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Collectivist anarchism (also known as anarcho-collectivism) is a revolutionary doctrine that advocates the abolition of both the state and private ownership of the means of production. It instead envisions the means of production being owned collectively and controlled and managed by the producers themselves.
For the collectivization of the means of production, it was originally envisaged that workers will revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production. Once collectivization takes place, money would be abolished to be replaced with labour notes and workers' salaries would be determined in democratic organizations based on job difficulty and the amount of time they contributed to production. These salaries would be used to purchase goods in a communal market. This contrasts with anarcho-communism where wages would be abolished, and where individuals would take freely from a storehouse of goods "to each according to his need." Thus, Bakunin's "Collectivist Anarchism," notwithstanding the title, is seen as a blend of individualism and collectivism.
Comparison with communist anarchism
The Anarchist FAQ compares and contrasts collectivist anarchism with communist anarchism this way:
|“||The major difference between collectivists and communists is over the question of "money" after a revolution. Anarcho-communists consider the abolition of money to be essential, while anarcho-collectivists consider the end of private ownership of the means of production to be the key. As Kropotkin noted, "[collectivist anarchism] express[es] a state of things in which all necessaries for production are owned in common by the labour groups and the free communes, while the ways of retribution [i.e. distribution] of labour, communist or otherwise, would be settled by each group for itself." Thus, while communism and collectivism both organise production in common via producers' associations, they differ in how the goods produced will be distributed. Communism is based on free consumption of all while collectivism is more likely to be based on the distribution of goods according to the labour contributed. However, most anarcho-collectivists think that, over time, as productivity increases and the sense of community becomes stronger, money will disappear.||”|
The collectivist anarchists at first used the term "collectivism" to distinguish themselves from the mutualism of the followers of Proudhon and the state socialists associated with Karl Marx. Bakunin wrote, "we shall always protest against anything that may in any way resemble communism or state socialism," which Bakunin regarded as fundamentally authoritarian ("Federalism, Socialism, and Anti-Theologism," 1867).
The First International
The anti-authoritarian sections of the First International proclaimed at the St. Imier Congress (1872) that "the aspirations of the proletariat can have no purpose other than the establishment of an absolutely free economic organization and federation, founded upon the labour and equality of all and absolutely independent of all political government," in which each worker will have the "right to the enjoyment of the gross product of his labours and thereby the means of developing his full intellectual, material and moral powers in a collective setting." This revolutionary transformation could "only be the outcome of the spontaneous action of the proletariat itself, its trades bodies and the autonomous communes." A similar position was adopted by the Workers' Federation of the Spanish Region in 1882, as articulated by an anarchist veteran of the First International, Jose Llunas Pujols, in his essay, "Collectivism."
By the early 1880s, most of the European anarchist movement had adopted an anarchist communist position, advocating the abolition of wage labour and distribution according to need. Ironically, the "collectivist" label then became more commonly associated with Marxist state socialists who advocated the retention of some sort of wage system during the transition to full communism. The anarchist communist, Peter Kropotkin, attacked this position in his essay, "The Collectivist Wages System", which was reprinted in his book The Conquest of Bread in 1892.
The difference between collectivist anarchism and anarchist communism is that under the former, a wage system is retained based on the amount of labor performed. Anarchist communism, like collectivist anarchism, also advocates for the socialization of production, but the distribution of goods as well. Instead of 'to each according to his labor', in anarcho-communism the community would supply the subsistence requirements to each member free of charge according to the maxim 'to each according to his needs'.
The difference between collectivist anarchism and anarchist communism is that collectivist anarchism stresses collective ownership of productive, subsistence and distributary property, while communist anarchism negates the concept of ownership in favor of usage or possession with productive means being a possession not owned by any individual or particular group. Communist Anarchists believe that subsistence, productive and distributive property should be common or social possessions while personal property should be private possessions. Collectivist anarchists agree with this, however, disagree on the subject of remuneration; some collectivist anarchists, such as Mikhail Bakunin, believe in the remuneration of labor, while communist anarchists, such as Peter Kropotkin, believe that such remuneration would lead to the recreation of currency and that this would need a State. Thus, it could be said that collectivist anarchists believe in freedom through collective ownership of production and a communal market of sorts to distribute goods and services and compensate workers in the form of remuneration. Thus, collectivist anarchism could be seen as a combination of communism and mutualism.
