User:Eduen/Anarchism and organization

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Anarchists have widely dissagreed on what is the best form of organizing themselves for social struggle and change. Since the early 20th century there has appeared 4 main tendencies on this debate: individualist and insurrectionary informalism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communist platformism and synthesis anarchism based on anarchism without adjectives principles. Since the establishment of the First International, anarchists have also debated on the merits of national and transnational organization.

History of the debate[edit]

Mikhail Bakunin "was historically important to the development of an anarchism that focused its force in insurrection. Unlike Marx, who built his support in the First International, mostly within the central executive structure, Bakunin worked to build support for co-ordinated action though autonomous insurrections at the base, especially in Southern Europe. And since Bakunin's time insurrectionary anarchists have been concentrated in Southern Europe."[1] Later in 1876, at the Berne conference of the First International, "the Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta argued that the revolution "consists more of deeds than words", and that action was the most effective form of propaganda. In the bulletin of the Jura Federation he declared "the Italian federation believes that the insurrectional fact, destined to affirm socialist principles by deed, is the most efficacious means of propaganda".[2]" But after Peter Kropotkin along others decided to enter labor unions after their initial reservations,[3] there remained "the anti-syndicalist anarchist-communists, who in France were grouped around Sebastien Faure's Le Libertaire. From 1905 onwards, the Russian counterparts of these anti-syndicalist anarchist-communists become partisans of economic terrorism and illegal 'expropriations'."[2] Illegalism as a practice emerged and within it "The acts of the anarchist bombers and assassins ("propaganda by the deed") and the anarchist burglars ("individual reappropriation") expressed their desperation and their personal, violent rejection of an intolerable society. Moreover, they were clearly meant to be exemplary , invitations to revolt."[4]Such acts of rebellion which could be individual[4] were in the long run seen as act of rebellion which could ignite en masse insurrection leading to revolution. Proponents and activists of these tactics among others included Johann Most, Luigi Galleani, Victor Serge, and Severino Di Giovanni. "In Argentina, these tendencies flourished at the end of the 20s and during the 30s, years of acute repression and of flinching of the once powerful workers movement –this was a desperate, though heroic, of a decadent movement."[5]

The earliest expressions of anarcho-syndicalist structure and methods were formulated in the International Workingmen's Association or First International, particularly in the Jura federation. In 1895, the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) in France expressed fully the organizational structure and methods of revolutionary syndicalism influencing labour movements the world over. The International Workers Association, formed in 1922, is an international anarcho-syndicalist federation of various labour unions from different countries. At its peak, the International Workers Association represented millions of workers and competed directly for the hearts and minds of the working class with social democratic unions and parties. The Spanish Confederación Nacional del Trabajo played and still plays a major role in the Spanish labour movement. It was also a decisive force in the Spanish Civil War, organizing worker militias and facilitating the collectivization of vast sections of the industrial, logistical, and communications infrastructure, principally in Catalonia. Another Spanish anarcho-syndicalist union, the Confederacion General del Trabajo de España, is now the third largest union in Spain and the largest anarchist union with tens of thousands of members.

Russian anarchists seeked to address and explain the anarchist movement's failures during the Russian Revolution. The Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft) was written in 1926 by Dielo Truda ("Workers' Cause"), a group of exiled Russian anarchists in France. The pamphlet is an analysis of the basic anarchist beliefs, a vision of an anarchist society, and recommendations as to how an anarchist organization should be structured. The four main principles by which an anarchist organization should operate, according to the Platform, are ideological unity, tactical unity, collective action, and federalism.

The Platform attracted strong criticism from many sectors on the anarchist movement of the time including some of the most influential anarchists such as Voline, Errico Malatesta, Luigi Fabbri, Camillo Berneri, Max Nettlau, Alexander Berkman[6], Emma Goldman and Gregori Maximoff [7]. Voline along with Molly Steimer, Fleshin, and others wrote a reply stating that to "To maintain that anarchism is only a theory of classes is to limit it to a single viewpoint. Anarchism is more complex and pluralistic, like life itself. Its class element is above all its means of fighting for liberation; its humanitarian character is its ethical aspect, the foundation of society; its individualism is the goal of mankind."[8] Two texts made as responses to the Platform, each proposing a different organizational model, became the basis for what is known as the organisation of synthesis, or simply "synthesism"[9]. Voline published in 1924 a paper calling for "the anarchist synthesis" and was also the author of the article in Sebastian Faure's Encyclopedie Anarchiste on the same topic[10]. The main purpose behind the synthesis was that the anarchist movement in most countries was divided into three main tendencies: communist anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, and individualist anarchism[11] and so such an organization could contain anarchists of these 3 tendencies very well.

