Some on-line copies of "The North American Anarchist", publication of the Anarchist-Communist Federation of North America (ACF).
1. "North American Anarchist:The Newspaper Dedicated To Direct Action", Vol. 1, No. 1, October / November 1979 --- https://issuu.com/randalljaykay/docs/northamericananarchistvol1no1octnov
2. "North American Anarchist", Vol. 1, No. 3, February / March 1980
3. "North American Anarchist", Vol, 1, No. 4, April / May 1980 ----- https://issuu.com/randalljaykay/docs/northamericananarchistaprilmay1980.
4. "North American Anarchist", Vol. 1, No. 5, June / July 1980 --- https://issuu.com/dragonflyarchive/docs/northamericananarchistvol1no5juneju
5. "North American Anarchist", Vol. 1, No. 7, October - November 1980 --- https://issuu.com/dragonflyarchive/docs/northamericananarchistvol1no7octnov
6. "North American Anarchist", Vol. 1, No. 9, March - April 1981 --- https://issuu.com/dragonflyarchive/docs/northamericananarchistvol1no9marapr
7. "North American Anarchist", Vol. 1, No. 10, May - June 1981 --- https://issuu.com/dragonflyarchive/docs/northamericananarchistvol1no10mayju
La Carta Opinión de la Federación Anarquista Uruguaya del mes de agosto 2018.
Estaba fijado para el 25 de julio un paro de 24 horas, votado por una Mesa Representativa del PITCNT que también aprobó un paro parcial con movilización para el pasado 28 de junio. Ambas paralizaciones estaban en el marco de la lucha presupuestal.
Sin embargo, ante la declaración de huelga para el 6 de agosto de la Federación de Funcionarios de Salud Pública y las movilizaciones previas generadas por dicha Federación, el Poder Ejecutivo otorga una partida de 70 millones de pesos, con lo cual se destraba el conflicto y la huelga queda sin efecto. Otro tanto realizó directamente Tabaré Vázquez luego de varias reuniones con la Federación Uruguaya de Magisterio, presupuestando a 300 auxiliares de servicio de las escuelas.
Estos avances no dejan de ser importantes, pero son por demás insuficientes. Recordemos que esta Rendición de Cuentas viene a “completar” el Presupuesto 2015-2020, ya que el gobierno presentó un Presupuesto originalmente para 2016 y 2017, y en cada Rendición de Cuentas se va completando el presupuesto del quinquenio. Algo inédito en la historia de nuestro país. La Rendición de Cuentas presenta números nuevos para el Presupuesto y no un ajuste de los mismos, como ocurre habitualmente. Ello permitió que el gobierno procesara un verdadero achique del presupuesto en ciertos rubros, por más que haya aumentado en términos globales. Esta maniobra les permitió también reducir el ritmo de crecimiento que había tenido el presupuesto en el período anterior.
Igualmente, el crecimiento del Presupuesto o su aumento -mayor en el período anterior, menor en éste- no va a parar a los bolsillos populares. El rubro que más ha aumentado es el Ministerio del Interior, con la tecnificación que ha recibido la Policía, y ahora con el pago de la nocturnidad. Se gasta más hoy en “seguridad” que en educación, salud y vivienda. Un policía que recién ingresa gana más que un maestro o un enfermero. Ello habla a las claras de las prioridades de la política económica y social del gobierno y de todo el sistema político.
Pero lo llamativo ha sido que mientras sigue en debate la Rendición de Cuentas (última de este período de gobierno hasta 2020) y se dice con total desparpajo desde el gobierno que no se va cumplir con la promesa del 6% del PBI para la enseñanza y que se va a violar el Convenio Colectivo firmado con los sindicatos de dicho sector, el Secretariado Ejecutivo del PITCNT proponga a la Mesa Representativa -y ésta apruebe- levantar el paro general de 24 horas del 25 de julio y realizarlo el 22 de agosto en el marco de los Consejos de Salarios.
Tengamos en cuenta que esta Rendición de Cuentas valida las PPP, con lo cual no se invierte un sólo peso en obra pública de ningún tipo, y se abre un inmenso espacio al capital privado en materia de infraestructura y de su posterior gestión. ¿Esto no es una privatización?
La política de desarrollo de las PPP ha atravesado a todo tipo de gobiernos en América Latina desde el 2000 a hoy. Es bueno tener en cuenta su articulación regional vinculada a intereses imperiales, incluso. Caso notorio del Plan IIRSA (Integración de la Infraestructura Regional Sud Americana).
Heber Nieto: mártir estudiantil, ejemplo de lucha y compromiso con los de abajo
Otro 14 de agosto, otro día de conmemoración de los “Mártires Estudiantiles” y su lucha. En años del “Pachecato” (1968-1972), período donde se procesó un fuerte ajuste económico contra el pueblo y se lo reprimía con dureza bajo “Medidas Prontas de Seguridad”, ese “Estado de Excepción” permanente, por el cual se gaseaba, apaleaba, encarcelaba y militarizaba a obreros y estudiantes.
La lucha por el salario, trabajo, libertades, abría camino a una lucha más profunda: por un cambio profundo de sociedad. Eran tiempos donde estaba vigente la Revolución Cubana y la voluntad revolucionaria del Che, el “Cordobazo”, la guerrilla en Colombia y Venezuela, la resistencia de los pueblos a los golpes de Estado e invasiones de los marines de Estados Unidos. El movimiento obrero fuerte y con una experiencia y tradición de 100 años. En ese marco, irrumpe una generación de jóvenes de Secundaria y UTU como una marea incontenible en la lucha callejera.
