[DISCUSSION]: Lucien van der Walt, ca. 2000, “For the Working Class, Against Bolshevism: Once more on the class nature of the Soviet Union in reply to cde Chris Malikhane”

For the working class, against Bolshevism: Once more on the class nature of the Soviet Union in reply to cde Chris Malikhane
Paper prepared by Lucien van der Walt for the Lesedi Socialist Study Group

[This paper was, in fact, never presented as Lesedi got caught up in 2000 in the struggle against the neo-liberal ‘Wits 2001’ plan at Wits University, and fell apart]

In an (as always) thoughtful and precise piece, cde C.M. has responded to my earlier paper for Lesedi, “The Soviet Mirage.” In my original paper, which proceeded from a revolutionary anarchist perspective – that socialism is the rule of the working class expressed through direct self-management of the means of production, brought about by a revolutionary stay-in strike in which the trade unions seize economic power – I argued that:

  • The Soviet Union was a state-capitalist formation, a giant capitalist corporation, “Soviet Union Inc.”;
  •  That capitalists existed in the Soviet Union with legal ownership, economic ownership and possession of the means of production, as part of the larger ruling class; conversely, the working class was separated from the means of production, and exploited through the wage system;
  •  That the roots of this capitalist dictatorship lay in the degeneration of the Russian Revolution of 1917 under Lenin and Trotsky (taking place, in other words, before Stalin assumed power in the inner-party succesion conflict by 1928);
  • That socialism must involve self-management as the actualisation of working class control of the means of production. At the centre of my argument was the imperative to examine what actually happened at the point of production.

In his reply, cde C.M. makes several key arguments:

  • That the “state-capitalist” argument presented above is inadequately materialist as it focuses on the relations of production as opposed to the forces of production;
  • That the argument fails to conceptualise a “transition period,” a “social formation” in which the base and superstructure may be disarticulated;
  • That socialism has no intrinsic relation to working class self-management; that self-management cannot, in fact, exist in the absence of adequately developed forces of production;
  • That the Soviet Union was not a capitalist corporation as it was not subject to the imperatives ofcapital accumulation, either internally, or externally in the world market.

In this paper, I will reply to these specific arguments, but for details of my original argument, cdes are referred to my “The Soviet Mirage.”Read More »

Advertisements

[Briefing for UPM]: Lucien van der Walt, “One Year after the 2015 Grahamstown Riots against Foreign Traders: Attacks Hurt Working Class and Poor, Only Capitalists and Politicians Benefit”

Lucien van der Walt, 2016, “One Year After the 2015 Grahamstown Riots against Foreign Traders: Attacks Hurt Working Class and Poor, Only Capitalists and Politicians Benefit, Anarkismo, 15 December.

Text commissioned by Unemployed People’s Movement, Grahamstown, October 2015. Edited version, November 2016, published December 2016.

A year ago, starting 20 October 2015, around 75 small shops were looted, some burned down, in the eastern townships and downtown area of the small Eastern Cape university town of Grahamstown/ iRhini, South Africa. The attacks targeted Asian and African immigrants, many of them Muslim, and displaced 500 people. These riots were largely ignored by the media.

The text below is a slightly revised revision of a briefing I was asked to write at the time for the local Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM). The UPM played a heroic role in opposing the attacks and assisting the displaced. The text’s general points remain relevant to the working class’s fight against prejudice and racism. And the riots of 2015 should not be forgotten.grahamstown-riots

BRIEFING

The heroic struggles for justice being waged today by workers, students and neighbourhoods across the country show the possibility of a better future, based on justice and freedom.

But casting a deep shadow over these struggles, and helping block a better future, are terrible, ongoing incidents like anti-immigrant / anti-foreigner attacks. They show how far we have to go, before we can free ourselves from the darkness of oppression.

The 2015 riots in Grahamstown were directed against foreign nationals, accused in hateful rumours of murdering local people to steal their body parts for ritual purposes. From such sparks sprang the wildfires of violence and terror. Within days over 500 people were displaced or in hiding.

So what is the solution? A fire needs fuel to burn; without fuel, sparks sputter away, die out. So what was the fuel that the sparks ignited? To fix a problem, we must know its cause.

IS IT “XENOPHOBIA”?

Anti-immigrant views and violence are common in South Africa.

The most common explanation is provided by the media. And it is wrong. This explanation describes anti-immigrant ideas and attacks as “xenophobia.” Read More »

[DEBATE/ PAPER]: Lucien van der Walt, 1999 paper, “Some Comments on the National Question From an Anarchist/ Syndicalist Perspective” (revised)

Revised version of paper prepared by Lucien van der Walt for Lesedi Socialist Study Group, Wits University, 16 May 1999

We need to distinguish between several clusters of issues:

  • National oppression, the national question and the basis of national liberation struggles;
  • The causes of national oppression;
  • Nationalism as an ideology of an existing States;
  • Nationalism as a right-wing form of national liberation struggle;
  • The possibilities for revolutionary national liberation that opposes nationalism.

NATIONAL OPPRESSION, NATIONAL QUESTION, NATIONAL LIBERATION

This typically lies at the root of the national question. Issues of cultural and linguistic and other diversity are a fact of human life. This diversity is not in and of itself problematic, it is part of the rich heritage of human history. Nor is such diversity inherently a basis for conflict. In most circumstances, the tendency is towards cultural cross-influences: what culture can be said to be pure of influences from all others? What language is unique and does not borrow words and phrases and grammar from others?

It is national oppression — discrimination against, and subjugation of, a particular group — which provides the basis for the raising of specifically national grievances and demands, centred on opposition to discrimination and subjugation. The oppression is national, in that it is applied to a “national” group or nationality, usually defined as having a common national identity, or nationality, and applies to all members of that group. These national criteria in people’s minds tends to overlap with long-standing characteristics of race, religion, language etc. That is, the oppressed nationality is usually seen as having inherited, or at least deeply historical roots. In cases like South Africa, the racial question and the national question are, for all intents, identical

National oppression is undertaken primarily by the State and capital, but this sometimes supported by sections of the working class of what is now seen as the oppressor nationality (in South Africa, for all intents, this is seen as identical, with the oppressor race). Which forces undertake the national oppression is separate from the question of who benefits from national oppression.Read More »

[ANALYSIS]: Lucien van der Walt, 2000, “In a Neoliberal World: Is Nationalisation a Route to Socialism?” (Lesedi presentation)

Lucien van der Walt, 19 August 2000, “In a Neoliberal World: Is Nationalisation a Route to Socialism?” (Lesedi Socialist Study Group, Wits University, Johannesburg).

pdflogosmallGet the PDF here. Text below.

Lesedi paper - in a neoliberal world is nationalisation a route to socialism 19 August 2000

Is nationalisation a route to socialism?

Paper by Lucien van der Walt (revised after presentation)

Lesedi Socialist Study Group, Johannesburg

19 August 2000

Nationalisation – state-control of industries- is often seen on the left as a form of progress. This argument can take both a strong and a weak form.

For social democrats, state control of an industry providing a key good or service represents a form of de-commodification i.e. that is, the release of this good or service from the logic of competitive commodity production. In other words, the argument is that the extension of government control has led to a rollback of the market. This is the “weak” form the argument.

The “strong” form of the argument – one much in currency amongst the Marxists of the Second International, as well as the tradition of vanguardism which developed into variants of Leninism, Stalinism and Trotskyism- nationalisation represents a basis for further socialist advance– either as a tactic or as a strategy that directly creates of bridgehead of socialist workers power, the genesis of a socialist state.

As a tactic, a call for “nationalisation under workers’ control” is seen by orthodox Trotskyites as a transitional demand- a call that will appeal to workers of varying layers of political understanding, but which cannot, however, be realised under capitalism. It is, in other words, a demand that sounds viable under capitalism, but which in fact cannot be realised without the destruction of capitalism.

As a strategy, a call for nationalisation holds that nationalised companies are no longer actually capitalist because they are subject to planned production and the democratic popular will. In other words, state control is seen to represent, in and of itself, an attack on capitalism, as inherently inimical to capitalism. Full nationalisation, by this logic, equals state control of the economy, which equals socialism.

Nor should it be assumed that all radical comrades who argue along these lines assume that the State undertaking the nationalisation must be “socialist” or a “workers state” i.e. a class State of the proletariat. On the contrary, one readily finds comrades who argue that even a State sector under capitalism – e.g. Eskom- is in fact not inherently capitalist.

The political implication is obvious: more nationalisation = more socialism. Concomitantly: privatisation should be opposed because nationalisation is a step towards socialism.

OWNERSHIP AND NATIONALISATION

My critique of these types of arguments centres on two main areas: the relationship between State control and socialism; and the usefulness of demanding nationalisation as a tactic.

Firstly, I argue that State control is in direct contradiction to socialism. State control of industries – even total State control of industry – represents a variant of capitalism and in no way gives the working class real control of the means of production, although it may, admittedly, be associated in some instances with improved working conditions.

I am not going to deal with the question as one of “nationalisation under workers’ control.” Not at all. No country –and no revolution- has ever nationalised anything in order to place it under workers’ control. Hence, this slogan is absurd.

But it is important to explain the basis for this absurdity. This is that State control represents a control of the means of production that is at odds with workers’ control of the means of production. Workers, certainly, do not control a capitalist state.

The state is a centralized, hierarchical organization of power that centralizes power in the hands of a small elite of state managers, who control the military, the state departments, the state companies, the state universities and the like; it includes the parliamentarians, as well as the unelected managers and key officials who run the state. This state elite is, in turn, allied to the private capitalists, whose power is also based on highly centralized top-down structures: the corporations, including the banks.

These two groups jointly the represent the ruling class – the ruling class cannot be reduced to capitalists, but the capitalists are a wing of the ruling class. The power of this ruling class depends upon class-based relations of production, centred on elite control of the means of production relations of domination, centred on elite control of the means of domination and coercion.

The state managers and capitalists are objectively allied against the working class, because their interests are

Largely convergent (although secondary contradictions do exist, which can become a crisis in some circumstances); it is because this exploiting and dominating minority rules over the great majority that power is centralized – only in this way can the minority rule the elite.

In some circumstances, the state may nationalise productive property; in some cases, it may privatize. It depends primarily on whether these measures advance ruling class interests, expressed in the growth of profits from exploitation, and power over people and territory. Concretely, these interests are expressed in the expansion of the economy and of the state power.

In no circumstances is a nationalised industry any less based on exploitation and top-down decisions than a private company. This is because in no circumstances are ruling class interests compatible with self-management.

Thus, nationalised industry cannot be said to represent an extension of the power of workers. Rather, it represents an different way of managing ruling class interests – and the state inherently represents that class’s interests.

If the balance of forces is such that such nationalisation takes place in a context in which the working class is on the offensive, it is possible that such nationalisation may be associated with improved conditions. But by the same token, high levels of working class struggle can also lead to improved conditions in a private company. It is the power of the masses relative to the bosses and politicians that leads to improved conditions, not the existence of state or private ownership.

Nationalisation under capitalism is done in the interests of capitalism and the state. There is no way that a capitalist state would attack the fundamental interests of the ruling class i.e. the class interests embodied in minority economic power and ownership, and embodied in minority political power and ownership.

Capitalist State’s have nationalised or established State industries in a variety of situations – ranging from nationalisation in war time (the German “war economy” of WW 1), the establishment of ISCOR in 1927 in SA, the nationalisation of the mines in war-devastated post-1945 Britain, the nationalisation of banks in military-ruled South Korea in the 1960s, nationalisation of foreign industry in an explicitly capitalist Mexico or Zambia etc. etc.

But in each case, the aim was to benefit the bosses and politicians, either by providing cheap inputs (e.g. cheap ISCOR steel, cheap Korean state loans) or to bail out a crisis-ridden “strategic” industry (e.g. British coal), or to promote the economic reach of a weak local ruling class(e.g. Mexico, Zambia).

As such, nationalisation does not represent workers’ control but capitalist control. All that nationalisation means is that a company is transferred from the hands of the small elite that run the economy to the hands of the small elite that run the State. It has got nothing to do with real workers control of industry.

In addition, the bosses (because they control the State and the economy) are generally able to block the nationalisation of any company that they wish to keep private. Generally speaking, States only nationalise crisis- ridden companies, or those that they can buy by paying compensation, or those that are in some sense strategic.

Finally, any nationalised company still has to operate inside the larger capitalist economy and will thus be forced to operate in a similar way to private companies. The only State assets which form a partial exception to this rule are social services (e.g. education), and “strategic” industries (e.g. the military), which the State feels are vital, but which cannot be provided on a commercial basis or by the market because they are not profitable enough. Even so, their management by State is done in support of capitalism and the state, rather than in opposition to capitalism and the state.

REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT?

What if the State is explicitly anti-capitalist, a so-called workers’ State that will create socialism, some comrades will argue? Again, this is a contradiction in terms. The idea here is fundamentally idealistic, and oblivious to class power, expressed in state and corporations: it is class power and interests, not promises and rhetoric, that determine what a State does.

Likewise, a new political form, such as a “workers state” – conceding for the moment that this is a useful term, which it is not – does not remove class rule, but it is, rhetoric aside an instrument of minority class rule i.e. a red bourgeoisie. Further, such industries as may be taken over by such a State – a State with revolutionary credentials- will not be under workers’ control.

Now, what of Trotsky’s claim that state property is somehow different to, is somehow post-capitalist, because legal title rests not individual hands, but in state hands?

This is abstract and inaccurate.

First, legal title is only one aspect of capitalist ownership; that ownership of the means of production also involves actual “economic ownership” (control over the flow of investments into production i.e. what is produced) and possession (control over the production process i.e. how things are produced).

Second, legal title can assume a range of forms – including rules of promotion in the bureaucracies governing the means of production- and that therefore, to the extent that such rules existed, a form of legal ownership existed i.e. laws governed who entitled a group, a ruling class, to assume exclusionary control of the means of production. Economic ownership of state industries is vested in a bureaucracy, and this rests in turn on specific legal procedures and rights i.e. on a specific form of legal title, a legal form that is nonetheless class-exclusive.

Hence, to the extent that the State controls the industries, the working class does not insofar as nationalisation always involves the alienation of the working class from legal, economic and possessive ownership.

TACTICS

Secondly, I argue that the use of “nationalisation” as a demand that will supposedly radicalize or conscientise workers – that is, as a tactic – is a contradiction in terms. Given that nationalisation is not a socialist project, convincing workers that this step is indeed socialist can only serve to confuse workers. After all, why call for – and campaign around- a demand that cannot work?

Now, some comrades may argue that demanding that the capitalist state “nationalise industry under workers’ control” will help to “expose” capitalism and the Capitalist State. In other words, these comrades are raising the call for nationalisation because it is popular, but are doing so quite cynically, as they themselves do not believe that nationalisation under workers control is possible under capitalism.

The idea is that workers will become mobilised, militant etc. around this slogan, and then they will come up against the hard reality that capitalism is not going to “nationalise under workers’ control” – and then suddenly see the system for what it is, and use that militant energy to adopt a really revolutionary strategy, such as seizing factories.

This is the idea of a “transitional demand,” associated with Trotskyism.

This is an immensely cynical strategy, in which the idea is to force workers to confront capitalism in its true form by leading them to make demands that capitalism cannot possibly fulfil.

It fails on two counts. One, its spends its energy on convincing workers to act in a way that the “revolutionaries” know cannot work, rather than using that same energy on something viable.

Two, it will demoralise the working class rather than further radicalise them as it will lead to massive confusion- certainly, workers are unlikely to turn to the now unveiled “real” revolutionary counsels of precisely the revolutionary party or group that so misadvised them in the first place.

In other words, not only is very little achieved by selling workers some serious misinformation, but such a tactic is hardly likely to raise the credibility of the misinforming group of revolutionaries.

SOCIALISM: WHO RUNS THE FACTORIES?

So far, I have argued that an analysis of the class nature of society must, proceed from an analysis of the base. And the relations of production play a crucial role in dividing one mode of production from another, for there can be continuity between two modes of production in terms of the forces of production, but certainly not in terms of relations of production. Both capitalism and socialism, for example, will involve modern industrial technique, but will nonetheless be distinguishable as modes of production due to different relations of production.

The nature of the relations of production is, obviously, expressed in the pattern of ownership of the means of production. That is precisely why a definitive feature of socialism is the self-management of the means of production by the working class. Self-management is the purest expression of working class ownership of the means of production, legally, economically, and in terms of possession. If another group of people legally owned the means of production, and decided what was to be produced and how, then it would be absurd to speak of socialism.

Thus, the relations of production will be based on participatory democracy i.e. self-management and participatory planning. Equally, it is only through self-management that the relations of domination will be democratised i.e. power will not be abolished, but decentred to all, in that the means of administration and coercion will be fused with the people, not monopolized by an elite i.e. self-management and participatory planning.

In concrete terms, this means a federated, global system of worker and community councils, mandated delegates, and participatory planning of the economy and society to meet human needs, including a sustainable environment, and biodiversity, and the end of all forms of social and economic oppression in a universal human community.

This mighty task can only be implemented by a popular class movement at the base: and the key class movements based on class interest and class struggle, in particular, trade unions, in alliance with working class community formations.

These are the organisations to create a real, free, socialism, from below, not parties that invoke the hostile State power through the flawed and counter-productive programme of nationalisation!

[TRANSLATION]: Lucien van der Walt, 2015, “Contrapoder, Democracia Participativa e Defesa Revolucionária: debatendo ‘Black Flame’, anarquismo revolucionário e marxismo histórico”

itha-historia1Translation into Brazilian Portuguese of Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Counterpower, Participatory Democracy, Revolutionary Defence: debating Black Flame, revolutionary anarchism and historical Marxism,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 130 , pp. 193-207, which is here.

 

Lucien van der Walt. “Contrapoder, Democracia Participativa e Defesa Revolucionária: debatendo Black Flame, anarquismo revolucionário e marxismo histórico”

Source: IATH – Instituto de Teoria e História Anarquist/ IATH – Institute for Anarchist Theory and History (Brazil)

Este texto constitui uma síntese da resposta às críticas do anarquismo realizadas na revista International Socialism; ele foi publicado na edição de número 130 desta mesma revista, visando aprofundar o debate sobre o anarquismo e o sindicalismo de intenção revolucionária (ou apenas “sindicalismo”, conforme tradução deste texto). Respondendo aos críticos marxistas, van der Walt passa por questões como luta armada, democracia, organização política e Revolução Russa, além de evidenciar similaridades e diferenças entre o anarquismo e outras correntes socialistas, especialmente as variantes históricas do bolchevismo.

pdflogosmallPDF here

 

[TRANSLATION]: Lucien van der Walt, 2012, “Kontra-moć, participativna demokracija, obrana revolucije: debata o Black Flame-u , revolucionarnom anarhizmu i historijskom marksizmu”

Croat translation of Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Counterpower, Participatory Democracy, Revolutionary Defence: debating Black Flame, revolutionary anarchism and historical Marxism,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 130 , pp. 193-207, which you can read here.

Source: found here

pdflogosmallPDF is online here

Lucien van der Walt

Kontra-moć

Kontra-moć, participativna demokracija, obrana revolucije: debata o Black Flame-u , revolucionarnom anarhizmu i historijskom marksizmuIzdavački komitet Lokalne grupe Rijeka, 2012.Read More »

[TRANSLATION]: Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Contropotere, democrazia partecipativa, difesa rivoluzionaria: Dibattito sul libro Black Flame, su anarchismo rivoluzionario e marxismo storico”

Italian translation of Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Counterpower, Participatory Democracy, Revolutionary Defence: debating Black Flame, revolutionary anarchism and historical Marxism,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 130 , pp. 193-207, which you can read here.

Lucien van der Walt

“Contropotere, democrazia partecipativa, difesa rivoluzionaria: Dibattito sul libro Black Flame, su anarchismo rivoluzionario e marxismo storico”

Questo articolo risponde alle critiche rivolte alla grande tradizione anarchica contenute in “International Socialism”, un giornale della International Socialist Tendency (IST). Mi soffermerò su temi quali l’uso delle fonti, la difesa della rivoluzione e della libertà, gli anarchici spagnoli, l’anarchismo e la democrazia, il ruolo storico del marxismo, la rivoluzione russa.

Questo articolo risponde alle critiche rivolte alla grande tradizione anarchica contenute in “International Socialism”, un giornale della International Socialist Tendency (IST). Mi soffermerò su temi quali l’uso delle fonti, la difesa della rivoluzione e della libertà, gli anarchici spagnoli, l’anarchismo e la democrazia, il ruolo storico del marxismo, la rivoluzione russa.

Gli articoli critici a cui mi accingo a rispondere sono ispirati da lodevole buona volontà; spero di fare anch’io lo stesso. Infatti, l’articolo di Paul Blackledge vuole evitare “il non-dibattito caricaturale”.[2] Ian Birchall sottolinea che le “linee di distinzione tra anarchismo e marxismo sono spesso indistinguibili “.[3] Leo Zeilig infine applaude al libro scritto da me insieme a Michael Schmidt, Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, come “un’affascinante ricostruzione”.[4]

E’ importante notare i punti di convergenza. La IST afferma di essere per il socialismo dal basso costruito attraverso la rivoluzione. Quando si invoca Marx, Lenin e Trotsky, è perché secondo la IST la “essenza” dei loro lavori si fonda sulla “auto-emancipazione della classe lavoratrice”.[5] L’espressione “dittatura del proletariato”, insiste Leo, significa solo “difesa democratica del potere della classe lavoratrice” tramite “organismi di auto-organizzazione, consigli, sindacati, comuni, ecc.”.[6]

Senza dubbio, gli anarchici sono per l’auto-emancipazione della classe lavoratrice. Per Mikhail Bakunin e Pyotr Kropotkin, la rivoluzione sociale richiede un movimento di “operai e contadini”, “le sole due classi capaci di una insurrezione così potente”.[7] Il “nuovo ordine sociale” verrebbe costruito “dal basso verso l’alto dalla “organizzazione e dal potere delle masse lavoratrici”.[8] Le classi popolari “assumerebbero da sé il compito di ricostruire la società”,[9] tramite un contropotere ed una controcultura rivoluzionari, contro e al di fuori della classe dominante, dello Stato, del capitale.Read More »

[JOURNAL]: Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Counterpower, Participatory Democracy, Revolutionary Defence: debating Black Flame, revolutionary anarchism and historical Marxism”

Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Counterpower, Participatory Democracy, Revolutionary Defence: debating Black Flame, revolutionary anarchism and historical Marxism,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 130 , pp. 193-207.
pdflogosmallPDF from hard copy edition, with page numbers, is online here. The published online version is reproduced below, from here.
For a much-expanded version of this paper, click here 
Counterpower, participatory democracy, revolutionary defence: debating Black Flame, revolutionary anarchism and historical Marxism

Lucien van der Walt, International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 130, http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=729

 

This article responds to criticisms of the broad anarchist tradition in International Socialism, an International Socialist Tendency (IST) journal.1 I will discuss topics such as the use of sources, defending revolutions and freedom, the Spanish anarchists, anarchism and democracy, the historical role of Marxism, and the Russian Revolution.

The articles I am engaging with are marked by commendable goodwill; I strive for the same. Paul Blackledge’s article rejects “caricatured non-debate”.2 Ian Birchall stresses that “lines between anarchism and Marxism are often blurred”.3 Leo Zeilig praises Michael Schmidt’s and my book, Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, as “a fascinating account”.4

It is important to note where we converge. The IST states it is for socialism from below through revolution. If Marx, Lenin and Trotsky are invoked here, it is because the “essence” of their works is taken to be “working class self-emancipation”.5The term “dictatorship of the proletariat”, Leo insists, means merely “the democratic defence of working class power” through “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc”.6

By any measure, anarchists favour working class self-emancipation. For Mikhail Bakunin and Pyotr Kropotkin, social revolution required a movement by “the workers and the peasants”, “the only two classes capable of so mighty an insurrection”.7 The “new social order” would be constructed “from the bottom up” by the “organisation and power of the working masses”.8 The popular classes would “take upon themselves the task of rebuilding society”,9 through revolutionary counter-power and counter-culture, outside and against the ruling class, state and capital.


We have real differences too: these require comradely yet frank discussion. The first step in avoiding “caricatured non-debate” is to engage seriously with what Leo calls the “often obscured” history of the broad anarchist tradition. It is a pity, then, that Leo’s review concentrates on refuting (as I will show, not convincingly) what Black Flame said about mainstream Marxism. The point of Black Flame is not to study Marxism, but the 150 year tradition of anarchism and syndicalism—a mass movement with a sophisticated theory, usually caricatured by Marxists.

Benedict Anderson notes that the broad anarchist tradition was long the “dominant element in the self-consciously internationalist radical left”, “the main vehicle of global opposition to industrial capitalism, autocracy, latifundism, and imperialism”.10 Into the 1950s its movements were often larger than their Marxist rivals. In its dark years, into the 1980s, the tradition remained important in unions and armed struggles in Asia, Latin America and southern Europe, and in the Cuban and Soviet undergrounds. 11

Today anarchists are central to the “most determined and combative of the movements” fighting capitalist globalisation.12 A 2007 syndicalist union summit in Paris drew 250 delegates worldwide, Africans the biggest continental grouping.13 There is a global spread of anarchist values: bottom-up organising and direct action outside the official political system.14

I agree with Paul and Leo that anarchists have caricatured Marxists, but the reverse is true too—often because Marxists use unreliable or hostile sources, dismissing other accounts as “liberal”, etc. Ian commendably distances himself from Hal Draper’s bizarre charges that Bakunin favoured dictatorship, etc.15 Draper distorted anarchist views through manipulation and fabrication.16 Ian instead cites former anarchist Victor Serge’s recollections.17 Serge, however, is not reliable. He claimed, Ian notes, that the anarcho-syndicalist Golos Truda group “made common cause” with the Bolsheviks; in fact, it charged Bolshevism with state capitalism and dictatorship, and was repressed.18 The materials of the anarchist movement itself—particularly its mainstream—deserve more thorough, open-minded engagement.

Anarchism and revolutionary force

Do anarchists really deny the need for the popular classes to be “organised ideologically, politically and militarily” to defend revolution, as Paul claims? 19 Leo’s own review of Black Flame admits the book shows that most anarchist currents insisted on the need to “coordinate the defence of the revolution against internal and external enemies”.20 A few syndicalists hoped for a “bloodless revolution”, but not the mainstream.21

Bakunin wanted the existing “army…judicial system…police” replaced by “permanent barricades,” coordinated through delegates with “always revocable mandates”, and the “extension of the revolutionary force” between “rebel countries”.22 This is “revolutionary force”, used for emancipation, not oppression,23 based on the peasants and workers “federating” their “fighting battalions, district by district, assuring a common coordinated defence against internal and external enemies”.24 To be anti-authoritarian requires forceful struggle against oppressors; this is no contradiction, as Engels asserted.25

The need for “revolutionary force” was recognised by most key figures, Kropotkin, Pyotr Arshinov, Alexander Berkman, Camillo Berneri, Buenaventura Durruti, Emma Goldman, Praxedis Guerrero, Li Pei Kan (“Ba Jin”), Liu Sifu (“Shifu”), Ricardo Flores Magón, Errico Malatesta, Nestor Ivanovich Makhno, José Oiticica, Albert Parsons, Domingos Passos, Rudolph Rocker, Shin Ch’aeho and Kim Jao-jin. It spurred anarchist/syndicalist militias in China, Cuba, Ireland, Korea/Manchuria, Mexico, Spain, Russia, the Ukraine and United States.26 It was the official stance of, for instance, the anarchist majority of the post-1872 First International, the syndicalist International Workers’ Association (1922), the Eastern Anarchist League (1927), the Korean People’s Association in Manchuria and Spain’s National Confederation of Labour (CNT).

Paul says: “Once social movements are strong enough to point towards a real alternative to the status quo, states will intervene with the aim of suppressing them”.27 What anarchist would deny this? To suggest anarchists and syndicalists ignore the state is equivalent to insisting Marxism ignores capitalism. The anarchist mainstream does not agree with the self-proclaimed Marxist John Holloway’s Change the World Without Taking Power.28

Paul claims the CNT joined the Spanish Popular Front in 1936 because anarchists lacked a plan for “coordinating the military opposition to Franco’s fascists”.29 In fact, joining violated CNT policy, and was driven by fear of isolation and fighting on two fronts. Since the 1870s Spanish anarchists aimed to “annihilate the power of the state” through “superior firing power”.30 From 1932 the CNT and the Anarchist Federation of Iberia (FAI) organised insurrections, stressing armed defence and coordination through a National Revolutionary Council.31 This was reiterated at the 1936 FAI and CNT congresses,32 was still official policy in August 1936, and was partially implemented through the Council of Aragon.33 In 1937 the dissident Friends of Durruti reiterated it, calling for a National Defence Council, not a Popular Front.34

Anarchism, democracy and armed defence of revolution

What is the place of participatory democracy, debate and freedom in this scenario? First, the FAI / CNT / Friends of Durruti insisted, coordinated military defence was subject to the basic aims of the revolution—self-management, collectivisation and emancipation—and to the popular classes’ organs of counterpower. Repeating Bakunin’s arguments, the National Defence Council would be “elected by democratic vote”, under revocable mandate.35 Handing power to officers or a revolutionary clique would destroy revolution from within as surely as external defeat.

Secondly, the revolution is for libertarian communism, ie for freedom, against capitalism, state and oppression. In place of the late Tony Cliff’s notion that it is acceptable that “tactics contradict principles”,36 anarchists insist means must match ends, because they shape them.

