Atheist Anarchists Discussion

Militant Atheist?

Atheophobia and a Challenger to the Term

The Value of a Ball?

Was the Value of Ancient Women Different?

On the Value of Being a Real Person

I am an Axiological Atheist, with a Rationalist Persuasion, who Supports Anarcho-Humanism

What is Homelessness?

You keep attacking activists and while you’re doing that, other activists and I will keep fighting for change. Sadly, you may change a few people where they lose their way in the momentum of activism. However, happily, while you’re doing that, other activists and I will help positively change the world.

Authoritarian Truth Seekers and Anti-Authoritarian Truth Seekers?

What inspires my anarcho-humanism has three core truths to my ethical anarchist persuasion:

1. We are all one connected human family, proven by DNA showing we should treat each other as fellow dignity beings, supported equally (no gods and no masters = “Anarcho”).

2. No one owns the earth, we may make claims to it even draw lines on maps thinking this makes the fantasy borders, illusion supported by force and the potential for threat. Thus the ethical truth is we need to share the earth as communally as possible. And use the resources as safe and ethically as possible striving towards sharing and caring. (do no Harm and do good = Humanism)

3. If you can’t trust people with freedom how can you trust them with power? Government is only as good as what they provide but I don’t trust ones that have rights over my body. How much more of a violation do you need to show their harm? I am not anti-society, I value good governance just don’t need the extra dead weight of government. There is not one thing a government is valued for that a non-government group with the same financial support and resources could not also do. I get we rise by helping each other and supporting universal betterment and human flourishing. Helping is Helpful: Valuing, Motivating, Supporting humanity is limited by nationalism and the, us Vs them, as if you should feel connected to only a few humans just because people invented the mental concept of land ownership, you mean you assert that you will harm others for an amount of the earth’s surface. Seeing with anarcho-humanism eyes helps you see how to Grow in Our Positive Outcomes: Gratitude, Empathy and Kindness. We can become a more quality person by actively being aware and developing a gratitude for life, which supports as well as grows our feelings of empathy, that then motivates the behaviour of kindness. And kindness flourishes in openness and freedom. (No gods no masters as well as do no harm and do good = Anarcho-humanism)

Empathy and Human Dignity?

States may often have powers, but only citizens have the glue of morality we call rights.  And, as they say, in my “dream society”, lots of things are free (aka. planting free food everywhere, free to everyone); but I wonder what you mean when people say you can’t just let things be free, I think, yeah, how can I take free stuff from a free earth.

We rise by helping each other.

How to best Help change the current value of Religion Freedom Rights over Child Rights?

I was a Republican before voting at 18 and was christian until 36 (2006) and had started becoming an anarchist a little before that hating first Republicans, then Democrats, then Libertarians, then Anarchist (undefined) and then do to interactions with anarcho-capitalists and voluntaryists, I realized I was not them further realizing I was a relatively a socialist anarchist. Then I evolved my own eclectic anarchism persuasion socialist-anarchist-collectivist-mututlism, which I call anarcho-humanism. Humanism, to me, can be summarised as humans can solve human problems with human means, not needing to appeal to religions or the gods they claim as real. Rather humanism, I feel is a positive awareness of the reality of humanity needs, with a seeming general goal valuing others and striving to make a positive ethical difference. Humanism should involve respecting and helping others seeing them as fellow dignity beings. I see humanism as and ethical caring that moves beyond the selfish thinking about only me, choosing to improve one’s self and others as well, it’s the humanity persuasion I aspire to fully emulate, an awakened humanity.

“Accommodationist” Atheist? I Just Say NO.

How to show an anarcho-capitalism they practice anarcho-fraudism”, what do they want all the property that had been obtained from unjust forced under statism to be redistributed equally or aloud to stay in the hands of the ones who reaped the most abusive entitlement benefits under the theft of station you so despise? I bet they want everything to stay the same right? They love all the abuse from every angle of capitulation but don’t like the one external pressure of the state. What confusion and as I see it they are just selfshism not Anarchism anything. One who exhibits quality in human character does not mean one never struggles, but that they triumph over them regardless, not that one never stumbles while trying to overcome detrimental obstacles, such as, one’s ego. To me human character is found in the best of human potential. Because character is one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual: a complex mix of behavioral/mental/ethical traits marking a main or essential nature especially as strongly marked and serving to distinguish ethical sensitivity, universal ethical standards, and boniface. Raise your head high my friend, for you are not some fallen wretch of a being, shackled with the notion of sin and inborn evil depravity. My “Atheistic Humanism,” is highly evolved yet simple, just one taking back their family name of self-ownership. l breath in the liberty and equality of free thinking glory, built on a godless realization and a connected compassion, seen to fruition as a passion for doing some good while you’re alive. Don’t be brought down by evilness of hate, instead rise to the goodness of kindness.


What Inspires My Anarcho-Humanism:

  • We are all one connected human family.
  • No one owns the earth.
  • If you can’t trust people with freedom how can you trust them with power?

HUMANISM: the philosophic thinking that humans can solve human problems by human means, without feeling a need to appeal to the likes of holy books, mystical anything, nor the belief in gods or religions. But, instead, aspires to a true belief in humanity, viewing it with a persuasion of equality. This caring realist thinking found in humanism utilizes an unstated assumption or aspiration, to do no harm as much as posable and to do good whenever one can.



Rationalism, Freethinker, Humanism & Secular humanism?

Let’s Discuss Humanism

My core definition of humanism is that humans can solve human problems by human means. I am not saying other things can’t or shouldn’t be added to it but to me, a definition of humanism must always contain something coherent to such a thinking or not contradict such as I have offered. Thus, why it is appropriate to say “good without god” when one is a humanist. 

Check out my Atheist Sexuality page on Facebook: Atheist for Non-monogamy

Check out my Anti-Trump Atheist group on Facebook:Atheists Against Trump


Religion’s slave no more?


Ego is often that toxic selfish impairment that chooses Stubbornness, Closed-Mindedness, and Pride

Over care, well-being, and even new enlightenment.

Self-ownership, Human Rights, and Societal Liberty or Freedoms

The Need for Consent and the value of Body Ownership: Healthy Sex Talk with Kids

Self-ownership/Body-ownership: Sexial Consent, Abortion, Genital Mutilation, Prostitution, Drugs, and the Right to Die


Everyone Loves Ethics

Racism Hate, is Psychological/Emotional Violence?

Hate is a thing we find everywhere, at times in one’s own mind, where we forget to care. Hate left unchecked can entangle our reason and stifles our sense of care. Likewise, if we let hate overtake and consume us, we may sidestep our humanity, when we need it the most. May we all be what is good in the world letting our humanity, flourish.

Damien, is it possible, there’s a God you haven’t considered?

I Aspire to More than Anger and Hate

How often in my past did anger wet my lips and spill out over everyone such words can be heard? All too often has such emotions allowed me to stop seeing the need to care. How dangerous is the devaluing of those around us how easy we can think we stand firm upon the shore of the good yet are lost in the sea of me far from the world of the friendly. May my humanity push out such possible hate? It’s not that we need be blind to the reactionary things in life. No, I too see who people are and do get anger but I strive to keep it a feeling and not an abusive behavior. I am not saying I don’t fall short, as Of course I do everyone can we are all humans with a deep emotional reactiveness to stimuli in life. I strive to see the value of humanity above my desire to turn my feelings of anger into harmful behaviors.

Threatened, for my Caring Firebrand Atheist Activism Event: Indianapolis, In. May 5

Dear of Seed of Hate, I no longer love you.

Where did the seeds of hate come from you may ask: well, “That is only mine”, “only they are me”, “they are only allowed there” “only they are aloud this/that” or “only I matter”, all of which have quit often sent a seed of hate in the world and we have been responding to them for years on end. Who is wrong? Once I was wrong. And then wrong again. In fact, I have been wrong all my life. One has not found truth if they believe that they are never wrong. I am sure this plague of my side bias is a fantastic way of not learning new truth, if that matters to you? Dear thinkers welcome your being completely shown to be wrong, as who wants to spend another second believing a lie. You don’t honestly want to believe lies or half-truths do you?

How to best Help change the current value of Religion Freedom Rights over Child Rights?

Hate the Dogmatic-Propaganda Not the People

Religion is a joke to rationality, that sadly, too many believe. I hate the Dogmatic-Propaganda that is religion not the indoctrinated victims who believe it. Of course, that concession is only for the flawed belief. As I do hold people accountable for harmful behaviors and religion as it is today is not a reason for harm, it is a commonly used excuse employed by those who wish to harm.

I Hate Religion Just as I Hate Pseudoscience


 
We welcome all non-believers who value strong disbelief (atheism, antitheism & antireligionism), deep thinking (Rationalism & Philosophy), also deep caring and equality (humanism & secularism).
 
Please feel free to address all things atheism, antitheism, anti-religionism, rationalist, skeptic, anarchism, socialism, progressivism, liberalism, anarcho-humanism, humanism, secular humanist, secularism (politically), science, archeology, anthropology, philosophy, realism, liberty, justice, equality, feminism, LGBTQIA+, ethics, psychology; as well as the advocating for atheist, sexual, gender, child, secular, LGBTQIA+, Race, or Class Rights and Equality. Also feel free to post your blog, web page, group, podcast, blog, memes, etc. Be respectful, be understanding/thoughtful, be you, be kind, be helpful, be informed, and strive to be a friend to all. We rise by helping each other.

HARP is Run by (Caring Firebrand Atheist Anarchist Damien Marie AtHope)Damien Marie AtHope (axiological atheist)http://damienmarieathope.com/

I am an Axiological Atheist, with a Rationalist Persuasion, who Supports Anarcho-Humanism: http://damienmarieathope.com/2018/01/i-am-an-axiological-atheist-with-a-rationalist-persuasion-who-supports-anarcho-humanism/

Truth Navigation: Techniques for Discussions or Debates

Damien Marie AtHope: Axiological Atheist, Anti-theist, Anti-religionist, Secular Humanist. Rationalist, Writer, Artist, Poet, Philosopher, Advocate, Activist, with schooling in Psychology and Sociology as well as an Autodidact in Science, Archeology, Anthropology, and Philosophy. Damien Promotes Science, Realism, Axiology, Liberty, Justice, Ethics, Anarchism, Socialism, Progressivism, Liberalism, Philosophy, Psychology, Archaeology, and Anthropology; advocating for Sexual, Gender, Child, Secular, LGBTQIA+, Race, Class Rights, and Equality.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Writer Facebook Page:https://www.facebook.com/DamienMarieAtHope/

Damien Marie AtHope’s Personal Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012093571404Axiological

Freedom of Religion, not Coercive Hereditary Religion

Again, Axiological Atheism, can be thought to involve ethical/value theory reasoned and moral argument driven apatheism, ignosticism, atheism, anti-theism, anti-religionism, secularism, and humanism.  Roughly understood axiological atheism = Strong Disbelief as well as Strong Secularism and Humanism.

New Mutualism

Axiological Atheism Explained:http://damienmarieathope.com/2015/10/30/axiological-atheism-explained/

Axiological Atheist Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/AxiologicalAtheist

When would skepticism NOT be reasonable?

Here is Damien Marie AtHope’s blog on the evolution of religion and the memes used are my art: http://damienmarieathope.com/2018/01/understanding-religion-evolution-animism-totemism-shamanism-paganism-progressed-organized-religion/

Here is Damien Marie AtHope’s atheist humanist art: “AtHope Wicked Designs” https://www.facebook.com/AtHope-Wicked-Designs-287913388398828/

Being TROLLED for my holding OF an anti-faith sign in front of Ray Comfort?

The claim of hell are ridiculous and immoral, not just false.


Religion harm and a way to stop it’s Rights Violations?

Religion Freedom Rights vs. Child Rights?

Child Religion Freedom Rights Violations?

If axiology is a value-based ethics system, how are the ethical values established?


(HARP) Humanism, Atheism, Rationalism, & Philosophy

We welcome all non-believers who value strong disbelief (atheism, antitheism & antireligionism), deep thinking (Rationalism & Philosophy), also deep caring and equality (humanism & secularism).
 
This is a group for anyone interested in Humanism, Atheism, Rationalism, & Philosophy to promote the discussion of those ideas.
 
All skills levels are welcome.
 
Let’s “HARP” on thinking rationally.
 
And try to attack thinking and not people. Not this is not extended to bad behaviors they demand the person to be addressed.
 
*The Ethics of Philosophical Debates and Debating Philosophically:
 
In this group, You have the freedom to:
1. Air a wide range of views.
2. Intensely and rigorously analyze claims.
 
You have the freedom from:
1. Suffering ad hominem attacks.
2. Receiving angry rhetoric.
 
Be Intellectual and thoughtful.
Strive to Engage Claims and Not Other Posters.
Spread Light of knowledge and Not the Heat of personal attacks.
 
Please do not post any positive things about religion in this group, this includes but not limited to all, every, any, etc. this group is 100% anti-religious. This means no buddhism, taoism, satanism, new age, unitarian universalism, hell no atheist church or Sunday assembly, etc. whatever post it somewhere else unless you are putting it down or challenging it then please do post.
 
I would like to clarify the main two goals of this group: solidarity between Humanists, Atheists, and Rationalists and to offer Humanists, Atheists, and Rationalists a form for shared ideas and new learning.
 
This group is not a debate group for theists, religionists or faithists. If you’re a theists, religionists or faithists and want to know our opinions, read our posts. If you don’t like that set of rules, then go to another group; as this is not a group catering in any way to theists, religionists or faithists.
 
In fact, ask some stupid question or post some nonsense theists, religionists or faithists post and I am more than likely to ban /block you then even respond.

 “Here are some Of my meetup videos”
This is a strong atheist, antitheist and antireligionist group along with being humanist. This is also a rationalist atheist group so we do not accept ANY positive posts on religion/mysticism or things like it that are not in reality or the offering of pseudo-ideas, wrongly/unjustifiably offered as truth. This is a group with naturalistic goals thus are only open to real-world posts which are realistic. No pseudoscience, no pseudohistory, and no pseudo-morality aloud as well as no positive or supporting or posting of this or religion/mysticism/supernatural. I don’t think we should add people who are not interested as this is an education and community group for nonreligious friends.
 
Thanks for your help and understanding. 🙂


We are a group for Atheist, Anarchist, Anti-Capitalists.

Global · Anarchist because we don’t recognise the right to authority Vegan because we recognise that all sentient life has a right to live free from suffering Atheist because we don’t believe, we question. ————————————————————– The main purpose of this group is to bring veganism to the anarchist and skeptic community. But also anarchism and atheism to the vegan community. ————————————————————— This is a pro-vegan and anti-capitalist group. You can certainly be a carnist capitalist and join, but don’t promote your exploitative and oppressive views here. It won’t be tolerated. Homophobia, misogyny, racism, sexism, ableism, fat shaming, etc. are also not tolerated. P.S. Some of you may want to know more about anarchism and you’re afraid that if you join us here, you will be required to keep a steady supply of Molotov cocktails at hand. Read this instead: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/david-graeber-are-you-an-anarchist-the-answer-may-surprise-you For a more comprehensive answers to your questions, read this: http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/index.html Or if you want a quick condensed description, watch this (9 mins): http://youtu.be/__vv6eRj2-k

 
No gods! No masters! Tyrants can be real or make believe, rise against tyranny in all forms. Whether it be the oppression of consumer societies like the US, the UK, or any other western culture or the mythical oppressors of religions.

Never submit. Free will is not granted.

Atheists and Anarchy, atheism, information, organizations, what atheism really is, why anarchy is the only way to peace.

Anarchism is a social movement that seeks liberation from oppressive systems of control.

Atheists & Anarchists are two faces of the same coin, seeking freedom in a world filled with meaningless dogma, superstition and complacent submission.

This group is called ‘Anarchists & Atheists’ because Anarchism and Atheism are the only logical outcomes of viewing the world scientifically. But of course, they are only outcomes of methodology, which is reason and evidence. So, if you can prove to me that, for example, “Communism is a valid theory” then I’d be happy to change the Group Name 🙂 So… This group is for individuals that accept that reason and evidence rules all. That violence is evil. And that holding truth above all is essential to a happy, deep and rich life 😀 Here is an extract from the book ‘Practical Anarchy’ by Stefan Molyneux to illustrate the purpose of this group: “I can say for myself – and I only mean this for myself – that although the truth does press down sometimes like the weight of a cathedral on my sometimes-sloping shoulders, and though it does lower a dark and rippled glass between myself and the companions and family of my youth, and though it startles and scatters shocked glances in the faces of those around me, and although it renders the present unstable and the future uncertain – even with all that the truth demands and imposes upon me, I would not let you tear it from my heart with any power at your command. The truth is an angry, demanding and liberating coach, who drags us kicking and screaming up a sharp and broken mountainside, and then sets us down gently to marvel in breathless wonder at the most beautiful view that can ever be conceived. As our complaints roll emptily down to disappear in the fogs of our past, in a bare ripple of white smoke, our eyes stream with tears in mute gratitude at what we have been able to behold. Such happy and driven fools often look quite mad to those around them. The truth is a drug that renders the motives of those who pursue it incomprehensible and strangely disturbing to everyone else. The ferocity of truth’s beauty is utterly beyond addictive; there is a passion and almost desperation to regain and reenter the perfection of consistent reason and the beauty of the clicking matchup between thought and observation. It keeps us awake even when we are exhausted; it strikes us with fits of passion even when we must be both silent and still; it obscures mere faces and opens up real minds; it peels away all the petty shallowness of the world and reveals all the glories and horrors of depth And that makes it all worth it. The pursuit of truth only seems like masochism to those who have not tasted its joys. If your personal pleasures tend to center around social acceptance, then you unconsciously know – or perhaps consciously – that the pursuit of philosophical truth and wisdom will strip away that which gives you the most happiness in the moment. In a very real sense, you are huddling at the oasis of small-minded social pleasures, and cannot see beyond the desert that surrounds you, to a wider and greater world.” Links: http://www.freedomainradio.com/ http://www.strike-the-root.com/ http://www.lewrockwell.com/ <–kind of http://mises.org/ Any suggestions for improvements, let me know! Thanks all!

 

Knoxville, Tennessee · Hey Knoxville! This is an umbrella group for all sorts of assorted subculture people.


Atheists for Non-Aggression: Anti-sexual Violence, Anti-Spanking, Anti-Circumcision, Anti-Bullying, Anti-Violence, Anti-child maltreatment, Anti-animal cruelty, Anti-Domestic Violence, and Anti-Verbal Violence (Threats, Character Assassination, Intimidation), Pro-Ethics, Pro-Body Sovereignty, Pro-Empathy and Equality. For those who think attacking religion is some kind of Character Assassination because its people that are religious. You are confused because character assassination is attacking people with abusive name calling not confronting religion dishonesty. Character Assassination is not being justifiably mentally aggressive as in one challenging, holy figures, gods, religions, myths, superstitions, beliefs, or deluded or misinformed ideas. Character Assassination is not meaning strong stances, aggressive challenge in rational arguments, or pitilessly exposing injustice, harm or oppression. It is our passion and an honored chosen duty to promote Non-Aggression and speak the truth of atheism and ethical behavior so people don’t stay misinform abused or oppressed. Atheists for Non-Aggression values anti-violence unless the aggression or violence is for direct self-defense or other-defense. I am an anarchist atheist for non-aggression and I only support violence for self defense or other defence. I am not nor have I ever said I was a pacifist, I am for striving to minimize aggression or violence and do believe violence can be justified in self-defense and other-defense. Here is My “Anarcho-Humanist” Non-Aggression-Axiom My anarcho-humanist non-aggression-axiom is centered on the acknowledgment, respect and support for every human’s self-ownership. This honor of self ownership of my fellow humans including a ever present respect for other people who are fellow “dignity beings” which also have self-ownership rights just like me and are equal in human worth. My anarcho-humanist non-aggression-axiom is a humanistic call for Anti-Violence, Anti-Spanking, Anti-Circumcision, Anti-Bullying, Anti-Violence, Anti-sexual Violence, Anti-child maltreatment, Anti-animal cruelty, Anti-Domestic Violence, and Anti-Verbal Violence (Threats, Character Assassination, Intimidation), Pro-Ethics, Pro-Body Sovereignty, Pro-Empathy and Equality. Let positive change begin with me, for I realize I am responsible for there is no god to save us or protect us. For those who think attacking religion is some kind of Character Assassination because its people that are religious. You are confused because character assassination is attacking people with abusive name calling not confronting religion dishonesty. Character Assassination is not being justifiably mentally aggressive as in one challenging, holy figures, gods, religions, myths, superstitions, beliefs, or deluded or misinformed ideas. Character Assassination is not meaning strong stances, aggressive challenge in rational arguments, or pitilessly exposing injustice, harm or oppression. It is our passion and an honored chosen duty to promote Non-Aggression and speak the truth of atheism and ethical behavior so people don’t stay misinform abused or oppressed. I value anti-violence (I am not a pacifist at all, I am actually a fighter by nature) unless the aggression or violence is for direct self-defense or other-defense. Let it begin with me. Ps. “Anarchy atheism: advocate of freethought and anti-religious activism. If you don’t believe any god should control you, you shouldn’t believe any other human being should believe in a sky king or supernatural master and more than human kings or masters. An anarchist would most likely be atheist, anti-theist, agnostic or apatheist believing there should be no rulers thus reject god whether they think one does or doesn’t exist. Certainly excludes rulers like gods, kings, or the state. Anarchy atheism likewise could be anti-religion as well seeing parallels between organized religion external control instead of the individual (even if god was removed) and the state (the primary target of most anarchists) are striking thus rejected. Politicians and preachers are one and the same: both work for a higher power than you, money and power. Ultimately, anarchy to atheism, goes past a simple atheism tendency to only attack god, while ignoring the state, capital, and other possible forms of domination, when anarchy atheists believe they have to attack all of it.”

Anarchy Atheism

I am a “Real Anarchist” not an “Anarcho-Capitalist”

Feminist atheists as far back as the 1800s?

Black women of Courage: Elizabeth Jennings, Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King.

Axiological Atheism, is Intellectualism

On the Nature of Value (axiology)


Speakers in the attached video


Courtney Connatser: http://damienmarieathope.com/2018/02/interview-courtney-connatser/

Michael McBride: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=34417524&sk=wall

Damien Marie AtHope (axiological atheist) http://damienmarieathope.com/



I am an Axiological Atheist, with a Rationalist Persuasion, who Supports Anarcho-Humanism: http://damienmarieathope.com/2018/01/i-am-an-axiological-atheist-with-a-rationalist-persuasion-who-supports-anarcho-humanism/

Damien Marie AtHope: Axiological Atheist, Anti-theist, Anti-religionist, Secular Humanist. Rationalist, Writer, Artist, Poet, Philosopher, Advocate, Activist, with schooling in Psychology and Sociology as well as an Autodidact in Science, Archeology, Anthropology, and Philosophy. Damien Promotes Science, Realism, Axiology, Liberty, Justice, Ethics, Anarchism, Socialism, Progressivism, Liberalism, Philosophy, Psychology, Archaeology, and Anthropology; advocating for Sexual, Gender, Child, Secular, LGBTQIA+, Race, Class Rights, and Equality.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Writer Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DamienMarieAtHope/

Damien Marie AtHope’s Personal Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012093571404Axiological

Again, Axiological Atheism, can be thought to involve ethical/value theory reasoned and moral argument driven apatheism, ignosticism, atheism, anti-theism, anti-religionism, secularism, and humanism. Roughly understood axiological atheism = Strong Disbelief as well as Strong Secularism and Humanism.

Axiological Atheism Explained: http://damienmarieathope.com/2015/10/30/axiological-atheism-explained/

Axiological Atheist Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AxiologicalAtheist

Caring Firebrand Atheist Activism Event: Indianapolis, In. May 5


Here is Damien Marie AtHope’s blog on the evolution of religion and the memes used are my art: http://damienmarieathope.com/2018/01/understanding-religion-evolution-animism-totemism-shamanism-paganism-progressed-organized-religion/

Here is Damien Marie AtHope’s atheist humanist art: “AtHope Wicked Designs” https://www.facebook.com/AtHope-Wicked-Designs-287913388398828/


More recent developments within social anarchism are the post-capitalist economic models of inclusive democracy, and participatory economics, both of which could be regarded as updated forms of the collectivist anarchism of Mikhail Bakunin, as well as the environmental philosophy of social ecology, and its associated politics of Post-Scarcity Anarchism and Communalism.

Mutualism, originally developed by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, emerged from early nineteenth-century socialism, and is generally considered a market-oriented strand within the libertarian socialist tradition. Mutualists typically accept property rights, but with brief abandonment time periods. In a community in which mutuality property rules were upheld, a landowner would need to make (more or less) continuous use of his/her land; if he/she failed to do so, his/her ownership rights would be extinguished and the land could be homesteaded by someone else. A mutualist property regime is often described as one rooted in “possession,” “occupancy-and-use,” or “usufruct.”[8] Nevertheless, Mutualism is also associated with the economic views of 19th century US individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker and William Batchelder Greene[9] and today Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist and author of Studies in Mutualist Political Economy who describes this work as “an attempt to revive individualist anarchist political economy, to incorporate the useful developments of the last hundred years, and to make it relevant to the problems of the twenty-first century.”[10]


 Collectivist anarchism

Collectivist anarchism (also known as anarcho-collectivism)[11][12] is a revolutionary form of anarchism, commonly associated with Mikhail Bakunin and James Guillaume.[13][14] It is a specific tendency, not to be confused with the broad category sometimes called collectivist or communitarian anarchism.[15] The tendency emerged from the most radical wing


 Anarchist communism

Anarchist communism (also known as anarcho-communism and occasionally as free communism) is a theory of anarchism that advocates the abolition of the statemarketsmoneycapitalism and private property.

Politically, anarchist communists advocate replacing the nation-state and representative government with a voluntary confederation of free communes (self-governing municipalities), with the commune replacing the nation as the core unit of social-political administration. Economically, anarchist communists believe in converting private property into the commons or public goods, while retaining respect for personal property). In practice, this means common ownership of the means of production,[19][20] direct democracy with production organised through a horizontal network of voluntary associations and consumption based on the guiding principle: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need“.[21][22]

Some forms of anarchist communism such as insurrectionary anarchism are strongly influenced by egoism and radical individualism, believing anarcho-communism is the best social system for the realization of individual freedom.[23][24][25][26] Most anarcho-communists view anarcho-communism as a way of reconciling the opposition between the individual and society.[27][28][29]

The ideas associated with anarchist communism developed out of radical socialist currents after the French revolution,[30][31]but was first formulated as such in the Italian section of the First International.[32] The theoretical work of Peter Kropotkin took importance later as it expanded and developed pro-organizationalist and insurrectionary anti-organizationalist sections.[33]

In terms of its vision for a post-capitalist economy, it differs from anarcho-syndicalism in seeing the centre of political-economic organisation as the commune, rather than the workplace, with economic issues being administered primarily on a communal (territorial), rather than unionist (industrial), basis. Through most anarcho-syndicalists agree with the communist method of distribution – “from each according to ability, to each according to need” – they disagree with the commune-based method of organising production and structuring society; making them communists in one sense, but not the other.

To date, the best known examples of an anarchist communist society (i.e., established around the ideas as they exist today and achieving worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon), are the anarchist territories during the Spanish Revolution[34] and the Free Territory during the Russian Revolution. Through the efforts and influence of the Spanish Anarchists during the Spanish Revolution within the Spanish Civil War, starting in 1936 anarchist communism existed in most of Aragon, parts of the Levante and Andalusia, as well as in the stronghold of Anarchist Catalonia before being crushed by the combined forces of the regime that won the warHitler, Mussolini, Spanish Communist Party repression (backed by the USSR) as well as economic and armaments blockades from the capitalist countries and the Spanish Republic itself.[35] During the Russian Revolution, anarchists such as Nestor Makhno worked to create and defend—through the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine—anarchist communism in the Free Territory of the Ukraine from 1919 before being conquered by the Bolsheviks in 1921.


Anarcho-syndicalism

In the late 19th and early 20th century, revolutionary syndicalism emerged as a form of radical trade-union activism, sharing a close relationship with social anarchists of both the collectivist and communist tendencies. In the early 1920s, anarcho-syndicalism arose as a distinct school of thought within anarchism.[36]

With greater focus on the labour movement than previous forms of anarchism, syndicalism posits radical trade unions as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the state with a new society, democratically self-managed by the workers.

Like anarchist-communists, anarcho-syndicalists seek to abolish the wage system and private ownership of the means of production, which they believe lead to class divisions. Important principles include workers’ solidarity, direct action (such as general strikes and workplace recuperations), and workers’ self-management of enterprises and the economy as a whole.

In terms of post-capitalist vision, anarcho-syndicalists most often subscribe to communist or collectivist anarchist economic systems on the issue of distributing goods.[37] The aim is to use a radical trade union movement to achieve either a collectivist or communist (moneyless) mode of distribution; or first the former, then the latter, once a certain degree of technical-productive capacity has enabled production to outstrip consumption, making a moneyless economy more viable. However, anarcho-syndicalists differ from anarcho-communists on wanting federations of (trade-based) workers’ syndicates as the locus of organising the economy, rather than confederations of (territory-based) free communes.

Its advocates propose labour organization as a means to create the foundations of a trade union centered anarchist society within the current system and bring about social revolution. An early leading anarcho-syndicalist thinker was Rudolf Rocker, whose 1938 pamphlet Anarchosyndicalism outlined a view of the movement’s origin, aims and importance to the future of labour.[37][38]

Although more often associated with labor struggles of the early 20th century (particularly in France and Spain), many syndicalist organizations are active today, united across national borders by membership in the International Workers Association, including the Central Organisation of the Workers of Sweden (SAC) in Sweden, the Unione Sindacale Italiana (USI) in Italy, the CNT and the CGT in Spain, the Workers’ Solidarity Movement (WSM) of Ireland, and the Industrial Workers of the World in the United States.


Platformism is a tendency (or organized school of thought) within the anarchist movement. It stresses the need for tightly organized anarchist organizations, that are able to influence working class and peasant movements to achieve anarchist communism.

It is in many ways identical to specifism (especifismo), and has an antecedent in the work of Mikhail Bakunin, advocating a strategy of “organisational dualism”, which entails: (1) building specifically anarchist organisations with a general agreement on ideas and practices, and (2) anarchists working within broader popular organisations and movements that aren’t specifically anarchist, hoping to maintain theoretical consistency as well as pushing popular movements in a more anarchistic direction from within.

Platformist/specifist groups reject the model of Leninist vanguardism. They aim, instead, to “make anarchist ideas the leading ideas within the class struggle“.[39] The four main principles by which an anarchist organisation should operate, according to Organisational Platform for a General Union of Anarchists, are ideological unity, tactical unity, collective responsibility, and federalism.

In general, these groups aim to win the widest possible influence for anarchist ideas and methods in the working class and peasantry (the popular classes), oriented towards “ordinary” people, rather than to the extreme left milieu. This usually entails a willingness to work in single-issue campaigns, trade unionism, and community groups, and to fight for immediate reforms while linking this to a project of building popular consciousness and organisation. They therefore reject approaches that they believe will prevent this, such as insurrectionist anarchism, as well as “views that dismiss activity in the unions” or that dismiss anti-imperialist movements.[40]

The name “Platformist” derives from the 1926 Organisational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft).[41] This was published by the Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad, in their journal Dielo Truda (“Workers’ Cause” in Russian). The group, which consisted of exiled Russian anarchist veterans of the 1917 October Revolution (notably Nestor Makhno who played a leading role in the anarchist revolution in the Ukraine of 1918–1921), based the Platform on their experiences of the revolution, and the eventual 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 outside of the Ukraine.

The document drew both praise and criticism from anarchists worldwide and sparked a major debate within the anarchist movement.[42] Today “Platformism” is an important current in international anarchism. Around thirty platformist and especifista organisations are linked together in the Anarkismo.net project, including groups from Africa, Latin America, North America and Europe.[40]


Inclusive Democracy is a political theory and political project that aim for direct democracyeconomic democracy in a stateless, moneyless and marketless economy, self-management (democracy in the social realm) and ecological democracy. The theoretical project of Inclusive Democracy (ID; as distinguished from the political project that is part of the democratic and autonomy traditions) emerged from the work of political philosopher, former academic and activist Takis Fotopoulos in Towards An Inclusive Democracy and was further developed by him and other writers in the journal Democracy & Nature and its successor The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, an electronic journal freely available and published by the International Network for Inclusive Democracy.

According to Arran GareTowards an Inclusive Democracy “offers a powerful new interpretation of the history and destructive dynamics of the market and provides an inspiring new vision of the future in place of both neo-liberalism and existing forms of socialism”.[43] Also, as David Freeman points out, although Fotopoulos’ approach “is not openly anarchism, yet anarchism seems the formal category within which he works, given his commitment to direct democracy, municipalism and abolition of state, money and market economy”.[44]


 Subordination

A hierarchy (from the Greek hierarchia, “rule of a high priest”, from hierarkhes, “leader of sacred rites”) is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are represented as being “above”, “below”, or “at the same level as” one another.

A hierarchy can link entities either directly or indirectly, and either vertically or diagonally. The only direct links in a hierarchy, insofar as they are hierarchical, are to one’s immediate superior or to one of one’s subordinates, although a system that is largely hierarchical can also incorporate alternative hierarchies. Indirect hierarchical links can extend “vertically” upwards or downwards via multiple links in the same direction, following a path. All parts of the hierarchy which are not linked vertically to one another nevertheless can be “horizontally” linked through a path by traveling up the hierarchy to find a common direct or indirect superior, and then down again. This is akin to two co-workers or colleagues; each reports to a common superior, but they have the same relative amount of authority. Organizational forms exist that are both alternative and complementary to hierarchy. Heterarchy is one such form. Possibly the first use of the English word “hierarchy” cited by the Oxford English Dictionary was in 1880, when it was used in reference to the three orders of three angels as depicted by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (5th–6th centuries). Pseudo-Dionysius used the related Greek word (hierarchia) both in reference to the celestial hierarchy and the ecclesiastical hierarchy.[3] The Greek term “ἱεραρχία” means “rule by priests” (from “ἱεράρχης” – ierarches, meaning “president of sacred rites, high-priest”[4] and that from “ἱερεύς” – iereus, “priest”[5] + “ἀρχή” – arche, amongst others “first place or power, rule”[6]), and Dionysius is credited with first use of it as an abstract noun. Since hierarchical churches, such as the Roman Catholic (see Catholic Church hierarchy) and Eastern Orthodox churches, had tables of organization that were “hierarchical” in the modern sense of the word (traditionally with God as the pinnacle or head of the hierarchy), the term came to refer to similar organizational methods in secular settings.


 Heterarchy

heterarchy is a system of organization where the elements of the organization are unranked (non-hierarchical) or where they possess the potential to be ranked a number of different ways.[1] Definitions of the term vary among the disciplines: in social and information sciences, heterarchies are networks of elements in which each element shares the same “horizontal” position of power and authority, each playing a theoretically equal role. But in biological taxonomy, the requisite features of heterarchy involve, for example, a species sharing, with a species in a different family, a common ancestor which it does not share with members of its own family. This is theoretically possible under principles of “horizontal gene transfer.”

A heterarchy may be parallel to a hierarchy, subsumed to a hierarchy, or it may contain hierarchies; the two kinds of structure are not mutually exclusive. In fact, each level in a hierarchical system is composed of a potentially heterarchical group which contains its constituent elements.

The concept of heterarchy was first employed in a modern context by Warren McCulloch in 1945.[2] As Carole L. Crumley has summarised, “[h]e examined alternative cognitive structure(s), the collective organization of which he termed heterarchy. He demonstrated that the human brain, while reasonably orderly was not organized hierarchically. This understanding revolutionized the neural study of the brain and solved major problems in the fields of artificial intelligence and computer design.”[3]

In a group of related items, heterarchy is a state wherein any pair of items is likely to be related in two or more differing ways. Whereas hierarchies sort groups into progressively smaller categories and subcategories, heterarchies divide and unite groups variously, according to multiple concerns that emerge or recede from view according to perspective. Crucially, no one way of dividing a heterarchical system can ever be a totalizing or all-encompassing view of the system, each division is clearly partial, and in many cases, a partial division leads us, as perceivers, to a feeling of contradiction that invites a new way of dividing things. (But of course the next view is just as partial and temporary.) Heterarchy is a name for this state of affairs, and a description of a heterarchy usually requires ambivalent thought… a willingness to ambulate freely between unrelated perspectives.

However, because the requirements for a heterarchical system are not exactly stated, identifying a heterarchy through the use of archaeological materials can often prove to be difficult.[4]

Examples of heterarchical conceptualizations include the Gilles Deleuze/Félix Guattari conceptions of deterritorializationrhizome, and body without organs.

Numerous observers in the information sciences have argued that heterarchical structure processes more information more effectively than hierarchical design. An example of the potential effectiveness of heterarchy would be the rapid growth of the heterarchical Wikipedia project in comparison with the failed growth of the Nupedia project.[5] Heterarchy increasingly trumps hierarchy as complexity and rate of change increase.

Informational heterarchy can be defined as an organizational form somewhere between hierarchy and network that provides horizontal links that permit different elements of an organization to cooperate whilst individually optimizing different success criteria. In an organizational context the value of heterarchy derives from the way in which it permits the legitimate valuation of multiple skills, types of knowledge or working styles without privileging one over the other. In information science, therefore, heterarchy, responsible autonomy and hierarchy are sometimes combined under the umbrella term Triarchy.

This concept has also been applied to the field of archaeology, where it has enabled researchers to better understand social complexity. For further reading see the works of Carole Crumley.

Anthropologist Dmitri Bondarenko follows Carole Crumley in her definition of heterarchy as “the relation of elements to one another when they are unranked or when they possess the potential for being ranked in a number of different ways” and argues that it is therefore not strictly the opposite of hierarchy, but is rather the opposite of homoarchy,[6] which is itself defined as “the relation of elements to one another when they possess the potential for being ranked in one way only”.[7]

David C. Stark has been contributing to developing the concept of heterarchy in the sociology of organizations.

Political hierarchies and heterarchies are systems in which multiple dynamic power structures govern the actions of the system. They represent different types of network structures that allow differing degrees of connectivity. In a (tree-structuredhierarchy every node is connected to at most one parent node and zero or more child nodes. In a heterarchy, however, a node can be connected to any of its surrounding nodes without needing to go through or get permission from some other node.

Socially, a heterarchy distributes privilege and decision-making among participants, while a hierarchy assigns more power and privilege to the members high in the structure. In a systemic perspective, Gilbert Probst, Jean-Yves Mercier and others describe heterarchy as the flexibility of the formal relationships inside an organization.[8] Domination and subordination links can be reversed and privileges can be redistributed in each situation, following the needs of the system.[9]

A heterarchical network could be used to describe neuron connections or democracy, although there are clearly hierarchical elements in both.

The term heterarchy is used in conjunction with the concepts of holons and holarchy to describe individual systems at each level of a holarchy.


Direct democracy

Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majority of most currently established democracies, which are representative democracies.

In a representative democracy, people vote for representatives who then enact policy initiatives.[1] In direct democracy, people decide on policies without any intermediary. Depending on the particular system in use, direct democracy might entail passing executive decisions, the use of sortition, making laws, directly electing or dismissing officials, and conducting trials. Two leading forms of direct democracy are participatory democracy and deliberative democracy.

Semi-direct democracies in which representatives administer day-to-day governance, but the citizens remain the sovereign, allow for three forms of popular action: referendum (plebiscite), initiative, and recall. The first two forms—referendums and initiatives—are examples of direct legislation.[2]

Compulsory referendum subjects the legislation drafted by political elites to a binding popular vote. This is the most common form of direct legislation. Popular referendum empowers citizens to make a petition that calls existing legislation to a vote by the citizens. Institutions specify the timeframe for a valid petition and the number of signatures required, and may require signatures from diverse communities to protect minority interests.[2] This form of direct democracy effectively grants the voting public a veto on laws adopted by the elected legislature, as is done in Switzerland.[3][4][5][6]

Power of initiative allows members of the general public to propose specific statutory measures or constitutional reforms to the government and, as with referendums, the vote may be binding or simply advisory. Initiatives may be direct or indirect: With the direct initiative, a successful proposition is placed directly on the ballot to be subject to vote (as exemplified by California’s system).[2] With an indirect initiative, a successful proposition is first presented to the legislature for their consideration; however, if no acceptable action is taken after a designated period of time, the proposition moves to direct popular vote. Such a form of indirect initiative is utilized by Switzerland for constitutional amendments.[2]

Power of recall gives the public the power to remove elected officials from office before the end of their term.[7]

Many residents, especially of smaller cities but even cities like Encinitas, California, with over 60,000 residents, in passing Prop A in 2013, insist on direct resident voting for some decisions. Such measures agree with anarchists, who have long argued against representative democracy. They argue that direct democracy opposes a strong central authority. That is because decision-making power can reside at only one level. A central authority keeps the people themselves from governing themselves.[8]

The earliest known direct democracy is said to be the Athenian democracy in the 5th century BC, although it was not an inclusive democracy: women, foreigners, and slaves were excluded from it. The main bodies in the Athenian democracy were the assembly, composed of male citizens; the boulê, composed of 500 citizens; and the law courts, composed of a massive number of jurors chosen by lot, with no judges. There were only about 30,000 male citizens, but several thousand of them were politically active in each year, and many of them quite regularly for years on end. The Athenian democracy was direct not only in the sense that decisions were made by the assembled people, but also in the sense that the people through the assembly, boulê, and law courts controlled the entire political process, and a large proportion of citizens were involved constantly in the public business.[9] Modern democracies, being representative, not direct, do not resemble the Athenian system.

Also relevant to the history of direct democracy is the history of Ancient Rome, specifically the Roman Republic, beginning around 509 BC.[10] Rome displayed many aspects of democracy, both direct and indirect, from the era of Roman monarchy all the way to the collapse of the Roman Empire. Indeed, the Senate, formed in the first days of the city, lasted through the Kingdom, Republic, and Empire, and even continued after the decline of Western Rome; and its structure and regulations continue to influence legislative bodies worldwide. As to direct democracy, the ancient Roman Republic had a system of citizen lawmaking, or citizen formulation and passage of law, and a citizen veto of legislature-made law. Many historians mark the end of the Republic with the passage of a law named the Lex Titia, 27 November 43 BC, which eliminated many oversight provisions.[10]

Modern-era citizen lawmaking began in the towns of Switzerland in the 13th century. In 1847, the Swiss added the “statute referendum” to their national constitution. They soon discovered that merely having the power to veto Parliament’s laws was not enough. In 1891, they added the “constitutional amendment initiative”. Swiss politics since 1891 have given the world a valuable experience base with the national-level constitutional amendment initiative.[11] In the past 120 years, more than 240 initiatives have been put to referendums. The populace has been conservative, approving only about 10% of these initiatives; in addition, they have often opted for a version of the initiative rewritten by government. (See Direct democracy in Switzerland below.)[3][4][5][6]

Some of the issues surrounding the related notion of a direct democracy using the Internet and other communications technologies are dealt with in e-democracy and below under the term electronic direct democracy. More concisely, the concept of open source governance applies principles of the free software movement to the governance of people, allowing the entire populace to participate in government directly, as much or as little as they please.[12]

The pure form of direct democracy exists only in the Swiss cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Glarus.[15] The Swiss Confederation is a semi-direct democracy (representative democracy with strong instruments of direct democracy).[15] The nature of direct democracy in Switzerland is fundamentally complemented by its federal governmental structures (in Germanalso called the Subsidiaritätsprinzip).[3][4][5][6]

Most western countries have representative systems.[15] Switzerland is a rare example of a country with instruments of direct democracy (at the levels of the municipalities, cantons, and federal state). Citizens have more power than in a representative democracy. On any political level citizens can propose changes to the constitution (popular initiative), or ask for an optional referendum to be held on any law voted by the federalcantonal parliament and/or municipal legislative body.[16]

The list for mandatory or optional referendums on each political level are generally much longer in Switzerland than in any other country; for example any amendment to the constitution must automatically be voted on by the Swiss electorate and cantons, on cantonal/communal levels often any financial decision of a certain substantial amount decreed by legislative and/or executive bodies as well.[16]

Swiss citizens vote regularly on any kind of issue on every political level, such as financial approvals of a school house or the building of a new street, or the change of the policy regarding sexual work, or on constitutional changes, or on the foreign policy of Switzerland, four times a year.[17] Between January 1995 and June 2005, Swiss citizens voted 31 times, on 103 federal questions besides many more cantonal and municipal questions.[18] During the same period, French citizens participated in only two referendums.[15]

In Switzerland, simple majorities are sufficient at the municipal and cantonal level, but at the federal level double majorities are required on constitutional issues.[11]

A double majority requires approval by a majority of individuals voting, and also by a majority of cantons. Thus, in Switzerland a citizen-proposed amendment to the federal constitution (i.e. popular initiative) cannot be passed at the federal level if a majority of the people approve but a majority of the cantons disapprove.[11] For referendums or propositions in general terms (like the principle of a general revision of the Constitution), a majority of those voting is sufficient (Swiss Constitution, 2005).

In 1890, when the provisions for Swiss national citizen lawmaking were being debated by civil society and government, the Swiss adopted the idea of double majorities from the United States Congress, in which House votes were to represent the people and Senate votes were to represent the states.[11] According to its supporters, this “legitimacy-rich” approach to national citizen lawmaking has been very successful. Kris Kobach claims that Switzerland has had tandem successes both socially and economically which are matched by only a few other nations. Kobach states at the end of his book, “Too often, observers deem Switzerland an oddity among political systems. It is more appropriate to regard it as a pioneer.” Finally, the Swiss political system, including its direct democratic devices in a multi-level governance context, becomes increasingly interesting for scholars of European Union integration.[19]


Peter Kropotkin

Anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin believed that in anarchy, workers would spontaneously self-organize to produce goods for all of society.

Pyotr Alexeevich Kropotkin (/krˈpɒtkɪnkrə-/;[10] Russian: Пётр Алексе́евич Кропо́ткин; December 9, 1842 – February 8, 1921) was a Russian activist, scientist and philosopher who advocated anarchism.

Born into an aristocratic land-owning family, he attended a military school and later served as an officer in Siberia, where he participated in several geological expeditions. He was imprisoned for his activism in 1874 and managed to escape two years later. He spent the next 41 years in exile in Switzerland, France (where he was imprisoned for almost four years) and in England. He returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917, but was disappointed by the Bolshevik form of state socialism.

Kropotkin was a proponent of a decentralised communist society free from central government and based on voluntary associations of self-governing communities and worker-run enterprises. He wrote many books, pamphlets and articles, the most prominent being The Conquest of Bread and Fields, Factories and Workshops; and his principal scientific offering, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution. He also contributed the article on anarchism to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition[11] and left unfinished a work on anarchist ethical philosophy.