Era de primer orden la lucha por el boleto estudiantil. En el marco de crisis generalizada, los hogares obreros no podían sustentar el transporte a sus hijos para que estudiaran, justo en momentos de explosión de la matrícula estudiantil. Varias movilizaciones de los diversos gremios estudiantiles tenían ese reclamo como central. Todo ello iba de la mano de una natural alianza “obrero -estudiantil”, que se verificaba en el apoyo de los estudiantes en forma masiva a las luchas obreras, como en FUNSA, por mencionar un ejemplo. Y viceversa.
El 14 de agosto de 1968 muere por balas policiales Líber Arce, al mes siguiente Susana Pintos y Hugo de los Santos. En 1971 sería asesinado nuestro compañero Heber Nieto, conocido como “El Monje”, por su estilo austero y modesto, pero siempre solidario y dispuesto a dar una mano. Su asesinato constituye toda una muestra del accionar policial y del sadismo con que atacaban al pueblo. En momentos en que estudiantes de la UTU IEC apoyados por otros estudiantes, construían salones conquistados con lucha, otros estudiantes realizaban un peaje en apoyo al conflicto de los obreros papeleros de CICSSA. Tras un primer enfrentamiento a pedradas con varios “tiras” de Inteligencia, éstos rodean la IEC y desde el edificio en construcción del BPS (frente a la UTU), un francotirador dispara sobre Heber Nieto, cayendo muerto al instante.
“El Monje” era militante de ROE (Resistencia Obrero- Estudiantil) y de FAU, comprometido con el desarrollo de ambas organizaciones y de la lucha. Tenía 17 años. Luchaba por el Socialismo y la Libertad. “Con tu brazo constructor de nuevas aulas”, como le cantaría Carlos Molina, pintaba muy bien la calidad de militante, de joven que era Heber. Un militante de intención revolucionaria con todas las letras. Tomar su ejemplo, continuar su lucha, es un buen legado para nuevas generaciones de jóvenes militantes.
Filtro: todo está guardado en la memoria
Un año más… Van 24 años de aquella noche en que nuestro pueblo demostró que la solidaridad no tiene fronteras. Donde una pueblada se hizo presente defendiendo el derecho de asilo de los ciudadanos vascos. La historia es conocida: represión, palos, heridos y dos muertos. Dos compañeros muertos. Y a partir de ese día, una memoria que no olvida. Una memoria que hoy como ayer denuncia el aparato represivo, que sigue intacto desde la dictadura, lo cual quedó demostrado esa noche. Ese aparato represivo, hoy más tecnificado pero igual de ensañado con los de abajo.
Continuamos denunciando a Gianola y Lacalle como responsables de estas muertes y a quienes esa noche dispararon y hoy gozan de total impunidad. Algo que se quiere hacer costumbre con todos los asesinos de nuestro pueblo pero que no vamos a permitir porque nuestra memoria es porfiada y no olvida ni perdona.
Tampoco olvidamos que muchos de quienes esa noche convocaron a nuestro pueblo, hoy miran a un costado a la hora de esclarecer el caso.
Por todo lo que esta fecha significa, por toda la resistencia que implica, por Fernando Moroni y por Roberto Facal marcharemos nuevamente este 24 de agosto junto a Norma Morroni.
Argentina: más que un triunfo de la reacción, triunfo de la lucha en la calle
Dentro de lo variopinto de la “marea verde”, no podemos menos que saludar a las organizaciones feministas populares que con organización y lucha arrimaron a cientos de miles de personas y organizaciones del pueblo a las puertas del Congreso a exigir la despenalización del aborto, oponiendo resistencia a la reacción y a la Iglesia, para que las de abajo dejen de morir a causa de abortos caseros y clandestinos. Si bien en el Senado triunfó la reacción en la calle, las de abajo ganaron en lucha y organización.
La CIA y un nuevo intento
En Venezuela la CIA incrementa su accionar en un intento de asesinato con drones al presidente Maduro. Esta agencia, a la que no le importa nada, tiene en su siniestro haber los homicidios de Torrijos, Allende, y del propio Keneddy. Pero sabemos que han sido y son muchísimas más las formas de intervención que la CIA y EEUU en general tienen en América Latina, por ejemplo, apoyando las dictaduras sangrientas y asesinas de nuestros pueblos. Así que nada nuevo bajo el sol. Solo la resistencia y la lucha de los pueblos triunfará sobre el imperialismo.
Tiempos de Resistencia
Sí, son tiempos de Resistencia, de lucha. A pesar de todo: del momento de “chatura” general, de cierto descreimiento, desgano, apatía. Pero, sobre todo, para contrarrestar la ya iniciada campaña electoral, que se ha largado a todo vapor con la danza de nombres, cenas, encuentros y conversas que lejos están de atender los problemas populares. El pueblo no tiene candidato, nuestra única “candidatura” es la lucha popular organizada por más conquistas y avances sociales y organizativos.
Esta lucha que hoy lleva adelante el movimiento popular, tanto por la Rendición de Cuentas como en los Consejos de Salarios, debe ser un importante punto de referencia para avanzar y acumular fuerzas. Vencer el desgano y descreimiento, organizar la militancia y fortalecer las instancias organizativas de cada sindicato, de cada gremio estudiantil, de cada cooperativa de vivienda, cada organización barrial, etc.
Estamos en medio de un trayecto histórico complejo en nuestro país: tenemos dos años por delante claves para ir cimentando un pueblo fuerte, que, en primera instancia, deberá enfrentar el ajuste que se ya se está procesando lentamente, a ritmo uruguayo. De hecho, las declaraciones del ministro Astori de que esta es la primer Rendición de Cuentas sin pensar en la campaña electoral, es decir, aumento del gasto para captar votos, es un reconocimiento de que no hay aumento de gastos sociales. Ese ajuste lento, por goteo, continuará a partir de la asunción del próximo gobierno y tal vez, se profundice.