Defence of revolution necessarily includes defence of participatory democratic processes and structures, and of political and civil rights. The democratic heart of counterpower cannot be cut out to “save” the revolution: it is both its means and its end.

The basic system would be popular self-government through worker/community assemblies and councils made up of mandated and recallable delegates, with basic rights protected at all times. As Diego Abad de Santillan wrote, anarchists “oppose with force those who try to subjugate us on behalf of their interests or concepts”, but do not “resort to force against those who do not share our points of view”.37

Legitimate coercion is applied to external threats, including the counter-revolutionary ruling class, and to internal anti-social crime; the majority within the system is prevented from oppressing internal dissenters and minorities; internal dissidents are prevented from forcible disruption. Anarchism will be the guiding revolutionary programme because it is freely accepted by the popular classes through debate and participatory democracy, in multi-tendency structures of counterpower.

The mainstream anarchist/syndicalist movement’s rejection of the Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat” was never based on rejecting the need to defend revolution. It arose from the view that the Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat” was really “dictatorship over the proletariat”.

“Real democracy”, anarchism and the Paris Commune

Given this, it is odd that Paul claims (echoing Draper) that anarchists reject the “possibility of real democracy”.38 If “democracy” means the rule of the people, anarchism is radically democratic. Bakunin and Kropotkin viewed the state as a centralised, hierarchical system of territorial power, run by and for the ruling class. Here “all the real aspirations, all the living forces of a country enter generously and happily”, only to be “slain and buried”.39

The class system is defined both by relations of production expressed in inequitable control of the means of production, and relations of domination, expressed in inequitable control of the means of coercion that physically enforce decisions, and administration, that govern society.40

The means of coercion and administration are centralised in the state, controlled by state managers: senior officials, judges, military heads, mayors, parliamentarians. Capitalists are only part of the ruling class; those who run the state are always members of the ruling class; the ruling class is always a dominant, exploiting minority; the state is centralised in order that this minority can rule the majority. (Marxists have a different definition, but let’s get clear about the anarchists.)

The popular classes’ counterpower, for anarchists, cannot therefore be expressed through a state.41 Anarchist anti-statism arises from recognition of the state’s profoundly anti-popular class character.42 In place of states and corporations, anarchists/syndicalists advocate that the means of production, coercion and administration be taken and restructured under genuine participatory democracy. When the “whole people govern”, argued Bakunin, “there will be…no government, no state”.43 Wayne Price argues “Anarchism is democracy without the state”.44

Paul cites Uri Gordon and George Woodcock, who insisted anarchism is against “democracy”. But did they mean what Paul suggests? They defined “democracy” as imposing “collectively binding” decisions on dissidents, and objected.45 They did not oppose collective decisions—only this supposed coercion. Theirs is not an argument most anarchists would accept; nor do most anarchists think consensus decision-making preferable.46 This is not, however, to deny that the Gordon/Woodcock line has a profoundly democratic intent.

There is nothing “difficult to understand” about Bakunin praising the 1871 Paris Commune as “practical realisation” of anarchist ideals.47 Anarchists played a central role in communalist risings in France, Spain and Italy at this time; with Proudhonists, they were a large bloc on the Commune’s Council.48 The Commune’s basic project was anticipated in Bakunin’s 1870 open “Letter to a Frenchman”, and by Proudhon, revolutionary anarchism’s immediate precursor.49 Bakunin’s and Kropotkin’s only critique of the Commune was that it did not go far enough in collectivisation and self-management, leaving too much power in the Council.50

Anarchism, syndicalism and specific political organisations
Paul suggests that anarchism denies the need for revolutionary political organisations that can link struggles, and fight for ideological clarity and revolution.51 He is correct that there is an anarchist current that argues against specific political organisations. He is incorrect to present this current as representative.

Many key anarchists/syndicalists advocate specific political organisations, working with mass organisations like unions. Flores Magón stresses “an activating minority, a courageous minority of libertarians”.52 Bakunin, Flores Magón, Kropotkin, Makhno, Oiticica and Shifu also insist on “organisations of tendency”, based on political unity and collective discipline (others favoured looser structures).53

“Organisations of tendency” include the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy, Spain’s FAI, Mexico’s La Social, China’s Society of Anarchist-Communist Comrades, the postwar Uruguayan Anarchist Federation, etc. These were to fight the battle of ideas and promote self-activity, counterpower and counterculture, not to replace or rule the popular classes.

Anarchists/syndicalists are not “opposed to the political struggle” for rights, but stress it “must take the form of direct action”.54 Rights should be won from below by mobilising counterpower; participation in the state is ineffective, corrupting. All stress the importance of revolutionary ideas for a revolutionary change, a “new social philosophy”.55

Do anarchists misunderstand the “Marxist tradition”?

Rejection of Leninist parties arises from a different concern: the argument that these parties created dictatorships. Paul thinks anarchists have a “massive misunderstanding of Marxism”, and Leo that Black Flame caricatures “classical Marxism” in calling it reductionist and authoritarian.56

But Paul admits the “rational kernel” of the anarchist critique is “that the most powerful voices claiming to be Marxists in the 20th century were statists (of either the Stalinist or Maoist variety) who presided over brutal systems” of “bureaucratic state capitalism”.57 Leo admits that the anarchist critique is valid if “you include Kautsky, Stalin and Mao in the Marxist canon”.58

That suffices. According to International Socialism and IST writers, Kautsky was long “the most prominent Marxist theorist”; Stalin represented “Soviet Marxism”, Maoism a type of “Marxism-Leninism”, etc.59 By the IST’s own admission, then, mainstream pre-Leninist Marxism was reductionist and statist; mainstream 20th century Marxism was “Stalinist or Maoist”; all Marxist regimes ended as state capitalist dictatorships, with even (the late Chris Harman stated) the Soviet Union a “Bolshevik dictatorship” by 1921.60

I am not sure why Paul confidently claims the “essence” of Marxism is “working class self-emancipation”.61 That’s been rather unusual in Marxist theory and action, as Ian himself has shown.62 Libertarian minority Marxist traditions like Council Communism and autonomism are the exception, not Leninism or “classical Marxism”.

Leo claims Black Flame repeats the “daily clichés of the media”.63 I concede—if he means the mainstream Marxist media, mass papers like Umsebenzi, L’Humanité, New Age, People’s Democracy, Angve Bayan, etc. This may be, by the IST’s lights, mere “debased” Marxism—but why should anarchists accept the IST’s judgement? Most Marxists do not.

We cannot claim that “the only significance of Christianity in history is to be found in reading unaltered versions of the Gospels”, and ignore 2,000 years of the church and its offshoots. Marxism, too, must be judged by its history, not by selected quotes.64

The early “dictatorship of the proletariat” in the Soviet Union

Paul insists that Marxism’s “dictatorship of the proletariat” merely proposes a “workers’ state” to end “exploitative social relations”.65 Leo adds that this “most maligned concept” merely means “democratic defence of working class power”.66

The problem is that it’s not easy to find a real world example; this is pure assertion. Writers like Cliff looked hopefully at the early Soviet Union. Supposedly, “the land…was distributed to the peasants, the factories…taken under state ownership…run under workers’ control” and “the oppressed nationalities got…self-determination”. If “many hundreds of thousands” died, this was “not because of the action of the Soviet government”.67

Regrettably, the facts show the Lenin-Trotsky regime to be the template for Stalin’s. Land was nationalised, not “distributed”, and “the action of the Soviet government” in forced grain requisitions killed millions. Peasant uprisings were crushed with fire and sword: iron dictatorship over 90 percent of the population. Industry was “under state ownership”, not “workers’ control”: in 1919 state-appointed individual managers ran 10.8 percent of enterprises; by 1920, 82 percent.68 Red Army elections were abolished in March 1918, command turned over to ex-Tsarist officers and party commissars.

Cliff condemned Stalin for Taylorism and piecework,69 but Lenin introduced these policies in 1918.70 Unions, Harman claimed, enabled “workers’ control”.71 Actually, these “unions” were state-run bodies by 1919, active in repressing strikes._72 Rather than insist that “strikes were not to be suppressed”,73 the Bolsheviks routinely crushed them, also militarising industry.74 The crushing of the Kronstadt revolt had numerous precedents.75

Harman claimed Bolshevism was the soviet “majority party”. This was only true in a few cities, for a few months. Defeated in the 1918 urban elections, the Bolsheviks responded by dissolving, gerrymandering and purging soviets, repressing opponents.76 Power was centralised in the cabinet (Sovnarkom) and Supreme Economic Council (Vesenkha); a secret police (Cheka) and militarised Red Army; and a state bureaucracy heavily recruited from the old order. Thus an unpopular party of 600,000 ruled an empire of 90 million in 1920. The Cheka’s mandate included watching the “press, saboteurs, strikers”, and summary executions.77 Besides 20 times more executions in five years than the Tsarist Okhrana in 50, it ran concentration and labour camps, “cleared from time to time by mass extermination”.78

Cliff claimed the Bolshevik minority was nonetheless internally democratic. By 1919 the party was run from the top down, staffed with apparatchiks; factions were banned in 1921 and dissidents jailed.79 The early 1920s saw Lenin’s GPU operate a vast informer network; beatings, torture and rape were routinely used; left opponents were crushed; open soviet elections were prevented.80 Rather than “self-determination,” the Red Army installed puppet regimes in Belarus and Ukraine from 1919, Georgia (1921), Armenia and Azerbaijan (1922). The anarchist-led Ukraine saw its soviets banned, its communes smashed, its leaders executed—despite formal treaties of cooperation.81

Delinking socialism-from-below from Bolshevism
It is precisely because anarchists and syndicalists defend socialism from below that they reject Bolshevism. Paul claims Bakunin’s critique of the Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat”—that it would end in a “barracks” regime of “centralised state capitalism”82—is “superficial” and “inept”.83

By any reasonable measure, however, Bakunin’s theory is “vindicated by the verdict of history”.84 International Socialism has tried to exonerate Lenin’s and Trotsky’s dictatorship by reference to difficult conditions: counter-revolution, “imperialism,” economic crisis, etc. The “Bolsheviks had no choice”, said Harman, but to rule alone: the “class they represented had dissolved itself while defending to fight that power”. Power anyway rightly belonged to “only those who wholeheartedly supported the revolution…the Bolsheviks”.85 Cliff argued that “the pressure of world capitalism” later forced the Soviet Union’s rulers to make the economy “more and more similar”.86

This will not do. Leo objects to Black Flame suggesting classical Marxism tends to economic reductionism, but one would struggle to find a better illustration of exactly that tendency than these alibis.

It is contradictory to proclaim that Bolshevik ideology was essential to the revolution’s supposed success, yet insist that it had no impact on the revolution’s outcome. It is contradictory to condemn all anarchist experiences (as in Spain) as due entirely to ideology, not context, but to exonerate all Marxist experiences (as in Russia) as due entirely to context, not ideology.

Unless Leo embraces the “no choice” determinism he claims to reject, he must concede some choice is still possible when fighting faceless forces like “imperialism”. If he does, he cannot deny Bolshevik culpability in destroying the “democratic defence of working class power”. If he does not, he can hardly condemn Stalin, who faced the “pressure of world capitalism”.

Bolshevik choices led straight to one-party dictatorship, even before the Civil War started (May 1918) and long after it ended (November 1920). This was precisely because the Bolsheviks insisted (as Harman revealed) that they alone deserved power: all rivals were automatically counter-revolutionary.87 Faced with popular repudiation—by peasants, and by the embarrassingly not actually “dissolved” proletariat through the soviets and strike waves in 1918, 1919 and 1921—the party clung to power at all costs.

Despite some genuinely democratic elements in Lenin’s thought, its overall thrust was simple: substitutionism.88 Even State and Revolution is silent on political contestation in soviets: the “workers’ party” will be “directing and organising the new system”.89 Unlike Leo, who hopes for democracy, Lenin insisted that “the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be exercised through an organisation embracing the whole of that class… It can be exercised only by a vanguard”.90 This was, said Trotsky, “entitled to assert its dictatorship even if that dictatorship temporarily clashed with the passing moods of the workers’ democracy”.91

As for socialism, it would be top-down: “To organise the whole economy on the lines of the postal service…all under the control and leadership of the armed proletariat” (see above: meaning the party), “that is our immediate aim”.92 The “working masses” must “be thrown here and there, appointed, commanded”, “deserters” “formed into punitive battalions” or sent to “concentration camps”.93 Lenin and Trotsky unapologetically opposed self-management,94 and Trotsky’s Left Opposition advocated forced industrialisation long before Stalin.95

Before anyone says I am picking quotations, note that the Bolsheviks acted on precisely the lines these quotes suggest; the State and Revolution’s council system existed only as words in an incomplete pamphlet.

To which tradition should we look for resistance today?

To defend the Russian Revolution against liberal and conservative critiques is commendable. To conflate this with a defence of the Bolshevik regime that destroyed the revolution is a serious error.

To reclaim socialism, we must reclaim its participatory democratic and revolutionary traditions, suppressed by Leninist Marxism. This requires that sincere Marxists seriously engage with—rather than arrogantly lecture to—the black flame of anarchism and syndicalism, and its alternative vision of libertarian communism, revolutionary process and radical democracy.


Notes

1: I develop these arguments more in a paper at http://lucienvanderwalt.blogspot.com/2011/02/anarchism-black-flame-marxism-and-ist.html. Thanks to Shawn Hattingh, Ian Bekker, Iain McKay and Wayne Price for feedback.

2: Blackledge, 2010, p132.

3: Birchall, 2010, p177.

4: Zeilig, 2009 , pp221-2. I use the term “syndicalism” to refer to revolutionary trade unionism that combines daily struggles with the goal of seizing the means of production. It emerged from the anarchist wing of the First International; it is an anarchist strategy and all its forms are part of the “broad anarchist tradition”.

5: Blackledge, 2010, p132.

6: Zeilig, 2009 , pp221-222.

7: Bakunin [1870], pp185,189, emphasis in original.

8: Bakunin, 1953, pp300,319,378.

9: Kropotkin [1912], p188.

10: Anderson, 2006, pp2,54.

11: See the online article for full citations.

12: Meyer, 2003, p218; Epstein, 2001.

13: “Conférences Internationale Syndicales-107,” www.anarkismo.net/article/5434

14: Goaman, 2004, pp173-174.

15: Birchall, 2010 , pp179-180, referring to Draper, 1966, chapter 4.

16: Keffer, 2005.

17: Birchall, 2010, p178, notably Serge’s Revolution in Danger.

18: Thorpe, 1989, pp96,98,100,164,179,197,200.

19: Blackledge, 2010, pp136,139,142.

20: Zeilig, 2010, p222. See van der Walt and Schmidt, 2009, ch4, 6.

21: For example, Chaplin [1933].

22: Bakunin [1869], pp152-154; also Bakunin [1870], p190.

23: Bakunin [1865], p137.

24: Bakunin, [1870], p190.

25: Engels [1873], 1972. See McKay, The Anarchist FAQ, section H 4.7.

26: See online paper for references, and “Declaration of the Principles of Revolutionary Syndicalism”: Thorpe, 1989, p324.

27: Blackledge, 2010, p139.

28: Holloway, 2005.

29: Blackledge, 2010, p139.

30: Maura, 1971, pp66,68, 72, 80-83.

31: Gómez Casas, 1986, pp137, 144, 154-157.

32: Gómez Casas, 1986, pp171, 173-175; CNT [1 May 1936], pp10-11.

33: Paz, 1987, p247.

34: Friends of Durruti [1938, 1978], p25.

35: Friends of Durruti [1938, 1978], p25.

36: Birchall, 2010, p175.

37: Abad de Santillan [1937], p47.

38: Blackledge, 2010 , pp133-134, 136, 143-144.

39: Bakunin [1871b], p269.

40: van der Walt and Schmidt, 2009, p109.

41: Bakunin, 1990, p63.

42: Price, 2007, pp172-173.

43: Bakunin, 1953, p287.

44: Price, 2007, p172, emphasis in original.

45: Gordon, 2008, pp69-70.

46: van der Walt and Schmidt, 2009 , pp70-71, 240-242, 244-247, 256-257.

47: Blackledge, 2010, pp131-132, 148.

48: Avrich, 1988, pp229-239.

49: Bakunin [1870], pp184, 186-187, 189-192, 197, 204.

50: Kropotkin [1880], pp123-124.

51: Blackledge, 2010 , pp136, 139, 142.

52: In Hodges, 1986, pp83-84.

53: Bakunin [1865], p138; see van der Walt and Schmidt, 2009, chapter 8.

54: Rocker [1938], pp64, 74, 77.

55: Bakunin [1871a], pp249, 250-251.

56: Zeilig, 2009, pp221-2.

57: Blackledge, 2010, p133, note 15.

58: Zeilig, 2010, p222.

59: For example, Blackledge, 2006; Harman, 2004; Rees, 1998; Renton, 2002, 2004; Banaji, 2010, editor’s introduction.

60: Harman, 1987, p18.

61: Blackledge, 2010, p132.

62: Birchall, 1974.

63: Zeilig, 2010, pp221-222.

64: Castoriadis, 2001, p77.

65: Blackledge, 2010, pp146-147.

66: Zeilig, 2010 , pp221-222.

67: Cliff, 2000 , pp66-67.

68: All figures unless otherwise stated, from Shukman, 1994, pp29, 166, 175, 177, 182, 184, 187.

69: Cliff [1964], pp30-34.

70: Devinatz, 2003.

71: Harman, 1987, p43.

72: Pirani, 2010a.

73: Cliff [1964], pp28, 34.

74: For a summary see McKay, The Anarchist FAQ, section H 6.3.

75: Kronstadt argued for new, open elections to soviets; it never called for “soviets without Bolsheviks”: Avrich, 1991, p181.

76: Avrich, 1967, pp184-185; Brovkin, 1991, p159; Farber, 1990, p22; Malle, 1985, pp240,366-367; Rabinowitch, 2007, pp248-252; Schapiro, 1977, p191.

77: Quoted in Daniels, 1985, p90.

78: Shukman, 1994, pp182-3.

79: Avrich, 1984.

80: Avrich, 1967, pp234-237; Brovkin, 1998, pp20-26, 44-46, 52-53,61-80,90-93; Bulletin[1923-1931]; Dubovic and Rublyov, 2009; Jansen, 1982; Pirani, 2010b.

81: For a recent debate on the “Makhnovist” anarchist movement, see McKay, 2007, pp30-32, 39.

82: Bakunin [1872], p284; Kropotkin [1912], pp170, 186.

83: Blackledge, 2010 , pp133, 146-147.

84: Compare Blackledge, 2010, p133.

85: Harman, 1987, pp19-20.

86: Cliff, 2000 , pp29-30.

87: See, for example, Lenin [1918], p599.

88: Price, 2007, pp128-129; Tabor, 1988, pp93-104.

89: Lenin [1917], p255.

90: Lenin, [1920], p21, my emphasis.

91: Trotsky, 10th Party Congress, in Farber, 1990, p203.

92: Lenin [1917], p273; also Lenin [1918], pp258, 269.

93: Trotsky, 9th Party Congress, in Brinton, 1970, p61; also Trotsky [1920], pp150-151.

94: Lenin [1918], pp258, 269; Trotsky [1920] 1921, pp150-151; also see Brinton, 1970.

95: Marot, 2006.


References

Abad de Santillan, Diego [1937], 2005, After the Revolution: Economic Reconstruction in Spain (Zabalaza Books).

Anderson, Benedict, 2006, Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the AntiColonial Imagination (Verso).

Avrich, Paul, 1967, The Russian Anarchists (Princeton University Press).

Avrich, Paul, 1984, “Bolshevik Opposition to Lenin: GT Miasnikov and the Workers’ Group,” Russian Review, 43/1.

Avrich, Paul, 1988, Anarchist Portraits (Princeton University Press).

Avrich, Paul, 1991, Kronstadt 1921 (Princeton University Press).

Bakunin, Mikhail [1865], 1998, “The International Revolutionary Society or Brotherhood”, in Daniel Guérin (ed), No Gods, No Masters, Book One, (AK Press).

Bakunin, Mikhail [1869], 1971, “The Programme of the International Brotherhood”, in Dolgoff, 1971, http://anarchistplatform.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/the-program-of-the-international-brotherhood/

Bakunin, Mikhail [1870], 1971, “Letters to a Frenchman on the Current Crisis”, in Dolgoff, 1971, www.marxists.org/reference/archive/bakunin/works/1870/letter-frenchman.htm

Bakunin, Mikhail [1871a], 1971, “The Programme of the Alliance”, in Dolfgoff, 1971, www.marxists.org/reference/archive/bakunin/works/1871/program.htm

Bakunin, Mikhail [1871b], 1971, “The Paris Commune and the Idea of the State”, in Dolgoff, 1971, http://http//flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/bakunin/paris.html

Bakunin, Mikhail [1872], 1971, “Letter to La Liberté,” in Dolgoff, 1971, www.marxists.org/reference/archive/bakunin/works/1872/la-liberte.htm

Bakunin, Mikhail, 1953, The Political Philosophy of Bakunin (Free Press / Collier-Macmillan).

Bakunin, Mikhail, 1990, Marxism, Freedom and the State (Freedom Press).

Banaji, Jairus, 2010, “The Ironies of Indian Maoism”, International Socialism 128 (autumn), www.isj.org.uk/?id=684

Birchall, Ian, 1974, Workers against the Monolith: The Communist Parties since 1943 (Pluto).

Birchall, Ian, 2010, “Another Side of Anarchism”, International Socialism 127 (summer), www.isj.org.uk/?id=663

Blackledge, Paul, 2010, “Marxism and Anarchism”, International Socialism 125 (winter), www.isj.org.uk/?id=616

Blackledge, Paul, 2006, “The New Left’s Renewal of Marxism”, International Socialism 112 (winter), www.isj.org.uk/?id=251

Brinton, Maurice, 1970, The Bolsheviks and Workers Control, 19171921 (Solidarity).

Brovkin, Vladimir, 1998, Russia after Lenin (Routledge).

Brovkin, Vladimir, 1991, The Mensheviks after October (Cornell UP).

Bulletin of the Joint Committee for the Defence of Revolutionists [1923-1931], 2010, The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid (Kate Sharpley Library/Alexander Berkman Social Club).

Castoriadis, Cornelius, 2001, “The Fate of Marxism”, in Dimitrious Roussopoulus (ed), The Anarchist Papers (Black Rose).

Chaplin, R, [1933] 1985, The General Strike (IWW).

Cliff, Tony, [1964] 1988, State Capitalism in Russia (Bookmarks), www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1955/statecap/

Cliff, Tony, 2000, Marxism at the Millennium (Bookmarks), www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/2000/millennium/index.htm

CNT [1 May 1936], Resolution on Libertarian Communism as Adopted by the Confederacion Nacional Del Trabajo, Zaragoza, 1 May 1936 (Zabalaza Books).

Daniels, RV (ed), 1985, A Documentary History of Communism (I.B. Tauris), volume 1.

Devinatz, Victor G, 2003, “Lenin as Scientific Manager under Monopoly Capitalism, State Capitalism, and Socialism”, Industrial Relations, 42/3.

Dolgoff, Sam (ed), 1971, Bakunin on Anarchy (George Allen and Unwin).

Draper, Hal, 1966, Two Souls of Socialism, www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/contemp/pamsetc/twosouls/twosouls.htm

Dubovic, Anatoly, and DI Rublyov, 2009, After Makhno: The Anarchist Underground in the Ukraine in the 1920s and 1930s (Kate Sharpley Library).

Engels, Friedrich [1873], 1972, “On Authority”, in Marx, Engels, Lenin: Anarchism and AnarchoSyndicalism (Progress Publishers), www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/10/authority.htm

Epstein, Barbara, 2001, “Anarchism and the Anti-Globalisation Movement”, Monthly Review, 53/4.

Farber, Samuel, 1990, Before Stalinism: The Rise and Fall of Soviet Democracy (Verso).

Friends of Durruti [1938, 1978], Towards a Fresh Revolution (Zabalaza Books).

Goaman, Karen, 2004, “The Anarchist Travelling Circus: Reflections on Contemporary Anarchism, Anti-Capitalism and the International Scene”, in Jonathan Purkis and James Bowen (eds), Changing Anarchism (Manchester UP).

Gómez Casas, Juan, 1986, Anarchist Organisation: The History of the FAI (Black Rose).

Gordon, Uri, 2008, Anarchy Alive! (Pluto).

Harman, Chris, 1987 [1968], “How the Revolution Was Lost”, in Pete Binns and others (eds), Russia: From Workers’ State to State Capitalism (Bookmarks).

Harman, Chris, 2004, “Pick of the Quarter”, International Socialism 104 (autumn), www.isj.org.uk/?id=17

Hodges, Donald, 1986, Intellectual Foundations of the Nicaraguan Revolution (Texas University Press).

Holloway, John, 2005, Change the World Without Taking Power, revised edition (Pluto Press).

Jansen, Marc, 1982, A Show Trial under Lenin: The Trial of the Socialist Revolutionaries, Moscow 1922 (Springer).

Keffer, Tom, 2005, “Marxism, Anarchism and the Genealogy of ‘Socialism from Below’”, Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action, number 2.

Kropotkin, Pyotr [1880], 1970, “The Commune of Paris”, in Martin Miller (ed), Selected Writings on Anarchism and Revolution (MIT. Press), http://http//dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/pcommune.html

Kropotkin, Pyotr [1912], 1970, “Modern Science and Anarchism”, in RN Baldwin (ed), Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets (New York: Dover Publications), http://http//dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/science/toc.html

Lenin, VI [1917], 1975, “The State and Revolution,” in Selected Works in Three Volumes (Progress), volume 2.

Lenin, VI [1918], 1962, “The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government”, in Collected Works (Progress), volume 27.

Lenin, VI [1920], 1962, “The Trade Unions, the Present Situation and Trotsky’s Mistakes”, in Collected Works (Progress), volume 27.

Malle, Silvana, 1985, The Economic Organisation of War Communism, 19181921 (Cambridge UP).

Marot, John Eric, 2006, “Trotsky, the Left Opposition and the Rise of Stalinism,” Historical Materialism, 14/3.

Maura, J Romero, 1971, “The Spanish Case”, in David Apter and James Joll (eds), Anarchism Today (Macmillan).

McKay, Iain, no date, The Anarchist FAQ, http://http//anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/

McKay, Iain, 2007, “On the Bolshevik Myth”, AnarchoSyndicalist Review, 47, www.syndicalist.org/archives/asr41-50/McKay47.shtml

Meyer, Gerald, 2003, “Anarchism, Marxism and the Collapse of the Soviet Union”, Science and Society, 67/2.

Paz, Abel, 1987, Durruti: The People Armed (Black Rose).

Pirani, Simon, 2010a, “Socialism in the 21st Century and the Russian Revolution”, International Socialism 128 (autumn), www.isj.org.uk/?id=687

Pirani, Simon, 2010b, “Detailed Response to Kevin Murphy”, www.revolutioninretreat.com/isjreply.pdf

Price, Wayne, 2007, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives (AuthorHouse).

Rabinowitch, Alexander, 2007, The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd (Indiana University Press).

Rees, John, 1998, The Algebra of Revolution: The Dialectic and the Classical Marxist Tradition (Routledge).

Renton, David, 2002, Classical Marxism: Socialist Theory and the Second International (New Clarion Press).

Renton, David, 2004, Dissident Marxism: Past Voices for Present Times (Zed Books).

Rocker, R [1938] 1989, AnarchoSyndicalism (Pluto).

Schapiro, Leonard, 1977, The Origin of the Communist Autocracy: Political Opposition in the Soviet State First Phase 19171922 (Harvard University Press).

Shukman, Harold (ed), 1994, The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of the Russian Revolution (Wiley-Blackwell).

Tabor, Ron, 1988, A Look at Leninism (Aspect Foundation).

Thorpe, Wayne, 1989, “The Workers Themselves”: Revolutionary Syndicalism and International Labour 191323 (Kulwer Academic Publishers/ IISH).

Trotsky, Leon [1920], 1921, The Defence of Terrorism (The Labour Publishing Company/George Allen and Unwin).

van der Walt, Lucien, and Michael Schmidt, 2009, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism (AK Press).

Zeilig, Leo, 2010, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition,” International Socialism 127 (summer 2010), www.isj.org.uk/?id=674

[DISCUSSION]: Lucien van der Walt, 2011, Detailed reply to ‘International Socialism’: debating power and revolution in anarchism, ‘Black Flame,’ and historical Marxism

Detailed reply to International Socialism: debating power and revolution in anarchism, Black Flame and historical Marxism [1]

 

7 April 2011

 

pdflogosmall

PDF is online here

Lucien van der Walt, Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa,

l.vanderwalt@ru.ac.za

 

**This paper substantially expands arguments I published as “Counterpower, Participatory Democracy, Revolutionary Defence: debating Black Flame, revolutionary anarchism and historical Marxism,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 130, pp. 193-207. http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=729&issue=130

The growth of a significant anarchist and syndicalist[2] presence in unions, in the larger anti-capitalist milieu, and in semi-industrial countries, has increasingly drawn the attention of the Marxist press. International Socialism carried several interesting pieces on the subject in 2010: Paul Blackledge’s “Marxism and Anarchism” (issue 125), Ian Birchall’s “Another Side of Anarchism” (issue 127), and Leo Zeilig’s review of Michael Schmidt and my book Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism (also issue 127).[3] In Black Flame, besides a wealth of historical material and historiographical debate, we provide probably the most systematic overview to date of the anarchist and syndicalist tradition’s internal debates and varying positions on a wide range of questions, including trade unionism, anti-imperialism and national liberation, gender and race, Bolshevism and the Soviet Union, post-revolutionary economic and social reconstruction, and the role of specifically anarchist political organisations.