Pyotr Alexeevich Kropotkin was born in Moscow, into the second-highest level of the Russian aristocracy. His mother was the daughter of a Cossack general.[12] His father, Alexei Petrovich Kropotkin, was a prince in Smolensk,[13] of the Rurik dynasty which had ruled Russia before the rise of the Romanovs. Kropotkin’s father owned large tracts of land and nearly 1,200 male serfs in three provinces.[12]

“[U]nder the influence of republican teachings,” Kropotkin dropped his princely title at age 12, and “even rebuked his friends, when they so referred to him.”[14]

In 1857, at age 14, Kropotkin enrolled in the Corps of Pages at St. Petersburg.[15] Only 150 boys – mostly children of nobility belonging to the court – were educated in this privileged corps, which combined the character of a military school endowed with special rights and of a court institution attached to the Imperial Household. Kropotkin’s memoirs detail the hazing and other abuse of pages for which the Corps had become notorious.[16]

In Moscow, Kropotkin developed an interest in the condition of the peasantry, and this interest grew as he grew older. Although his work as a page for Tsar Alexander IImade Kropotkin skeptical about the tsar’s “liberal” reputation,[17] Kropotkin was greatly pleased by the tsar’s decision to emancipate the serfs in 1861.[18] In St. Petersburg, he read widely on his own account, and gave special attention to the works of the French encyclopædists and to French history. The years 1857–1861 witnessed a growth in the intellectual forces of Russia, and Kropotkin came under the influence of the new liberal-revolutionary literature, which largely expressed his own aspirations.[19]

In 1862, Kropotkin graduated first in his class from the Corps of Pages, and entered the Tsarist army.[20] The members of the corps had the prescriptive right to choose the regiment to which they would be attached. Following a desire to “be someone useful,” Kropotkin chose the difficult route of serving in a Cossack regiment in eastern Siberia.[20] For some time, he was aide de camp to the governor of Transbaikalia at Chita. Later he was appointed attaché for Cossack affairs to the governor-general of East Siberia at Irkutsk.[21]

The administrator under whom Kropotkin served, General Boleslar Kazimirovich Kukel (1829-1869) was a liberal and a democrat who maintained personal connections to various Russian radical political figures exiled to Siberia. These included the writer M. I. Mikhailov(1826-1865), to whom Kukel sent Kropotkin to warn the exiled intellectual that Moscow police agents were on the scene to examine his ongoing political activities in confinement.[22] As a result of this assignment, Kropotkin made the acquaintance of Mikhailov, who provided the young Tsarist functionary with a copy of a book by the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon — Kropotkin’s first introduction to anarchist ideas.[22] Kukel was subsequently dismissed from his administrative position and Kropotkin moved from administration to state-sponsored scientific endeavors.[22]

In 1864 Kropotkin accepted a position in a geographical survey expedition, crossing North Manchuria from Transbaikalia to the Amur, and soon was attached to another expedition up the Sungari River into the heart of Manchuria. The expeditions yielded valuable geographical results. The impossibility of obtaining any real administrative reforms in Siberia now induced Kropotkin to devote himself almost entirely to scientific exploration, in which he continued to be highly successful.[23]

Kropotkin continued his political reading, including works by such prominent liberal thinkers as John Stuart Mill and Alexander Herzen. These readings, along with his experiences among peasants in Siberia, led him to declare himself an anarchist by 1872.[24]

In 1867, Kropotkin resigned his commission in the army and returned to St. Petersburg, where he entered the Saint Petersburg Imperial University to study mathematics, becoming at the same time secretary to the geography section of the Russian Geographical Society.[25] His departure from a family tradition of military service prompted his father to disinherit him, “leaving him a ‘prince’ with no visible means of support”.[26]

In 1871, Kropotkin explored the glacial deposits of Finland and Sweden for the Society.[25] In 1873, he published an important contribution to science, a map and paper in which he showed that the existing maps entirely misrepresented the physical features of Asia; the main structural lines were in fact from southwest to northeast, not from north to south or from east to west as had been previously supposed. During this work, he was offered the secretaryship of the Society, but he had decided that it was his duty not to work at fresh discoveries but to aid in diffusing existing knowledge among the people at large. Accordingly, he refused the offer and returned to St. Petersburg, where he joined the revolutionary party.[27]

Kropotkin visited Switzerland in 1872 and became a member of the International Workingmen’s Association (IWA) at Geneva. However, he found that he did not like IWA’s style of socialism. Instead, he studied the programme of the more radical Jura federation at Neuchâtel and spent time in the company of the leading members, and adopted the creed of anarchism.[28]

On returning to Russia, Kropotkin’s friend Dmitri Klements introduced him to the Circle of Tchaikovsky, a socialist/populist group created in 1872. Kropotkin worked to spread revolutionary propaganda among peasants and workers, and acted as a bridge between the Circle and the aristocracy. Throughout this period, Kropotkin maintained his position within the Geographical Society in order to provide cover for his activities.[29]

In 1872, Kropotkin was arrested and imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress for subversive political activity, as a result of his work with the Circle of Tchaikovsky. Because of his aristocratic background, he received special privileges in prison, such as permission to continue his geographical work in his cell. He delivered his report on the subject of the Ice Age in 1876, where he argued that it had taken place in not as distant a past as originally thought.[30]

In 1876, just before his trial, Kropotkin was moved to a low-security prison in St. Petersburg, from which he escaped with the help of his friends. On the night of the escape, Kropotkin and his friends celebrated by dining in one of the finest restaurants in St. Petersburg, assuming correctly that the police would not think to look for them there. After this, he boarded a boat, and headed to England.[31] After a short stay there, he moved to Switzerland where he joined the Jura Federation. In 1877, he moved to Paris, where he helped start the socialist movement. In 1878, he returned to Switzerland where he edited the Jura Federation’s revolutionary newspaper Le Révolté, and published various revolutionary pamphlets.[32]

In 1881, shortly after the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, he was expelled from Switzerland. After a short stay at Thonon(Savoy), he stayed in London for nearly a year.[33] He attended the Anarchist Congress in London from July 14, 1881.[34] Other delegates included Marie Le CompteErrico MalatestaSaverio MerlinoLouise Michel, Nicholas Tchaikovsky and Émile Gautier. While respecting “complete autonomy of local groups”, the congress defined propaganda actions that all could follow and agreed that propaganda by the deed was the path to social revolution.[34] The Radical of July 23, 1881 reported that the congress met on July 18 at the Cleveland Hall, Fitzroy Square, with speeches by Marie Le Compte, “the transatlantic agitator”, Louise Michel, and Kropotkin.[35] Later Le Compte and Kropotkin gave talks to the Homerton Social Democratic Club and to the Stratford Radical and Dialectical Club.[36]

Kropotkin returned to Thonon in late 1882. Soon he was arrested by the French government, tried at Lyon, and sentenced by a police-court magistrate (under a special law passed on the fall of the Paris Commune) to five years’ imprisonment, on the ground that he had belonged to the IWA (1883). The French Chamber repeatedly agitated on his behalf, and he was released in 1886. He was invited to Britain by Charlotte Wilson, with whom he co-founded the Freedom Press, an anarchist newspaper which continues to this day. Kropotkin was a regular contributor. He settled near London, living at various times in Harrow, then Bromley, where his daughter and only child, Alexandra, was born on April 15, 1887.[37] [38] He also lived for a number of years in Brighton.[39] While living in London, Kropotkin became friends with a number of prominent English-speaking socialists, including William Morris and George Bernard Shaw.[40]

In 1917, after the February Revolution, Kropotkin returned to Russia after 40 years of exile. His arrival was greeted by cheering crowds of tens of thousands of people. He was offered the ministry of education in the Provisional Government, which he promptly refused, feeling that working with them would be a violation of his anarchist principles.[41]

His enthusiasm for the changes occurring in the Russian Empire expanded when Bolsheviks seized power in the October Revolution. He had this to say about the October Revolution: “During all the activities of the present revolutionary political parties we must never forget that the October movement of the proletariat, which ended in a revolution, has proved to everybody that a social revolution is within the bounds of possibility. And this struggle, which takes place worldwide, has to be supported by all means – all the rest is secondary. The party of the Bolsheviks was right to adopt the old, purely proletarian name of “Communist Party”. Even if it does not achieve everything that it would like to, it will nevertheless enlighten the path of the civilised countries for at least a century. Its ideas will slowly be adopted by the peoples in the same way as in the nineteenth century the world adopted the ideas of the Great French Revolution. That is the colossal achievement of the October Revolution.” …. “I see the October Revolution as an attempt to bring the preceding February Revolution to its logical conclusion with a transition to communism and federalism.” [42]

Even though he led a life on the margins of the revolutionary upheaval, Kropotkin became increasingly critical of the methods of the Bolshevik dictatorship, and went on to express these feelings in writing. “Unhappily, this effort has been made in Russia under a strongly centralized party dictatorship. This effort was made in the same way as the extremely centralized and Jacobin endeavor of Babeuf. I owe it to you to say frankly that, according to my view, this effort to build a communist republic on the basis of a strongly centralized state communism under the iron law of party dictatorship is bound to end in failure. We are learning to know in Russia how not to introduce communism, even with a people tired of the old regime and opposing no active resistance to the experiments of the new rulers.”[43]

Kropotkin died of pneumonia on February 8, 1921, in the city of Dmitrov, and was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. Thousands of people marched in his funeral procession, including, with Vladimir Lenin‘s approval,[44] anarchists carrying banners with anti-Bolshevik slogans.[45] It was to become the last public demonstration of anarchists, which saw engaged speeches by Emma Goldman and Aron Baron. In some versions of Peter Kropotkin’s Conquest of Bread, it states in his mini biography, that this would be the last time that Kropotkin’s supporters would be allowed to freely rally in public.

In 1957, the Dvorets Sovetov station of the Moscow Metro was renamed Kropotkinskaya in his honor.[46]

Kropotkin pointed out what he considered to be the fallacies of the economic systems of feudalism and capitalism. He believed they create poverty and artificial scarcity while promoting privilege. Instead, he proposed a more decentralized economic system based on mutual aid, mutual support, and voluntary cooperation, asserting that the tendencies for this kind of organization already exist, both in evolution and in human society.[47]

He disagreed with the Marxian critique of capitalism, including the labour theory of value, believing there was no necessary link between work performed and the prices of commodities. His attacks on the institution of wage-labour were based more on the power employers exerted over employees – which he claimed was made possible by the state protecting private ownership of productive resources – than the extraction of surplus value from their labour.

In 1902, Kropotkin published his book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, which provided an alternative view of animal and human survival, beyond the claims of interpersonal competition and natural hierarchy proffered at the time by some “social Darwinists” such as Francis Galton. He argued that “it was an evolutionary emphasis on cooperation instead of competition in the Darwinian sense that made for the success of species, including the human”.[48] Kropotkin explored the widespread use of cooperation as a survival mechanism in human societies – through their many stages – and among animals. He used many real-life examples in an attempt to show that the main factor in facilitating evolution is cooperation between individuals in free-associated societies and groups, without central control, authority, or compulsion. He did so in order to counteract the concept of fierce competition as the core of evolution, which concept provided a rationalization for the dominant political, economic, and social theories[which?] of the time and for the prevalent interpretations of Darwinism.[citation needed] In the last chapter, he wrote:[49]

In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense – not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species. The animal species[…] in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits[…] and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development[…] are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay.

— Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), Conclusion.

Kropotkin did not deny the presence of competitive urges in humans, but did not see them as the driving force of history (as did capitalists and social Darwinists).[50]:262He believed that seeking out conflict proved to be socially beneficial only in attempts to destroy unjust, authoritarian institutions such as the State or the Church, which he saw as stifling human creativity and freedom and impeding human instinctual drive towards sociality and cooperation.[51]

Kropotkin’s observations of cooperative tendencies in indigenous peoples (pre-feudal, feudal, and those remaining in modern societies) led him to conclude that not all human societies were based on competition, such as those of industrialized Europe, and that many societies exhibited cooperation among individuals and groups as the norm. He also concluded that most pre-industrial and pre-authoritarian societies (where he claimed that leadership, central government and class did not exist) actively defend against the accumulation of private property by, for example, equally distributing within the community a person’s possessions when he died, or by not allowing a gift to be sold, bartered or used to create wealth (see Gift economy).[52]

In his 1892 book The Conquest of Bread, Kropotkin proposed a system of economics based on mutual exchanges made in a system of voluntary cooperation. He believed that should a society be socially, culturally, and industrially developed enough to produce all the goods and services required by it, then no obstacle, such as preferential distribution, pricing or monetary exchange will prevent everyone to take what they need from the social product. He supported the eventual abolition of money or tokens of exchange for goods and services.[53]

Kropotkin believed that Bakunin‘s collectivist economic model was simply a wage system by a different name,[54] and that such a system would breed the same type of centralization and inequality as a capitalist wage system. He stated that it is impossible to determine the value of an individual’s contributions to the products of social labor, and thought that anyone who was placed in a position of trying to make such determinations would wield authority over those whose wages they determined.[55]He further developed these ideas in Fields, Factories and Workshops.[citation needed]

According to Kirkpatrick Sale:[48]

With Mutual Aid especially, and later with Fields, Factories, and Workshops, Kropotkin was able to move away from the absurdist limitations of individual anarchism and no-laws anarchism that had flourished during this period and provide instead a vision of communal anarchism, following the models of independent cooperative communities he discovered while developing his theory of mutual aid. It was an anarchism that opposed centralized government and state-level laws as traditional anarchism did, but understood that at a certain small scale, communities and communes and co-ops could flourish and provide humans with a rich material life and wide areas of liberty without centralized control.

Kropotkin’s focus on local production led to his view that a country should strive for self-sufficiency – manufacture its own goods and grow its own food, lessening dependence on imports. To these ends he advocated irrigation and greenhouses to boost local food production ability.[56]


Mikhail Bakunin

Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin[a] (/bəˈknɪn/;[1] 30 May [O.S. 18 May] 1814 – 1 July 1876) was a Russian revolutionaryanarchist and founder of collectivist anarchism. He is considered among the most influential figures of anarchism, and one of the principal founders of the social anarchist tradition.[2] Bakunin’s enormous prestige as an activist made him one of the most famous ideologues in Europe, and he gained substantial influence among radicals throughout Russia and Europe.

Bakunin grew up in Pryamukhino, a family estate in Tver Governorate, where he moved to study philosophy and began to read the French encyclopédistes, leading to enthusiasm for the philosophy of Fichte. From Fichte, Bakunin went on to immerse himself in the works of Hegel, the most influential thinker among German intellectuals at the time. That led to his embrace of Hegelianism, bedazzled by Hegel’s famous maxim, “Everything that exists is rational.” In 1840, Bakunin traveled to St. Petersburg and Berlin with the intention of preparing himself for a professorship in philosophy or history at the University of Moscow. In 1842, Bakunin moved from Berlin to Dresden. Eventually he arrived in Paris, where he met Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Karl Marx.

Bakunin’s increasing radicalism – including staunch opposition to imperialism in east and central Europe by Russia and other powers – changed his life, putting an end to hopes of a professorial career. He was eventually deported from France for speaking against Russia’s oppression of Poland. In 1849, Bakunin was apprehended in Dresden for his participation in the Czech rebellion of 1848, and turned over to Russia where he was imprisoned in the Peter-Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg. He remained there until 1857, when he was exiled to a work camp in Siberia. Escaping to Japan, the US and finally ending up in London for a short time, he worked with Alexander Herzen on the journal Kolokol (The Bell). In 1863, he left to join the insurrection in Poland, but he failed to reach his destination and instead spent some time in Switzerland and Italy.

In 1868, Bakunin joined the socialist International Working Men’s Association, a federation of trade unions and workers’ organizations, which had sections in many European countries, as well as in Latin America and (after 1872) in North Africa and the Middle East. The “Bakuninist” or anarchist trend rapidly expanded in influence, especially in Spain, which constituted the largest section of the International at the time. A showdown loomed with Marx, who was a key figure in the General Council of the International. The 1872 Hague Congress was dominated by a struggle between Marx and his followers, who argued for the use of the state to bring about socialism, and the Bakunin/anarchist faction, which argued instead for the replacement of the state by federations of self-governing workplaces and communes. Bakunin could not attend the congress, as he could not reach the Netherlands. Bakunin’s faction present at the conference lost, and Bakunin was (in Marx’s view) expelled for supposedly maintaining a secret organisation within the international.

However, the anarchists insisted the congress was unrepresentative and exceeded its powers, and held a rival conference of the International at Saint-Imier in Switzerland in 1872. This repudiated the Hague meeting, including Bakunin’s supposed expulsion. The great majority of sections of the International affiliated to the St. Imier body, making Marx’s victory rather more illusory than pro-Marxist accounts suggest. The far larger Bakuninist international outlasted its small Marxist rival, which was isolated in New York; it also greatly facilitated the global spread of anarcho-socialism. In the International, as well as in his writings, Bakunin articulated the basic ideas of syndicalism and of anarchism, and developed the basic anarchist analysis and strategy. He had by this stage abandoned the anti-imperialist nationalism of his youth.

From 1870 to 1876, Bakunin wrote some of his longer works, such as Statism and Anarchy and God and the State. Bakunin remained, however, a direct participant in struggles. In 1870, he was involved in an insurrection in Lyon, France, which foreshadowed the Paris Commune. The Paris Commune closely corresponded to many elements of Bakunin’s anarchist programme – self-management, mandates delegates, a militia system with elected officers, and decentralisation. Anarchists like Élisée Reclus, and those in the tradition of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon – who had greatly influenced Bakunin – were key figures in the Commune. Despite declining health, much a result of his years of imprisonment, Bakunin also sought to take part in a communal insurrection involving anarchists in Bologna, Italy, but was forced to return to Switzerland in disguise, where he settled in Lugano. He remained active in the worker’s and peasant’s movements of Europe and was also a major influence on movements in Egypt and Latin America.

Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin was born to a Russian noble family “of only modest means”[3] (they owned 500 serfs[4]) in the Pryamukhino village situated between Torzhok and Kuvshinovo. His father Alexander Mikhailovich Bakunin (1768—1854) (ru) was a career diplomat who spent years serving in Italy and France and upon his return settled down at the paternal estate and turned a Marshal of Nobility. According to the family legend, the Bakunin dynasty was founded in 1492 by one of the three brothers of the noble Báthory family who left Hungary to serve under Vasili III of Russia.[5] In reality the first documented ancestor was a Moscow dyak (clerk) Nikifor Evdokimov nicknamed Bakunya (from the Russian bakunyabakulya meaning “chatterbox, phrase monger”[6]) who lived during the 17th century.[7] Alexander’s mother, knyazna Lubov Petrovna Myshetskaya, belonged to the impoverished Upper Oka Principalities branch of the Rurik dynasty founded by Mikhail Yurievich Tarussky, grandson of Michael of Chernigov.[8]

In 1810 Alexander Bakunin married Varvara Alexandrovna Muravyova (1792—1864) who was 24 years younger than him. She came from the ancient noble Muravyov family that was founded during the 15th century by the Ryazan boyar Ivan Vasilievich Alapovsky nicknamed Muravey (translates simply as “ant”) who was granted lands in Veliky Novgorod.[9][10] Among her second cousins were Nikita Muravyov and Sergey Muravyov-Apostol, some of the key figures of the Decembrist revolt. Alexander’s commitment to liberal ideas also led to his involvement with one in the Decembrist clubs. After Nicolas I became an Emperor, however, he gave up politics and devoted himself to the estate and his children — five girls and five boys, the oldest of whom was Mikhail.[11]

At the age of 14 Bakunin left for Saint Petersburg and became a Junker at the Artillery School (known as Mikhailovskaya Military Artillery Academy today). In 1833 he received a rank of Praporshchik and was seconded to serve in the Minsk and Grodno Governorates in one of the artillery brigades.[12] There was a legend that he was sent there as a punishment after offending General Ivan Sukhozanet, a school principal and brother of Nikolai Sukhozanet, but none of the serious sources ever confirmed it, including Bakunin himself.[13] He didn’t enjoy army and, having a lot of free time on his hands, spent it on self-education. In 1835 he was seconded to Tver, and from there went straight to his village. Though his father wished him to continue in either the military or the civil service, Bakunin decided to abandon both and made his way to Moscow, hoping to study philosophy.[12]

In Moscow, Bakunin soon became friends with a group of former university students and engaged in the systematic study of Idealist philosophy, grouped around the poet Nikolay Stankevich, “the bold pioneer who opened to Russian thought the vast and fertile continent of German metaphysics” (E. H. Carr). The philosophy of Kantinitially was central to their study, but they progressed to Schelling, Fichte, and Hegel. By autumn 1835, Bakunin had conceived of forming a philosophical circle in his home town of Pryamukhino. Moreover, by early 1836, Bakunin was back in Moscow, where he published translations of Fichte’s Some Lectures Concerning the Scholar’s Vocation and The Way to a Blessed Life, which became his favorite book. With Stankevich he also read GoetheSchiller, and E.T.A. Hoffmann.

He became increasingly influenced by Hegel and provided the first Russian translation of his work. During this period he met slavophile Konstantin AksakovPiotr Chaadaev and the socialists Alexander Herzen and Nikolay Ogarev. In this period he began to develop his panslavic views. After long wrangles with his father, Bakunin went to Berlin in 1840. His stated plan at the time was still to become a university professor (a “priest of truth,” as he and his friends imagined it), but he soon encountered and joined students of the Young Hegelians and the socialist movement in Berlin. In his 1842 essay “The Reaction in Germany”, he argued in favor of the revolutionary role of negation, summed up in the phrase “the passion for destruction is a creative passion.”[14]

After three semesters in Berlin, Bakunin went to Dresden where he became friends with Arnold Ruge. Here he also read Lorenz von Stein‘s Der Sozialismus und Kommunismus des heutigen Frankreich and developed a passion for socialism. He abandoned his interest in an academic career, devoting more and more of his time to promoting revolution. The Russian government, becoming aware of this activity, ordered him to return to Russia. On his refusal his property was confiscated. Instead he went with Georg Herwegh to Zürich, Switzerland.

During his six-month stay in Zürich, he became closely associated with German communist Wilhelm Weitling. Until 1848 he remained on friendly terms with the German communists, occasionally calling himself a communist and writing articles on communism in the Schweitzerische Republikaner. He moved to Geneva in western Switzerland shortly before Weitling’s arrest. His name had appeared frequently in Weitling’s correspondence seized by the police. This led to reports being circulated to the imperial police. The Russian ambassador in Bern ordered Bakunin to return to Russia, but instead he went to Brussels, where he met many leading Polish nationalists, such as Joachim Lelewel, co-member with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels at Brussels. Lelewel greatly influenced him; however, he clashed with the Polish nationalists over their demand for a historic Poland based on the borders of 1776 (before the Partitions of Poland) as he defended the right of autonomy for the non-Polish peoples in these territories. He also did not support their clericalism and they did not support his calls for the emancipation of the peasantry.

In 1844 Bakunin went to Paris, then a centre of the European political current. He established contact with Karl Marx and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who greatly impressed him and with whom he formed a personal bond. In December 1844, Emperor Nicholas issued a decree that stripped Bakunin of his privileges as a noble, confiscated his land in Russia, and condemned him to lifelong exile in Siberia. He responded with a long letter to La Réforme, denouncing the Emperor as a despot and calling for democracy in Russia and Poland (Carr, p. 139). In March 1846 in another letter to the Constitutionel he defended Poland, following the repression of Catholics there. Some Polish refugees from Kraków, following the defeat of the uprising there, invited him to speak[15] at the meeting in November 1847 commemorating the Polish November Uprising of 1830.

In his speech, Bakunin called for an alliance between the Polish and Russian peoples against the Emperor, and looked forward to “the definitive collapse of despotism in Russia.” As a result, he was expelled from France and went to Brussels. Bakunin’s attempt to draw Alexander Herzen and Vissarion Belinsky into conspiratorial action for revolution in Russia fell on deaf ears. In Brussels, Bakunin renewed his contacts with revolutionary Poles and Karl Marx. He spoke at a meeting organised by Lelewel in February 1848 about a great future for the Slavs, whose destiny was to rejuvenate the Western world. Around this time the Russian embassy circulated rumours that Bakunin was a Russian agent who had exceeded his orders.

As the revolutionary movement of 1848 broke out, Bakunin was ecstatic, despite disappointment that little was happening in Russia. Bakunin obtained funding from some socialists in the Provisional Government, Ferdinand FloconLouis BlancAlexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin and Alexandre Martin, for a project for a Slav federation liberating those under the rule of Prussia, Austria-Hungary and Otttoman Empire. He left for Germany travelling through Baden to Frankfurt and Cologne.

Bakunin supported the German Democratic Legion led by Herwegh in an abortive attempt to join Friedrich Hecker‘s insurrection in Baden. He broke with Marx over the latter’s criticism of Herwegh. Much later in 1871 Bakunin was to write:

“I must openly admit that in this controversy Marx and Engels were in the right. With characteristic insolence, they attacked Herwegh personally when he was not there to defend himself. In a face-to-face confrontation with them, I heatedly defended Herwegh, and our mutual dislike began then.”[16]

Bakunin went on to Berlin but was stopped by the police from traveling to Posen, part of Polish territories gained by Prussia in the Partitions of Poland, where a nationalist insurrection was taking place. Instead Bakunin went to Leipzig and Breslau and then on to Prague where he participated in the First Pan Slav Congress. The Congress was followed by an abortive insurrection that Bakunin had sought to promote and intensify but which was violently suppressed.

Richard Wagner writes in his autobiography about Bakunin’s visit:[17]

First of all, however, with the view of adapting himself to the most Philistine culture, he had to submit his huge beard and bushy hair to the tender mercies of the razor and shears. As no barber was available, Rockel had to undertake the task. A small group of friends watched the operation, which had to be executed with a dull razor, causing no little pain, under which none but the victim himself remained passive. We bade farewell to Bakunin with the firm conviction that we should never see him again alive. But in a week he was back once more, as he had realised immediately what a distorted account he had received as to the state of things in Prague, where all he found ready for him was a mere handful of childish students. These admissions made him the butt of Rockel’s good-humoured chaff, and after this he won the reputation among us of being a mere revolutionary, who was content with theoretical conspiracy. Very similar to his expectations from the Prague students were his presumptions with regard to the Russian people.

Bakunin published his Appeal to the Slavs[18] in the fall of 1848, in which he proposed that Slav revolutionaries unite with Hungarian, Italian and German revolutionaries to overthrow the three major European autocracies, the Russian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Kingdom of Prussia.

Bakunin played a leading role in the May Uprising in Dresden in 1849, helping to organize the defense of the barricades against Prussian troops with Richard Wagnerand Wilhelm Heine. Bakunin was captured in Chemnitz and held for thirteen months before being condemned to death by the government of Saxony. His sentence was commuted to life to allow his extradition to Russia and Austria both of whom were seeking to prosecute him. In June 1850, he was handed over to the Austrian authorities. Eleven months later he received a further death sentence but this too was commuted to life imprisonment. Finally, in May 1851, Bakunin was handed over to the Russian authorities.

Bakunin was taken to the Peter and Paul Fortress. At the beginning of his captivity, Count Orlov, an emissary of the Tsar, visited Bakunin and told him that the Tsar requested a written confession.[19]

After three years in the underground dungeons of the Fortress of St Peter and St Paul, he spent another four years in the castle of Shlisselburg. It was here that he suffered from scurvy and all his teeth fell out as a result of the diet. He later recounted that he found some relief in mentally re-enacting the legend of Prometheus. His continuing imprisonment in these awful conditions led him to entreat his brother to supply him with poison.

Novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his book The Gulag Archipelago (published in 1973) recounts that Bakunin “…abjectly groveled before Nicholas I – thereby avoiding execution. Was this wretchedness of soul? Or revolutionary cunning?” [20]

Following the death of Nicholas I, the new Tsar, Alexander II personally struck Bakunin’s name off the amnesty list. In February 1857 his mother’s pleas to the Tsar were finally heeded and he was allowed to go into permanent exile in the western Siberian city of Tomsk. Within a year of arriving in Tomsk, Bakunin married Antonina Kwiatkowska, the daughter of a Polish merchant. He had been teaching her French. In August 1858 Bakunin received a visit from his second cousin, General Count Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky, who had been governor of Eastern Siberia for ten years.

Muravyov was a liberal and Bakunin, as his relative, became a particular favourite. In the spring of 1859 Muravyov helped Bakunin with a job for Amur Development Agency which enabled him to move with his wife to Irkutsk, the capital of Eastern Siberia. This enabled Bakunin to be part of the circle involved in political discussions centred on Muravyov’s colonial headquarters. Resenting the treatment of the colony by the Saint Petersburg bureaucracy, including its use as a dumping ground for malcontents, a proposal for a United States of Siberia emerged, independent of Russia and federated into a new United States of Siberia and America, following the example of the United States of America. The circle included Muravyov’s young Chief of Staff, Kukel – who Kropotkin related had the complete works of Alexander Herzen – the civil governor Izvolsky, who allowed Bakunin to use his address for correspondence, and Muravyov’s deputy and eventual successor, General Alexander Dondukov-Korsakov.

When Herzen criticised Muravyov in The Bell, Bakunin wrote vigorously in his patron’s defence.[21] Bakunin tired of his job as a commercial traveller, but thanks to Muravyov’s influence, was able to keep his sinecure (worth 2,000 roubles a year) without having to perform any duties. Muravyov was forced to retire from his post as governor general, partly because of his liberal views and partly due to fears he might take Siberia towards independence. He was replaced by Korsakov, who perhaps was even more sympathetic to the plight of the Siberian exiles. Korsakov was also related to Bakunin, Bakunin’s brother Paul having married his cousin. Taking Bakunin’s word, Korsakov issued him with a letter giving him passage on all ships on the Amur River and its tributaries as long as he was back in Irkutsk when the ice came.

On 5 June 1861 Bakunin left Irkutsk under cover of company business, ostensibly employed by a Siberian merchant to make a trip to Nikolaevsk. By 17 July he was on board the Russian warship Strelok bound for Kastri. However, in the port of Olga, Bakunin managed to persuade the American captain of the SS Vickery to take him on board. Despite bumping into the Russian Consul on board, Bakunin was able to sail away under the nose of the Russian Imperial Navy. By 6 August he had reached Hakodate in the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaidō and was soon in Yokohama.

In Japan Bakunin met by chance Wilhelm Heine, one of his comrades-in arms from Dresden. He also met the German botanist Philipp Franz von Siebold who had been involved in opening up Japan to Europeans (particularly Russians and the Dutch) and was a friend of Bakunin’s patron Muraviev.[22] Von Siebold’s son wrote some 40 years later:

In that Yokohama boarding-house we encountered an outlaw from the Wild West Heine, presumably as well as many other interesting guests. The presence of the Russian revolutionist Michael Bakunin, in flight from Siberia, was as far as one could see being winked at by the authorities. He was well-endowed with money, and none who came to know him could fail to pay their respects.

Bakunin, his ideas still developing, left Japan from Kanagawa on the SS Carrington, as one of nineteen passengers including Heine, Rev. P. F. Koe and Joseph Heco. Heco was a Japanese American, who eight years later played a significant role giving political advice to Kido Takayoshi and Itō Hirobumi during the revolutionary overthrow of the feudal Tokugawa shogunate.[23] They arrived in San Francisco on 15 October. In the period before the transcontinental railroads had been completed, the quickest way to New York was via Panama. Bakunin boarded the Orizaba for Panama, where after waiting for two weeks he boarded the Champion for New York.

In Boston, Bakunin visited Karol Forster, a partisan of Ludwik Mieroslawski during the 1848 Revolution in Paris, and caught up with other “Forty-Eighters“, veterans of the 1848 revolutions in Europe, such as Friedrich Kapp.[24] He then sailed for Liverpool arriving on December 27. Bakunin immediately went to London to see Herzen. That evening he burst into the drawing-room where the family was having supper. “What! Are you sitting down eating oysters! Well! Tell me the news. What is happening, and where?!”[25]

Having re-entered Western Europe, Bakunin immediately immersed himself in the revolutionary movement. In 1860, while still in Irkutsk Bakunin and his political associates had been greatly impressed by Giuseppe Garibaldi and his expedition to Sicily, during which he declared himself dictator in the name of Victor Emmanuel II. Following his return to London, he wrote to Garibaldi on 31 January 1862:

If you could have seen as I did the passionate enthusiasm of the whole town of Irkutsk, the capital of Eastern Siberia, at the news of your triumphal march across the possession of the mad king of Naples, you would have said as I did that there is no longer space or frontiers.[26]

Bakunin asked Garibaldi to participate in a movement encompassing Italians, Hungarians and South Slavs against both Austria and Turkey. Garibaldi was then engaged in preparations for the Expedition against Rome. By May, Bakunin’s correspondence focused on Italian-Slavic unity and the developments in Poland. By June, he had resolved to move to Italy, but was waiting for his wife to join him. When he left for Italy in August, Mazzini wrote to Maurizio Quadrio, one of his key supporters that Bakunin was a good and dependable person. However, with the news of the failure at Aspromonte Bakunin paused in Paris where he was briefly involved with Ludwik Mierosławski. However Bakunin rejected Mieroslawski’s chauvinism and refusal to grant any concessions to the peasants.

Bakunin returned to England in September and focussed on Polish affairs. When the Polish insurrection broke out in January 1863, he sailed to Copenhagen where he hoped to join the Polish insurgents. They planned to sail across the Baltic in the SS Ward Jackson to join the insurrection. This attempt failed, and Bakunin met his wife in Stockholm before returning to London. Now he focussed again on going to Italy and his friend Aurelio Saffi wrote him letters of introduction for FlorenceTurin and Milan. Mazzini wrote letters of commendation to Federico Campanella in Genoa and Giuseppe Dolfi in Florence. Bakunin left London in November 1863 travelling by way of Brussels, Paris and Vevey (Switzerland) arriving in Italy on 11 January 1864. It was here that he first began to develop his anarchist ideas.

He conceived the plan of forming a secret organization of revolutionaries to carry on propaganda work and prepare for direct action. He recruited Italians, Frenchmen, Scandinavians, and Slavs into the International Brotherhood, also called the Alliance of Revolutionary Socialists.

By July 1866 Bakunin was informing Herzen and Ogarev about the fruits of his work over the previous two years. His secret society then had members in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, England, France, Spain, and Italy, as well as Polish and Russian members. Among his Polish associates was the former insurgentWalery Mroczkowski who became a friend and translator into French.[27] In his Catechism of a Revolutionary of 1866, he opposed religion and the state, advocating the “absolute rejection of every authority including that which sacrifices freedom for the convenience of the state.”[28]

Giuseppe Fanelli met Bakunin at Ischia in 1866.[29] In October 1868 Bakunin sponsored Fanelli to travel to Barcelona to share his libertarian visions and recruit revolutionists to the International Workingmen’s Association.[30] Fanelli’s trip and the meeting he organised during his travels provided the catalyst for the Spanish exiles, the largest workers’ and peasants’ movement in modern Spain and the largest Anarchist movement in modern Europe.[31] Fanelli’s tour took him first to Barcelona, where he met and stayed with Elisée Reclus.[31] Reclus and Fanelli were at odds over Reclus’ friendships with Spanish republicans, and Fanelli soon left Barcelona for Madrid.[31][32] Fanelli stayed in Madrid until the end of January 1869, conducting meetings to introduce Spanish workers, including Anselmo Lorenzo, to the First International.[33] In February 1869 Fanelli left Madrid, journeying home via Barcelona.[29] While in Barcelona again, he met with painter Josep Lluís Pellicer and his cousin, Rafael Farga Pellicer along with others who were to play an important role establishing the International in Barcelona,[29] as well as the Alliance section.

During the 1867–1868 period, Bakunin responded to Émile Acollas‘s call and became involved in the League of Peace and Freedom (LPF), for which he wrote a lengthy essay Federalism, Socialism, and Anti-Theologism[34] Here he advocated a federalist socialism, drawing on the work of Proudhon. He supported freedom of association and the right of secession for each unit of the federation, but emphasized that this freedom must be joined with socialism for: “Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.”…..

Bakunin played a prominent role in the Geneva Conference (September 1867), and joined the Central Committee. The founding conference was attended by 6,000 people. As Bakunin rose to speak:

the cry passed from mouth to mouth: ‘Bakunin!’ Garibaldi, who was in the chair, stood up, advanced a few steps and embraced him. This solemn meeting of two old and tried warriors of the revolution produced an astonishing impression… Everyone rose and there was a prolonged and enthusiastic clapping of hands.[35]

At the Bern Congress of the League (1868) he and other socialists (Élisée ReclusAristide Rey, Jaclard, Giuseppe Fanelli, N. Joukovsky, V. Mratchkovsky and others) found themselves in a minority. They seceded from the League establishing their own International Alliance of Socialist Democracy which adopted a revolutionary socialist program.

In 1868, Bakunin joined the Geneva section of the First International, in which he remained very active until he was expelled from the International by Karl Marx and his followers at the Hague Congress in 1872. Bakunin was instrumental in establishing branches of the International in Italy and Spain.

In 1869, the Social Democratic Alliance was refused entry to the First International, on the grounds that it was an international organisation in itself, and only national organisations were permitted membership in the International. The Alliance dissolved and the various groups which it comprised joined the International separately.

Between 1869 and 1870, Bakunin became involved with the Russian revolutionary Sergey Nechayev in a number of clandestine projects. However, Bakunin publicly broke with Nechaev over what he described as the latter’s “Jesuit” methods, by which all means were justified to achieve revolutionary ends, [36] but privately attempted to maintain contact. [37]

In 1870 Bakunin led a failed uprising in Lyon on the principles later exemplified by the Paris Commune, calling for a general uprising in response to the collapse of the French government during the Franco-Prussian War, seeking to transform an imperialist conflict into social revolution. In his Letters to A Frenchman on the Present Crisis, he argued for a revolutionary alliance between the working class and the peasantry, advocated a system of militias with elected officers as part of a system of self-governing communes and workplaces, and argued the time was ripe for revolutionary action:

we must spread our principles, not with words but with deeds, for this is the most popular, the most potent, and the most irresistible form of propaganda.[38]

These ideas corresponded strikingly closely with the program of the Paris Commune of 1871, much of which was developed by followers of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon; the Marxist and Blanquist factions had voted for confrontation with the army while the Proudhonions had supported a truce. Bakunin was a strong supporter of the Commune, which was brutally suppressed by the French government. He saw the Commune as above all a “rebellion against the State,” and commended the Communards for rejecting not only the State but also revolutionary dictatorship.[39] In a series of powerful pamphlets, he defended the Commune and the First International against the Italian nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini, thereby winning over many Italian republicans to the International and the cause of revolutionary socialism.

Bakunin’s disagreements with Marx, which led to the attempt by the Marx party to expel him at the Hague Congress (see below), illustrated the growing divergence between the “anti-authoritarian” sections of the International, which advocated the direct revolutionary action and organization of the workers and peasants in order to abolish the state and capitalism, and the sections allied with Marx, which advocated the conquest of political power by the working class. Bakunin was “Marx’s flamboyant chief opponent”, and “presciently warned against the emergence of a communist authoritarianism that would take power over working people.”[40]

The anti-authoritarian majority, which included most sections of the International, created their own First International at the St. Imier Congress, adopted a revolutionary anarchist program, and repudiated the Hague resolutions, rescinding Bakunin’s alleged expulsion.[41] Although Bakunin accepted elements of Marx’s class analysis and theories regarding capitalism, acknowledging “Marx’s genius”, he thought Marx’s analysis was one-sided, and that Marx’s methods would compromise the social revolution. More importantly, Bakunin criticized “authoritarian socialism” (which he associated with Marxism) and the concept of dictatorship of the proletariat which he adamantly refused.

If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself.[42]

In 1874 he retired with his young wife Antonia Kwiatkowska and three children to Minusio (near Locarno in Switzerland), in a villa called “La Baronata” that the leader of the Italian anarchists Carlo Cafiero had bought for him by selling his own estates in his native town Barletta (Apulia). He died in Bern on 1 July 1876.

His grave can be found in Bremgarten Cemetery of Bernbox 9201grave 68. His original epitaph reads: “Remember those who sacrificed everything for the freedom of their country”. In 2015 the commemorative plate was replaced in form of a bronze portrait of Bakunin by Swiss artist Daniel Garbade containing Bakunin’s quote: “By striving to do the impossible, man has always achieved what is possible”. It was sponsored by the Dadaists of Cabaret Voltaire Zurich, who adopted Bakunin post mortem.

Bakunin’s political beliefs rejected statist and hierarchical systems of power in every name and shape, from the idea of God downwards, and every form of hierarchical authority, whether emanating from the will of a sovereign or even from a state that allowed universal suffrage. He wrote in Dieu et l’État (God and the State):[43]

The liberty of man consists solely in this, that he obeys the laws of nature because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been imposed upon him externally by any foreign will whatsoever, human or divine, collective or individual.

Bakunin similarly rejected the notion of any privileged position or class, since the social and economic inequality implied by class systems were incompatible with individual freedom. Whereas liberalism insisted that free markets and constitutionalgovernments enabled individual freedom, Bakunin insisted that both capitalism and the state, in any form, were incompatible with the individual freedom of the working class and peasantry.

it is the peculiarity of privilege and of every privileged position to kill the intellect and heart of man. The privileged man, whether he be privileged politically or economically, is a man depraved in intellect and heart.

Bakunin’s political beliefs were based on several interrelated concepts: (1) liberty; (2) socialism; (3) federalism; (4) anti-theism; and (5) materialism. He also developed a critique of Marxism, predicting that if the Marxists were successful in seizing power, they would create a party dictatorship “all the more dangerous because it appears as a sham expression of the people’s will.”[44]

When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called “the People’s Stick“.

— Mikhail Bakunin, 1873, Statism and Anarchy

Bakunin thought that “Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognise no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such individual, I have no absolute faith in any person.”[45]

He saw that

“Therefore there is no fixed and constant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subordination. This same reason forbids me, then, to recognise a fixed, constant and universal authority, because there is no universal man, no man capable of grasping in all that wealth of detail, without which the application of science to life is impossible, all the sciences, all the branches of social life.”[45]

According to political philosopher Carl Schmitt, “in comparison with later anarchists, Proudhon was a moralistic petit bourgeois who continued to subscribe to the authority of the father and the principle of the monogamous family. Bakunin was the first to give the struggle against theology the complete consistency of an absolute naturalism…For him, therefore, there was nothing negative and evil except the theological doctrine of God and sin, which stamps man as a villain in order to provide a pretext for domination and the hunger for power.”[46]

Bakunin thought that religion originated from the human ability for abstract thinking and fantasizing.[39][47] According to Bakunin, religion is sustained by indoctrination and conformism. Another factor in the survival of religion is the existence of poverty, suffering and exploitation in real life, from which religion promises the salvation in the afterlife. Oppressors take advantage from religion, according to Bakunin, because many religious people reconcile themselves with injustice on earth by the promise of happiness in heaven.[43]

Bakunin argues that oppressors receive authority from religion. Religious people are in many cases obedient to the priests, because many religious people believe that the statements of priests are based on direct divine revelation or scripture. The obedience to divine revelation or scripture is considered as the ethical criteria by many religious people, because God is considered as the omniscientomnipotent and omnibenevolent being. Therefore, each statement which is considered derived from an infallible God cannot be criticized by humans. According to this religious way of thinking, humans cannot know by themselves what is just, but that only God decides what is good or wrong. People who disobey the “messengers of God” are threatened with punishment in hell.[43]

According to Bakunin, the alternative for a religious power monopoly is the acknowledgement that all humans are equally inspired by God, but that means that multiple contradictory teachings are assigned to an infallible God, which is logically impossible. Therefore, Bakunin considers religion as necessarily authoritarian.[43]

Bakunin argued in his book God and the State that “the idea of God implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty, and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind, in theory and practice.” Consequently, Bakunin reversed Voltaire‘s famous aphorism that if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him, writing instead that “if God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish Him.”[43]

Bakunin was an early proponent of the term “political theology” in his 1871 text “The Political Theology of Mazzini and the International”[48] to which Schmitt’s book was a response.[49][50] Political theology is a branch of both political philosophyand theology that investigates the ways in which theological concepts or ways of thinking underlie political, social, economic and cultural discourses.

Bakunin’s methods of realizing his revolutionary program were consistent with his principles. The working class and peasantry were to organize from below, through local structures interlinked on a federalist basis, “creating not only the ideas, but also the facts of the future itself.”[51] Their movements would prefigure the future, in their ideas and practices, creating the building blocks of the new society.

This approach was exemplified by syndicalism, an anarchist strategy championed by Bakunin, according to which trade unions would provide both the means to defend and improve workers’ conditions, rights and incomes in the present, and the basis for a social revolution based upon workplace occupations. The syndicalist unions would organize the occupations, as well as provide the radically democratic structures through which workplaces would be self-managed, and the larger economy coordinated. Thus, for Bakunin, the workers’ unions would “take possession of all the tools of production as well as buildings and capital.”[52]

Bakunin did not reduce the revolution to syndicalist unions, however, stressing the need to organize working-class neighborhoods, as well as the unemployed. Meanwhile, the peasants were to “take the land and throw out those landlords who live by the labor of others.”[38] Bakunin did not dismiss the skilled workers, as is sometimes claimed; indeed, the watchmakers of the Jura region were central to the St. Imier International’s creation and operations. However, at a time when unions largely ignored the unskilled, Bakunin placed great emphasis on the need to organize as well amongst “the rabble,” “the great masses of the poor and exploited, the so-called “lumpenproletariat,” to “inaugurate and bring to triumph the Social Revolution.”[53]

Bakunin’s socialism was known as “collectivist anarchism“, where “socially: it seeks the confirmation of political equality by economic equality. This is not the removal of natural individual differences, but equality in the social rights of every individual from birth; in particular, equal means of subsistence, support, education, and opportunity for every child, boy or girl, until maturity, and equal resources and facilities in adulthood to create his own well-being by his own labor.”[54]

Collectivist anarchism 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.[55] 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.[56]

The dispute between Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx highlighted the differences between anarchism and Marxism. He strongly rejected Marx’s concept of the “dictatorship of the proletariat“, a concept that vanguardist socialism including Marxist–Leninism would use to justify one-party rule from above by a party ‘representing’ the proletariat.[57] Bakunin insisted that revolutions must be led by the people directly while any “enlightened elite” must only exert influence by remaining “invisible…not imposed on anyone…[and] deprived of all official rights and significance”.[58] He held that the state should be immediately abolished because all forms of government eventually lead to oppression.[57] Libertarian Marxists argue Marx used the phrase to mean the worker control at the point of production, not a party, would still be a state until society is reorganized according to socialist principles.