Ya es hora de poner el acento en la construcción de un pueblo fuerte y no de fortalecer el gobierno. Los gobiernos cambian, van unos y vienen otros, pero los pueblos siempre están, siempre resisten y mantienen en alto esa Resistencia porfiada que alumbra un mañana distinto, un mañana de Socialismo y Libertad.
Son tiempos de Resistencia, son tiempos de Lucha y de Organización…
¡A DERROTAR LAS PAUTAS EN ESTOS CONSEJOS DE SALARIOS!
¡POR UN PRESUPUESTO PARA LAS NECESIDADES POPULARES!
POR LA CONSTRUCCIÓN DE PODER POPULAR
FEDERACIÓN ANARQUISTA URUGUAYA
A review of the nature of the State as understood by anarchists, especially as proposed by the tendency called "post-anarchism." This is done through a review of the opinions of Saul Newman, a leading proponent of post-anarchism, in his work, "Anarchism, Marxism, and the Bonapartist State." The post-anarchist view is opposed by the class theory of the state, versions of which are raised by traditional, revolutionary anarchists and by Marx.
A key question for any political theory is its conception of the state. This includes the view of the state by the trend calling itself “post-anarchism.” This name does not refer to being “after” or “beyond” anarchism. Mainly it refers to attempted integrations of anarchism with the philosophical views of post-structuralism and postmodernism, as developed by certain French philosophers (May 1994; Russell & Evren 2011). According to Ruth Kinna,“Anarchism’s third, post-anarchist, wave [is] usually dated to the rise of the alter-globalization movement in the late 1990s….
” (Kinna 2017; 25) It was not so much a change in organizing strategies as a new theoretical approach. “Post-anarchism is not only one of the most significant currents to emerge within contemporary anarchist thought in recent years, it also has ‘evident affinities’ with small-a anarchist movement politics.” (36) In this paper, I am looking at the post-anarchists’ political thinking and not on their background philosophies (in philosophy, I prefer a radicalized version of John Dewey’s pragmatism; Price 2014).
One of the most prominent post-anarchist theorists is Saul Newman
. He has written a number of important books and essays on the subject. One essay (Newman 2004) concentrates on the nature of the state. It directly confronts the class theory of the state (also called the “materialist” or “historical materialist” theory of the state). This is a subject on which I have recently written (Price 2018). His is different from many other post-anarchist writings which emphasize that the state is not the only source of power, but that power is created in many places. “Foucault argues that the state is a kind of discursive illusion that masks the radically dispersed nature of power
….” (Newman 2004; 23) Newman does not quite agree with this. He takes the state seriously. Whether or not a network of power is a useful model of society, the state still exists and needs to be analyzed. For this reason, I think it would be useful to examine this particular post-anarchist work.
In his essay, Newman never actually defines what he means by the state. I have found the same to be true in other post-anarchist writings. Let me then define the state
as a bureaucratic-military social machine, composed of specialized officials, bureaucrats, and armed people, separate from and standing over the mass of people.
This is a different matter than just any possible social system of coordination, policy deciding, dispute settling, or even defense from anti-social aggression. All these things existed for thousands of years among humans before the state arose and will exist after it is abolished. It is the state as an elite socially-alienated bureaucratic-military institution which is connected to the capitalist system and all other systems of oppression.
Anarchism and Marxism on the Class Theory of the State
It would be easy to contrast anarchism with Marxist-Leninism, that is, with the recent and current Stalinist states of the USSR, Maoist China, North Korea, etc. These states were founded by people calling themselves “Marxist” and supposed champions of the “working class.” Yet they were state-capitalist, mass-murdering, totalitarianisms. But Karl Marx, a radical democrat, would have been as horrified by such states as are anarchists. The issue is to show what there was about Marxism which led to such results, despite Marx’s intentions. Consistent with that focus, Newman directs himself primarily to Marx’s views, with little to say about post-Marx Marxism (just a few comments on Lenin).
Still, the paper presents itself as a dispute between anarchism and Marxism. In part, this binary is modified by some indications that anarchists have found aspects of Marxism useful. “For anarchists, Marxism has great value as an analysis of capitalism and the relations [of] private property which it is tied to
.” (19) “Bakunin perhaps represents the most radical elements of Marxist theory
.” (17) (10) Newman himself repeatedly expresses appreciation of the “post-Marxism” of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, whose work comes out of the Marxist tradition.
However, the main problem with Newman’s anarchism-versus-Marxism approach is that the traditional anarchist movement also had a class theory of the state. Peter Kropotkin, the great theorist of anarchism, wrote, “The State has always interfered in the economic life in favor of the capitalist exploiter. It has always granted him protection in robbery, given aid and support for further enrichment. And it could not be otherwise. To do so was one of the functions—the chief mission—of the State.
” (Kropotkin 2014; 193) In Kinna’s view, Kropotkin thought “political institutions reflected the nature of economic power, which was fundamental….The state was designed to protect the strong against the weak, the rich against the poor, and the privileged against the laboring classes….Bourgeois government [was] a special vehicle for the protection of commercial and industrial class interests.” (Kinna 2017; 86—88) “Bakunin had advanced the same argument, crediting Marx with its most sophisticated scientific articulation.
Newman’s attack on the class theory of the state is not only an attack on Marxism but also on the traditional mainstream anarchist view
Newman seeks to deny this. For example, he cites Bakunin’s support for the class theory of the state but then tries to turn it on its head. “Bakunin…takes Marx seriously when he says that the state is always concomitant with class distinctions and domination. However there is an important difference….For Marx the dominant class generally rules through the state, whereas for Bakunin the state generally rules through the dominant class….Bourgeois relations are actually a reflection of the state, rather than the state being a reflection of bourgeois relations.