Collectivist anarchists are not necessarily opposed to the use of currency, but some while opposing the retaining of money propose the adoption of labour vouchers or "personal credit" (such as Participatory Economists). Most collectivist anarchists see their philosophy as a carryover to communist anarchism, but some see the system and the use of a labour voucher system as permanent rather than a transition. Collectivist anarchist James Guillaume argued that such a society would "guarantee the mutual use of the tools of production which are the property of each of these groups and which will by a reciprocal contract become the collective property of the whole ... federation. In this way, the federation of groups will be able to ... regulate the rate of production to meet the fluctuating needs of society." They argue for workplace autonomy and self-management "the workers in the various factories have not the slightest intention of handing over their hard-won control of the tools of production to a superior power calling itself the 'corporation.'"
|“||"In distribution the collectives' co-operatives eliminated middlemen, small merchants, wholesalers, and profiteers, thus greatly reducing consumer prices. The collectives eliminated most of the parasitic elements from rural life, and would have wiped them out altogether if they were not protected by corrupt officials and by the political parties. Non-collectivised areas benefited indirectly from the lower prices as well as from free services often rendered by the collectives (laundries, cinemas, schools, barber and beauty parlours, etc.)"||”|
Tom Wetzel describes another collectivization...
|“||"Another industry that was totally re-organized was hair-cutting. Before July 19th, there had been 1,100 hairdressing parlors in Barcelona, most of them extremely marginal. The 5,000 assistant hairdressers were among the lowest-paid workers in Barcelona. The Generalitat had decreed a 40-hour week and 15 percent wage increase after July 19th – one of the Esquerra’s attempts to woo worker support. This spelled ruin for many hairdressing shops. A general assembly was held and it was agreed to shut down all the unprofitable shops. The 1,100 shops were replaced by a network of 235 neighborhood haircutting centers, with better equipment and lighting than the old shops. Due to the efficiencies gained, it was possible to raise wages by 40 percent. The entire network was run through assemblies of the CNT barber’s union. The former owners became members of the union(38)." ||”|
- Michael Albert
- Mikhail Bakunin
- Sam Dolgoff
- Luce Fabbri
- Luigi Fabbri
- Mick Farren
- Frank Fernández (writer)
- James Guillaume
- Robin Hahnel
- Gustav Landauer
- Anselmo Lorenzo
- César De Paepe
- Patsouras, Louis. 2005. Marx in Context. iUniverse. p. 54
- Bakunin Mikail. Bakunin on Anarchism. Black Rose Books. 1980. p. 369
- Morriss, Brian. Bakukunin: The Philosophy of Freedom. Black Rose Books Ltd., 1993. p. 115
- [Anarchism, p. 295]
- A.3 What types of anarchism are there?
- This paragraph sourced by Shatz, Marshall; Guess, Raymond; Skinner, Quentin. The Conquest of Bread and Other Writings. Cambridge University Press. p. xvi
- Proudhon. What is Property, pp. 395-6
- Berkman, Alexander. The ABC of Anarchism, p. 68
- What is Anarchism?, p. 217
- Kropotkin. Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 162
- James Guillaume, Bakunin on Anarchism, p. 376
- Guillaume, Bakunin on Anarchism, p. 364
- "Workers Power and the Spanish Revolution," by Tom Wetzel, http://libcom.org/library/workers-power-and-the-spanish-revolution-tom-wetzel
- The Anarchist Collectives, p. 114
- "The Collectivist Wages System." entry at the Anarchy Archives – Anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin's criticism of collectivist anarchism, from The Conquest of Bread