They [the Marxists] maintain that only a dictatorship—their dictatorship, of course—can create the will of the people, while our answer to this is: No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation, and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating it; freedom can be created only by freedom, that is, by a universal rebellion on the part of the people and free organization of the toiling masses from the bottom up.

— Mikhail Bakunin, Statism and Anarchism[59]

…we are convinced that liberty without socialism is privilege and injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.

— Mikhail Bakunin, Federalism, Socialism, Anti-Theologism, 1867[60]

While both social anarchists and Marxists share the same final goal, the creation of a free, egalitarian society without social classes and government, they strongly disagree on how to achieve this goal. Anarchists believe that the classless, stateless society should be established by the direct action of the masses, culminating in social revolution, and refuse any intermediate stage such as the dictatorship of the proletariat, on the basis that such a dictatorship will become a self-perpetuating fundament. For Bakunin, the fundamental contradiction is that for the Marxists, “anarchism or freedom is the aim, while the state and dictatorship is the means, and so, in order to free the masses, they have first to be enslaved.”[61]

However, Bakunin also wrote of meeting Marx in 1844 that:

As far as learning was concerned, Marx was, and still is, incomparably more advanced than I. I knew nothing at that time of political economy, I had not yet rid myself of my metaphysical observations… He called me a sentimental idealist and he was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I also was right.[62]

Bakunin found Marx’s economic analysis very useful and began the job of translating Das Kapital into Russian. In turn Marx wrote of the rebels in the Dresden insurrection of 1848 that “In the Russian refugee Michael Bakunin they found a capable and cool headed leader.”[63] Marx wrote to Engels of meeting Bakunin in 1864 after his escape to Siberia saying “On the whole he is one of the few people whom I find not to have retrogressed after 16 years, but to have developed further.”[64]

Bakunin has sometimes been called the first theorist of the “new class“, meaning that a ‘class’ of intellectuals and bureaucrats running the state in the name of the people or the proletariat – but in reality in their own interests alone. Bakunin argued that the “State has always been the patrimony of some privileged class: a priestly class, an aristocratic class, a bourgeois class. And finally, when all the other classes have exhausted themselves, the State then becomes the patrimony of the bureaucratic class and then falls—or, if you will, rises—to the position of a machine.”[53]

By federalism, Bakunin meant the organization of society “from the base to the summit—from the circumference to the center—according to the principles of free association and federation.”[54] Consequently, society would be organized “on the basis of the absolute freedom of individuals, of the productive associations, and of the communes,” with “every individual, every association, every commune, every region, every nation” having “the absolute right to self-determination, to associate or not to associate, to ally themselves with whomever they wish.”[54]

By “liberty”, Bakunin did not mean an abstract ideal but a concrete reality based on the equal liberty of others. In a positive sense, liberty consists of “the fullest development of all the faculties and powers of every human being, by education, by scientific training, and by material prosperity.” Such a conception of liberty is “eminently social, because it can only be realized in society,” not in isolation. In a negative sense, liberty is “the revolt of the individual against all divine, collective, and individual authority.”[65]

Bakunin denied religious concepts of a supernatural sphere, and advocated a ‘materialist‘ explanation of natural phenomena: “the manifestations of organic life, chemical properties and reactions, electricity, light, warmth and the natural attraction of physical bodies, constitute in our view so many different but no less closely interdependent variants of that totality of real beings which we call matter” (Selected Writings, page 219). The “mission of science is, by observation of the general relations of passing and real facts, to establish the general laws inherent in the development of the phenomena of the physical and social world.”

Bakunin had a different view as compared to Marx’s on the revolutionary potential of the lumpenproletariat and the proletariat. As such “Both agreed that the proletariat would play a key role, but for Marx the proletariat was the exclusive, leading revolutionary agent while Bakunin entertained the possibility that the peasants and even the lumpenproletariat (-proletarians in rags- the unemployed, common criminals, etc.) could rise to the occasion.[66] Bakunin “considers workers’ integration in capital as destructive of more primary revolutionary forces. For Bakunin, the revolutionary archetype is found in a peasant milieu (which is presented as having longstanding insurrectionary traditions, as well as a communist archetype in its current social form—the peasant commune) and amongst educated unemployed youth, assorted marginals from all classes, brigands, robbers, the impoverished masses, and those on the margins of society who have escaped, been excluded from, or not yet subsumed in the discipline of emerging industrial work…in short, all those whom Marx sought to include in the category of the lumpenproletariat.”[67]

Bakunin is remembered as a major figure in the history of anarchism and as an opponent of Marxism, especially of Marx’s idea of dictatorship of the proletariat, and for his predictions that Marxist regimes would be one-party dictatorships over the proletariat, not of the proletariat itself. God and the State was translated multiple times by other anarchists, such as Benjamin TuckerMarie Le Compte, and Emma Goldman, and he continues to be an influence on modern-day anarchists, such as Noam Chomsky.[68] Bakunin biographer Mark Leier has asserted that “Bakunin had a significant influence on later thinkers, ranging from Peter Kropotkin and Errico Malatestato the Wobblies and Spanish anarchists in the Civil War to Herbert MarcuseE.P. ThompsonNeil Postman, and A.S. Neill, down to the anarchists gathered these days under the banner of ‘anti-globalization.'”[3] In short, Bakunin has had a major influence on labour, peasant and leftwing movements, although this was overshadowed from the 1920s by the rise of Marxist regimes. With the collapse of those regimes – and growing awareness of how closely those regimes corresponded to the dictatorships Bakunin predicted – Bakunin’s ideas have rapidly gained ground amongst activists, in some cases again overshadowing Marxism.


 Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (French: [pjɛʁ ʒɔzɛf pʁudɔ̃]; 15 January 1809 – 19 January 1865) was a French politician and the founder of mutualist philosophy. He was the first person to declare himself an anarchist[1][2] and is widely regarded as one of the ideology’s most influential theorists. Proudhon is even considered by many to be the “father of anarchism”.[3] He became a member of the French Parliament after the revolution of 1848, whereafter he referred to himself as a federalist.[4]

Proudhon, who was born in Besançon, was a printer who taught himself Latin in order to better print books in the language. His best-known assertion is that Property is Theft!, contained in his first major work, What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and Government (Qu’est-ce que la propriété? Recherche sur le principe du droit et du gouvernement), published in 1840. The book’s publication attracted the attention of the French authorities. It also attracted the scrutiny of Karl Marx, who started a correspondence with its author. The two influenced each other: they met in Paris while Marx was exiled there. Their friendship finally ended when Marx responded to Proudhon’s The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty with the provocatively titled The Poverty of Philosophy. The dispute became one of the sources of the split between the anarchist and Marxist wings of the International Working Men’s Association. Some, such as Edmund Wilson, have contended that Marx’s attack on Proudhon had its origin in the latter’s defense of Karl Grün, whom Marx bitterly disliked, but who had been preparing translations of Proudhon’s work.

Proudhon favored workers’ associations or co-operatives, as well as individual worker/peasant possession, over private ownership or the nationalization of land and workplaces. He considered social revolution to be achievable in a peaceful manner. In The Confessions of a Revolutionary Proudhon asserted that, Anarchy is Order Without Power, the phrase which much later inspired, in the view of some, the anarchist circled-A symbol, today “one of the most common graffiti on the urban landscape.”[5] He unsuccessfully tried to create a national bank, to be funded by what became an abortive attempt at an income tax on capitalists and shareholders. Similar in some respects to a credit union, it would have given interest-free loans.[6]

Proudhon was born in Besançon, France on 15 January 1809 at 23 Rue du Petit Battant in the suburb of Battant.[7] His father, Claude-François Proudhon who worked as a brewer and a cooper,[8] was originally from the village of Chasnans, near the border with Switzerland. His mother, Catherine Simonin was from Cordiron.[7] Claude-François and Catherine had five boys together, two of whom died at a very young age. Proudhon’s brothers Jean-Etienne and Claude were born in 1811 and 1816, respectively, and both maintained a very close relationship with Proudhon.[8]

As a boy, he mostly worked in the family tavern, helped with basic agricultural work, and spent time playing outdoors in the countryside. Proudhon received no formal education as a child, but was taught to read by his mother, who had him spelling words by age three. However, until he was 10, the only books that he was exposed to were the Gospels and the Four Aymon Brothers, and some local almanacs. In 1820, Proudhon’s mother began trying to get him admitted into the city college in Besançon. The family was far too poor to afford the tuition, but with the help of one of Claude-François’ former employers, she managed to gain a bursary which deducted 120 francs a year from the cost. Proudhon was unable to afford books (or even shoes) to attend school, which caused him great difficulties, and often made him the object of scorn by his wealthier classmates. In spite of this, Proudhon showed a strong will to learn, and spent much time in the school library with a pile of books, exploring a variety of subjects in his free time outside of class.[9]

In 1827 Proudhon began an apprenticeship at a printing press in the house of Bellevaux, in Battant; on Easter of the following year, he transferred to a press in Besançon owned by the family of one of his schoolmates, Antoine Gauthier.[10] Besançon was an important center of religious thought at the time, and most of the works published at Gauthier were ecclesiastical works. Proudhon, during the course of his work, spent hours every day reading this Christian literature and began to question many of his long held religious beliefs which eventually led him to reject Christianity altogether.[11]

Over the years, Proudhon rose to be a corrector for the press, proofreading their publications. By 1829, he began to become more interested in social issues than religious theory. Of particular importance during this period was his encounter with Charles Fourier, who in 1829 came to Gauthier as a customer seeking to publish his work Le Nouveau Monde Industriel et Sociétaire. Proudhon supervised the printing of the book, which gave him ample opportunity to talk with Fourier about a variety of social and philosophical issues. These discussions left a strong impression on Proudhon, and influenced him throughout his life.[12] It was also during this time that Proudhon formed one of his closest friendships, with Gustave Fallot, a scholar from Montebéliard who came from a family of wealthy French industrialists. Impressed by Proudhon’s corrections of one of his Latin manuscripts, Fallot sought out his friendship, and the two were soon regularly spending their evenings together discussing French literature by MontaigneRabelaisRousseauVoltaireDiderot, and many other authors to whom Proudhon had not been exposed during his years of theological readings.[13]

In September 1830, Proudhon became certified as a journeyman compositor. The period following this was marked by unemployment and poverty, with Proudhon travelling around France (and also, briefly, to Neuchâtel, Switzerland) where he unsuccessfully sought stable employment in printing and as a schoolteacher.[14] During this period, Fallot offered financial assistance to Proudhon if he came to Paris to study philosophy. Proudhon accepted his offer, despite concerns about how it might disrupt his career in the printing trade.[15] He walked from Besançon to Paris, arriving in March at the Rue Mazarin, in the Latin Quarter, where Fallot was living at the time. Proudhon began mingling amongst the circle of metropolitan scholars surrounding Fallot, but felt out of place and uncomfortable amidst people who were both wealthier, and more accustomed to scholarly debate. Ultimately, Proudhon found that he preferred to spend the majority of his time studying alone, and was not fond of urban life, longing to return home to Besançon.[16] The cholera outbreak in Paris granted him his wish, as Fallot was struck with the illness, making him unable to financially support Proudhon any longer. After Proudhon left, he never saw Fallot (who died in 1836) again.[17] However, this friendship was one of the most important events in Proudhon’s life, as it is what motivated him to leave the printing trade and pursue his studies of philosophy instead.[18]

In 1838, after an unsuccessful printing business venture, Proudhon decided to dedicate himself fully to scholarly pursuits. He applied for the Suard Pension, a bursary that would enable him to study at the Academy of Besançon. Proudhon was selected out of several candidates, primarily due to the fact that his income was much lower than the others, and the judges were extremely impressed by his writing, and the level of education he had given himself while working as an artisan. Proudhon arrived in Paris towards the end of autumn in 1838.[19]

In 1839 the Academy of Besançon held an essay competition on the subject of ‘the utility of the celebration of Sunday in regard to hygiene, morality, and the relationship of the family and the city’. Proudhon’s entry, titled De la Célébration du dimanche, essentially used the essay subject as a pretext for discussing a variety of political and philosophical ideas, and in it one can find the seeds of his later revolutionary ideas. Many of his ideas on authority, morality, and property disturbed the essay judges at the Academy, and Proudhon was only awarded the bronze medal (something in which Proudhon took pride, because he felt that this was an indicator that his writing made elite academics uncomfortable).[20]

In 1840 he published his first work Qu’est-ce que la propriété (or “What Is Property“).

His third memoir on property was a letter to the Fourierist, M. Considérant, published in 1842 under the title Warning to Proprietors.[21] He was tried for it at Besançon, but was acquitted when the jury found that they could not condemn him for a philosophy that they themselves could not understand.[22]

In 1846, he published the Système des contradictions économiques ou Philosophie de la misère (or “The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty”), which prompted a book-length critique from Karl Marx entitled The Poverty of Philosophy, commencing a rift between Marxists and anarchists that lasts to this day.[23][24]

For some time, Proudhon ran a small printing establishment at Besançon, but without success; afterwards he became connected as a kind of manager with a commercial firm in Lyon, France. In 1847, he left this job and finally settled in Paris, where he was now becoming celebrated as a leader of innovation. In this year he also became a Freemason.[25]

Proudhon was surprised by the Revolutions of 1848 in France. He participated in the February uprising and the composition of what he termed “the first republican proclamation” of the new republic. But he had misgivings about the new provisional government, headed by Dupont de l’Eure (1767–1855), who, since the French Revolution in 1789, had been a longstanding politician, although often in the opposition. Beside Dupont de l’Eure, the provisional government was dominated by liberals such as Lamartine (Foreign Affairs), Ledru-Rollin (Interior), Crémieux (Justice), Burdeau (War), etc., because it was pursuing political reform at the expense of the socio-economic reform, which Proudhon considered basic. As during the 1830 July Revolution, the Republican-Socialist Party had set up a counter-government in the Hotel de Ville, including Louis BlancArmand MarrastFerdinand Flocon, and Alexandre Martin.

Proudhon published his own perspective for reform which was completed in 1849, Solution du problème social (“Solution of the Social Problem“), in which he laid out a program of mutual financial cooperation among workers. He believed this would transfer control of economic relations from capitalists and financiers to workers. The central part of his plan was the establishment of a bank to provide credit at a very low rate of interest and the issuing of exchange notes that would circulate instead of money based on gold.

During the Second French Republic (1848–1852), Proudhon had his biggest public effect through journalism. He got involved with four newspapers: Le Représentant du Peuple (February 1848 – August 1848); Le Peuple (September 1848 – June 1849); La Voix du Peuple (September 1849 – May 1850); Le Peuple de 1850 (June 1850 – October 1850). His polemical writing style, combined with his perception of himself as a political outsider, produced a cynical, combative journalism that appealed to many French workers but alienated others. He repeatedly criticised the government’s policies and promoted reformation of credit and exchange. He tried to establish a popular bank (Banque du peuple) early in 1849, but despite over 13,000 people signing up (mostly workers), receipts were limited falling short of 18,000FF and the whole enterprise was essentially stillborn.

Proudhon ran for the constituent assembly in April 1848, but was not elected, although his name appeared on the ballots in Paris, Lyon, Besançon, and Lille, France. He was successful, in the complementary elections of June 4, and served as a deputy during the debates over the National Workshops, created by the 25 February 1848 decree passed by Republican Louis Blanc. The workshops were to give work to the unemployed. Proudhon was never enthusiastic about such workshops, perceiving them to be essentially charitable institutions that did not resolve the problems of the economic system. He was against their elimination unless an alternative could be found for the workers who relied on the workshops for subsistence.

In 1848 the closing of the National Workshops provoked the June Days Uprising and the violence shocked Proudhon. Visiting the barricades personally, he later reflected that his presence at the Bastille at this time was “one of the most honorable acts of my life”. But in general during the tumultuous events of 1848, Proudhon opposed insurrection by preaching peaceful conciliation, a stance that was in accord with his lifelong stance against violence. He disapproved of the revolts and demonstrations of February, May and June 1848, though sympathetic to the social and psychological injustices that the insurrectionists had been forced to endure.

In Spain Ramón de la Sagra established anarchist journal El Porvenir in La Coruña in 1845 which was inspired by Proudhon´s ideas.[26] The Catalan politician Francesc Pi i Margall became the principal translator of Proudhon’s works into Spanish[27] and later briefly became president of Spain in 1873 while being the leader of the Democratic Republican Federal Party. According to George Woodcock “These translations were to have a profound and lasting effect on the development of Spanish anarchism after 1870, but before that time Proudhonian ideas, as interpreted by Pi, already provided much of the inspiration for the federalist movement which sprang up in the early 1860’s.”[28] According to the Encyclopædia Britannica “During the Spanish revolution of 1873, Pi y Margall attempted to establish a decentralized, or “cantonalist,” political system on Proudhonian lines.”[26]

Proudhon was arrested for insulting the president Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte and was imprisoned from 1849 to 1852. After his release he remained in exile from 1858 to 1862 in Belgium. Upon the liberalization of the empire in 1863 he returned to France.

According to Mikhail Bakunin, Proudhon was the first person to refer to himself as an anarchist.[30][31] In What is Property?, published in 1840, he defined anarchy as “the absence of a master, of a sovereign” and wrote, “As man seeks justice in equality, so society seeks order in anarchy.”[32] He declared in 1849 in “Confessions of a Revolutionary” that “Whoever lays his hand on me to govern me is a usurper and tyrant, and I declare him my enemy.”[33]

In The General idea of the Revolution 1851 Proudhon urged a “society without authority.” In a subchapter called “What is Government?” he wrote:

To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place[d] under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.[34]

“Capital”… in the political field is analogous to “government”… The economic idea of capitalism, the politics of government or of authority, and the theological idea of the Church are three identical ideas, linked in various ways. To attack one of them is equivalent to attacking all of them . . . What capital does to labour, and the State to liberty, the Church does to the spirit. This trinity of absolutism is as baneful in practice as it is in philosophy. The most effective means for oppressing the people would be simultaneously to enslave its body, its will and its reason.[35]

Proudhon in his earliest works analyzed the nature and problems of the capitalist economy. While deeply critical of capitalism, he also objected to those contemporary socialists who advocated centralized, hierarchical forms of association or state control of the economy. In a sequence of commentaries, from What is Property? (1840), posthumously published in the Théorie de la propriété (Theory of Property, 1863–64), he declared in turn that “property is theft”, “property is impossible”, “property is despotism”, and “property is freedom”. When he said “property is theft”, he was referring to the landowner or capitalist who he believed “stole” the profits from laborers. For Proudhon, the capitalist’s employee was “subordinated, exploited: his permanent condition is one of obedience”.[36]

In asserting that property is freedom, he was referring not only to the product of an individual’s labor, but to the peasant or artisan’s home and tools of his trade and the income he received by selling his goods. For Proudhon, the only legitimate source of property is labor. What one produces is one’s property and anything beyond that is not. He advocated worker self-management and was opposed to the private ownership of the means of production. As he put it in 1848:

Under the law of association, transmission of wealth does not apply to the instruments of labour, so cannot become a cause of inequality… We are socialists… under universal association, ownership of the land and of the instruments of labour is social ownership… We want the mines, canals, railways handed over to democratically organised workers’ associations… We want these associations to be models for agriculture, industry and trade, the pioneering core of that vast federation of companies and societies, joined together in the common bond of the democratic and social Republic.[37]

Proudhon called himself a socialist, but he opposed state ownership of capital goods in favour of ownership by workers themselves in associations. This makes him one of the first theorists of libertarian socialism. Proudhon was one of the main influences on the theory of workers’ self-management (autogestion), in the late 19th and 20th century.

Proudhon strenuously rejected the ownership of the products of labor by society or the state, arguing in What is Property? that while “property in product … does not carry with it property in the means of production”[38] “The right to product is exclusive … the right to means is common” and applied this to the land (“the land is […] a common thing”[39]) and workplaces (“all accumulated capital being social property, no one can be its exclusive proprietor”.[40]) He argued that while society owned the means of production or land, users would control and run them (under supervision from society), with the “organising of regulating societies” in order to “regulate the market”.[41]

This use-ownership he called “possession”, and this economic system mutualism. Proudhon had many arguments against entitlement to land and capital, including reasons based on morality, economics, politics, and individual liberty. One such argument was that it enabled profit, which in turn led to social instability and war by creating cycles of debt that eventually overcame the capacity of labor to pay them off. Another was that it produced “despotism” and turned workers into wage workers subject to the authority of a boss.

In What Is Property? Proudhon wrote:

Property, acting by exclusion and encroachment, while population was increasing, has been the life-principle and definitive cause of all revolutions. Religious wars, and wars of conquest, when they have stopped short of the extermination of races, have been only accidental disturbances, soon repaired by the mathematical progression of the life of nations. The downfall and death of societies are due to the power of accumulation possessed by property.

Towards the end of his life, Proudhon modified some of his earlier views. In The Principle of Federation (1863) he modified his earlier anti-state position, arguing for “the balancing of authority by liberty” and put forward a decentralised “theory of federal government”. He also defined anarchy differently as “the government of each by himself”, which meant “that political functions have been reduced to industrial functions, and that social order arises from nothing but transactions and exchanges.” This work also saw him call his economic system an “agro-industrial federation”, arguing that it would provide “specific federal arrangements is to protect the citizens of the federated states from capitalist and financial feudalism, both within them and from the outside” and so stop the re-introduction of “wage labour.” This was because “political right requires to be buttressed by economic right.”

In the posthumously published Theory of Property, he argued that “property is the only power that can act as a counterweight to the State.” Hence, “Proudhon could retain the idea of property as theft, and at the same time offer a new definition of it as liberty. There is the constant possibility of abuse, exploitation, which spells theft. At the same time property is a spontaneous creation of society and a bulwark against the ever-encroaching power of the State.”[42]

He continued to oppose both capitalist and state property. In Theory of Property he maintains: “Now in 1840, I categorically rejected the notion of property…for both the group and the individual”, but then states his new theory of property: “property is the greatest revolutionary force which exists, with an unequaled capacity for setting itself against authority…” and the “principal function of private property within the political system will be to act as a counterweight to the power of the State, and by so doing to insure the liberty of the individual.” However, he continued to oppose concentrations of wealth and property, arguing for small-scale property ownership associated with peasants and artisans. He still opposed private property in land: “What I cannot accept, regarding land, is that the work put in gives a right to ownership of what has been worked on.” In addition, he still believed that that “property” should be more equally distributed and limited in size to that actually used by individuals, families and workers associations.[43] He supported the right of inheritance, and defended “as one of the foundations of the family and society.”[44] However, he refused to extend this beyond personal possessions arguing that “[u]nder the law of association, transmission of wealth does not apply to the instruments of labour.”[45]

As a consequence of his opposition to profit, wage labour, worker exploitation, ownership of land and capital, as well as to state property, Proudhon rejected both capitalism and communism. He adopted the term mutualism for his brand of anarchism, which involved control of the means of production by the workers. In his vision, self-employed artisans, peasants, and cooperatives would trade their products on the market. For Proudhon, factories and other large workplaces would be run by “labor associations” operating on directly democratic principles. The state would be abolished; instead, society would be organized by a federation of “free communes” (a commune is a local municipality in French). In 1863 Proudhon said: “All my economic ideas as developed over twenty-five years can be summed up in the words: agricultural-industrial federation. All my political ideas boil down to a similar formula: political federation or decentralization.”[46]

Proudhon opposed the charging of interest and rent, but did not seek to abolish them by law: “I protest that when I criticized… the complex of institutions of which property is the foundation stone, I never meant to forbid or suppress, by sovereign decree, ground rent and interest on capital. I think that all these manifestations of human activity should remain free and voluntary for all: I ask for them no modifications, restrictions or suppressions, other than those which result naturally and of necessity from the universalization of the principle of reciprocity which I propose.”[47]

Proudhon was a revolutionary, but his revolution did not mean violent upheaval or civil war, but rather the transformation of society. This transformation was essentially moral in nature and demanded the highest ethics from those who sought change. It was monetary reform, combined with organising a credit bank and workers associations, that Proudhon proposed to use as a lever to bring about the organization of society along new lines.

He made no public criticisms of Marx or Marxism, because in his lifetime Marx was a relatively minor thinker; it was only after Proudhon’s death that Marxism became a large movement. He did, however, criticize authoritarian socialists of his period. This included the state socialist Louis Blanc, of whom Proudhon said, “Let me say to M. Blanc: you desire neither Catholicism nor monarchy nor nobility, but you must have a God, a religion, a dictatorship, a censorship, a hierarchy, distinctions, and ranks. For my part, I deny your God, your authority, your sovereignty, your judicial State, and all your representative mystifications.” It was Proudhon’s book What is Property? that convinced the young Karl Marx that private property should be abolished.

In one of his first works, The Holy Family, Marx said, “Not only does Proudhon write in the interest of the proletarians, he is himself a proletarian, an ouvrier. His work is a scientific manifesto of the French proletariat.” Marx, however, disagreed with Proudhon’s anarchism and later published vicious criticisms of Proudhon. Marx wrote The Poverty of Philosophy as a refutation of Proudhon’s The Philosophy of Poverty.

In their letters Proudhon expressed disagreement with Marx’s views on revolution: “I believe we have no need of it in order to succeed; and that consequently we should not put forward revolutionary action as a means of social reform, because that pretended means would simply be an appeal to force, to arbitrariness, in brief, a contradiction”[48]

Proudhon opposed militarism, dictatorship, and war, arguing that the “end of militarism is the mission of the nineteenth century, under pain of indefinite decadence”[49] and that the “workers alone are capable of putting an end to war by creating economic equilibrium. This presupposes a radical revolution in ideas and morals.”[50] As Robert L. Hoffman notes that War and Peace “ends by condemning war without reservation” and its “conclusion [is] that war is obsolete.”[51] Marxist philosopher John Ehrenberg summarized Proudhon’s position:

If injustice was the cause of war, it followed that conflict could not be eliminated until society was reorganised along egalitarian lines. Proudhon had wanted to prove that the reign of political economy would be the reign of peace, finding it difficult to believe that people really thought he was defending militarism. — Proudhon and His Age, p. 145

Proudhon argued that under mutualism “[t]here will no longer be nationality, no longer fatherland, in the political sense of the words: they will mean only places of birth. Man, of whatever race or colour he may be, is an inhabitant of the universe; citizenship is everywhere an acquired right.”[52]

Proudhon also rejected dictatorship, stating in the 1860s that “what I will always be . . . a republican, a democrat even, and a socialist into the bargain.”[53] Henri de Lubac argued that, in terms of Proudhon’s critique of democracy, “we must not allow all this to hoodwink us. His invectives against democracy were not those of a counter-revolutionary. They were aimed at what he himself called ‘the false democracy’…They attacked an apparently liberal ‘pseudo-democracy’ which ‘was not economic and social’ … ‘a Jacobinical democracy'” Proudhon “did not want to destroy, but complete, the work of 1789” and while “he had a grudge against the ‘old democracy’, the democracy of Robespierre and Marat” he repeatedly contrasted it “with a ‘young democracy’, which was a ‘social democracy.'”[54]

According to historian of anarchism George Woodcock, some positions Proudhon took “sorted oddly with his avowed anarchism”. Woodcock cited for example Proudhon’s proposition that each citizen perform one or two years militia service.[55] The proposal appeared in the Programme Revolutionaire, an electoral manifesto issued by Proudhon after he was asked to run for a position in the provisional government. The text reads: “7° ‘L’armée. – Abolition immédiate de la conscription et des remplacements; obligation pour tout citoyen de faire, pendant un ou deux ans, le service militaire ; application de l’armée aux services administratifs et travaux d’utilité publique.” (“Military service by all citizens is proposed as an alternative to conscription and the practice of “replacement”, by which those who could avoided such service.”) However, in the same document, Proudhon described the “form of government” he was proposing as “a centralization analogous with that of the State, but in which no one obeys, no one is dependent, and everyone is free and sovereign.”[56]

In addition to being considered a founding father of anarchism some have tried to link him to the extreme right. He was first used as a reference in the Cercle Proudhon, a right-wing association formed in 1911 by Georges Valois and Edouard Berth. Both had been brought together by the syndicalist Georges Sorel. But they would tend toward a synthesis of socialism and nationalism, mixing Proudhon’s mutualism with Charles Maurras‘ integralist nationalism. In 1925, Georges Valois founded the Faisceau, the first fascist league, which took its name from Mussolini‘s fasci. Historian of fascism, in particular of French fascistsZeev Sternhell, has noted this use of Proudhon by the far right. In The Birth of Fascist Ideology, he states that

the Action Française…from its inception regarded the author of La philosophie de la misère as one of its masters.[57] He was given a place of honour in the weekly section of the journal of the movement entitled, precisely, ‘Our Masters.’ Proudhon owed this place in L’Action française to what the Maurrassians saw as his antirepublicanism, his anti-Semitism, his loathing of Rousseau, his disdain for the French Revolutiondemocracy, and parliamentarianism: and his championship of the nation, the family, tradition, and the monarchy.

K. Steven Vincent, however, states that “to argue that Proudhon was a proto-fascist suggests that one has never looked seriously at Proudhon’s writings.”[58]

J. Salwyn Schapiro argued in 1945 that Proudhon was a racist, “a glorifier of war for its own sake” and his “advocacy of personal dictatorship and his laudation of militarism can hardly be equalled in the reactionary writings of his or of our day.”[59]

Other scholars have rejected Schapiro’s claims. Robert Graham states that while Proudhon was personally racist, “anti-semitism formed no part of Proudhon’s revolutionary programme.”[60]

Albert Meltzer has said that though Proudhon used the term “anarchist”, he was not one, and that he never engaged in “anarchist activity or struggle” but rather in “parliamentary activity”.[61]

Proudhon also engaged in an exchange of published letters, between 1849 and 1850, with Frédéric Bastiat discussing the legitimacy of interest.[62] As Robert Lerouxargued, Bastiat had the conviction that Proudhon’s anti-interest doctrine “was the complete antithesis of any serious approach”.[63] Proudhon famously lost his temper and declared to Bastiat: “Your intelligence is asleep, or rather it has never been awake…You are a man for whom logic does not exist…You do not hear anything, you do not understand anything…You are without philosophy, without science, without humanity…Your ability to reason, like your ability to pay attention and make comparisons is zero…Scientifically, Mr. Bastiat, you are a dead man.”[64]

Stewart Edwards, the editor of the Selected Writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, remarks: “Proudhon’s diaries (Carnets, ed. P. Haubtmann, Marcel Rivière, Paris 1960 to date) reveal that he had almost paranoid feelings of hatred against the Jews. In 1847 he considered publishing an article against the Jewish race, which he said he “hated”. The proposed article would have “called for the expulsion of the Jews from France.” It would have stated, “The Jew is the enemy of the human race…This race must be sent back to Asia, or exterminated…H. Heine, A. Weil, and others are simply secret spies…RothschildCrémieuxMarxFould, evil choleric, envious, bitter men…who hate us.” (Carnets, vol. 2, p. 337: No VI, 178).[65]

His diary entry dated 26 December 1847 states: Jews. Write an article against this race which poisons everything by meddling everywhere without ever joining itself to another people. Demand their expulsion from France with the exception of those individuals married to French women. Abolish synagogues and not admit them to any employment; pursue finally the abolition of this cult. It is not for nothing that the Christians call them deicides. The Jew is the enemy of the human race. One must send this race back to Asia or exterminate it…by fire or by fusion, or by expulsion the Jew must disappear’.[66] Proudhon differentiated his antisemitism from that of the Middle Ages, presenting it as quasi-scientific:‘What the peoples of the Middle Ages hated by instinct, I hate upon reflection and irrevocably’. [67]

In an introduction to Proudhon’s works Iain McKay, author of ‘An Anarchist FAQ‘ (AK Press, 2007),[68][69] cautions readers: “This is not to say that Proudhon was without flaws, for he had many.”

He was not consistently libertarian in his ideas, tactics and language. His personal bigotries are disgusting and few modern anarchists would tolerate them – Namely, racism and sexism. He made some bad decisions and occasionally ranted in his private notebooks (where the worst of his anti-Semitism was expressed). While he did place his defence of the patriarchal family at the core of his ideas, they are in direct contradiction to his own libertarian and egalitarian ideas. In terms of racism, he sometimes reflected the less-than-enlightened assumptions and prejudices of the nineteenth century. While this does appear in his public work, such outbursts are both rare and asides (usually an extremely infrequent passing anti-Semitic remark or caricature). In short, “racism was never the basis of Proudhon’s political thinking” (Gemie, 200-1) and “anti-Semitism formed no part of Proudhon’s revolutionary programme.” (Robert Graham, “Introduction”, General Idea of the Revolution, xxxvi) To quote Proudhon: “There will no longer be nationality, no longer fatherland, in the political sense of the words: they will mean only places of birth. Man, of whatever race or colour he may be, is an inhabitant of the universe; citizenship is everywhere an acquired right.” (General Idea of the Revolution, 283)

— Iain McKay, “Property Is Theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology. AK Press UK – Edinburgh, 2011” p. 36

Nevertheless, while racism was not overtly part of his political philosophy, Proudhon did express sexist beliefs. He held patriarchal views on women’s nature and their proper role in the family and society at large. In his Carnets (Notebooks), unpublished until the 1960s, Proudhon maintained that a woman’s choice was to be “courtesan or housekeeper…” To a woman, a man is “a father, a chief, a master: above all, a master.” His justification for patriarchy is men’s greater physical strength. And he recommended that men use this greater strength to keep women in their place. “A woman does not at all hate being used with violence, indeed even being violated.” In her study of Gustave Courbet, who painted the portrait of Proudhon and his children (1865) – art historian Linda Nochlin points out that alongside his early articulations of anarchism Proudhon also wrote and published “the most consistent anti-feminist tract of its time, or perhaps, any other,” La Pornocratie ou les femmes dans les temps modernes, which “raises all the main issues about woman’s position is society and her sexuality with a paranoid intensity unmatched in any other text.” (Nochlin, Courbet. Thames & Hudson, 2007. p. 220, note 34)

Proudhon’s defenses of patriarchy did not go unchallenged in his lifetime; Joseph Déjacque attacked Proudhon’s anti-feminism as a contradiction of anarchist principles. Déjacque directed Proudhon “either to ‘speak out against man’s exploitation of woman’ or ‘do not describe yourself as an anarchist.'” (Jesse Cohn “Anarchism and gender” in: The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest. Immanuel Ness (Ed.), 2009)


What is Property?

Anarcho-Humanism

I am an Axiological Atheist, with a Rationalist Persuasion, who Supports Anarcho-Humanism

My Atheistic (socialist-anarchist) Humanism?

What Inspires My Anarcho-Humanism?

I am an Anarchist and Strive to Fight Injustice


Pro-feminism and Atheism Article

“At first blush, it would seem that an atheist movement would be exactly the sort of thing that would attract many women. After all, much of the oppression of women—from forced veiling to restricting abortion rights—is a direct result of religion. Unsurprisingly, then, feminism has a long tradition of outspoken atheists and religious skeptics within its ranks. Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton preferred “rational ideas based on scientific facts” to “religious superstition.”  Major feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir argued that belief in God exists in part to “repress any impulse toward revolt in the downtrodden female.” Modern feminist writer Katha Pollitt received the “Emperor Has No Clothes” award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2001, where she said that religion is dangerous because “it connects with very terrible social energies that have lain in civilization for a very long time.” But despite the natural and cozy fit of atheism and feminism, the much-ballyhooed “New Atheism” that was supposed to be a more aggressive, political form of atheism has instead been surprisingly male-dominated. The reason has, in recent years, become quite apparent: Many of the most prominent leaders of the New Atheism are quick to express deeply sexist ideas. Despite their supposed love of science and rationality, many of them are nearly as quick as their religious counterparts to abandon reason in order to justify regressive views about women. Sam Harris, a prominent atheist author who has previously been criticized for his knee-jerk Islamophobic tendencies, recently came under fire when he added women to the category of people he makes thoughtless generalizations about. Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein interviewed Harris, and during the interview she asked him why most atheists are male. “There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women.” He added, “The atheist variable just has this— it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men.” There was an immediate uproar among female atheists, and understandably so, as Harris didn’t even consider that it could be atheism that has a problem, instead immediately assuming that the problem is women themselves. His reaction to the criticism, which was immediate and probably a bit overwhelming was not, however, a demonstration of the tough “critical posture” he characterized as “instrinsically male.”  Harris replied to his criticswith a hyper-defensive and tediously long blog post titled, “I’m Not the Sexist Pig You’re Looking For.” His strategy for disproving accusations of sexism was to engage in more sexist declarations, in the time-honored bigot strategy of saying it’s not bigotry if it’s true. First, he warmed up with the “women are humorless” gambit, declaring his “estrogen vibe” comment a joke that simply flew over female heads. He then moved on to produce an awesome cornucopia of sexist blather: Women’s value is their service to men. (“I was raised by a single mother. I have two daughters. Most of my editors have been women, and my first, last, and best editor is always my wife.”) Women’s inherent desire to serve rather than lead explains their second-class status. (“For instance, only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women…How much is due to the disproportionate (and heroic) sacrifices women make in their 20s or 30s to have families?”) Putting women on a pedestal is better than treating them like equals. (“I tend to respect women more than men.”) Women who don’t defer to men are bitchy. (“However, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the mixture of contempt and pity my words elicited from this young woman.”) Needless to say, for women who reject religion because it so frequently portrays women as mentally inferior helpmeets who exist to serve men’s needs, Sam Harris is not offering any hope that atheism will give them a meaningful alternative. It would be nice to dismiss Harris as an outlier, but sadly, pompous sexism followed up by defensive posturing is the order of the day for the dominant male leadership of the loosely organized world of atheism. In a lengthy investigative piece for Buzzfeed, Mark Oppenheimer demonstrated that the problem extends beyond sexist condescension. Instead, the bros-before-hos attitude of much of atheist leadership is quite likely serving to protect actual sexual predators. While Oppenheimer focused on a number of prominent sexists in atheism, such as Penn Jillette and now-deceased Christopher Hitchens (who also was a fan of the “women are humorless” trope), he focused most of piece on accusations against prominent skeptic writer Michael Shermer. Oppenheimer quoted two named women accusing Shermer of sexually harassing them. A third named women had a more alarming accusation: That Shermer had taken her to his room while she was too drunk to consent to sex and had sex with her anyway. The reaction to Oppenheimer’s story was swift and did much to support the claim that the atheist community protects sexual predators, much like the Catholic Church did during the priest pedophilia scandal. Richard Dawkins, possibly the most famous atheist in the world, immediately went on a tear on Twitter, blaming victims for their own rapes if they were drinking. “Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk,” he tweeted, comparing being forced to have sex with the choice to drive drunk. When called out on it, he doubled down by suggesting that rape victims are the real predators, out to get men put in jail: “If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.” For someone who is a supposed rationalist, Dawkins refused to even acknowledge the basic difference between making the choice to break the law and being the victim of a crime. But only for rape, of course. It’s unlikely Dawkins would think it’s your fault if you are standing there minding your own business, while drunk, and someone hits you for no reason. But if the assault occurs with a penis instead of a fist, in Dawkins’ mind, suddenly the victim is the person at fault. Again, this situation is no outlier. Dawkins has spent the past few years using Twitter as a platform to rail against feminists for daring to speak up about sexual harassment and abuse. He not only rushed to Shermer’s defense regarding allegations of sexual assault, but rushed to Harris’ defense regarding allegations of sexism, even though Harris’ sexism is so off the charts it becomes downright comical. Dawkins used to cling to the idea that he was an outspoken critic against the oppression of women, but lately he’s more occupied with praising professional anti-feminist Christina Hoff Sommers. There are many excellent feminist speakers and writers in the atheist movement, men and women who bring the same critical eye to sexism that they apply to religion. Most of them, however, are mostly known only within atheist circles. People like Dawkins, Shermer and Harris are the public face of atheism. And that public face is one that is defensively and irrationally sexist. It’s not only turning women away from atheism, it’s discrediting the idea that atheists are actually people who argue from a position of rationality. How can they be, when they cling to the ancient, irrational tradition of treating women like they aren’t quite as human as men?” Ref


Anti-feminism and Atheism Article

“The word Feminism in this article is intended to describe modern Feminism, as this is the most common form and which I consider to be radical Feminism. If you identify as a Feminist and genuinely use the term to mean equality for all, if you genuinely fight for Women’t rights worldwide and not simply complain about how far apart Men’s legs are when they sit down, AND if you actively acknowledge and condemn your fellow Feminists when they do so then know you are in the minority, and also know that this is not aimed at you…also, you are probably Christina Hoff SommersRecently, yesterday in fact, I was in a discussion about Feminism on a news story by the Telegraph through their Facebook posts, they post a lot of pro-Feminism stories because it’s considered to be politically correct and I often reply to them and end up arguing my points with feminists who invariably leave the conversation once facts are brought into play. On this occasion however, the chap I was debating against decided to go a step further than usual and check out my Facebook page for ‘ammunition’. This led to what he must have thought was a brilliant question: “HOW CAN YOU BE AN ATHEIST AND NOT A FEMINIST?” Don’t those two things go together? He asked smugly, explaining that he felt that all Atheists should be Feminists because of the inherent levels of misogyny in religious texts and how religion often attempts to perpetuate the traditional Male-Female dynamic. I found this logic flawed and felt compelled to write a rather lengthy reply, explaining exactly why I believe that Feminism is equally worthy of my disdain as religion. Naturally, he promptly disappeared from existence after this, but it did inspire me to write this piece to explain my feelings regarding Atheism, Feminism and religion and why I find it perfectly natural to feel about Feminism as I feel about religion. It seems that wherever I look there are Atheists who identify as Feminists and I recently learned of an attempt to subvert Atheism into the Feminist agenda (which seems incredibly silly, considering that Atheism is simply a lack of belief in God/s) called Atheism+, which appears to mean Atheism plus misandry from what I can tell. As such, I expect that this article will alienate anyone who arrived here thinking that I might feel the same way, or support such a ludicrous and bizarre idea as Atheism+ but I’ve never been afraid of alienating those who don’t want to hear opposing arguments so let’s get started by asking a question: “IS FEMINISM A RELIGION?” Feminism, historically speaking, was intended as an equality movement, during a time when Women were not always given the same rights as Men in the Western world and in this sense it was a noble enough cause (if you ignore the hypocrisy of some of those who paved the way, I suppose) and if this was still the intention of Feminism then today we would be seeing modern Feminists bravely tackling the subjugation of Women in cultures such as Islam and I’d be right there with them, supporting their efforts and cheering them on in their noble cause! Instead though, modern Feminism has no real intention of doing anything quite so fraught with the danger of being deemed politically incorrect or which might simply be too difficult to deal with. What we see from Feminism these days is a movement which picks its fights carefully for the most part, sure there are those who fight the good fight as best they can, but those who are identified as Feminist leaders are far too concerned with furthering their own cause to bother actually trying to help Women who actually need help. Much like religion these days, Feminism is a business and, for the professional victims who appear daily on our TV and PC screens, business is good! But is Feminism a religion? Well, in a literal sense, no. But there are plenty of parallels to be drawn between Feminism and cults, and what is a religion but a cult which has simply outgrown the term? DRAWING PARALLELS? OK, so perhaps Feminism isn’t a religion per se, but there are plenty of parallels to be drawn between the two, in fact, many of the reasons for my dislike of feminism are the same as for my dislike of religions in their various forms. Both assume that Men are potential rapists. Feminism makes no bones about this one of course, buzzwords and phrases such as ‘rape culture’ and ‘teach Men not to rape’ are used to sow the seeds of suspicion in followers, the idea, which has been said in so many words, is that all men are potential rapists (in fact, try typing “all men are” into Google and you’ll find a whole world of hate fuelled articles and propaganda from Feminists). This is something which religion is known for believing too of course. A great example, without even needing to flick through holy scripture, is the Niqab in Islamic culture. It is used predominantly to subjugate and control Women but the general idea is that if a Muslim Woman doesn’t cover up then she may expect to be raped by sex-crazed Men who simply cannot contain their urge to rape any longer. Both refuse to acknowledge or condemn extremists. Feminism, like religion, has its extremist element. Most movements do, the key similarity here is that, while both are more than happy to proclaim extremists to be ‘not real feminists/members of said religion’, they are less eager to condemn their actions because in both cases, the moderate element realise that what the extremists are enacting is precisely what their religion or movement has prescribed and that ultimately, speaking against these actions will result in a backlash. While they may not agree with the methods, they realise that in-fighting will be detrimental to their overall aims. Both operate as a marketable brand. As previously mentioned, it’s common knowledge that religion is business, there is money to be made from religion and people have been doing so for many years to great success. More recently however, Feminism has become a brand in itself. radicals such as Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu have successfully made a very good living as ‘professional victims’, offering little to society other than the ability to blame their shortcomings on sexist attitudes rather than their own ineptitude in their chosen fields and yet, managing to become inexplicably successful and famous as a result (thus completely disproving much of Feminist theory). Feminism is also being marketed in the shops with such theoretically ridiculous premises as ‘Feminist lingerie‘ (I think they misunderstood the point of lingerie with this one since it’s just regular underwear) suddenly bursting onto the scene. Both use fear to control. If you do not subscribe to our religion then you will burn in Hell is the general gist of religion. If you are an infidel you will die horribly or some other awful threat. We all know that religion has used fear as one of its main tools as a form of control since religion was first invented. Feminism too uses fear as a device to keep people in line because let’s not forget that all Men are potential rapists and that without Feminism they’d simply run rampant, subjugating and having their way with all Women. In fact, for a movement which claims to be focused on empowering Women, Feminism seems to spend much of its time telling Women how weak they are, how child-like they are that they should be completely unable to handle criticism like the rest of us and how afraid they should constantly be of the big, bad Men. Neither work without perpetuating myths. Once again, religion works exclusively based on myths and fairy tales and once again, Feminism follows suit here. We hear a lot about the gender pay gap as well as rape culture and most supporters of Feminism never really seem to stop to wonder if these things might be true. There’s no statistical proof for either of these things and in fact, the statistics that are often used to ‘prove’ them have been refuted and disproven many times over already, and yet, these same myths are perpetuated daily as though they were facts. Sound familiar? Both are oppressive. Not only that, but both oppress Women, ironically. While religion is well known for its oppression of Women, Feminism is widely regarded as either being about equal rights for Women or for being a hate group against Men. Either way, it’s hard to imagine that Feminism itself would ever oppress Women right? Well, try telling a Feminist that you don’t identify as a Feminist! Just ask the various unsuspecting celebrity Women who did so, they were portrayed as being stupid and lacking common sense in the Feminist and regularly asked to reconsider their foolish decision until, more often than not, they were forced to cave in and accept Feminism as their personal saviour. Much like apostasy is a crime in some religions, not being a Feminist will see you tarred and feathered in the media. Reason and logic are their natural enemy. Of course, when you have a religion or a movement which employs tactics such as media manipulation and myth perpetuation, reasoned discussion and logic are their natural enemy. To demonstrate this, try to have a discussion about evolution with a religious zealot or better yet, try to explain to a Feminist how having a movement for ‘gender equality’ and calling it FEMinism is akin to having a movement for racial equality and calling it Whitism, and see how long it takes before they result to name calling and/or outright ignoring you. They both have a Devil: Beware the evil Patriarchy. This sinister and completely fictional organisation is always out there, trying to hold down Women in our society because, while we marry and spend our lives with them, we obviously secretly hate them and want them to stay out of our jobs, our places and our nerd cultures because reasons. This is the true face of evil and if you’re not a good Feminist then you’ll spend your days trapped in a world of rape culture, eternally tortured by the Patriarchy monster. And so, fellow Atheists and Dudebros (I’m taking that word back since I can’t seem to find it offensive), can we at least accept that Atheism and Feminism do not go hand-in-hand? Feel free to let me know your thoughts.” Ref


Atheism Plus and Feminism?