Paul’s discussion of what Marxists view as anarchism’s flaws is written in a comradely tone. He also notes, quite correctly, that too often our traditions engage in a “caricatured non-debate” rather than a useful discussion.[4] Ian stresses that in practice the “lines between anarchism and Marxism are often blurred.”[5] Leo praises Black Flame as “a fascinating account of the often obscured history of anarchists, their organisations and history.”[6] In this regard, I found Paul and Ian’s commentary refreshingly open.

This goodwill is to be commended, and I will try in my response to attain the same tone. Many misunderstandings have arisen between our two traditions, but there are also real divergences in perspective and analysis; our entangled history has had both its good and bad sides.  This calls for a comradely but also frank debate on the principles and strategies needed to usher the contemporary world into a radically democratic, post-capitalist era.  It also requires some discussion of historical experiences, since these are an essential reference point for current struggle. In addition, I agree with Leo that we always need to speak in a precise manner, given that neither anarchism nor Marxism is homogenous; each tradition is contested, and some criticisms that apply to one tendency cannot fairly be applied to others.

Marxism and anarchism/ syndicalism: convergence and blurred lines

Some basic areas we can, I think, agree on from the start. I gather that the comrades are attracted to Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky precisely because they view these figures as champions of socialism-from-below. Paul writes that the “essence” of their work is “working class self-emancipation.”[7] Leo speaks of the importance of working class people undertaking “the democratic defence of working class power” through “their organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.”[8] The International Socialist Tradition (IST) is one of the only Marxist currents that stresses its commitment to “socialism from below.”

“Working class self-emancipation,” “self-organisation” and “the democratic defence of working class power”– we do not disagree at all on these basic issues. For Mikhail Bakunin and Pyotr Kropotkin, social revolution required a movement for self-emancipation “by the only two classes capable of so mighty an insurrection,” “the workers and the peasants[9]– the popular classes. The “new social order” would be attained “through the social (and therefore anti-political) organisation and power of the working masses of the cities and villages,” “from the bottom up” and “in the name of revolutionary Socialism.”[10] With “a widespread popular movement” in “every town and village,” the masses would “take upon themselves the task of rebuilding society,” through associations operating on directly democratic and anti-hierarchical principles.[11] This would be a movement of counter-power and counter-culture, outside and against the ruling class, the state and capital. It aims at “a revolutionary power directed against all the established principles of the bourgeoisie,” and opposed to all forms of social and economic inequality.[12] (Unsurprisingly, Lenin said “the principle, ‘only from below’ is an anarchist principle”– one, I must add, he called “utterly reactionary”).[13]

Presence: the historical impact of anarchism and syndicalism

As Leo points out, this history has been “often obscured.” But what has been obscured? A vast part of class struggle and left thought, and of popular history, not least in the colonial and postcolonial world.

It is easily forgotten that well into the 1950s, anarchism and syndicalism were mass popular class movements, hardly the marginal forces usually presented in Marxist writing. Today, anarchists are again central to the “most determined and combative of the movements” fighting capitalist globalisation,[14] the main pole of attraction for many activists,[15] not least in the recent Greek uprisings of 2008. There is a pervasive spread globally of the anarchist values of bottom-up organising, direct action and refusal to participate in the official political system.[16]

Benedict Anderson reminds us that the broad anarchist tradition was long the “dominant element in the self-consciously internationalist radical Left”, “the main vehicle of global opposition to industrial capitalism, autocracy, latifundism, and imperialism”.[17] Eric Hobsbawm admits that before 1917, “the revolutionary movement” was predominantly “anarcho-syndicalist.[18] “Between Marx’s death and Lenin’s sudden rise to power in 1917, orthodox Marxism was in the minority as far as leftist opposition to capitalism and imperialism was concerned – successful mainly in the more advanced industrial and Protestant states of Western and Central Europe, and generally pacific in its political positions.”[19]

The notion that anarchism “became a mass movement in Spain to an extent that it never did elsewhere”[20] – that is, of Spanish exceptionalism– is widely held. It is, however, incorrect. Mass movements in the broad anarchist tradition developed in many countries, and the Spanish movement was by no means the largest. Latin America and Asia, for example, provide many examples of powerful and influential anarchist and syndicalist movements, some of which rivalled that of Spain in importance, and anarchism and syndicalism predominated for many years in the colonial and postcolonial world: Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe and Ireland.[21]

If we use influence in the labour movement as an imperfect although useful measure, the enormous role played by anarchism and syndicalism becomes clear. The Spanish syndicalist unions of the 20th century, representing around half of organised Spanish labour were (considered in relation to the size of the working class and organised labour movement) actually rather smaller than the movements in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, France, Mexico, Peru, Portugal and Uruguay, where the broad anarchist tradition dominated almost the entire labour movement.[22] This is not to dispute the importance of the Spanish experience, but to place it in its correct perspective.

There is revolutionary continuity from then until now, even lasting through anarchism’s dark years, the 1950s to the 1970s, and into the present revival. Thus, the movement maintained a substantial union presence from the 1940s until the present, especially in southern Europe and Latin America.[23] Anarchists also have a significant record of participation in armed struggles in these years, in Argentina, China, Cuba, Iran, Spain, Uruguay and elsewhere.[24] Anarchists and syndicalists played a role in the Russian underground of the 1950s, including the 1953 gulag uprisings at Karaganda, Norilsk and Vorkuta.[25] Russian anarchism then revived during the 1980s, with a significant union presence being established in Baikal and Siberia from the 1990s onwards.[26] A revolutionary and anarcho-syndicalist union summit organized in Paris, France, 2007, drew 250 delegates worldwide, the Africans constituting the biggest single continental grouping.[27]

The point is simple: as a mass movement with a sophisticated theory, anarchism and syndicalism, anarchism and syndicalism deserves more than the deep ignorance on the subject common amongst Marxists.

I think it is rather a pity, then, that Leo’s review of Black Flame concentrates on what the book said about Marxism– a rather small part of the book’s concerns. He feels the book is unfair on Marxism, not least because of the “glaring absence” of a discussion of the “Trotskyist” theory of Soviet state-capitalism,[28]

The point of Black Flame (and of the larger “Counter Power” project) is not, however, to provide a detailed examination of Trotskyism or other Marxist brands. It is to recapture the history and politics of anarchism and syndicalism. An examination of that history must obviously report that anarchists like Bakunin, Kropotkin and Maximoff developed theories of state-capitalism decades before Trotskyism even existed.

On sources: avoiding misreadings

The history of the broad anarchist tradition and its debates is complicated one, and cannot be assessed properly without serious study of the literature. It is a fact, a regrettable one, that most of the Marxist press is profoundly ignorant about that history and therefore tends to debate straw-men. Many Marxist analyses of anarchism are self-referential, relying on yet other Marxist and pro-Marxist accounts. In many cases, these accounts are demonstrably unreliable, with flawed claims, judgements and generalisations. This approach means that discussions of anarchism and syndicalism by Marxists are often self-referential, anecdotal, narrow, and a series of misunderstandings.

I am not, of course, claiming that this is a universal, let alone uniquely, Marxist fault. It is a mode of writing that, of course, is regrettably shared by some anarchists and syndicalists, as Paul notes with reference to some recent anarchist-identified books.[29] I agree with Paul and Leo that anarchists have often caricatured Marxists, but the reverse is true too, and is nothing new. Lenin himself suggested that many Marxists had a merely “philistine” understanding of anarchism–yet he demonstrably misrepresented anarchism in this same text.[30] Obviously, this situation perpetuates the problem of “caricatured non-debate” between Marxists and anarchists, from both sides.

Ian commendably distances himself from Hal Draper’s bizarre charge that anarchism was a form of “socialism from above,” stating that Draper was perhaps too “sectarian.”[31] But it is this “sectarian” approach that is too often the problem. Draper’s arguments are based on systematically distorting the views of Bakunin and others, in order to suggest that Proudhon was akin to Hitler, and Bakunin to Stalin.[32] His method is hardly different from Stalin’s smearing of Trotsky as a “fascist agent” – and about as accurate and honest. A full critique of Draper’s method, claims and conclusions take us beyond the scope of this paper; I merely implore Marxist comrades to read his, and similar, claims on anarchism with caution. Anyone using Draper as a guide to understanding anarchism will soon find Draper’s claims are at odds with pretty much any standard anarchist text, not to mention the aims and actions of pretty much any anarchist or syndicalist movements.

Ian cites Serge on the small number of so-called “Soviet anarchists” who supported the Bolsheviks during the Civil War, joining the party and taking senior state positions.[33] Some, including Serge, became overt apologists for party dictatorship. Yet if Serge was talented writer, he was not a good historian, and his accounts of anarchism and syndicalism are often unreliable. This is partly because he was a marginal figure in that movement. According to Ian, Serge said that “the comrades of the anarchosyndicalist group Golos Truda (Moscow and Petrograd) have in practice made common cause” with the Bolsheviks, “going so far as to approve of the militarisation of labour.”

This is illustrative of Serge’s inaccuracies. Firstly, even “Soviet anarchists” were routinely arrested.[34] Secondly, while the Golos Truda (“Voice of Labour”) group, a significant minority current, supported the October Revolution, it was not “Soviet anarchist.” It wanted “free” i.e. democratic, multi-tendency soviets as means of self-management and direct democracy. It criticised the Bolsheviks’ emerging one-party dictatorship, its “state-capitalism” and attacks on the peasantry.[35] This outlook was, in fact, largely shared by most Russian anarchists and syndicalists. Mindful of the Civil War, the group confined itself to ideological struggle, specifically, to work in the factory committees and soviets. And, contrary to Serge’s “common cause,” the Bolsheviks responded with harassment, then banning its papers in early 1918, then mass arrests of the Confederation of Russian Anarcho-syndicalists (KRAS), which it helped found. G.P. Maximoff, the leading figure in the group, was jailed 6 times, narrowly escaped a death sentence after workers went on strike in solidarity, and was eventually deported.[36]

In short, we will remain in a “caricatured non-debate” if we rely on caricatures. The materials of the anarchist movement itself – particularly its mainstream rather than its marginal elements, or those who use the anarchist label with no link to anarchism – also deserve more thorough and open-minded engagement in Marxist discussions.

Some misunderstandings: anarchism and the armed defence of the revolution

Paul makes three main arguments against anarchism. Firstly he suggests that anarchism is fundamentally flawed by its “anti-political” approach, by which he means its supposed failure to understand the need for a “centralized military force” to defend revolution. Secondly, he asserts that anarchism denies the need for a specific political organisation that can intervene in the class struggle.[37] Paul links these two charges to the assertion that anarchism denies “the possibility of real democracy” (presumably unlike Marxism), which is why it is (he asserts) simply unable to understand that there is no contradiction between coordinated action and working class emancipation.[38]

Thirdly, Paul suggests that anarchists have a “massive misunderstanding of Marxism,” neglecting its “essence as the theory of working class self-emancipation” (my emphasis). This is a view Leo evidently shares, claiming that Black Flame is riddled with “clichés” that would “raise the eyebrows of even right-wing critics” of Marxism.[39] Rather than necessarily implying one party-dictatorship and statism, he insists, for the Marxists:

Dictatorship of the proletariat is a term for the democratic defence of working class power. It is regarded as a necessary and temporary form of political control by the working class through their organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.

“Centralised military force,” for Leo (and, I presume, International Socialism), seems to simply mean the coordinated self-defence power of the working class. (Leo adds that the anarchists misrepresent Marxism as economically reductionist and historically determinist).

Let us focus first on the question of armed revolutionary self-defence i.e. on whether, as Paul suggests, anarchists ignore the need for the popular classes to be “organised ideologically, politically and militarily” to defend the revolution.[40] This lacuna will not, in fact, be found in the works of Bakunin or Kropotkin – a point that Leo’s review of Black Flame in fact concedes.

With the “dissolution of the army, the judicial system … the police” of the current order, Bakunin argued, “permanent barricades” would be established relying on coordination through deputies with “always responsible, and always revocable mandates,” as well as the “extension of the revolutionary force” within and between the “rebel countries.”[41] The aim was make a “world-wide revolution” by the “popular masses everywhere,” that will not “put up its sword” until victory with libertarian, socialist “world-wide federation of nations”.[42]

Obviously, this meant a measure of legitimate coercion against the defenders of the old order. This would be undertaken by the organs of popular power, but not by a party or military elite. Coercion merely means forcing another party to act in an involuntary manner, diminishing its freedom of choice. It can hardly be expected that capitalists or landowners will voluntarily cede the means of production, or state elites the means of coercion. Nor can it be expected that the “rebel countries” should tolerate coercion by counterrevolutionary armies. As opposed to the use of force and violence to perpetuate hierarchical power and exploitation for a minority, they will use force and violence if necessary, to defend a libertarian, socialist order, and central to the emancipatory direct action of the majority classes.[43]

The notion of a peaceful revolution was, stated Errico Malatesta (perhaps the most influential anarchist after Bakunin and Kropotkin), “pure utopia”: revolution is resolved through “main force,” with “victory … to the strongest.”[44] From “the economic struggle one must pass to the political struggle, that is to the struggle against government.”[45] This position was held by most (although not all – see below) anarchists, revolutionary syndicalists and anarcho-syndicalists, and was therefore a key part of most programmes, and also underlay the formation of anarchist and syndicalist militias and battalions in countries like China, Cuba, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Russia, the Ukraine and the United States.[46] The movement usually argued for a combination of subverting the armed forces of the state, arming the people in coordinated forces, and internationalising any revolutionary eruption.

The need to forcibly defend revolution was recognised by most key figures. In fact, this need was clearly articulated by key anarchist figures, Bakunin and Kropotkin, and Malatesta, but also Pyotr Arshinov, Alexander Berkman, Camillo Berneri, Buenaventura Durruti, Emma Goldman, Praxedis Guerrero, Li Pei Kan (“Ba Jin”), Liu Sifu (“Shifu”), Ricardo Flores Magón, Nestor Ivanovich Makhno, José Oiticica, Albert Parsons, Domingos Passos, Rudolph Rocker, Shin Ch’aeho, Kim Jao-jin and many others.

It was also the official position of the major anarchist organisations, including internationals like the anarchist majority wing of the post-1872 First International, the International Workers’ Association (1922), and the Eastern Anarchist League (1927). It was widely held by the anarchists and syndicalists engaged in revolutionary strikes and uprisings, such as took place in Macedonia/ Thrace (1903), Mexico (1867, 1878, 1911, 1916), Italy (1914, 1920), Portugal (1918), Brazil (1918), Argentina (1919, 1922), Bulgaria (1923), and Spain (1909, 1917, 1932/3). Armed defence of revolution was the explicit position of mass movements like the Korean People’s Association in Manchuria (Hanjok Chongryong Haphoi) and Spain’s National Confederation of Labour (CNT). While necessary as a means of preventing brutal counter-revolution, the defence of revolution by force was still generally regarded as, in Bakunin’s words “always an evil” that needed to be minimised so that it did not destroy the “purity and perfection of the purpose.”[47]

We are talking here, in short, of the mainstream position of the anarchist / syndicalist movement. Its rejection of the Marxist notion of a “dictatorship of the proletariat” was never based on rejecting the need to defend a revolution. These two issues should not be conflated, as is common in the Marxist literature. Anarchists and syndicalists maintain (as we will see below) that every actually-existing Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat” has been a “dictatorship over the proletariat” by brutal ruling classes. This does not mean anarchists and syndicalists reject revolution, or the armed defence of revolution – they just insist these regimes were counter-revolutionary.

Setting the record straight: the Spanish anarchists versus the Popular Front

Paul presents the CNT’s admittedly disastrous decision to join the Popular Front government in Spain in September 1936 as evidence that it had no alternative means of “coordinating the military opposition to Franco’s fascists …under a unified structure.”[48]

These claims are incorrect. Since the 1870s, the Spanish anarchists explicitly set out to “annihilate the power of the state” through class struggle and “superior firing power.”[49] Victor Serge is often quoted in International Socialism, so it is worth mentioning that his semi-autobiographical Birth of Our Power includes a discussion of the CNT’s moves towards armed insurrection in 1917.[50]

With the Anarchist Federation of Iberia (FAI), the main anarchist political group in Spain, the CNT coordinated a cycle of insurrections from 1932 onwards. The programme and discussions included careful consideration of the “internal and external defence of the revolution,” the subversion of the army, and raising a popular armed force.[51]  In the December 1933 insurrection, Durruti chaired the anarchists’ National Revolutionary Council, formed to provide a “unified structure” to coordinate class struggle and “superior firing power.”  He insisted revolution could “only be resolved in the street with arms in hand.”[52]

The January-February 1936 FAI congress resolved on “resort to insurrection for the conquest of social wealth,” and crushing fascism. A Revolutionary Preparedness Committee was formed to organise the revolutionary armed forces.[53] In May 1936, the CNT’s national congress resolved to take the “necessary steps” to defend a revolutionary Spain against “the perils of foreign invasion … or against counter-revolution at home.”[54] This entailed the “people armed,” ready for “large-scale battles” with “modern military techniques,” and “effectively organised nationwide.” (None of this can be reconciled with the IST claim that Spanish anarchists and syndicalists reduced armed defence to a day of street-fighting).[55]

The FAI/ CNT conception was still being defended in August 1936, and was in fact implemented in some areas through the anarchists’ Council of Aragon.[56] In 1937, the Friends of Durruti called for withdrawal from the Popular Front, and the formation of a National Defence Council (or “junta”).[57] Contrary to the claim made by the Trotskyite Felix Morrow, [58]  this position was a restatement of – rather than “a conscious break” with – “the anti-statism of traditional anarchism”.

In short, the CNT’s decision to enter the state did not arise from a lack of a programme, or an inherent anarchist refusal to consider issues like coordinated military defence. Why exactly the Spanish CNT decided to “dismantle its autonomous and revolutionary power apparatus,”[59] bears close examination. However, the basic causes lie in flawed strategic decisions, taken in a difficult context.

Finally, it is also important to understand what the anarchist and syndicalist vision of the “people armed” entailed. The FAI and CNT (and later the Friends of Durruti) all insisted that the armed forces of the revolution must be controlled by “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.” Thus, the Friends stated that the National Defence Council would deal with “the management of the war” and the “supervision of revolutionary order,” but would be “elected by democratic vote in the union organisations,” remain under the control at all times of the “the trade union assemblies,” and leave “economic affairs… the exclusive preserve of the unions.”[60]

The movement insisted that coordinated military defence was always subject to the basic aims of the revolution: self-management, collectivisation and emancipation. It was not an end in itself, and could not take place at the cost of any of these basic aims. The armed forces were the tools of the masses, not abstractly but directly. They were not to become the basis for a new power to be wielded over the masses, whether by an ambitious officer caste, or by a self-proclaimed revolutionary party. If this happened, the revolution would be destroyed from within, as surely as by any external counter-revolution.

 

Again: power, freedom and anarchist revolution

The point I am making is that the issue of making and defending a revolution is nothing new to the anarchist movement. On the contrary, the movement has a rich tradition of thought on these matters, as well as an extensive record of first-hand experience that can be fruitfully engaged. As I have shown, the mainstream of anarchism has advocated moving from resistance to a revolutionary rupture, a “social revolution” that involves forcibly replacing the existing order with a new one, and involves the armed defence of that revolution.

For instance, there is nothing “difficult to understand” about Bakunin viewing the Paris Commune as “a practical realization” of his vision. [61] Anarchism is not against the democratic power of the popular classes, nor to the determined struggle against counter-revolution. Of course it is the case that “once social movements are strong enough to point towards a real alternative to the status quo, states will intervene with the aim of suppressing them.”[62] But what anarchist would deny this?

Anarchist anti-statism arises from precisely the anarchist recognition of the profoundly anti-popular class character of the state machinery. But that same recognition also means that anarchists do not seek to use states to defend revolutions. Bakunin insisted that genuine democracy was fundamentally incompatible with the state, which anarchists define as a centralised and hierarchical body run from the top-down by and for a ruling class, an institution of domination “where all the real aspirations, all the living forces of a country enter generously and happily” only to be “slain and buried.”[63]

There is no contradiction at all between the anarchists wanting revolution while opposing authoritarianism: anarchists resist the hierarchical violence and coercion that underpins exploitation and domination, while (generally) admitting to the necessity of coercion, even violence, for resistance.[64] Anarchists have always stood for popular resistance against oppression, which, even in its most peaceful forms, always involves some coercion by the oppressor; resistance to this coercion is not oppression, but its negation.  Emancipation cannot be vetoed by a privileged few. Engels, I think, misunderstands the anarchist position on these basic issues when he claims that the anarchists “anti-authoritarianism” is contradictory.[65]

Now, we can usefully debate the adequacy of the many anarchist and syndicalist experiences in armed revolutionary self-defence; we should also debate issues of alliances, financing, military technique and the like. There is always a need to ruthlessly draw the lessons of all previous experiences, including military ones–something that the anarchist movement has repeatedly done.[66] But none of this is possible if we proceed from manifestly incorrect assertions that the broad anarchist tradition ignores the need for a coordinated military opposition to counter-revolution.

I have been speaking about the mainstream. It is also important to note that there has always been a section of the anarchists and syndicalists with an arguably naive belief in the possibility of a “bloodless revolution.”[67] To some extent we see this in the famous Industrial Workers of the World, active in over a dozen countries. Unions like the IWW did not ignore the state; they just tended to argue that the occupation of the workplaces would cut the supply lines to the military, and that the ordinary soldiers would come over to the side of the people.

It is true that many anarchists and syndicalists today have not thought deeply enough about the practicalities of revolution – partly because of a deep and important immersion in current struggles, coupled with inadequate reflection on issues that seem less pressing. There is also a long-standing and ongoing conceptual confusion over the issue of “taking power” within some sections of the movement: often a healthy opposition to substitutionism (against a revolutionary minority, anarchist or otherwise, taking power over everyone else) is conflated with something quite different (the oppressed as a whole overturning the existing system, and creating and defending a new one).[68] This leads to some anarchists to faulty formulations, like a flat opposition to any attempt to “take power.”

The anarchist programme is surely far better expressed by the formulation that anarchists want power – not for themselves, for the anarchists alone, but power for everyone, which requires power residing in the hands of the popular classes as a whole through “their organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.,” not in the hands of a particular party. And this, as I have said before, was seen by the majority of anarchists as requiring coordinated, military, defence against counter-revolution.

This conception of the anarchist mainstream is really quite different to John Holloway’s notion of “changing the world without taking power.” This holds that the state and capital will somehow be slowly yet thoroughly undermined by alternative institutions.[69] It assumes that a peaceful and gradual transition to a new society is possible, as if the state will stand back and allow this to take place; it will not. Since, in any case, the state and capital concentrate the major means of administration, coercion and administration in the hands of the ruling class, it is unclear how alternative institutions will break this monopoly without confrontations and a decisive revolutionary rupture.

Black Flame, debates within anarchism/ syndicalism and the question of specifically anarchist political organisations

Having spoken about the FAI, I will comment on Paul’s claim that anarchism denied the need for a specific political organisation that can intervene in the class struggle. Here Paul cites Lenin as arguing that anarchism is based on a mistaken generalisation i.e. moving from a critique of the practice of reformist political parties to a rejection of any attempt to build political organisations.[70] Such an attempt is however, he argues, necessary to link struggles, and to fight for ideological clarity and a revolutionary project.

First, it must be clear that anarchists and syndicalists are “not in any way opposed to the political struggle,” but simply stress it “must take the form of direct action,” centred on the unions. [71] They did not reject political struggles– struggles around State policy and civil and political freedoms. They rejected “political action” in the very specific sense of using political parties and the state apparatus for emancipation. In place of “political action,” they stressed self-activity and struggle-from-below against the ruling class.[72] Electioneering was ineffective, corrupting and ideologically disorientating. The “peoples owe all the political rights and privileges” that they enjoy “not to the good will of their governments, but to their own strength”.[73]

All anarchists and syndicalists stress the importance of revolutionary ideas as the basis for a revolutionary movement, speaking of the need for a “fundamental transvaluation of values,”[74] a “revolutionary imagination.”[75] The “material conditions” and “needs” of the popular classes generated, Bakunin argued, a fundamental antagonism to capitalism, landlordism and the State, and a desire for “material well-being” and ”an atmosphere of freedom.”[76] This is not enough, however; misery does not lead in itself to revolution. The popular classes are “poverty-stricken and discontented,” but in the very depths of the “utmost poverty” often “fail to show signs of stirring.”[77] And when they did rise, they rarely break free of the current order.

What is missing is a “new social philosophy,”  a “new faith” in the possibility of a new social order, and in the ability of ordinary people to create such a society.[78] A revolutionary counter-culture embodying the “new faith” is vital, and distinguishes revolutions from sporadic outbreaks and revolts. Revolutions embody, Kropotkin insisted, “the birth of completely new ideas concerning the manifold links in citizenship – conceptions which soon become realities, and then begin to spread among the neighbouring nations, convulsing the world and giving to the succeeding age its watchword, its problems, its science, its lines of economic, political and moral development.”[79]

Anarchism and syndicalism do not, therefore, argue for some sort of left-wing economism, nor do they believe revolutions happen automatically without conscious interventions. The key question that is debated by the movement is how best to fight the battle of ideas, so making anarchism the “watchword” of a new age, in a way that prevents the militant minority of conscious revolutionaries from engaging in substitution and/ or dictatorship over the popular classes.

All of this, of course, raises the question of whether a specific anarchist/ syndicalist political organisation is needed, and, if so, how it should be structured. [80] Paul is quite right that there is a current in anarchism that argues against the need for any specific political organisation, but this characterisation cannot be applied to anarchism and syndicalism as a whole.

Paul is talking about one position in a complicated debate, but presents this position as the definitive and shared anarchist one, which it evidently is not. Some (like Serge) believed that propaganda would suffice to win the masses over, and that there was no need for specific libertarian political organisation for this task. There could be some cooperation, but only through informal processes.[81] The problems with informal organisation or “anti-organisationalism” are well-known,[82] and I will not repeat them.

Another position, usually identified with a section of syndicalists, insisted that there was no need for a specific libertarian political organisation, because the battle of ideas could be adequately waged by unions and other mass movements. They did not deny the need for politics, or ignore the state as some have charged.[83] On the contrary, they insisted that revolutionary unions must be embedded in larger popular movements and counter-cultures, must be linked to other organised popular constituencies, must take up issues beyond the workplace, and must make revolutionary propaganda through a mass press, theatres, schools and other bodies.[84] I personally do not find the argument that the union is self-sufficient convincing. This is not least because unions cannot be politically homogenous, making it necessary to have a specifically anarchist or syndicalist political organisation fighting for syndicalism.[85]

The third position was organisational dualism: most anarchists and syndicalists were quite explicit in advocating the need for organised, specifically anarchist, militant minorities, organised in political organisations, to work in tandem with mass organisations. As the Mexican anarchist Flores Magón stressed, there must be “an activating minority, a courageous minority of libertarians” that would “move the masses … despite the doubts of the incredulous, the prophecies of the pessimists, and the alarm of the sensible, coldly calculating, and cowardly”.[86]

The main debate was over how such formations should be structured, and operate, with two main poles. A “synthesist” position, held by figures like Emma Goldman, Hatta Shūzō, and “Voline” (Vsevolod Eichenbaum) argued for a loose formation. All varieties of anarchists and syndicalists should be united; differences should be set aside.[87] The obvious problem is that such groups will lack any theoretical agreement or common activities, will struggle to pool or prioritise resources, and have limited impact. [88]

By contrast, figures like Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Makhno, Oiticica, Shifu and others favoured an “organisation of tendency” based on close political unity and collective discipline.[89] Bakunin favoured an organisation based on shared analysis and principles, and agreed strategy and tactics, to be abided “at all times with scrupulous observance”.[90]

Bakunin, Kropotkin and Malatesta were all members of the anarchist International Alliance of Socialist Democracy, which had a clear platform and was active in the First International.[91] Without wanting to open up a discussion on the Bakunin/ Marx conflict, which would require another paper, I must point out that the Alliance was not the sinister revolutionary conspiracy that Marx, Draper and others would assert.[92] Its members sought to act, in Bakunin’s words, “as intermediaries between the revolutionary idea and the instincts of the people,” rejecting “any idea of dictatorship and of a controlling and directive power.”[93]  For Kropotkin, it was necessary to build a “party” with “revolutionary propaganda,” “spirit and daring,” to “march in front in order to realise the revolution”.[94] He insisted unions be complemented by the anarchist “party,”[95] as did Malatesta.[96]

Libertarian “organisations of tendency” have been a common feature of anarchist and syndicalist history, although terms like “party” have fallen out of favour. In Spain, the Alliance was followed by the Anarchist Organisation of the Spanish Region, the National ups Federation of Anarchist Groups and the FAI. In Mexico, there were La Social, Luz, Lucha and the Grupo Luz; in China, Shifu’s Society of Anarchist-Communist Comrades, active in the unions; in Russia, Maximoff’s KRAS in the soviets and factory committees; in Japan, the Black Youth League in the National Libertarian Federation of Labour Unions (Zenkoku Jiren) in the 1920s and 1930s; a notable post-war example is the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU), active from the 1950s to today.