As the 20th century continued and the 21st century arrived platformism, synthesis anarchism and insurrectionary anarchism kept on debating what was the best way of anarchist organization in different countries. The International of Anarchist Federations (IAF/IFA) was founded during an international anarchist conference in Carrara in 1968 by the three existing European anarchist federations of France (Fédération Anarchiste), Italy(Federazione Anarchica Italiana) and Spain (Federación Anarquista Ibérica) as well as the Bulgarian federation in French exile. These organizations were also inspired on synthesist principles[12]. Currently alongside the previously mentioned federations, the IAF includes the Argentine Libertarian Federation, the Anarchist Federation of Belarus, the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria, the Czech-Slovak Anarchist Federation, the Federation of German speaking Anarchists in Germany and Switzerland, and the Anarchist Federation in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Organizational tendencies[edit]

Informalism and insurrectionary anarchism[edit]

Italian American anarchist Luigi Galleani, influential activist of violent insurrectionary propaganda by the deed tactics

Insurrectionary anarchism is a revolutionary theory, practice and tendency within the anarchist movement which emphasizes the theme of insurrection within anarchist practice.[13][14] It is critical of formal organizations such as labor unions and federations that are based on a political programme and periodic congresses.[13] Instead, insurrectionary anarchists advocate informal organization and small affinity group based organization.[13][14] Insurrectionary anarchists put value in attack, permanent class conflict, and a refusal to negotiate or compromise with class enemies.[13][14]

The Italian Giuseppe Ciancabilla (1872–1904) wrote in "Against organization" that "we don't want tactical programs, and consequently we don't want organization. Having established the aim, the goal to which we hold, we leave every anarchist free to choose from the means that his sense, his education, his temperament, his fighting spirit suggest to him as best. We don't form fixed programs and we don't form small or great parties. But we come together spontaneously, and not with permanent criteria, according to momentary affinities for a specific purpose, and we constantly change these groups as soon as the purpose for which we had associated ceases to be, and other aims and needs arise and develop in us and push us to seek new collaborators, people who think as we do in the specific circumstance."[15]

Contemporary insurrectionary anarchism inherits the views and tactics of anti-organizational anarcho-communism[3][16] and illegalism.[14][17]

Anarcho-syndicalism[edit]

Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labour movement.[18] The word syndicalism comes from the French word syndicat which means trade union (syndic meaning administrator), from the Latin word syndicus which in turn comes from the Greek word σύνδικος (syndikos) which means caretaker of an issue. Syndicalism is an alternative co-operative economic system. Adherents view it as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the state with a new society, democratically self-managed by workers.

Rudolf Rocker, german theorist of anarcho-syndicalism and influential personality in the establishment of the International Workers' Association

In contrast to a separate State apparatus exercising external agency, anarcho-syndicalists argue for the creation of organisational forms built from below, united through federalism and confederation. Stemming from anarchist principles, this has entailed experiments with organisations based on self-management and direct democracy - that is the use of mandated, binding and rotatable delegates always accountable to the base. Such organisational forms include, but are not limited to, networks of militant workers, economic fighting organisations and specific propaganda groups. These organisations can range from being permanent minority networks (eg: specific networks of libertarian workers) to the expression of heightened levels of class struggle itself (eg: strike committees, workers councils', revolutionary unions).

Anarcho-syndicalism originated close to the beginning of the twentieth century, and it remains a popular and active school of anarchism today and has many supporters as well as many currently active organisations. Anarcho-syndicalists, being social anarchists, vary in their points of view on anarchist economic arrangements from a collectivist anarchism type economic system to an anarcho-communist economic system.[19]

Platformism[edit]

Platformism is a tendency within the wider anarchist movement originally theorised by the Dielo Truda group's Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft).[20] The document was based on the experiences of Russian anarchists in the 1917 October Revolution, which led eventually to the victory of the Bolsheviks over the anarchists and other groups. The Platform attempted to address and explain the anarchist movement's failures during the Russian Revolution. The book drew both praise and criticism from anarchists worldwide.

