifically anarchist and syndicalist political organizations. Moreover, most believed that these groups should have fairly homogeneous principled, strategic, and tactical positions as well as some form of organizational discipline…

Any progressive movement for social change must inevitably confront the question of the relationship between the militant minority of conscious activists with a revolutionary programme and the broader popular classes. Should the revolutionaries substitute for the masses, as Blanqui suggested, or dominate them through a dictatorship, as Lenin believed? For the broad anarchist tradition, such positions are not acceptable, as they reproduce the very relations of domination

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and the oppression of the individual that the tradition rejects. It follows that the role of anarchists or syndicalists is to act as a catalyst for the self-emancipation of the masses, promoting both the new faith of which Bakunin spoke as well as popular self-organization and participatory democracy.

There are various ways in which this can be done, and it is on this issue that the question of the need for a specific anarchist political organization arises. There are a number of anarchist and syndicalist positions on this issue, as we have noted. The antiorganizationalist approach is flawed by its failure to consider dangers of informal organization and its dogmatic view that it is impossible to establish a formal organization compatible with anarchist principles. The strand of syndicalism that denies the need for a specific anarchist or syndicalist political organization fails to explain how a syndicalist union will be defended against the inevitable emergence of rival political currents within its ranks in the absence of such a body. The approach that calls only for a loose organization that seeks to unite all anarchists and syndicalists, regardless of profound differences in outlook, on the basis of what they share does not provide a solution either: an organization characterized by a wide diversity of views must lack a clear programme of action and fail to effectively coordinate the efforts of its militants in the battle of ideas; it is likely to split when confronted with situations that require a unified response. This approach also fails to explain why the unity of all anarchists should be seen as an end in itself and why a common programme should be seen as incompatible with anarchist principles.

The Bakuninist position, advocating an organization of tendency with a shared analysis, strategy, and tactics, coordinated action, and an organizational discipline, seems the most effective approach. By coordinating activity, promoting common positions on the tasks of the present and future, and rallying militants around a programme, it offers the basis for consistent and coherent work, the direction of limited resources toward key challenges, and the defence and extension of the influence of anarchism.

This approach, going back to the [Bakuninist] Alliance and expressed in the *Platform*, is probably the only way that anarchism can challenge the hold of main stream political parties as well as nationalist, statist, and other ideas, and ensure that the anarchists’ “new faith” provides a guide for the struggles of the popular classes.

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