Some clarity: the relation between anarchism, syndicalism and “real democracy”

As part of his arguments about anarchism and politics, Paul claims that anarchism denies “the possibility of real democracy.” Bakunin, he adds, had “a much more general rejection of the possibility that society could be democratized.”[97]

How accurate is this claim? It depends heavily on what is meant by “real democracy” in the first place. Bakunin and Kropotkin and other anarchists criticised parliamentary democracy for not being “democratic”.[98] Malatesta argued that “government by everybody is no longer government in the authoritarian, historical and practical” sense of the word.”[99] Rather than deny “the possibility of real democracy”–if we mean by “democracy” the rule of the demos, or people–it aspires to it and rejects the false “democracy” of parliament.

Paul speaks of “the anarchist alternative” to “democracy” as “seeking consensus.”[100] I agree with Paul’s point that consensus-decision making struggles to deal with serious divisions. But I cannot accept his formulation that “seeking consensus” is in any sense an “alternative” to “democracy,” because it is, in fact, an attempt to maximise democracy.  The attraction of some anarchists to consensus-decision making is precisely that–as Ruth Kinna, who Paul cites–notes, it seems to these anarchists the best of the “systems of democracy”.[101]

The assumption that there is an anarchist consensus on the use of consensus-decision making is also incorrect. The likes of Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Malatesta made no mention of it; the largest organisations in the broad anarchist tradition–like the syndicalist unions–all used majority rule; so did all major anarchist congresses and scores of other anarchist bodies. This is partly because there are serious problems with consensus-decision making from a democratic standpoint. Paul himself notes that Kinna is highly critical of consensus decision-making;[102] the same is true of Black Flame. Even Uri Gordon, described by Paul as a pro-consensus “anarchist theorist,” stresses that “facilitated consensus” was “quite alien” to anarchists until the late 1960s, and even now, many prefer the “debate-and-vote format”.[103]

Of course, as Paul notes, Gordon flatly states that anarchism is not “democratic”. But does Gordon really mean what Paul thinks? Gordon argues (on very shaky grounds) that democracy aims at “collectively binding” decisions, “mandatory” for all, whereas anarchism aims at some sort of “non-enforceability.”[104] That is, he is not opposed to the rule of the demos at all, but is, rather focussed on protecting dissidents within the demos, whose rights he feels would be violated if forced to implement decisions that they firmly oppose. This is a defence of conscientious objection, based on a profoundly democratic impulse. Paul cites Woodcock’s well-known statement that anarchism is against “democracy” because it can violate “the sovereignty of the individual”.[105] But this statement follows the same reasoning. In short, both Gordon and Woodcock use the term “democracy” to refer to only one possible democratic form, which they critique through a (flawed) line of democratic argument – that “collectively binding decisions” coerce dissident individuals, and that such coercion is always ethically wrong.

This line of thought has a long tradition in anarchism: Malatesta tended to make these sorts of arguments.[106] However, Paul should note it is only one view in a larger movement dialogue about how best to attain “real democracy,” and, in fact, by no means the predominant view.

Many, perhaps most, anarchists would take serious issue with the Gordon/ Woodcock line, as shown in Black Flame.[107] Since any voluntary organisation is founded on basic points of agreement, explicit or otherwise, it is always premised on the principle of “collectively binding decisions.” Those who join have necessarily accepted the fact of “binding decisions,” removing any logical basis for later making a principle of “non-enforceability.”

Anarchists like Bakunin and Kropotkin also insisted that strict mandates and ongoing accountability, not a refusal of responsibility, are the very basis of free association and democratic practice. Freedom can only exist within and through a democratic society:  “Society, far from decreasing … freedom, on the contrary creates the individual freedom of all human beings”.[108] Thus, Bakunin always “fought the individualists” who claimed freedom meant freedom from society and accountability,[109] a view Kropotkin called “misanthropic bourgeois individualism.” Instead, “true individuality” could only be developed “through practising the highest communist sociability,” [110] made possible by a society that maximised the freedom of all through collective property, voluntary cooperation and self-management.

Free association and voluntary cooperation are only sustainable when people make decisions and carry them out, including undertaking direct responsibility to provide the labour needed to ensure that the material and cultural conditions for the “individual freedom of all human beings” are reproduced.[111] This meant that work was the basic price all pay for participation in the new society. , In other words, Bakunin and Kropotkin insisted that rights are indissolubly linked to duties, it being “obligatory” that “everybody” contributes to “the common well-being to the full extent of his capacities.” [112]This is social vision of freedom is precisely what is entailed by the formulation, which the anarchists had from the Utopians, “from each according to ability, to each according to need”; mutual aid is the basis of social justice. Thus, another slogan: “no rights without duties – no duties without rights.”[113]

Of course, in some instances, it is possible that a minority might be able to abstain from participating in implementation of a collective decision, without harm to the majority. In many cases–particularly in collective processes of production and consumption– the minority will have to be bound by majority decisions in order for the link between rights and duties to be maintained.[114] To allow otherwise essentially means giving the minority a permanent control over the decisions of everyone else, hardly an anarchist principle. Consensus decision-making does not solve this problem. It cannot deal with serious conflicts, and it gives small but vocal minorities effective control over decisions. With majority decision-making, the minority is not oppressed, since its basic rights are protected, and it can freely campaign to win the majority over.[115] An anarchist society “will be full of lively debate and organising, which is what is meant by democracy as a way of life.”[116]

If Gordon and Woodcock wish to argue that acts that violate individual freedom are objectionable on principle, they must (and do) necessarily support measures to forcibly prevent acts like murder or exploitation. But this simply means that they concede that the absolute “the sovereignty of the individual” is incompatible with anarchism itself. In an anarchist order, no individual has the “sovereignty” to violate the basic civil and political freedoms of another, and such constraints are coercively enforced as needed. Constraints on “sovereignty” are essential so that free individuals can exist in a free society.[117] An anarchist society necessarily and always implies constraints on the “sovereignty of the individual.”[118] It is therefore nonsense to claim that anarchism stands for the absolute “the sovereignty of the individual,” in decision-making or anything else.

To draw this part to a close, it is necessary to place the arguments raised by Kinna, Gordon and Woodcock into their historical context, and to see these as but one part of a larger dialogue within anarchism about the best means to match collective decisions and individual freedom. Gordon et al present one anarchist view, not the anarchist view, nor indeed, the most convincing anarchist view.

Many anarchists choose instead to embrace the label of “democracy,” rather than to deny it. Anarchism is surely “nothing less than the most complete realisation of democracy, democracy in the fields, in the factories, and in the neighbourhoods, co-ordinated through federal structures and councils from below upwards, democracy based on economic and social equality.”[119] In this we echo Bakunin who argued when the “whole people govern” then “there will be no one to be governed. It means that there will be no government, no State.”[120] Wayne Price argues bluntly: “Anarchism is democracy without the state.” [121]

 

The interplay of anarchist democracy and armed defence of the revolution

How, then, does the issue of “the most complete realisation of democracy” link to the commitment of the anarchist mainstream to a “unified structure” of “permanent barricades” to express class struggle through “superior firing power”? The key connection is this: the defence of the revolution should never be confused with a suppression of democratic processes in what Leo called the “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.” This is because a revolutionary and free society, a socialist and libertarian society, does not preserve itself–but in fact destroys itself–when it only permits a narrow range of views, violating its most basic principles. In the name of saving the revolution from its enemies, it quietly, perhaps inadvertently but just as certainly, destroys it. Thus Bakunin: “The authoritarian system of decrees in trying to impose freedom and equality obliterates both.” [122]

Democracy through “organs of self-organisation” means democracy for everyone in those structures, and includes the freedom to disagree with freedom itself. This does not mean the freedom of a minority to forcibly destroy or subvert those structures, in the face of the opposition of the majority i.e. the structures and processes can be defended with force. At the same time, this does not mean the right of the majority to suppress the minority merely on the basis of its views i.e. the structures and processes being defended necessarily include the defence of full political and civil rights. As Diego Abad de Santillan, a key figure in the FAI and CNT wrote,[123]

We can oppose with force those who try to subjugate us on behalf of their interests or concepts, but we cannot resort to force against those who do not share our points of view, and who do not desire to live as we attempt to. Here, our respect for liberty must encompass the liberty of our adversaries to live their own life, always on the condition that they are not aggressive and do not deny the freedom of others …

In short, legitimate coercive power is used against those who commit harmful acts involving coercion and force against individuals, and against the anarchist social order that makes free individuals possible i.e. against acts that reintroduce hierarchy, domination and exploitation.[124]

Legitimate coercion defends the revolution, but the revolution’s heart is radical democracy and equality. Anarchism can only be the guiding programme of the revolution because it is freely accepted by the popular classes, who could always choose to renounce it. That is, the anarchist revolution would only succeed if the anarchists win the battle of ideas, but the war of ideas will never end, since the future society would be based on multi-tendency (if you like, “multi-party”) participatory democracy. Moreover, the battle of ideas is not won by coercion, but by debate.

The revolution that the anarchists and syndicalists envisage is libertarian communism i.e. it is both for freedom and against capitalism and other inequities. Defence of the revolution is defence of all of these elements. Legitimate coercion is used to defend all of these elements, and never against them. The revolution is not, Abad de Santillan stressed, the rule-from-above of “a committee, of a party, of a given tendency.”[125] Thus, Bakunin insisted: [126]

I am truly free only when all human beings, men and women, are equally free, and the freedom of other men, far from negating or limiting my freedom, is, on the contrary, its necessary premise and confirmation.

 

It is precisely for these reasons that anarchists reject the notion of a “dictatorship of the   proletariat,” as I will show below. Democracy cannot be suspended to “save” the revolution, since it is an integral and essential part of the revolution–its means and its end. To destroy democracy is simply to destroy the revolution. Legitimate coercion is applied to external threats and to internal anti-social crime, but not to critics, dissenters, rivals, strikers, and protestors.

 

Some clarity: the Paris Commune, the anarchists, and “the state”

I indicated earlier that the anarchists were great admirers of the Paris Commune. In fact, the anarchists helped inspire the Commune, and all of the radically democratic measures of the Commune were anticipated in anarchist writings. The Paris Commune was only one link in a chain of communalist risings. In September and October 1870, the Bakunin circle launched revolutionary communes in Lyon and Marseille, inspiring similar revolts across France, many of which flared anew after Paris rose on the 18th March 1871. In 1873 and 1874, the communalist movement spread into Spain via the so-called “Cantonalist” revolt, where the anarchists were central, and into Italy, where Bakunin played his last active role in the Bologna rising.[127]

The core elements of the Commune programme are absent in Marx’s earlier work, but central to Proudhon’s since the 1840s: mandated delegates with instant recall, cooperative production, self-government, a militia with elected officers etc. They were championed by Proudhonist mutualists in the Commune. Representing a major force in French working class, they held seventeen seats on the Communal Council. Anarchists like Eugène Varlin, Louise Michel and Elisée Reclus were leading Communards. When the Blanquists and others managed to create a Committee of Public Safety to close down free speech, the Proudhonists and anarchists threatened to withdraw from the Communal Council.[128]

The Proudhonists[129] were the anarchists’ immediate predecessors and inspiration, and their stress on radical democracy was carried over into the new movement. Every one of these appears in Bakunin’s writings between 1866 and late 1870. For instance, in response to the Prussian invasion, he advocated a “mass uprising,” “from the bottom up,” against both the invaders and the national, French ruling class, turning the war between states into a class revolution. It would be driven by a working class-peasant alliance based on a programme of collectivisation, the “self-organisation of the masses into autonomous bodies, federated from the bottom upward,” and coordinated “fighting battalions” of “citizens’ militias”.[130]

Bakunin’s and Kropotkin’s only critique of the Paris Commune was that it did not go far enough in collectivising means of production or introducing popular elf-management. Too much power was in the hands of a Communal Council, modelled on the old municipal government, and then in so-called Committee of Public Safety. This introduced elements of the state, which are antithetical to radical democracy.[131]

Paul nonetheless suggests that there is a contradiction between Bakunin’s celebration of the Paris Commune, and his opposition to “every government and every state power”.[132] He suggests Kropotkin was more consistent, because he supposedly rejecting the Commune as a “state.” Since Kropotkin did not really take this position,[133] so Paul’s charge against Bakunin applies to Kropotkin too.

I suggest, however, that there is no contradiction within Bakunin’s or Kropotkin’s thinking here, merely a classic case of anarchists and Marxists talking past one another. This is easily shown. The mutualists in the Paris Commune did not believe it was a state. Bakunin and Kropotkin viewed the Commune, on the whole, as a “negation of the state,”[134] which “evaporated.”[135] But his part, Paul insists that the Commune was a state, at least, a so-called “workers’ state.”

Obviously there is a basic disagreement on what the term “state” means in the first place. For Paul, all states are coercive instruments used by one class against another. This means that there can be a “workers’ state,” used by the working class to end all “exploitative social relations”.[136] Leo calls this the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” which he insists is only “the democratic defence of working class power” through its “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.”[137]

If (and I stress, only if) we concede Paul and Leon’s definition, then we must argue that Bakunin and Kropotkin, as defenders of working class power and its armed defence, were for a “workers state” and a “dictatorship” of the proletariat. Indeed, it would follow that the majority of the broad anarchist tradition were for the state. Most of the criticisms Paul has made of anarchism must fall away, since we would have to admit that Bakunin and Marx, and Lenin and Kropotkin, had no disagreements. In fact, the whole debate between Marxism and anarchism becomes quite meaningless. Leo sees this. Since he admits that Bakunin favours the “the democratic defence of working class power,” he has to admit it follows that Bakunin seems to advocate the “dictatorship of the proletariat”: “’Permanent barricades’, he argued, would coordinate the defence of the revolution against internal and external enemies.”[138]

However, anarchists are not Marxists, nor are Marxists anarchists. The issues are simply not being posed clearly enough because we are not being open enough about our premises. In the first place, anarchists and Marxists define the state somewhat differently.  In the second place (see next section), anarchists do not believe there is no historical evidence that any Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat” has been linked to an end to “exploitative social relations,” “working class self-emancipation” or “the democratic defence of working class power” through “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.”

On the first issue, Lenin speaks of the state as the “product and manifestation” of class antagonisms, arising in the midst of class conflict and acting to maintain the rule of the economically dominant class through “special (coercive) force.”[139] For anarchists, though, the state is not simply a coercive instrument used by one (“economically dominant”) class against another. It is a hierarchical system of territorial power that necessarily concentrates power in the hands of a few, and that defends the class system in the interests of capitalists, landlords and state managers, that is, the ruling class.

In both aspects, it is the means whereby a minority rules a majority, and ensures that it is exploited as well. Thus Bakunin, “all State rule, all governments being by their very nature placed outside the people, must necessarily seek to subject it to customs and purposes entirely foreign to it.” [140] A “workers state,” as defined by Paul, is logically impossible in anarchist terms. The anarchists want the masses “organised from below upwards by means of its own autonomous and completely free associations, without the supervision of any guardians,” which is the antithesis of the state. [141]

Bakunin and Kropotkin also did not even mean the same thing as Marx and Lenin when defining classes. For Bakunin, the class system was not defined in simply “economic” terms, as relations of production expressed in inequitable ownership of the means of production, but also in terms of relations of domination, expressed in inequitable ownership of the means of coercion –the capacity to physically enforce decisions–and the means of administration–the instruments that govern society.[142] In the current era, the means of coercion centre on the armed forces, the courts and the prisons, while the means of administration centre on the state bureaucracy.

Thus, the ruling class includes, but is not reducible, to the economically dominant group: it also includes the state managers, senior officials, judges, military heads, mayors and parliamentarians, whose power is primarily due to their ownership of the means of coercion and administration. Capitalists are only part of the ruling class.[143] The interests of capital and the state were convergent, but not identical. Capitalist competition was paralleled by geopolitical rivalry, which arose from a competitive state system that followed a distinct logic: “every state, to exist not on paper but in fact, and not at the mercy of neighbouring states, and to be independent, must inevitably strive to become an invasive, aggressive, conquering state”.[144]

From this perspective, too, it is nonsensical to speak of a “workers state,” or to suggest majority, oppressed, exploited popular classes can ever have a state of their own. The state is a “special (coercive) force,” but one that is always the property of a minority, since it is always and everywhere a highly centralised structure that is structured to concentrate power in the hands of a directing elite and on behalf of a minority class. Bakunin writes that a strong State has “only one solid foundation: military and bureaucratic centralisation”.[145] “It would be obviously impossible for some hundreds of thousands or even some tens of thousands or indeed for only a few thousand men to exercise this power.”[146]

It is therefore not possible to describe “the democratic defence of working class power” through its “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.” as a state since a state, properly speaking, is incompatible with “the democratic defence of working class power,” as it cannot be democratic. It is fundamentally incompatible with what Leo calls the rule of the popular classes through their “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.,” because the logic of the state is antithetical to the logic of participatory democracy and self-management; because the state structure is a centralised organisation of minority class domination. [147]

If Paul, in speaking of “centralised military force,” means merely the coordinated military defence of “socialism from below,” then it is not a state, and we are in agreement about its utility; if by “centralised military force,” or “dictatorship of the proletariat,” he means an armed force controlled by a small military and bureaucratic elite, even if nominally on behalf of the people, then we have elements of a state here, and anarchists cannot accept it.

For Bakunin and Kropotkin, such a programme of state “socialism” must, in centralising all power into the hands of the state, objectively entail for the working class a “barracks” regime, “where regimented workingmen and women will sleep, wake, work, and live to the beat of a drum,”[148] “centralised state-capitalism.”[149] Called revolutionary, it is flatly reactionary.

Paul speaks of anarchists having a “reified” view of the state that ignores different contents (“differences between feudal, capitalist and workers’ states, for instance”) and forms (like that between “liberal democracies and fascist dictatorships”).[150] Regarding the former, the anarchists are clear that the content of a state can never be proletarian or peasant or slave or serf. The latter is a misunderstanding, for the anarchists were, for the most part, perfectly clear that more civil and political rights were advantageous to the popular classes, just as were higher wages and better jobs. Thus, Bakunin: [151]

We are firmly convinced it is true that the most imperfect republic is a thousand times better than the most enlightened monarchy. In a republic there are at least brief periods when the people, while continuously exploited, is not oppressed, in the monarchies, oppression is constant. The democratic regime also lifts the masses up gradually to participation in public life – something the monarchy never does.

But even in its most democratic form, parliamentarism, the capitalist state reduces the political participation of the masses to ballots every few years –with perhaps some nominal and ineffectual consultation in between. For Kropotkin, “centralised government” concentrated power in “Parliament and its executive”, and was therefore also unable to deal with the concerns of ordinary people, “all the numberless affairs of the community.”[152] The problem of parliament is not bad or corrupt parliamentarians, but the fact that several hundred people take decisions for many, many millions. This centralisation is no accident, for to “attack the central power, to strip it of its prerogatives, to decentralise, to dissolve authority, would have been to abandon to the people the control of its affairs, to run the risk of a truly popular revolution. That is why the bourgeoisie sought to reinforce the central government even more. . .”[153]

Obviously, then anarchists accept the need for armed revolutionary self-defence. They stress, however, that this must mean the defence of a basically democratic order and this is basically incompatible with the state, no matter its content or form. When advocating “permanent barricades,” the “fighting battalions” of “citizens’ militias,” and a National Defence Council, the anarchists stress the popular and participatory character of the project. Thus Bakunin argued for a federation of “all labour associations,”  “a standing federation of the barricades and a Revolutionary Communal Council” of delegates “invested with binding mandates and accountable and revocable at all times,” plus a further level where “all provinces, communes and associations” will “delegate deputies to an agreed place of assembly” “to found the federation of insurgent associations, communes and provinces” and “organise a revolutionary force with the capacity of defeating the reaction” and ensuring “the universality of the Revolution”. [154]

Judgement: do anarchists have a “massive misunderstanding” of the “Marxist tradition”?

Now, having clarified the anarchist and syndicalist positions as clearly as possible, let me turn to the final issue: the anarchist judgement of Marxism. Three issues need to be separated out here. One, how do we assess the “Marxist tradition” as a whole? Two, what did the Bolsheviks do between 1917 and 1927? And, three, why did so-called “Stalinism” arise?

As noted earlier, Paul thinks the anarchist movement suffers from a “massive misunderstanding of Marxism,” neglecting its “essence as the theory of working class self-emancipation,” while Leo charges that Black Flame is riddled with “clichés” that would “raise the eyebrows of even right-wing critics” of Marxism. Leo correctly notes Black Flame describes “classical Marxism” as a tradition which moves from Marx and Friedrich Engels, via Karl Kautsky, to Lenin and Trotsky, and then to Joseph Stalin and Mao.[155] Paul argues, also correctly, that the anarchists draw a direct link between Marx, Lenin and Stalin, viewing Lenin as “the main representative of the state socialist tradition which was tried and failed in the 20th century.”[156]

This characterisation of the mainstream anarchist position is, indeed, quite true–although I hasten to add that few anarchists would consider the old East bloc regimes to represent anything of a real “socialist tradition.” Here is one of the areas where it is important to acknowledge quite a bit of common ground. International Socialism (and the IST) has long been identified with the view that these regimes were “varieties of bureaucratic state capitalism,” and were all “local dictatorships.”[157] This is a major break with the views of most Communists (“Stalinists,” in the Trotskyite lexicon) as well as from orthodox Trotskyism (including Trotsky’s own views),[158] since these shared the view that the East Bloc was in some sense “socialist” or a “workers’ state,” or both, despite distortions or degeneration. This would also be the view of most anarchists, as we have seen with Malatesta, and goes back to the positions of Bakunin and Kropotkin.[159]

The space for agreement between the anarchist mainstream, and the IST/ International Socialism tradition on these issues is, then, quite wide. Differences arise though at some key points. While there is no debate here as to whether the old East bloc was state-capitalist etc., there is significant disagreement about when and why this took place, as well as how state-capitalism operated. [160] These issues have, of course, serious implications for how we assess the Marxist tradition. For International Socialism, state-capitalism is dated to around 1927-1928 – that is, the period of Stalin’s final victory.[161] Such a periodisation is, of course, necessary if Marx, Lenin and Trotsky are to be identified with “working class self-emancipation” (Paul, Leo), as opposed to routine class and national oppression, and an endless drive to accumulate capital (“Stalinism”).

Let us deal with the first issue posed in this section: how do we assess the “Marxist tradition” as a whole? Paul states that the “rational kernel” of the anarchist critique of Marxism is “the fact that the most powerful voices claiming to be Marxists in the 20th century were statists (of either the Stalinist or Maoist variety) who presided over brutal systems.”[162] For his part, Leo admits that most anarchist charges against “classical Marxism” as reductionist, determinist and statist are entirely correct if “you include Kautsky, Stalin and Mao in the Marxist canon.”[163] That is, they are, on this basis, not “clichés” that would “raise the eyebrows of even right-wing critics.”

As far as I am aware, all of these figures have regularly been described as “Marxists” by International Socialism’s and the IST’s writers and co-thinkers at one point or another. [164] Kautsky is called “the most prominent Marxist theorist of the Second International,” which is exactly why his apostasy “shocked” Lenin.[165] Another writer distinguishes between pre-Russian Revolution “classical Marxism” (Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Lenin, Trotsky), “Soviet Marxism” (Stalin, Khrushchev and so on), and “dissident Marxism” (Serge, Kollontai, Thompson, Amin etc.).[166] He describes Kautsky and his like “as taking their Marxism seriously,” but as dogmatic and simplistic. Paul writes elsewhere that “Stalinism marked a fundamental transformation of Marxism,” although even “Soviet Marxism” inadvertently opened the door to “genuine revolutionary Marxism.”[167]

In other words, if regimes of “Stalinist or Maoist variety” may be “far from anything” International Socialism’s writers and co-thinkers “would recognise as socialist,”[168] they are evidently not “far from anything” the IST can recognise as Marxist. I am not, here, discussing which of these currents constitutes “genuine” or “real” “revolutionary” Marxism – merely noting that Kautsky, Stalin and Mao are deemed “Marxists” by the IST, indeed, “the most powerful voices claiming to be Marxists in the 20th century.”

This is crucial. Consider the implications: it simply means that the mainstream of pre-Leninist Marxism was dogmatic and crude; it also means that the mainstream of 20th century Marxists were of the “Stalinist or Maoist variety”; it means that by the IST’s admission, almost all Marxist regimes have been state-capitalist, precisely as anarchists claim. Even Draper, who Paul and Ian cite, stated bluntly that a very large part of Marxism was “socialism from above.”

Surely, then, Paul should not be too surprised by the anarchist claims that Marxism was on the whole marked by “state-capitalism,” “brutal systems,” and “local dictatorships”? This is precisely what the IST’s own statements on Marxism show, and is, as Paul admits, the “rational kernel” of the larger argument that Bakunin, not Marx, has been “vindicated by the verdict of history.”[169] Given Paul’s own characterization of the trajectory of Marxism, these positions are, I think, neither “superficial” nor “inept,”[170] but reasonable and accurate. Every single Marxist regime was, according to the IST itself, sooner or later a “dictatorship.” This includes the Soviet Union under Lenin and Trotsky, which was, we read in International Socialism itself admits, under “Bolshevik dictatorship” by 1921.[171] So, it is hardly surprising that claims that the “essence” of Marx and Lenin was “the theory of working class self-emancipation” ring somewhat hollow to the anarchists.

If Paul wishes to charge anarchists with a “massive misunderstanding of Marxism,” neglecting its “essence as the theory of working class self-emancipation,”[172] he must then concede that this “massive misunderstanding” was shared by most Marxists.  Further, if we admit that Kautsky, Stalin and Mao were Marxists (“debased” or otherwise),[173] then it cannot be claimed that the “essence” of Marxism is “the theory of working class self-emancipation.”[174] Rather than being the “essence” of Marxism, that is, this position has been rather unusual in the Marxist tradition. If most Marxism has been “Stalinist” or Maoist, or Kautskyist, then “working class self-emancipation” is not a defining feature of Marxism, but only the position of one strand in Marxism–a minority position by any reasonable historical judgement.

“Socialism from below” has manifestly not been the basic project of most self-identified Marxists, most Marxist movements and most Marxist writing, as Ian’s own work has shown.[175]

Leo argues that the “dictatorship of the proletariat” is the “most maligned concept in Marxism.”[176] Perhaps, but “maligned” by who? It is a Herculean task to find a Marxist regime in which this actually meant “the democratic defence of working class power” by “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.” Why should anarchists accept the IST view that the “dictatorship of the proletariat” equals the democratic defence of working class power” by “their organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.”? Most Marxists never have.

Leo claims that Black Flame’s discussion of classical Marxism repeats the “daily clichés of the media.”[177] This is a bit of a cheap shot, but the fact of the matter is that, if Marxism is presented as statist, reductionist and determinist in the “daily clichés of the media” anywhere, it is not in the commercial press but in the mainstream Marxist media, like mass circulation Communist and Trotskyite papers like Umsebenzi in South Africa, L’Humanité in France, New Age and People’s Democracy in India, Angve Bayan in the Philippines etc.

Paul claims that “brutal dictatorship” breaks with Marx’s and Lenin’s views on socialism.[178] The truth is rather more messy than that (see below), but the point is that Marxism has been and still is the official “doctrine” of what Paul calls “brutal systems” of “bureaucratic state capitalism.” Why should Marxism not be judged by this record, as if its history starts and ends in a world of theory? I doubt that Paul would argue that “the only significance of Christianity in history is to be found in reading unaltered versions of the Gospels,” and ignore 2,000 years of the Church.[179] If we do not want to do the same with Marxism, then it can hardly be insisted that a few texts constitute the “only significance” of the Marxist movement, “while keeping quiet about what the doctrine has become in history.” By any reasonable measure, most of Marxist history has nothing to do with any “vision of socialism from below.”

Track record: the Soviet Union, 1917-1928 and the Bolshevik myth

What did the Bolsheviks do between 1917 and 1927? This is crucial to any discussion of the tradition. This section does not address, let me stress, the question of why, but what. The Trotskyist tradition, in all its forms, has always centred on the thesis of a rupture in Soviet history: the Lenin-Trotsky regime was marked by radical social progress; the “Stalinist” period by reaction. What marks the IST is the dramatic claim that under Stalin, the Soviet Union underwent outright reversion from socialism to capitalism; most Trotskyists suggest the system remained post-capitalist, if distorted.

Such claims rest upon setting up a strict contrast between the two periods. So, for the late Tony Cliff, for instance, under Lenin, “the land of the landowners was distributed to the peasants, the factories were taken under state ownership and were run under workers’ control, the oppressed nationalities got the right of self-determination,” Russia was a “federation of free and equal peoples,” marked by the “emancipation of women” and the removal of anti-homosexual laws.[180]

But this neat juxtaposition is not defensible. Was “the land of the landowners” really “distributed to the peasants”? Initially–but as the result of a massive wave of peasant risings in which the Bolsheviks, with their urban base, were largely absent. The Bolsheviks were quite clear that rural production must be under state control, and from mid-1918, War Communism instituted forced grain requisitions. Cliff admits “many hundreds of thousands” died in the Civil War, but claims “not because of the action of the Soviet government.”[181] As a matter of fact, forced grain requisitions contributed directly to the mass starvation of millions upon millions (not “many hundreds of thousands”), as peasants were deprived at Red Army gunpoint from the grain they needed to eat, as well as the seed-grain needed to plant the next harvest. This led directly to a second wave of peasant risings from 1918, directed against the Bolsheviks via “Green” armies – revolts that continued into the 1920s.