It’s time for a new wave of atheism … that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime.
—Jen McCreight[1]

Atheism Plus (also rendered Atheism+) was a movement proposed in 2012 by blogger Jen McCreight. Its original definition was rather nebulous, but in general, it encouraged progressive atheists to move beyond the question of (non-)belief and to address additional issues, including critical thinkingskepticismsocial justicefeminism, anti-racism, and combating homophobia and transphobia. The idea originated as a reaction to the nastiness flung about during a controversy over (sexual) harassment policies at atheist/skeptical conferences, which in turn was a re-ignition of the controversy over sexism in those two movements that had been smoldering since Elevatorgate. The initiative largely went nowhere, and even proponents don’t really use the term anymore. The phrase remains current, deployed as a snarl word by Reddit anti-feminists, Gamergate, the Slymepit, fans of Thunderf00t and other assholes who are active in atheist circles. According to McCreight’s original “Atheism+” blog post: “Atheists plus we care about social justice, Atheists plus we support women’s rights, Atheists plus we protest racism, Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia, Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.” The concept originated in August of 2012 from a blog post by Jen McCreight. McCreight, who is an atheist plus a feminist, had previously spearheaded a protest known as “Boobquake“, in which women dressed in revealing clothing on a specific day to lampoon the claim of Kazem Seddiqi (Iran‘s answer to Jerry Falwell) that earthquakes were caused by women dressing in revealing clothing. (Islamic leaders were noticeably quiet when no remarkable seismic events happened on that day.) Many atheists, particularly those on the Internet, assumed that McCreight would only dress revealingly or call attention to her breasts if she were a slut. McCreight was swamped with invitations from strangers throughout the U.S., not to talk about atheism or anything of that sort, but to have sex; and on the occasions when she was invited to give a talk, online comments centered around her appearance and her breasts. This is sexual harassment, and McCreight asked people to stop, but Internet cranks and such types are notoriously bad at doing what they are told, and things continued much as before. Furthermore, McCreight recounts being told that she could not credibly object to all this attention being paid to her breasts because she had drawn attention to them herself during Boobquake; according to these adversaries, “a joke about my boobs was eternal ‘consent’.” The misogynistic backlash she experienced caused McCreight to become more political on her blog. However, each post she made about feminism attracted floods of hostile comments describing her in highly gendered and less-than-flattering terms. This caused her to realize that many atheists were also misogynists, a realization that crystallized in the wake of the Elevatorgate controversy and the more egregious antics of that eminent YouTube jerk, TheAmazingAtheist, after which she felt less safe in the atheist movement than she did “walking down the fucking sidewalk” (emphasis hers). This caused her to conclude that the atheist movement needed to re-brand itself in order to shut these unruly and vain talkers up. Drawing an analogy with the three waves of feminism, she called this proposed re-branding a new “wave” of atheism. The first wave she identified as being “the traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics.” The second wave were those who broke bold new ground by publicly criticizing religion, who are generally identified as Richard Dawkins and the other New AtheistsThe latest wave, then, would be the new wave McCreight was proposing, a wave that focuses more on sociopolitical issues and “applies skepticism to everything.” Very surprisingly, the deluge of hostile comments that had graced her similar articles on these topics abruptly ceased, and 95% of the comments on this post were positive. Her hand strengthened by this show of support, she officially kicked off her proposed third wave of atheism, calling it “Atheism+”. After these two posts, however, the hostile comments resumed, reaching such a fever pitch that it caused her to step back from blogging regularly for an indeterminate amount of time. It didn’t stop the hatestorm. There have been some questions as to how Atheism Plus would differ from secular humanismAccording to PZ Myers, Atheism Plus represents an attempt at a new variant of secular humanism that does not appropriate the religious trappings of many secular humanist groups. Alternatively, Atheism Plus represents a wedding of the New Atheist‘s in-your-face attitude about religion with social justice concerns. Either way, Atheism Plus is secular humanism that explicitly takes a skeptical approach to common social prejudices such as misogyny and racism; the specific reference to atheism acknowledges that atheism itself is only a small part of a skeptical take on the world. In response to these questions, Jen McCreight wrote a blog post to clarify her position. McCreight maintained that not all humanists are atheists or skeptical, and that not all skeptics are atheists or humanists. She further argued that general public does not really understand what “humanist” means. Furthermore, the humanist community puts a lot of focus on replicating church-like communities and having chaplaincies, a standard that atheists could be opposed to. In general, atheists are united by one factor: disbelief in deities. While many atheists share similar views (skepticism, humanism), not all of them do; atheists may be superstitiousselfishfanatical, or bigoted. The fact that atheism is not a framework of values leaves individuals seeking such a framework with few options. While humanism is popular, the term itself has a long history, with attendant baggage, and historically most humanists were not atheists. Atheism Plus, like humanism, presents itself as a set of values not only concerned with the general morality or goodwill but also with more explicit attitudes regarding social equality and justice; but unlike humanism, it includes atheism as an essential component. In addition to the continuing personal attacks against McCreight, Atheism Plus itself has provoked fierce opposition from groups that see it as a feminist incursion on atheism, especially misogynist groups like the Men’s Rights movement. Their critiques misrepresent Atheism Plus as a simple repackaging of old-school feminism, or at least a straw-man version thereof, in which feminists are leading a secret and powerful conspiracy to cut men’s gonads off and/or spoil their fun, a la Andrea Dworkin or Valerie Solanas. Under this belief, they have launched massive broadsides of abuse at Atheism Plus supporters, specifically the women among them, who became the targets of, i.a., sexualized insults and rape threats. In contrast to this straw-man vision of feminism, Atheism Plus is explicitly not sex-negative, although it is emphatically opposed to creepiness and sexual harassment. Thus, while those who bring such flak against it probably think they are arguing for Free Love or something of the kind, in the real world it works out to arguing for the legitimization of sexual harassment. Although Atheism Plus began with a strong emphasis on the feminist part of its formal agenda, this was partially due to its roots in a response to sexual harassment and sexually violent language being tossed at women within the atheist community, and partially due to the actions of the misogynists themselves, who have kept the focus on gender issues. For example, there has been nowhere near this level of controversy over the anti-racist plank of the Atheism Plus platform (but no doubt there are some Bell Curvers out there waiting to inject some “race realism” into the matter). There have also been objections from atheists who believe that atheism, as a concept, should not be tied to a specific socio-political agenda, including some humanists who support the agenda in question. McCreight has also described how some atheists believe that the concept is needlessly tearing the atheist movement apart, or that the atheist movement should be tackling more relevant issues, such as “debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists,” rather than engaging in socio-political advocacy. Shortly after the introduction of the symbol it came to light that the Atheism Plus symbol is almost identical to a symbol that’s been used by Non-Believers Giving Aid for at least four years. This may be intentional plagiarism, cryptomnesia (unintentional plagiarism), or (most likely) coincidental. Adding a + sign to the atheism symbol is fairly obvious and perhaps two groups can think that up independently. In any case, the Atheism Plus website wound up picking a somewhat different symbol resembling an @ sign with a + in it. Several other bloggers/writers have advocated nearly identical viewpoints, adopting names like Positive Atheism (as distinct from positive atheism) or Ethical Atheism. It is commonplace for people who don’t like Atheism+ and don’t like RationalWiki to assert that RW is A+ or was taken over by A+. However, there are still 0 people we know of in common between them. Ref


Atheism, Feminism, and Equality?

I am not shy with what I think is right, especially about equality.

I have strong opinions when it comes to women’s equality, LGBTQIA equality, race equality, as well as class equality and it amazes me how many atheists are still not on the same page. What the hell is up with that? Here is one of my blog posts: Atheism and LGBTQI rights or support? And yeah, I am a feminist. I am not cool with the so called Men’s rights movement is mostly an anti feminism movement. Here is an article about: 5 Uncomfortable Truths Behind the Men’s Rights Movement. As a humanist and a secularist I also have a hard time getting how other that see value in such labels don’t hold equality as a must in any aware humanity; now I know many do but why not all? Also as a one who is found of socialist anarchism which I know almost all are supporters of equality as well as often feminist, maybe not in some specific feminist movement (though they may be anarcha-feminists), I too am in this anarcha-feminist line of thinking so for me and many others its about the no gods no masters and women should not be seen as equal, they are actually equal and should never been treated as less than equal. And just as we still have racism today we still have sexism. To me we all should see a reason to be feminist just as we all should see a reason to be for LGBTQIA equality, race equality, as well and yes to me, the so called Men’s rights makes even women feel ashamed to say they are a feminist (I am not saying everyone claiming feminism holds values I agree with but in life this is true with most groups or movements. I can’t stand that its just bullying, oppression nor discrimination and am pro-equality for all.

More about Feminism

“We Rise by Helping Each Other”

I am a feminist, and I am an Axiological Atheist, which roughly can be understood as a value theory or value science Atheist. Axiological to Atheism is meant to denote an atheistic rejection of the existence of gods or supreme beings in favor of a “higher absolutes,” such as humanity, formal axiology, or naturalistic or universal ethical principles. Axiological Atheism can be thought to involve ethical/value theory reasoned and moral argument driven atheism, anti-theism, anti-religionism, ignosticism, apatheism, secularism, and humanism. However, as an atheist who is also an anarcho feminist, when I say this many other atheists say they are a humanist or that I should just use the term humanism instead. I am a humanist too and that has nothing to do with me also seeing a need to use the term feminism. I am more specifically an anarcha feminist which generally views patriarchy as a manifestation of involuntary coercive hierarchy, that should be replaced by decentralized free association. Anarcha-feminists believe that the struggle against patriarchy is an essential part of class conflict and the anarchist struggle and contrary to a perceived association with radical feminism, anarcha-feminism is not an inherently militant. Anarcha-feminism, also called anarchist feminism and anarcho-feminism is described to be an anti-authoritarianism, anti-capitalism, anti-oppressive philosophy, with the goal of creating an “equal ground” between males and females. The term “anarcha-feminism” suggests the social freedom and liberty of women, without needed dependence upon other groups or parties. In essence, this philosophy sees anarchist struggle as a necessary component of feminist struggle and vice versa. L. Susan Brown holds that as anarchism is a philosophy that opposes all relationships of unequal power, it is inherently feminist. Ref L. Susan Brown is a Canadian left libertarian socialist who believes this philosophy Libertarian socialism sometimes called socialist libertarianism is a view which holds that all social bonds should be developed by individuals who have an equal amount of bargaining power, because, in Brown’s view, an accumulation of monetary wealth leads to the centralization of economic and political power in the hands of a small elite, reducing the bargaining power—and thus the liberty—of the other individuals in society. Ref

Anarcha-Feminism Origins?

Well, Mikhail Bakunin opposed patriarchy and the way the law “[subjected women] to the absolute domination of the man.” He argued that “[e]qual rights must belong to men and women” so that women could “become independent and be free to forge their own way of life.” Bakunin foresaw the end of “the authoritarian juridical family” and “the full sexual freedom of women.” Proudhon, on the other hand, viewed the family as the most basic unit of society and of his morality and believed that women had the responsibility of fulfilling a traditional role within the family. Since the 1860s, anarchism’s radical critique of capitalism and the state has been combined with a critique of patriarchy. Anarcha-feminists thus start from the precept that modern society is dominated by men. Authoritarian traits and values—domination, exploitation, aggression, competition, etc.—are integral to hierarchical civilizations and are seen as “masculine”. In contrast, non-authoritarian traits and values—cooperation, sharing, compassion, sensitivity—are regarded as “feminine”, and devalued. Anarcha-feminists have thus espoused creation of a non-authoritarian, anarchist society. They refer to the creation of a society, based on cooperation, sharing, mutual aid, etc. as the “feminization of society”. Anarcha-feminism began with late 19th and early 20th century authors and theorists such as anarchist feminists Emma GoldmanVoltairine de Cleyre and Lucy Parsons.]In the Spanish Civil War, an anarcha-feminist group, Mujeres Libres (“Free Women”), linked to the Federación Anarquista Ibérica, organized to defend both anarchist and feminist ideas. Stirnerist Nietzschean feminist Federica Montseny held that the “emancipation of women would lead to a quicker realization of the social revolution” and that “the revolution against sexism would have to come from intellectual and militant ‘future-women’”. According to this Nietzschean concept of Federica Montseny’s, women could “realize through art and literature the need to revise their own roles”. In China, the anarcha-feminist He Zhen argued that without women’s liberation, society could not be liberated. In Argentina, Virginia Bolten is responsible for the publication of a newspaper called La Voz de la Mujer (English: The Woman’s Voice), which was published nine times in Rosario between January 8, 1896 and January 1, 1897, and was briefly revived in 1901. A similar paper with the same name was reportedly published later in Montevideo, which suggests that Bolten may also have founded and edited it after her deportation. “La Voz de la Mujer” described itself as “dedicated to the advancement of Communist Anarchism”. Its central theme was the multiple natures of women’s oppression. An editorial asserted, “We believe that in present-day society, nothing and nobody has a more wretched situation than unfortunate women.” They said that women were doubly oppressed by both bourgeois society and men. Its beliefs can be seen from its attack on marriage and upon male power over women. Its contributors, like anarchist feminists elsewhere, developed a concept of oppression that focused on gender. They saw marriage as a bourgeois institution which restricted women’s freedom, including their sexual freedom. Marriages entered into without love, fidelity maintained through fear rather than desire, and oppression of women by men they hated were all seen as symptomatic of the coercion implied by the marriage contract. It was this alienation of the individual’s will that the anarchist feminists deplored and sought to remedy, initially through free love, and then more thoroughly through social revolution. Free love advocates sometimes traced their roots back to Josiah Warren and to experimental communities, which viewed sexual freedom as a clear, direct expression of an individual’s self-ownership. Free love particularly stressed women’s rights since most sexual laws discriminated against women, such as marriage laws and anti-birth control measures. The most important American free love journal was Lucifer the Lightbearer (1883–1907), edited by Moses Harman and Lois Waisbrooker. Ezra and Angela Heywood’s The Word was also published from 1872–1890 and in 1892–1893. M. E. Lazarus was also an important American individualist anarchist who promoted free love. In Europe, the main propagandist of free love within individualist anarchism was Émile Armand. He proposed the concept of la camaraderie amoureuse – to speak of free love as the possibility of voluntary sexual encounter between consenting adults. He was also a consistent proponent of polyamory. In France there was also feminist activity inside French individualist anarchism as promoted by individualist feminists Marie Küge, Anna Mahé, Rirette Maîtrejean, and Sophia Zaïkovska. Brazilian individualist anarchist Maria Lacerda de Moura lectured on topics such as education, women’s rightsfree love, and antimilitarism. Her writings and essays landed her attention not only in Brazil, but also in Argentina and Uruguay. In February 1923 she launched Renascença, a periodical linked with the anarchist, progressive, and freethinking circles of the period. Her thought was mainly influenced by individualist anarchists such as Han Ryner and Émile Armand. Voltairine de Cleyre (November 17, 1866 – June 20, 1912) was an American anarchist writer and feminist. She was a prolific writer and speaker, opposing the state, marriage, and the domination of religion in sexuality and women’s lives. She began her activist career in the freethought movement. De Cleyre was initially drawn to individualist anarchism but evolved through mutualism to an “anarchism without adjectives.” She was a colleague of Emma Goldman, with whom she respectfully disagreed with on many issues. Many of her essays were in the Collected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre, published posthumously by Mother Earth in 1914. In her 1895 lecture entitled Sex Slavery, de Cleyre condemns ideals of beauty that encourage women to distort their bodies and child socialization practices that create unnatural gender roles. The title of the essay refers not to traffic in women for purposes of prostitution, although that is also mentioned, but rather to marriage laws that allow men to rape their wives without consequences. Such laws make “every married woman what she is, a bonded slave, who takes her master’s name, her master’s bread, her master’s commands, and serves her master’s passions”. Although she was hostile to first-wave feminism and its suffragist goals, Emma Goldman advocated passionately for the rights of women, and is today heralded as a founder of anarcha-feminism. In 1897 she wrote: “I demand the independence of woman, her right to support herself; to live for herself; to love whomever she pleases, or as many as she pleases. I demand freedom for both sexes, freedom of action, freedom in love and freedom in motherhood.” In 1906, Goldman wrote a piece entitled “The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation” in which she argued that traditional suffragists and first-wave feminists were achieving only a superficial good for women by pursuing the vote and a movement from the home sphere. In it she writes that in the ideal world women would be free to pursue their own destinies, yet “emancipation of woman, as interpreted and practically applied today, has failed to reach that great end.” She pointed to the “so-called independence” of the modern woman whose true nature—her love and mother instincts—were rebuked and stifled by the suffragist and early feminist movements. Goldman’s arguments in this text are arguably much more in line with the ideals of modern third-wave feminismthan with the feminism of her time, especially given her emphasis on allowing women to pursue marriage and motherhood if they so desired. In Goldman’s eyes, the early twentieth century idea of the emancipated woman had a “tragic effect upon the inner life of woman” by restricting her from fully fulfilling her nature and having a well-rounded life with a companion in marriage. A nurse by training, Goldman was an early advocate for educating women about birth control. Like many contemporary feminists, she saw abortion as a tragic consequence of social conditions, and birth control as a positive alternative. Goldman was also an advocate of free love, and a strong critic of marriage. She saw early feminists as confined in their scope and bounded by social forces of Puritanism and capitalism. She wrote: “We are in need of unhampered growth out of old traditions and habits. The movement for women’s emancipation has so far made but the first step in that direction.”[23][24] When Margaret Sanger, an advocate of access to birth control, coined the term “birth control” and disseminated information about various methods in the June 1914 issue of her magazine The Woman Rebel, she received aggressive support from Goldman. Sanger was arrested in August under the Comstock laws, which prohibited the dissemination of “obscene, lewd, or lascivious articles”—including information relating to birth control. Although they later split from Sanger over charges of insufficient support, Goldman and Reitman distributed copies of Sanger’s pamphlet Family Limitation (along with a similar essay of Reitman’s). In 1915, Goldman conducted a nationwide speaking tour in part to raise awareness about contraception options. Although the nation’s attitude toward the topic seemed to be liberalizing, Goldman was arrested in February 1916 and charged with violation of the Comstock Law. Refusing to pay a $100 fine, she spent two weeks in a prison workhouse, which she saw as an “opportunity” to reconnect with those rejected by society. Goldman was also an outspoken critic of prejudice against homosexuals. Her belief that social liberation should extend to gay men and lesbians was virtually unheard of at the time, even among anarchists. As Magnus Hirschfeld wrote, “she was the first and only woman, indeed the first and only American, to take up the defense of homosexual love before the general public.” In numerous speeches and letters, she defended the right of gay men and lesbians to love as they pleased and condemned the fear and stigma associated with homosexuality. As Goldman wrote in a letter to Hirschfeld, “It is a tragedy, I feel, that people of a different sexual type are caught in a world which shows so little understanding for homosexuals and is so crassly indifferent to the various gradations and variations of gender and their great significance in life.” Milly Witkop was a Ukrainian-born Jewish anarcho-syndicalist, feminist writer and activist. She was the common-law wife of Rudolf Rocker. In November 1918, Witkop and Rocker moved to Berlin; Rocker had been invited by Free Association of German Trade Unions (FVdG) chairman Fritz Kater to join him in building up what would become the Free Workers’ Union of Germany (FAUD), an anarcho-syndicalist trade union. Both Rocker and Witkop became members of the FAUD. After its founding in early 1919, a discussion about the role of girls and women in the union started. The male-dominated organization had at first ignored gender issues, but soon women started founding their own unions, which were organized parallel to the regular unions, but still formed part of the FAUD. Witkop was one of the leading founders of the Women’s Union in Berlin in 1920. On October 15, 1921, the women’s unions held a national congress in Düsseldorf and the Syndicalist Women’s Union (SFB) was founded on a national level. Shortly thereafter, Witkop drafted Was will der Syndikalistische Frauenbund? (What Does the Syndicalist Women’s Union Want?) as a platform for the SFB. From 1921, the Frauenbund was published as a supplement to the FAUD organ Der Syndikalist, Witkop was one of its primary writers. Witkop reasoned that proletarian women were exploited not only by capitalism like male workers, but also by their male counterparts. She contended therefore that women must actively fight for their rights, much like workers must fight capitalism for theirs. She also insisted on the necessity of women taking part in class struggle. Housewives could use boycotts to support this struggle. From this, she concluded the necessity of an autonomous women’s organization in the FAUD. Witkop also held that domestic work should be deemed equally valuable to wage labor. Mujeres Libres (English: Free Women) was an anarchist women’s organization in Spain that aimed to empower working class women. It was founded in 1936 by Lucía Sánchez SaornilMercedes Comaposada and Amparo Poch y Gascón and had approximately 30,000 members. The organization was based on the idea of a “double struggle” for women’s liberation and social revolution and argued that the two objectives were equally important and should be pursued in parallel. In order to gain mutual support, they created networks of women anarchists. Flying day-care centres were set up in efforts to involve more women in union activities. The organization also produced propaganda through radio, traveling libraries and propaganda tours, in order to promote their cause. Organizers and activists traveled through rural parts of Spain to set up rural collectives and support for women. To prepare women for leadership roles in the anarchist movement, they organized schools, women-only social groups and a women-only newspaper to help women gain self-esteem and confidence in their abilities and network with one another to develop their political consciousness. Many of the female workers in Spain were illiterate and the Mujeres Libres sought to educate them through literacy programs, technically oriented classes, and social studies classes. Schools were also created for train nurses to help injured in emergency medical clinics. Medical classes also provided women with information on sexual health and pre and post-natal care. The Mujeres Libres also created a woman run magazine to keep all of its members informed. The first monthly issue of Mujeres Libres was published on May 20, 1936 (ack 100). However the magazine only had 14 issues. The last issue was still being printed when the civil war battlefront reached Barcelona, and no copies survived. The magazine addressed working class women and focused on “awakening the female conscience toward libertarian ideas.” Lucía Sánchez Saornil (December 13, 1895 – June 2, 1970), was a Spanish poet, militant anarchist and feminist. She is best known as one of the founders of Mujeres Libres. She served in the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista (SIA). By 1919, she had been published in a variety of journals, including Los QuijotesTablerosPluralManantial and La Gaceta Literaria. Working under a male pen name, she was able to explore lesbian themes[35] at a time when homosexuality was criminalized and subject to censorship and punishment. Writing in anarchist publications such as Earth and Freedom, the White Magazine and Workers’ Solidarity, Lucía outlined her perspective as a feminist. Although quiet on the subject of birth control, she attacked the essentialism of gender roles in Spanish society. In this way, Lucía established herself as one of the most radical of voices among anarchist women, rejecting the ideal of female domesticity which remained largely unquestioned. In a series of articles for Workers’ Solidarity, she boldly refuted Gregorio Marañón‘s identification of motherhood as the nucleus of female identity. An important aspect of anarcha-feminism is its opposition to traditional concepts of family, education and gender rolesThe institution of marriage is one of the most widely opposed. De Cleyre argued that marriage stifled individual growth, and Goldman argued that it “is primarily an economic arrangement… [woman] pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life.”[40] Anarcha-feminists have also argued for non-hierarchical family and educational structures, and had a prominent role in the creation of the Modern School in New York City, based on the ideas of Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia“The Fine Art of Labeling: The Convergence of Anarchism, Feminism, and Bisexuality”, by Lucy Friedland and Liz Highleyman, is a piece in Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out (1991), an anthology edited by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka’ahumanuwhich is one of the seminal books[42] in the history of the modern bisexual rights movement. Contemporary anarcha-feminism has been noted for its heavy influence on ecofeminism.”Ecofeminists rightly note that except for anarcha-feminist, no feminist perspective has recognized the importance of healing the nature/culture division.” Contemporary anarcha-feminist writers/theorists include Maria MiesPeggy KorneggerL. Susan Brown, the eco-feminist Starhawk and the post-left anarchist and anarcho-primitivist Lilith. In the past decades two films have been produced about anarcha-feminism. Libertarias is a historical drama made in 1996 about the Spanish anarcha-feminist organization Mujeres Libres. In 2010 the argentinian film Ni dios, ni patrón, ni marido was released which is centered on the story of anarcha-feminist Virginia Bolten and her publishing of the newspaper La Voz de la Mujer(English: The Woman’s Voice). Ref


Planned Parenthood and Anarchy

“Margaret Higgins Sanger (born Margaret Louise Higgins, September 14, 1879 – September 6, 1966, also known as Margaret Sanger Slee) was an American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse. Sanger popularized the term “birth control”, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 1911, after a fire destroyed their home in Hastings-on-Hudson, the Sangers abandoned the suburbs for a new life in New York City. Margaret Sanger worked as a visiting nurse in the slums of the East Side, while her husband worked as an architect and a house painter. Already imbued with her husband’s leftist politics, Margaret Sanger also threw herself into the radical politics and modernist values of pre-World War I Greenwich Village bohemia. She joined the Women’s Committee of the New York Socialist party, took part in the labor actions of the Industrial Workers of the World (including the notable 1912 Lawrence textile strike and the 1913 Paterson silk strike) and became involved with local intellectuals, left-wing artists, socialists and social activists, including John ReedUpton SinclairMabel Dodge and Emma GoldmanSanger’s political interests, emerging feminism and nursing experience led her to write two series of columns on sex education entitled “What Every Mother Should Know” (1911–12) and “What Every Girl Should Know” (1912–13) for the socialist magazine New York Call. By the standards of the day, Sanger’s articles were extremely frank in their discussion of sexuality, and many New York Call readers were outraged by them. Other readers, however, praised the series for its candor. One stated that the series contained “a purer morality than whole libraries full of hypocritical cant about modesty”. Both were published in book form in 1916. During her work among working-class immigrant women, Sanger met women who underwent frequent childbirth, miscarriages and self-induced abortions for lack of information on how to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Access to contraceptive information was prohibited on grounds of obscenity by the 1873 federal Comstock law and a host of state laws. Seeking to help these women, Sanger visited public libraries, but was unable to find information on contraception. In 1914 Sanger launched The Woman Rebel, an eight-page monthly newsletter which promoted contraception using the slogan “No Gods, No Masters“. Sanger, collaborating with anarchist friends, popularized the term “birth control” as a more candid alternative to euphemisms such as “family limitation” and proclaimed that each woman should be “the absolute mistress of her own body.” In these early years of Sanger’s activism, she viewed birth control as a free-speech issue, and when she started publishing The Woman Rebel, one of her goals was to provoke a legal challenge to the federal anti-obscenity laws which banned dissemination of information about contraception. Though postal authorities suppressed five of its seven issues, Sanger continued publication, all the while preparing Family Limitation, another challenge to anti-birth control laws. This 16-page pamphlet contained detailed and precise information and graphic descriptions of various contraceptive methods. In August 1914 Margaret Sanger was indicted for violating postal obscenity laws by sending The Woman Rebel through the postal system. Rather than stand trial, she fled the country.” Ref

Black anarchism?

Black anarchism is a loose term sometimes applied in the United States to group together a number of people of African descent who identify with anarchism. They include Ashanti AlstonLorenzo Kom’boa ErvinKuwasi Balagoon, Kai Lumumba Barrow, Greg Jackson, and Martin Sostre. Critics of the term suggest that it elides major political differences between these individuals, incorrectly presenting these individuals as having a shared theory or movement, while imposing a label that these individuals do not (or did not) all accept. The individuals to whom the label has been applied all oppose the existence of the State, the subjugation and domination of black people, and other groups, and favor a non-hierarchical organization of society. In general, these individuals argue for class struggle while stressing the importance of ending racial and national oppression, opposing white supremacypatriarchycapitalism, and the state. They have generally rejected narrow or vulgar forms of “anarchism” that ignore issues of race and national oppression, a deformed “white, petty-bourgeois Anarchism that cannot relate to the people” and that refuses to deal with issues of race saying “No, don’t talk about racism unless it is in that very abstract sense of we-are-all-equal-let’s-sing-kumbayas-and-pretend-the-color-of-our-skin-does-not-matter” anti-racism. Ashanti Alston (who has explicitly used the term “Black Anarchism”) also argued that: Black culture has always been oppositional and is all about finding ways to creatively resist oppression here, in the most racist country in the world [the United States]. So, when I speak of a Black anarchism, it is not so tied to the color of my skin but who I am as a person, as someone who can resist, who can see differently when I am stuck, and thus live differently. He added that, as an anarchist, he viewed black nationalism as progressive yet also as deeply limited: “Panther anarchism is ready, willing and able to challenge old nationalist and revolutionary notions that have been accepted as ‘common-sense.’ It also challenges the bullshit in our lives and in the so-called movement that holds us back from building a genuine movement based on the enjoyment of life, diversity, practical self-determination and multi-faceted resistance to the Babylonian Pigocracy. This Pigocracy is in our ‘heads,’ our relationships as well as in the institutions that have a vested interest in our eternal domination. ref


Anarchism and the Black Revolution?

by  Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin


Dedication For the second edition of Anarchism and the Black Revolution

I dedicate this second edition of Anarchism and the Black Revolution to Comrade Ginger Katz, one of the founders of the original North American Anarchist Black Cross almost 15 years ago. It was Ginger Katz who almost single-handedly arranged for the typesetting, publishing and printing of the first edition, and then she went out and sold them by the thousands. Without her, this second edition would not have been possible.

She had to fight to get the books published, and to get a hearing for myself and other Black Anarchists, who had things to say about the direction of the movement. The “Anarchist purists,” who wanted to keep the movement all white and as an Individualist, counter-cultural phenomenon, fought her tooth and nail. Some of these criticisms and struggles were thinly veiled racism, and I am sure that they frustrated and exhausted Comrade Ginger. If so, she never relayed it to me, but I heard it from other sources. I remember my dealings with Anarchists in the movement during the 1970s, who denied the existence of racism as something we should fight entirely. But not Comrade Ginger. She was one of the few Anarchists who understood how the American state was organized, and how it used white skin privilege to split the working class, and to continue the dictatorship of Capitalism through such “divide and rule” tactics.

I still have some of the letters that Ginger wrote me 15 years ago when I was in prison. But I lost contact with her since the early 1980. In 1983, I was released from prison, and became estranged from the Anarchist and prison movements, so I do not know where she is. But wherever she is, I hope she will know how much I appreciate what she did to make this project a reality, and how she laid the seeds for the growth of the present and future Libertarian Socialist movement on this continent, and hopefully around the world. I am hopeful that I might one day meet her, maybe when I am on a national book tour for this and other books I have written, and just thank her for helping me, when I could not help myself. To this comrade, I will give my love and respect always. Thank you.

Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin

September 1993

Chapter 1. An Analysis of White Supremacy

This pamphlet will briefly discuss the nature of Anarchism and its relevance to the Black Liberation movement. Because there have been so many lies and distortions of what Anarchism really stands for, by both its left- and right-wing ideological opponents, it will be necessary to discuss the many popular myths about it. This in itself deserves a book, but is not the intention of this pamphlet, which is merely to introduce the Black movement to revolutionary Anarchist ideals. It is up to the reader to determine whether these new ideas are valid and worthy of adoption.

How the Capitalists Use Racism

The fate of the white working class has always been bound with the condition of Black workers. Going as far back as the American colonial period when Black labor was first imported into America, Black slaves and indentured servants have been oppressed right along with whites of the lower classes. But when European indentured servants joined with Blacks to rebel against their lot in the late 1600s, the propertied class decided to “free” them by giving them a special status as “whites” and thus a stake in the system of oppression.

Material incentives, as well as the newly elevated social status were used to ensure these lower classes allegiance. This invention of the “white race” and racial slavery of the Africans went hand-in-glove, and is how the upper classes maintained order during the period of slavery. Even poor whites had aspirations of doing better, since their social mobility was ensured by the new system. This social mobility, however, was on the backs of the African slaves, who were super-exploited.

But the die had been cast for the dual-tier form of labor, which exploited the African, but also trapped white labor. When they sought to organize unions or for higher wages in the North or South, white laborers were slapped down by the rich, who used enslaved Black labor as their primary mode of production. The so-called “free” labor of the white worker did not stand a chance.

Although the Capitalists used the system of white skin privilege to great effect to divide the working class, the truth is that the Capitalists only favored white workers to use them against their own interests, not because there was true “white” class unity. The Capitalists didn’t want white labor united with Blacks against their rule and the system of exploitation of labor. The invention of the “white race” was a scam to facilitate this exploitation. White workers were bought off to allow their own wage slavery and the African’s super-exploitation; they struck a deal with the devil, which has hampered all efforts at class unity for the last four centuries.

The continual subjugation of the masses depends on competition and internal disunity. As long as discrimination exists, and racial or ethnic minorities are oppressed, the entire working class is oppressed and weakened. This is so because the Capitalist class is able to use racism to drive down the wages of individual segments of the working class by inciting racial antagonism and forcing a fight for jobs and services. This division is a development that ultimately undercuts the living standards of all workers. Moreover, by pitting whites against Blacks and other oppressed nationalities, the Capitalist class is able to prevent workers from uniting against their common class enemy. As long as workers are fighting each other, Capitalist class rule is secure.

If an effective resistance is to be mounted against the current racist offensive of the Capitalist class, the utmost solidarity between workers of all races is essential The way to defeat the Capitalist strategy is for white workers to defend the democratic rights won by Blacks and other oppressed peoples after decades of hard struggle, and to fight to dismantle the system of white skin privilege. White workers should support and adopt the concrete demands of the Black movement, and should work to abolish the white identity entirely. These white workers should strive for multicultural unity, and should work with Black activists to build an anti-racist movement to challenge white supremacy. However, it is also very important to recognize the right of the Black movement to take an independent road in its own interests. That is what self-determination means.

Race and Class: the Combined Character of Black Oppression

Because of the way this nation has developed with the exploitation of African labor and the maintenance of an internal colony, Blacks and other non-white peoples are oppressed both as members of the working class and as a racial nationality. As Africans in America, they are a distinct people, hounded and segregated in U.S. society. By struggling for their human and civil rights they ultimately come into confrontation with the entire Capitalist system, not just individual racists or regions of the country. The truth soon becomes apparent: Blacks cannot get their freedom under this system because, based on historically uneven competition, Capitalist exploitation is inherently racist.

At this juncture the movement can go into the direction of revolutionary social change, or limit itself to winning reforms and democratic rights within the structure of Capitalism. The potential is there for either. In fact, the weakness of the 1960s Civil rights movement was that it allied itself with the liberals in the Democratic Party and settled for civil rights protective legislation, instead of pushing for social revolution. This self-policing by the leaders of the movement is an abject lesson about why the new movement has to be self-activated and not dependent on personalities and politicians.

But if such a movement does become a social revolutionary movement, it must ultimately unite its forces with similar movements like Gays, Women, radical workers, and others who are in revolt against the system. For example, in the late 1960s the Black Liberation movement acted as a catalyst to spread revolutionary ideas and images, which brought forth the various opposition movements we see today. This is what we believe will happen again, although it is not enough to call for mindless “unity” as much of the white left does.

Because of the dual forms of oppression of non-white workers and the depth of social desperation it creates, Blacks workers will strike first, whether their potential allies are available to do so or not. This is self-determination and that is why it is necessary for oppressed workers to build independent movements to unite their own peoples first. This is why it is absolutely necessary for white workers to defend the democratic rights and gains of non-white workers. This self-activity of the oppressed masses, (such as the Black Liberation movement) is inherently revolutionary, and is an essential part of the social revolutionary process of the entire working class. These are not marginal issues; it cannot be downgraded or ignored by white workers if a revolutionary victory is to be had. It has to be recognized as a cardinal principle by all, that oppressed peoples have a right to self-determination, including the right to run their own organizations and liberation struggle. The victims of racism know best how to fight back against it.

So What Type of Anti-Racist Group is Needed?

The Black movement needs allies in its battle against the racist Capitalist class — not the usual liberal or phony “radical” support, but genuine revolutionary working class support and solidarity, otherwise called “mutual aid” by Anarchists. The basis of such unity however must be principled and be based on class interest, rather than liberal “guilt tripping,” “do-gooding” or opportunism and manipulation by liberal or radical political parties. The needs of the oppressed people must be the most important consideration, but they want genuine support, not fakery or leftist rhetoric.

The Anarchist movement, which is overwhelmingly white, must start to understand that they need to do propaganda work among the Black and other oppressed community, and they need to make it possible for non-white Anarchists to organize in their communities by providing them with technical resources (printing of zines, video and audio cassette production, etc.) and assisting with financial resources.

One reason there are so few Black Anarchists is because the movement provides no means to reach people of color, win them over to Anarchism and help them organize themselves. This must change if we want the social revolution to take place in America, and if we want North American Anarchism to be more than “white rights” movement.

The type of organization needed must be a “mass” organization working to unite all workers in common class struggle, but must be able to recognize the duty to support and adopt the special demands of the Black and other non-white peoples as those of the entire working class. It must challenge white supremacy on a daily basis, it must refute racist philosophy and propaganda, and must counter racist mobilization and attacks, with armed self-defense and street fighting, when necessary. The objective of such a mass movement is to win the white working class over to an anti-white supremacy, class-conscious position; to unite the entire working class; and to directly confront and overthrow the Capitalist state, and its rulers. The cooperation of and solidarity of all workers is essential for full Social revolution, not just its privileged white sector.

For instance, an existing organization like Anti-Racist Action, if adopting such politics as an Anarchist group, should be given a higher priority by our movement. Every city and town should have ARA-type collectives, and every existing Anarchist federation should have internal working groups that do work around racism and police brutality. In fact, the type of group that I am talking about would be a federation itself to coordinate struggles on the national and maybe even international level.

This would be a revolutionary movement, not content to sit around and read books, elect a few Black politicians or “friends of Labor” to Congress or the State Legislature, write protest letters, circulate petitions, or other such tame tactics. It would take the examples of the early radical labor movements like the IWW, as well as the Civil rights movement of the 1960s, to show that only direct action tactics of confrontation and militant protest will yield any results at all. It would also have the example of the 1992 Los Angeles rebellion to show that people will revolt, but there need to be powerful allies extending material aid and resistance info, and an existing mass movement to take it to the next step and spread the insurrection.

The Anarchists must recognize this and help build a militant anti-racist group, which would be both a support group for the Black revolution and a mass-organizing center to unite the class. It is very important to wrest the mass influence of the racial equality movement out of the hands of the left-liberal Democratic wing of the ruling class. The left liberals may talk a good fight, but as long as they are not for overthrowing Capitalism and smashing the state, they will betray and sabotage the entire struggle against racism. The strategy of the left-liberals is to deflect class-consciousness into strictly race consciousness. They refuse to appeal on the basis of class material interests to the U.S. working and middle classes to support Black rights, and as a result allow the right-wing to capitalize unopposed on the latent racist feeling among whites, as well as on their economic insecurity. The kind of movement I am proposing will step in the breach and attack white supremacy, and dismantle the very threads of what holds Capitalism together. Without the mass white consensus to the rule of the American state, and the system of white skin privilege, Capitalism could not go on into the next century!

The Myth of “Reverse Racism”

“Reverse Discrimination” has become the war cry of all those racists trying to roll back civil rights gains won by Blacks and other oppressed nationalities in housing, education, employment, and every aspect of social life. The racists feel these things should only go to white males, and that “minorities” and women are taking them away from white men. Millions of white workers day-in and day-out are bombarded by this racist propaganda, and it is having e big impact. Many whites believe this lie of reverse discrimination against white people. This belief is embraced by many duped white workers, who consider “reverse discrimination” to be at least partly responsible for the economic problems so many of them are suffering from today. Such beliefs propelled Ronald Reagan to his two terms as U.S. president. Reagan tried to use this racist propaganda line to precipitate a rollback in the civil rights gains of oppressed nationalities.

The racists claim the concept of reverse discrimination suggests the wholesale discrimination against Blacks and other racially oppressed groups is a hoax. Baldly stated, the idea is that the passage of the 1964 Civil rights Act ended discrimination against Blacks, Latinos and other nationalities, and women, and now the law is discriminating against white people. The racists say racial minorities and women are the new privileged groups in American society. They are allegedly getting the pick of jobs, preferential college placements, the best housing, government grants, and so on at the expense of white workers. The racists say programs to end discrimination are not only unnecessary, but are actually attempts by minorities to gain power at the expense of white workers. They say Blacks and women do not want equality, but rather hegemony over white workers.

An Anarchist anti-racist movement would counter such propaganda and expose it as a ruling class weapon. The Civil Rights Act did not cause inflation by “excessive” spending on welfare, housing, or other social services. Further, Blacks aren’t discriminating against whites: whites are not being herded into ghetto housing; removed from or prohibited from entering professions; deprived of decent education; forced into malnutrition and early death; subjected to racial violence and police repression, forced to suffer disproportionate levels of unemployment, and other forms of racial oppression. But for Blacks the oppression starts with birth and childhood. Infant mortality rate is nearly three times that of whites, and it continues an throughout their lives. The fact is “reverse discrimination” is a hoax. Anti-Black discrimination is not a thing of the past. It is the systematic, all pervasive reality today!

Malcolm X pointed out in the 1960s that no civil rights statutes will give Black people their freedom, and asked if Africans in America were really citizens why would civil rights be necessary. Malcolm X observed civil rights had been fought for at great sacrifice, and therefore should be enforced, but if the government won’t enforce the laws, then the people will have to do so, and the movement will have to pressure the government authorities to protect democratic rights. To unite the masses of people behind a working class anti-racist movement, the following practical demands, which are a combination revolutionary and radical reformism, to ensure democratic rights, are necessary:

  1. Black and white workers’ solidarity. Fight racism on the job and in society.

  2. Full democratic and human rights for all non-white peoples. Make unions fight racism and discrimination.

  3. Armed self-defense against racist attacks. Build mass movement against racism and fascism.

  4. Community control of the police, replacement of cops by community self-defense force elected by residents. End police brutality. Prosecution of all killer cops.

  5. Money for rebuilding the cities. Creation of public works brigades to rebuild inner city areas, made up of community residents.

  6. Full socially useful employment at union wages for all workers. End racial discrimination in jobs, training and promotions. Establish affirmative: action programs to reverse past racist employment practices.

  7. Ban the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and other fascist organizations. Prosecution of all racists for attacks on people of color.

  8. Free open admissions to all institutions of learning for all those qualified to attend. No racial exclusion in higher education.

  9. End taxes of workers and poor. Tax the rich and major corporations.

  10. Full health and medical care for all persons and communities, regardless of race and class.

  11. Free all political prisoners and innocent victims of racial injustice. Abolish prisons. Fight economic disparity.

  12. Rank and file democratic control of the unions by building an Anarcho-Syndicalist labor movement. Make unions active in social issues.

  13. Stop racist harassment and discrimination of undocumented workers.

Smash the right Wing!

“Fascism is not to be debated. It is to be smashed…”

— Buenaventura Durritti, Spanish Anarchist revolutionary, 1936.

As Capitalist society decays, people will look for radical and total solutions to the misery they face. The Nazis and the Klan are among the few right-wing political forces that offer, or appear to offer, a radical answer to the current problems of society for the white masses. That these solutions are false will matter little to confused and hysterical people searching desperately for a way out of the socioeconomic crisis the Capitalist world is facing. Sections of the middle class, better-off layers of the white working class, poor and unemployed white workers, all poisoned by the racism of this society, are easy prey for Nazi and Klan demagogues.

The Nazis, skinheads and the Klan are the most extreme right-wing racist/fascist organizations in the United States. Today these groups are small, and many liberals like to downplay the threat they represent, even to argue for their legal “rights” to spread their racist venom. But these groups have a tremendous growth potential and could become a mass movement in a surprisingly short period of time, especially during an economic and political crisis like we are now in.

Basing themselves on alienated white social forces, the Nazis and Klan are trying to build a mass movement that can hire itself out to the Capitalists at the proper moment and assume state power. When the Capitalist feel that they might need an additional club to keep the workers and the oppressed in line, they will turn to the Nazis, Klan and similar right-wing organizations, with both money and support, in addition to strengthening the state police and military forces. If need be, the Capitalists will place them in power, (as they did in Spain, Germany and Italy in the 1920s and 1930s), so the fascists will smash the unions and other working class organizations; place Blacks, Latinos Gays, Asians, and Jews into concentration camps; and turn the rest of the workers into State slaves. Fascism is the ultimate authoritarian society when in power, even though it has changed its face to a mixture of crude racism and smoother racism in the modern democratic state.

So in addition to the Nazis and the Klan, there are other right-wing forces that have been on the rise in the last 15 years. They include ultra-conservative rightist politicians and Christian fundamentalist preachers, along with the extreme right section of the Capitalist ruling class itself — small business owners, talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, along with the professors, economists, philosophers and others in academia providing the ideological weaponry for the Capitalist offensive against the workers and oppressed people. Not all the racists wear sheets. These are the “respectable” racists, the new right conservatives, who are far more dangerous than the Klan or Nazis because their politics have become acceptable to large masses of white workers, who in turn blame racial minorities for their problems.

The Capitalist class has already shown their willingness to use this conservative movement as a smoke screen for an attack on the Labor movement, Black struggle and the entire working class. Many city public workers have been fired; schools, hospitals and other social services have been curtailed; government agencies have been privatized; welfare rolls have been cut drastically; and the budgets of city and state governments slashed. Banks have even used their dictatorial powers to demand these budget cuts, and to even, make entire cities default if they did not submit. This even happened to New York City in the 1970s. So this is not just an issue of poor, dumb rednecks in hoods. This is about hoods in business suits.

