Mick Armstrong's Gross Distortion of Anarchism.
anarchist movement |
Tuesday July 31, 2007 21:42 by W. - WSM (pers cap)
A reply to "Is there anything radical about anarchism?"
In a recent article published on the ‘Socialist Democracy’ website Mick Armstrong presents a brief overview of the spectrum of thought within the anarchist movement, focussing his argument against strawmen including anarchist-capitalists and lifestylists.
There are trends within anarchism to be critiqued and for the most part it is anarchists doing this work, a criticism based on straw-men however brings nothing to the battle of ideas. Had Mick criticised primitivism, crimethinc or insurrectionism he might have displayed even a slight knowledge of his subject matter.
While failing to mention one of the strongest and most political trends within the anarchist movement, anarchist-communism, Mick presents the dominant form of anarchism as ‘lifestyle anarchism’ which “in turn merge into ‘autonomism‘ and/or the masked Black Blocs with their terrorist-style antics”. A mention of the centuries dead propaganda-by-the-deed strategy forced me to re-check the date the article was published. No such groups hold any sway within anarchism.
Mick references Murray Bookchin’s brilliant polemic ‘Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism – An Unbridgeable Chasm’, a piece which attacks the anarchist movement of the early 90’s in North America, which I fully agree with. Lifestylism is still a force within anarchism in North America but this just isn’t true for many other places where anarchism is an organised political force.
If Mick was seeking to critique only North American anarchism and a certain section of European anarchism then his article might have some relevance, his flaw however is assuming these trends are global and not isolated in certain regions.
Syndicalism gets a passing mention as the ‘socialist’ end of the spectrum and is dismissed for not having a political outlook, a critique which anarchist communists would partially share. His dismissal of syndicalism as a minority trend and his attempt to down-play the ‘socialist’ aspects of the anarchist movement betray a deep ignorance on his part.
Could anyone with knowledge of groups like Spain’s CNT and CGT or even the recent growth of the IWA, the anarchist-syndicalist international, honestly believe that syndicalism was a foot-note to the movement? The recent rebirth of industrial unionism in North America, where anarchist militants have moved away from the bourgeois individualist ideologies of Crimethinc and Hakim Bey, has seen the rebirth of the IWW.
It is when discussing leadership and methods of organising that Mick portrays his complete misunderstanding of the movement. Apparently, rejecting Leninist centralisation and vanguard leadership, leaves us organising in ‘secret, elite bands’ backing this up with a reference to Bakunin, an anarchist who lived under Czarist Russia and spent many years in prison for his organising efforts. While Bakunin is wrong it is possible to see why organising secretly may have been a priority at the time, Lenin also organised in secret for a while.
Anarchists no longer organise in secret bands, neither are we opposed to organising, debating or electing accountable comrades for specific roles. The platformist current within anarchist-communism sees the role of the anarchist organisation in a very different way to Mick. Operating on the basic principles of ideological unity, tactical unity, collective action and discipline, and federalism. Platformism considers itself the organised tendency within anarchism and is growing in Ireland, North America, Latin American countries like Chile and even in the UK.
Platformists see the importance of intervening politically in workers and social struggles and presenting their ideas but we do not see revolution coming from a vanguard party of the ‘most advanced workers’. Perhaps Socialist Democracy should better learn the lessons of history that are winning so many revolutionary youths over to the anarchist cause.
Instead platformists believe the emancipation of the proletariat must be the job of the proletariat, with all power exercised through their own democratic, revolutionary, organs - workers councils. It is true that authority must be defeated with authority, the authority of the ruling class met with the authority of the workers but the existence of a revolutionary vanguard assuming to form a dictatorship on behalf of the Proletariat has not and can never work.
“The emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself.”
Anarchism, insurrections and insurrectionalism
Civilisation, Primitivism and anarchism
Your politics are bourgeois as fuck – rethinking crimethinc
The IBT pamphlet ‘Platformism & Bolshevism’ a polemic against platformist anarchism
Reply written by a young anarchist to the article published at - http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentIsThereAnythingRadicalAboutAnarchism.html