Today there are platformist groups in many countries including those who founded the now defunct International Libertarian Solidarity. The website Anarkismo.net is run collaboratively by Platformist organisations from all over the world. Platfomist organizations also founded the now defunct International Libertarian Solidarity. The website Anarkismo.net is run collaboratively by Platformist organisations from all over the world.

The Platform has 4 key organizational features which distinguish it from the rest of the anarchist movement. They are:

  • Tactical Unity - A common tactical line in the movement is of decisive importance for the existence of the organization and the whole movement: it avoids what it sees as the disastrous effect of several tactics opposing each other; it concentrates the forces of the movement; and gives them a common direction leading to a fixed objective.[21]
  • Theoretical Unity - "Theory represents the force which directs the activity of persons and organizations along a defined path towards a determined goal. Naturally it should be common to all the persons and organizations adhering to the General Union. All activity by the General Union, both overall and in its details, should be in perfect concord with the theoretical principles professed by the union."[22]
  • Collective Responsibility - "The practice of acting on one's personal responsibility should be decisively condemned and rejected in the ranks of the anarchist movement. The areas of revolutionary life, social and political, are above all profoundly collective by nature. Social revolutionary activity in these areas cannot be based on the personal responsibility of individual militants."[23]
  • Federalism - "Against centralism, anarchism has always professed and defended the principle of federalism, which reconciles the independence and initiative of individuals and the organization with service to the common cause."[24]

Synthesis anarchism[edit]

Synthesis anarchism, synthesist anarchism, synthesism or synthesis federations is a form of anarchist organization which tries to join anarchists of different tendencies under the principles of anarchism without adjectives[25]. In the 1920s this form found as its main proponents Voline and Sebastien Faure[26]. It is the main principle behind the anarchist federations grouped around the contemporary global International of Anarchist Federations[27]. The International of Anarchist Federations (IAF/IFA) was founded during an international anarchist conference in Carrara in 1968 by the three existing European anarchist federations of France (Fédération Anarchiste), Italy(Federazione Anarchica Italiana) and Spain (Federación Anarquista Ibérica) as well as the Bulgarian federation in French exile. These organizations were also inspired on synthesist principles[28]. Currently alongside the previously mentioned federations, the IAF includes the Argentine Libertarian Federation, the Anarchist Federation of Belarus, the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria, the Czech-Slovak Anarchist Federation, the Federation of German speaking Anarchists in Germany and Switzerland, and the Anarchist Federation in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Voline, russian theorist of synthesis anarchism

Under anarchism without adjectives principles synthesis anarchism adopts a pluralistic specific anarchist approach to organization. The main purpose behind the synthesis was that the anarchist movement in most countries was divided into three main tendencies: communist anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, and individualist anarchism[29] and so such an organization could contain anarchists of these 3 tendencies very well.

Voline along with Molly Steimer, Fleshin, and others wrote a reply to the reductionism and sectarianism of the Dielo Truda platform stating that to "To maintain that anarchism is only a theory of classes is to limit it to a single viewpoint. Anarchism is more complex and pluralistic, like life itself. Its class element is above all its means of fighting for liberation; its humanitarian character is its ethical aspect, the foundation of society; its individualism is the goal of mankind."[30] Sebastien Faure in "Anarchist synthesis" exposes the view that "these currents were not contradictory but complementary, each having a role within anarchism: anarcho-syndicalism as the strength of the mass organisations and the best way for the practice of anarchism; libertarian communism as a proposed future society based on the distribution of the fruits of labour according to the needs of each one; anarcho-individualism as a negation of oppression and affirming the individual right to development of the individual, seeking to please them in every way[31].

A good example of synthesis anarchist organization is the base principles of the Francophone Fédération Anarchiste which were written by the individualist anarchist Charles-Auguste Bontemps and the anarcho-communist Maurice Joyeux which established an organization with a plurality of tendencies and autonomy of federated groups organized around synthesist principles[32].