A first step in organizing and preparing the working class in the economic crisis we face is to directly take on the right-wing threat. Repressive economic legislation by conservative politicians to punish the poor and working class must be defeated; taxes on the rich and major corporations must be increased, while taxes on the workers and farmers must be abolished. If the politicians will not do it, we will organize a tax boycott to force them to do it. The Nazis and Klan must be confronted through direct action. Anarchists, the left and labor organizations must organize to defend workers and oppressed from physical assaults by the racists, as well as hold mass demonstrations in the streets at fascist rallies. We also must oppose scum like Operation Rescue that uses violent Fascist tactics against women’s rights to abortions. It is part of the same battleground.

Here is the situation: David Duke, the “ex”-Klansman is now part of the “respectable” right, which picks up support among the upper middle class. Meanwhile the Klan and Nazi skinheads are making headway among different social layers, mainly poor white workers and unemployed white youth. Tom Metzger, the leader of white Aryan Resistance, called the Nazi skinheads his “Brown-shirts of the ’90s.” This is very dangerous, but we cannot leave these people to the Nazis and Klan uncontested. We should try to win them over, or at least neutralize any active opposition on their part. This is a defensive tactic at the very least, but really we have no choice, and it is part of our revolutionary duty to organize the entire working class anyway. We should direct propaganda to these workers to expose the Nazis and Klan for the scum they are, and show how the workers are being misled. We should also make it possible for them to fight this misery against the real enemy: the Capitalist class.

But in addition to defensive operations for propaganda, we must take direct offensive action to physically resist the racists when this is possible. For example, where the balance of forces allows it, we must organize to forcefully drive the Nazis and Klan off the streets. In order to smash their movements we must organize commando-type actions to attack their rallies, close their bookshops and newspapers, destroy their meeting halls, and break up their marches. Since the Nazis and Klan organize by threatening and using violence, we must be prepared to reply to them in kind, but in a better-organized and more effective way. For instance, pigs like David Duke and Tom Metzger, who have been advocating and leading the fascist movement in America, should be assassinated. We should infiltrate Klan and Nazi demonstrations in order to assault leaders and disrupt them, or hide at a distance and snipe at them with high-powered rifles. I have always felt that underground guerilla movements like the Black Liberation Army, Weather Underground, and New World Liberation Front should have attacked fascist movements and assassinated their leaders. If we cripple the fascists in this fashion, we can smash the entire right and begin to smash the State. This is the only way to stop fascists. Death to the Klan and all fascists!

None other than Adolph Hitler has been quoted as saying: “Only one thing could have stopped our movement. If our adversaries had understood its principle, and from the first day had smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement.” We should take heed.

One other thing that we must do, and is something which tactically separates us Anarchists from the Marxist-Leninists, is that we use our studies of the authoritarian personality to help us organize against fascist recruitment All the M-L’s “United Fronts” care about is a strict political approach to defeat fascism and prevent them from attaining state power, while being able to usher the Communist party in instead. They organize liberals and others into mass coalitions just to seize power, and then crush all radical and liberal ideological opponents after they get done with the fascists. That is why the Stalinist ‘Communist” states resemble fascist police states so much in refusing to allow ideological plurality — they are both totalitarian. For that matter, how much difference was there really between Stalin and Hitler? So, I say that merely physically beating back the fascists is not the issue. We need to study what accounts for the mass psychology of fascism and then defeat it ideologically, going to the core of the deep seated racist beliefs, emotions, and authoritarian conditioning of those workers who support fascism and all police state authority.

The third prong of our strategy is to organize among the workers and other oppressed sections of society with a program that addresses their needs. As has been said, the Klan and Nazis recruit among certain social layers — overwhelmingly white youth who are hard-pressed by the economic crisis. These people see Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Gays, women, and radical movements as a threat. They are racist, reactionary and potentially very violent. Fearful that they will lose the little they have, they buy the myth that the problems is “those people” trying to steal their jobs, homes, future, etc., rather than the decay of the Capitalist system.

As long as there appears to be no alternative to fighting over a shrinking social “pie,” the fascists, with their simple minded “solutions,” will get a hearing among the degenerate elements of the working class. The only way to undercut the appeal of the right is to organize a Libertarian workers movement that can fight for and win the things that people need — jobs, decent housing and schools, health care, etc. This can demonstrate concretely that there is an alternative to the right wing’s poisonous “solutions,” and it can win to the ranks of the workers’ movement some of those people attracted to the fascist movement.

In all areas of our organizing, we must carry out consistent revolutionary propaganda explaining Capitalism is responsible for unemployment, rising prices, rotten schools and housing and the rest of the decay we see around us. We must expose the fact that, while the Nazis, Klan and other right-wingers make Black, Gays, Latinos and other oppressed people the scapegoat for the economic crisis, their real aim is to destroy the entire workers movement, commit genocide, start an adventuristic war and turn workers into outright slaves of the State. Therefore, these fascist forces are a threat to all workers of every nationality. It must be explained that they only want to use white workers as pawns in their scheme to create a fascist dictatorship, and all workers must unite and fight back and overthrow the state if they are to be free. Death to the Klan, death to the nazis!

Defeat white supremacy!

The very means of class control by the rich is the least understood. White supremacy is more than just a set of ideas or prejudices. It is national oppression. Yet to most white people, the term conjures up images of the Nazis or Ku Klux Klan rather than the system of white skin privileges that really undergrids the Capitalist system in the U.S. Most white people, Anarchists included, believe in essence that Black people are “the same” as whites, and that we should just fight around “common issues” rather than deal with “racial matters,” if they see any urgency in dealing with the matter at all. Some will not raise it in such a blunt fashion, they will say that “class issues should take precedence,” but it means the same thing. They believe it’s possible to put off the struggle against white supremacy until after the revolution, when in fact there will be no revolution if white supremacy is not attacked and defeated first. They won’t win a revolution in the U.S. until they fight to improve the lot of Blacks and oppressed people who are being deprived of their democratic rights, as well as being super-exploited as workers.

Almost from the very inception of the North American socialist movement, the simple-minded economist position that all Black and white workers have to do to wage a revolution is to engage in a “common (economic) struggle” has been used to avoid struggle against white supremacy. In fact, the white left has always taken the chauvinist position that since the white working class is the revolutionary vanguard anyway, why worry about an issue that will “divide the class”? Historically Anarchists have not even brought up the matter of “race politics,” as one Anarchist referred to it the first time this pamphlet was published. This is a total evasion of the issue.

Yet it is the Capitalist bourgeoisie that creates inequality as a way to divide and rule over the entire working class. White skin privilege is a form of domination by Capital over white labor as well as oppressed nationality labor, not just providing material incentives to “buy off” white workers and set them against Black and other oppressed workers. This explains the obedience of white labor to Capitalism and the State. The white working class does not see their better off condition as part of the system of exploitation. After centuries of political and social indoctrination, they feel their privileged position is just and proper, and what is more has been “earned.” They feel threatened by social gains of non-white workers, which is why they so vehemently opposed affirmative action plans to benefit minorities in jobs and hiring, and to redress years of discrimination against them. It is also why white workers have opposed most civil rights legislation.

Yet it is the day-to-day workings of white supremacy that we must fight most vigorously. We cannot remain ignorant or indifferent to the workings of race and class under this system, so that oppressed workers remain victimized. For years, Blacks have been “first hired, first fired” by Capitalist industry. Further, seniority systems have engaged in open racial discrimination, and are little more than white job trusts. Blacks have even been driven out of whole industries, such as coal mining. Yet the white labor bosses have never objected or intervened on behalf of their class brothers, nor will they if not pressed up against the wall by white workers.

As pointed out there are material incentives to this white worker opportunism: better jobs, higher pay, improved living conditions in white communities, etc., in short what has come to be known as the “white middle class lifestyle.” This is what labor and the left have always fought to maintain, not class solidarity, which would necessitate a struggle against white supremacy. This lifestyle is based on the super-exploitation of the non-white sector of the domestic working class as well as countries exploited by imperialism around the world.

In America, class antagonism has always included racial hatred as an essential component, but it is structural rather than just ideological. Since all of the institutions, the culture, and the socioeconomic system of U.S. Capitalism are based on white supremacy, how then is it possible to truly fight the rule of Capital without being forced to defeat white supremacy? The dual-tier economy of whites on top and Blacks on the bottom (even with all the class differences among whites has successfully resisted every attempt by radical social movements. These reluctant reformers have danced around the issue. While winning reforms, in many cases primarily for white workers only, these white radicals have yet to topple the system and open the road to social revolution.

The fight against white skin privilege also requires the rejection of the vicious identification of North Americans as “white” people, rather than as Welsh, German, Irish, etc. as their national origin. This “white race” designation is a contrived super-nationality designed to inflate the social importance of European ethnics and to enlist them as tools in the Capitalist system of exploitation. In North America, white skin has always implied freedom and privilege: freedom to gain employment, to travel, to obtain social mobility out of one’s born class standing, and a whole world of Eurocentric privileges. Therefore, before a social revolution can take place, there must be an abolition of the social category of the “white race.” (with few exceptions in this essay, I will begin referring to them as “North Americans.”)

These “white” people must engage in class suicide and race treachery before they can truly be accepted as allies of Black and nationally oppressed workers; the whole idea behind a “white race” is conformity and making them accomplices to mass murder and exploitation. If white people do not want to be saddled with the historical legacy of colonialism, slavery and genocide themselves, then they must rebel against it. So the “whites” must denounce the white identity and its system of privilege, and they must struggle to redefine themselves and their relationship with others. As long as white society, (through the State which says it is acting in the name of white people), continues to oppress and dominate all the institutions of the Black community, racial tension will continue to exist, and whites generally will continue to be seen as the enemy.

So what do North Americans start to do to defeat racial opportunism, white skin privileges and other forms of white supremacy? First they must break down the walls separating them from their non-white allies. Then together they must wage a fight against inequality in the workplace, communities, and in the social order. Yet it not just the democratic rights of African people we are referring to when we are talking about “national oppression.” If that were the whole issue, then maybe more reforms could obtain racial and social equality. But no, that is not what we are talking about.

Blacks (or Africans in America) are colonized. America is a mother country with an internal colony. For Africans in America, our situation is one of total oppression. No people are truly free until they can determine their own destiny. Ours is a captive, oppressed colonial status that must be overthrown, not just smashing ideological racism or denial of civil rights. In fact, without smashing the internal colony first means the likelihood of a continuance of this oppression in another form. We must destroy the social dynamic of a very real existence of America being made up of an oppressor white nation and an oppressed Black nation, (in fact there are several captive nations).

This requires the Black Liberation movement to liberate a colony, and this is why it is not just a simple matter of Blacks just joining with white Anarchists to fight the same type of battle against the State. That is also why Anarchists cannot take a rigid position against all forms of Black nationalism (especially revolutionary groups like the Black Panther Party), even if there are ideological differences about the way some of them are formed and operate. But North Americans must support the objectives of racially oppressed liberation movements, and they must directly challenge and reject white skin privilege. There is no other way and there is a shortcut; white supremacy is a huge stumbling block to revolutionary social change in North America.

The Black Revolution and other national liberation movements in North America are indispensable parts of the overall Social revolution. North American workers must join with Africans, Latinos and others to reject racial injustice, Capitalist exploitation, and national oppression. North American workers certainly have an important role in helping those struggles to triumph. Material aid alone, which can be assembled by white workers for the Black revolution, could dictate the victory or defeat of that struggle at a particular stage.

I am taking time to explain all this, because predictably some Anarchist purists will try to argue me down that having a white movement is a good thing, that Blacks and other oppressed nationalities just need to climb aboard the “Anarchist Good Ship” (a ship of fools?), and all of this is just “Marxist national liberation nonsense.” Well, we know part of the reason for an Anarchist anti-racist movement is to challenge this chauvinist perspective right in the middle of our own movement. An Anarchist Anti-Racist Federation would not exist just to fight Nazis. We need to challenge and correct racist and doctrinaire positions on race and class within our movement. If we cannot do that, then we cannot organize the working class, Black or white, and are of no use to anyone.

Chapter 2. Where is the Black struggle and where should it be going?

Some — usually comfortable Black middle class professionals, politicians or businessmen who rode the 1960s Civil rights movement into power or prominence — will say there is no longer any necessity to struggle in the streets during the 1990s for Black freedom. They say we have “arrived” and are now “almost free.” They say our only struggle now is to “integrate the money,” or win wealth for themselves and members of their social class, even though they give lip service to “empowering the poor.” Look, they say, we can vote, our Black faces are all over TV in commercials and situation comedies, there are hundreds of Black millionaires, and we have political representatives in the halls of Congress and State houses all over the land. In fact, they say, there are currently over 7,000 Black elected officials, several of whom preside over the largest cities in the nation, and there is even a governor of a Southern state, who is an African-American. That’s what they say. But does this tell the whole story?

The fact is we are in as bad or even worse a shape, economically and politically, as when the Civil rights movement began in the 1950s. One in every four Black males are in prison, on probation, parole, or under arrest; at least one-third or more of Black family units are now single parent families mired in poverty; unemployment hovers at 18–25 percent for Black communities; the drug economy is the number one employer of Black youth; most substandard housing units are still concentrated in Black neighborhoods; Blacks and other non-whites suffer from the worst health care; and Black communities are still underdeveloped because of racial discrimination by municipal governments, mortgage companies and banks, who “redline” Black neighborhoods from receiving community development, housing and small business loans which keep our communities poor. We also suffer from murderous acts of police brutality by racist cops which has resulted in thousands of deaths and wounding; and internecine gang warfare resulting in numerous youth homicides (and a great deal of grief). But what we suffer from most and what encompasses all of these ills is that fact that we are an oppressed people — in fact a colonized people subject to the rule of an oppressive government. We really have no rights under this system, except that which we have fought for and even that is now in peril. Clearly we need a new mass Black protest movement to challenge the government and corporations, and expropriate the funds needed for our communities to survive.

Yet for the past 25 years the revolutionary Black movement has been on the defensive. Due to cooptation, repression and betrayals of the Black Liberation movement of the 1960s, today’s movement has suffered a series of setbacks and has now become static in comparison. This may be because it is just now getting its stuff together after being pummeled by the State’s police agencies, and also because of the internal political contradictions which arose in the major Black revolutionary groups like the Black Panther Party, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC or “snick’ as it was called in those days), and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. I believe all were factors that led to the destruction of the 1960s’ Black left in this country. Of course, many blame this period of relative inactivity in the Black movement on the lack of forceful leaders in the mold of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey, etc., while other people blame the “fact” the Black masses have allegedly become “corrupt and apathetic,” or just need the “correct revolutionary line.”

Whatever the true facts of the matter, it can clearly be seen that the government, the Capitalist corporations, and the racist ruling class are exploiting the current weakness and confusion of the Black movement to make an attack on the Black working class, and are attempting to totally strip the gains won during the Civil rights era. In addition there is a resurgence of racism and conservatism among broad layers of the white population, which is a direct result of this right-wing campaign. Clearly this is a time when we must entertain new ideas and new tactics in the freedom struggle.

The ideals of Anarchism are something new to the Black movement and have never really been examined by Black and other non-white activists. Put simply, it means the people themselves should rule, not governments, political patties, or self-appointed leaders in their name. Anarchism also stands for the self-determination of all oppressed peoples, and their right to struggle for freedom by any means necessary.

So what road is in order for the Black movement? Continue to depend on opportunistic Democratic hack politicians like Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy; the same old group of middle class sellout “leaders” of the Civil rights lobby; one or another of the authoritarian Leninist sects, who insist that they and they alone have the correct path to “revolutionary enlightenment”; or finally building a grassroots revolutionary protest movement to fight the racist government and rulers?

Only the Black masses can finally decide the matter, whether they will be content to bear the brunt of the current economic depression and the escalating racist brutality, or will lead a fight back. Anarchists trust the best instincts of the people, and human nature dictates that where there is repression there will be resistance; where there is slavery, there will a struggle against it. The Black masses have shown they will fight, and when they organize they will win!

A Call for a New Black Protest Movement

Those Anarchists who are Black like myself recognize there has to be a whole new social movement, which is democratic, on the grassroots level and is self-activated. It will be a movement independent of the major political parties, the State and the government. It must be a movement that, although it seeks to expropriate government money for projects that benefit the people, does not recognize any progressive role for the government in the lives of the people. The government will not free us, and is part of the problem rather than part of the solution. In fact only the Black masses themselves can wage the Black freedom struggle, not a government bureaucracy (like the U.S. Justice Department), reformist civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson, or a revolutionary vanguard party on their behalf.

Of course, at a certain historical moment, a protest leader can play a tremendous revolutionary role as a spokesperson for the people’s feelings, or even produce correct strategy and theory for a certain period, (Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and Martin Luther King, Jr. come to mind), and a “vanguard party” may win mass support and acceptance among the people for a time (e.g., the Black Panther Party of the 1960s), but it is the Black masses themselves who will make the revolution, and, once set spontaneously in motion, know exactly what they want.

Though leaders may be motivated by good or bad, even they will act as a brake on the struggle, especially if they lose touch with the freedom aspirations of the Black masses. Leaders can only really serve a legitimate purpose as an advisor and catalyst to the movement, and should be subject to immediate recall if they act contrary to the people’s wishes. In that kind of limited role they are not leaders at all — they are community organizers.

The dependence of the Black movement on leaders and leadership (especially the Black bourgeoisie) has led us into a political dead end. We are expected to wait and suffer quietly until the next messianic leader asserts himself, as if he or she were “divinely missioned” (as some have claimed to be). What is even more harmful is that many Black people have adopted a slavish psychology of “obeying and serving our leaders,” without considering what they themselves are capable of doing. Thus, rather than trying to analyze the current situation and carrying on Brother Malcolm X’s work in the community, they prefer to bemoan the brutal facts, for year after year, of how he was taken away from us. Some mistakenly refer to this as a leadership vacuum.” The fact is there has not been much movement in the Black revolutionary movement since his assassination and the virtual destruction of groups like the Black Panther Party. We have been stagnated by middle class reformism and misunderstanding.

We need to come up with new ideas and revolutionary formations in how to fight our enemies. We need a new mass protest movement. It is up to the Black masses to build it, not leaders or political parties. They cannot save us. We can only save ourselves.

What form will this movement take?

If there was one thing learned by anarchist revolutionary organizers in the 1960s, you don’t organize a mass movement or a social revolution just by creating one central organization such as a vanguard political party or a labor union. Even though Anarchists believe in revolutionary organization, it is a means to an end, instead of the ends itself. In other words, the Anarchist groups are not formed with the intention of being permanent organizations to seize power after a revolutionary struggle. But rather to be groups which act as a catalyst to revolutionary struggles, and which try to take the people’s rebellions, like the 1992 Los Angeles revolt, to a higher level of resistance.

Two features of a new mass movement must be the intention of creating dual power institutions to challenge the state, along with the ability to have a grassroots autonomist movement that can take advantage of a pre-revolutionary situation to go all the way.

Dual power means that you organize a number of collectives and communes in cities and town all over North America, which are, in fact, liberated zones, outside of the control of the government. Autonomy means that the movement must be truly independent and a free association of all those united around common goals, rather than membership as the result of some oath or other pressure.

So how would Anarchists intervene in the revolutionary process in Black neighborhoods? Well, obviously North American or “white” Anarchists cannot go into Black communities and just proselytize, but they certainly should work with any non-white Anarchists and help them work in communities of color. (I do think that the example of the New Jersey Anarchist Federation and its loose alliance with the Black Panther movement in that state is an example of how we must start.) And we are definitely not talking about a situation where Black organizers go into the neighborhood and win people to Anarchism so that they can then be controlled by whites and some party. This is how the Communist Party and other Marxist groups operate, but it cannot be how Anarchists work. We spread Anarchists beliefs not to “take over” people, but to let them know how they can better organize themselves to fight tyranny and obtain freedom. ‘We want to work with them as fellow human beings and allies, who have their own experiences, agendas, and needs. The idea is to get as many movements of people fighting the state as possible, since that is what brings the day of freedom for us all a little closer.

There needs to be some sort of revolutionary organization for Anarchists to work on the local level, so we will call these local groups Black Resistance Committees. Each one of these Committees will be Black working class social revolutionary collectives in the community to fight for Black rights and freedom as part of the Social revolution The Committees would have no leader or “party boss,” and would be without any type of hierarchy structure, it would also be anti-authority. They exist to do revolutionary work, and thus are not debating societies or a club to elect Black politicians to office. They are revolutionary political formations, which will be linked with other such groups all over North America and other parts of the world in a larger movement called a federation. A federation is needed or coordinate the actions of such groups, to let others know what is happening in each area, and to set down widespread strategy and tactics. (We will call this one, for wont of a better name, the “African Revolutionary Federation,” or it can be part of a multicultural federation). A federation of the sort I am talking about is a mass membership organization which will be democratic and made up of all kinds of smaller groups and individuals. But this is not a government or representative system I am talking about; there would be no permanent positions of power, and even the facilitators of internal programs would be subject to immediate recall or have a regular rotation of duties. When a federation is no longer needed, it can be disbanded Try that with a Communist party or one of the major Capitalist parties in North America!

Revolutionary strategy and tactics

If we are to build a new Black revolutionary protest movement we must ask ourselves how we can hurt this Capitalist system, and how have we hurt it in the past when we have led social movements against some aspect of our oppression. Boycotts, mass demonstrations, rent strikes, picketing, work strikes, sit-ins, and other such protests have been used by the Black movement at different times in its history, along with armed self-defense and open rebellion. Put simply, what we need to do is take our struggle to an new and higher level: we need to take these tried and true tactics, (which have been used primarily on the local level up to this point), an utilize them on a national level and then couple them with as yet untried tactics, for a strategic attack on the major Capitalist corporations and governmental apparatus. We shall discuss a few of them:

A Black Tax Boycott

Black people should refuse to pay any taxes to the racist government, including federal income, estate and sates taxes, while being subjected to exploitation and brutality. The rich and their corporations pay virtually no taxes; it is the poor and workers who bear the brunt of taxation. Yet they receive nothing in return. There are still huge unemployment levels in the Black community, the unemployment and welfare benefits are paltry; the schools am dilapidated; public housing is a disgrace, while rents by absentee landlord properties are exorbitant — all these conditions and more are supposedly corrected by government taxation of income, goods, and services. Wrong! It goes to the Pentagon, defense contractors, and greedy consultants, who like vultures prey on business with the government.

The Black Liberation movement should establish a mass tax resistance movement to lead a Black tax boycott as a means of protest and also as a method to create a fund to finance black community projects and organizations. Why should we continue to voluntarily support our own slavery? A Black tax boycott is just another means of struggle that the Black movement should examine and adopt, which is similar to the peace movement’s “war tax resistance.” Blacks should be exempted from all taxation on personal property, income taxes, stocks and bonds (the latter of which would be a new type of community development issuance). Tax the Rich!

A National Rent Strike and Urban Squatting

Hand-in-glove with a tax boycott should be a refusal to pay rent for dilapidated housing. These rent boycotts have been used to great effect to fight back against rent gouging by landlords. At one time they were so effective in Harlem (NY) that they caused the creation of rent control legislation, preventing evictions, unjustified price increases, and requiring reasonable upkeep by the owners and the property management company. A mass movement could bring a rent strike to areas (such as in the. Southeast and Southwest where poor people are being ripped of by the greedy landlords, but are not familiar with such tactics. Unfair laws now on the books, so-called Landlord-Tenant (where the only “right” the tenants have is to pay the rent or be evicted) should also be liberalized or overturned entirely. These laws only help slumlords stay in business, and keep exploiting the poor and working class They account for mass evictions, which in turn account for homelessness. We should fight to rollback rents, prevent mass evictions, and house the poor and the homeless in decent affordable places.

Besides the refusal to pay the slumlords and exploitative banks and property management companies, there should be a campaign of “urban squatting” to just take over the housing, and have the tenants run it democratically as a housing collective. Then that money which would have gone toward rent could now go into repairing the dwelling of tenants. The homeless, poor persons needing affordable housing, and others who badly need housing should just take over any abandoned housing owned by an absentee landlord or even a bearded-up city housing project. Squatting is an especially good tactic in these times of serious housing shortages and arson-for-insurance by the slumlords. We should throw the bums out and just take over! Of course we will probably have to fight the cops and crooked landlords who will try to use strong-armed tactics, but we can do that too! We can win significant victories if we organize a nationwide series of rent strikes, and build an independent tenants movement that will self-manage all the facilities, not on behalf of the government (with the tricky “Kemp plan”), but on behalf of themselves!

A Boycott of American Business

It was proven that one of the strangest weapons of the Civil rights movement was a Black consumer boycott of a community’s merchants and public services. Merchants and other businessmen, of course, are the “leading citizens” of any community, and the local ruling class and boss of the government. In the 1960s when Blacks refused to trade with merchants as long as they allowed racial discrimination, their loss of revenue drove them to make concessions, and mediate the struggle, even hold the cops and the Klan at bay. What is true at the local level is certainly true at the national level. The major corporations and elite families run the country; the government is its mere tool. Blacks spend over $350 billion a year in this Capitalist economy as consumes, and could just as easily wage economic warfare against the corporate structure with a well planned boycott to win political concessions. For instance, a corporation like General Motors is heavily dependent upon Black consumes, which means that it is very vulnerable to a boycott, if one were organized and supported widely. If Blacks would refuse to buy GM cars, it would result in significant losses for the corporation, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Something like this could even bring a company to its knees. Yet the revolutionary wing of the Black movement has yet to use boycotts, calling it “reformism” and outdated.

But far from being an outdated tactic that we should abandon, boycotts have become even more effective in the last few years. In 1988, the Black and progressive movement in the United States hit on another tactic, boycotting the tourist industries of whole cities and states which engaged in discrimination. This reflected on the one hand how many cities have gone from smokestack industries since the 1960s to tourism as their major source of revenue, and on the other hand, a recognition by the movement that economic warfare was a potent weapon against discriminatory governments. The 1990–1993 Black Boycott against the Miami Florida tourism industry and the current Gay rights boycott against the State of Colorado (started in 1992) have been both successful and have gotten worldwide attention to the problems in their communities. In fact, boycotts have been expanded to cover everything from California grapes, beer (Coors), a certain brand of Jeans, all products made in the country of South Africa, a certain meat industry, and many things in between. Boycotts are more popular today than they ever have been.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized the potential revolutionary power of a national Black boycott of America’s major corporations, which is why he established “Operation Breadbasket” shortly before an assassin killed him. This organization, with offices in Chicago was designed to be the conduit for the funds that the corporations were going to be forced to pour money into for a national Black community development project for poor communities. And although he was assassinated before this could happen, we must continue his work in this matter. All over the country Black Boycott offices should be opened! We should build it into a mass movement, involving all sectors of our people. We should demonstrate, picket, and sit-in at meetings and offices of target corporations all over the country We must take it to their very doorstep and stop their looting of the Black community.

A Black General Strike

Because of the role they play in production, Black workers are potentially the most powerful sector of the Black community in the struggle for Black freedom. The vast majority of the Black community is working class people. Barring the disproportionate numbers of unemployed, about 11 million Black men and women are today part of the work force of the United States. About 5–6 million of these are in basic industry, such as steel and metal fabrication, retail trades, food production and processing, meatpacking, the automobile industry, railroading, medical service and communications. Blacks number l/3 to l/2 of the basic blue-collar workers, and 1/3 of clerical laborers. Black labor is therefore very important to the Capitalist economy.

Because of this vulnerability to job actions by Black workers, who are some of the most militant workers on the job, they could take a leading role in a protest campaign against racism and class oppression If they are properly organized they would be a class vanguard within our movement since they are at the point of production. Black workers could lead a nationwide General Strike at their place of work as a protest against racial discrimination in jobs and housing, the inordinately high levels of Black unemployment brutal working conditions, and to further the demands of the Black movement generally. This general strike is a Socialist strike, not just a strike for higher wages and over general working conditions; it is revolutionary in politics using other means. This general strike can take the form of industrial sabotage, factory occupations or sit-ins, work slowdowns, wildcats, and other work stoppages as a protest to gain concessions on the local and national level and restructure the workplace and win the 4-hour day for North American labor. The strike would not only involve workers on the job, but also Black community and progressive groups to give support with picket line duty, leafleting and publishing strike support newsletters, demonstrations at company offices and work sites, along with other activities.

It will take some serious community and workplace organizing to bring a general strike off. In workplaces all over the country, Black workers should organize General Strike Committees at the workplaces, and Black Strike Support Committees to carry on the strike work inside the Black community itself. Because such a strike would be especially hard-fought and vicious, Black workers should organize Worker’s Defense Committees to defend workers fired or black listed by the bosses for their industrial organizing work. This defense committee would publicize a victimized worker’s case and rally support from other workers and the community. The defense committee would also establish, a Labor strike and defense fund and also start food cooperative to financially and material support such victimized workers and their families while carrying on the strike.

Although there will definitely be an attempt to involve women and white workers; where they are willing to cooperate, the strike would be under Black leadership because only Black workers can effectively raise those issues which most effect them. White workers have to support the democratic rights of Blacks and other nationally oppressed laborers, instead of just white rights campaigns” on so-called “common economic issues,” led by the North American left. In addition to progressive North American individuals or union caucuses, the labor union locals themselves should be recruited, but they are not the force to lead this struggle, although their help can be indispensable in a particular campaign. It takes major organizing to make them break free of their racist and conservative nature. So although we want and need the support of our fellow workers of other nationalities and genders, it is ridiculous and condescending to just tell Black workers to sit around and wait for a “white workers vanguard” to decide it wants to fight. We will educate our fellow workers to the issues and why they should fight white supremacy at our side, but we will not defer our struggle for anyone! We must organize the general strike for black freedom!

The Commune: Community Control of the Black Community

“How do we raise a new revolutionary consciousness against a system programmed against our old methods? We must use a new approach and revolutionize the Black Central City Commune, and slowly provide the people with the incentive to fight by allowing them to create programs, which will meet all their social, political, and economic, needs. We must fill the vacuums left by the established order… In return, we must teach them the benefits of our revolutionary ideals. We must build a subsistence economy, and a sociopolitical infrastructure so that we can become an example for all revolutionary people.”

— George Jackson, in his book ‘BE’

The idea behind a mass commune is to create a dual power structure as a counter to the government, under conditions, which exist now. In fact, Anarchists believe the first step toward self-determination and the Social revolution is Black control of the Black community. This means that Black people must form and unify their own organizations of struggle, take control of the existing Black communities and all the institutions within them, and conduct a consistent fight to overcome every form of economic, political and cultural servitude, and any system of racial and class inequality which is the product of this racist Capitalist society.

The realization of this aim means that we can build inner-city Communes, which will be centers of Black counter-power and social revolutionary culture against the white political power structures in the principal cities of the United States. Once they assume hegemony, such communes would be an actual alternative to the State and serve as a force to revolutionize African people — and by extension — large segments of American society, which could not possibly remain immune to this process. It would serve as a living revolutionary example to North American progressives and other oppressed nationalities.

There is tremendous fighting power in the Black community, but it is not organized in a structured revolutionary way to effectively struggle and take what is due. The white Capitalist ruling class recognizes this, which is why it pushes the fraud of “Black Capitalism” and Black politicians and other such “responsible leaders. These fakes and sellout artists lead us to the dead-end road of voting and praying for that which we must really be wilting to fight for. The Anarchists recognize the Commune as the primary organ of the new society, and as an alternative to the old society. But the Anarchists also recognize that Capitalism will not give up without a fight; it will be necessarily to economically and politically cripple Capitalist America. One thing for sure we should not continue to passively allow this system to exploit and oppress us.

The commune is a staging ground for Black revolutionary struggle. For instance, Black people should refuse to pay taxes to the racist government, should boycott the Capitalist corporations, should lead a Black General Strike all over the country, and should engage in an insurrection to drive the police out and win a liberated zone. This would be a powerful method to obtain submission to the demands of the movement, and weaken the power of the state. We can even force the government to make money available for community development as a concession; instead of as a payoff to buy-out the struggle as happened in the 1960s and thereafter. If we put a gun to a banker’s head and said “Yore know you’ve got the money, now give it up,” he would have to surrender. Now the question is: if we did the same thing to the government, using direct action means with an insurrectionary mass movement, would these would both be acts of expropriation? Or is it just to pacify the community why they gave us the money? One thing for sure, we definitely need the money, and however we compel it from the government, is of less important than the fact that we forced them to give it up to the people’s forces at all. We would then use that money to rebuild our communities, maintain our organizations, and care for the needs of our people. It could be a major concession, a victory.

But we have also got to realize that Africans in America are not simply oppressed by force of arms, but that part of the moral authority of the state comes from the mind of the oppressed that consent to the right to be governed. As long as Black people believe that some moral or political authority of the white government has legitimacy in their lives, that they owe a duty to this nation as citizens, or even that they are responsible for their own oppression, then they cannot effectively fight back. They must free their minds of the ideas of American patriotism and begin to see themselves as a new people. This can only be accomplished under dual power, where the patriotism of the people for the state is replaced with love and support for the new Black commune. We do that by making the Commune a real thing in the day-to-day lives of ordinary people.

We should establish community councils to make policy decisions and administer the affairs of the Black community. These councils would be democratic neighborhood assemblies composed of representative elected by Black workers in various community institutions — factories, hospitals schools — as well as delegates elected on a block basis. We must reject Black Mayors and other politicians, or government bureaucrats, as a substitute for community power. We must therefore have community control of all the institutions of the Black community, instead of just letting the State decide what is good for us. Not just jobs and housing, but also full control over schools, hospitals, welfare cents, libraries, etc., must turned over to that community, because only the residents of a community have a true understanding of its needs and desires.

Here is an example of how it would work: we would elect a community council to supervise all schools in the Black community. We would encourage parents, students, teachers, and the community at large to work cooperatively in every phase of school administration, rather than have an authority figure like a principal and his/her uncaring bureaucratic administration run things as are done at present. The whole Black community will have to engage in a militant struggle to take over the public schools and turn them into centers of Black culture and learning. We cannot continue to depend on the racist or Black puppet school boards to do this for us.

The local council would then be federated, or joined together, on a local level to create a citywide group of councils who would run affairs in that community. The councils and other neighborhoods collectives organized for a variety of reasons would make a mass commune. This commune would be in turn federated at the regional and national level the aim being to create a national federation of Black communes, which would meet periodically in one or a number of mass assembly meetings. This federation would be composed of elected or appointed delegates representing their local commune or council Such a national federal of communes would allow community councils from all over North America to work out common policies and speak with one voice on all matters affecting their communities or regions. It would thus have far more power than any single community council could However, to prevent this national federation from bureaucratic usurpation of power by political factions or opportunistic leaders, elections should be held regularly and delegates would be subject to recall at any time for misconduct, so that they remain under the control of the local communities they represent.

The Black community councils are really a type of grassroots movement made up of all the social formations of our people, the block and neighborhood committees, Labor, student and youth groups, (even the church, to a limited degree), social activist groups, and others to unite the various protest actions around a common program of struggle for this period. The campaigns for this period must utilize the tactics of direct mass action, as it is very important that the people themselves must realize a sense of their organized power. These grassroots associations will provide to the usually mass spontaneous actions, a form of organization whose social base is of the Black working class, instead of the usual Black middle class mis-leadership.

The Anarchists recognize these community councils as being a form of direct democracy, instead of the type of phony American “democracy,” which is really nothing but control by politicians and businessmen. The councils are especially important because they provide embryonic self-rule and the beginnings of an alternative to the Capitalist economic system and its government. It is a way to undermine the government and make it an irrelevant dinosaur, because its services are no longer needed.

The Commune is also a Black revolutionary counterculture. It is the embryo of the new Black revolutionary society in the body of the old sick, dying one. It is the new lifestyle in microcosm, which contains the new Black social values and the new communal organizations, and institutions, which will become the sociopolitical infrastructure of the free society.

Our objective is to teach new Black social values of unity and struggle against the negative effects of white Capitalist society and culture. To do that we must build the Commune into a Black Consciousness movement to build race pride and respect, race and social awareness and to struggle against the Capitalist slave masters. This Black communalism would be both a repository of Black culture and ideology. We need to change both our lives and our lifestyles, in order to deal with the many interpersonal contradictions that exist in our community. We could examine the Black family, Black male/female relationships, the mental health of the Black community, relations between the community and the white establishment and among Black people themselves. We would hold Black consciousness raising sessions in schools, community centers, prisons and in Black communities all over North America — which would teach Black history and culture, new liberating social ideas and values to children and adults, as well as counseling and therapy techniques to resolve family and marital problems, all the while giving a Black revolutionary perspective to the issues of the day. Our people must be made to see that the self-hatred, disunity, distrust, internecine violence and oppressive social conditions among Black people are the result of the legacy of African slavery and the present day effects of Capitalism. Finally the main objective of Black revolutionary culture is to agitate and organize Black people to struggle for their freedom.

As Steve Biko, the murdered South African revolutionary, has been quoted as saying:

“The call for Black consciousness is the most positive call to come from ally group in the Black world for a long time. It is more than just a reactionary rejection of whites by Blacks… At the heart of this kind of thinking is the realization by Black that the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed Once the latter has been so effectively manipulated and controlled try the oppressor as to make the oppressed believe that he is a liability to the white man, then there is nothing the oppressed can do that will really scare the powerful masters… The philosophy of Black consciousness, therefore expresses group pride and the determination by Blacks to rise up and attain the envisaged self.”

By the “envisaged self,” Biko refers to the Black self, a liberated psyche. It is that which we want to rescue with such a Black consciousness movement here in America. We need to counter Black self-hatred and the frivolous “party mentality. We also want to end the social degradation of our community, and rid it of drug addiction, prostitution, Black-on-Black crime, and other social evils that destroys the moral fiber of the Black community. Drugs and prostitution are mainly controlled by organized crime, and protected by the police, who accept bribes and gifts from gangsters. These negative social values, the so-called “dog-eat-dog” philosophy of the Capitalist system teaches people to be individualists of the worst sort. Willing to commit any kind of crime against each other, and to take advantage of each other. This oppressive culture is what we are fighting. As long as it exists, it will be hard to unify the people around a revolutionary political program.

Building A Black survival program

But there must also be some way to ensure their economic survival, in addition to providing new cultural role models. It is then when the Commune, a network of community organizations and institutions, assumes its greatest importance. We will build a sociopolitical infrastructure to intervene in every area of Black life: food and housing cooperatives, Black Liberation schools, people’s banks and community mutual aid funds, medical clinics and hospitals, rodent control and pest extermination programs, cooperative factories, community cultural and entertainment centers, the establishment of an intercommunal electronic communications network, land and building reclamation projects, public works brigades to rebuild the cities, youth projects, drug clinics, and many other such programs.

All these programs satisfy the deep needs of the Black community, but they are not solutions to our problems, because although we can build a survival economy now, we have to realize it will take a social revolution to overthrow Capitalism and obtain full economic self-sufficiency. But they will help us to organize the Black community around a true analysis and understand of their situation. This is why they are called survival programs, meaning surviving under this system pending a social revolution.

Building consciousness and revolutionary culture means taking on realistic day-to-day issues, like hunger, the need for clothing and housing, joblessness, transportation and other issues. It means that the Commune must be in the vacuum where people are not being properly fed clothed, provided with adequate medical treatment or are otherwise being deprived of basic needs.

Contrary to the rhetoric of some leftist groups, this will not make people passive or just dependent on us. Rather than struggling against the government and demanding those things, it inspires confidence in the revolutionary forces and exposes the government as uncaring and incompetent. That is more of an incentive for the people to revolt and overthrown the government than balding political pep rallies, giving speeches, running for public office, and publishing manifestos and resolutions or party newspapers and other garbage (that no one reads but their own members), like most Black and radical groups do now.

We need a new way of confronting our oppressed situation. We need to unite out people to fight, and to do that we need to educate, agitate and organize. That’s the only way we’ll win a new world. What follows is an example of the and of survival program I mean:

  1. We must have community control of all businesses and financial institutions located in our communities, and for those businesses not working in our best interests or not returning some of its revenue back to the community, we will seize said businesses and turn them into community cooperatives and mutual aid banking societies.

  2. We must have community control of all housing and major input in all community planning of Black communities. If a piece of property or house is owned by a slumlord (either a private Realtor or government agency), we will seize it and turn it into community housing cooperatives. We oppose Urban Renewal, spatial decomposition, yuppie gentrification and other such racist schemes to drive us out of the cities. W must have complete control of all planning boards affecting and concerning the Black community. To enforce these demands, we should lead rent strikes, demonstrations, armed actions and urban squatting to drive landlords out and take over the property.

  3. We must have an independent self-sustaining economy to guarantee full employment for all our people. We demand that the U.S. government provide massive economic aid to rebuild the cities. The government spends billions per year for the Pentagon killing machine. At least that amount should be redirected to meet the needs of America’s oppressed communities. Ghetto housing must be rebuilt and turned over to the occupants. Adequate jobs and services must be provided to all community residents including first preference for all construction jobs in the Black community, when public works brigades are assigned to rebuild the cities. We must fight for Black grassroots control of all government funds allocated to the Black community through a network of mutual aid banking societies, community development corporations, and community development credit unions.

  4. Reparations: the Big Payback. The United States government and the rich class of this country has stolen and oppressed Africans in this continent for decades. They worked our ancestors as slaves, and after slavery they continued to oppress, murder and exploit our people, on down to the present day. We must build a mass movement in our communities to compel the government and the rich to provide the means for our community redevelopment. They owe us for centuries of abuse and robbery! We must demand that reparations, in the form of community development money and other funds, be provided and placed in credit unions, cooperatives, and other mutual aid institutions in the Black community, so that we can start to obtain some measure of economic self sufficiency. Yet we know that they won’t give the money to us. We must fight them for it, just like we must struggle to overturn the system of wage slavery today.

  5. End police brutality. We must organize self-defense units to protect the Black community and its organizations, and remove the State’s police farces. We demand criminal prosecution and jailing of all brutal or killer cops. No jurisdiction for the State’s judicial system in Black liberated zones.

  6. We must undertake a large-scale program to train Black people as doctors, nurses and medical paraprofessionals in order to make free quality medical and dental care available to Black people. We must demand that the government subsidize all such medical and dental training, as web as for the operation of clinics, but Black people themselves must establish and run the free medical clinics in all Black communities whether urban or rural. This would include community anti-drug programs and drug rehabilitation clinics.

  7. We must establish a Black community-controlled food system for self-sufficiency and as a way of fighting to end hunger and malnutrition, including a trucking network, warehouses, communal farms, farmers’ cooperatives, food cooperatives, agricultural unions, and other collective associations. This will include a protest campaign challenging the theft of Black farmland by agribusiness corporations and rich white “land barons” and reclaiming it for our projects. This is especially important now that the U.S. has entered an economic crisis that will not be able to provide for our needs. We must force the government to provide the money for many of these projects, to be administered under our total control, instead of by a government agency.

  8. The Black community must have control of its entire educational system from the nursery school through college. We must establish a Black Liberation educational system which meets the training needs of Black children, prepares them for job training and future economic security, service to their community, and gives them a knowledge of themselves and an understanding of the true history and culture of African people; as well as a program of adult education for community people whose earlier educational opportunities have been stunted We should demand free higher education for Blacks and other minorities at full government expense, including remedial training programs for all who wish to qualify.

  9. We must demand and fight for the release of all Black political prisoners and victims of racial injustice, we must investigate and review the cases of all such prisoners who are the victims of government political repression and racist frame-ups, and lead a mass campaign for their release. Some of our best revolutionary organizers are rotting away in the prison houses of this land.

  10. The central demand is for Black control of the Black community, it politics and economy. We have to take over the cities, establish municipal communes, and exercise self-government, as a vital step. We are the majority in many of the major cities of this country and we should be able to control our own affairs (or at least obtain some autonomy), but as we should now be aware we won’t ever get this community social power by voting for some Black Capitalist politician, or from passively depending for “salvation” on leaders of one sort or another. We have to do it ourselves if we are to ever get on the road to freedom.

The Need for a Black Labor Federation

The demand for Black labor has been the central economic factor in America; it was Black labor that built the foundations of this nation. Beginning with slave labor in the Old South on plantations, then with sharecropping and other farm labor after the Civil war, successive migration to the North and working mills, mine and factories during a 40 year period (1890–1920), and on down to the present day, Black labor is important to the functioning of the Capitalist economic order. Almost from the beginning, Black workers have organized their own Labor unions and worker’s associations to represent their interests: the National Colored Labor Union in 1869, the national Colored Farmer’s Alliance (Populist) in the same year, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in the 1940s, the league of Black Revolutionary Workers in the 1960s; the United Construction Workers Association and the Black and Puerto Rican Coalition of Construction Workers in the 1970s, and on down to the present day with such unions or associations as the Black Workers for Justice and the Coalition for Black Trade Unionists. Some of these were unions, some were just associations of Black workers in existing unions. (Note: In addition to Black organized or led labor federations in the 1870s, there were 90,600 Black workers in the Knights of Labor in the 1880s and at least 100,000 in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in the 1900s.)

In fact, the trade unions would not even exist today if it were not for the assistance and support of the Black worker. Trade unionism was born as an effective national movement amid the great convulsions of the Civil War and the fight to end slavery, yet Black workers were routinely excluded from unions like the American Federation of Labor. Only militant associations like the Knights, IWW and the Anarchist-initiated International Working People’s Association (IWPA) would accept their memberships at all. This continued for many years, until the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) began its campaign of strikes, sit-downs, and other protest actions to organize the unskilled industrial workers. Black labor was pivotal in these battles, yet has never fully reaped the benefits. In fact, the Labor bosses betrayed them when the CIO was beaten down in the 1950s.

You would think that American labor movement would see it as criminal or racist to ignore these fellow workers today in that fashion. But even now there is no labor organization in the U. S. which gives full representation and equal treatment to Black workers. The fact is that even with some Black Labor officials in office, Black workers receive far fewer union benefits than white workers, and are trapped in the most low-paid, tedious and dangerous jobs, even though they made substantial economic gains during the 1960s.

The majority of the Black masses are in the working class. Because of the role they play in production, Black industrial and clerical workers are potentially the most powerful sector of the Black community in the struggle for Black liberation. As the victims of inequality in the economy, Black workers have already begun to organize for their interests and protect their rights on the job, even if the union is conservative and won’t fight the boss. They have formed union caucuses and even independent labor unions where necessary. Of course, the unity of Black and white workers is indispensable to combat and overthrow Capitalism. But where white workers are now privileged and Black workers are penalized, Black unity and struggle must precede and prepare the ground for any Black-white unity on a broad scale. Black caucuses in the Unions can fight against discrimination in hiring, firing, and upgrading, and for equality of treatment in the unions, now, while white workers still have yet to widely support democratic rights for Black and other oppressed nationalities. Black Caucuses are important. Where they are part of organized labor, they should strive to democratize the unions, regenerate their fighting spirits, and eliminate white job trust practices. These Black caucuses in the unions should demand:

  1. Rank and file democratic control of the union.

  2. Equal rights and treatment for all unionists; eliminate all racist practices in the labor movement.

  3. Affirmative action programs to redress past racist employment practices, end racial discrimination based on seniority and other ploys.