” (Newman 2004;17)
This acknowledges that Bakunin, the principal initiator of the movement for revolutionary anarchism, believed that “the state is always concomitant with class distinctions and domination.
” That is different from seeing the state as distinct and autonomous from the class structure. Actually, Bakunin saw the state as interacting with the economy, in a back-and-forth, dialectical, manner. The modern state causes capitalism and capitalism causes the modern state.
This is similar to Marx’s concept of “primitive (primary) accumulation,” in which the state played a key role in initiating capitalism. The state expropriated the British peasants from their land, conquered and looted foreign countries, supported slavery, and defended theft from the environment. Theses actions accumulated capital on one side and propertyless workers on the other, the essentials for capitalism. In Capital, Marx wrote of “the power of the state, the concentrated and organized force of society, to hasten, hothouse fashion, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode….Force is…itself an economic power
.” (Marx 1906; 823-4) Kropotkin criticized this “primitive accumulation” only because it may imply that this is a passing phase, understating the continuing influence of the state in maintaining capitalism. Recognizing that “Force is itself an economic power
”is not a rejection of the class theory of the state.
Newman presents two alternate views: “the state represented the interests of the most economically dominant class—the bourgeoisie
.” (Newman 2004; 6) This is ascribed to Marx. Or: “Anarchism sees the state as an autonomous institution—or series of institutions—that has its own interests and logic.” (9) “It is independent of economic forces and has its own imperative of self-perpetuation….Anarchism sees the state, in its essence, as independent of economic classes
….” (14) This last view is his opinion, that of post-anarchism, but not that of the “classical” anarchists.
Newman points out that Marx developed his concept of the state further. This was expressed in his analysis of the French dictatorship of Louis Napoleon III in his 1852 The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (Marx 2002). He developed a concept of “Bonapartism,” which was also expressed in Engels’ and his writings on Bismarck in Germany and on other historical states (Draper 1977). They noted that the state balanced among various class forces. Even within the upper class there were fractions of classes and agents of fractions of classes, which put conflicting pressures on the state. They saw that the state had its own interests as an institution and so did its bureaucratic, political, and military personnel. Sometimes the bourgeoisie had mostly direct control of the state, as under parliamentary democracy. At other times, they were shut out, as under Louis Bonaparte’s “Empire” or under Nazi totalitarianism. But even without democratic rights, the bourgeoisie continued to exploit their employees and accumulate profits. This “right” was still defended by the dictatorial state! “According to Marx…the Bonapartist state served the long term interests of the capitalist system, even if it often acted against the immediate interests and will of the bourgeoisie
.” (Newman 2004; 7)
There is a tendency for the state—especially its executive branch—to develop increased independence relative to the rest of society, even under bourgeois democracy, but which reaches its height under political dictatorship. In Newman’s terms, cited above, it may be acknowledged that “the state has its own interests and logic…and has its own imperative of self-preservation.”
But it is not
true that the state is “independent of class force
s.” Rather it balances among them and still maintains the overall interests of the bourgeoisie. This has been referred to as the state’s “relative autonomy.
Newman claims that anarchists (or at least post-anarchists) took the concept of Bonapartism to its rightful extreme. “Anarchism took Marx’s notion of the Bonapartist State to its logical conclusion, thus developing a theory of state power and sovereignty as an entirely autonomous and specific domain
Does this make sense? Does not the state, as an institution with a drive for “self-preservation
,” have an absolute need to keep the economy going? Under capitalism this means the continued accumulation of capital; it means the exploitation of the working class to produce ever increased amounts of profit. Without this, there is no state, no society, and none of the other oppressions of race, gender, etc. Can there be “an entirely autonomous
” state, unrelated to economic oppression? Neither Bakunin nor Kropotkin believed that. I quoted Kropotkin above as believing that protecting capitalist exploiters “was one] of the functions—the chief mission—of the State.
” Not the only
function or mission, but 'one
of the functions” and “the chief
If we look at the state as a “specific domain
,” then it has a great many social forces, economic and otherwise, class and non-class, pushing on it. (Non-class forces include racial tensions, gender conflicts, not to mention organized religion.) Yet these forces are of differing strength and impact. The class theory “involves a claim that the capitalist class is able to wield more potent power resources over against pressure from below and the capacity for independent action on the part of the state itself….The political sway of the capitalist class [is] not exclusive but predominant.”
(Wetherly 2002; 197) Even the most autonomous of totalitarian fascist states still must take into account the needs of its capitalist class—or it will not survive. Even the bureaucratic Stalinist states of the Soviet Union, Maoist China, etc.—which had entirely disposed of their stock-owning bourgeoisie—still had to maintain the exploitation of the workers and the accumulation of capital: the capital-labor relationship.
Summarizing the most mature and sophisticated views of Marx (and traditional anarchists)—with which he disagrees—Newman writes, “Rather than saying that, for Marx, the state is the instrument of [the] bourgeoisie, it may be more accurate to say that the state is a reflection of bourgeois class domination, a institution whose structure is determined by capitalist relations. Its function is to maintain an economic and social order that allows the bourgeoisie to continue to exploit the proletariat.
“ (11) Or, for the Stalinist states, for someone
“to continue to exploit the proletariat”—in this case, the collective bureaucratic class (until it collapsed back into traditional capitalism).