The peasants were, of course, the vast majority in the Russian territories. If the Bolshevik forces ruled this majority by fire and the sword, the better to starve them, it is the clearest evidence that Bolshevism ran a minority dictatorship. Lenin in power has nothing to with the popular “self-emancipation” is, as Paul and Leo insist, the “essence” of Marxism. If Lenin’s programme led directly to state terror against an oppressed and exploited class that (even today) compromises half of humanity, it can hardly be presented as evidence that the “essence” of Marxism is “self-organisation” and “socialism from below.”

Resistance was by no means confined to the countryside, as apologias for Lenin tend to suggest. Nor was urban opposition confined to moderate socialists or conservative layers. Large sections of the urban working class opposed the Bolshevik government because its measures seemed to conflict directly with “the democratic defence of working class power” through “their organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.”–that is, from a position far to the left of the Bolsheviks.

Rather than run “under workers’ control,” as Cliff claimed, industry was placed under direct state control, with managers appointed from above. It is simply not true, as Harman said, that “workers’ control” was still in place even in the late 1920s, or that the unions represented workers.[182] In 1919, individual managers ran merely 10.8 percent of enterprises, but by 1920, 82 percent.[183] Cliff stated that Stalin’s Russia was characterised by Taylorism and piecework, which he described as evidence of the application of “the most refined method of capitalist exploitation.”[184] This is perfectly true, but Taylorism and piecework were first under Lenin, in 1918.[185]

Meanwhile, elections were abolished in the Red Army in March 1918, following which 50,000 Tsarist officers were drafted in to serve in commanding positions, under the eye of Bolshevik appointees, the commissars–not soviets. The secret police, the Cheka (the “Extraordinary Committee to Fight Counter-Revolution”), was formed in December 1917 to watch “the press, saboteurs, strikers, and the Socialist-Revolutionaries of the Right”.[186]

The Bolshevik Central Committee declared the organs of the Cheka “were founded, exist and work solely as the direct organs of the Party,” not the soviets.[187] The Cheka was 20 times larger than the Tsarist Okhrana, and carried out in 5 years 20 times more executions than the Okhrana managed in 50 years. From mid-1918, the Cheka ran concentration camps for “class enemies,” refractory workers, criminals and left opponents, followed in April 1919 by forced labour camps; both were “cleared from time to time by mass extermination of inmates.”[188] The gulag emerged under Lenin, and most of the inmates were from the popular classes. [189]

Harman claimed that the Bolsheviks were the “majority party” in the soviets. This was never true outside of a few cities, and then only for a few months, as Bolsheviks were roundly defeated in the 1918 urban elections across the country by the Mensheviks, SRs and Russia’s small anarchist movement.[190] This reflected widespread discontent, also expressed in strikes and marches.[191] Rather than permit, as Harman claimed, a “democratic dialectic between party and class,” the Bolsheviks routinely dissolved soviets that elected non-Bolshevik majorities, and prevented elections wherever possible.[192] The Bolsheviks gerrymandered the Petrograd Soviet to secure their victory regardless of the votes cast in the workplaces.[193] Even Harman admitted that by early 1919 there had been “no elections to the Moscow soviet for over 18 months.”[194] The anarchists and left-SRs who supported soviet democracy, like Maximoff, were harassed from late 1917, followed by mass arrests and the suppression of anarchist newspapers from 9th April 1918.[195]

Bolshevik representation in the soviets was not, in any events, key to Bolshevik power. That is a myth. Party power lay elsewhere: control of the cabinet (Sovnarkom, an executive body), the nationalised economy (via the Vesenka, or Supreme Economic Council), the Cheka and the Red Army, plus a large bureaucracy heavily recruited from the Tsarist regime. Less than 10 percent of senior officials in key ministries like were even members of the party. It was this power that allowed soviet democracy to be suppressed, and party of 600,000 to rule a country of 90 million in 1920.

Harman insists that managerial directives were “influenced” by the unions and the “Communist workers” into the late 1920s. Left unsaid is that the “unions” were wings of the party-state (the “Communist workers”) from 1919, that most “union” leaders were subsequently state appointees, and that “unions” played an active role in blocking strikes and punishing strikers.[196] The factory committees were, meanwhile, subordinated to the Vesenka and the “unions,” and the 1918 Emergency Assembly of Factory Committees was crushed.

It is simply not the case that the Bolsheviks took it “for granted that strikes were not to be suppressed by the state”, or that “workers were free to change their places at their own discretion.”[197] Large sections of industry were militarised, and changing jobs without permission was “desertion,” a punishable crime. The July 1918 general strike, the spring 1919 strike wave in Moscow, Petrograd, Astrakhan and elsewhere, and the Moscow-Petrograd strikes were all crushed with force.

When in 1921 the Kronstadt sailors took up the strikers’ demands for new elections to the soviets, independent trade unions, freedom for all “left” political prisoners and papers, an end to the Bolsheviks’ political monopoly, and an end to grain requisitions,[198] they were shot down, buried in mass graves or sent to labour camps.

Without a hint of irony, the Bolsheviks celebrated the crushing of Kronstadt on the 18th March, the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Paris Commune.

Harman claimed the Bolshevik party was still relatively open before Stalin. On the contrary, by late 1919, the party was highly centralised; the few remaining factions were banned in 1921; in 1922, the Workers’ Opposition was declared an illegal faction, its leaders forced to recant; radical Bolshevik factions like the Workers Group were jailed.[199]

The GPU, successor of the Cheka, operated a vast network of 51,000 paid informants throughout the early 1920s; beating, torture and rape were routinely used in interrogations; all key left opponents of the Bolsheviks (including most “Soviet anarchists”) were deported, jailed, used as slave labour in camps, or executed; arrests intensified as soviet elections approached in 1922 and 1925, despite which the Bolsheviks lost every single open contest; the discontent of the peasant majority simmered, but Peasant Unions and other bodies were ruthlessly repressed.[200]

Arrests of anarchists and other leftists continued throughout the 1920s, many sent to Lenin’s “polit-isolator” units, or his concentration camps in Siberia and elsewhere.[201] In 1922, the Right SR leadership was sentenced to death in a show trial; the 1924 trial of the Left SRs included the “Stalinist” spectacle of the accused admitting to a series of manifestly false charges under duress. Despite the fragmentation of the data, there can be no doubt that continuous, large-scale repression of strikers and political dissidents occurred throughout the pre-Stalin era.[202]

According to Cliff, “the oppressed nationalities got the right of self-determination.” This would be impressive, given that the non-Russian nationalities and minorities comprised around half the population of imperial Russia. But in fact, the Bolsheviks used the Red Army to impose Russian-run regimes in Belarus and Ukraine (1919), Georgia (1921), Armenia and Azerbaijan (1922).[203] Ian cites Serge as claiming that “Trotsky was, much later … to recount that Lenin and he had thought of recognising an autonomous region for the anarchist peasants of the Ukraine, whose military leader Makhno was.”[204]

Even if this highly doubtful anecdote was true, it is hardly evidence of the Bolshevik leaders’ emancipatory agenda. It simply shows Lenin and Trotsky arrogated to themselves the right to decide whether the now-independent Ukraine–the largest Russian territory after Russia itself–should be “recognised” as anarchist or “autonomous.”

Left Bank Ukraine was solidly anarchist, both in the countryside, and many urban areas.[205] The local Bolsheviks were marginal sect, although the anarchist majority imposed no restrictions on their press or participation in the local soviets and committees. Yet Trotsky decreed its soviets illegal; the Red Army smashed its communes, and executed its leaders (a few, like Makhno, escaped into exile), all despite formal treaties of military cooperation and non-interference.[206] Thus, the Bolsheviks’ “democratic defence of working class power.” The Bolshevik war on the anarchist Ukraine combined the regime’s policies of repression against the peasantry, the urban working class, and the revolutionary left.

Explanations: once more, did Lenin lead to “Stalinism”?

The previous section has not said a single word about the causes of these horrors. It has served mainly to set out the record of Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks in the period before Stalin. Paul spoke of the “essence” of Lenin’s thought as “working class self-emancipation,” and Leo of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as “the democratic defence of working class power” through “their organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.” Is this really what we see from 1917 to 1922? Since the IST presents all post-Lenin regimes as examples of state-capitalist tyranny, the only example of a Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat” exemplifying “self-emancipation” and “socialism from below” is the Lenin-Trotsky regime Union. But any serious examination of this period will show little differentiates it from other Marxist dictatorships.

Harman spoke of the Bolshevik state in before 1929 as basically still a “workers’ state,” reflecting “some of the interests of the workers.”[207] Cliff argued that it was nonsense to call the Soviet Union under Stalin a “workers’ state” since it was not under workers control.[208] But if we accept Cliff’s notion of a “workers’ state,” there are no grounds to call the Lenin-Trotsky era Soviet Union a “workers’ state.” Even Harman admitted that “direct workers’ power had not existed since 1918,” that “the working class was the class that less than any other exerted pressure on the party,” that Trotsky’s faction was not “proletarian,” and that the party itself was highly authoritarian internally.[209] Where is the “workers control” here?

If anything, the Bolshevik regime seems far closer to Bakunin’s and Kropotkin’s views of the state as an “invasive, aggressive, conquering” body, the “patrimony” of a “privileged class” based on “military and bureaucratic centralisation,” a revolution that ended up with a “barracks” regime of “centralised state-capitalism, “where regimented workingmen and women will sleep, wake, work, and live to the beat of a drum.” As Maximoff’s theory of state-capitalism pointed out, the repression that took place enabled and defended matched relations of production in which the Bolshevik state, as primary employer and owner, exploited the popular classes through wages, taxes, rent and prices.

There is nothing “superficial” or “inept” about Bakunin’s predictions for the Marxist state, since they seem obviously “vindicated by the verdict of history.”[210]

There is no doubt in my mind that the conditions in which the Russian Revolution took place – local counter-revolution, imperial invasion, the shattering of the left, economic collapse and the like – left a deep, a profound, impact on the society that emerged. It is also the case that some of the actions of sections of the left (notably the Right SRs) accelerated the slide towards dictatorship and terror. The isolation of Russia as a result of the failure of the revolutionary outbreaks elsewhere also meant that the Russian Revolution was isolated – creating a situation that had not been envisaged in classical Marxist texts to that point, the survival of a revolutionary Marxist regime operating in a backward country, and one that had nothing in common with the Paris Commune model.[211]

But is this really an adequate explanation for the Bolshevik dictatorship? Does foreign invasion lead to polit-isolator camps for anarchists and Left-SRs? For the IST, it seems so, since these circumstances are named the main factor in the rise of a “Bolshevik dictatorship” (Harman’s words),[212] and “Stalinism,” understood to mean not only a regime based on the brutal repression of the working class and peasantry, but “bureaucratic state capitalism.”

Harman argued that “the Bolsheviks had no choice” but to substitute themselves for the working class, because the “class they represented had dissolved itself while defending to fight that power.” Nor “could they tolerate the propagation of ideas that undermined the basis of its power, because the working class “no longer existed as an agency collectively organised so as to be able to determine its own interests.”[213] It had suffered “decimation” because of the war, and was therefore replaced by a “centralised governmental apparatus independent of their direct control.”

At first glance, Harman does rather sound like an economic reductionist, as does Cliff, who wrote that “the pressure of world capitalism” forced the rulers of the Soviet Union to make the economy “become more and more similar” to “world capitalism.”[214] Looking more closely, it seems, this would be a misreading –phrases in their texts contradict the attempt to blame imperialism for gulags. Harman stated that “It seemed to the Bolsheviks such a structure could not be held together unless it contained only those who those who wholeheartedly supported the revolution – that is, only the Bolsheviks.”[215] Cliff argued that the final victory of state capitalism in Russia was, at least partly, due to Stalin’s manoeuvring in the Bolshevik party, and the fact “that Lenin was on his deathbed and out of circulation for about a year.”[216]

This is very significant. If it “seemed” to the Bolsheviks that the fate of the revolution rested on who staffed the “centralised governmental apparatus” that substituted for the working class, then we are talking about choices – choices made in harsh circumstances, but choices nonetheless – not about simple determinism. We are talking about the Bolsheviks’ assessment of events, about the Bolsheviks’ decisions, and about the Bolshevik’s belief that they alone “wholeheartedly supported the revolution.” If it mattered whether one man, Lenin, “was on his deathbed and out of circulation for about a year,” then in the 1920s even the move towards state capitalism (as the IST would have it) was not inevitable, but conditioned by decisions and actions – decisions and actions made in harsh circumstances, but decisions and actions nonetheless – that shaped the fate of millions, in fact, the whole course of 20th century socialism.

If that is the case, however, why was it that choices, decisions and actions consistently led to “Bolshevik dictatorship”? The dictatorship emerged before the Civil War, which started with the revolt of the Czech Legion at the end of May 1918. The repression of the left, the closing down of soviet democracy, the formation of a secret police, and the move towards Taylorism all began well before this time. The Civil War had effectively ended in November 1920, with the defeat of the main White Armies, and the withdrawal of the main Western imperialist forces, yet repression increased after this period. No one would deny that the regime became far more vicious after Stalin took sole control at the end of the 1920s, but all of its core features–terror against the popular classes and the left, concentration camps, a one-party state, the suppression of dissent within the party, Lenin’s appointment of Stalin to the new post of party general-secretary, capitalist relations in production–were in place in the Lenin period.

It was precisely because power was so centralised in the hands of a small elite that Lenin being “out of circulation for about a year” mattered. Cliff suggested that state-capitalism started under Stalin, but there is no evidence that the basic relations of production changed from the Leninist period, even if the terror increased.[217] His instance that it was the “world economy” that “forced” a capitalist dynamic onto the Soviet Union, and his flawed characterisation of the Lenin-Trotsky period, obscure this fact.[218]

Harman suggested that the dictatorship continued because the working class had “dissolved itself,” had “no longer existed as an agency collectively organised so as to be able to determine its own interests,” having suffered “decimation.” [219] The problem with this line of argument is obviously that the working class that “no longer existed” as a collective force kept insistently intruding onto the stage, with strike movements in 1918, 1919 and 1921, all requiring martial law to keep the Bolsheviks in power. [220]

Trying to explain why the Kronstadt garrison – a bulwark of Bolshevik support in 1917 and 1918 – should suddenly revolt, Harman claimed (following Trotsky) that “Kronstadt in 1920 was not Kronstadt of 1917,” as the “best socialist elements” had been “replaced in the main by peasants.”[221] Actually, no less than 91% of the crews of the Petropavlovsk and Sevastopol ships (which spearheaded the revolt) and 75% of the Baltic fleet as a whole had been recruited before October 1917 (after all, the Civil War was not based on naval engagements).[222] In any case, the issue of class composition is a red herring: are peasant lives worth less? More importantly, a regime operating in a majority peasant country, which views peasant demands as by definition reactionary, which believes demands for soviet democracy to be reactionary, must be a dictatorship and an injustice.

Lenin and Trotsky’s ambiguous legacy

The elephant in the room, that is not being mentioned, is a very large one: why did the Bolsheviks insist that they alone “wholeheartedly supported the revolution”? Why could they not “tolerate the propagation of ideas that tolerated that undermined the basis” of the party monopoly? Why the fear of new elections to the soviets, as demanded in Kronstadt? Why did it repress any group that raised the slogan of “free soviets” and a “third revolution”?

There are two basic answers. The first is obvious: the Bolsheviks were a tiny minority, and would never have won any open election by mid-1918. Most workers and peasants – not least their left-wing – certainly did not accept that the Bolsheviks “wholeheartedly supported the revolution.” Supporters of Lenin and Trotsky usually take offence at the claim that the Leninist vanguard party is based upon a substitutionist conception. But what is to be made of Harman’s argument that the Bolsheviks insisted that they alone “wholeheartedly supported the revolution,” and would do so despite the opposition (by 1921) of almost the whole left plus the great majority of the peasantry and working class?

So by what right did the Bolsheviks rule? By what claim did they insist that anyone opposed to Bolshevism was counter-revolutionary by definition? To understand this, we cannot ignore the second factor, Bolshevik theory.

Let me quite clear what I am arguing here. I am not arguing that the Russian Revolution was a Bolshevik coup d’etat, and I am not arguing that the Bolsheviks started with a sinister plan to create a totalitarian state. It is important to stress that there are radically democratic elements in Lenin’s thought, most obviously in his the State and Revolution, and Lenin was clearly alarmed in his last years by the party’s bureaucratisation.[223] Likewise, Trotsky played a heroic role in the 1930s, standing almost alone among Marxists against Stalin, championing struggles for racial and gender equality, and opposing fascism.[224] His supporters were murdered across Asia and Europe by Communists, as was his son; most of his old allies capitulated to Stalin; he was forced into exile, and then assassinated.

However, the overall thrust of Lenin’s and Trotsky’s thought was authoritarian, centralist, and substitutionist. They consistently acted in ways that destroyed the most basic gains of the popular revolution of 1917, and they repeatedly made arguments for a one-party regime.

The State and Revolution makes no mention of issues like workplace self-management, and is silent on the importance of political debate and contestation in the soviets. It stresses, on the contrary, that the “workers’ party” must be geared to “assuming power,” and “directing and organising the new system.”[225] Since Marxism was always right, a “science,” always represented the “real” interests of the proletariat, there was no need for checks and balances.[226] Political contestation was not just useless, but dangerous, as were factions that lacked the correct Marxist understanding of the truth.

This line of thinking also allows the party to substitute itself for the working class when that class had “dissolved itself,” or disagreed with the party. Thus Lenin:

We shall be merciless both to our enemies and to all waverers and harmful elements in our midst who dare to bring disorganisation into our difficult creative work of building a new life for the working people.[227]

When we are reproached with having established a dictatorship of one party, and as you heard, a socialist united front is proposed, we say, ‘Yes, it is a dictatorship of one party! This is what we stand for and we shall not shift from that position…’[228]

… the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be exercised through an organization embracing the whole of that class … It can be exercised only by a vanguard.[229]

Although Trotsky began to argue for the removal of the ban on factions in the late 1920s, it was only in the late 1930s that he came out firmly in support of a multi-tendency, multi-party soviet democracy. His arguments in the late 1910s and early 1920s, on the contrary, stressed that, as in 1924: “The party in the last analysis is always right, because the party is the single historical instrument given to the proletariat for the solution of its basic problems”.[230] At most, he was willing to countenance a relaxation of the faction ban.  Thus:

They place the workers’ right to elect representatives above the Party, as if the party were not entitled to assert its dictatorship even if that dictatorship temporarily clashed with the passing moods of the workers’ democracy ….[231]

The revolutionary dictatorship of a proletarian party is for me not a thing that one can freely accept or reject: It is an objective necessity …[232]

This was, also, tied to a very top-down view of socialism that is hard to reconcile with Paula and Leo’s admirable visions of “working class self-emancipation,” and “self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.”- a view that is basically state-capitalist in outlook.[233] Again, even the State and Revolution takes as its model of socialism “To organize the whole economy on the lines of the postal service…all under the control and leadership of the armed proletariat — that is our immediate aim”.[234] And Lenin says elsewhere:

We must raise the question of piece-work and apply and test it in practice; we must raise the question of applying much of what is scientific and progressive in the Taylor system … revolution demands … unquestioning obedience to the orders of individual representatives of the Soviet government during the work.[235]

… study the state capitalism of the Germans … spare no effort in copying it and [do] not shrink from adopting dictatorial methods to hasten the copying of it …[236]

And Trotsky:

… if the civil war had not plundered our economic organs … we should undoubtedly have entered the path of one-man management in the sphere of economic administration much sooner ….[237]

… the working masses cannot be left wandering all over Russia. They must be thrown here and there, appointed, commanded, just like soldiers… Deserters from labour ought to be formed into punitive battalions or put into concentration camps…[238]

Such views obviously had some impact on how the Bolsheviks acted. It is not a matter of picking quotations, or taking them out of context: the Bolsheviks in power consistently acted on precisely the lines these quotes suggest. By contrast, the libertarian proposals in the State and Revolution were not only never implemented, but repudiated by almost all Bolshevik statements and actions once in power. The State and Revolution can hardly be treated as the definitive statement of the Bolshevik programme.

The Paris Commune was a radical democracy; the Bolshevik regime was a police dictatorship. Large sections of the Tsarist elite were accommodated, yet the popular classes were systematically repressed: as Trotsky said, “The power of the democratic Soviets proved cramping, even unendurable, when the task of the day was to accommodate those privileged groups whose existence was necessary for defence, for industry, for technique, and science”.[239] And after the Civil War, the regime continued on the path already set. Thus, Trotsky’s Left Opposition advocated forced industrialisation and collectivization years before Stalin, which is one reason why its members defected en masse to Stalin later.[240] Authoritarian means lead to authoritarian ends, and this is even truer when the ends themselves are authoritarian.

Ultimately, it is self-contradictory to proclaim that Bolshevik ideology was essential to ensure the success of the revolution and that this same ideology had no impact at all on the revolution’s outcome. As Maurice Brinton concluded in his classic account of this period, “”Bolshevik ideology and practice were themselves important and sometimes decisive factors in the equation, at every critical stage of this critical period”.[241]

To speak of a discrete period of “Stalinism” in the history of the USSR is incorrect. The core features of the system existed before Stalin took power; they continued long after his death in 1953.  Stalin’s rule was bookmarked by that of Lenin/ Trotsky, on the one hand, and that of Nikita Khrushchev, on the other. But it was not a distinct epoch.  Khrushchev distanced himself from the horrors for which he, personally, had been responsible as a Stalin aide by blaming them on Stalin in the “Secret Speech.” In power, of course, he maintained the so-called “Stalinist” apparatus. Likewise, contemporary defenders of Lenin and Trotsky distanced these figures from the horrors for which they, personally, had been responsible by blaming them on Stalin, and in so doing, create a radically false picture of the pre-Stalin period. In power, of course, Lenin and Trotsky laid the foundations of the so-called “Stalinist” apparatus.

In conclusion: to which tradition should we look for 21st century resistance?

As I stated in the beginning, the IST is remarkable for its commitment to socialism-from-below, and to self-emancipation. In this paper, I have tried to clear up some IST misconceptions about anarchism and syndicalism, I have shown where we converge, and, I think, where we differ.  We are all for “the democratic defence of working class power” through “their organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.” We all for socialism-from-below, and “working class self-emancipation,” are we not?

The question is: are such commitments compatible with support for Lenin and Trotsky? It seems to me, on the contrary, that there is more in common between the IST’s stated commitment to socialism-from-below, and the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism, than there is between the IST and the politics of Lenin and Trotsky.

It is impossible to reconcile a defence of “socialism from below” and “self-emancipation” with a defence of the Bolsheviks in power. The early Bolshevik regime was the very antithesis of “the democratic defence of working class power” through “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc.” Repression of the popular classes under Lenin and Trotsky was somewhat less severe than under Stalin, but this scarcely means it was not ongoing, comprehensive, brutal and integral. The “outline of the Stalin state” was drawn by Lenin and Trotsky.[242]  Lenin and Trotsky really did want a workers’ revolution, and have many important insights, but their basic outlook and strategy is, in the final analysis, incompatible with popular class power.[243]

To reclaim socialism, we must reclaim its participatory democratic and revolutionary traditions, suppressed by Leninist Marxism. This requires that sincere Marxists seriously engage with—rather than arrogantly lecture to—the black flame of anarchism and syndicalism, and its alternative vision of libertarian communism, revolutionary process and radical democracy

I understand the attraction of the Russian Revolution, and of Marxism, but would it not be more consistent for the IST to embrace the Russian Revolution, while breaking with Lenin and Trotsky, and to–if the IST must embrace Marxism, rather than, logically anarchism/ syndicalism–embrace its libertarian currents, like Karl Korsch, Anton Pannekoek and the like, and break with Lenin and Trotsky? This tradition is at least rooted in the most libertarian and democratic side of Marx’s Marxism, even if it was a minority tradition. I will leave matters here.

REFERENCES

Abad de Santillan, Diego. After the Revolution: Economic Reconstruction in Spain. Johannesburg: Zabalaza Books, [1937] 2005.

Albro, W.S. To Die on Your Feet: The Life, Times and Writings of Praxedis G. Guerrero. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1996.

Anderson, B. “Preface.” In Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870–1940: The Praxis of National Liberation, Internationalism and Social Revolution, edited by Steven J. Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2010.

Anderson, Benedict. Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination: Verso, 2006.

Aves, Jonathan. Workers against Lenin: Labour Protest and the Bolshevik Dictatorship. London: I.B. Tauris Publishers.

Avrich, Paul. “Bolshevik Opposition to Lenin: G. T. Miasnikov and the Workers’ Group.” Russian Review 43, no. 1 (1984): 1-29.

———. Anarchist Portraits. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988.

———. The Haymarket Tragedy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.

———. Kronstadt 1921. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991.

———. The Russian Anarchists. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1967.

Backer, Thomas B. “The Mutualists, the Heirs of Proudhon in the First International, 1865-1878.” PhD. Cincinnaiti, 1978.

Bakunin, Mikhail. “Appendix.” In Marxism, Freedom and the State, edited by K.J. Kenafick. London: Freedom Press, [n.d.] 1990.

———. “Federalism, Socialism, Anti-Theologism.” In Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, edited by Sam Dolgoff. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1867] 1971.

———. “God and the State.” In Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, edited by Sam Dolgoff. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1871] 1971.

———. “The International Revolutionary Society or Brotherhood.” In No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism, Book One, edited by Daniel Guérin. Edinburgh, San Francisco: AK Press, [1865] 1998.

———. “Letters to a Frenchman on the Current Crisis.” In Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, edited by Sam Dolgoff. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1870] 1971.

———. “Letter to La Liberté.” In Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, edited by Sam Dolgoff. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1872] 1971.

———. “On the Internal Conduct of the Alliance.” In Bakunin on Anarchism, edited by Sam Dolgoff. Montréal: Black Rose, [n.d.] 1980.

———. “The Paris Commune and the Idea of the State.” In Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, edited by Sam Dolgoff. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1871] 1971.

———. “The Policy of the International.” In Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, edited by S. Dolgoff. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1869] 1971

———. “Political Action and the Workers.” In Marxism, Freedom and the State, edited by K.J. Kenafick. London: Freedom Press, [n.d.] 1990.

———. “The Programme of the Alliance.” In Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, edited by Sam Dolgoff. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1871] 1971.

———. “The Programme of the International Brotherhood.” In Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, edited by Sam Dolgoff. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1869] 1971.

———. “Programme and Object of the Secret Revolutionary Organisation of the International Brethren.” In No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism, Book One, edited by Daniel Guérin. Edinburgh, San Francisco: AK Press, [1868] 1998.

———. “Statism and Anarchy.” In Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, edited by Sam Dolgoff. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1873] 1971.

———. “Three Lectures to Swiss Members of the International.” In Mikhail Bakunin: From out of the Dustbin: Bakunin’s Basic Writings, 1869-1871, edited by R.M. Cutler. Ann, [1871] 1985.

Bar, A. “The CNT: The Glory and Tragedy of Spanish Anarchosyndicalism.” In Revolutonary Syndicalism: An International Perspective, edited by Marcel van der Linden and Wayne Thorpe. Otterup/ Aldershot: Scolar / Gower Publishing Company, 1990.

Berkman, A. The ABC of Anarchism. third English ed. London: Freedom Press, [1929] 1964.

Birchall, I.H. “Another Side of Anarchism.” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 127 (2010): 175-82.

———. Workers against the Monolith: The Communist Parties since 1943. London: Pluto Press, 1974.

Blackledge, Paul. “Marxism and Anarchism.” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 125 (2010): 132-59.

———. “The New Left’s Renewal of Marxism.” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 112 (2006).

Bookchin, Murray. The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years, 1868-1936. New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London: Harper Colophon Books, 1977.

Brinton, Maurice. The Bolsheviks and Workers Control, 1917-1921: The State and Counter-Revolution. London: Solidarity, 1970.

Brovkin, Vladimir. Russia after Lenin. London, New York: Routledge, 1998.

Brovkin, Vladimir N. The Mensheviks after October: Socialist Opposition and the Rise of the Bolshevik Dictatorship. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Bulletin of the Joint Committee for the Defence of Revolutionists Imprisoned in Russia/ Bulletin of the Relief Fund of the International Workingmens’ Association for Anarchists and Anarcho-syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia. The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid. London: Kate Sharpley Library/ Alexander Berkman Social Club, [1923-1931] 2010.

Castoriadis, Cornelius. “The Fate of Marxism.” In The Anarchist Papers, edited by Dimitrious Roussopoulus. Montréal: Black Rose, 2001.

Chaplin, R. The General Strike. Chicago: IWW, [1933] 1985.

Cliff, Tony. Marxism at the Millennium. London, Chicago, Sydney: Bookmarks, 2000.

———. State Capitalism in Russia. Edited by with introduction and postscript by Chris Harman. London, Chicago, Melbourne: Bookmarks, [1964] 1988.

Craparo, S. Anarchist Communists: A Question of Class, Studies for a Libertarian Alternative Series. Italy: Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici, 2005.

Crump, John. Hatta Shuzo and Pure Anarchism in Interwar Japan. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.

Damier, Vadim. Anarcho-Syndicalism in the Twentieth Century. English edition ed. Edmonton: Black Cat Oress, 2009.

Daniels, R.V., ed. A Documentary History of Communism. London: I.B. Tauris. Vol. 1, 1985.

de Laforcade, Geoffroy. “A Laboratory of Argentine Labour Movements: Dockworkers, Mariners, and the Contours of Class Identity in the Port of Buenos Aires, 1900-1950.” PhD. Yale University, 2001.