  4. Full employment for all Blacks, women, and other non-white workers.

  5. A 20–30 hour workweek with no reduction in pay.

  6. The right to strike, including wildcat strikes without union sanction.

  7. Speedier and fair grievance procedures.

  8. An escalator clause in all union contracts to ensure automatic wage adjustments to keep up with the rising cost of living.

  9. Full payment of social security by employer and the government. Full unemployment compensation at 100 of base pay.

  10. Minimum wages at union scale.

  11. Prevent runaway shops, phony bankruptcy, or “strategic plant shutdowns” by companies without notice to union or to gain advantage in contract negotiations.

  12. A public works program to rebuild the Black and other inner-city communities, and to provide work for Black workers.

  13. Worker’s self-management of industry by factory committees and worker’s councils, elected by the workers themselves.

In addition to the union caucuses, Black working people need a national Black workers association, which would be both a revolutionary union movement to do workplace organizing, but also would be a mass social movement for community organizing. Such a movement would combine the organizing tactics to both the labor and Black Liberation movements. It is not designed to drive Blacks out of those unions where they are already organized, but would rather serve as a tool to multiply their numbers and strength, and turn their unions into militant, class struggle instruments.

The League of Revolutionary Black Workers, which organized Black auto workers during the late 190s provides an example of the type of organization needed The League, which grew out of its major affiliate, the Dodge Revolutionary Movement (DRUM), was undoubtedly the most militant Black Labor movement in American history. It was a Black labor federation which existed as an organized alternative to the United Auto Workers, and was the inevitable step of taking the Black Liberation struggle to the industrial shop floor, the point of production, and Capitalism’s most vulnerable area.

The League had wisely decided to organize in the Detroit automobile production industry. This was an industry where its workers were an important part of the workforce and also in the Detroit Black community, where the League united the struggle in the factories with that of the Black struggle as a whole. It quickly became a major force in the workplace and in the streets as many of its cadres organized on college campuses and in the Black inner-city areas. It had the potential to become a mass nationwide Black working class movement, but this potential was stifled through political faction fights among the leadership, lack of a solid organized base in the factories; company/UAW/and State repression, organized racism and lack of cooperation among white workers, and other such reasons. Eventually the League split into mutually hostile factions and died, after less than five years of existence.

Even though the League was at best a revolutionary syndicalism organization, and later a rigid Marxist-Leninist organization, (and their adoption of this later authoritarian ideology, with its ideas of purges and unquestioned leadership, directly lead to its demise), there is much that Anarchists and radical Black labor activists can learn from the League. The main thing is that Black workers can and should be organized into some sore of independent labor association, in addition to or even in lieu of, their membership in organized labor unions and especially where the unions are of the sellout type and discriminates against Blacks. Also it is much easier for Black workers to organize other Black workers and their community in support of strikes and workplace organizing. That is precisely why we need to establish a group like the League today, but as an Anarcho-Syndicalist organization, so as to avoid the past pitfalls and ideological squabbles of Marxism-Leninism. Simply stated what would be the program of a newly formed National Federation of Black Workers?

  1. For class struggle against the bosses.

  2. To organize the unorganized Black workers ignored by the trade unions.

  3. For workers solidarity among all nationalities of workers.

It should be an International Black Labor Federation!

From Detroit, Michigan to Durban, South Africa, from the Caribbean to Australia, from Brazil to England, Black workers are universally oppressed and exploited. The Black working class needs its own world labor organization. There is no racial group more borne down by social restraint than Black workers; they are oppressed as workers and as a people. Because of these dual forms of oppression and the fact that most trade unions exclude or do not struggle for Black laborer’s rights, we must organize for our own rights and liberation. Even though in many African and Caribbean countries there are “Black” labor federations, they are reformist or government-controlled. There is a large working class in many of these countries, but they have no militant labor organizations to lead the struggle. The building of a Black workers’ movement for revolutionary industrial sabotage and a general strike, or organize the workers for self-management of production, and so undermine and overthrow the government is the number one priority.

What would an international Black labor federation stand for? Firstly, since many Black workers, farmers, and peasants are not organized at all in most countries, such an organization would be one big union of Black workers, representing every conceivable sill and vocation. Also such an organization means the worldwide unity of Black workers, and then, secondly, it means coordinated international labor revolts. Capital and Labor have nothing in common.

The real strength of workers against Capital and the imperialist countries is economic warfare. A revolutionary general strike and boycott of the multinational corporations and their goods by Black workers all over the globe is how they can be hurt. For instance, if we want to make Britain and the USA withdraw financial and military support from South Africa then we use the weight and power of Black Labor in those countries to wage strikes, sabotage, boycott and other forms of political and economic struggle against those countries and the multinational companies involved. It would be r power to be reckoned with. For instance, coordinated actions by trade unions and political action groups in that country have already causes major-policy changes, a full-fledged general strike would likely lead to the total economic collapse of the racist South African state, especially if such strikes were supported by Black workers in North America.

In addition to asking the Black workers to form their own international labor federation and to organize rank-and-file committees within their existing trade unions to push them into a class struggle direction, we also invite Black workers to join Anarcho-Syndicalist labor organizations like the IWW and the Workers Solidarity Alliance, the American section of the International Workers’ Association, which is based in Paris, France. But, of course, it is not intended to drive Black workers out of those unions where they are already active, but would rather serve as a tool to multiply their number and strength in such unions, and make them more militant.

Unemployment and Homelessness

In the first three months of 1993, the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of labor Statistics listed official unemployment rates at about six million persons or just seven of the labor force. Under Capitalism half that figure is “normal” and nonsensically is considered by Capitalist economists as “full employment” even though this is millions of people consigned to economic poverty of the worst sort. But the government figures are intentionally conservative, and do not include those who have given up actively searching for jobs, the under employed (who can’t make enough to live on), the part-time workers (who can’t find a full time or steady job) and the homeless of which them are now between 3–5 million alone.

Of the 6 million people that the government does count as jobless now, less than 3 million are given any unemployment compensation or other federal or state aid; the rest are left to starve, steal or hustle for their survival. A person without a job under the Capitalist system is counted as nothing. Every worker has the human right to a job; yet under Capitalism, workers are dismissed form employment in times of business crisis, overproduction, depression or just to save labor costs through less workers and more speed-up. And some workers cannot find jobs in the Capitalist labor market because of lack of skills, or racial or social discrimination.

But the government’s figures lie, private researchers state that the total number of people who want full time jobs and thus cannot find them amounts to nearly 14.3 million persons. Clearly then this is a crisis situation of broad proportions, but all the government is doing is juggling and hiding figures. But the figures do show that Blacks, Latinos, and women are bearing the brunt of the current depression The National Urban League in its “Bidden Unemployment Index” (included as part of its annual “State of Black America” report) reports levels of 15–38 percent for Black adults 25 and older and incredible levels of 44–55% for teens and young adults 17–24 years. In fact, Black youth unemployment has not declined at all since the 1974–1975 recession. It has stayed at an official level of 35–40 percent, but in the major cities like Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, the real unemployment rate is more like 70 percent. For Black youth the unemployment rate is three to five times higher than that of white youth. Capitalism is making economic exiles of Black people as a whole. The fact is that unemployment is concentrated in the Black and Hispanic communities, and is greatly responsible for the most destructive tendencies inhuman relations and deteriorating neighborhoods. Crime, prostitution, suicide, drug addiction, gang fighting, mental illness, alcoholism, and the break up of the Black family, and other social ills — all are rooted in the lack of jobs and the denial of essential social services in their communities. It is actually racial genocide in the form of social neglect.

Unemployment is profitable for the bosses because it drives down the wages of workers and helps the employers to keep the workforce under control through this “reserve army of labor,” which are allegedly always ready to scab. Because of pervasive discrimination against Blacks, Latinos and other nationally oppressed workers, including higher levels unemployment — the jobs they do get art generally on the bottom rung. This is also profitable for the boss, and divides the working class.

Homelessness is just the most intensified form of unemployment, where in addition to loss of job or income, there is loss of housing and lack of access to social services. There are now millions of people homeless since the last 15 years, because of the Capitalist offensive to destroy the unions, beat back the gains of the civil rights struggle, and do away with the affordable housing sector in favor of yuppie gentrification in the cities. You see them in cities, big and small, and what this reflects is a total breakdown in the Capitalist State’s social services system, in addition to the heating up of the class war waged by government and the major corporations, It shows, more than anything, that Capitalism worldwide is undergoing an international financial panic, and is really in the beginning stages of a world depression. In addition to the 90 million persons who live below the poverty line and three to five million homeless in the U.S.; there are another 2.7 million homeless in the twelve nations of the European community, and 80 million people am living in poverty there, with millions more in the Capitalist countries of Japan, Korea and other parts of Asia. So although Black workers must organize and fight against homeless and unemployment in the U.S., clearly there must be an international movement of workers to fight this economic deprivation, as part of the overall class struggle. In every city in North America, the Black workers movement should organize unemployment councils to fight for unemployment benefits and jobs for the jobless, the building of decent, affordable low-income housing and an end to homelessness, as well as against racial discrimination in jobs and housing. Such councils would be democratic organizations, organized on a neighborhood basis, (to ensure that it would be under the control of the people, and against infiltration and takeover by liberal or “radical” political parties, or co-optation by the government), which would be federated into a citywide, regional, and national organization. That organization would be a national Black unemployment league, to create a mass fight back movement in this depression. It would be made up of Black community unemployed councils from all over the country, with delegates elected from all the local groups. Such a national organization could meet to map out a large-scale attack on unemployment, as well as serve as a national clearinghouse on Black unemployment conditions.

On the local level in the Black neighborhoods, it would be the community unemployment councils which would establish food and housing cooperatives, lead rent strikes and squatting, initiate land and building reclamation projects, establish producer and consumer cooperatives, distribute food and clothing, and provide for other services: they would establish neighborhood medical clinics for free treatment of the homeless and unemployed, rodent control programs, etc., and they would deal with community social problems (brought on by unemployment), and other issues of interest They would build hunger marches and other demonstrations and carry the people’s wrath to various government offices and to the businesses of the rich. Not only would the unemployment councils be a way of fighting for jobs and unemployment benefits, but also the councils would a way to a obtain a great deal of community self-sufficiency and direct democracy, instead of totally depending on city hall, Congress or the President, and helps lead to the kind of confidence among the masses that a Black municipal commune becomes a serious possibility.

One of the most important functions of an unemployment movement is to obtain unity between the employed and unemployed or homeless, and workers solidarity across race lines. The employed and unemployed must work together to struggle against the Boss class if they are to obtain any serious gains during this period of economic crisis. Workers who are on strike or protesting against the boss would be supported by the unemployed, who would even man the picket lines with them and refuse to scab. In turn the workers would form unemployed caucus in their trade unions to allow union representation of these workers and also force such unions to provide food and other necessities, make funds and training available to the unemployed, as well as throw the weight of the unions in the fight for decent jobs and housing for all workers. The Capitalist bosses will not be moved otherwise. Make the bosses pay for their economic crisis!

Here is what a united movement of workers and homeless must demand:

  1. Full employment (zero unemployment) for all workers at union wage.

  2. Establishment of a shorter workweek, so that workers would be paid at the rate for 40 hours of work for 20–30 hours a week on the job.

  3. End homelessness, build and make available decent affordable housing for all. Repeal all loitering, anti-panhandling and other laws against the homeless.

  4. End the war budget, and use those funds for decent, low-income housing, better schools, hospitals and clinics, libraries, parks and public transportation.

  5. End racism and sexism in job opportunities and relief benefits.

  6. Jobs or a guaranteed income for all.

  7. Full federal and state benefits for unemployed workers and their families, including corporate and government funds to pay the bills, rents and debts for any laid off worker, and unemployment compensation at 100% of regular paid wage, lasting the full length of a worker’s period of unemployment.

  8. National minimum wage set at prevailing union entry wage.

  9. Government and corporate funds to establish a public works program to provide jobs (with full union rights and wage scale) to rebuild the inner cities and provide needed social services. The program and its funds should be under the control of committees democratically elected from poor and Black neighborhoods, so as to avoid “poverty pimps” and rip off job agencies, or government bureaucrats.

  10. Free all persons in prison for crimes of economic survival.

These, and the demands previously mentioned, are merely a survival program and agenda for unemployed workers; the real answer is Social revolution the elimination of Capitalism, and workers’ self-management of the economy and society. This is a vital first step however. Them would be no unemployment or social need for wage labor in an Anarchist-Communist society.

Crimes Against the People

It is the rich who decide what is or is not a crime; it is not a neutral designation. The laws are written to protect the rich and those who act as agents of the State. But most personal crimes art not committed against the rich, they are usually inaccessible. It is poor and working class Black people who are the major victims of violent crime. The Black female is the primary victim of rape and abuse by the Black male in this country. The Black male himself is the leading homicide victim in the U.S. by another Black man like himself, and sadly our children are among the leading victims of child abuse, many times by his or her own parents. We do not like to think of these things in the Black community, but we are battering and killing ourselves at an alarming rate. This is not to deny that the Capitalist social system has created frustrating, degrading conditions of life that contribute to this brutality and fratricide, but we would be lax in our humane and revolutionary duty if we did not try to correct this problem on the short-term, and also make Black people assume responsibility for our actions. I am not talking some Black conservative or “law and order” garbage here, but rather recognition of fact that we have a problem.

We have an external and an internal crisis situation facing us in our community. The external crisis is racism and colonialism, which works to systematically oppress us and is responsible for whatever internal crisis there is. The internal crisis is the result of an environment where drugs and violence (both social and physical) are rampant, and life is sometimes considered cheap. Black-on-Black crimes and internal violence are destroying our community. It is undoubtedly self-hatred and the desperate economic and social conditions we live under which makes us prey on each other. Drugs, frustrated rage, prostitution and other vices are symptoms of oppression.

We kill, beat, rape and brutalize each other because we are in pain ourselves. Thus we are acting out anti-social roles defined for us by someone else, not ourselves. In our pain and confusion we strike out at convenient and familiar victims; those like ourselves Them are ordinary Black people who steal and rob just to survive under this system, because of that unequal distribution of wealth. Further, for same of us, in our desire to “make it” in Capitalist society we will stop at nothing, including murder. And finally, there are those who do whatever they do because of drug addiction or mental sickness.

Whatever the reasons, we have a serious problem that we must remedy because it is tearing away at the moral and social fabric of our community. It will be impassible to unite Black people if they are in fear and hatred of one another. It is also obvious that the police and government rectify this problem and that only the Black community can do so. The courts and prison prevent the situation from recurring. Therefore what can we do?

It is the community, through its own organizations of concern, which will have to deal with this problem. Community self-managed programs to work with Black youth gang members, (a source of much violence in the community), rather than the military approach of calling in the cops, empower the community rather than the racist prison bureaucracy and the cops. Also, the community-run drug rehabilitation groups, therapy and counseling groups, and other neighborhood organizing help us to effectively deal with the problem of internal violence and hopefully defuse it. Most importantly it involves the community in the effort.

But we cannot totally depend upon counseling or rehabilitation techniques, especially where them is an immediate threat of violence or where it has occurred. So, to insure peace and public security, a Black community guard service would be organized for this purpose, as well as to protect against the white Power structure. This security force would be elected by local residents, and would work with the help of people in neighborhoods. This is the only way it would work. It would not be an auxiliary of the current colonial occupation army in our community, and would not threaten or intimidate the community with violence against our youth. Nor would such a community guard protect vice and organized crime. This community guard would only represent the community that elected it, instead of city hall. Similar such units would be organized all over the city on a block-by-block basis.

Yet the Anarchists go further, and say that after a municipal commune is set up, the existing courts must be replaced by voluntary community tribunals of arbitration, and in cases of grave crimes, connected with murder, or offenses against liberty and equality, a special communal court of a non-permanent nature would be set up. Anarchists believe that antisocial crime, meaning anything that oppresses, robs, or does violence to the working class must be vigorously opposed. We cannot wait until after the revolution to oppose such dangerous enemies of the people. But since such antisocial crimes are a direct expression of Capitalism, there would be a real attempt to socialize, politically educate and rehabilitate offenders. Not by throwing them into the white Capitalist prisons to suffer like animals and where, because of their torture and humiliation, they will declare war on all society, but by involving them in the life of the community and giving them social and vocational training. Since all the “criminology experts” agree that crime is a social problem, and since we know that 88 percent of all crimes are against property and are committed in order to survive in an economically unjust society, we must recognize that only full employment, equal economic opportunity, decent housing and other aspects of social justice will ensure an end to crime. In short, we must have radical social change to eradicate the social conditions that cause crime. An unequal unfair society like Capitalism creates its own criminal class. The real thieves and murderers, businessmen and politicians, are protected under today’s legal system, while the poor are punished. That is class justice, and that is what Social revolution would abolish.

But understandably, many persons want to end the rape, murder, and violence in our communities today, and wind up strengthening the hands of the State and its police agents. They will not get rid of crime, but the cops will militarily patrol our communities, and further turn us against one another. We must stay away from that trap. Frustrated and confused, Black people may attack one another, but instead of condemning them to a slow death in prison or shooting them down in the streets for revenge, we must deal with the underlying social causes behind the act.

Anarchists should begin to have community forums on the cause and manifestations of crime in the Black community. We have to seriously examine the social institutions: family, schools, prisons, jobs, etc. that cause us to fuss, fight, rob and kill each other, rather than the enemy who is causing all our misery. While we should mobilize to restrain offenders, we must begin to realize that only the community will effectively deal with the mater. Not the racist Capitalist system, with its repressive police, courts and prisons. Only we have psychology and understanding to deal with it; now we must develop the will. No one else cares.

Instead of eye-for-eye punishment, there should be restitution to the victims, their families or society. No revenge, such as the death penalty will bring a murder victim back, nor will long-term imprisonment serve either justice or the protection of society. After all, prisons are only human trashcans for those that society has discarded as worthless. No sane and just society would adopt such a course. Society makes criminals and must be responsible for their treatment. White capitalist society is itself a crime, and is the greatest teacher of corruption and violence.

In an Anarchist society, prisons would be done away with, along with courts and police (except for the exceptions I have alluded to), and be replaced with community-run programs and centers interested solely with human regeneration and social training, rather than custodial supervision in a inhuman lockup. The fact is that if a person is so violent or dangerous, he is probably mentally warped or has some physical defect anyway, which causes him to commit violent acts after social justice has been won. If such people are mentally defective, then they should be placed in a mental health facility, rather than a prison. Human rights should never be stripped and he should not be punished. Schools, hospitals, doctors and above all social equality, public welfare and liberty might prove the safest means to get rid of crimes and criminals together. If a special category such as “criminal” or “enemy” is created, then these persons may forever feel an outcast and never change. Even if he or she is a class enemy, they should retain all civil and human rights in society, even though they of course would be restrained if they led a counter-revolution; the difference is we want to defeat them ideologically, not militarily or by consigning them to a so-called reeducation camp or to be shot like the Bolsheviks did when assuming power in Russia in 1917.

There are two major reasons why activists in the Black community as we move to change society, its values and conditions, must immediately take a serious look and act to change the political debate around crime, prisons and the so-called criminal justice system. Those two reasons hit right home! One is because during any given year, one out of four Black men in this country is in prison, in jail on parole, or probation, compared to just one of every fifteen white men. In fact Blacks make up 50–85 percent of most prison populations around the U.S., making a truism of the radical phraseology that “Prisons are concentration camp for the Black and poor.” It may be your brother, sister, husband, wife, daughter or son in prison, but I guarantee you we all know someone in prison at this very minute! The other primary reason Blacks have a vested interest in crime and penal institutions is because by far, most Blacks and other non-whites are in prison for committing offenses against their own community.

Prisons are compact duplicates of the Black community, in that many of the same negative and destructive elements that are allowed to exist in our community and cause crime, especially drugs, are in poison in a more blatant and concentrated form To call such places ‘correctional” or “rehabilitative” institutions is a gross misnomer. Death camps are more like it. These prisons do not exist to punish everyone equally, but to protect the existing Capitalist system from you and I, the poor and working class.

The high rate or recidivism proves, and the so-called authorities all agree, that the prison system is a total failure. About 70 percent of those entering prison are repeat offenders who commit increasingly serious crimes. The brutality or prison experience and the “ex-con” stigma when they are finally released make them worse. Basic to solving these crucial problems is organization. The Black community and the Black Liberation movement must support the prisoners in their fight for prisoners human rights They should fight far the release of political prisoners and victims of racial injustice. They should also form coalitions of groups in the Black community to fight against the racist penal and judicial system, and especially the unequal application of the death penalty, which is just another form of genocide against the Black race. And finally, and maybe most importantly, local community groups must begin programs of re-education with brothers and sisters in prison because only through planned, regular, and constant contact can we begin to resolve this problem that so directly touches our lives. Abolish prisons.

The Drug Epidemic: A New Form of Black Genocide?

One of the worst forms of criminality is drug dealing, and it deserves same separate comments all its own. There is a negative drug subculture in the Black community that glorifies, or at least makes acceptable, drug use, even though it is killing us and destroying our community. In fact, every day we read of some junkie in our communities dying over an overdose of drugs, or of some street corner drug dealer dying from a shootout over a dispute or tip-off during a drug deal “gone sour.” The tragedy of the latter is that, these days, innocent victims — children or elderly people — have also been gunned down in the crossfire. The drug addict (the new term seems to be “crack-head”) is another tragic figure; he was a human being just like anyone else, but because of his oppressed social environment, sought drugs to ease the pain or to escape temporarily from the “concrete jungles” we are forced live in the urban ghettos of America.

With the introduction of crack, a more powerful derivative of cocaine, which made its appearance in the 1980s, even more problems and tragedies of this sort had developed — more addicts, more street gang killings, and more deterioration of our community. In the major urban areas there have almost always been drug uses, what is new is the depth of geographical penetration of crack to Black communities in all areas of the country. But the spread of crack is just a follow-up to massive government drug peddling that began at the end of the decade of the 1960s. The white House is the “rock house,” meaning the U.S. political administration is behind the whole drug trade. The U.S. government has actually been smuggling drugs into this country for many years aboard CIA and military planes to use as a chemical warfare weapon against Black America. These drugs were mostly heroin imported from the so-called “Golden Triangle” of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. But with the introduction of crack cocaine, there was no need to import drugs into the country at the same extent as before, because it could be chemically prepared in a mainland lab, and then distributed immediately. Crack created a whole new generation of drug clients and customers for the drug dealers; it was cheap and highly addictive.

Crack and other drugs are a huge source of profits for the government, and it keeps the Black community passive and politically indifferent. That is the main reason why we cannot depend upon the police force and or the government to stop the drug traffic or help the victims hooked on drugs. They are pushing the drugs to beat us down, on the one hand, but the State is also made more powerful because of the phony “war on drugs” which allows police state measures in Black and oppressed communities, and because of millions of dollars in government monetary appropriations made of “law enforcement” agencies, who supposedly are putting down the traffic in drugs. But they never go after the bankers or the big business pharmaceutical companies who fund the drug trade, just the street level dealers, who are usually poor Blacks.

Unemployment is another reason that drug trafficking is so prevalent in our communities. Poor people will desperately look for anything to make money with, even the very drugs that are destroying out communities. But if people have no jobs or income, drugs look very lucrative and the best way out of the situation. In fact, the drug economy has become the only income in many poor Black communities, and the only thing that some people perceive will lift them out of lives of desperate poverty. Clearly, decent jobs at a union wage are part of the answer to ending drug trafficking in our community, rather than a dependence on police, courts and the State. The cops are not our friends or ally, and must be exposed for their part in protecting the trade, rather than suppressing it.

Only the community can stop drug trafficking, and it is our responsibility however you look at it. After all, those junkies are our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, neighbors and friends; they are no strangers. We must organize to save their lives and the life of our community. We must establish anti-dope programs in Black communities all over the country. We must expose and counter the government’s role as pusher of dope, along with that of the police as protector of the drug trade. But also we must be prepared to help the drug victims with street counseling, street clinics (where they cab clean-up and learn a trade and the sociopolitical reasons for drug use), propaganda against drug use, and other activities.

Junkies are the victims of the drug society, which thinks its cool to use drugs. Children are some of the biggest victims of drug dealing, when they are tricked or forced (by economic necessity) into using or selling it. The users and dealers both are victims, but the dealers are something else than entirely innocent Even though that Black on the corner selling dope bags is a victim himself of the economic and political system which makes him do it, dope dealers are a corrupt, dangerous breed who must be stopped Many people have been killed or seriously injured for naively trying to oppose dope dealers, and make them leave their neighborhoods. Therefore, whereas the policy with junkies would be more benevolent and understanding, with dope dealers we must be cautious, and even ruthless when it is called for. We need to try to win them over first with an economic and political program to draw them away from the (hug trade, but many of the dealers are so violence prone, especially the “big shots” (who are also protected by the cops) they must be opposed by both military and political means.

We are not advocating the summary murder of people, but we are saying if it takes death to bring about a change in the community, so be it! The issue of death is essentially an issue of who is doing the dying. It can be direct and exercised against the death merchant, or it can be indirect and exercised against our youth — if we let it. To be aware of a dangerous situation and not move to change it is to be as responsible for that dangerous situation as those who created it in the first place.

Listen, I don’t want to simplify this problem by saying that just kill a few street-level dealers and that will end it. No it won’t, and we don’t want to do that anyway! They are just poor people trying to survive this system, just pawns in the drug game whose lives don’t matter to the big Capitalists or government. When they say so these street level dealers will be killed or imprisoned, but the drug peddling system will go on. This is a sociopolitical problem, which can best be addressed by grassroots organizations. But it’s the corporate and industrial backers of the drug trade (not just the comer dealer) that not only must not only be exposed, but must be moved on. In addition to educational, agitation and other action, there must be military action by revolutionary cells.

The underground actions which we are asking people to move an can be carried out by a relatively small group of dedicated people, a revolutionary cell of armed fighters, who have been trained in guerilla tactics But even these small groups of people must have the support of the neighborhoods in order to function, otherwise people will not know it from another violent gang. Once this social cohesiveness exists among the community, then we can begin to put this proposal into action against the most violent, high-level drug dealers. We are addressing ourselves to what can be more or less be considered to be guidelines for dealing with the problem on a neighborhood or community-wide level then at a national level:

  1. Set up drug education classes in the community, for the youth especially, to expose the nature of the drug trade, who it hurts, and how the government, banks, and pharmaceutical companies are behind it all.

  2. Exposure of the death merchants and their police protectors. (Photos, posters, fliers, newsletters, etc.)

  3. Harassment of the dealers; i.e., threatening phone calls, knocking the drug “product,” have citizens marching inside their “place of business,” and other tactics.

  4. Set up drug rehabilitation clinics so that junkies can be treated, can study the nature of their oppression, and can be wan over to revolutionary politics. We must win people away from drug use and to the revolution.

  5. Physical elimination of the dealer; intimidation driving him out a neighborhood or out of town, beatings, and assassination, where necessary.

Dope is death! We must fight dope addiction by any means necessary! Do all you can to help your people in the anti-dope war!

African Intercommunalism

The Anarchist ideals lead logically to internationalism or more precisely trans-nationalism, which means beyond the nation-state. Anarchists foresee a time when the nation-state will cease to have any positive value at all for most people, and will in fact be junked. But that time is not yet here, and until it is, we must organize for intercommunalism, or world relations between African people and their revolutionary social movements, instead of their governments and heads of state.

The Black Panther Party first put forward the concept of intercommunalism in the 1960s and, although slightly different, is very much a libertarian concept at its core. (This used to be called “Pan Africanism,” but included mainly “revolutionary” governments and colonial or independence movements as allies). Because of the legacy of slavery and continuing economic neocolonialism, which has dispersed Blacks to every continent, it is feasible to speak of Black international revolutionary solidarity.

Here is how Anarchists see the world: the world is presently organized into competing nation-states, which though the Capitalist Western nations have been responsible for most of the world’s famine, imperialism and exploitation of the non-white peoples of the earth. In fact, all states are instruments of oppression. Even though there are governments that claim to be “workers states,” “Socialist countries” or so-called “Revolutionary governments,” in essence they all have the same function: dictatorship and oppression of the many over the few. The bankruptcy of the state is further proven when one looks at the millions of dead over two world wars, sparked by European Imperialism, (1914–198 and 1939–1945), and hundreds of “brush wars” incited by the superpowers of the West or Russia in the 1950s and continuing to this day. This includes “workers’ states” like China-Russia, Vietnam-China, Vietnam-Cambodia. Somalia- Ethiopia, Russia-Czechoslovakia and others who have gone to war over border disputes, political intrigue, invasion or other hostile action. As long as there are nation-states, there will be war, tension and national enmity.

In fact, the sad part about the decolonization of Africa in the 1960s was that the countries were organized into the Eurocentric ideal of the nation-state, instead of some sort of other formation more applicable to the continent, such as a continental federation. This, of course, was a reflection of the fact that although the Africans were obtaining “flag independence” and all the trappings of the sovereign European state, they in fed were not obtaining freedom. The Europeans still controlled the economies of the African continent, and the nationalist leaders who came to the fore were for the mast part the most pliable and conservative possible. Tire countries of Africa were like a dog with a leash around its neck; although the Europeans could not longer rules the continent directly thorough colonial rule, it now did so through puppets it controlled and defended, like Mobutu in the Congo, Selassie in Ethiopia, and Kenyatta in Kenya. Many of these men were dictators of the worst sort and their regimes existed strictly because of European finance capital In addition, there were white settler communities in the Portuguese colonies, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, who oppressed the African peoples even worse than the old colonial system. This is why the national liberation movements made their appearances in the 1960s and 70s.

Anarchists support national liberation movements to the degree that they struggle against a colonial or imperialist power; but also note that in almost every instance where such liberation fronts have assumed state power, they have become “State Communist” parties and new dictators over the masses of the people. These include same who had engaged in the mast epic struggles, but also include many based on the most obvious military dictatorship from the start. They are not progressive and they tolerate no dissent For instance, no sooner had the MPLA government been in power in Angola, than it began to arrest all its left-wing ideological opponents (Maoists, Trotskyites, Anarchists, and others) and to forcibly to quell strikes by workers for higher pay and better working conditions, calling such job actions “blackmail” and ‘economic sabotage.” And with the Nito Alves affair and his alleged coup attempt, (Alves was a hero of the revolution and a popular military leader), there was the first party purge of opponents in the new government. Something similar to this also took place when the Sandinista National Liberation movement took over in Nicaragua in the 1980s. None of this should seem strange or uncharacteristic to Anarchists, when we consider that the Bolshevik party did the same thing when it consolidated state power during the Russian Revolution (1917–1921).

Countries such as Benin, Ethiopia, the People’s Republic of the Congo and other “revolutionary” governments in Africa, are not in power as the result of a popular social revolution, but rather because of a military coup or being installed by one of the major world powers Further; many of the national liberation movements were not independent social movements, but were rather under the influence or control of Russia or China as part of their geopolitical struggle against Western imperialism and each other. This is not to say that revolutionary movements should not accept weapons and other material support from an outside power, as long as they remain independent politically and determine their own policies, without such aid being conditional on the political dictates and the “party line” of another country.

But even though we may differ with them politically and tactically in many areas, and even with all their flaws after assuming State power, the revolutionary liberation fighters are our comrades and allies in common struggle against the common enemy — the U.S. imperialist ruling class, while the fight goes on. Their struggle releases the death grip of U.S. and western imperialism or as Anarchists more precisely call it Capitalist world power), and while the fight goes on we are bound together in comradeship and solidarity. Yet we still cannot overlook atrocities committed by movements like the Khmer Rouge, a Marxist-Leninist guerilla movement in Cambodia, which just massacred millions of people to carry out rigid Stalinist political policies and to consolidate the country. We must lay this butchery and other crimes committed by State Communism bate for all to see. We do not favor this kind of revolution, which is just sheer power seeking and terrorism against the people. This is why Anarchism has always disagreed with how the Bolsheviks seized power in Soviet Russia; and Stalin’s butchery of the Russian people seems to have set a model for the State Communist movements to follow over the years.

The national liberation fronts make one basic mistake of many nationalist movements of oppressed peoples, and that is to organize in a fashion that class distinctions are obliterated This happened in America, where in the fight for democratic rights, the civil rights movement included Black middle class preachers, teachers and others, and every Black persons was a “brother” or” sister,” as long as they were Black. But this simplistic analysis and social reality did not hold for long, because when the Civil rights phase of the American Black struggle had spent itself, class distinctions and class struggle came to the fore. They have been getting sharper ever since. Although them are Black mayors and other bureaucrats, they merely serve as pacification agents of the State, “Black faces in high places.” This neocolonial system is similar to the type of neocolonialism which took place in the 3rdWorld, after many countries had obtained their “independence” in the 1960s. Europe still maintained control through puppet politicians and a command of petty bourgeois class, who were willing to barter the freedom of the people for personal gains. These people merely preside over the misery of the masses. They are not a serious concession to our struggle. They are put in office to co-opt the struggle and deaden the people to their pain.

So while Black revolutionaries generally favor the ideas of African intercommunalism, they want principled revolutionary unity. Of course, the greatest service we can render the peoples of the so-called “Third World” of Africa, Asia and Latin America, is to make a revolution hem in North America — in the belly of the beast. For in freeing ourselves, we get the U.S. imperialist ruling class off both out backs. We wish to build an international Black organization against Capitalism, racism, colonialism, imperialism, and military dictatorship, which could more effectively fight the Capitalist powers and create a world federation of Black peoples. We want to unite a brother or sister in North America with the Black peoples of Australia and Oceania, Africa, the Caribbean and South America, Asia, the Middle East, and those millions of our people Living in Britain and other Western European countries. We want to unite tribes, nations and Black cultures into an international body of grassroots and struggling forces.

All over the world, Black people are being oppressed by their national governments. Some are colonial subjects in European countries, and one or another of the African States exploits some. Only a Social revolution will lead to Black unity and freedom. However this will only be possible when there exists an international Black revolutionary organization and social movement. An organization which can coordinate the resistance struggles everywhere of African peoples; actually a network of such organizations, resistance movements, which are spread all over the world based on a consensus for revolutionary struggle. This concept accepts any level of violence that will be necessary to enforce the demands of the people and workers. In those countries where an open Black revolutionary movement would be subjected to fierce repression by the state, such as in South Africa and in same Black puppet dictatorships in other parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia, it would be necessary to wage an underground resistance struggle. Further, the state has grown more and more violent, with widespread torture and executions, prisons and maximum police controls, spying and deprivation of democratic rights, police brutality and murder. Clearly such governments — and all governments — must be overthrown. They will not fall due to internal economic or political problems, but must be defeated and dismantled. So we call for an international resistance movement to overthrow governments and the system of Capitalist world government.

But even in the Western imperialist countries, we must recognize the legitimacy of revolutionary violence. When such forms of revolutionary action are required, however, a clear difference should be seen among revolutionaries between simple terrorism without popular support and coherent political program and guerilla warfare arising out of the collectively felt frustrations of the common people and workers. The use of military methods would be necessary in a case where the violence of the state made it imperative for Black revolutionaries to defend themselves by taking the armed offensive against the state and the ruling class, and to expropriate the wealth of the Capitalist class during the Social revolution.

The Black liberation movement needs an organization capable of international coordination of the Black liberation struggle, a world federation of African peoples. Although this would not just be an Anarchist movement a federation like this would be made effective than any group of states, whether the United Nation or the Organization of African Unity, in freeing the Black masses. It would involve the masses of people themselves, not just national leaders or nation states. The military dictators and government bureaucrats have only proven that they know how to spend money on pomp and circumstance, but not how to dismantle the last vestiges of colonialism in South Africa or defeat Western neocolonialist intrigues. Africa is still the poorest of the World’s continents, while materially the richest. The contrast is clear: millions of people are starving in much of Equatorial Africa, but the tribal chiefs, politicians and military dictators, are driving around in Mercedes and living in luxury villas, while they do the bidding of West European and American bankers through the International Monetary Fund. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution!

Our ideas about the importance of intercommunalism am based an a firm belief that only a federation of free peoples will bring true Black power to the masses “Power to the people” does not mean a government or political party to rule in their name, but social and political power in the hands of the people themselves. The only real “people’s power” is the power to make their decisions on matters of importance, and to merely elect someone else to do so, or to have a dictatorship forced down their throats. True freedom is to have full self-determination about one’s social economic and cultural development. The future is Anarchist Communism, not the nation-state, bloody dictators, Capitalism or wage slavery.

Armed Defense of the Black Commune

“Our insistence on military action, defensive and retaliatory, has nothing to do with romanticism or precipitous idealist fervor. We want to be effective. We want to live. Our history teaches us that the successful liberation struggles require an armed people, a whole people, actively participating in the struggle for their liberty!”

— George Jackson, quoted in Blood in my Eye

We must organize self-defense units to protect the Black community and its organizations. It is the police and the government who are the main perpetrators of violence against Black people. Every day we read of the police murdering and maiming the people in our community, all in the name of “law and order.” This police brutality has included the use of deadly force against children as young as five years old and elderly persons over 75 years old! We must disarm and demilitarize the police, and force them to leave our community. Perhaps this can be done after a rebellion or insurrection drives them out, or perhaps they will have to be driven out by a street guerilla force, like the Black Liberation Army tried to do in the 1970s. I have no way of knowing. I just know that they have to go. They are an oppressive occupying army, are not of our community, cannot understand its problems, and do not identify with its people and their needs. Further, it is the corruption of the cops that protects organized crime and vice in our community, and Capitalism with its exploitative economic conditions which is responsible for all crime.

Existing police forces should be replaced with the Black community’s own self-defense force, made up of members of our community elected or appointed by their neighbors to that position, or from an existing street guerilla force or political organization if the people agree. They would be subject to immediate recall and dismissal by the Community Control boards of an area. This is only so that we will have community control of the self-defense farce, begin to deal with fratricidal Black-on-Black crime, and be able to defend ourselves from white racist or police attacks. With the increase of white racist violence today, and the possibility of white mob action in the future, usually in the name of “law and order,” this community self-defense force is most important. The only question is: can we do this now?

We exist now under conditions of nominal legality and civil rights, but at some stage in the process of building up our farces, his inevitable that the white power structure will recognize the danger to itself represented by such a free Black commune, and will then try to forcibly repress it. We must have the self-defense capability to resist. This concept of organizing a self-defense force accepts any level of violence that will be necessary to enforce the demands of the people and workers. Yet these self-defense forces would not a ‘party vanguard,” a police force, or even a standing army in the Statist or usually thought of sense; they would be a Black Peoples’ militia, self-managed by the workers and community itself: in other words, the people-in-arms. These militia organizations will allow us to engage in offensive or defensive actions, either in general community defense, or as part of an insurrection or underground resistance.

But what do we do right now in conditions of legality, to reclaim our community from violent racist cops? Do we sit around and debate the appropriateness of military preparation, when the enemy is our community now, committing rape and murder of Black people or do we hit back? How do we even get the idea across to our people and start to train them for paramilitary operations? On a mass scale, I advocate the immediate formation of defense and survival skills study groups, under the guise of gun clubs, martial arts societies, wilderness survival clubs or whatever we need to call them. A thorough understanding of marksmanship, ammunition fabrication, demolition and weapon manufacturing is minimal for everyone. In addition, we should study first aid pertaining to the rather traumatic injuries sustained from gunfire and explosives, combat communications, combat weapons, combat tactics for the small group, combat strategy for the region or nation, combat intelligence of police and military activities among other subjects. These subjects are indispensable if am live underground or during a general insurrection.

We should put emphasis on the purchase, collection, duplication and dissemination of military manuals, gunsmithing textbooks, explosive and improvised demolitions manuals, police and government technical manuals, and pirated editions of right-wing manuals on the subject (since they seem to write the best material in this area), and also begin the study of how to build intelligence networks to collect information on the rapidly growing Skinhead and other totalitarian racist organizations, along with intelligence and counter-intelligence information on the government secret police and law enforcement agencies, like the FBI, CIA, ATF, etc., and on any and every other subject which could be of use to us in the coming struggle.

Even though in the United States, development of military skills and self defense is simpler than many other countries because arms and ammunition are widely available, it is logical to assume that the arms situation will soon be so tight so as to make firearms virtually unobtainable, except through an expensive Black market because of the government’s “war an drugs” and other proposed gun control legislation to prevent street violence,” or so they say (Do you think the sporting goods stores will be open during an insurrection?) Therefore we should learn to use machine tool technology to produce our own weapons. Perfectly adequate firearms may be produced using a minimum of machine teals, providing the individual or group is willing to do the necessary studying and preparation. It is not enough to know a little about these subjects; it is a matter of future survival — of life and death that one be highly proficient.

I am not advocating the immediate waging of urban guerilla warfare, especially where there is no mass base for such activities. What I am advocating at this stage is armed self-defense and the knowledge of tactics to resist military aggression against the Black community. It is a foolish and unfortunate trait among Anarchists, the white left and sections of the Black movement to condemn the study of military tactics as premature or adventuristic, or an the other hand, to cast oneself into a blind fury of bank expropriations, kidnappings, bombings or plane hijackings. Too many people in the movement have a death trip approach to guns — they assume if you are not “fooling around,” then you should prove your convictions via a suicidal shootout in the streets. It doesn’t have to be that way.

But the Black movement doesn’t even have the luxury of such tepid debates, and must have an armed defense policy because America has a long tradition of government political repression and vigilante paramilitary violence. Although such attacks have been directed primarily at Blacks and other oppressed nationalities in the past, they have also been directed at labor unions and dissident political groups. Such violence makes it absolutely necessary to acquire familiarity with firearms and military tactics. In fact, the Black Resistance movement that I spoke of earlier should think of itself as a paramilitary movement, rather than a strict political association.

We must assert our rights to armed self-defense and revolution, even though it is true that there is a lot of loose talk about guns, self defense, revolution, “urban guerilla warfare,” etc., in the Black and radical movements, but with very little study and practice in handling and using weapons. Some of the same folks think “picking up the gun” means that you pick one up for the first time on the day of an insurrection or confrontation with police. This is nonsense and is the real “revolutionary suicide,” you could get led not knowing what you are doing. But many instances attest to the fact that armed community self defense can be carried out successfully, such as the MOVE resistance in Philadelphia, the Republic of New Africa armed resistance in Detroit and Mississippi and the Black Panther cases. Even as important as the act of defense itself is, is the fact that these instances of successful self-defense have made a tremendous impact on the Black community, encouraging other acts of resistance.

Insurrection

But what is a rebellion and how does it differ from an insurrection? An insurrection is a general uprising against the power structure. It is usually a sustained rebellion over the course of days, weeks, months or even years. It is a type of class war that involves a whole population in an act of armed or semi-armed resistance. Sometimes mistakenly called a rebellion, its character is far more combative and revolutionary. Rebellions are almost totally spontaneous, short-term affairs. An insurrection is also not the revolution, since revolution is a social process, rather than a single event, but it can be an important part of the revolution, maybe its final phase. An insurrection is a planned violent protest campaign which takes the spontaneous revolt of the masses to a higher level Revolutionaries intervene to push rebellions to insurrectionary stage, and the insurrection an to a social revolution. It is not small, isolated pockets of urban guerillas taking actions, unless those guerillas are part of a larger revolt.

The importance of recognizing the true differences of each level can define our strategy and tactics at that stage, and not lead us prematurely into a full offensive, when the enemy is not yet weakened enough by mass action or political attacks. The importance of also recognizing the true causes of the revolt cannot be understated Anarchist revolutionaries intervene in such struggles to show people how to resist and the possibilities of winning freedom. We want to take the people’s rebellions against the state and use them to weaken the rule of Capital We want to create resistance on a longer term and to win liberated zones To disconnect these communities from the state means that these rebellions will assume a conscious political character like the Palestinian Intifada in the occupied territories controlled by Israel in the Middle East. Creating the possibility of a Black insurrection means popularizing and spreading the various rebellions to other cities, towns and even countries, and increasing them in number and frequency. It also means consciously nullifying the power of the state, instead of temporary revolts against it, which ultimately preserves its power. There must be a deliberate attempt to push the government out of existence, and establish People’s Power. This has not yet happened with the various Black revolts we have seen since 1964, when the first such modern revolt erupted in Harlem, NY.

In the 1960s, the Black communities all over the U.S. rose up angrily with massive rebellions against the state demanding racial justice. After the Harlem revolt, for the next four years major rebellions shook the U.S. in the Watts section of Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, and hundreds of other North American cities. Isolated acts of police brutality, racial discrimination substandard housing, economic exploitation, “the hoodlum element,” a breakdown in family values, and a host of other “explanations” have been put forward by liberal and conservative sociologist and others commissioned by the state to whitewash the true causes. Yet none of these revealed this as a protest against the Capitalist system and colonial rule, even though the social scientists “warned” of the possibility of a new outbreak of violence.

Once again in the Spring, 1992, we saw a massive revolt in Los Angeles, whose immediate causes were related to the outrageous acquittal of 1 Angeles policemen who had brutally beaten Rodney King. But there again this was just an immediate cause acting as a trigger; this revolt was not a sympathy revolt on behalf of Rodney King personally. The cause of this rebellion was widespread social inequality in the Capitalist system and police terrorism. This time the rebellion spread to 40 cities and four foreign countries. And it was not just a so-called “race riot,” but rather a class revolt that included a large number of Latinos, whites and even Asians. But it was undeniably a revolt for racial injustice first and foremost, even if it was not just directed against white people in general but the Capitalist system and the rich. It was not limited to just even the inner city in the Las Angeles area but spread even to white upper crust areas in Hollywood, Ventura, and beyond This was the beginning stage of class warfare.

If an underground military force existed or a militia was assembled, it could have entered the filed of battle with more weaponry and advanced tactics. As it was the gangs played that role, and played it very well. Their participation is why it took so long to put the rebellion down, but even they could not prevent the reestablishment of white power in South Central Los Angeles. Not just because of being militarily out gunned, but because they had no revolutionary political program despite all their rhetoric of having been radicalized Also the state came down extremely hard on the rebels. Over 20,000 persons were jailed, 50 were killed and hundreds wounded.