I think that this makes more sense than either a view of the state as a passive puppet of the bourgeoisie (should anyone hold such a crude theory) or as “entirely autonomous
” and ”independent of class forces
Political analyses have no meaning unless they lead to differences in strategy or tactics. “A difference which makes no difference is no difference
,” as the saying goes. Newman contrasts the differing potential “revolutionary strategie
s” that go with the alternatives of the “neutral
” or “autonomous state
” or the (class) “determined state
.” He discusses which (theorized) state should be seen as the “tool of revolutio
n” and which as something “to be destroyed in revolution
.” (8) Rather than summarize his discussion, I will go through the issue as I see it.
(1) The idea that the state was integrally tied to the capitalist class and could not be otherwise
, led to the revolutionary belief that this state had to be overturned, smashed, dismantled, and replaced by alternate institutions. In a new preface to the Communist Manifesto
, Engels quoted Marx, “One thing especially was proved by the [Paris] Commune, viz., that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes
’.” (Marx & Engels 1955; 6) This did not deny the value of fighting for reforms, but the ultimate goal was a state-destroying revolution.
But two different conclusions were drawn. One was that the working class, when overturning the capitalists’ state, also needed its own class state, a “workers’ state,” the “revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat”—if only for a while, until a fully classless society could be instituted. This could be interpreted as an ultra-democratic state, similar to the Paris Commune or the early soviets, which would ”immediately” start to “wither away” —which is how Lenin presented it at the beginning of the Russian revolution. Or, alternately, as the justification for an increasingly authoritarian, one-party, police state, which is what Lenin developed over time. This soon evolved into Stalin’s state-capitalist totalitarianism.
On the other hand, anarchists argued that the state, by its very structure (as I defined it above), was an instrument of the capitalist class, or of some other exploiting class. Throughout history, ruling minorities needed a state to maintain their rule over the big majority; a self-managing majority would not need it. If a new state were to be created after a revolution, it would only put a bureaucratic class in power, ruling over a state capitalist economy. (As we know, these warnings came true.) Instead, anarchists argued for networks and federations of workplace councils, neighborhood assemblies, and voluntary associations. The workers and all the oppressed needed to replace all states with the self-organization of the emancipated people.
(2) The alternate theory of a neutral and wholly autonomous state
was (and is) championed by reformists, liberals, and social democrats. The state, they claimed, was a machine which could be used by anyone, capitalists or workers, white supremacists or People of Color, oppressors or oppressed. Therefore radicals should fight to take over the existing state and use it to do good. (This is the view of Laclau and Mouffe, the “post-Marxists” whom Newman admires.)
But post-anarchists argue that the state has its own drives for oppression, regardless of the class system it is associated with at any time. To use it to get rid of one system of exploitation would only leave the field open for the state’s own oppressive dynamics. It would only replace capitalism with some other method of exploitation, such as the rule of a bureaucratic class. Therefore the state must not used to make a revolution nor to solidify a new society after one.
Those who identify with the revolutionary anarchist tradition do not really disagree with the last argument. The state has authoritarian and oppressive tendencies which make it unusable for a genuinely popular, democratic, revolution-from-below. However, I do not separate these tendencies from the state’s essential attachment to the rule of a minority exploiting class. These are not distinct dynamics.
Which leads to a response to the question of why Marx’s Marxism led to Stalinist totalitarianism, despite Marx’s own democratic-libertarian tendencies. At least one part of it was his program of replacing the bourgeois state with a new state of the working class and its allies, if only for a time. This transitional state was supposed to expropriate the capitalists and centralize all their property into its own hands. No matter how democratic, popular, and temporary in conception, the use of a socially alienated bureaucratic-military state machine was bound to lead to a new form of exploitation and oppression. This was argued by Bakunin, Kropotkin, and other revolutionary class-struggle anarchist-socialists at the time of Marx and immediately after, and has repeatedly been proven true, alas.
Whether Saul Newman is for revolution cannot be told from this essay (it may be clearer in other works). Most of the other post-anarchists, like the “new” or “small-a” anarchists, advocate building alternate institutions, small scale actions, and different lifestyles, without focusing on an ultimate goal of direct popular attack against the capitalist class or the state. (Price 2016) The post-anarchists usually justify this by arguing that the state is not the only source of power in society, but merely one among many. Therefore anarchists do not need to focus on the state as the main enemy. It can be worked around, chipped away, or just ignored. The capitalist class is seen as a disjointed, pluralistic, entity, with society overall best understood as a network of forces without a center. All of which leads to a rejection of overturning the state as a main goal. In fact “revolution” is usually regarded as the fantasy of a single (bloody) upheaval which would immediately change society—which is rejected as the nonsense it is (and is not a model held by serious revolutionaries). However, revolutionary anarchists regard as a dangerous fantasy the idea that the capitalist class and its state would permit a peaceful, gradual, transformation of society—in which they would lose their wealth and power—without attempting to crush the people (through savage repression, fascism, civil war, etc.).
No Working Class Revolution
Whether Newman is against revolution, he is against working class revolution, because he is against a focus on the working class. He would deny that the “proletariat” is the necessary (but not sufficient) agent to transform society, or even that it is one of the three to five most important potential forces.
Newman repeatedly merges the idea of the working class with the idea of the Leninist vanguard party, objecting “to the central role of the proletariat—or, to be more precise, to the vanguard role of the Party.
” (37) But revolutionary anarchists who looked to the working class did not advocate such authoritarian, elitist, parties. Among Marxists, Rosa Luxemburg rejected Lenin’s concept of the vanguard party, and there is a long history of libertarian-autonomist Marxists who orient to the aspects of Marx’s work which are radically democratic, humanistic (anti-alienation), proletarian (anti-bureaucratic), and scientific (anti-scientistic). This trend, neither social democratic nor Marxist-Leninist, does not share a concept of the elitist vanguard party. It has raised libertarian socialist politics which can be in dialogue with revolutionary anarchism (Prichard et al 2017).
