Recently anarchism has received some attention in the bourgeois media. The bourgeoisie has criticized it with harsh words and used it as a weapon to strike against the entire political left, trying to gain the support of the public by frightening it with the boogeyman of anarchism. On the other hand a number of leftists have come to the defense of the anarchists’ actions. They focused on the arbitrary and excessive force used by the police. This is a natural reaction to the tactics used by the bourgeoisie but in my opinion it leaves something to be desired.
Although anarchism has been a topic of discussion and astonishment not many people seem to know what it actually entails. What do the anarchists want? The actions of the anarchists themselves only add to the confusion. They haven’t been able to communicate their views to the public, quite the contrary. They’ve only managed to hand the right-wing an excellent pretense to attack the left and the working population which is rightfully unhappy with the current situation.
I think its worth briefly going over what anarchism is and what is the attitude of communism (Marxism-Leninism) towards it.
- The theory of anarchism
Anarchists oppose capitalism like the communists do but for different reasons. Communists oppose the exploitation, poverty and imperialism caused by capitalism which forces the laboring majority of the world to live in misery. According to the anarchists, capitalism hinders the individual’s freedom to live as he pleases, i.e. Anarchists proceed from the standpoint of the individual and communists from the standpoint of the entire working class.
Like the communists, most anarchists are of the opinion that the working class should rebel against the capitalist state. However anarchists are not so much worried about capitalism, instead they focus their attention towards the state. According to anarchism the state in itself is the root of all evil. It doesn’t take into account the class character of the state but views both the workers’ state and the capitalist state negatively, since according to anarchism they both impeed the rights of the individual:
”The state is not only unnecessary but also a harmful institution.The state represents in the end coercion; it exists to secure the power and economic interests of the ones in the ruling position”
”Anarchists reject it, that the socialists are ready to sacrifice freedom for the sake of equality”*
*Quoted from anarkismi.net and translated by the author
This is petty-bourgeois individualism, which replaces class struggle with the struggle against authority.
According to the anarchists the state machine is superfluous since people have a natural desire for co-operation so that nobody needs to be coerced. According to them, if only we could get rid of the state we’d be in communism in no time. This however is a completely utopian notion without any empirical basis. Anarchism opposes all hierarchy and it must justify it’s position. Therefore the anarchists have cobbled together a theoretical framework and a collection of rationalizations to support an already pre-determined outcome. This kind of conduct is unscientific and nothing more.
Communists realize that humans have an ability and a tendency towards co-operation but what really prevents this tendency is not the state in itself, but capitalism and the bourgeois state controlled by it. Communists also understand that the effect that capitalism and capitalist propaganda have over the behavior and minds of people doesn’t simply dissappear over night after the revolution. Instead it takes time. This is why communists consider the only logical option to be the workers’ state which builds socialism and moves society towards communism. Eventually this state, the purpose of which is to defend the proletarian revolution and proletarian class rule, becomes obsolete – as class distinctions disappear and the revolution wins final victory – as the socialist world defeats the capitalist world. (See, V.I. Lenin, State and the revolution)
Typically anarchists oppose political parties and political struggle in general i.e. They don’t take part in elections or other similar actions. Anarchists have traditionally advocated so-called ”direct action” e.g. Strikes and demonstrations or terrorism.
The tactical weakness of anarchism is probably one of the reason for it’s lack of historical success. Without strict organizational discipline and a party to lead the class struggle and show the way the masses are lost and disorganized. The anarchists wish to drag at the tail of the spontaneous directionless mob. The position of the communists on the other hand is that there should be a vanguard party which gathers into it’s membership the most class conscious and experienced elements from the working people and points the correct path for the class struggle, always remaining one step ahead of the spontaneous movement.
The truth is that without good organization and leadership the revolution won’t achieve success. Indeed no anarchist revolution ever has.
- The Practice of anarchism
Anarchists believe that after the revolution, all will be rosy as long as we rid ourself of the state. History provides us with some examples of anarchist revolts. The most famous examples are probably the ones in Ukraine (1918-21) and Spain (1936-39). However neither one of these lasted more then a short period and were both economic, ideological and military failures.
Both of these ’revolutions’ happened together with other rebellions or power struggles. In Ukraine anarchists took power in some territories during the Russian civil war and in Spain as a result of the Spanish civil war which began when Franco’s fascists attempted a coup d’etat.
Despite the anarchists’ big words neither one of these revolutions lead to communism, nor did they survive in the battle against counter-revolutionaries. Anarchists have a habit of blaming the communists for all these facts. The Ukrainian anarchists had occasional military co-operation with the Bolsheviks but it was not built to last. The Bolsheviks deemed the anarchists to be a liability more then a trustworthy ally after in May of 1919 the White Army penetrated the anarchists’ defense and proceeded deep into the Red Army’s rear while the anarchist forces retreated. Anarchists of course firmly claim that the Bolsheviks turned against them purely out of malice and out of jealousy towards the ”great success” of the anarchists.