Could a liberated zone have been won, so that dual power could have been established? That possibility existed and still does exist if the people are properly armed and educated Mass resistance with heavy military weaponry may have won serious concessions, one of which is to pull back the cops. We don’t know that, this is purely speculation. We do know that this is not the last rebellion in L.A. and other cities. They may come much quicker now that the genie of urban revolution of the bag again. We can only hope and prepare. Onward to the black revolution!

Chapter 3. Anarchist Theory and Practice

The major aim of this chapter is to list the major elements of Anarchist thought and to give examples of what some Anarchists think about them. Unlike other streams of political thought, Anarchists do not elevate certain texts or individuals above others. There are different types of Anarchists with many points of disagreement. The primary areas of debate among Anarchists relate to what form of organization should be struggled for and what tactics we should use. For instance, some of their most significant differences concern the economic organization of future society. Some Anarchists reject money, and substitute a system of trade in which work is exchanged for goods and services. Others reject all forms of trade or barter or private ownership as Capitalism, and feel that all major property should be owned in common.

There are Anarchists who believe in guerilla warfare, including assassination, bombings, bank expropriations, etc., as one means of revolutionary attacks on the State. But there also are Anarchists who believe almost exclusively in organizational, labor or community work. There is no single type, nor do they all agree on strategy and tactics. Some are opposed to violence; some accept it only in self-defense or during a revolutionary insurrection.

Anarchists and Anarchism have historically been misrepresented to the world. The popular impression of an Anarchist as an uncontrollably emotional, violent person who is only interested in destruction for its own sake, and who is opposed to all forms of organization, still persists to this day. Further, the mistaken belief that Anarchy is chaos and confusion, a reign of rape, murder and mindless-total disorder and insanity is widely believed by the general public.

This false impression primarily is still widely believed because people from across the political spectrum have consciously been promoting this lie for years. All who strive to oppress and exploit the working class, and gain power far themselves, whether they come from the right or the left, will always be threatened by Anarchism. This is because Anarchists hold that all authority and coercion must be struggled against. In fact, Anarchists want to get rid of the greatest perpetrator of violence throughout history: governments. To Anarchists, a Capitalist “democratic” government is no better than a fascist or Communist regime, because the ruling class only differs in the amount of violence they authorize their police and army to use and the degree of rights they will allow, if any. Through war, police repression, social neglect, and political repression. Governments have killed millions of persons, whether trying to defend or overthrow a government. Anarchists want to end this slaughter, and build a society based on peace and freedom.

What is Anarchism? Anarchism is free or Libertarian Socialism. Anarchists are opposed to government, the state and Capitalism. Therefore, simply speaking, Anarchism is a no-government form of Socialism.

In common with all Socialists, the Anarchists hold that the private ownership of land, capital and machinery has had its time; that it is condemned to disappear, and that all requisites for production must and will, become the common property of society, and be managed in common by the producers of wealth Peter Kropotkin, in his Anarchist-Communism: Its Basis and Principles.

Though there are several different “schools” of Anarchist though, revolutionary Anarchist or Anarchist-Communism is based upon the class struggle, but it does not take a mechanist view of the class struggle taken by the Marxist-Leninists. For instance, it does not take the view that only the industrial proletariat can achieve Socialism, and that the victory of this class, led by a “communist working class party” represent the final victory over Capitalism. Nor do we accept the idea of a “worker’s state.” Anarchists believe that only the peasants, workers and farmers can liberate themselves and that they should manage industrial and economic production through workers’ councils, factory committees, and farm cooperatives, rather than with the interference of a patty or government.

Anarchists are social revolutionaries, and feel that the Social revolution is the process through which a free society will be created. Self-management will be established in all areas of social life, including the right of all oppressed races of people to self-determination. As I have stated, self-determination is the right to self-government. By their own initiative, individuals will implement their own management of social life through voluntary associations. They will refuse to surrender their self-direction to the State, political parties, vanguard sects since each of these merely aid in establishing or reestablishing domination. Anarchists believe the state and capitalist authority will be abolished by the means of direct action-wildcat strikes, slowdowns, boycotts, sabotage, and armed insurrection. We recognize our goals cannot be separated from the means used to achieve them. Hence our practice and the associations we create will reflect the society we seek.

Crucial attention will necessarily be paid to the area of economic organization, since it is here that the interests of everyone converge, Under Capitalism we all have to sell our labor to survive and to feed our families and ourselves. But after an Anarchist social revolution, the wage system and the institution of private and state property will be abolished and replaced with the production and distribution of goods according to the communist principle of: “From each according to ability, to each according to need.” Voluntary associations of producers and consumers will take common possession of the means of production and allow the free use of all resources to any voluntary group, provided that such use does not deprive others or does not entail the use of wage labor. These associations could be food and housing cooperatives, cooperative factories, community-run schools, hospitals, recreation facilities, and other important social services. These associations will federate with each other to facilitate their common goals on both a territorial and functional basis.

This federalism as a concept is a form of social organization in which self-determining groups freely agree to coordinate their activities. The only social system that can possibly meet the diverse needs of society, while still promoting solidarity on the widest scale, is one that allows people to freely associate on the basis of common needs and interests. Federalism emphasizes autonomy and decentralization, fosters solidarity and complements groups’ efforts to be as self-sufficient as possible. Groups can then be expected to cooperate as long as they derive mutual benefit. Contrary to the Capitalist legal system and its contracts, if such benefits are not felt to be mutual in an Anarchist society, any group will have the freedom to dissociate. In this manner a flexible and self-regulating social organism will be created, always ready to meet new needs by new organizations and adjustments. Federalism is not a type of Anarchism, but it is an essential part of Anarchism. It is the joining of groups and peoples for political and economic survival and livelihood.

Anarchists have an enormous job ahead of them, and they must be able to work together for the benefit of the idea The Italian Anarchist Errico Malatesta said it best when he wrote:

“Our task is that of pushing the “people” to demand and to seize all the freedom they can to make themselves responsible for their own needs without waiting for orders from any kind of authority. Out task is that of demonstrating the uselessness and harmfulness of the government, or provoking and encouraging by propaganda and action all kinds of individual and collective initiatives.” … “After the revolution, Anarchists will have a special mission of being the vigilant custodians of freedom, against the aspirants to power and possible tyranny of the majority…”

Quoted in Malatesta: His Life and Times, ed. by Vernon Richards

So, this is the job of the federation, but it does not end with the success of the revolution. There is much reconstruction work to be done, and the revolution must be defended to fulfill our tasks, Anarchists must have their own organizations. They must organize the past-revolutionary society, and this is why Anarchists federate themselves.

In a modern independent society, the process of federation must be extended to all humanity. The network of voluntary associations — the Commune — will know no borders. It could be the size of the city, state, or nation or a society much larger than the nation-state under Capitalism. It could be a mass commune that would encompass all the world’s peoples in a number of continental Anarchist federations, say North America, Africa, or the Caribbean. Truly this would be a new world! Not a United Nations or “One World government,” but a united humanity.

But our opposition is formidable — each of us has been taught to believe in the need for government, in the absolute necessity of experts, in taking orders, in authority — for some of us it is all new. But when we believe in ourselves and decide we can make a society based on free, caring individuals, that tendency within us will become the conscious choice of freedom-loving people. Anarchists see their job as strengthening that tendency, and show that there is no democracy or freedom under government — whether in the United States, China or Russia. Anarchists believe in direct democracy by the people as the only kind of freedom and self-rule.

Types of Anarchists

But Anarchists can’t be expected to agree on everything. Historically these differences have led to distinct tendencies in Anarchist theory and practice.

Individualist Anarchists hope for a future society in which free individuals do their duty and share resources “according to the dictates of abstract justice.” Generally speaking, Individualists are mere philosophers rather than revolutionary activists. They are civil libertarians who want to reform the system to make it work ‘fairly.” They were prevalent in the past century, but are still seen in “counter-cultural” Anarchist formations, middle class philosophers, or right-wing Libertarians.

Mutualists are Anarchists associated with the ideas of 19th century Anarchist philosopher, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who based his future economy on “…a pattern of individuals and small groups possessing (but not awning) their means of production, and bound by contracts of mutual exchange and mutual credit (instead of money) which would insure to each individual the product of his own labor. This type of Anarchism appears when Individualists being to put their ideas in practice, and merely wish to reform Capitalism and make it “cooperative.” This is also where the right wing Libertarians and advocates of a minimized role for the state get the ideas. Marx attacked Proudhon as an “idealist” and “utopian philosopher” for the Anarchist concept of Mutual Aid.

Collectivists are Anarchists based directly on the ideas of Michael Bakunin, the Russian Anarchist, the best-known advocate to the general public of Anarchist theory. Bakunin’s collectivist form of Anarchism replaced Proudhon’s insistence on individual possession with the idea of Socialist possession by voluntary institutions, and the right to the enjoyment of the individual product of his/her labor or its equivalent still assured to the individual worker. This type of Anarchism involves a direct threat to the class system and the Capitalist state, and is the view that society can only be reconstructed when the working class seizes control of the economy by a social revolution, destroys the State apparatus, and reorganizes production on the basis of common ownership and control by associations of working people. This farm of Anarchism is ideologically the basis of Anarchist-Syndicalism, or revolutionary labor unionism.

Anarcho-Syndicalists are Anarchists who are active in the labor and working class movements. Anarchist-Syndicalism is a farm of Anarchism for class-conscious workers and peasants, for militants and activists in the labor movement, for libertarian Socialists who want equality as well as liberty. As pointed out, this philosophy is based heavily an the ideas of Bakunin, though its organizing techniques stem from the French and Spanish CNT trade union movements (called “Syndicates”), where Anarchists were heavily involved. This is the type of Anarchism that influenced the IWW in North America and which expresses the view that the Capitalist state must be toppled by a revolutionary form of economic warfare called the General Strike, and that the economy must be reorganized and based on industrial unions, which would be under the counsel of the working class. All political matters would be handled by either an Industrial Union Congress, while workplace matters would go to a factory committee, elected by the workers themselves and under their direct control. This type of Anarchism has great potential far organizing an Anarchist working class movement in North America, if it raises contemporary issues like the shortened workweek, factory councils, the current depression and a fight back against the bosses’ offensive of the last 20 years against the working class world wide.

Anarchist-Communists are revolutionary Anarchists who believe in the philosophy of class struggle, an end to Capitalism, and all farms of oppression. Contrary to Anarchist-Syndicalism it does not limit itself to workplace organizing. The philosophy is based on the theories of Peter Kropotkin, another Russian Anarchist. Kropotkin and his fellow Anarchist-Communists not only envisaged the commune and workers’ councils as the, proper guardians of production; they also attacked the wage system in all its forms, and revived the ideas of Libertarian communism. This type of Anarchism is known as Libertarian Socialism also, and includes Mast Socialists who are also opposed to the State, dictatorship, and party rule, though they are not Anarchists.

Since the 1870s the principles of Anarchist-Communism have been accepted by most Anarchist organizations favoring revolution. This Anarchist or Libertarian Communism must, of course, not be confused with much better known communism of the Marxist-Leninists, the communism which is based on state ownership of the economy and control of the both production and distribution, and also on party dictatorship. That form of authoritarian communist society is based on oppression and slavery to the state, while we favor a free, voluntary communism of shared resources. Libertarian Communism is not Bolshevism and has no connection with or support for Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky or Mao Tse Tung. It is not state or private control over the essentials of life we seek, and we oppose all forms of dictatorship. Anarchist communists seek to foster the growth of a new society in which freedom to develop as one see t is integrated to the fullest extent with social responsibility to others.

Autonomists are a new tendency in the Anarchist movement This tendency arose in the mid 1980s in Germany and later spread to other countries in Europe and North America. Students, intellectuals, and disaffected workers made up this tendency originally, but there am also Anarchists who call themselves Autonomists to imply they are not linked with a federation, or are not doctrinaire or a purist. Like Liberating Socialism, they seem to draw their ideology from both Marxism and some tenets of Anarchist philosophy like Anarchist Communism, but they tend to be more independent and very meticulous about explaining their different identity.

In conclusion, this is one way to list the different tendencies in Anarchist thought and practice. Them may be many other ways to do it and describe the historical development of each tendency. That may be beyond the scope of this pamphlet But most Anarchists would agree on these general statements: Anarchists hope far, construct theories about, and act to promote the abolition of government, the State, and the principle of authority that is central to contemporary social forms, and to replace them with a social organization based on voluntary cooperation between free individuals. All Anarchist tendencies, except the Individualists (and to some extent, the Mutualists), see this future society based an organic network of mutual aid associations, workers’ and consumers collectives, communes, and other voluntary alliances, organized into regional units and other non-authoritarian federations far the purpose of sharing ideas, information technical skills and large scale technological, cultural and recreational resources. All Anarchists believe in freedom from hunger and want and are against all forms of class, sexual and racial oppression, as well as all political manipulation by the State.

The philosophy is an evolving ideal in which many individuals and social movements have influence. Feminism, Black Liberation, Gay rights, the ecology movement and others, are all additions to the awareness of the philosophy of Anarchism, and this influence has helped in the advancement of the ideal of Anarchism as a social force in modern society. These influences ensure that the Social revolution we all anticipate will be as all encompassing and democratic as all, and that all will be fully liberated, not just affluent straight, white males.

Anarchist Versus Marxist-Leninist Thought on Organization of Society

Historically, there have been three major forms of socialism: Libertarian Socialism (Anarchism), Authoritarian Socialism (Marxist Communism), and Democratic Socialism (electoral social democracy). The non-Anarchist left has echoed the bourgeoisie’s portrayal of Anarchism as an ideology of chaos and lunacy. But Anarchism and especially Anarchist-Communism has nothing in common with this image. It is false and made up by its ideological opponents, the Marxist-Leninists.

It is very difficult for the Marxist-Leninists to make an objective criticism of Anarchism as such, because by its nature it undermines all the suppositions basic to Marxism. If Marxism and Leninism, its variant which emerged during the Russian revolution, is held out to be the working class philosophy and the proletariat cannot owe its emancipation to anyone but itself, it is hard to go back on it and say that the working class is not yet ready to dispense with authority over it. Lenin came up with the idea of a transitional State, which would “wither away” over time, to go along with Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat.” The Anarchists expose this line as counter-revolutionary and sheer power grabbing. Over 75 years of Marxist-Leninist practice has proven us right. These so-called “Socialist States” produced by Marxist-Leninist doctrine have only produced Stalinist police states where workers have no rights, a new ruling class of technocrats and party politicians have emerged, and the class differential between those the state favored over those it didn’t created widespread deprivation among the masses and another class struggle. But instead of meeting such criticisms head an, they have concentrated their attacks not on the doctrine of Anarchism, but on particular Anarchist historical figures, especially Bakunin, an ideological opponent of Marx in the First International of Socialist movements in the last century.

Anarchists are social revolutionaries, who seek a stateless, classless, voluntary, cooperative federation of decentralized communes-based upon social ownership, individual liberty and autonomous self-management of social and economic life.

The Anarchists differ with the Marxists-Leninists in many areas, but especially in organization building. They differ from the authoritarian socialists in primarily three ways: they reject the Marxist-Leninist notions of the “vanguard party,” “democratic centralism,” and the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” and Anarchists have alternatives to each of them. The problem is that almost the entire left, including same Anarchists, is completely unaware of Anarchism’s tangible structural alternatives of the Catalyst, Group, Anarchist Consensus, and the Mass Commune.

The Anarchist alternative to the vanguard party is the catalyst group. The catalyst group is merely an Anarchist-Communist federation of affinity groups in action. This Catalyst group or revolutionary anarchist federation would meet on a regular basis or only when there was a necessity, depending on the wishes of the membership and the urgency of social conditions. It would be made up of representatives from or the affinity group itself, with full voting rights, privileges, and responsibilities. It would set both policies and future actions to be performed. It will produce both Anarchist-Communist theory and social practice. It believes in the class struggle and the necessity to overthrow Capitalist rule. It organizes in the communities and workplaces. It is democratic and has no authority figures like a party boss or central committee.

In order to make a revolution large-scale, coordinated movements are necessary, and their formation is in no way counter to Anarchism What Anarchists are opposed to is hierarchical, power-tripping leadership which suppresses the creative urge of the bulk of those involved, and forces an agenda down their throats, Members of such groups are mere servants and worshippers of the party leadership. But although Anarchists reject this type of domineering leadership, they do recognize that some people are more experienced articulate, or skilled than others, and these people will play leadership action roles. These persons are not authority figures, and can be removed at the will of the body. There is also a conscious attempt to routinely rotate this responsibility and to pass on these skills to each other, especially to women and people of color, who would ordinarily not get the chance. The experiences of these persons, who are usually veteran activists or better qualified than most at the moment can help form and drive forward movements, and even help crystallize the potential for revolutionary change in the popular movement. What they cannot do is take over the initiative of the movement itself. The members of these groups reject hierarchical positions — anybody having more ‘official” authority than others — and unlike the M-L vanguard parties, the Anarchist groups won’t be allowed to perpetuate their leadership through a dictatorship after the revolution. Instead, the catalyst group itself will be dissolved and its members, when they are ready, will be absorbed into the new society’s collective decision-making process Therefore these Anarchists are not leaders, but merely advisors and organizers for a mass movement.

What we don’t want or need is a group of authoritarians leading the working class, and then establishing themselves as a centralized decision-making command, instead of “withering away”; Marxist-Leninist states have perpetuated authoritarian institutions (the secret police, labor bosses, and the communist party) to maintain their power. The apparent effectiveness of such organizations (we ‘re just as efficient as the Capitalists) masks the way that “revolutionaries” who pattern themselves after Capitalist institutions become absorbed by bourgeois values, and completely isolated from the real needs and desires of ordinary people.

The reluctance of Marxist-Leninists to accept to accept revolutionary social change is, however, above all seen in Lenin’s conception of the party. It is a prescription to just nakedly seize power and put it in the hands of the Communist Party. The party that Leninists create today, they believe, should become the (only) “Party of the Proletariat” in which that class could organize and seize power. In practice, however, this meant personal and party dictatorship, which they felt gave them the right and duty to wipe out all other parties and political ideologies. Both Lenin and Stalin killed millions or workers and peasants, their left-wing ideological opponents, and even members of the Bolshevik party. This bloody and treacherous history is why them is so much rivalry and hostility between Marxist-Leninist and Trotskyite parties today, and it is why the “workers’ states,” whether in Cuba, China, Vietnam, or Korea are such oppressive bureaucracies over their people. It is also why most of the East European Stalinist countries had their government overthrown by the petty bourgeois and ordinary citizens in the 1980s. Maybe we are witnessing the eclipse of State communism entirely, since they have nothing new to say and will never get those governments-back again.

While Anarchist groups reach decisions through Anarchist consensus, the Marxist-Leninists organize through so-called democratic centralism. Democratic centralism poses as a form of inner party democracy, but is really just a hierarchy by which each member of a party — ultimately of a society — is subordinate to a “higher” member until one reaches the all-powerful party central committee and its Chairman. This is a totally undemocratic procedure, which puts the leadership above criticism, even if it is t above reproach. It is a bankrupt, corrupt method of internal operations for a political organization. You have no voice in such a party, and must be afraid to say any unflattering comments to or about the leaders.

In Anarchist groups, proposals are talked out by members (none of wham has authority over another), dissenting minorities are respected, and each individual’s participation is voluntary. Everyone has the right to agree or disagree over policy and actions, and everyone’s ideas are given equal weight and consideration. No decision may be made until each individual member or affiliated group that will be affected by that decision has had a chance to express their opinion on the issue. Individual members and affiliated groups shall retain the option to refuse support to specific federation activities, but may not actively obstruct such activities. In true democratic fashion, decisions for the federation as a whole must be made by a majority of its members.

In most cases, there is no real need for formal meetings for the making of decisions, what is needed is coordination of the actions of the group. Of course, there are times when a decision has to be made, and sometimes very quickly. This will be rare, but sometimes it is unavoidable. The consensus, in that case, would then have to be among a much smaller circle than the general membership of hundreds or thousands. But ordinarily all that is needed is an exchange of information and trust among parties, and a decision reaffirming the original decision will be reached, if an emergency decision had to be made. Of course, during the discussion, there will be an endeavor to clarify any major differences and explore alternative courses of action. And there will be an attempt to arrive at a mutually agreed upon consensus between conflicting views As always, if there should be an impasse or dissatisfaction with the consensus, a vote would be taken and with a 2/3 majority, the matter would be accepted, rejected or rescinded.

This is all totally contrary to the practice of Marxist-Leninist parties where the Central Committee unilaterally sets policy for the entire organization, and arbitrary authority reigns. Anarchists reject centralization of authority and the concept of a Central Committee. All groups are free associations formed out of committees not revolutionaries disciplined by fear of authority. When the size of the work-groups (which could be fanned around Labor, fundraising, anti-racism, women’s rights, food and housing, et.) becomes cumbersome, the organizations can be decentralized into two or several more autonomous organizations, still united in one large federation. This enables the group to expand limitlessly while maintaining its anarchic form of decentralized self-management. It is sort of like the scientific theory of a biological cell, dividing and redividing, but in a political sense.

However, Anarchist groups aren’t even necessarily organized loosely; Anarchism is flexible and structure can be practically nonexistent or very tight, depending upon the type of organization demanded by the social conditions being faced. For instance, organization would tighten during military operations or heightened political repression.

Anarchist-Communists reject the Marxist-Leninist concept of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and a so-called “workers’ state,” in favor of the mass commune. Unlike members of Leninist parties, whose daily lives are generally similar to present bourgeois lifestyles, Anarchist organizational structures and lifestyles, through communal living arrangements, urban tribes, affinity groups, squatting, etc., attempt to reflect the Liberated society of the future. Anarchists built all kinds of communes and collective during the Spanish Revolution of the 1930s, but were crushed by the fascists and the Communists. Since the Marxist-Leninists don’t build cooperative structures, the nucleus of the new society, they can only see the world in bourgeois political terms. They want to just seize State power and institute their own dictatorship over the people and the workers, instead of crushing State power and replacing it with a free, cooperative society.

Of course, the party, they insist, represents the proletariat, and there is no need for them to organize themselves outside of the party. Yet even in the former Soviet Union the Communist Party membership only represented five percent of the population. This is elitism of the worst sort and even makes the Capitalist parties look democratic by comparison. What the Communist Party was intended to represent in terms of workers power is never made clear, but in true 1984 “doublethink” fashion, the results are 75 years of political repression and State slavery, instead of an era of “glorious Communist rule.” They must be held accountable politically for these crimes against the people, and revolutionary political theory and practice. They have slandered the names of Socialism and Communism.

We reject the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is unbridled oppression, and the Marxist-Leninists and Stalinists must be made to answer for it Millions have been murdered by Stalin in the name of fighting an internal class war, and millions more were murdered in China Poland, Afghanistan Cambodia, and other countries by Communist movements which followed Stalin’s prescription for revolutionary terror. We reject State communism as the worst aberration and tyranny. We can do better than this with the mass commune.

The Anarchist mass commune (sometimes also called a Workers Council, although there are some differences) is a national continental or transnational federation of economic and political cooperatives and regional communal formations. Anarchists look to a world and a society in which real decision-making involves everyone who lives in it — a mass commune — not a few discipline freaks pulling the strings in a so-called “proletarian dictatorship.” Any and all dictatorship is bad, it has no deeming social features, yet that is what the Leninists tell us will protect us from counterrevolution. While Marxist-Leninists claim that this dictatorship is necessary in order to crush any bourgeois counterrevolutions led by the Capitalist class or right- wing reactionaries, Anarchists feel that this is itself part of the Stalinist school of falsification. A centralized apparatus, such as a state, is a much easier target for opponents of the revolution than is an array of decentralized communes. And these communes would remain armed and prepared to defend the revolution against anyone who militarily moves against it. The key is to mobilize the people into defense guards, militias and other military preparedness units.

This position by the Leninists of the necessity for a dictatorship to protect the revolution was not proven in the Civil War which followed the Russian revolution; in fact without support of the Anarchists and other left-wing forces, along with the Russian people, the Bolshevik government would have been defeated And then true to any dictatorship, it turned around and wiped out the Russian and Ukrainian Anarchist movements, along with their left-wing opponents like the Mensheviks and Social revolutionaries. Even ideological opponents in the Bolshevik party were imprisoned and put to death. Lenin and Trotsky killed millions of Russian citizens right after the Civil War, when they were consolidating State power, which preceded Stalin’s bloody rule. The lesson is that we should not be tricked into surrendering the grassroots people’s power to dictators who pose as our friends or leaders.

We don’t need the Marxist-Leninists’ solutions, they art dangerous and deluding. There is another way, but, too much of the left and to many ordinary people, the choice has appeared to be Anarchic “chaos” or the Maoist “Communist” parties, however dogmatic and dictatorial. This is primarily the result of misunderstanding and propaganda. But Anarchism as an ideology provides feasible organizational structures, as well as valid alternative revolutionary theory, which, if utilized could be the basis for organization just as solid as the Marxist-Leninists (or even more so). Only these organizations will be egalitarian and really for the benefit of people, rather than for the Communist leaders.

Anarchism is not confined to the ideas of a single theoretician, and it allows individual creativity to develop in collective groupings, instead of the characteristic dogmatism of the Marxist-Leninists. Therefore, not being cultist, it encourages a great deal of innovation and experimentation, prompting its adherents to respond realistically to contemporary conditions. It is the concept of making ideology fit the demands of life, rather than trying to make life fit the demands of ideology.

Therefore Anarchists build organizations in order to build a new world, not to perpetuate our domination over the masses of people. We mild build an organized, coordinated international movement aimed at transforming the globe into a mass commune. Such would really be a great overleap in human evolution and a gigantic revolutionary stride. It would change the world as we know it and end the special problems long plaguing humankind. It would be a new era of freedom and fulfillment. Lets get on with it, we’ve got a world to win!

General Principles of Anarchist-Communism

Since Anarchist-Communism is currently still the most important and widely accepted form of Anarchism mote needs to be said about this dynamic revolutionary doctrine.

Anarchist-Communism is based on a conception of society that harmoniously unites individual self-interest and social well-being. Although Anarchist-Communists agree with Marx and many Marxist-Leninists that Capitalism must be abolished because of its crisis-ridden nature (here we reject the false term “anarchy of production”) and its exploitation of the working class, they do not believe Capitalism is an indispensable, progressive precondition for the transition to a socially beneficial economy. Nor do they believe that the centralized economic planning of State Socialism can provide for the wide diversity of needs or desires. They reject the very idea of the need for a State or that it will just “wither away” of its own accord; or a party to “boss over” the workers or “stage manage” the revolution. In short, while accepting tenets of his economic critique of Capitalism, they do not worship Karl Marx as an infallible leader whose ideas can never be critiqued or revised, as the Marxist-Leninists do; and Anarchist-Communism is not based on Marxist theory.

These Anarchists believe the “personal is political, and the political is personal,” meaning that one cannot divorce one’s political life from one’s personal life. We do not play bureaucratic political roles, and then have a separate life as another social being entirely. Anarchist-Communists recognize that people art capable of determining their own needs and of making the necessary arrangements to satisfy those needs, provided that they have free access to social resources. It is always a political decision whether those resources are to be freely provided to all, so Anarchist-Communists believe in the credo of “from each according to (their) means, to each according to their needs.” This assures that all will be fed, clothed, and housed as normal social practice, not as demeaning welfare or that certain classes will be better provided for than others.

When not deformed by corrupt social institutions and practices, the interdependence and solidarity of human beings results in individuals who are responsible both for themselves and to the society that makes their well being and cultural development possible. Therefore, we seek to replace the State and Capitalism with a network of voluntary alliances embracing a of social life-production, consumption, health, culture, recreation, and other areas In this way all groups and associations reap the benefits of unity while expanding the range of their freedom Anarchists believe in free association and federating groups of collectives, workers’ councils, food and housing cooperatives, political collectives, with others of all types.

As a practical matter, Anarchist-Communists believe that we should start to build the new society now, as well as fight to crush the old Capitalist am. They wish to create non-authoritarian mutual aid organizations (for food, clothing, housing, funding for community projects and others), neighborhood assemblies and cooperatives not affiliated with either government or business corporations, and not run far profit, but for social need Such organizations, if built now, will provide their members with a practical experience in self-management and self-sufficiency, and will decrease the dependency of people on welfare agencies and employers. In short, we can begin now to build the infrastructure far the communal society so that people can see what they are fighting for, not just the ideas in someone’s head. That is the real way to freedom.

Capitalism, the State and Private Property

The existence of the State and Capitalism a rationalized by their apologists as being a “necessary evil” due to the alleged inability of the greater part of the population to run their own affairs and those of society, as well as being their protection against crime and violence. Anarchists realize that quite to the contrary, the principal barriers to a free society are State and the institution of private property. It is the State which causes war, police repression, and other forms of violence, and it is private property — the lack of equal distribution of major social wealth — which causes crime and deprivation.

But what is the State? The State is a political abstraction, a hierarchical institution by which a privileged elite strives to dominate the vast majority of people. The State’s mechanisms include a group of institutions containing legislative assemblies, the civil service bureaucracy, the military and police forces, the judiciary and prisons, and the subcentral State apparatus. The government is the administrative vehicle to run the State. (The purpose of this specific set of institutions which are the expressions of authority in capitalist societies (and so-called “Socialist states”), is the maintenance and extension of domination over the common people by a privileged class, the rich in Capitalist societies, the so-called Communist party in State Socialist or Communist societies like the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

However, the State itself is always an elitist position structure between the rules and the ruled order-givers and order-takers, and economic haves and have-nets. The State’s elite is not just the rich and the super-rich, but also those persons who assume State positions of authority — politicians and juridical officials. Thus the State bureaucracy itself, in terms of its relation to ideological property, can become an elite class in its own right. This administrative elite class of the State is developed not just the through dispensing of privileges by the economic elite, but as well by the separation of private and public life — the family unit and civil society respectively — and by the opposition between an individual family and the larger society. It is sheer opportunism, brought on by Capitalist competition and alienation. It is a breeding ground for agents of the State.

The existence of the State and a ruling classes, based on the exploitation and oppression of the working class am inseparable. Domination and exploitation go hand-in-hand and in fact this oppression is not possible without force and violent authority. This is why Anarchist-Communists argue that any attempt to use State power as a means of establishing a free, egalitarian society can only be self-defeating, because the habits of commanding and exploiting become ends in themselves. This was proven with the Bolshevik in the Russian Revolution (1917–1921). The fact is that officials of the “Communist” State accumulate political power much as the Capitalist class accumulates economic wealth. Those who govern form a distinct group whose only interest is the retention of political control by any means at their disposal. But the institution of Capitalist property, moreover, permits a minority of the population to control and to regulate access to, and the use of all socially produced wealth and natural resources. You have to pay for the land, water, and the fresh air to some giant utility company or real estate firm.

This controlling group may be a separate economic class or the State itself, but in either case the institution of property leads to a set of social and economic relations, Capitalism, in which a small sector of society reaps enormous benefits and privileges at the expense of the laboring minority. The Capitalist economy is based, not upon fulfilling the needs of everyone, but on amassing profit for a few, Both Capitalism and the State must be attacked and overthrown, not one or the other, or one then the other, because the fall of either will not ensure the fall of both. Down with Capitalism and the State!

No doubt, some workers will mistake what I am speaking of as a threat to their personal accumulated property. No, Anarchists recognize the distinction between personal possessions and major Capitalistic property. Capitalistic Property is that which has as its basic characteristic and purpose the command of other people’s labor power became of its exchange value. The institution of property conditions the development of a set of social and economic relations, which has established Capitalism, and this situation allows a small minority within society to reap enormous benefits and privileges at the expense of the laboring minority. This is the classic scenario of Capital exploiting labor.

Where there is a high social division of labor and complex industrial organization, money is necessary to perform transactions. It is not simply that this money is legal tender, and it is used in place of direct barter of goods. That is not what we art limited to here: Capital is money, but money as a process, which reproduces and increases its value. Capital arises only when the owner of the means of production finds workers on the market as sellers of their own labor power. Capitalism developed as the form of private property that shifted from the rural agricultural style to the urban, factory style of labor. Capitalism centralizes the instruments of production and brings individuals closely alongside of others in a disciplined work force. Capitalism is industrialized commodity production, which makes goods for profit, not for social needs. This is a special distinction of capital and capital alone.

We may understand Capitalism and the basis of our observations, as Capital endowed with will and consciousness. That is, as those people who acquire capital, and function as an elite, moneyed class with enough national and political power to rule society. Further, that accumulated capital is money, and with money they control the means of production that is defined as the mills, mines, factories, land, water, energy and other natural resources, and the rich know that this is their property. They don’t need ideological pretensions, and are under no illusions about “public property”.

An economy, such as the one we have briefly sketched, is not based on fulfilling the needs of everyone in society, but instead is based on the accumulation of profits for the few, who live in palatial luxury as a leisure class, while the workers live in either poverty or one or two paychecks removed. You see, therefore, that doing away with government also signifies the abolition of monopoly and personal ownership of the means of production and distribution.

Anarchism, Violence and Authority

One of the biggest lies about Anarchists is that they are mindless bomb throwers, cutthroats, and assassins. People spread these lies for their own reasons: governments, because they am afraid of being overthrown by Social revolution; Marxist-Leninists, because it is a competing ideology with a totally different concept of social organization and revolutionary struggle; and the Church, because Anarchism does not believe in deities and its rationalism might sway workers away from superstition. It is true that these lies and propaganda are able to sway many people primarily because they never hear the other side. Anarchists receive bad press and suffer a scapegoat of every politician, right or left wing.

Because a Social revolution is an Anarchist revolution, which not only abolishes one exploiting class for another, but all exploiters and the instrument of exploitation, the State. Because it is a revolution for people’s power, instead of political power; because it abolishes both money and wage slavery; because Anarchists am for total democracy and freedom instead of politicians to represent the masses in Parliament, Congress, or the Communist Party; because Anarchists are for workers’ self-management of industry, instead of government regulation; because Anarchists are for full sexual, racial, cultural and intellectual diversity, instead of sexual chauvinism, cultural repression, censorship, and racial oppression; lies have had to be told that the Anarchists are killers, rapists, robbers, mad bombers, unsavory elements, the worst of the worst.

But let’s look at the real world and set who is causing all this violence and repression of human rights. The wholesale murder by standing armies in World Wars I and II, the pillage and tape of former colonial counties, military invasions or so-called “police operations” in Korea and Vietnam — all of these have been done by governments. It is government and state/class rule, which is the source of all violence. This includes all governments. The so-called “Communist” world is not communist and the “Free” world is not free. East and West, Capitalism, private or state remains an inhuman type of society where the vast majority is bossed at work, at home, and in the community. Propaganda (news and literary), policemen and soldiers, prisons and schools, traditional values and morality all serve to reinforce the power of the few and to convince or correct the many into passive acceptance of a brutal degrading and irrational system. This is what Anarchists mean by authority being oppression, and it is just such authoritarian rule which is at work in the United States of America, as well as the “Communist” governments of China or Cuba.

“What is the thing we call government? Is it anything but organized violence? The law orders you to obey, and if you don’t obey, it will compel you by force — all governments, all law and authority finally rest enforce and violence, on punishment or fear of punishment.

— Alexander Berkman, in ABC of Anarchism

There are revolutionaries, including many Anarchists, who advocate armed overthrow of the capitalist State. They do not advocate or practice mass murder, like the governments of the modern world with their stockpiles of nuclear bombs, poison gas and chemical weapons, huge air forces, navies and armies and who are hostile to one another. It was not the Anarchists who provoked two World Wars where over 100 million persons were slaughtered; nor was it the Anarchists who invaded and butchered the peoples of Korea, Panama, Somalia, Iraq, Indonesia, and other countries who have sustained imperialist military snack. It was not the Anarchists who sent armies of spies all over the world to murder, corrupt, subvert, overthrow and meddle into the internal affairs of other countries like the CIA, KGB, MI6 or other national spy agencies, nor use them as secret police to uphold the home governments in various countries, no matter how repressive and unpopular the regime. Further, if your government makes you a policeman or soldier, you kill and repress people in the name of “freedom” or “law and order”.

“You don’t question the right of the government to kill, to confiscate and imprison. If a private person should be guilty of the things that the government is doing all the time, you’d brand him a murderer, thief and scoundrel. Bur as long as the violence committed is “lawful” you approve of it and submit to it. So it is not real violence that you object to, but people using violence unlawfully” — Alexander Berkman, in ABC of Anarchism

If we speak honestly we must admit that everyone believes in violence and practices it, however they may condemn it in others. Either they do it themselves or they have the police or army to do it on their behalf as agents of the state. In fact, all of the governmental institutions we presently support and the entire life of present society are based on violence. In fact America is the most violent country on earth, or as one SNCC comrade, H. Rap Brown, was quoted as saying: “violence is as American as apple pie (!)” The United States goes all over the world committing violence, it assassinates heads of State, overthrows governments, slaughters civilians in the hundreds of thousands, and makes a prison out of captive nations, such as it is doing in Iraq and Somalia, at the present time. We are expected to passively submit to these crimes of conquest, that is the hallmark of a good citizen.

So Anarchists have no monopoly and violence, and when it was used in so-called “propaganda of the deed” attacks, it was against tyrants and dictators, rather than against the common people. These individual reprisals — bombings, assassinations, sabotage — have been efforts at making those in power personally responsible for their unjust acts and repressive authority. But in fact, Anarchists, Socialists, Communists and other revolutionaries, as well as patriots and nationalists, and even reactionaries and racists like the Ku Klux Klan or Nazis have all used violence for a variety of reasons. Who would not have rejoiced if a dictator like Hitler had been slain by assassins, and thus spared the world racial genocide and the Second World War? Further, all revolutions are violent because the oppressing class will not give up power and privileges without a bloody fight. So we have no choice anyway.

Basically, we would all choose to be pacifists. And like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. counseled, we would rather resolve our differences with understanding, love and moral reasoning. We will attempt these solutions first, whenever possible. In the insanity that reigns, however, out movement acknowledge the utility of preparedness. It is too dangerous a world to be ignorant of the ways to defend ourselves so that we can continue our revolutionary work. Bring acquainted with a weapon and its uses does not mean that you must immediately go out and use that weapon, but that if you need to use it, you can use it wed. We art forced o acknowledge that the American progressive and radical movements have been too pacifist to be truly effective. We also realize that open groups that proposed cooperative change and were basically nonviolent like the IWW, were crushed violently by the government and finally we have unfortunate example of Dr. King, Jr. himself, who was assassinated in 1968 by a conspiracy of agents of the State, most likely the FBI.

Understand that the more we succeed at our work, the mote dangerous will our situation become, because we will then be recognized as a threat to the State. And, make no mistake, the insurrection is coming. An American Intifada that will destabilize the state. So we art talking about a spontaneous, prolonged, rising of the vast majority of the people, and the necessity to defend our Social revolution. Although we recognize the importance of defensive paramilitary violence, and even urban guerilla attacks, we do not depend upon war to achieve our liberation, for our struggle cannot be won by the force of arms alone. No, the people must be armed beforehand with understanding and agreement of our objectives, as well as trust and love of the revolution, and our military weapons are only an expression of our organic spirit and solidarity. Perfect love for the people, perfect hate for the enemy. As the Cuban revolutionary, Che Guevara, said: “When one falls, another must take (their) place, and the rage of each death renews the reason for the fight”

The governments of the world commit much of their violence in repressing any attempt to overthrow the State. Crimes of repression against the people have usually benefited those in power, especially if the government is powerful Look what happened in the United States when the Black revolution of the 1960s was repressed. Many protesting injustice were jailed, murdered, injured, or blacklisted — all of which was set up by the State’s secret police agencies. The movement was beaten down for decades as a result. So we cannot just depend on mass mobilizations alone, or just engage in underground offensives, if we want to defeat the state and its repression; some mid-place between the two must be found. For the future, our work will include development of collective techniques of self-defense, as well as underground work while we work towards social revolution.

Anarchists and Revolutionary Organization

Another lie about Anarchism is that they are nihilistic and don’t believe in any organizational structure. Anarchists are not opposed to organization In fact, Anarchism is primarily concerned about analyzing the way in which society is presently organized, i.e., government.

Anarchism is all about organization, but it is about alternative forms of organization to what now exists. Anarchism’s opposition to authority leads to the view that organization should be non-hierarchical and that membership would be voluntary. Anarchist revolution is a process of organization building and rebuilding. This does not mean the same thing as the Marxist-Leninist concept of “party building, which is just about strengthening the role of party leaders and driving out those members those who have an independent position. These purges are methods of domination that the ML’s use to beat all democracy out of their movements, yet they facetiously call this “democratic centralism”.

What organization means within Anarchism is to organize the needs of the people into non-authoritarian social organizations so that they can take care of their own business on an equal basis. It also means the coming together of like-minded people for the purpose of coordinating the work that both groups and individuals feel necessary for their survival, well being, and livelihood. So because Anarchism involves people who would come together an the basis of mutual needs and interests cooperation is a key element A primary aim is that the individuals should speak for themselves, and that all in the group be equally responsible for the group’s decisions; no leaders or bosses here!

Many Anarchists would even envisage large scale organizational needs in terms of small local groups organized in the workplace, collectives, neighborhoods, and other areas, who would send delegates to larger committees who would make decisions on matters of wider concern. The job of delegate would not be full-time; it would be rotated. Although their out-of-pocket expenses would be paid, the delegate would be unpaid, recallable and would only voice the group’s decisions. The various schools of Anarchism differ in emphasis concerning organization. For example, Anarcho-Syndicalists stress the revolutionary labor union and other workplace formations as the basic unit of organization, while the Anarchist-Communists recognize the commune as the highest form of social organization. Others may recognize other formations as most important, but they all recognize and support free, independent organizations of the people as the way forward.

The nucleus of Anarchist-Communist organization is the Affinity Group. The affinity group is a revolutionary circle or “cell” of friends and comrades who are in tune with each other both in ideology and as individuals. The affinity group exists to coordinate the needs of the group, as expressed by individuals and by the cell as a body. The group becomes an extended family; the well being of all becomes the responsibility of all.

“Autonomous, communal, and directly democratic, the group combines revolutionary theory with revolutionary lifestyle in its everyday behavior. It creates a free space in which revolutionaries can remake themselves individually, and also as social beings.”

— Murray Bookchin, in Post Scarcity Anarchism

We could also refer to these affinity formations as “groups for living revolution” because they live the revolution now, even though only in seed form. Because the groups are small — from three to fifteen — they can start from a stronger basis of solidarity than mere political strategy alone. The groups would be the number one means of political activity of each member. There are four areas of involvement where affinity groups work:

  1. Mutual Aid: this means giving support and solidarity between members, as well as collective work and responsibility.

  2. Education: in addition to educating the society at-large to Anarchist ideals, this includes study by members to advance the ideology of the groups, as well as to increase their political, economic, scientific and technical knowledge.

  3. Action: this means the actual organizing, and political work of the group outside the collective, where all members art expected to contribute.

  4. Unity: the group is a form of family, a gathering of friends and comrades, people who care for the well-being of one another, who love and support each other, who strive to live in the spirit of cooperation and freedom; void of distrust, jealousy, hate, competition and other forms of negative social ideas and behavior. In short, affinity groups allow a collective to live a revolutionary lifestyle.

A big advantage of affinity groups is that they art highly resistant to police infiltration Because the group members are so intimate, the groups are very difficult to infiltrate agents into them, and even if a group is penetrated, there is no ‘central office” which would give an agent information about the movement as a whole. Each cell has its own politics, agenda, and objectives. Therefore he would have to infiltrate hundreds, maybe thousands, of similar groups Further, since the members all know each other, he could not lead disruptions without risk of immediate exposure, which would blunt an operation like the COINTELPRO used by the FBI against the Black and progressive movements ring the 1960s. Further, because there are no leaders in the movement, there is no one to target and destroy the group.

Because they can grow as biological cells grow, by division, they can proliferate rapidly. There could be hundreds in one large city or region. They prepare for the emergence of a mass movement; they will organize large numbers of people in order to coordinate activities as their needs become apparent and as social conditions dictate. Affinity groups function as a catalyst within the mass movement, pushing it to higher and higher levels of resistance to the authorities. But they are ready-made for underground work in the event of open political repression or mass insurrection.

This leads us to the next level of Anarchist organizations, the area and regional federation. Federations are the networks of affinity groups who come together out of common needs, which include mutual aid education, action, and any other work deemed to be needed for the transformation of current society from the authoritarian state to Anarchist-Communism The following is an example of how Anarchist-Communist federations could be structured. First, then is the area organization, which could cover a large city or county. All like-minded affinity groups in the area would associate themselves in a local federation. Agreements on ideology, mutual aid, and action to be undertaken would be made at meetings in which all can come and have equal voice.

When the local area organization reaches a size where it is deemed to be too big, the area federation would initiate a Coordinating Consensus Council. The purpose of the Council is to coordinate the needs and actions defined by all the groups, including the possibility of splitting and creating another federation. Each local area’s affinity group would be invited to send representatives to the council with all the viewpoints of their group, and as a delegate they could vote and join in making policy on behalf of the group at the council.

Our next federation would be on a regional basis, say the entire South or Midwest This organization would take care of the whole region with the same principles of consensus and representation. Next would come a national federation to cover the U.S.A, and the continental federation, the latter of which would cover the continent of North America. Last would be the global organizations, which would be the networking of all federations worldwide. As for the latter because Anarchists do not recognize national borders and wish to replace the nation-state, they thus federate with all other like-minded people wherever they are living on the planet earth.

But for Anarchism to really work, the needs of the people must be fulfilled. So the first priority of Anarchists is the well being of all; thus we must organize the means to fully and equally fulfill the needs of the people. First, the means of production, transportation, and distribution must be organized into revolutionary organizations that the workers and the community run and control themselves. The second priority of the Anarchists is to deal with community need organizations, in addition to industrial organizing. Whatever the community needs are, then they must be dealt with. This means organization. It includes cooperative groups to fulfill such needs as health, energy, jobs, childcare, housing, alternative schools, food, entertainment, and other social areas. These community groups would form a cooperative community, which would be a network of community needs organizations and serve as an Anarchistic sociopolitical infrastructure. These groups should network with those in other areas for mutual aid education, and action, and become a federation on a regional scale.

Third, Anarchists would have to deal with social illness. Not only do we organize for the physical needs of the people, but must also work and propagandize to cure the ills sprouted by the State, which has warped the human personality under Capitalism. For instance, the oppression of women must be addressed. No one can be free if 51 percent of society is oppressed, dominated and abused. Not only must we form an organization to deal with the harmful effects of sexism, but work to ensure patriarchy is dead by educating society about its harmful effects .The same must be done with racism, but in addition to reeducation of society, we work to alleviate the social and economic oppression of Black and other nonwhite peoples, and empower them for self-determination to lead free lives. Anarchists need to form groups to expose and combat racial prejudice and Capitalist exploitation, and extend full support and solidarity to the Black liberation movement.