The post-anarchists have been criticized for their negative approach to class concerns and how they deal with them. An “emerging critique is that the post-anarchists have given up on the notion of ‘class’ and have retreated into obscure and intoxicating academic diatribes against a tradition built of discursive straw
.” (Rousselle, in the Preface to Rousselle & Evren 2011; vii) Indeed, Newman’s rejection of a working class orientation is sometimes on a rather high plane of abstract post-structuralist philosophizing. He denounces “the perspective of a universal epistemological position—such as that of the proletariat
At other times, Newman raises empirical problems, which I think are the real issue. He refers to “…the empirical reality of the shrinking of the working class
…” (32) and to the “concrete social conditions of the shrinking working class in post-industrial societies
It is true that there are fewer industrial workers in the U.S. (although still a big minority), but the population is overwhelming working class. That is, most adults are employed by capital or the state, producing goods or services for pay, without supervising others. Blue collar, white collar, pink collar, in construction or slaughterhouses, cleaning houses for others or waiting tables, writing code or teaching children, in animation or accounting, this is the modern proletariat. The class
, in addition to waged workers, includes their children, full-time homemakers, adult students, and those unemployed and retired. Meanwhile one reason for the decline in industrial jobs in the U.S. is that many jobs have been sent overseas. There has been an enormous expansion of industrial workers throughout the “Third World,” for this and other reasons. This is not a proof of the irrelevance of the working class.
It is also an empirical fact that most workers and their families are not revolutionary—and many are even reactionary. This is cited by post-anarchists (and others) as disproving a supposed prediction that the working class must inevitably become revolutionary. Actually the “prediction” is only that the working class is potentially revolutionary, and able to shake the whole society when it is. This is evidenced by a two-centuries long history of workers’ struggles and upheavals. In any case, it is not that we could reject the (currently) non-revolutionary class for some other grouping which is revolutionary. Since such a large proportion of the world’s population is working class, the non-revolutionary consciousness of most of the working class means that most of the general population is not revolutionary, that most women are not revolutionary, nor are most People of Color, nor is any other category we could name. For now.
Perhaps Newman’s major discontent with a working class perspective is his belief that it would suppress all other sources of discontent and rebellion. “Radical political struggles can no longer be limited to the proletariat alone, and must be seen as being open to other classes and social identities
.” (33) “The movement…rejects the false universality of Marxist politics, which denies difference and heterogeneity and subordinates other struggles to the central role of the proletariat
There is no doubt that there have been wooden Marxists and wooden anarcho-syndicalists who have denied the importance of everything but the class struggle. (There have also been feminists who have subordinated all issues to that of women’s freedom, and Black activists who have put everything aside but Black liberation. But that is not the question here.) However this is not an inevitable result of a class perspective. On the contrary, it can be seen as strengthening the class struggle if the revolutionary workers support each and every struggle of oppressed people. The socialist Daniel DeLeon once said (quoting from memory) that socialists’ support for women’s liberation could unify the working class and split the ruling class.
To cite an authoritative (and authoritarian) Marxist, Lenin opposed “economism,” the strategy of only supporting bread-and-butter labor union issues. Instead he argued that socialists should defend every democratic concern, no matter how apparently far from class. This included supporting big groups such as peasants, women, and oppressed nations, but also students, draftees, censored writers, and religious minorities. “To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without…a movement of the… masses against oppression by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, against national oppression, etc. – to imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution. So one army lines up in one place and says, ‘We are for socialism’, and another, somewhere else and says, ‘We are for imperialism’, and that will he a social revolution!
” (Lenin 1916) I cite this sarcastic comment even though Lenin was not a libertarian-autonomous Marxist, to demonstrate that even such a Marxist as Lenin could advocate that working class socialists should give support to all popular struggles against oppression—by all classes, on all issues. (In any case, the problem anarchists have with Lenin is not that he gave too much support to democratic struggles.)
“The Global Capitalist State Order”
Newman sees a model of the kind of radical movement he wants in “the emergence of what is broadly termed the ‘anti-globalization’ movement
….” (Newman 2004; 36) He describes this movement as distinct from either a “universalized” working class or from a bundle of unrelated identity-based struggles. The distinct struggles are linked to each other and have a common enemy, which turns out to be….capitalism! and the capitalist state! “The ‘anti-globalization’ movement [is] a protest movement against the capitalist and neo-liberal vision of globalization
….” (36) The movement “puts into question the global capitalist state order itself….It problematizes capitalism….targetting specific sites of oppression—corporate power and greed, G-M products, workplace surveillance, displacement of indigenous peoples, labor and human rights abuses, and so on
.” (37) This only makes sense if we realize that these issues, overlapping with each other, are all directly or indirectly due to capitalism and enforced by the state. (For example, environmental, energy, and climate problems are due to the insatiable drive of capitalism to accumulate and grow quantitatively, regardless of the need of the ecosystem for limits and balance. The anarchist Bookchin explored this before the present ecological Marxists.)
“We are living in a historical moment…dominated by capitalism, the most universal system the world has ever known—both in the sense that it is global and in the sense that it penetrates every aspect of social life and the natural environment….The social reality of capitalism is ‘totalizing’ in unprecedented ways and degrees. Its logic of commodification, accumulation, profit-maximization, and competition permeates the whole social order
….” (Woods 1997; 13)
If the problem is ultimately capitalism, then what is capitalism? (Newman does not define it any more than he defines the state.) Capitalism is the capital-labor relationship in the process of production. Capital commodifies everything it can, including the ability of the workers to labor. Capital buys this labor-power and squeezes out as much surplus wealth (value) from the workers as possible, accumulating profits and expanding production. All the other issues and struggles against aspects of oppression are real and must be addressed, but the central issue of capitalism as such is its exploitation of the workers. And who will oppose capitalism? Is it in the immediate interests of the rich, the managers, the police, or various indeterminate “citizens” to revolt against capitalism? No one has a greater immediate interest in fighting capitalism than those who directly confront it day by day. No one has a greater potential ability to fight it, with their hands on the means of production, distribution, and services.