The Delegation of the Party of. Socialists-Revolutionists. The Twelve  Who Are About to Die: The Trial of the Socialists-Revolutionists in Moscow. Berlin: Published by the Delegation of the Party of Socialists-Revolutionists, 1922.

Devinatz, Victor G. “Lenin as Scientific Manager under  Monopoly Capitalism, State Capitalism, and Socialism: A Response to Scoville.” Industrial Relations 42, no. 3 (2003): 513-20.

Dirlik, Arif. Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1991.

Diz, Verónica, and Fernando López-Trujillo. Resistencia Libertaria. Buenos Aires: Editorial Madreselva, 2007.

Dolgoff, Sam. The Cuban Revolution: a Critical Perspective, Montréal: Black Rose, 1976,

Dubofsky, M. “Big Bill” Haywood. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987.

Dubovic, Anatoly, and D.I. Rublyov. After Makhno: The Anarchist Underground in the Ukraine in the 1920s and 1930s: Outlines of History and the Story of a Leaflet and of the Fate of Anarchist Vershavskiy. London: Kate Sharpley Library, 2009.

Eltzbacher, Paul. Anarchism: Exponents of the Anarchist Philosophy. London: Freedom Press, [1900] 1960.

Engels, Friedrich. “On Authority.” In Marx, Engels, Lenin: Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, edited by N.Y. Kolpinsky. Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1873] 1972.

Epstein, Barbara. “Anarchism and the Anti-Globalisation Movement.” Monthly Review 53, no. 4 (2001): 1-14.

Farber, Samuel Before Stalinism: The Rise and Fall of Soviet Democracy. New York: Verso, 1990.

First All-Russian Conference of Anarcho-syndicalists. “Three Resolutions.” In The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution, edited by Paul Avrich. London: Thames and Hudson, [August 1918] 1973.

Foster, E. C. Ford and W. Z. Syndicalism, facsimile copy with new introduction by J.R. Barrett. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, [1912] 1990.

The Friends of Durruti, Towards a Fresh Revolution. Durban: Zabalaza Books, [1938, 1978] n.d.

Galleani, L. The End of Anarchism? Orkney: Cienfuegos Press, [1925], 1982.

Geltzer, Isaac. Kronstadt 1917-21: The Fate of a Soviet Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Getzler, Israel. Martov: A Political Biography of a Russian Social Democrat Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967.

Goaman, Karen. “The Anarchist Travelling Circus: Reflections on Contemporary Anarchism, Anti-Capitalism and the International Scene.” In Changing Anarchism: Anarchist Theory and Practice in a Global Age, edited by Jonathan  Purkis and James Bowen. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004.

Golden, Lester. “The Libertarian Movement in Contemporary Spanish Politics.” Antipode: a radical journal of geography 10/ 3 and 11/ 1 (1979): 114-18.

Goldman, Emma. “The Failure of the Russian Revolution.” In The Anarchist Reader, edited by George Woodcock. Glasgow: Fontana/ Collins, [1924] 1977.

Gómez Casas, Juan. Anarchist Organisation: The History of the FAI. Montréal: Black Rose, 1986.

Gordon, Uri. “Anarchism Reloaded.” Journal of Political Ideologies 12, no. 1 (2007): 29-48.

———. Anarchy Alive! Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory. London: Pluto, 2008.

Guillaume, James. “A Biographical Sketch [Bakunin].” In Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, edited by Sam Dolgoff. London: George Allen and Unwin, [n.d.] 1971.

Hallas, D. Trotsky’s Marxism. London, Chicago and Melbourne: Bookmarks, 1979.

Harman, C. “How the Revolution Was Lost.” In Russia: From Workers’ State to State Capitalism, edited by P. Binns, T. Cliff and C. Harman. London, Chicago and Sydney: Bookmarks, 1987.

———. “The Nature of Stalinist Russia and the Eastern Bloc ” In Russia: From Workers’ State to State Capitalism, edited by P. Binns, T. Cliff and C. Harman. London, Chicago and Sydney: Bookmarks, 1987.

———. “Pick of the Quarter.” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 104 (2004).

Hinton, James. The First Shop Stewards Movement. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1973.

Hobsbawm, Eric. Revolutionaries. London: Abacus, 1993.

Hodges, D. Intellectual Foundations of the Nicaraguan Revolution. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986.

Hodges, Donald C. Mexican Anarchism after the Revolution. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985.

Holloway, J. Change the World without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution for Today. revised ed. London: Pluto Press, 2005.

Holton, R.J. “Syndicalist Theories of the State.” Sociological Review 28, no. 1 (1980).

Hore, Charlie. Spain 1936: Popular Front or Workers’ Power? London: Socialist Workers Party, 1986.

Hyman, R. Marxism and the Sociology of Trade Unionism. London: Pluto Press, 1971.

International Working People’s Association, “The Pittsburgh Proclamation.” In Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume 1: From Anarchy to Anarchism, 300 CE to 1939, edited by R. Graham. Montréal: Black Rose, [1883] 2005.

Izvestia. 1921. online at http://libcom.org/library/kronstadt-izvestia.

Jakapovich, Dan. “Revolutionary Unionism: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.” New Politics 11, no. 3 (2007): 60-66.

Jansen, M. A Show Trial under Lenin: The Trial of the Socialist Revolutionaries, Moscow 1922, Springer, 1982.

Joll, James. The Anarchists. London: Methuen and Co., 1964.

Jung, María Eugenia, and Universindo Rodríguez Díaz. Juan Carlos Mechoso: Anarquista. Montevideo: Ediciones Trilce, 2006.

Keffer, Tom. “Marxism, Anarchism and the Genealogy of “Socialism from Below”.” Upping the Anti: a journal of theory and action, no. 2 (2005): 58-81.

Kinna, R. Anarchism: A Beginner’s Guide. Oxford: Oneworld, 2005.

Kropotkin, Pyotr. “Anarchist Communism: Its Basis and Principles.” In Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets: A Collection of Writings by Peter Kropotkin, edited by R.N. Baldwin. New York: Dover Publications, [1887] 1970.

———. “The Commune of Paris.” In Selected Writings on Anarchism and Revolution: P.A. Kropotkin, edited by M.A. Miller, 119-32. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London: M.I.T. Press, [1880] 1970.

———. The Great French Revolution, 1789-1973, Volume 1. introduction by Alfredo M. Bonanno ed. London: Elephant Editions, [1909] 1986.

———. “Letter to Nettlau.” In Selected Writings on Anarchism and Revolution: P.A. Kropotkin, edited by M.A. Miller. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London: M.I.T. Press, [5 March 1902] 1970.

———. “Modern Science and Anarchism.” In Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets: A Collection of Writings by Peter Kropotkin, edited by R.N. Baldwin. New York: Dover Publications, [1912] 1970.

———. “Representative Government.” In Words of a Rebel: Peter Kropotkin, edited by George Woodcock. Montréal: Black Rose, [1885] 1992.

———. “The Spirit of Revolt.” In Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets: A Collection of Writings by Peter Kropotkin, edited by R.N. Baldwin. New York: Dover Publications, [1880] 1970.

Kubo Yuzuru. “On Class Struggle and the Daily Struggle.” In Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume 1: From Anarchy to Anarchism, 300 CE to 1939, edited by R. Graham. Montréal: Black Rose, [1928] 2005.

Lambert, R.V. “Political Unionism in South Africa: The South African Congress of Trade Unions, 1955-1965.” PhD. University of the Witwatersrand, 1988.

Leggett, George The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Lenin, V.I. “The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government.” In Collected Works, edited by V.I. Lenin. Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1918] 1962.

———. “”Left-Wing” Childishness and the Petty-Bourgeois Mentality.” In Collected Works, edited by V.I. Lenin. Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1918] 1962.

———. “On the  Provisional  Revolutionary  Government.” In Collected Works, edited by V.I. Lenin. Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1905] 1962.

———. “Speech at the First All-Russia Congress of Workers in Education and Socialist Culture ” In Collected Works, edited by V.I. Lenin. Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1919] 1962.

———. “Speech in the Moscow Soviet of Workers, Peasants and Red Army Deputies.” In Collected Works, edited by V.I. Lenin. Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1918] 1962.

———. The State and Revolution: The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution. London: Martin Lawrence, [1917] 1933.

———. “The State and Revolution: The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution.” In Selected Works in Three Volumes, edited by V.I. Lenin. Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1917] 1975.

———. “The Trade Unions, the Present Situation and Trotsky’s Mistakes.” In Collected Works, edited by V.I. Lenin. Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1920] 1962.

Malatesta, Errico. In Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, edited by V. Richards. London: Freedom Press, [6 April 1922] 1965.

———. In Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, edited by V. Richards. London: Freedom Press, [22 September 1901] 1965.

———. “An Anarchist Programme.” In Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, edited by V. Richards. London: Freedom Press, [1920] 1965.

———. “Letter to Luigi Fabbri.” In No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism, Book Two, edited by Daniel Guérin. Edinburgh, San Francisco: AK Press, [30 July 1919] 1998.

———. “Neither Democrats nor Dictators: Anarchists.” In The Anarchist Revolution: Polemical Writings 1924-1931: Errico Malatesta, edited by V. Richards. London: Freedom Press, [May 1926] 1995.

———. “A Project of Anarchist Organisation.” In The Anarchist Revolution: Polemical Writings 1924-1931: Errico Malatesta, edited by V. Richards. London: Freedom Press, [October 1927] 1995.

———. “Syndicalism: An Anarchist Critique [Sic].” In The Anarchist Reader, edited by George Woodcock. Glasgow: Fontana/ Collins, [1907] 1977.

Malle, Silvana. The Economic Organisation of War Communism, 1918-1921. Cambridge/ New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Marot, John Eric. “Trotsky, the Left Opposition and the Rise of Stalinism: Theory and Practice.” Historical Materialism 14, no. 3 (2006): 175–206.

Marshall, Peter. Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. London: Fontana Press, 1994.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. “The Alliance of Socialist Democracy and the International Working Men’s Association.” In Marx, Engels, Lenin: Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, edited by N.Y. Kolpinsky. Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1873] 1972.

Maura, J. Romero. “The Spanish Case.” In Anarchism Today, edited by D. Apter and J. Joll. London, Basingtoke: Macmillan, 1971.

Maximoff, G.P. The Guillotine at Work: Twenty Years of Terror in Russia: The Leninist Counter Revolution,. Orkney: Cienfuegos Press, [1940] 1979. Maximoff. G.P. G. Lapot].

———. “Paths of Revolution.” In The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution, edited by Paul Avrich. London: Thames and Hudson, [22 December 1917] 1973.

———. ed. The Political Philosophy of Bakunin: Scientific Anarchism. Glencoe / London: The Free Press / Collier-Macmillan, 1953.

———. The Programme of Anarcho-Syndicalism. Sydney: Monty Miller, [1927] 1985.

McKay, Iain. “On the Bolshevik Myth.” Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, no. 47 (2007): 29-39.

———. “The Paris Commune, Marxism and Anarchism.” Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, no. 50 (2008): 24-41.

———. The Anarchist FAQ, sections H 1.3, 2.11, 4.7, 3.13, 6.3, online at http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/

Mechoso, Juan Carlos. Acción Directa Anarquista: Una Historia De Fau. Montevideo: Recortes, 2002.

Mehring, F. Karl Marx : The Story of His Life. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1936] 1951.

Meredith, I. A Girl among the Anarchists: University of Nebraska Press, [1903] 1992.

Meyer, Gerald. “Anarchism, Marxism and the Collapse of the Soviet Union.” Science and Society 67, no. 2 (2003): 218-21.

Michels, R. Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy. New York/ London: The Free Press/ Collier-Macmillan, [1915] 1962.

Mintz, F. “Class War: The Writings of Camillo Berneri.” The Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review, no. 4 (1978).

Morrow, F. [1938] 1963. Revolution and Counter Revolution in Spain, Chapter 17.  In,  published by New Park Publications Limited, at http://www.marxists.org/archive/morrow-felix/1938/revolution-spain/ch17.htm

Makhno, N., P. Archinov, I. Mett, Valevsky, Linsky. The Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists. Dublin: Workers Solidarity Movement, [1926] 2001.

National Confederation of Labour (CNT). Resolution on Libertarian Communism as Adopted by the Confederacion Nacional Del Trabajo, Zaragoza, 1 May 1936. Durban: Zabalaza Books, [1 May 1936] n.d.

Nettlau, Max. A Short History of Anarchism. London: Freedom Press, [1934] 1996.

O.V. n.d. Autonomous Base Nucleus, online at  http://www.geocities.com/kk_abacus/insurr2.html

Paz, Abel. Durruti: The People Armed. Montréal: Black Rose, 1987.

Peirats, José. Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution. London: Freedom Press, [1964] 1990.

Pirani, Simon. 2010. “Detailed Response to Kevin Murphy” at  http://www.revolutioninretreat.com/isjreply.pdf

———. “Socialism in the 21st Century and the Russian Revolution.” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 128 (2010).

Pouget, E. Direct Action. London: Fresnes-Antony Group of the French Anarchist Federation/ English translation by the Kate Sharpley Library, n.d.

Pouget, E. Pataud and E. How We Shall Bring About the Revolution: Syndicalism and the Co-Operative Commonwealth. London: Pluto Press, [1909] 1990.

Price, Wayne. The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives. Bloomington, Central Milton Keynes: AuthorHouse, 2007.

———. “From Trotskyism to Anarchism.” The Utopian 9 (2010): 63-75.

———. Our Programme Is the Anarchist Revolution!/ Confronting the Question of Power. Johannesburg: Zabalaza Books, 2009.

Rabinowitch, Alexander. The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

Rees, John. The Algebra of Revolution: The Dialectic and the Classical Marxist Tradition London, 1998.

Renton, David. Classical Marxism: Socialist Theory and the Second International. Cheltenham: New Clarion Press, 2002.

———. Dissident Marxism: Past Voices for Present Times. London, New York: Zed Books, 2004.

Richards, V. “Notes for a Biography.” In Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, edited by V. Richards. London: Freedom Press, 1965.

Rocker, R. [1938]. Anarcho-Syndicalism, Chapter 1.  first published by Martin Secker and Warburg Ltd, at http://www.spunk.org/library/writers/rocker/sp001495/rocker_as1.html.———. [1938]. Anarcho-Syndicalism, Chapter 5.  first published by Martin Secker and Warburg Ltd, at http://www.spunk.org/library/writers/rocker/sp001495/rocker_as5.html. Rosenberg, William G. . “Russian Labour and Bolshevik Power.” In The Workers Revolution in Russia: The View from Below, edited by D. Kaiser, 98-131. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Ruff, P. Anarchy in the USSR: A New Beginning. London: ASP, 1991.

Samson, Philip. Syndicalism: The Workers’ Next Step. London: Freedom Press, 1951.

Schapiro, Leonard The Origin of the Communist Autocracy:  Political Opposition in the Soviet State, First Phase 1917-1922. 2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1977.

Serge, V. Birth of Our Power. London: Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative, [1931] 1977.

Sherlock, Stephen. “Berlin, Moscow and Bombay: The Marxism That India Inherited.” South Asia: journal of South Asian studies 21, no. 1 (1998): 63-76.

Shin, Chae-ho, “Declaration of the Korean Revolution.” In Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume 1: From Anarchy to Anarchism, 300 CE to 1939, edited by R. Graham. Montréal: Black Rose, [1923] 2005.

Shukman, Harold, ed. The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of the Russian Revolution: Wiley-Blackwell, 1994.

Skirda, Alexandre. Nestor Makhno: Anarchy’s Cossack: The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine 1917 – 1921. Edinburgh, San Francisco: AK Press, [1982] 2003.

Smith, S. . “Taylorism Rules Ok? Bolshevism, Taylorism and the Technical Intelligentsia – the Soviet Union, 1917-41.” Radical Science Journal, no. 13 (1983): 3-27.

Souchy, A. Beware! Anarchist! A Life for Freedom: The Autobiography of Augustin Souchy. Translated by T. Waldinger. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1992.

Szelenyi, Ivan , and Bill  Martin. “The Three Waves of New Class Theories.” Theory and Society 17, no. 5 (1988): 645-67.

Tabor, Ron. A Look at Leninism. New York: Aspect Foundation, 1988.

Thorpe, Wayne. ‘The Workers Themselves’: Revolutionary Syndicalism and International Labour 1913-23. Dordrecht, Boston, London/ Amsterdam: Kulwer Academic Publishers/ International Institute of Social History, 1989.

Trotsky, L. The Challenge of the Left Opposition, 1923-1925. second ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1975.

———. The Defence of Terrorism (Terrorism and Communism). London: The Labour Publishing Company/ George Allen and Unwin, [1920] 1921.

———. The Revolution Betrayed: What Is the Soviet Union and Where Is It Going? Indian ed. Dehli: Aakar Books, [1936] 2006.

———. Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1936-37. second ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1975.

van der Walt, Lucien. “Anarchism and Syndicalism in South Africa, 1904-1921: Rethinking the History of Labour and the Left.” PhD, University of the Witwatersrand, 2007.

van der Walt, Lucien, and Steven J. Hirsch. “Rethinking Anarchism and Syndicalism: The Colonial and Post-Colonial Experience, 1870–1940.” In Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940: The Praxis of National Liberation, Internationalism and Social Revolution edited by Steven J. Hirsch and Lucien Van der Walt. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2010.

van der Walt, Lucien, and Michael Schmidt. Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. San Francisco, Edinburgh: AK Press, 2009.

Voline, S. Fleshin, M. Steimer, Sobol, J. Schwartz, Lia, Roman, Ervantian. 1927. Reply to the Platform (Synthesist).  At

http://www.nestormakhno.info/english/volrep.htm

Wetzel, T. n.d. Looking Back after 70 Years: Workers Power and the Spanish Revolution.  at   http://www.workersolidarity.org/Spanishrevolution.html#power

Wolff, R.P. In Defence of Anarchism. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

Woodcock, George. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. new edition with postscript ed: Penguin, 1975.

Yoast, R.A. “The Development of Argentine Anarchism: A Socio-Ideological Analysis.” PhD. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1975.

Zeilig, Leo. “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition.” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 127 (2010): 220-22.


[1] I would like to thank Shawn Hattingh, Ian Bekker, Iain McKay and Wayne Price for feedback on an earlier draft.

[2] I use the term “syndicalist” in its correct (as opposed to its pejorative) sense to refer to the revolutionary trade unionism that seeks to combine daily struggles with a revolutionary project i.e., in which unions are to play a decisive role in the overthrow of capitalism and the state by organizing the seizure and self-management of the means of production. These ideas emerged from the anarchist wing of the First International, and the works of Bakunin, and the first examples were anarchist-led unions in Spain (1870), Mexico (1876), the United States (1884), and Cuba (1885). A discussion of these issues falls outside this paper; the key point is that syndicalism is an anarchist strategy. “Anarcho-syndicalism” and “revolutionary syndicalism” are variants of syndicalism, and are thus both covered by that term. I use the term “broad anarchist tradition” to include both anarchism and syndicalism.

[3] Black Flame is volume one of our “Counter Power: new perspectives on global anarchism and syndicalism” series. Volume two will be Global Fire: 150 fighting years of international anarchism and syndicalism. More at http://black-flame-anarchism.blogspot.com/

[4] Paul Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 125 (2010)., p. 132

[5] I.H. Birchall, “Another Side of Anarchism,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 127 (2010)., p. 177

[6] Leo Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 127 (2009)., pp. 221-222

[7] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 132

[8] Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition.”, pp. 221-222

[9] Mikhail Bakunin, “Letters to a Frenchman on the Current Crisis,” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, ed. Sam Dolgoff (London: George Allen and Unwin, [1870] 1971). pp. 185, 189, emphasis in the original

[10] G.P. Maximoff, ed., The Political Philosophy of Bakunin: Scientific Anarchism (Glencoe / London: The Free Press / Collier-Macmillan, 1953)., pp. 300, 319, 378

[11] Pyotr Kropotkin, “Modern Science and Anarchism,” in Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets: A Collection of Writings by Peter Kropotkin, ed. R.N. Baldwin (New York: Dover Publications, [1912] 1970). p. 188

[12] Mikhail Bakunin, “Political Action and the Workers,” in Marxism, Freedom and the State, ed. K.J. Kenafick (London: Freedom Press, [n.d.] 1990)., p. 60

[13] V.I. Lenin, “On the  Provisional  Revolutionary  Government,” in Collected Works, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1905] 1962)., p. 477, emphasis in original

[14] Gerald Meyer, “Anarchism, Marxism and the Collapse of the Soviet Union,” Science and Society 67, no. 2 (2003).  p. 218

[15] Barbara Epstein, “Anarchism and the Anti-Globalisation Movement,” Monthly Review 53, no. 4 (2001).

[16] Karen Goaman, “The Anarchist Travelling Circus: Reflections on Contemporary Anarchism, Anti-Capitalism and the International Scene,” in Changing Anarchism: Anarchist Theory and Practice in a Global Age, ed. Jonathan  Purkis and James Bowen (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004)., pp. 173-174; Uri Gordon, “Anarchism Reloaded,” Journal of Political Ideologies 12, no. 1 (2007). Pp. 29-30

[17] Benedict Anderson, Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination (Verso, 2006)., pp. 2,54

[18] Eric Hobsbawm, Revolutionaries (London: Abacus, 1993). pp. 72-3. The unusual spelling of “marxism” appears in Hobsbawm’s text.

[19] B. Anderson, “Preface,” in Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870–1940: The Praxis of National Liberation, Internationalism and Social Revolution, ed. Steven J. Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2010)., p. xiv; also see Lucien van der Walt and Steven J. Hirsch, “Rethinking Anarchism and Syndicalism: The Colonial and Post-Colonial Experience, 1870–1940,” in Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940: The Praxis of National Liberation, Internationalism and Social Revolution ed. Steven J. Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2010)., p. xxxv

[20] James Joll, The Anarchists (London: Methuen and Co., 1964). p. 224

[21] Van der Walt and Hirsch, “Rethinking Anarchism and Syndicalism: The Colonial and Post-Colonial Experience, 1870–1940.”

[22] Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism (San Francisco, Edinburgh: AK Press, 2009)., pp. 14-15

[23] For Latin America from the 1940s to the 1970s, for instance, see Sam Dolgoff, The Cuban Revolution: a Critical Perspective, Montréal: Black Rose, 1976, 51-61.; Geoffroy de Laforcade, “A Laboratory of Argentine Labour Movements: Dockworkers, Mariners, and the Contours of Class Identity in the Port of Buenos Aires, 1900-1950” (Yale University, 2001)., 12-17, 311-354; Donald C. Hodges, Mexican Anarchism after the Revolution (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985).; Juan Carlos Mechoso, Acción Directa Anarquista: Una Historia De Fau (Montevideo: Recortes, 2002).;  A. Souchy, Beware! Anarchist! A Life for Freedom: The Autobiography of Augustin Souchy, trans. T. Waldinger (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1992)., pp. 142-150, 154. On some recent developments, see inter alia Lester Golden, “The Libertarian Movement in Contemporary Spanish Politics,” Antipode: a radical journal of geography 10/ 3 and 11/ 1 (1979).; Alternative Libertaire, “Spain: Cgt Is Now the Third Biggest Union,” Alternative Libertaire, November 2004 2004. ; Dan Jakapovich, “Revolutionary Unionism: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” New Politics 11, no. 3 (2007).

[24] See  inter alia: interview with H. L. Wei in Paul Avrich, Anarchist Portraits (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988)., pp. 214 et seq.; Verónica Diz and Fernando López-Trujillo, Resistencia Libertaria (Buenos Aires: Editorial Madreselva, 2007).; Mechoso, Acción Directa Anarquista: Una Historia De Fau.;  María Eugenia Jung and Universindo Rodríguez Díaz, Juan Carlos Mechoso: Anarquista (Montevideo: Ediciones Trilce, 2006).

[25] P. Ruff, Anarchy in the USSR: A New Beginning (London: ASP, 1991).pp. 8-10

[26] See inter alia Vadim Damier, Anarcho-Syndicalism in the Twentieth Century, English edition ed. (Edmonton: Black Cat Oress, 2009)., pp. 203-205

[27] “i07: Consolidate international solidarity,” http://www.cnt-f.org/spip.php?article345, accessed 15 November 2008; “Conférences Internationales Syndicales – I07,” http://www.anarkismo.net/article/5434, accessed 15 November 2008.

[28] Leo Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 127 (2010)., p. 222

[29] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, pp. 143-144, 151 note 88

[30] V.I. Lenin, “The State and Revolution: The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution,” in Selected Works in Three Volumes, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1917] 1975)., pp. 270, 275, 283, 313-314. On Lenin’s text, see Iain McKay, The Anarchist FAQ, section H 1.3 onwards, online at http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secH1.html#sech13

[31] Birchall, “Another Side of Anarchism.”, pp. 179-180

[32] See, for instance, Tom Keffer, “Marxism, Anarchism and the Genealogy of “Socialism from Below”,” Upping the Anti: a journal of theory and action, no. 2 (2005).

[33] Birchall, “Another Side of Anarchism.”, p., 178, notably Serge’s Revolution in Danger.

[34] : Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1967)., pp. 222, 231

[35] G. Lapot’ [G.P. Maximoff], “Paths of Revolution,” in The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution, ed. Paul Avrich (London: Thames and Hudson, [22 December 1917] 1973)., pp. 104-105; First All-Russian Conference of Anarcho-syndicalists, “Three Resolutions,” in The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution, ed. Paul Avrich (London: Thames and Hudson, [August 1918] 1973)., pp. 117-120; on this theory of “state capitalism,” see also M. Sergven [G.P. Maximoff], “Paths of Revolution,” in The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution, ed. Paul Avrich (London: Thames and Hudson, [16 September 1918] 1973). pp. 122-125

[36] Wayne Thorpe, ‘The Workers Themselves’: Revolutionary Syndicalism and International Labour 1913-23 (Dordrecht, Boston, London/ Amsterdam: Kulwer Academic Publishers/ International Institute of Social History, 1989)., pp. 96, 98, 100, 164, 179, 197, 200. Maximoff’s account of the fate of the Russian Revolution, which includes many useful documents and interviews, is G.P. Maximoff, The Guillotine at Work: Twenty Years of Terror in Russia: The Leninist Counter Revolution, (Orkney: Cienfuegos Press, [1940] 1979).

[37] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, pp. 136, 139, 142

[38] Ibid., pp. 133-134

[39] Ibid., p. 132; Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition.”, pp. 221-222

[40] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 136

[41] Mikhail Bakunin, “The Programme of the International Brotherhood,” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, ed. Sam Dolgoff (London: George Allen and Unwin, [1869] 1971). pp. 152-154; also see Bakunin, “Letters to a Frenchman on the Current Crisis.” p. 190

[42] Mikhail Bakunin, “The International Revolutionary Society or Brotherhood,” in No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism, Book One, ed. Daniel Guérin (Edinburgh, San Francisco: AK Press, [1865] 1998)., pp. 135, 137

[43] Ibid., p. 137

[44] Errico Malatesta, “Syndicalism: An Anarchist Critique [Sic],” in The Anarchist Reader, ed. George Woodcock (Glasgow: Fontana/ Collins, [1907] 1977). p. 224. Woodcock’s title caricatures the contents.

[45] Errico Malatesta, “An Anarchist Programme,” in Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, ed. V. Richards (London: Freedom Press, [1920] 1965)., p. 193

[46] For instance: W.S. Albro, To Die on Your Feet: The Life, Times and Writings of Praxedis G. Guerrero (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1996).; A. Berkman, The Abc of Anarchism, third English ed. (London: Freedom Press, [1929] 1964).; Shin Chae-ho, “Declaration of the Korean Revolution,” in Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume 1: From Anarchy to Anarchism, 300 CE  to 1939, ed. R. Graham (Montréal: Black Rose, [1923] 2005)., pp. 374-6;  E. C. Ford and W. Z. Foster, Syndicalism, facsimile copy with new introduction by J.R. Barrett ed. (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, [1912] 1990). pp. 9-13, 29-30; The Friends of Durruti, Towards a Fresh Revolution (Durban: Zabalaza Books, [1938, 1978] n.d.). p. 25; International  Working People’s Association, “The Pittsburgh Proclamation,” in Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume 1: From Anarchy to Anarchism, 300 CE to 1939, ed. R. Graham (Montréal: Black Rose, [1883] 2005). p. 192; G.P. Maximoff, The Programme of Anarcho-Syndicalism (Sydney: Monty Miller, [1927] 1985). pp. 49-52; E. Pataud and E. Pouget, How We Shall Bring About the Revolution: Syndicalism and the Co-Operative Commonwealth (London: Pluto Press, [1909] 1990). p. 156-165; R. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, Chapter 5 (first published by Martin Secker and Warburg Ltd,  [1938], accessed 12 November 2000); available from http://www.spunk.org/library/writers/rocker/sp001495/rocker_as5.html.; Philip Samson, Syndicalism: The Workers’ Next Step (London: Freedom Press, 1951)., pp. 32-35; “Declaration of the Principles of Revolutionary Syndicalism,” in Thorpe, ‘The Workers Themselves’: Revolutionary Syndicalism and International Labour 1913-23. appendix d, p. 324

[47] Quoted in Paul Eltzbacher, Anarchism: Exponents of the Anarchist Philosophy (London: Freedom Press, [1900] 1960). p. 89

[48] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p,. 139

[49] J. Romero Maura, “The Spanish Case,” in Anarchism Today, ed. D. Apter and J. Joll (London, Basingtoke: Macmillan, 1971). pp. 66, 68, 72, 80-83

[50] V. Serge, Birth of Our Power (London: Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative, [1931] 1977)., p. 31.