Theoretical and tactical differences[edit]

Formal federations and organizations vs. informal affinity groups[edit]

Insurrectionary anarchism and illegalist anarchists as well as some individualist anarchists have had reservations againts permanent large federations such as those proposed by both platformism and synthesis anarchism. Insurrectionary anarchism points out that ": thus we are against the party, syndicate and permanent organization, all of which act to synthesize struggle and become elements of integration for capital and the state."[13] Instead the view that "organization is for concrete tasks".[13] "The informal anarchist organization is therefore a specific organization which gathers around a common affinity."[13].

Pluralistic anarchism without adjectives vs. theoretical and tactical unity[edit]

A main point of dispute between synthesis anarchism and platformism is the issue of the diversity of schools of thought within anarchism. Synthesis anarchism is a form of organization which tries to join anarchists of all tendencies under the same organization adhering to a pluralistic stance[33]. On the other hand platformism has been explicit in its being mainly an anarcho-communist tendency which rejects within its organization individualist anarchists[34]. It also adheres to a position which calls for "theoretical and tactical unity"[35].

Anarcho-communism[edit]

Anarcho-communism is the economic tendency that mainly motivates insurrectionary anarchism[3][36]. Platformism regards itself as mainly an anarcho-communist tendency[37]. Nevertheless anarcho-communists have also joined and participated in synthesis anarchist organizations alongside people from other tendencies[38]. and the main proponents of synthesis anarchism, Voline and Sebastien Faure[39] were anarcho-communists while the "Programa Anarchico" (Anarchist Program) of the synthesist Unione Anarchica Italiana and later also adopted by the Federazione Anarchica Italiana was written by the important theorist of anarcho-communism Errico Malatesta[40].

Trade unions and anarcho-syndicalism[edit]

Individualist anarchism[edit]

The question of individualist anarchism is also an important matter of dispute between organizational tendencies. Individualist anarchists have supported both informal affinity groups and participation in large synthesis anarchist federations[41][42]. Platformist organizations explicitly reject individualist anarchism. On the question of anarcho-syndicalism, individualist anarchists have both rejected and participated on anarcho-syndicalist organizations. Individualist anarchist Max Stirner spoke of unions of egoists as a form of free association between individualists and so that idea has been interpreted in many ways which have gone as far as how individualists can associate even in economic and sexual and love relationships[43].

National and International organization[edit]