That is what makes the class struggle—if not “universal”—then central to the fight against “the global capitalist state order
.” It is central, and necessary—but not sufficient by itself, since all sections of the oppressed need to be mobilized, on every issue, “against the capitalist and neo-liberal vision of globalization
Conclusion: The State Serves the Class Enemy
In recent years there has been a bitter and vicious class war, on an international scale. It has been waged by the capitalist class, using all its resources, most especially its state. There has been a remorseless attack on the working class in both the industrialized (imperialist) nations and in the rest of the world. Hard-won welfare benefits have been slashed, austerity has been enforced, and unions have been cut in number and power. As part of this class war, there has been an attack on the rights of women, of African-Americans, of immigrants, and of LGBTQ people. For the sake of profits, the environment has been trashed and looted, until the survival of civilization (even such as it is) is threatened.
This is hardly the time to deny that capitalist exploitation is at the center of all issues. And that, while the state is intrinsically oppressive, it serves the class enemy.
Draper, Hal (1977). Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Vol. 1; State and Bureaucracy. NY: Monthly Review Press.
Kinna, Ruth (2017), Kropotkin: Reviewing the Classical Anarchist Tradition. Edinburgh UK: Edinburgh University Press.
Kropotkin, Peter (2014). Direct Struggle Against Capital; A Peter Kropotkin Anthology (Ed.: Iain McKay). Oakland CA: AK Press.
Lenin, V. I. (1916). “The Discussion On Self-Determination Summed Up.”
Marx, Karl (1906). Capital; A Critique of Political Economy; Vol. 1 (Ed.: F. Engels). NY: Modern Library.
Marx, Karl (2002). “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” (Trans.: T. Carver). In Cowling, M., & Martin, J. (eds.). Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire; (Post)modern Interpretations. London: Pluto Press. Pp. 19—109.
Marx, Karl, & Engels, Friedrich (1955). The Communist Manifesto. (Ed.: S.H. Beer). Northbrook IL: AHM Publishing Co.
May, Todd (1994). The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism. University Park PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Morris, Brian (1993). Bakunin; The Philosophy of Freedom. Montreal/NY: Black Rose Books.
Newman, Saul (2004). Anarchism, Marxism, and the Bonapartist State. (Originally published in Anarchist Studies, 12, 1; 2004.) Retrieved on 2011.
Price, Wayne (2014). “Anarchism and the Philosophy of Pragmatism.” The Utopian. https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/wayne-price-ana...atism
Price, Wayne (2016). “In Defense of Revolutionary Class-Struggle Anarchism.” Anarkismo. https://www.anarkismo.net/article/29243?search_text=way...price
Price, Wayne (2018). “An Anarchist View of the Class Theory of the State.”
Prichard, Alex; Kinna, Ruth; Pinta, Saku; & Berry, David (eds.). (2017). Libertarian Socialism: Politics in Black and Red. Oakland CA: PM Press.
Russell, Duane, & Evren, Sureyyya (eds.) (2011). Post-Anarchism: A Reader. Pluto Press/ Fernwood Publishing.
Wetherly, Paul (2002). “Making Sense of the ‘Relative Autonomy’ of the State.” In Cowling, M., & Martin, J. (eds.). Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire; (Post)modern Interpretations. London: Pluto Press. Pp. 195—208.
Wood, Ellen Meiksins (1997). “What is the ‘Postmodern’ Agenda?” In In Defense of History; Marxism and the Postmodern Agenda. NY: Monthly Review Press. Pp. 1—16.
*written for www.Anarkismo.net
Τοποθετήστε όλους τους ανθρώπους σε ένα καθεστώς ισότιμων οικονομικών συνθηκών, παρέχοντάς τους όλα τα μέσα παραγωγής και έχετε την αρχή της δικαιοσύνης. Δώστε σε όλους τους ανθρώπους την ελευθερία να διαθέτουν, όπως τους ταιριάζει καλύτερα, τα συναισθήματά τους, τις σκέψεις τους και τα έργα τους και θα έχετε δικαιοσύνη σε όλη την εκπληκτική πληρότητά της. Αυτό λέει ο κολεκτιβισμός, αυτό λέει η αναρχία.
Ricardo Mella, Κολλεκτιβισμός
Πέρασαν οι ημέρες που η σοσιαλιστική συναισθηματικότητα περίμενε τα πάντα από τη μητέρα γη και απαιτούσε τα πάντα από αυτή. Πέρασαν οι μέρες που η επανάσταση ήταν απλώς ένα συναίσθημα και καταφερόταν κωμικά κατά του ατομικισμού πρόσωπο με πρόσωπο με την ανώτατη εξουσία του Κράτους ή της κοινωνίας, του πελάτη του. Πέρασαν οι ημέρες που ο σοσιαλισμός και η επανάσταση δεν είχαν φιλοσοφία, παρά εκείνη της καρδιάς, καμία αρχή περί δικαιωμάτων και δικαιοσύνης, αλλά αυτή της παγκόσμιας αγάπης.
Όλες αυτές οι αντιλήψεις, όλες αυτές οι ιδέες είναι μόνο μεταξύ μας ως ένα απόθεμα αυτού που δεν υπήρξε ποτέ, ως ένα υπόλειμα της απομακρυσμένης μας προέλευσης.