[51] Juan Gómez Casas, Anarchist Organisation: The History of the FAI (Montréal: Black Rose, 1986)., pp. 137, 144, also pp. 1576-157

[52] Quoted in  Ibid., p. 154

[53] Resolutions, quoted in Ibid., pp. 171, 173-175

[54] National Confederation of Labour (CNT), Resolution on Libertarian Communism as Adopted by the Confederacion Nacional Del Trabajo, Zaragoza, 1 May 1936 (Durban: Zabalaza Books, [1 May 1936] n.d.). pp. 10-11

[55] Cf. Charlie Hore, Spain 1936: Popular Front or Workers’ Power? (London: Socialist Workers Party, 1986)., p. 17

[56] A. Paz, Durruti: The People Armed (Montréal: Black Rose, 1987). p. 247; An important review of the debate over taking power, or joining the Popular Front, is provided by T. Wetzel, Looking Back after 70 Years: Workers Power and the Spanish Revolution (n.d., accessed 15 June 2005); available from http://www.workersolidarity.org/Spanishrevolution.html#power.

[57] The Friends of Durruti, Towards a Fresh Revolution. p. 25

[58]  F. Morrow, Revolution and Counter Revolution in Spain, Chapter 17 (published by New Park Publications Limited,  [1938] 1963 (accessed 30 June 2006); available from http://www.marxists.org/archive/morrow-felix/1938/revolution-spain/ch17.htm.

[59] A. Bar, “The CNT: The Glory and Tragedy of Spanish Anarchosyndicalism,” in Revolutonary Syndicalism: An International Perspective, ed. Marcel van der Linden and Wayne Thorpe (Otterup/ Aldershot: Scolar / Gower Publishing Company, 1990). p. 131

[60] The Friends of Durruti, Towards a Fresh Revolution. p. 25

[61] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, pp. 131-132, 148; see Mikhail Bakunin, “The Paris Commune and the Idea of the State,” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, ed. Sam Dolgoff (London: George Allen and Unwin, [1871] 1971).

[62] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 139

[63] Bakunin, “The Paris Commune and the Idea of the State.” p.269

[64] van der Walt and Schmidt, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism., pp. 33, 48, 67, 204; Cf. Friedrich Engels, “On Authority,” in Marx, Engels, Lenin: Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, ed. N.Y. Kolpinsky (Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1873] 1972). pp. 102-105.

[65] Engels, “On Authority.” Engels’ views are critiqued in Iain McKay, The Anarchist FAQ, section H 4.7, online at http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secH4.html#sech47

[66] For example, on Spain, see The Friends of Durruti, Towards a Fresh Revolution. p. 12; José Peirats, Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution (London: Freedom Press, [1964] 1990). pp. 13-14

[67] For example, R. Chaplin, The General Strike (Chicago: IWW, [1933] 1985). not paginated; M. Dubofsky, “Big Bill” Haywood (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987). p. 65V. Richards, “Notes for a Biography,” in Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, ed. V. Richards (London: Freedom Press, 1965). pp. 283-284

[68] Wayne Price, Our Programme Is the Anarchist Revolution!/ Confronting the Question of Power (Johannesburg: Zabalaza Books, 2009)., pp. 12-14

[69] J. Holloway, Change the World without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution for Today, revised ed. (London: Pluto Press, 2005).

[70] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 135, emphasis in the original

[71] Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, Chapter 5.

[72] Berkman, The Abc of Anarchism. pp. 55-56; Foster, Syndicalism. pp. -4, 20-26,  Kubo Yuzuru, “On Class Struggle and the Daily Struggle,” in Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume 1: From Anarchy to Anarchism, 300 CE  to 1939, ed. R. Graham (Montréal: Black Rose, [1928] 2005). p. 381; R. Michels, Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy (New York/ London: The Free Press/ Collier-Macmillan, [1915] 1962). p. 317; E. Pouget, Direct Action (London: Fresnes-Antony Group of the French Anarchist Federation/ English translation by the Kate Sharpley Library, n.d.). not paginated; Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, Chapter 5.; Lucien van der Walt, “Anarchism and Syndicalism in South Africa, 1904-1921: Rethinking the History of Labour and the Left” (PhD, University of the Witwatersrand, 2007)., pp. 347-348, 574-577, 609-610; also see Thorpe, ‘The Workers Themselves’: Revolutionary Syndicalism and International Labour 1913-23.,  pp.14-21

[73] Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, Chapter 5., emphasis in the original

[74] Emma Goldman, “The Failure of the Russian Revolution,” in The Anarchist Reader, ed. George Woodcock (Glasgow: Fontana/ Collins, [1924] 1977). p. 159, emphasis in the original

[75] Errico Malatesta, in Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, ed. V. Richards (London: Freedom Press, [6 April 1922] 1965). pp. 117-118

[76] M. Bakunin, “The Policy of the International,” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, ed. S. Dolgoff (London: George Allen and Unwin, [1869] 1971). pp. 166-167, emphasis in the original

[77] Bakunin, “Letters to a Frenchman on the Current Crisis.” p. 209; also see Mikhail Bakunin, “Statism and Anarchy,” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, ed. Sam Dolgoff (London: George Allen and Unwin, [1873] 1971). p. 335

[78] Mikhail Bakunin, “The Programme of the Alliance,” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, ed. Sam Dolgoff (London: George Allen and Unwin, [1871] 1971). pp. 249, 250-251

[79] Pyotr Kropotkin, The Great French Revolution, 1789-1973, Volume 1, introduction by Alfredo M. Bonanno ed. (London: Elephant Editions, [1909] 1986). pp. 22-23

[80] By specific anarchist (or syndicalist) political organisation, I mean an organisation comprised exclusively of anarchists (or syndicalists), and devoted to the promotion of anarchism, its theories, methods and goals.

[81] For example, L. Galleani, The End of Anarchism? (Orkney: Cienfuegos Press, [1925], 1982). pp. 11, 44-45; O.V., Autonomous Base Nucleus (n.d. accessed 30 March 2004]); available from http://www.geocities.com/kk_abacus/insurr2.html. For historical examples worldwide, see inter aliaPaul Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984). pp. 150-152; Arif Dirlik, Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1991). p. 233; I. Meredith, A Girl among the Anarchists (University of Nebraska Press, [1903] 1992). chapter 2.; F Mintz, “Class War: The Writings of Camillo Berneri,” The Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review, no. 4 (1978). p. 47; George Woodcock, Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements, new edition with postscript ed. (Penguin, 1975). p. 251; R.A. Yoast, “The Development of Argentine Anarchism: A Socio-Ideological Analysis” (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1975). pp. 155-156

[82] Informal structures are often far more undemocratic than formal ones, as they are open to manipulation by hidden elites, and have few measures to ensure accountability and good practice. As Paul notes, this criticism has been made by anarchists like Jo Freeman. It can also be found in van der Walt and Schmidt, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism., p. 240

[83]  Views critiqued in R.J. Holton, “Syndicalist Theories of the State,” Sociological Review 28, no. 1 (1980). p. 5, and clearly expressed in James Hinton, The First Shop Stewards Movement (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1973). pp. 276, 280; R. Hyman, Marxism and the Sociology of Trade Unionism (London: Pluto Press, 1971). p. 43; R.V. Lambert, “Political Unionism in South Africa: The South African Congress of Trade Unions, 1955-1965” (PhD, University of the Witwatersrand, 1988). p. 45

[84] van der Walt and Schmidt, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism., p. 21

[85] P. Archinov N. Makhno, I. Mett, Valevsky, Linsky, The Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists (Dublin: Workers Solidarity Movement, [1926] 2001). pp. 6-7

[86] Quoted in D. Hodges, Intellectual Foundations of the Nicaraguan Revolution (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986). pp. 83-84

[87] Goldman, quoted in Joll, The Anarchists. p. 204, emphasis in the original; John Crump, Hatta Shuzo and Pure Anarchism in Interwar Japan (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993). pp. 155-7, 159-160, 174-177; S. Fleshin Voline, M. Steimer, Sobol, J. Schwartz, Lia, Roman, Ervantian, Reply to the Platform (Synthesist) (1927, accessed 15 March 2004]).; Max Nettlau, A Short History of Anarchism (London: Freedom Press, [1934] 1996). pp. 294-295;

[88] S. Craparo, Anarchist Communists: A Question of Class, Studies for a Libertarian Alternative Series (Italy: Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici, 2005). p. 83; N. Makhno, The Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists. p. 1

[89] There were some disagreements about precise forms and practices between, say Malatesta and Makhno, but these fall outside this paper’s scope.

[90] Bakunin, “The International Revolutionary Society or Brotherhood.”, p. 138

[91] See, inter alia, Bakunin, “The Programme of the International Brotherhood.” and Bakunin, “The Programme of the Alliance.”

[92] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Alliance of Socialist Democracy and the International Working Men’s Association,” in Marx, Engels, Lenin: Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, ed. N.Y. Kolpinsky (Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1873] 1972). pp. 113, 116, 118, 120. Also Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (London: Fontana Press, 1994). p. 277

[93] Bakunin, “The Programme of the International Brotherhood.” pp. 154-155; Mikhail Bakunin, “On the Internal Conduct of the Alliance,” in Bakunin on Anarchism, ed. Sam Dolgoff (Montréal: Black Rose, [n.d.] 1980). p. 387. Some of the earliest proposals suggested a hierarchical internal model for these groups, but this was abandoned by Bakunin and the rest for obvious reasons.

[94] Pyotr Kropotkin, “The Spirit of Revolt,” in Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets: A Collection of Writings by Peter Kropotkin, ed. R.N. Baldwin (New York: Dover Publications, [1880] 1970). p. 43

[95] Nettlau, A Short History of Anarchism., pp. 277, 281

[96] Malatesta, in Ibid. p. 130; Errico Malatesta, in Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, ed. V. Richards (London: Freedom Press, [22 September 1901] 1965). p. 181; Errico Malatesta, “A Project of Anarchist Organisation,” in The Anarchist Revolution: Polemical Writings 1924-1931: Errico Malatesta, ed. V. Richards (London: Freedom Press, [October 1927] 1995). p. 97

[97] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, pp. 133, 136, 143-144

[98] Wayne Price, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives (Bloomington, Central Milton Keynes: AuthorHouse, 2007)., pp. 172-173

[99] Errico Malatesta, “Letter to Luigi Fabbri,” in No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism, Book Two, ed. Daniel Guérin (Edinburgh, San Francisco: AK Press, [30 July 1919] 1998)., p. 38

[100] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 143

[101] R. Kinna, Anarchism: A Beginner’s Guide (Oxford: Oneworld, 2005)., p. 114, my emphasis

[102] Ibid., pp. 114-115

[103] Uri Gordon, Anarchy Alive! Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory (London: Pluto, 2008)., pp. 25, 36-37

[104] Ibid., pp. 69-70

[105] Woodcock, Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements., p. 30.

[106] For example, Errico Malatesta, “Neither Democrats nor Dictators: Anarchists,” in The Anarchist Revolution: Polemical Writings 1924-1931: Errico Malatesta, ed. V. Richards (London: Freedom Press, [May 1926] 1995).

[107] van der Walt and Schmidt, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism., pp. 70-71, 240-242, 244-247, 256-257. On the CNT (and FAI) see Gómez Casas, Anarchist Organisation: The History of the FAI., p. 149

[108] Mikhail Bakunin, “God and the State,” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, ed. Sam Dolgoff (London: George Allen and Unwin, [1871] 1971). pp. 236-237

[109] Mikhail Bakunin, “Three Lectures to Swiss Members of the International,” in Mikhail Bakunin: From out of the Dustbin: Bakunin’s Basic Writings, 1869-1871, ed. R.M. Cutler (Ann: [1871] 1985). pp. 46-47

[110] Pyotr Kropotkin, “Letter to Nettlau,” in Selected Writings on Anarchism and Revolution: P.A. Kropotkin, ed. M.A. Miller (Cambridge, Massachusetts, London: M.I.T. Press, [5 March 1902] 1970). pp. 296-297

[111] van der Walt and Schmidt, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism., pp. 47-48

[112] Mikhail Bakunin, “Programme and Object of the Secret Revolutionary Organisation of the International Brethren,” in No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism, Book One, ed. Daniel Guérin (Edinburgh, San Francisco: AK Press, [1868] 1998)., p. 140;  Mikhail Bakunin, “Letter to La Liberté,” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, ed. Sam Dolgoff (London: George Allen and Unwin, [1872] 1971). p. 289; Pyotr Kropotkin, “Anarchist Communism: Its Basis and Principles,” in Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets: A Collection of Writings by Peter Kropotkin, ed. R.N. Baldwin (New York: Dover Publications, [1887] 1970)., pp. 56, 59. 95.

[113] On the seals of the Spanish movement: Murray Bookchin, The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years, 1868-1936 (New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London: Harper Colophon Books, 1977)., p. 86

[114] Price, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives., pp. 171-173

[115] Obviously a majority can be spectacularly wrong, as recent anti-Gay referendums in America show, thus the importance of protections. Likewise, minority initiatives are also an essential part of any libertarian and socialist movement and society. See Iain McKay, The Anarchist FAQ, section H 2.11, online at http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secH2.html#sech211

[116] Price, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives., pp. 171-173

[117] Even Gordon defends “direct action” against oppression, including violent self-defence: Gordon, Anarchy Alive! Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory., pp. 78-108. Malatesta of course defended the use of force in a revolution: Malatesta, “Syndicalism: An Anarchist Critique [Sic].” p. 224.

[118] This misreading of anarchism as a doctrine of absolute autonomy is the basic error of R.P. Wolff, In Defence of Anarchism (New York: Harper and Row, 1970).

[119] van der Walt and Schmidt, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. P. 70, emphasis in the original

[120] The Political Philosophy of Bakunin, p. 287

[121] Price, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives., p. 172, emphasis in the original

[122] Bakunin, “Letters to a Frenchman on the Current Crisis.” pp. 193-194, emphasis in the original

[123] Diego Abad de Santillan, After the Revolution: Economic Reconstruction in Spain (Johannesburg: Zabalaza Books, [1937] 2005).47, my emphasis

[124] Even Gordon defends “direct action” against oppression, including violent self-defence: Gordon, Anarchy Alive! Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory., pp. 78-108

[125] Abad de Santillan, After the Revolution: Economic Reconstruction in Spain., p. 48

[126] Bakunin, “God and the State.” pp. 236-237

[127] Avrich, Anarchist Portraits., pp. 229-239. The Lyon commune was heroic if unsuccessful, its programme approximating that Marx later praised in Paris: F. Mehring, Karl Marx : The Story of His Life (London: George Allen and Unwin, [1936] 1951)., p. 467.

[128] Thomas B. Backer, “The Mutualists, the Heirs of Proudhon in the First International, 1865-1878” (Cincinnaiti, 1978)., pp. 406-408

[129] See Iain McKay, “The Paris Commune, Marxism and Anarchism,” Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, no. 50 (2008). Bakunin described anarchism as Proudhonism “greatly developed and taken to its ultimate conclusion by the proletariat,” drawing on Marxist economic theory and eschewing Proudhon’s “idealism.” Unlike the mutualists, the anarchists favoured a radical revolution, rather than gradual change, usually stressing trade unions. See Bakunin on Proudhon, in James Guillaume, “A Biographical Sketch [Bakunin],” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, ed. Sam Dolgoff (London: George Allen and Unwin, [n.d.] 1971). p. 26

[130]  Bakunin, “Letters to a Frenchman on the Current Crisis.” 184, 186-187, 189-192, 197, 204

[131] Pyotr Kropotkin, “The Commune of Paris,” in Selected Writings on Anarchism and Revolution: P.A. Kropotkin, ed. M.A. Miller (Cambridge, Massachusetts, London: M.I.T. Press, [1880] 1970)., pp. 123-124. It is important to distinguish between two meanings of the “Paris Commune”: the broad meaning, referring to revolutionary Paris as a whole, including the suspension of rents, free schools, the partial introduction of the ten-hour day, the Clubs and other popular associations etc.; and the narrower meaning of the Paris Commune as the elected communal Council alone, involving a small number of delegates. Bakunin and Kropotkin favoured both, but wanted the former to decisively predominate over the latter. Marx sometimes focussed on the second: “The Commune was formed by municipal councillors … “: quoted in Lenin, “The State and Revolution: The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution.”, p. 267

[132] Quoted in Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 148

[133] Kropotkin, “The Commune of Paris.”, pp. 119, 121, 124-128.

[134] Bakunin, “The Paris Commune and the Idea of the State.”, pp. 265-269

[135] Kropotkin, “The Commune of Paris.”, pp. 119, 121, 124-128.

[136] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, pp. 146-147

[137] Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition.”, pp. 221-222

[138] Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition.”, p. 222

[139] V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution: The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution (London: Martin Lawrence, [1917] 1933)., pp. 7-12

[140] Mikhail Bakunin, “Appendix,” in Marxism, Freedom and the State, ed. K.J. Kenafick (London: Freedom Press, [n.d.] 1990)., p. 63

[141] Ibid., p. 63

[142] van der Walt and Schmidt, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. p. 109. I am expressing the basic anarchist theses on class here in as precise and abbreviated a conceptual language as possible; different writers have used different terminology at different times to express the same ideas, some emphasising the relations of domination more, others, the relations of production, but none embracing a simple economic model of class. In general, the scholarly literature on anarchist class theory is rather weak: for instance, Ivan  Szelenyi and Bill  Martin, “The Three Waves of New Class Theories,” Theory and Society 17, no. 5 (1988).

[143] Some anarchist circles use the term bourgeoisie or “capitalist class” to speak of the larger ruling class. This is a sloppy formulation, as it directs political and analytical attention away from the role of the state managers.

[144] Bakunin, “Statism and Anarchy.” p. 339

[145] Ibid. p.337

[146] Bakunin, “Letter to La Liberté.” p. 281. See also Bakunin, “Statism and Anarchy.” p. 330

[147] R. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, Chapter 1 (first published by Martin Secker and Warburg Ltd,  [1938] cited and accessed 12 November 2000); available from http://www.spunk.org/library/writers/rocker/sp001495/rocker_as1.html.

[148] Bakunin, “Letter to La Liberté.” p. 284

[149] Kropotkin, “Modern Science and Anarchism.” pp. 170, 186

[150] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 136

[151] Mikhail Bakunin, “Federalism, Socialism, Anti-Theologism,” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism, ed. Sam Dolgoff (London: George Allen and Unwin, [1867] 1971). p. 144

[152] Kropotkin, “Anarchist Communism: Its Basis and Principles.” p. 50

[153] Pyotr Kropotkin, “Representative Government,” in Words of a Rebel: Peter Kropotkin, ed. George Woodcock (Montréal: Black Rose, [1885] 1992)., p. 143

[154] Bakunin, “Programme and Object of the Secret Revolutionary Organisation of the International Brethren.”, pp. 155-156

[155] Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition.”, p. 221

[156] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, pp. 132-133

[157] Ibid., p. 133, note 15

[158] See D. Hallas, Trotsky’s Marxism (London, Chicago and Melbourne: Bookmarks, 1979).

[159] Bakunin, “Letter to La Liberté.” p. 284; Kropotkin, “Modern Science and Anarchism.” pp. 170, 186

[160] There is insufficient space to discuss the differences in analysis which lead to this same conclusion on the state-capitalist nature of Stalinism, but see Iain McKay, The Anarchist FAQ, section H 3.13, online at http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secH3.html#sech313

[161] See Tony Cliff, State Capitalism in Russia, ed. with introduction and postscript by Chris Harman (London, Chicago, Melbourne: Bookmarks, [1964] 1988).

[162] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 133, note 15

[163] Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition.”, p. 222

[164] Let alone the great majority of other Marxists.

[165] On Kautsky: C. Harman, “Pick of the Quarter,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 104 (2004). Also see John Rees, The Algebra of Revolution: The Dialectic and the Classical Marxist Tradition (London: 1998).; David Renton, Classical Marxism: Socialist Theory and the Second International (Cheltenham: New Clarion Press, 2002).

[166] David Renton, Dissident Marxism: Past Voices for Present Times (London, New Yorks: Zed Books, 2004)., pp. 4-8, 235-238

[167] Paul Blackledge, “The New Left’s Renewal of Marxism,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 112 (2006)., my emphasis

[168] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 133 note 15; also Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition.”, p. 221

[169] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 133

[170] Ibid., p. 133

[171] C. Harman, “How the Revolution Was Lost,” in Russia: From Workers’ State to State Capitalism, ed. P. Binns, T. Cliff, and C. Harman (London, Chicago and Sydney: Bookmarks, 1987)., p. 18

[172] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 132; Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition.”, pp. 221-222

[173] Blackledge, “The New Left’s Renewal of Marxism.”

[174] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 132

[175] For example, I.H. Birchall, Workers against the Monolith: The Communist Parties since 1943 (London: Pluto Press, 1974).

[176] Zeilig, “Contesting the Revolutionary Tradition.”, pp. 221-222

[177] Ibid., pp. 221-222

[178] Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 133, note 15

[179] Cornelius Castoriadis, “The Fate of Marxism,” in The Anarchist Papers, ed. Dimitrious Roussopoulus (Montréal: Black Rose, 2001).p. 77

[180] Tony Cliff, Marxism at the Millennium (London, Chicago, Sydney: Bookmarks, 2000)., pp. 66-67

[181] Ibid., pp. 65-66

[182] C. Harman, “The Nature of Stalinist Russia and the Eastern Bloc ” in Russia: From Workers’ State to State Capitalism, ed. P. Binns, T. Cliff, and C. Harman (London, Chicago and Sydney: Bookmarks, 1987)., p. 43. Harman stated that managerial directives were “influenced” by the unions and the “Communist workers.” What is left unsaid is that the unions were wings of the party (the “Communist workers”). The 2nd All-Russian Trade Union Congress (January 1919) saw the unions agree to merge into the state industrial administration, in line with the view that the new state “requires trade unions, not for a struggle for better conditions of labour… but to organise the working class for the ends of production”: L. Trotsky, The Defence of Terrorism (Terrorism and Communism) (London: The Labour Publishing Company/ George Allen and Unwin, [1920] 1921)., p. 132

[183] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Harold Shukman, ed., The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of the Russian Revolution (Wiley-Blackwell, 1994).  pp. 29, 166, 175, 177, 182, 184, 187

[184] Cliff, State Capitalism in Russia., pp. 30-34

[185] Victor G. Devinatz, “Lenin as Scientific Manager under  Monopoly Capitalism, State Capitalism, and Socialism: A Response to Scoville,” Industrial Relations 42, no. 3 (2003).; also see S.  Smith, “Taylorism Rules Ok? Bolshevism, Taylorism and the Technical Intelligentsia – the Soviet Union, 1917-41,” Radical Science Journal, no. 13 (1983).

[186] In R.V. Daniels, ed., A Documentary History of Communism, vol. 1 (1985). p. 90, my emphasis.

[187] Shukman, ed., The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of the Russian Revolution., p. 183

[188] Ibid., pp. 182-183

[189] Of the 17,000 camp detainees on whom statistical information was available on 1 November 1920, peasants and workers constituted 39% and 34% respectively; of the 40,913 prisoners held in December 1921 on whom data is available, nearly 84% were illiterate or minimally educated: George  Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987)., p. 178.

[190] Harman, “How the Revolution Was Lost.”, p. 18

[191] William G.  Rosenberg, “Russian Labour and Bolshevik Power,” in The Workers Revolution in Russia: The View from Below, ed. D. Kaiser (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).

[192] Samuel  Farber, Before Stalinism: The Rise and Fall of Soviet Democracy (New York: Verso, 1990)., p. 22; Leonard  Schapiro, The Origin of the Communist Autocracy:  Political Opposition in the Soviet State, First Phase 1917-1922, 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan, 1977)., p. 191; Israel Getzler, Martov: A Political Biography of a Russian Social Democrat (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967)., p. 179; Silvana Malle, The Economic Organisation of War Communism, 1918-1921 (Cambridge/ New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985)., pp. 366-7; Vladimir N.  Brovkin, The Mensheviks after October: Socialist Opposition and the Rise of the Bolshevik Dictatorship (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1991)., p. 159

[193] Alexander Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007)., pp. 248-252; Vladimir Malle, The Economic Organisation of War Communism, 1918-1921., p. 240

[194] Harman, “How the Revolution Was Lost.”, p. 19, my emphasis

[195] Avrich, The Russian Anarchists., pp. 184-185

[196] See, inter alia, Simon Pirani, “Socialism in the 21st Century and the Russian Revolution,” International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory, no. 128 (2010).

[197] Cf.  Cliff, State Capitalism in Russia., pp. 28, 34

[198] The Petropavlovsk Manifesto has long been easily available, and a full set of the Izvestia, the rebels’ paper, is now online in English translation: see Izvestia (1921, accessed 6 June 2006); available from http://libcom.org/library/kronstadt-izvestia. The rebels at no point raised the slogan “soviets without Bolsheviks,” and many loyal Bolsheviks participated in the Kronstadt soviet and uprising: Paul Avrich, Kronstadt 1921 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991)., p. 181

[199] For instance, P. Avrich, “Bolshevik Opposition to Lenin: G. T. Miasnikov and the Workers’ Group,” Russian Review 43, no. 1 (1984).

[200]  See Avrich, The Russian Anarchists., pp. 234-237; Bulletin of the Joint Committee for the Defence of Revolutionists Imprisoned in Russia and Bulletin of the Relief Fund of the International Workingmens’ Association for Anarchists and Anarcho-syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia, The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid (London: Kate Sharpley Library/ Alexander Berkman Social Club, [1923-1931] 2010). Vladimir Brovkin, Russia after Lenin (London, New York: Routledge, 1998)., pp. 20-26, 44-46, 52-53; 61-80, 90-93;  Anatoly Dubovic and D.I. Rublyov, After Makhno: The Anarchist Underground in the Ukraine in the 1920s and 1930s: Outlines of History and the Story of a Leaflet and of the Fate of Anarchist Vershavskiy (London: Kate Sharpley Library, 2009).; M. Jansen, A Show Trial under Lenin: The Trial of the Socialist Revolutionaries, Moscow 1922 (Springer, 1982).; The Delegation of the Party of Socialists-Revolutionists, The Twelve  Who Are About to Die: The Trial of the Socialists-Revolutionists in Moscow (Berlin: Published by the Delegation of the Party of Socialists-Revolutionists, 1922).

[201] Avrich, The Russian Anarchists., p. 234-235.

[202] Simon Pirani, Detailed Response to Kevin Murphy (2010 [cited 20 October 2010]); available from http://www.revolutioninretreat.com/isjreply.pdf.

[203] There were also failed invasions of Estonia (1918-1920), Poland (1919-1921).

[204] Birchall, “Another Side of Anarchism.”, p. 179

[205] Alexandre Skirda, Nestor Makhno: Anarchy’s Cossack: The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine 1917 – 1921 (Edinburgh, San Francisco: AK Press, [1982] 2003).

[206] Space preludes discussion of the “Makhnovist” anarchist movement, beyond mentioning it has been systemically misrepresented by pro-Bolshevik writers. For a reply to a recent attack, see Iain McKay, “On the Bolshevik Myth,” Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, no. 47 (2007)., pp. 30-32, 39

[207] Harman, “The Nature of Stalinist Russia and the Eastern Bloc “., p. 43

[208] Cliff, State Capitalism in Russia., pp. 310-312

[209] Harman, “How the Revolution Was Lost.” pp. 27, 35. Leo takes issue with Black Flame speaking of Trotsky’s “conceit” that he was not part of the bureaucracy, which he misreads as a slight on Trotsky’s character: the point is that Trotsky was himself, by any objective measure, a senior figure in the party-state apparatus, no matter what ideological positions he may have taken in the 1920s.

[210] Cf.  Blackledge, “Marxism and Anarchism.”, p. 133

[211] Stephen Sherlock, “Berlin, Moscow and Bombay: The Marxism That India Inherited,” South Asia: journal of South Asian studies 21, no. 1 (1998).

[212] Harman, “How the Revolution Was Lost.”, p. 18

[213] Ibid., pp. 19-20

[214] Cliff, Marxism at the Millennium., pp. 29-30

[215] Harman, “How the Revolution Was Lost.”, pp. 19-20, my emphasis

[216] Cliff, Marxism at the Millennium., p. 29

[217] Iain McKay, The Anarchist FAQ, section H 3.13, online at http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secH3.html#sech313

[218] Tony Cliff, Marxism at the Millennium (London, Chicago, Sydney: Bookmarks, 2000)., p. 30

[219] In fact, Lenin first formulated the notion of working class atomisation in response to rising working class protest: “As discontent amongst workers became more and more difficult to ignore, Lenin . . . began to argue that the consciousness of the working class had deteriorated . . . workers had become ‘declassed.’” However, there “is little evidence to suggest that the demands that workers made at the end of 1920 . . . represented a fundamental change in aspirations since 1917”: Jonathan Aves, Workers against Lenin: Labour Protest and the Bolshevik Dictatorship (London: I.B. Tauris Publishers)., pp. 90-91

[220] Space precludes referencing every source on the various strike waves under the Bolsheviks – or Bolshevik use of force to break them. For a summary, see Iain McKay, The Anarchist FAQ, section H 6.3, online at http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secH6.html#sech63

[221] Harman, “How the Revolution Was Lost.”, p. 20

[222] See Isaac Geltzer, Kronstadt 1917-21: The Fate of a Soviet Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)., p. 207

[223] Price, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives., pp. 128-129; Ron Tabor, A Look at Leninism (New York: Aspect Foundation, 1988)., pp. 93-104

[224] Wayne Price, “From Trotskyism to Anarchism,” The Utopian 9 (2010)., pp. 67-70

[225] Lenin, “The State and Revolution: The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution.” p. 255

[226] Price, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives., pp. 128-129; Tabor, A Look at Leninism.,  pp. 28-36, 49-51

[227] V.I. Lenin, “Speech in the Moscow Soviet of Workers, Peasants and Red Army Deputies,” in Collected Works, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1918] 1962)., p. 233

[228] V.I. Lenin, “Speech at the First All-Russia Congress of Workers in Education and Socialist Culture ” in Collected Works, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1919] 1962)., p. 535

[229] V.I. Lenin, “The Trade Unions, the Present Situation and Trotsky’s Mistakes,” in Collected Works, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1920] 1962)., p. 21

[230] L. Trotsky, The Challenge of the Left Opposition, 1923-1925, second ed. (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1975)., p. 161

[231] Trotsky,  10th Party Congress 1921, quoted in Farber, Before Stalinism: The Rise and Fall of Soviet Democracy., p. 203

[232] L. Trotsky, Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1936-37, second ed. (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1975)., pp. 513-4

[233] Tabor, A Look at Leninism., pp. 56-66

[234] Lenin, “The State and Revolution: The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution.”