In 1993 the Italian insurrectionary anarchist Alfredo Bonanno writes For An Anti-authoritarian Insurrectionalist International in which he proposes coordination between mediterranean insurrectionists after the period of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and civil war in the ex-Yugoslavia.[44]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Insurrectionary Anarchy: Organising for Attack! " by Do or Die Issue 10. page(s) 258-266.
  2. ^ a b "Propaganda by the deed" by Workers Solidarity No 55 published in October 1998
  3. ^ a b c "Anarchist-Communism" by Alain Pengam
  4. ^ a b "The "illegalists" by Doug Imrie. From "Anarchy: a Journal Of Desire Armed" , Fall-Winter, 1994-95
  5. ^ http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20061228140637965 "Notes on the article "Anarchism, Insurrections and Insurrectionalism"" by: Collin Sick
  6. ^ ¿Wooden shoes or platform shoes? on the organizational platform of the libertarian communists by Bob Black
  7. ^ J.3.4 Why do many anarchists oppose the "Platform"? on An Anarchist FAQ
  8. ^ "Reply by several Russian Anarchists to the ‘Platform’" by Various Authors
  9. ^ "Especifismo and Synthesis/ Synthesism" by Felipe Corrêa
  10. ^ "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ
  11. ^ "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ
  12. ^ "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Some Notes on Insurrectionary Anarchism" from Venemous Butterfly and Willful Disobedience
  14. ^ a b c d "Anarchism, insurrections and insurrectionalism" by Joe Black
  15. ^ "Against organization" by Giuseppe Ciancabilla. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
  16. ^ "Say you want an insurrection" by Crimethinc
  17. ^ "Some insurrectionists see precedents in the propaganda of the deed carried out by Nineteenth-century assassins and the illegalism associated with Jules Bonnot and his fellow bank robbers. We can trace the lineage of current insurrectionist theory from Errico Malatesta and Luigi Galleani""Say you want an insurrection" by Crimethinc
  18. ^ Georges Sorel in Stuart Isaacs & Chris Sparks, Political Theorists in Context (Routledge, 2004), p. 248. ISBN 0-415-20126-8
  19. ^ Iain Mckay, ed. (2008). "What types of anarchism are there?". An Anarchist FAQ. Stirling: AK Press. ISBN 1902593901. OCLC 182529204. 
  20. ^ Dielo Trouda group (2006) [1926]. Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft). Italy: FdCA. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  21. ^ From section on Tactical Unity in The Platform
  22. ^ From section on theoretical unity in The Platform
  23. ^ From section on Collective responsibility in The Platform
  24. ^ All sourced from the From section Federalism within the Organizational Section of the original document
  25. ^ "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ
  26. ^ "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ
  27. ^ "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ
  28. ^ "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ
  29. ^ "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ
  30. ^ "Reply by several Russian Anarchists to the ‘Platform’" by Various Authors
  31. ^ "Especifismo and Synthesis/ Synthesism" by Felipe Corrêa
  32. ^ Cédric Guerin. "Pensée et action des anarchistes en France : 1950-1970"
  33. ^ "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ
  34. ^ "The executive organ of the general anarchist movement, the Anarchist Union, taking a firm line against the tactic of irresponsible individualism, introduces in its ranks the principle of collective responsibility: the entire Union will be responsible for the political and revolutionary activity of each member; in the same way, each member will be responsible for the political and revolutionary activity of the Union as a whole.""The Organizational Platform of the Libertarian Communists" by Dielo Truda - 1926
  35. ^ "We reject as theoretically and practically inept the idea of creating an organisation after the recipe of the 'synthesis', that is to say re-uniting the representatives of different tendencies of anarchism.""The Organizational Platform of the Libertarian Communists" by Dielo Truda - 1926
  36. ^ Post-left anarcho-communist Bob Black after analysing insurrectionary anarcho-communist Luigi Galleani's view on anarcho-communism went as far as saying that "communism is the final fulfillment of individualism.... The apparent contradiction between individualism and communism rests on a misunderstanding of both.... Subjectivity is also objective: the individual really is subjective. It is nonsense to speak of 'emphatically prioritizing the social over the individual'.... You may as well speak of prioritizing the chicken over the egg. Anarchy is a 'method of individualization'. It aims to combine the greatest individual development with the greatest communal unity."Bob Black. Nightmares of Reason.
  37. ^ "Anarchism wants to transform the present bourgeois capitalist society into a society which assures the workers the products of their labours, their liberty, independence, and social and political equality. This other society will be libertarian communism.""The Organizational Platform of the Libertarian Communists" by Dielo Truda - 1926
  38. ^ "The new base principles of the FA were written by the individualist anarchist Charles-Auguste Bontemps and the anarcho-communist Maurice Joyeux which established an organization with a plurality of tendencies and autonomy of federated groups organized around synthesist principles"Cédric Guerin. "Pensée et action des anarchistes en France : 1950-1970"
  39. ^ "The remedy has been found: libertarian communism."Sébastien Faure. "Libertarian Communism"
  40. ^ "Unione Anarchica Italiana" at italian anarchopedia
  41. ^ Within the synthesist anarchist organization, the Fédération Anarchiste, there existed an individualist anarchist tendency alongside anarcho-communist and anarchosyndicalist currents. Individualist anarchists participating inside the Fédération Anarchiste included Charles-Auguste Bontemps, Georges Vincey and André Arru. "Pensée et action des anarchistes en France : 1950-1970" by Cédric GUÉRIN
  42. ^ In Italy in 1945, during the Founding Congress of the Italian Anarchist Federation, there was a group of individualist anarchists led by Cesare Zaccaria who was an important anarchist of the time.Cesare Zaccaria (19 August 1897-October 1961) by Pier Carlo Masini and Paul Sharkey
  43. ^ "the idea of "unions of egoists" with the sole justification of sexual practices, that will try to put in practice, not without difficulties, will establish a way of thought and action, and will result in symphathy within some, and a strong rejection within others.""La insumisión voluntaria. El anarquismo individualista español durante la dictadura y la Segunda República" by Xavier Díez
  44. ^ For An Anti-authoritarian Insurrectionalist International by Alfredo Bonanno