Defence of anarchism

Issue 

The article "Socialism versus Anarchism" [Resistance, February 10] was so full of popular misconceptions and half truths, that we members of the group "Consciously Anarchists" felt it was imperative to submit a reply.

Even before beginning the article the author's choice of title belies their antagonism towards anarchist philosophy. The title is an oxymoron because anarchism is socialism with added respect towards the individual as a self regulatory being within society.

Unlike the authors we disagree that a state is necessary to reorganise society in the interests of those who create society's wealth, that is the working class. In the Spanish revolution of 193639 anarchists ran schools, hospitals, transport, communication systems, women's groups and workers militias not only without the state, but without the bosses. These achievements were made while fighting local and foreign fascists as well as Social Democrats and Communists.

The Spanish anarchists started the libertarian communist revolution from the first hours of July 19, 1936, fully knowing that if they waited for some mythic transitory period between capitalism and socialism, that political opponents of every persuasion would hijack the revolution and use it to further their own reformist ends. They learnt this from the Russian revolution of 1917 where the Bolsheviks seized power in the name of the working class and then proceeded to consolidate their position of power, brutally suppressing those who refused to toe the party line, and laying the foundations for the purges and massacres to come.

The authors also state that "when the wealth of society has been fully redistributed and classes no longer exist, the state will whither away because it will no longer be necessary". This certainly did not happen under the Bolsheviks who became a bureaucratic leader class, destroying workers councils and other forms of working class self activity and replacing them with piece rates and former capitalist factory managers. In reality the Bolsheviks strengthened the state using the threat of hostile class forces as an excuse to destroy libertarian opposition, such as when Trotsky ordered the slaughter of the anarchist Makhnovists and the rebellious Kronstadt sailors.

In the last section of the article the authors dredge up the tired old leftist argument implying that anarchists are lifestylist individuals more concerned about not eating meat than smashing the state. Particularly snide were the comments against Food Not Bombs (FNB). The authors belittle FNB as being a "radical charity" revealing their contempt towards the poor. FNB exists because the government would sooner see the poor starve and because they see the future socialist society being constructed exactly by these people.

We agree the debate between anarchism and authoritarian socialism is an old one. However, to quote Bakunin "freedom without socialism is privilege — socialism without freedom is slavery". Therefore, we do believe that it is through non-authoritarian socialism (anarchism) that humans can achieve liberation.

Consciously Anarchists [abridged]