Finally, Anarchism would deal with a number of areas too numerous to mention here — science, technology, ecology, disarmament, human rights and so on. We must harness the social sciences and make them serve the people, while we coexist with nature. Authoritarians foolishly believe that it is possible to “conquer” nature, but that is not the issue. We are just one of a number of species which inhabit this planet even if we are the most intelligent. But then other species have not created nuclear weapons, started wars where millions have been killed, or engaged in discrimination against the races of their sub-species, all of which humankind has done. So who is to say which one is the most “intelligent?”

Why Am I An Anarchist?

The Anarchist movement in North America is overwhelmingly white, middle class, and for the most part, pacifist so the question arises: why am I a part of the Anarchist movement, since I am none of those things? Well, although the movement may not now be what I think it should be in North America, I visualize a mass movement that will have hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Black, Hispanic and other non-white workers in it. It will not be an Anarchist movement that Black workers and the other oppressed will just “join” — it will be an independent movement which has its own social outlook, cultural imperative, and political agenda. It will be Anarchist at its care, but it will also extend Anarchism to a degree no previous European social or cultural group ever has done. I am certain that many of these workers will believe, as I do, that Anarchism is the most democratic, effective, and radical way to obtain our freedom, but that we must be free to design our own movements, whether it is understood or “approved” by North American Anarchists or not. We must fight for our freedom, no one else can free us, but they can help us.

I wrote the pamphlet to:

  1. inspire a national anti-racist and anti-cop brutality federation, which would be Anarchist-initiated or at least be heavily participated in by Anarchists;

  2. create a coalition between Anarchists and revolutionary Black organizations such as the new Black Panther movement of the 1990s; and

  3. to spark a new revolutionary ferment sad organizations in the African-American and other oppressed communities, where Anarchism is a curiosity, if that.

I thought that if a serious, respected libertarian revolutionary put these ideas forth they would be more likely to be considered than just by a white Anarchist, no matter how well motivated. I believe I am correct about that. So here is why I am an Anarchist.

In the 1960s I was part of a number of Black revolutionary movements, including the Black Panther Party, which I feel partially failed because of the authoritarian leadership style of Huey P. Newton, Bobby Scale and others on the Central Committee. This is not a recrimination against those individuals, but many errors were made because the national leadership was too divorced from the chapters in cities all over the country, and therefore engaged in “commandism” or forced work dictated by leaders. But many contradictions were also set up because of the structure of the organization as a Marxist-Leninist group. There was not a lot of inner-party democracy, and when contradictions came up, it was the leaders who decided on their resolution, not the members. Purges became commonplace, and many good people were expelled from the group simply because they disagreed with the leadership.

Because of the over-importance of central leadership, the national organization was ultimately liquidated entirely, packed up and shipped back to Oakland, California. Of course, many errors were made because the BPP was a young organization and was under intense attack by the state. I do not want to imply that the internal errors were the primary contradictions that destroyed the BPP. The police attacks on it did that, but, if it were better and more democratically organized, it may have weathered the storm. So this is no mindless criticism or backstabbing attack. I loved the party. And, anyway, not myself or anyone else who critique the party with hindsight, will ever take away from the tremendous talc that the BPP played in the Black Liberation movement of the 1960s. But we must look at a full picture of out organizations from that period, so that we do not repeat the same errors.

I think my brief period in the Panthers was very important because it taught me about the limits of — and even the bankruptcy of — leadership in a revolutionary movement. It was not a question of a personality defect on behalf of particular leader, but rather a realization that many times leaders have one agenda, followers have another.

I also learned this lesson during my association with the African People’s Socialist Party during the 1980s when I had gotten out of the joint I had met Omali Yeshitela while I was confined in Leavenworth (KS.) federal pen, when he was invited to our annual Black Solidarity Bay festivities in 1979. This association continued when they formed the Black prisoners’ organization, the African National Prison Organization shortly thereafter. ANPO was definitely a good support organization, and along with News and Letters Committees the Kentucky branch of the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression, and the Social revolutionary Anarchist Federation (now defunct), they wrote letters and made phone calls to have me hospitalized after I had been infected with Tuberculosis, which saved my life. But the group folded when the proposed coalition of founding organizations collapsed due to sectarianism.

After I got out of prison, I lost contact with them as they had moved from Louisville to the West Coast. It was not until 1987 that I once again contacted them when we were having a mass demonstration against police brutality in my hometown. They were invited and came to the demo, along with NAPO and several left-wing forces, and for two years off and on, I had an association with them. But I felt APSP politically was always an authoritarian organization, and even though was never a member, I became more and more uncomfortable with their organizational policies In the Summer Of 1988, I went to Oakland, California to attend an “organizers’ school,” but I also wanted to satisfy myself about the internal workings of the group. For six weeks, I worked with them out of their national headquarters in the local community. I was able to determine for myself about internal matters and also abort the politics of the group itself. I found out that about a whole history of purges, factional fights, and the ‘one man” dictatorial leadership style of the Party. While in Oakland, I was asked to attend a meeting in Philadelphia that Fall to reestablish ANPO.

I attended the Philly meeting, but was very concerned when I was automatically placed as part of a “slate” to be officers of the ANPO group, without any real democratic discussion among the proposed membership, or allowing others to put themselves forward as potential candidates. I was in fact made the highest-ranking officer in the group. Although I still believe that there should be a mass political prisoners’ movement and especially a Black prisoners’ movement, I became convinced that this was not it. I believe that it will take a true coalition of forces in the Black and progressive movements to build a mass base of support. I got to feeling that these folks just wanted to push the party and its politics, rather than free prisoners, and so I just dropped out and haven’t dealt with them since. I was very disillusioned and depressed when I learned the truth. I won’t be used by anybody — not for long.

The early stages of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was a contrast in many ways to any Black freedom group to come before or after, Part of the SNCC activists were middle class college intellectuals, with a small number of working class grassroots activists, but they developed a working style that was very anti-authoritarian and was unique to the Civil rights movement. Instead of bringing in a national leader to lead local struggles, like Dr, Martin Luther King Jr. and his group, the Southern Christian Leadership Council, was wont to do, SNCC sent in field organizers to work with the local people and develop indigenous leadership and help organize, but not take over local struggles. They placed their faith in the ability of the people to determine an agenda which would best serve them and lead themselves to obtain their goals rather than being inspired or told what to do by a leader SNCC itself had no strong leaders, even though it had persons in decision-making authority, but they were accountable to membership boards and the community in a way no other group in the civil rights movement was.

SNCC was also a non-secular organization, in contrast to SCLC, which was formed by Black preachers and had co-opted their style of organizing from the Black church, with a religious authority figure who gave orders to the troops. Today most political commentators or historians still do not want to give full credit to the effectiveness of SNCC, but many of the most powerful and successful struggles of the Civil rights movement were initiated and won by SNCC, including most of the voting rights struggles and the Mississippi phase of the freedom movement. I learned a lot about internal democracy by being a part of SNCC, how it could make or break an organization, and how it had so much to do with the morale of the members Everyone was given an opportunity to participate in decision-making, and felt part of a great historical mission, which would change their lives forever. They were right. Even though SNCC gave some lifelong lessons to all of us involved, even if it was destroyed by the rich and their own, who resorted to an authoritarian style in later years.

I also began to have a rethinking process after I was forced to leave de U.S. and go to Cuba, Czechoslovakia and other countries in the “Socialist bloc,” as it was called then. It was cleat that these countries were essentially police states, even though they had brought many significant reforms and material advances to their peoples over what had existed before. I observed also that racism existed in those countries, along with the denial of basic democratic rights and poverty on a scale I would not have thought possible. I also saw a great deal of corruption by the Communist Party leaders and State administrators, who were well off, while the workers were mere wage slaves. I thought to myself, “there has to be a better way!” There is. It is Anarchism, which I started to read about when I was captured in East Germany and had heard more about when I was eventually thrown into prison in the United States.

Prison is a place where one continually thinks about his other past life, including the examination of new or contrary ideas, I began to think about what I had seen in the Black movement, slang with my mistreatment in Cuba, my capture and escape in Czechoslovakia, and my final capture in East Germany. I replayed all this over and over in my head. I was first introduced to Anarchism in 1969, immediately after I was brought back to the U.S. and was placed in the federal lockup in New York City, where I met Martin Sostre. Sostre told me about how to survive in prison, the importance of fighting for prisoners’ democratic rights, and about Anarchism. This short course in Anarchism did not stick however, even though I greatly respected Sostre personally, because I did not understand the theoretical concepts.

Finally around 1973, after I had been locked up for about three years, I started receiving Anarchist literature and correspondence from Anarchists who had heard about my case. This began my slow metamorphosis to a confirmed Anarchist, and in fact it was not until a few years later that I came over. During the late 1970s, I was adopted by Anarchist Black Cross-England and also by a Dutch Anarchist group called HAPOTOC, (Help A Prisoner Oppose Torture Organizing Committee), which organized an instrumental defense campaign. This proved crucial in ultimately getting people all over the world to write the U. S. government to demand my release.

I wrote a succession of articles for the Anarchist press, and was a member of the Social revolutionary Anarchist Federation, the IWW, and a number of other Anarchist groups in the U.S. and around the world. But I became disheartened by the Anarchist movement’s failure to fight white supremacy and its lack of class struggle politics. So, in 1979, I wrote a pamphlet called Anarchism and the Black Revolution, to act as a guide to the discussion of these matters by our movement. Finally, in 1983, I was released from prison, after having served almost 15 years.

For all these years, the pamphlet influenced a number of Anarchists who were opposed to racism and also wanted a more class struggle-oriented approach than the movement then afforded. Meanwhile I bad fallen away from the Anarchist movement in disgust, and it was not until 1992 when I was working in my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, as an anti-racist community organizer, that I ran into an Anarchist named John Johnson and once again made contact. He gave me an issue of Love and Rage newspaper, and as a result, I contacted Chris Day of Love and Rage, and comrades in WSA in New York. The rest, as they say, is history. I have been back with a vengeance ever since!

All of a sudden, I see there are now others in the movement who understand the workings of white supremacy and they have encouraged me to rewrite this pamphlet I have gratefully done so. Why am I an Anarchist? I have an alternative vision for the revolutionary process. There is a better way. Let us get on with it!

What I Believe

All anarchists do not believe in the same things. There are differences and the field is broad enough that those differences can coexist and be respected. So I don’t know what others believe, I just know what I believe in and I will spell out it simply, but thoroughly.

I believe in Black liberation, so I am a Black revolutionary. I believe that Black people are oppressed both as workers and a distinct nationality, and will only be freed by a Black revolution, which is an intrinsic part of a Social revolution. I believe that Blacks and other oppressed nationalities must have their own agenda, distinct world-view, and organizations of struggle, even though they may decide to work with workers.

I believe in the destruction of the world Capitalist System, so I am an anti-imperialist, As long as Capitalism is alive on the planet, there will be exploitation, oppression and nation-states. Capitalism is responsible for the major world wars, numerous brush wars, and millions of people starving for the profit motive of the rich countries in the West.

I believe in racial justice, so I am an anti-racist, The Capitalist system was mated by and is maintained by enslavement and colonial oppression of the African people, and before there will be a social revolution white supremacy must be defeated. I also believe that Africans in America are colonized and exist as an internal colonial of the U.S, white mother country. I believe that white workers must give up their privileged status, their “white identity,” and must support racially oppressed workers in their fights for equality and national liberation Freedom cannot be bought by enslaving and exploiting others.

I believe in social justice and economic equality, so I am a Libertarian Socialist. I believe that society and all parties responsible for its production should share the economic products of labor. I do not believe in Capitalism or the state, and believe they both should be overthrown and abolished I accept the economic critique of Marxism, but not its model for political organizing. I accept the anti-authoritarian critique of Anarchism, but not its rejection of the class struggle.

I believe in workers control of society and industry, so I am an Anarcho-Syndicalist. Anarchist Syndicalism is revolutionary labor unionism, where direct action tactics are used to fight Capitalism and take over industry I believe that the factory committees workers’ councils and other labor organizations should be the workplaces, and should take control from the Capitalists after a direct action campaign of sabotage, strikes, sitdowns, factory occupations and other actions.

I do not believe in government, and so I am an Anarchist. I believe that government is one of the worst forms of modern oppression, is the source of war and economic oppression, and must be overthrown. Anarchism means that we will have more democracy, social equality, and economic prosperity. I oppose all forms of oppression found in modern society: patriarchy, white supremacy, Capitalism, State Communism, religious dictates, gay discrimination, etc.

Appendix

A Short Biography of Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin

Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1947; what he calls the “…segregated South…” was an environment of violence, racism, poverty and rejection. A youth street gang member, Ervin joined the NAACP youth group when he was 12 years old and took part in the 1960 sit-in protests which changed racial discrimination in public accommodations in the city. After being drafted and after serving two years in the U.S. Army, (where he was a Vietnam anti-war organizer and was court-martialed), he joined the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee in 1967 shortly before it merged (temporarily) with the more militant Black Panther Party.

In the wake of the urban Black rebellions that rocked the U.S. after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in the Spring of 1968, an attempt was made to frame Ervin on weapons charges and for planning to kill a local Klan leader. In order to escape prosecution in these charges Ervin hijacked a plane to Cuba in February 1969. It was while in Cuba and later in the then-Republic of Czechoslovakia, that he first became disillusioned with state socialism, recognizing it as dictatorship period, not the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as various Communist governments claimed. In Prague (the Czechoslovak capital), Ervin was betrayed to U.S. officials by pro-CIA elements left over from the Dubcek regime shortly after the Soviet invasion of the country. Briefly captured and held at the American Consulate, he fled to East Berlin where he was kidnapped by a special team of by American and West German special agents sent to recapture him. He was drugged and tortured during interrogation in the basement of the U.S. Consulate for almost a week, and after almost dying from this mistreatment, he was illegally brought back to the USA where it was falsely announced by the State department and the FBI in a press conference that he had “turned himself in” at JFK airport.

After a farce of a trial in a small town in Georgia, where he faced the death penalty before an all-white judge, jury, prosecutor and defense attorneys (appointed by the court), he was sentenced to the rest of his life in prison. Ervin remained politically active in prison where he was first introduced to the ideals of Anarchism in the late 1970s. He read many books on the subject sent by prison book clubs, and the Anarchist Black Cross, an international prisoner support movement, adopted his case. Also in prison, Ervin wrote several Anarchist pamphlets that are probably the most widely read writings on anarchism and the Black liberation movement. Anarchism and the Black Revolution is still popular, and has gone through several printings.

He was also involved in many prison struggles, the early 1970s prison union organizing campaigns and the Black prisoner movement or that period. Because of years of solitary confinement and prison mail censorship, his case was kept in obscurity, and it was not until he was one of the “Marion Brothels,” a group of prisoners who became well known as they struggled against the first Control Unit at Marion Federal Penitentiary, that his case became a public concern. Ervin’s own legal challenges and an international campaign eventually led to his release from prison after 15 years of incarceration.

After his release Ervin returned to Chattanooga, where for over ten years, he remained active with the Concerned Citizens for Justice, a local civil rights group, fighting police brutality and organizing against the Ku Klux Klan. In 1987 Ervin helped organize a major mobilization against the Klan that resulted in the Klan being run out of town. Also in 1987, Ervin was primarily responsible for the filing of a major civil rights lawsuit that successfully forced the city of Chattanooga to change its structure of governance on the basis that it systematically disempowered the Black community.

In retaliation for his activism, the white power structure has sought to frame Ervin up on a number of charges, the last being his arrest on misdemeanor charges in the “Chattanooga 3” case. In that case, Ervin was arrested with several other activists in the Ad Hoc Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality (which succeeded the Concerned Citizens for Justice) for his participation in a demonstration against the failure of a grand jury to bring any criminal charges against policemen who choked a Black motorist, Larry Powell, to death in February 1993. ref

Black Anarchism by The Anarchist Library | anarchistnews.org


Black Anarchism: A Reader – (PDF) – Black Rose Anarchist Federation

In the expansive terrain of anarchist history, few events loom as large as the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Countless books, films, songs, pamphlets, buttons, t-shirts, and more are rightfully devoted to this transformative struggle for social revolution by Spanish workers and peasants. But digging through the mountain of available material, little can be found on black militants in the Spanish revolution, like the one featured in the powerful photo on the cover of this reader — a member of the Bakunin Barracks in Barcelona, Spain 1936, and a symbol of both the profound presence and absence of Black anarchism internationally. For more than 150 years, black anarchists have played a critical role in shaping various struggles around the globe, including mass strikes, national liberation movements, tenant organizing, prisoner solidarity, queer liberation, the formation of autonomous black liberation organizations, and more. Our current political moment is one characterized by a global resurgence of Black rebellion in response to racialized state violence, criminalization, and dispossession. Black and Afro-diasporic communities in places like Britain, South Africa, Brazil, Haiti, Colombia and the US have initiated popular social movements to resist conditions of social death and forge paths toward liberation on their own terms. Given the anti-authoritarian spirit of these struggles, the time is ripe to take a closer look at anarchism more broadly, and Black anarchism in particular. The deceptive absence of Black anarchist politics in the existing literature can be attributed to an inherent contradiction found within the Eurocentric canon of classical anarchism which, in its allegiance to a Western conception of universalism, overlooks and actively mutes the contributions by colonized peoples. In recent years, Black militants, and others dedicated to Black anarchist politics, have gone a long way toward bringing Black anarchism into focus through numerous essays, books, interviews, and public talks, many of which are brought together for the first time in this reader. Our hope is that this reader will serve as a fruitful contribution to ongoing dialogues, debates, and struggles occurring throughout the Black diaspora about how to move forward toward our liberation globally. “Anarchism,” noted Hannibal Abdul Shakur, “like anything else finds a radical new meaning when it meets blackness.” While this reader brings us closer to “a radical new meaning” for anarchism, there are glaring gaps that need to be filled to get a fuller picture of Black anarchism, particularly the vital contributions of black women, queer militants, and more folks from the Global South. ref 

Anarcho-pacifism

Anarcho-pacifism (also pacifist anarchism or anarchist pacifism) is a tendency within anarchism that rejects the use of violence in the struggle for social change and the abolition of the stateThe main early influences were the thought of Henry David Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy while later the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi gained importance. Pacifist anarchism “appeared mostly in the NetherlandsBritain, and the United States, before and after the Second World War and has continued since then in the deep in the anarchist involvement in the protests against nuclear armament.”. Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) was an important early influence in individualist anarchist thought in the United States and Europe. Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” (Resistance to Civil Government) was named as an influence by Mohandas GandhiMartin Luther King, Jr.Martin Buber and Leo Tolstoy due to its advocacy of nonviolent resistance. According to the Peace Pledge Union of Britain, it was also the main precedent for anarcho-pacifism. Thoreau himself did not subscribe to pacifism, and did not reject the use of armed revolt. He demonstrated this with his unqualified support for John Brown and other violent abolitionists, writing of Brown that “The question is not about the weapon, but the spirit in which you use it.” In the 1840s, the American abolitionist and advocate of nonresistance Henry Clarke Wright and his English follower Joseph Barker rejected the idea of governments and advocated a form of pacifist individualist anarchism. At some point anarcho-pacifism had as its main proponent Christian anarchism. The Tolstoyan movement in Russia was the first large-scale anarcho-pacifist movement. Violence has always been controversial in anarchism. While many anarchists embraced violent propaganda of the deed during the nineteenth century, anarcho-pacifists directly opposed violence as a means for change. Tolstoy argued that anarchism must be nonviolent since it is, by definition, opposition to coercion and force, and that since the state is inherently violent, meaningful pacifism must likewise be anarchistic. Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis was also instrumental in establishing the pacifist trend within the anarchist movement. In France anti-militarism appeared strongly in individualist anarchist circles, as Émile Armand co-founded “Ligue Antimilitariste” in December 1902 with fellow anarchists Georges YvetotHenri BeylieParaf-JavalAlbert Libertad and Émile Janvion. The Ligue antimilitariste was to become the French section of the Association internationale antimilitariste (AIA) founded in Amsterdam in 1904. Tolstoy’s philosophy was cited as a major inspiration by Mohandas Gandhi, an Indian independence leader and pacifist who self-identified as an anarchist. “Gandhi’s ideas were popularised in the West in books such as Richard Gregg‘s The Power of Nonviolence(1935), and Bart de Ligt‘s The Conquest of Violence (1937). The latter is particularly important for anarchists since, as one himself, de Ligt specifically addressed those who lust for revolution. ‘The more violence, the less revolution,’ he declared. He also linked Gandhian principled nonviolence with the pragmatic nonviolent direct action of the syndicalists. (The General Strike is an expression of total noncooperation by workers, though it should be added that most syndicalists believed that the revolution should be defended by armed workers.)” The Conquest of Violence alludes to Kropotkin’s The Conquest of BreadAs a global movement, anarchist pacifism emerged shortly before World War II in the NetherlandsUnited Kingdom and United States and was a strong presence in the subsequent campaigns for nuclear disarmament. The American writer Dwight Macdonald endorsed anarcho-pacifist views in the 1940s and used his journal politics to promote these ideas. For Andrew Cornell “Many young anarchists of this period departed from previous generations both by embracing pacifism and by devoting more energy to promoting avant-garde culture, preparing the ground for the Beat Generation in the process. The editors of the anarchist journal Retort, for instance, produced a volume of writings by WWII draft resistors imprisoned at Danbury, Connecticut, while regularly publishing the poetry and prose of writers such as Kenneth Rexroth and Norman Mailer. From the 1940s to the 1960s, then, the radical pacifist movement in the United States harbored both social democrats and anarchists, at a time when the anarchist movement itself seemed on its last legs.” A leading British anarcho-pacifist was Alex Comfort who considered himself “an aggressive anti-militarist,” and he believed that pacifism rested “solely upon the historical theory of anarchism.” He was an active member of CND. Among the works on anarchism by Comfort is Peace and Disobedience (1946), one of many pamphlets he wrote for Peace News and the Peace Pledge Union, and Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State (1950). He exchanged public correspondence with George Orwell defending pacifism in the open letter/poem “Letter to an American Visitor” under the pseudonym “Obadiah Hornbrooke.” “In the 1950s and 1960s anarcho-pacifism began to gel, tough-minded anarchists adding to the mixture their critique of the state, and tender-minded pacifists their critique of violence.”. Within the context of the emergence of the New Left and the Civil Rights Movement“several themes, theories, actions, all distinctly libertarian, began to come to the fore and were given intellectual expression by the American anarcho-pacifist, Paul Goodman.” Other notable anarcho-pacifist historical figures include Ammon HennacyDorothy Day and, for a brief period between 1939 and 1940, Jean-Paul Sartre. Dorothy Day, (November 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980) was an American journalist, social activist and devout Catholicconvert; she advocated the Catholic economic theory of distributism. She was also considered to be an anarchist, and did not hesitate to use the term. In the 1930s, Day worked closely with fellow activist Peter Maurin to establish the Catholic Worker movement, a nonviolent, pacifist movement that continues to combine direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf. The cause for Day’s canonization is open in the Catholic ChurchAmmon Hennacy (July 24, 1893 – January 14, 1970) was an American pacifist, Christian anarchist, vegetarian, social activist, member of the Catholic Worker Movement and a Wobbly. He established the “Joe Hill House of Hospitality” in Salt Lake City, Utah and practiced tax resistance. Charles-Auguste Bontempswas a prolific author mainly in the anarchist, freethinking, pacifist and naturist press of the time. His view on anarchism was based around his concept of “Social Individualism” on which he wrote extensively. He defended an anarchist perspective which consisted on “a collectivism of things and an individualism of persons.” Gérard de Lacaze-Duthiers was a French writer, art critic, pacifist and anarchist. Lacaze-Duthiers, an art critic for the Symbolist review journal La Plume, was influenced by Oscar WildeNietzsche and Max Stirner. His (1906) L’Ideal Humain de l’Art helped found the ‘Artistocracy’ movement – a movement advocating life in the service of art. His ideal was an anti-elitist aestheticism: “All men should be artists”. Jean-René Saulière (also René Saulière) (Bordeaux, September 6, 1911- January 2, 1999) was a French anarcho-pacifist, individualist anarchist and freethought writer and militant who went under the pseudonym André Arru. During the late 1950s he establishes inside the Fédération des Libres Penseurs des Bouches du Rhône, the Group Francisco Ferrer and in 1959 he joins the Union des Pacifistes de France (Union of Pacifists of France). From 1968 to 1982, Arru alongside the members of the Group Francisco Ferrer publishes La Libre Pensée des Bouches du RhôneMovement for a New Society (MNS), a national network of feminist radical pacifist collectives that existed from 1971 to 1988″, is sometimes identified as anarchist, although they did not identify themselves as such. For Andrew Cornell “MNS popularized consensus decision-making, introduced the spokescouncil method of organization to activists in the United States, and was a leading advocate of a variety of practices—communal living, unlearning oppressive behavior, creating co-operatively owned businesses—that are now often subsumed under the rubric of “prefigurative politics.” MNS leader George Lakey stated that, “The anarchists claim me but I’m always a little surprised when they do because I’m fond of social democracy as it’s been developed in Norway.” (Lakey has supported electoral politics, including the re-election of Barack Obama as U.S. president). From “An Anarchist FAQ“: “the attraction of pacifism to anarchists is clear. Violence is authoritarian and coercive, and so its use does contradict anarchist principles… (Errico) Malatesta is even more explicit when he wrote that the “main plank of anarchism is the removal of violence from human relations”. Anarcho-pacifists tend to see the state as ‘organised violence’ and so they see that “it would therefore seem logical that anarchists should reject all violence”. Anarcho-pacifism criticizes the separation between means and ends. “Means… must not merely be consistent with ends; this principle, though preferable to ‘the end justifies the means’, is based on a misleading dichotomy. Means are ends, never merely instrumental but also always expressive of values; means are end-creating or ends-in-the making”. An anarcho-pacifist critique of capitalism was provided by Bart de Ligt in his The Conquest of ViolenceAn Anarchist FAQ reports how “all anarchists would agree with de Ligt on, to use the name of one of his book’s chapters, “the absurdity of bourgeois pacifism.” For de Ligt, and all anarchists, violence is inherent in the capitalist system and any attempt to make capitalism pacifistic is doomed to failure. This is because, on the one hand, war is often just economic competition carried out by other means. Nations often go to war when they face an economic crisis, what they cannot gain in economic struggle they attempt to get by conflict. On the other hand, “violence is indispensable in modern society… [because] without it the ruling class would be completely unable to maintain its privileged position with regard to the exploited masses in each country. The army is used first and foremost to hold down the workers… when they become discontented.” [Bart de Ligt, Op. Cit., p. 62] As long as the state and capitalism exist, violence is inevitable and so, for anarcho-pacifists, the consistent pacifist must be an anarchist just as the consistent anarchist must be a pacifist.” A main component of anarcho-pacifist strategy is civil disobedience as advocated by the early anarchist thinker Henry David Thoreau in the essay of the same name from 1849 (although Thoreau strongly supported the gun rights and self-defense). Leo Tolstoy was influenced by it and he saw that a “great weapon for undermining (rather than overthrowing) the state was the refusal by individuals to cooperate with it and obey its immoral demands”. Also the concepts of passive and active resistance have relevance as they were developed later by Mohandas GandhiFor anarchist historian George Woodcock “the modern pacifist anarchists,…have tended to concentrate their attention largely on the creation of libertarian communities — particularly farming communities — within present society, as a kind of peaceful version of the propaganda by deed. They divide, however, over the question of action.”. Anarcho-pacifists can even accept “the principle of resistance and even revolutionary action (nonviolent revolution), provided it does not incur violence, which they see as a form of power and therefore nonanarchist in nature. This change in attitude has led the pacifist anarchists to veer toward the anarcho-syndicalists, since the latter’s concept of the general strike as the great revolutionary weapon made an appeal to those pacifists who accepted the need for fundamental social change but did not wish to compromise their ideal by the use of negative (i.e., violent) means.” ref

Anarcha-Feminism Origins?

Well, Mikhail Bakunin opposed patriarchy and the way the law “[subjected women] to the absolute domination of the man.” He argued that “[e]qual rights must belong to men and women” so that women could “become independent and be free to forge their own way of life.” Bakunin foresaw the end of “the authoritarian juridical family” and “the full sexual freedom of women.” Proudhon, on the other hand, viewed the family as the most basic unit of society and of his morality and believed that women had the responsibility of fulfilling a traditional role within the family. Since the 1860s, anarchism’s radical critique of capitalism and the state has been combined with a critique of patriarchy. Anarcha-feminists thus start from the precept that modern society is dominated by men. Authoritarian traits and values—domination, exploitation, aggression, competition, etc.—are integral to hierarchical civilizations and are seen as “masculine”. In contrast, non-authoritarian traits and values—cooperation, sharing, compassion, sensitivity—are regarded as “feminine”, and devalued. Anarcha-feminists have thus espoused creation of a non-authoritarian, anarchist society. They refer to the creation of a society, based on cooperation, sharing, mutual aid, etc. as the “feminization of society”. Anarcha-feminism began with late 19th and early 20th century authors and theorists such as anarchist feminists Emma GoldmanVoltairine de Cleyre and Lucy Parsons.]In the Spanish Civil War, an anarcha-feminist group, Mujeres Libres (“Free Women”), linked to the Federación Anarquista Ibérica, organized to defend both anarchist and feminist ideas. Stirnerist Nietzschean feminist Federica Montseny held that the “emancipation of women would lead to a quicker realization of the social revolution” and that “the revolution against sexism would have to come from intellectual and militant ‘future-women’”. According to this Nietzschean concept of Federica Montseny’s, women could “realize through art and literature the need to revise their own roles”. In China, the anarcha-feminist He Zhen argued that without women’s liberation, society could not be liberated. In Argentina, Virginia Bolten is responsible for the publication of a newspaper called La Voz de la Mujer (English: The Woman’s Voice), which was published nine times in Rosario between January 8, 1896 and January 1, 1897, and was briefly revived in 1901. A similar paper with the same name was reportedly published later in Montevideo, which suggests that Bolten may also have founded and edited it after her deportation. “La Voz de la Mujer” described itself as “dedicated to the advancement of Communist Anarchism”. Its central theme was the multiple natures of women’s oppression. An editorial asserted, “We believe that in present-day society, nothing and nobody has a more wretched situation than unfortunate women.” They said that women were doubly oppressed by both bourgeois society and men. Its beliefs can be seen from its attack on marriage and upon male power over women. Its contributors, like anarchist feminists elsewhere, developed a concept of oppression that focused on gender. They saw marriage as a bourgeois institution which restricted women’s freedom, including their sexual freedom. Marriages entered into without love, fidelity maintained through fear rather than desire, and oppression of women by men they hated were all seen as symptomatic of the coercion implied by the marriage contract. It was this alienation of the individual’s will that the anarchist feminists deplored and sought to remedy, initially through free love, and then more thoroughly through social revolution. Free love advocates sometimes traced their roots back to Josiah Warren and to experimental communities, which viewed sexual freedom as a clear, direct expression of an individual’s self-ownership. Free love particularly stressed women’s rights since most sexual laws discriminated against women, such as marriage laws and anti-birth control measures. The most important American free love journal was Lucifer the Lightbearer (1883–1907), edited by Moses Harman and Lois Waisbrooker. Ezra and Angela Heywood’s The Word was also published from 1872–1890 and in 1892–1893. M. E. Lazarus was also an important American individualist anarchist who promoted free love. In Europe, the main propagandist of free love within individualist anarchism was Émile Armand. He proposed the concept of la camaraderie amoureuse – to speak of free love as the possibility of voluntary sexual encounter between consenting adults. He was also a consistent proponent of polyamory. In France there was also feminist activity inside French individualist anarchism as promoted by individualist feminists Marie Küge, Anna Mahé, Rirette Maîtrejean, and Sophia Zaïkovska. Brazilian individualist anarchist Maria Lacerda de Moura lectured on topics such as education, women’s rightsfree love, and antimilitarism. Her writings and essays landed her attention not only in Brazil, but also in Argentina and Uruguay. In February 1923 she launched Renascença, a periodical linked with the anarchist, progressive, and freethinking circles of the period. Her thought was mainly influenced by individualist anarchists such as Han Ryner and Émile Armand. Voltairine de Cleyre (November 17, 1866 – June 20, 1912) was an American anarchist writer and feminist. She was a prolific writer and speaker, opposing the state, marriage, and the domination of religion in sexuality and women’s lives. She began her activist career in the freethought movement. De Cleyre was initially drawn to individualist anarchism but evolved through mutualism to an “anarchism without adjectives.” She was a colleague of Emma Goldman, with whom she respectfully disagreed with on many issues. Many of her essays were in the Collected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre, published posthumously by Mother Earth in 1914. In her 1895 lecture entitled Sex Slavery, de Cleyre condemns ideals of beauty that encourage women to distort their bodies and child socialization practices that create unnatural gender roles. The title of the essay refers not to traffic in women for purposes of prostitution, although that is also mentioned, but rather to marriage laws that allow men to rape their wives without consequences. Such laws make “every married woman what she is, a bonded slave, who takes her master’s name, her master’s bread, her master’s commands, and serves her master’s passions”. Although she was hostile to first-wave feminism and its suffragist goals, Emma Goldman advocated passionately for the rights of women, and is today heralded as a founder of anarcha-feminism. In 1897 she wrote: “I demand the independence of woman, her right to support herself; to live for herself; to love whomever she pleases, or as many as she pleases. I demand freedom for both sexes, freedom of action, freedom in love and freedom in motherhood.” In 1906, Goldman wrote a piece entitled “The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation” in which she argued that traditional suffragists and first-wave feminists were achieving only a superficial good for women by pursuing the vote and a movement from the home sphere. In it she writes that in the ideal world women would be free to pursue their own destinies, yet “emancipation of woman, as interpreted and practically applied today, has failed to reach that great end.” She pointed to the “so-called independence” of the modern woman whose true nature—her love and mother instincts—were rebuked and stifled by the suffragist and early feminist movements. Goldman’s arguments in this text are arguably much more in line with the ideals of modern third-wave feminismthan with the feminism of her time, especially given her emphasis on allowing women to pursue marriage and motherhood if they so desired. In Goldman’s eyes, the early twentieth century idea of the emancipated woman had a “tragic effect upon the inner life of woman” by restricting her from fully fulfilling her nature and having a well-rounded life with a companion in marriage. A nurse by training, Goldman was an early advocate for educating women about birth control. Like many contemporary feminists, she saw abortion as a tragic consequence of social conditions, and birth control as a positive alternative. Goldman was also an advocate of free love, and a strong critic of marriage. She saw early feminists as confined in their scope and bounded by social forces of Puritanism and capitalism. She wrote: “We are in need of unhampered growth out of old traditions and habits. The movement for women’s emancipation has so far made but the first step in that direction.”[23][24] When Margaret Sanger, an advocate of access to birth control, coined the term “birth control” and disseminated information about various methods in the June 1914 issue of her magazine The Woman Rebel, she received aggressive support from Goldman. Sanger was arrested in August under the Comstock laws, which prohibited the dissemination of “obscene, lewd, or lascivious articles”—including information relating to birth control. Although they later split from Sanger over charges of insufficient support, Goldman and Reitman distributed copies of Sanger’s pamphlet Family Limitation (along with a similar essay of Reitman’s). In 1915, Goldman conducted a nationwide speaking tour in part to raise awareness about contraception options. Although the nation’s attitude toward the topic seemed to be liberalizing, Goldman was arrested in February 1916 and charged with violation of the Comstock Law. Refusing to pay a $100 fine, she spent two weeks in a prison workhouse, which she saw as an “opportunity” to reconnect with those rejected by society. Goldman was also an outspoken critic of prejudice against homosexuals. Her belief that social liberation should extend to gay men and lesbians was virtually unheard of at the time, even among anarchists. As Magnus Hirschfeld wrote, “she was the first and only woman, indeed the first and only American, to take up the defense of homosexual love before the general public.” In numerous speeches and letters, she defended the right of gay men and lesbians to love as they pleased and condemned the fear and stigma associated with homosexuality. As Goldman wrote in a letter to Hirschfeld, “It is a tragedy, I feel, that people of a different sexual type are caught in a world which shows so little understanding for homosexuals and is so crassly indifferent to the various gradations and variations of gender and their great significance in life.” Milly Witkop was a Ukrainian-born Jewish anarcho-syndicalist, feminist writer and activist. She was the common-law wife of Rudolf Rocker. In November 1918, Witkop and Rocker moved to Berlin; Rocker had been invited by Free Association of German Trade Unions (FVdG) chairman Fritz Kater to join him in building up what would become the Free Workers’ Union of Germany (FAUD), an anarcho-syndicalist trade union. Both Rocker and Witkop became members of the FAUD. After its founding in early 1919, a discussion about the role of girls and women in the union started. The male-dominated organization had at first ignored gender issues, but soon women started founding their own unions, which were organized parallel to the regular unions, but still formed part of the FAUD. Witkop was one of the leading founders of the Women’s Union in Berlin in 1920. On October 15, 1921, the women’s unions held a national congress in Düsseldorf and the Syndicalist Women’s Union (SFB) was founded on a national level. Shortly thereafter, Witkop drafted Was will der Syndikalistische Frauenbund? (What Does the Syndicalist Women’s Union Want?) as a platform for the SFB. From 1921, the Frauenbund was published as a supplement to the FAUD organ Der Syndikalist, Witkop was one of its primary writers. Witkop reasoned that proletarian women were exploited not only by capitalism like male workers, but also by their male counterparts. She contended therefore that women must actively fight for their rights, much like workers must fight capitalism for theirs. She also insisted on the necessity of women taking part in class struggle. Housewives could use boycotts to support this struggle. From this, she concluded the necessity of an autonomous women’s organization in the FAUD. Witkop also held that domestic work should be deemed equally valuable to wage labor. Mujeres Libres (English: Free Women) was an anarchist women’s organization in Spain that aimed to empower working class women. It was founded in 1936 by Lucía Sánchez SaornilMercedes Comaposada and Amparo Poch y Gascón and had approximately 30,000 members. The organization was based on the idea of a “double struggle” for women’s liberation and social revolution and argued that the two objectives were equally important and should be pursued in parallel. In order to gain mutual support, they created networks of women anarchists. Flying day-care centres were set up in efforts to involve more women in union activities. The organization also produced propaganda through radio, traveling libraries and propaganda tours, in order to promote their cause. Organizers and activists traveled through rural parts of Spain to set up rural collectives and support for women. To prepare women for leadership roles in the anarchist movement, they organized schools, women-only social groups and a women-only newspaper to help women gain self-esteem and confidence in their abilities and network with one another to develop their political consciousness. Many of the female workers in Spain were illiterate and the Mujeres Libres sought to educate them through literacy programs, technically oriented classes, and social studies classes. Schools were also created for train nurses to help injured in emergency medical clinics. Medical classes also provided women with information on sexual health and pre and post-natal care. The Mujeres Libres also created a woman run magazine to keep all of its members informed. The first monthly issue of Mujeres Libres was published on May 20, 1936 (ack 100). However the magazine only had 14 issues. The last issue was still being printed when the civil war battlefront reached Barcelona, and no copies survived. The magazine addressed working class women and focused on “awakening the female conscience toward libertarian ideas.” Lucía Sánchez Saornil (December 13, 1895 – June 2, 1970), was a Spanish poet, militant anarchist and feminist. She is best known as one of the founders of Mujeres Libres. She served in the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista (SIA). By 1919, she had been published in a variety of journals, including Los QuijotesTablerosPluralManantial and La Gaceta Literaria. Working under a male pen name, she was able to explore lesbian themes[35] at a time when homosexuality was criminalized and subject to censorship and punishment. Writing in anarchist publications such as Earth and Freedom, the White Magazine and Workers’ Solidarity, Lucía outlined her perspective as a feminist. Although quiet on the subject of birth control, she attacked the essentialism of gender roles in Spanish society. In this way, Lucía established herself as one of the most radical of voices among anarchist women, rejecting the ideal of female domesticity which remained largely unquestioned. In a series of articles for Workers’ Solidarity, she boldly refuted Gregorio Marañón‘s identification of motherhood as the nucleus of female identity. An important aspect of anarcha-feminism is its opposition to traditional concepts of family, education and gender rolesThe institution of marriage is one of the most widely opposed. De Cleyre argued that marriage stifled individual growth, and Goldman argued that it “is primarily an economic arrangement… [woman] pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life.”[40] Anarcha-feminists have also argued for non-hierarchical family and educational structures, and had a prominent role in the creation of the Modern School in New York City, based on the ideas of Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia“The Fine Art of Labeling: The Convergence of Anarchism, Feminism, and Bisexuality”, by Lucy Friedland and Liz Highleyman, is a piece in Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out (1991), an anthology edited by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka’ahumanuwhich is one of the seminal books[42] in the history of the modern bisexual rights movement. Contemporary anarcha-feminism has been noted for its heavy influence on ecofeminism.”Ecofeminists rightly note that except for anarcha-feminist, no feminist perspective has recognized the importance of healing the nature/culture division.” Contemporary anarcha-feminist writers/theorists include Maria MiesPeggy KorneggerL. Susan Brown, the eco-feminist Starhawk and the post-left anarchist and anarcho-primitivist Lilith. In the past decades two films have been produced about anarcha-feminism. Libertarias is a historical drama made in 1996 about the Spanish anarcha-feminist organization Mujeres Libres. In 2010 the argentinian film Ni dios, ni patrón, ni marido was released which is centered on the story of anarcha-feminist Virginia Bolten and her publishing of the newspaper La Voz de la Mujer(English: The Woman’s Voice). Ref


Planned Parenthood and Anarchy

“Margaret Higgins Sanger (born Margaret Louise Higgins, September 14, 1879 – September 6, 1966, also known as Margaret Sanger Slee) was an American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse. Sanger popularized the term “birth control”, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 1911, after a fire destroyed their home in Hastings-on-Hudson, the Sangers abandoned the suburbs for a new life in New York City. Margaret Sanger worked as a visiting nurse in the slums of the East Side, while her husband worked as an architect and a house painter. Already imbued with her husband’s leftist politics, Margaret Sanger also threw herself into the radical politics and modernist values of pre-World War I Greenwich Village bohemia. She joined the Women’s Committee of the New York Socialist party, took part in the labor actions of the Industrial Workers of the World (including the notable 1912 Lawrence textile strike and the 1913 Paterson silk strike) and became involved with local intellectuals, left-wing artists, socialists and social activists, including John ReedUpton SinclairMabel Dodge and Emma GoldmanSanger’s political interests, emerging feminism and nursing experience led her to write two series of columns on sex education entitled “What Every Mother Should Know” (1911–12) and “What Every Girl Should Know” (1912–13) for the socialist magazine New York Call. By the standards of the day, Sanger’s articles were extremely frank in their discussion of sexuality, and many New York Call readers were outraged by them. Other readers, however, praised the series for its candor. One stated that the series contained “a purer morality than whole libraries full of hypocritical cant about modesty”. Both were published in book form in 1916. During her work among working-class immigrant women, Sanger met women who underwent frequent childbirth, miscarriages and self-induced abortions for lack of information on how to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Access to contraceptive information was prohibited on grounds of obscenity by the 1873 federal Comstock law and a host of state laws. Seeking to help these women, Sanger visited public libraries, but was unable to find information on contraception. In 1914 Sanger launched The Woman Rebel, an eight-page monthly newsletter which promoted contraception using the slogan “No Gods, No Masters“. Sanger, collaborating with anarchist friends, popularized the term “birth control” as a more candid alternative to euphemisms such as “family limitation” and proclaimed that each woman should be “the absolute mistress of her own body.” In these early years of Sanger’s activism, she viewed birth control as a free-speech issue, and when she started publishing The Woman Rebel, one of her goals was to provoke a legal challenge to the federal anti-obscenity laws which banned dissemination of information about contraception. Though postal authorities suppressed five of its seven issues, Sanger continued publication, all the while preparing Family Limitation, another challenge to anti-birth control laws. This 16-page pamphlet contained detailed and precise information and graphic descriptions of various contraceptive methods. In August 1914 Margaret Sanger was indicted for violating postal obscenity laws by sending The Woman Rebel through the postal system. Rather than stand trial, she fled the country.” Ref


Anarchy and Atheism?

Anarchy atheism: advocate of freethought and anti-religious activism. If you don’t believe any god should control you, you shouldn’t believe any other human being should believe in a sky king or supernatural master and more than human kings or masters. An anarchist would most likely be atheist, anti-theist, agnostic or apatheist believing there should be no rulers thus reject god whether they think one does or doesn’t exist. Certainly excludes rulers like gods, kings, or the state. Anarchy atheism likewise could be anti-religion as well seeing parallels between organized religion external control instead of the individual (even if god was removed) and the state (the primary target of most anarchists) are striking thus rejected. Politicians and preachers are one and the same: both work for a higher power than you, money and power. Ultimately, anarchy to atheism, goes past a simple atheism tendency to only attack god, while ignoring the state, capital, and other possible forms of domination, when anarchy atheists believe they have to attack all of it. Ref


Why not just “Humanism”?

Back to the statment on Humanism which is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism). However, the meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated, according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it. Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of a “human nature” (sometimes contrasted with antihumanism). Ref
 
To me saying I need to use the term humanism instead of the term feminism, is like when I say I am an atheist someone saying they are a skeptic or rationalist or that I need to use those terms instead of the term atheist. Sure, I am a rationalist, a methodological skeptic and an atheist too, it all has different and needed meanings. One can be all the above but one does not enplane the other and also be a feminist. To reference this further like when I say I am for LGBTQI rights, them saying they are a humanist and that should cover everything leaving no need to say anything more, like singling out LGBTQI rights. To me feminism and LGBTQI rights both fall under multiculturalism. To me after taking multiculturalism classes in collage for my degree in psychology it was like 15 to 20 people and it was all women and only three who were not and I was surprised that when I brought up feminism and issues of limited sexual binary thinking (homophobia, internalized homophobia, transphobia, genderqueerphobia and intersexphobia) I was attacked and challenged especially about feminism which some said was not even needed anymore. Likewise, they seemed to feel they were being multicultural just focusing on race. And one man the only person openly gay started to support me some but manly on homophobia, however, even he had not heard about genderqueer; though he was open to learn. What I started to think is one cannot truly be multicultural unless they are culturally multiple and even then we must realize we are often culturally encapsulated and thus bit only must listen and learn from others of other cultures or countercultures we must see we may even if unintentionally be culturally biased in our thinking or approach to multiculturalism in general.

Here is a complimentary blog post: Rhetoric & Stereotypes: Rethinking How We Think


I am an Axiological Atheist, with a Rationalist Persuasion, who Supports Anarcho-Humanism