In Spain anarchists took part in the fight against fascism and received material aid from the Soviet Union. However the Soviet Union wanted the anarchists to form a proper army out of their forces and merge it into the common anti-fascist defense together with the Spanish Republicans. This would have been the only sensible and responsible way to proceed. In the end, that ended up happening for the most part but anarchists still blame the poor performance of their unorganized militias on the communists and swear that in actual fact a force consisting of separate small militia columns without a centralized leadership is tactically superior or at least equally effective compared to a real army. In other words, the evil communists wanted the anarchists to work as a part of a larger coordinated defense effort out of pure malice and jealousy! No sane person should take these anarchist fables seriously.
In reality communists have no obsession with centralism but anarchists do have an obsession with de-centralization and lack of organization. Anarchism opposes hierachy out of principle and demands the immediate abolishing of all hierarchy. Therefore it must claim that non-hierarchical ’organization’ is practical and even superior. Anarchists try with all their might to make outside reality seem like it fits their preconceived political principles, instead of trying to come up with a truly scientific political outlook which would correspond with material reality. Marxism-Leninism provides just such a scientific outlook.
Communists are realists and understand that sometimes a centralized command is necessary. Sometimes on the other hand it can be harmful or superfluous. In military matters it has proven to be strategically superior. If de-centralized or non-existent command truly worked better everyone, including the anarchists, communists and the right-wing would be using it.
When it comes to building socialism and stateless communism, anarchists were left pretty far from reaching that goal. In Ukraine the collectivization of agriculture was tried twice and small short lived communes were formed. They included less then 1% of the area’s population. In both countries the anarchists created different kinds of committees and organs of governance which performed the tasks typically associated with a state. In other words, they created a new state but gave it a misleading anarchistic sounding name such as ”The regional congress of workers, peasants and insurgents” and claimed to have therefore reached stateless communism. In actuality the leader of the Ukrainian anarchists, Nestor Makhno had powers which resembled a military dictator more then anything else.
Similarly in Catalonia anarchists betrayed their principles of a voluntary, non-hierarchical society. For example the collectivization of agriculture was done almost with a gun pointed at the peasant’s head. After the communists came into power a milder form of collectivization resembling the Soviet Union was adopted and almost everyone quickly transitioned to it. Only a small minority voluntarily stayed with the anarchist model.
Of all these things anarchists rather blame others instead of actually learning from their past. The truth is that both the anarco-syndicalists of Catalonia and the makhnovists of Ukraine realized the impossibility of their projects. Both betrayed their principles when they came into unbearable conflict with reality. Because the anarchists didn’t have a theoretical basis grounded on reality which could have solved or explained these problems their endeavours ended in failure.
- The popularity of anarchism
On numerous occasions I’ve come across a strange phenomena. You see, anarchists proclaim loudly themselves to be a ”new”, ”rising”, ”popular” movement ”unlike communism”. It is true that communism has been doing poorly since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. That is not to be denied. We are living the time of darkest counter-revolution. However this mainly involves the West, USA and Western Europe. In my opinion anarchists are guilty of euro-centrism. In fact anarchists have never had significant popularity anywhere with the exception of the previously mentioned Spanish Catalonia and Ukraine. There has never been any ’world-wide anarchist movement’. Not too long ago half the globe belonged to the Socialist camp, the same cannot be said about anarchism. Anarchism is actually much older then Marxism, let alone Leninism and its unlikely that even today, even in the west its more popular then communism. Communism is actually strong in popularity compared to anarchism. In India, Nepal, The Philippenes, South America not to mention the still remaining Socialist countries, communism enjoyes widespread popularity. In the previously mentioned countries the popularity of anarchism is non-existent. Maybe it sounds persuasive to some West European petty-bourgeois individualists with it’s easy solutions and big promises but it has failed to win over the global working class.
In India and The Philippines communists are in armed rebellion against capitalism and control significant territories. In Venezuela the people under the leadership of president Maduro strive towards building socialism. Anarchists have nothing concrete which even compares to this. At most, they can manage to break a shop window or two and make a lot of noise on the internet.
- The reasons for the limited popularity of anarchism
It cannot be said with a straight face that anarchism is a ’new’ movement ’full of vitality’ which will in the near future defeat both communism and capitalism. Nonetheless it has some supporters among the Europea and North American youth. Why?
Anarchism promises a lot but provides very little. We know one doesn’t have to be very bright to see that there’s a lot that’s wrong with our current society. Capitalism is an unsustainable system.
One of the bourgeoisie’s favorite arguments or methods in defending capitalism is slandering socialism and communism. The bourgeoisie claims socialism only makes a bad situation worse, leads to tyranny and economic disaster. We have all had to listen to this for years, and many of us our entire lives. This argument is what drives people to the ranks of the anarchists. The bourgeoisie’s lies about socialism and against proletarian power are the life elixir of anarchism. Anarchism in a truly opportunist fashion promises an easy road to communism without Marxism-Leninism and the workers’ state which the bourgeoisie has taught them and a significant portion of the entire people to fear. Its because of this that anarchism has no support in the third world where workers are exploited harder and don’t believe bourgeois lies. Anarchism has received some added support only in those countries whose radical left collapsed together with the Soviet Union and hasn’t yet recovered.