[235] V.I. Lenin, “The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government,” in Collected Works, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1918] 1962)., pp. 258, 269, emphasis in the original

[236] V.I. Lenin, “”Left-Wing” Childishness and the Petty-Bourgeois Mentality,” in Collected Works, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1918] 1962)., pp. 340-341, emphasis in original

[237] Trotsky, The Defence of Terrorism (Terrorism and Communism)., pp. 150-151

[238] Trotsky, 9th Party Congress 1920, quoted in Maurice Brinton, The Bolsheviks and Workers Control, 1917-1921: The State and Counter-Revolution (London: Solidarity, 1970)., p. 61

[239] L. Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed: What Is the Soviet Union and Where Is It Going?, Indian ed. (Dehli: Aakar Books, [1936] 2006)., p. 73

[240] John Eric Marot, “Trotsky, the Left Opposition and the Rise of Stalinism: Theory and Practice,” Historical Materialism 14, no. 3 (2006).

[241] Brinton, The Bolsheviks and Workers Control, 1917-1921: The State and Counter-Revolution., p. 84

[242] Price, The Abolition of the State: Anarchist and Marxist Perspectives., p. 129

[243] Price, “From Trotskyism to Anarchism.”, pp. 72-74

[DISCUSSION]: Lucien van der Walt, revised 1999 paper, ” The Soviet Mirage”

Revised version of paper prepared by Lucien van der Walt for Lesedi Socialist Study Group, Wits University, 8 October 1999
The “Russian question” – the debate on the nature of the Soviet Union – goes straight to the heart of the challenges facing socialists on the eve of the twenty-first century. The “Russian question” raises the big questions for socialists today: what is socialism? What is the role of the working class in socialist transformation? Was the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 a defeat or a victory for the working class, or something else entirely?

This paper will raise these issues, developing its argument in response to comrade Kwena  Mathatho’s intervention “Let’s Refute Myths about the Soviet Union”. As comrade L. pointed out, definitions are important in any discussion of these sorts of issues, so I will begin by putting my (party) cards on the table.

DEFINITIONS AND OUTLINE OF ARGUMENT

My argument will be developed from a libertarian socialist perspective. By libertarian socialism I refer to that form of socialist thought which rejects both the State and capitalism as obstacles to the emancipation of the working class. Both the State –regarded as a centralised political institution administered by functionaries separate from the general population on behalf of the ruling class – and capitalism need to abolished. Power must be firmly in the hands of a self-managing working class organised internationally and on the basis of free association from below upwards.

The two key traditions of libertarian socialism that I will be concerned with are anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism (rooted in the work of Michael Bakunin) and so-called “ultra-left” Marxism, exemplified by “council communism” (exemplified by the work of Herman Gorter and Anton Pannekoek).

My focus will be on the ideas of the anarcho-syndicalists, whose views I support, but I will make some reference to council communist works where these are relevant.  What both of these libertarian socialist traditions have in common is the premise that socialism can be nothing other than the self-management of the working class. This self-government cannot be mediated through a minority party, through a State apparatus, or through a bureaucratic layer. “Self-management” means exactly that: the working class will administer itself directly and in its own interests; the organs of self-management –revolutionary industrial unions for the anarcho-syndicalists, and workers councils for the council communists- must be established and run by the working class itself. Self-management takes place at the level of the economy and the community- there is no place for a separate political State because power operates through self-management, and radical democracy, not rule by a small elite.

Defence of this system must be consistent with its class content. The aim of defence is defence of self-management- self-management cannot be suspended “temporarily” or due to “special circumstances” for the removal of self-management means the destruction of socialism. The form of defence must therefore also be in line with libertarian socialist principles: a democratic workers militia rather than a regular hierarchical army. By definition, for a libertarian socialist, socialism cannot exist if the working class is not firmly and directly in control. The question of power is central. To put it crudely, an analysis of any society must begin with the question of who runs the factories. A system without workers’ self-management can of course be non-capitalist- what it cannot be is socialist.

WHAT IS “OWNERSHIP OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION”?

This line of argument raises a core issue that comrades have grappled with in previous meetings, particularly with reference to pre-colonial African societies: the question of what, in fact, constitutes “ownership of the means of production” in the first place.

 There is one common answer, which has problematic political consequences. This is the idea that ownership of the means of production refers to legal ownership of the property, which in turn, is typically assumed to mean having the legal papers attesting to this ownership. Linked to this definition are the following ideas, which I will argue below are incorrect: that capitalism can only exist if there are pure-and-simple capitalist owners with title deeds; that capitalism does not exist if there is no law of inheritance or if access to control of the means of production is mediated by one’s position in a political party or State apparatus; and the fervent belief that government assets are non-capitalist “public property”.

 

An immediate problem relates to the amount of capital owned. Is the top-level managerial consultant who own not a single share in the company he or she is flown in to manage on a one-year contract for a salary not an owner – a capitalist – whilst the worker with 10,000 cheap shares in Telkom, or with a insurance policy that is used to finance the expansion of plant, bourgeois?

One solution is to claim that the amount of capital is decisive in and of itself – the major stockholders are bourgeois whilst those with few shares are not. Yet this argument readily slides into a bourgeois definitions of class, which draw arbitrary distinctions between levels of income and then go about dividing society into categories such as “upper middle class”, “low income” etc., with the dividing line set by a fixed amount of money. (Hence the absurd 1993 World Bank/ SALDRU report on poverty in South Africa that defines household poverty as earning less than R301 a month per adult equivalent. Presumably, many of the “poor” would join the “upper income earners” if they got just that extra R1 a month!)

OWNERSHIP OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION IN THE SOVIET UNION

Clearly a further factor is crucial: effective control of the means of production. This line of argument allows us to move beyond purely legalistic notions of ownership and begin to see legal title as simply a particular form of securing ownership of the means of production. Here, following Eric Olin Wright’s early work, “ownership of the means of production” can be disaggregated to include not just legal entitlement but also economic ownership (control over the flow of investments into production, or control over what is produced, which means control over both (a) the physical means of production and (b) control over the labour power of others) and possession (control over the production process, or control over how things are produced).

(This is not to say that class can be reduced to control and ownership of the means of production. This is vital, but a ruling class also dominates the means of administration and coercion. However, since comrade K.’s position rested heavily on the question of the means of production, I will focus upon it here).

In Wright’s view, the capitalist class proper has all three forms of ownership; the working class has none, and various “contradictory class locations” (“middle class” positions, if you like) have varying degrees of access to the different types of ownership. A middle level manager- for example, of a Shoprite franchise- may have no legal title or real economic ownership of the Shoprite company but will have partial possession insofar as he or she controls part of the production process and supervisory hierarchy.

Wright insists that legal ownership is central, but shies away from exploring the implications of his analysis for centrally planned economies. Nor does he explore what legal ownership itself means. Above, I indicated a possible distinction between legal ownership and legal papers. For there is NO necessary reason for our understanding of legal ownership to be restricted to a single legal form that developed historically in a limited number of countries.

Other forms of legal gate keeping could theoretically fulfil the same task of distinguishing between owners and non-owners of the means of production – in short, between classes. Precisely this role is served by rules of conduct and promotion that place people in control of State enterprises. Access to these positions is governed by law- albeit of a specific form.

These points are directly relevant to our understanding of the nature of the Soviet Union. The Soviet working class had neither economic ownership nor possession of the means of production. Moreover, legal access to control of the means of production was mediated through the legal forms of the party-state. Only those who followed the correct legal procedures – that is the procedures regulating both party life and the bureaucratic functioning of the State – were entitled to assume a position that involved ownership and control of the means of production. Thus, it is the upper strata of the party and the State apparatus that constitute the “owning class”, and thus, the ruling class.

Hence, all of the features of classbased ownership of the means of production were present in the Soviet Union. An obvious implication follows from this point- the Soviet Union was a class-based society based on exploitation. Therefore it cannot have been socialist and therefore its collapse is NOT a defeat for the working class, as the system had NO “progressive” features taken as a mode of production.

(Which is not to say that there were not some useful social reforms such as generalised healthcare- these existed, as reforms may also do under Western capitalism, the fact of their existence does not detract from the class nature of the system).

INADEQUATE ANSWERS, INADEQUATE QUESTIONS

At this point it is important to answer some of the objections that may be made against this line of argument.

The “workers’ state” idea

The first such objection is the contention that although the Soviet Union was not socialist, it was somehow a “workers State” in transition to socialism. This attempt to separate out the nature of the State from the nature of the social relations of production is untenable. It is the ABC of Marxist materialism – which is comrade K.’s starting point – that the relations of production condition social and political forms and that a State situated within a non-socialist mode of production cannot somehow be socialist.

If that is the case, then there is a contradiction in his line – as well as within classical Marxist strategy more generally. For in classical Marxist theory, we have an economically determinist analysis, but in classical Marxist strategy, we have (as we see here, but also in the Communist programme itself)  a politically determinist strategy.  That is, the theory claims the economy determines everything, including “politics” and state form, but the strategy is something else entirely: a specific state form (here, the “workers’ state”) can somehow stand above, and even transform, from above, the mode of production itself!

If we accept the Marxist materialist analysis, in short, we cannot accept the theory of the “workers’ state”; if we accept the theory of the “workers’ state”, we cannot accept the Marxist materialist analysis. 

To put it another way, if we accept the very premises of Marxist materialism, then we must rule out the very possibility of using a state apparatus to transform the relations of production. This is because (if Marxist materialism is right), then the nature of the relations of production condition the political form of society, seen as the state; the political form cannot, simply on the basis of a popular (or vanguard) mandate and correct leadership, “construct the socialist order”.

The overthrow of capitalist relations of production must (if Marxist materialism is correct) actually take place at the point of production using institutional forms appropriate to the collective character of the working class. Anarcho-syndicalism is at least consistent here: change must centre on revolutionary unions; the State is abolished by the rule of the workers’ unions representing the class conscious, self-managing proletariat.

That is consistent with Marxism – but what Marxist accepts it? On the contrary, comrades try and manoeuvre through the contradictions of classical Marxism – and upon this raise a defence of the notion that the Soviet Union was somehow post-capitalist!

(None of this is to say, as an aside, that anarcho-syndicalism reduces the revolutionary project to a narrow, workplace-based, struggle – it also notes that ideology, urban life etc. must be changed – or to say that anarcho-syndicalism necessarily ignores the question of military defence of proletarian/ popular revolution. My point is to highlight this element of the strategy, in order to make my larger claim).

The inheritance idea

A second objection to my argument centres on the question of legal forms. Trotsky argued, for example, that the Soviet Union had to be post-capitalist because of the absence of private property narrowly defined as legal title. Others would argue that the bureaucracy cannot buy or sell title deeds, or bequeath an inheritance to its descendants – that, in essence, control of the means of production was contingent on party discipline – and that the system was thus post-capitalist.

The basic flaw in these arguments is that they make a fetish of particular legal forms, confusing State property with socialised property. No reference appears here to the relations of production; no answer is given to the question of who runs the factories. It is as if the separation of the working class from the means of production is simply an irrelevance. My argument suggests that legal ownership of the means of production was vested in a small group, even though the legal form differed from that obtaining in the West.

Although “private ownership” – understood here as the opposite of common ownership – did not assume an entirely individualised form, there was legally-based “private ownership” of the means of production by the owning class as a whole, mediated through the legal institutions of the Party and the State. Thus it was that the party bosses, the upper levels of the State bureaucracy, and the senior management of economic and military institutions constituted a class “owning” the means of production– as well as controlling the other pillar of class power, the means of administration/ coercion. 

“SOVIET INC.”: SOVIET STATE-CAPITALISM

So far I have argued only that the Soviet Union was a class system based on the exploitation of the working class without specifying the nature of this class system. I would like to suggest at this point that the Soviet Union may bested be described as State-capitalist. To establish this point it is necessary to demonstrate not only the existence of exploitation, but also the existence of the capital relation: the subordination of the direct producers to the imperative to accumulate capital in order to compete against other capitals.

The notion of State capitalism first appears in the writings of the anarcho-syndicalists and council communists in the post-1918 period, for example, in Golos Truda, the Russian anarcho-syndicalist newspaper edited by G.P. Maximoff, and in council communist writings, such as Gorter’s Open Letter to Comrade Lenin.

It was only in the 1940s that the notion of the Soviet Union as basically a state-capitalist formation assumed currency amongst mainstream Marxists, with sections of the Trotskyists and later the Maoists claiming that the Soviet Union had somehow become State capitalist at some point after the death of Lenin (1924). For the Cliffites, Stalin is the villain of the piece; for the Maoists, the problem was Khrushchev’s “de-Stalinisation” in the late 1950s. Both formulations fail to go as far, however, as either anarcho-syndicalists or council communists, who see the state-capitalist character as evident under the rule of Lenin himself – and who, indeed, suggest that Soviet state-capitalism was less the result of a deviation from Leninism than its logical consequence.

Here I will be following Buick and Crump’s council communist-orientated State Capitalism: the wages system under new management. In this conception, the Soviet Union is seen as single interlocking capitalist conglomerate co-ordinated by the central government’s economic ministries and competing internationally against Eastern, Western and Southern “private” and State companies. Capitalism is a global system and it is in this context that the capitalist nature of Soviet class relations is revealed.

Although East-West competition was often seen as purely political and military competition between “capitalism” and “socialism”, the argument presented here is that this competition was competition between capitalists. Thus, it necessitated capital accumulation on the part by the State-capitalists; given that individual enterprises in these countries are dependent on financing from the centre, it follows that the pressures towards capital accumulation operated at the level of the State. Thus, the State-capitalist countries each operated as a bloc of capital on the world markets.

The actual extent of integration into the world economy through “foreign” trade with Western capital, and between state-capitalist countries, varied between different blocs of State-capital. In the case of the Soviet Union, it has been estimated that in 1977, exports represented 6.7 percent of GNP, and imports 9 percent of GNP- approximately the same as the USA in the 1970s. In the case of Yugoslavia, foreign trade equalled about one-third of GNP, whilst “Hungary exported about 50 percent of its national income” (Buick and Crump, pp. 98-9).

(As comrades have pointed out in the discussion, however, trade volumes themselves do not establish the overall character of the Soviet’s mode of production – after all, trade is often a means whereby different modes of production articulate with one another. A similar volume of foreign trade can only be suggestive, not conclusive: after all, Soviet foreign trade was highly limited in the 1930s, and only grew significantly from the 1960s. Moreover, a focus on trade does not altogether deal with a key element of the Soviet-Union-was-not-capitalist claim: the significance of internal competition in the West, or of its relative absence in the Soviet Union.  It is therefore also important to note the internal capitalist dynamics of the Soviet Union including wage labour, market distribution, and accumulation-for-accumulation’s sake. The relatively limited internal competition in the Soviet Union is explained, meanwhile, by the analogy drawn above: the Soviet Union as giant company. All large private companies are centrally planned within, and competitive without, despite some internal competition e.g. for labour by different departments).

INVESTMENT AND INPUT ALLOCATION

Comrade K. has disputed the State-capitalist thesis on several grounds. The first argument I will deal with is the comrade’s defense of the notion that East-West competition reflected competition between two incompatible social systems. I have argued above that the Soviet Union was a class system, and a capitalist one at that, and hence I argue this incompatibility was purely ideological, and not at all systemic.

The comrade argues in addition that under capitalism the movement of capital within the economy is always towards the sectors with the highest rate of profit. Given that this did not happen in the Soviet Union – “regardless of enormous opportunities to make profit e.g. in Asia, North Korea, Vietnam and others, Soviet Union ‘exported‘ ‘little’ ‘capital’ in those countries” despite their low labour costs and a low organic composition of capital– the Soviet Union could not have been capitalist. He also argues that there was no outflow of capital from the “’clogged’” industrial sector.

The comrade is quite correct, but he does not mention that the phenomenon of large-scale capital export takes place within a specific phase of capitalist development, namely, the period of what Marxists like to call “monopoly capital”. Concomitantly, it is a phenomenon specific to the capitalist centres of world capitalism in a specific period. It is typically from large monopoly corporations based in Western countries that such exports originate. One does not expect massive foreign direct investment from Tanzania, after all.

Quite the opposite situation obtained in the Soviet Union. Powerful in its own right, it was a relatively small player on the global level. Any surplus capital it had was constantly reinvested in its own core productive facilities (with the emphasis on basic industry) and into its military (for the very merger of state and capital we see in “Soviet Union Inc.” also means it had to invest capital in military facilities); whilst capitalist, it had not reached the stage of “imperialism” where capital exports were central to staving off a crisis of over-accumulation. On the contrary, it might be speculated that the military provided an effective “sink” for excess capital.

Comrade K. also argues that capitalism is characterized by overproduction and waste. Yet in the Soviet Union, he contends, there was the “complete absence” of overproduction and the partial stoppage of production.

Again, this point is quite correct but it must be noted that the phenomenon of overproduction takes place within the context of a competitive market: in order to compete effectively, capitalists simultaneously concentrate capital to develop the forces of production and strive to minimize labour costs, leading to a rapid escalation of output in the context of limited and even shrinking market (not to mention a falling rate of profit). Now, this did not obtain within the Soviet Union precisely because it was a single interlocking capitalist conglomerate co-ordinated by the central government’s economic ministries and competing internationally.

Consequently, we would expect to see a crisis of over-accumulation developing internationally and then leading to the partial stoppage of production within the Soviet Union. And this is, indeed, precisely what took place. The international crisis of over -accumulation that built up in the late 1960s in the West and came to a head in 1973 lead to drop in demand for exports from the East bloc countries and a balance of payments crisis for these countries, fostering growing indebtedness and an economic slowdown.

In the 1945-1973 period, trade between East bloc and the West had grown dramatically. These countries traded with the West to get high technology goods and agricultural products such as wheat. These were paid for by exports. The fall in demand in the West meant, in effect, a substantial realization problem for the Soviets, indicated by an immediate balance of payments problem for the Second World, leading to a rapid increase in debt for the these countries. In 1976 they were $18 billion in debt- by 1978 they were $58 billion in debt. Hence, rather than welcome the economic crisis in the West as proof that capitalism could not work, these countries hoped the crisis would end so that business could return to usual. Thus, what the Prime Minster of Bulgaria, Theodore Zivkoff, stated in the early 1980s, “the crisis in the West affects us immediately and very deeply because of our trade and other ties with the West. We hope that this crisis will pass as soon as possible”  (Frank, p345, “Global Crisis and Transformation”, in World Development 1980).

The nature of the Soviet Union as a single “Soviet Inc” conglomerate also indicates issues with comrade K.’s argument that the Soviet Union could not be capitalist because the allocation of capital inputs was undertaken through the central plan and not the market. Given that the Soviet Union was a single company, the absence of market allocation of these goods is simply indicative of the internal transfer of equipment within a “private” Western company. Thus, the comrade is correct to point out this feature, but I would disagree on its significance. It is not a refutation but a confirmation of the State-capitalist thesis.

Now, it may be true, as comrade K. has noted the relatively closed Soviet economy of the 1930s was little affected by the previous crisis of over-accumulation exemplified by the Great Depression.  However, to argue that this instance does not demonstrate a general exemption from the laws of capitalist economics because within two decades the Soviet economy had been brought low by another capitalist crisis, and is, indeed, currently undergoing “shock therapy” care of International Monetary Fund programmes. Precisely like the West, the Soviet Union (and China) met the crisis with a shift towards neo-liberalism.

WHO DID IT? THE REVOLUTIONARY ROAD TO STATE CAPITALISM

In short, then the Soviet Union was a part and parcel of international capitalism. But the question must be answered: why did this take place? Why did the Russian Revolution produce this result?

There are two common arguments on this point, one from the right, and one from the left, both of which are flawed.

The right-wing argument is the Revolution itself was nothing more than a military coup by a small, ruthless elite. Consequently socialism is in fact a positive danger to the working class itself which must instead rally to the barricades in defense of capitalism. This argument is nothing but a defense of the nonsensical claim that capitalism is a precondition for freedom. That cannot be squared with the perfect compatibility of capitalism with ruthless dictatorships, its exploitation, its minority rule even within parliamentary democracy etc.

These critics are perfectly correct to point to the Soviet Union as an example of barbarous dictatorship; but the Soviet Union was capitalist, and therefore stands as a refutation of the capitalism = freedom claim that these self-same critics make. If so, then the Soviet experience is a con formation of the left critique of capitalism, rather than its negation.

The question then remains: if capitalism is to be abolished, what lessons can socialists draw from the Russian revolutionary experience?

The argument from much of the left takes a different angle. Here the Revolution is hailed as a success, which is in large part due to the skill and power of the Bolshevik Party that led the Revolution. The political implication is the need to build vanguard parties on Leninist lines as the key to socialist revolution.

That is, the Soviet experience must supposedly be replicated and generalized.  This, of course, poses the awkward problem of reconciling the notion that Bolshevism is a key to human emancipation with the Soviet history of brutal repression and injustice.

Mainstream Communists

The answer of the mainstream Communists essentially places the blame outside of Bolshevism: either the Great Terror is seen as due to the personality flaws of Stalin (hardly a Marxist materialist claim, but there you have it, straight from Khrushchev’s mouth!) or from external imperialist encirclement (that is, military defense was the precondition of Soviet survival, and dictatorship and forced labour as the precondition of military defense (and there you have it straight form Stalin and Mao). And in both cases, awkward facts (like Soviet imperialism) can be explained away as well-intentioned “errors” or as military necessity. So, the Soviet Union was a great achievement.

The problem, though, is that such claims do not explain the patently capitalist character of the Soviet Union, including its vast class inequalities, the exploitation of the working class (which, after all, was supposedly the beneficiary of the revolution), as well as its extremely repressive character, comparable in many ways with fascism: imperialism, forced labour (including slave labour), massive repression (including of any trade union activity), a degree of national oppression etc.  There is little in short, that can be explained away as episodic aberrations (personality flaws, errors) or as necessitated by the defense of socialism or the working class. Neither socialism nor the working class were “defended” in any sense whatsoever.

Trotskyists

Then you have the Trotskyists, a relatively small if vocal current. Most (I leave aside the Cliffites) are willing to admit that something was horribly wrong in the Soviet Union, but are not willing to break with the idea that the Soviet Union was somehow post-capitalist. Didn’t Trotsky himself get murdered by Stalin?

Here, the blame is again (like Stalin and Mao) placed on external military threats – the only difference is that this is seen to have led to some long-term “degeneration” that could not simply be explained by personality flaws or military threats. In the late 1910s, the argument goes, Russia came under repeated attack from imperialist forces, leading to a civil war, which, coupled with an agrarian and economic crisis, led not only to the destruction of Russia’s already meager forces of production but to the decimation of fine working class fighters on the front. The absence of a revolution in the West meant also that help was not forthcoming.

A bureaucracy supposedly arose as an administrative measure necessitated by the simultaneous decimation of the working class and the need to hold out for the German revolution, and as an attempt to stimulate the development of the forces of production by administrating a plan. The bureaucracy then entrenched itself, and distorted socialism. And Stalin, the story goes, was the head bureaucrat.

Thus, we have a nice, convenient argument: the Soviet Union was socialist (this allows the Trotskyists to bathe in its reflected “glory”, to praise its achievements, and to keep Bolshevism on a pedestal) but also a “degenerated” socialism (this allows nasty facts to be explained away by reference to bureaucratic distortions). And furthermore, the argument deals cleverly with an inconvenient truth: Lenin, it admits, created the nasty bureaucracy, but was not to blame for its growing power or evils, which are seen as solely due to external pressures. Unlike the mainstream Communists, then, the Trotskyists are able to retain adulation for Bolshevism without having to make excuses for every Soviet evil. And Trotsky can then be presented as the true heir of Lenin, rather than Stalin.

Leninist counter-revolution

Now, I would agree that the civil war and economic collapse posed a severe test for the revolution. Where I reject this analysis is its systematic failure to examine what actually happened in the factories in the revolution (1917-1921)- an incredible oversight for socialists but one that effectively forecloses on any attempt to actually engage with the Bolsheviks’ economic policies during the Revolution itself.

In effect, the silence on the relations of production during the revolution is often coupled with a rosy picture of Bolshevik labour practices. I would argue, by contrast, that it was the Bolshevik party itself which systematically undermined and repressed workers’ attempts to institute self-management. The effect was – the Bolshevik’s intentions notwithstanding- a systematic suppression of attempts to institute socialism. The Russian Communist Party believed that socialism had to be imposed from above by a authoritarian State under the control of a single vanguard party. This may be readily demonstrated by reference to the Bolshevik’s own views in the period of the Revolution itself.

Thus, Trotsky, in Terrorism and Communism, defined “socialism” as “authoritarian leadership …centralised distribution of the labour force… the workers’ State (considering itself) entitled to send any worker wherever his labour may be needed”. He advocated the militarisation of labour in which, as he put it, “the working class…must be thrown here and there, appointed, commanded just like soldiers. Deserters from labour ought to be formed into punitive battalions or put into concentration camps.”

What is here but the very kernel of what Stalin later implemented? Nor was Trotsky being abstract: as head of the Red Army, he shot strikers and left-wing critics, closed soldiers’ soviets and independent workers’ unions, crushed working class uprisings, massacred peasants and invaded Poland. And in the late 1920s, when Trotsky and Stalin clashed to be the supreme leader of the Soviet Union, Trotsky did not present a single proposal that differed substantively with those of Stalin. He embraced forced industrialisation, peasant expropriation, and the one-party state. Even his call for the Soviet Union to export revolution was taken up by Stalin: the rhetoric of “socialism in one country” notwithstanding, it was Stalin who drove the New Line period (1928-1935) and Stalin who placed most of Europe under Soviet power.

To see in Trotsky an alternative to Stalin’s terror, rather than its prophet, is rather far-fetched. Equally, to pose a sharp break between the period when Lenin ruled, and that of Stalin, is also far from convincing: all the essential features of what Trotskyists like to call “Stalinism” were in place when Lenin and Trotsky ruled. Lenin, at the January 1921 All-Russian Congress of Miners, was quite clear: “Does every worker know how to rule the country? Practical people know that these are fairy tales”. On the running of industry under so-called “socialism”, Lenin had this to say in 1918:

“The revolution demands in the interest of socialism that the masses unquestioningly obey the single will of the leaders of the labour process … [there must be] unquestioning obedience to the orders of individual representatives of the Soviet government during work time … iron discipline, with unquestioning obedience to the will of a single person, the Soviet leader.”  (“Immediate Tasks …”)

This was not simply talk. At the time of the Revolution, many urban industries had been placed under workers’ self-management, notably through factory committees elected by mass worker assemblies. In 1919, individual managers ran only 10,8% of enterprises. By 1920, under “War Communism”, 82% of factories had been placed under individual management, typically government appointees. In March 1918, the right of ordinary soldiers to elect their officers in the Red Army was removed by Trotsky, and in mid-1918 as “technically inexpedient and politically pointless”. Nearly 50,000 officers from the old regime were drafted into the new army. This is according to the Blackwell Encyclopædia of the Russian Revolution which is also my source for the next figures.

What was happening was a merger of the Bolshevik party with the remnants of the Tsarist State, and the subordination of working-class structures such as soviets and trade unions into wings of the reconstructed State. The April 1918 constitution of the Soviet Union stated that all workers councils were to be “subordinate to the corresponding higher organ of the Soviet power”, which ultimately meant the Sovnarkom, or Cabinet. The civil service was largely run by officials from the old system, for example, in late 1918, on average, less than 10% of the senior officials of key ministries such as Finance were actually members of the Communist Party.

CONCLUSION

Here are the roots of the bureaucracy: it did not emerge following the failure of the Revolution, but reflected the defeat of workers’ attempts during the Revolution itself to finally destroy capitalist relations of production. And here we have the early history of Soviet state-capitalism. And in this failure, and in this history, Lenin, Trotsky and the rest of Bolshevik right wing between 1917 and 1921 played the decisive role. (Left-Bolshevik factions such as the Communist group opposed much of their actions, but were suppressed).

The Russian Revolution was not victorious, as the mainstream Communists claim. Nor was it distorted from without, as the Trotskyists suggest.

Rather, it was defeated from within – by Bolshevism, with its state-capitalist, anti-working class, anti-peasantry programme.