Σήμερα, η Επανάσταση έχει την ορθολογική της φιλοσοφία, την αρχή του δικαιώματος και της δικαιοσύνης της. Έχει εισέλθει πλήρως στην περίοδο της ωριμότητας και είναι άχρηστο το να κοιτάξουμε πίσω. Ο άνθρωπος δεν περιμένει πλέον από την κοινωνία αυτό που δεν πρέπει και δεν μπορεί να περιμένει. Η κοινωνία δεν είναι γι’ αυτόν μια στοργική μητέρα που δεσμεύεται από καθήκον να καλύψει όλες του τις ανάγκες. Ξέρει ότι όλα αυτά εξαρτώνται από τη δική του δραστηριότητα και τη δραστηριότητα εκείνων που επιθυμούν να συνεργαστούν μαζί του. Η ελευθερία είναι αρκετή υπό συνθήκες ισότητας, ώστε να είναι σε θέση να εγκαταλείψει ένα ον που καθορίζει μόνο τη θέλησή του, την κοινωνία. Αυτό είναι το έργο του και η εργασία του αυτή είναι απαραίτητη για την αντιμετώπιση των ατομικών ελλείψεων. Δεν υπάρχει μητέρα του ανθρώπου που έρχεται: αυτή η αντίληψη πέθανε μαζί με την ιδέα του Κράτους, και αντί αυτού παραμένει μόνο το ελεύθερο άτομο για να συγκροτήσει επίσης ελεύθερες κοινωνίες.
Ο άνθρωπος έχει το δικαίωμα να ικανοποιήσει όλες του τις ανάγκες, αλλά να τις ικανοποιήσει για τον εαυτό του, μέσα από τη συνετή χρήση όλων των δυνατοτήτων και των στάσεών του, μέσα από το έργο του. Από τον εαυτό του, λοιπόν, περιμένει αυτή την ικανοποίηση, όχι από την κοινωνία ή το Κράτος. Εάν δεν είναι αυτάρκης, μπορεί να συνεργαστεί, επιδιώκοντας να συμπληρώσει τις ανεπάρκειές του μέσα από ελεύθερες ενώσεις συνεργασίας, πίστωσης, νομίσματος και ασφάλειας. Αυτό είναι όλο. Ελευθερία, ελευθερία για πάντα!
Εάν ο ατομικισμός έχει ρίξει τον άνθρωπο στη βία και την έλλειψη αλληλεγγύης, ο κομμουνισμός τον ωθεί σε μια κηδεμονία, σε μια αυτοαναίρεση και τον καθιστά απλό μέσο της κοινωνίας ή του Κράτους, δύο ταυτόσημα πράγματα με διαφορετικά ονόματα.
Στο όνομα της ελευθερίας απορρίπτουμε τον κομμουνισμό! Στο όνομα της αλληλεγγύης απορρίπτουμε τον ατομικισμό! Αυτή είναι η άποψή μας.
Η ελευθερία και η αλληλεγγύη αρκούν για την επίλυση του προβλήματος. Εξ ου και η κολεκτιβιστική σχολή.
Γνωρίζουμε ότι ο κολεκτιβισμός δεν είναι πανομοιότυπος σε όλα τα μέρη. Γνωρίζουμε ότι υπάρχουν αυταρχικές σχολές που υποστηρίζουν μια οικονομική ιδέα παρόμοια με τη δική μας και την βαπτίζουν ακόμη και με το ίδιο όνομα. Αλλά αυτό δεν έχει σημασία. Απαιτούνται ιδέες και περισσότερες ιδέες, τα ονόματα είναι απλώς θέμα συμβατικότητας. Ας συμφωνήσουμε να ονομάσουμε τη λύση που προτείνουμε στο πρόβλημα της ιδιοκτησίας κολεκτιβισμό επειδή δεν είναι ούτε κομμουνιστικός ούτε ατομικιστικός. Αυτό είναι όλο.
Ας εξηγήσουμε τις ιδέες μας και να προχωρήσουμε.
Δεν υπάρχει αμφιβολία ότι στο πλαίσιο του ατομικισμού και του κομμουνισμού υπάρχουν δύο αδιαμφισβήτητες αρχές. Ο άνθρωπος είναι απόλυτος κύριος της εργασίας του. Η ανθρωπότητα είναι κυρίαρχη όλων των μέσων παραγωγής που περιέχει η φύση. Δώστε στην ανθρωπότητα και τον άνθρωπο αυτό που τους οφείλεται και έχετε τον κολεκτιβισμό.
Ο άνθρωπος γεννιέται με τη δύναμη να παράγει και η φύση αναμένεται να παρέχει τα μέσα για να συνεχίσει ο άνθρωπος αυτήν τη δραστηριότητα. Αφήστε τον άνθρωπο ελεύθερο να εξασκήσει τις δυνάμεις του και σε πνεύμα δικαιοσύνης - δεν έχετε τίποτα άλλο να κάνετε. Οτιδήποτε κατέχει ο κόσμος, ο άνθρωπος μπορεί να το χρησιμοποιήσει για τη δουλειά του. Το δικαίωμα είναι καθολικό και ανήκει σε όλους. Συνεπώς, κανείς δεν μπορεί να εκμεταλλευτεί ακόμα και το μικρότερο μέρος αυτού του αμοιβαίου κεφαλαίου, το οποίο δεν κοστίζει τίποτα και κανένας δεν το δημιουργεί. Με ποιο δικαίωμα ή με βάση ποιο νόμο θα πρέπει ο άνθρωπος να κάνει κάτι περισσότερο; Πώς θα αναγκαστεί να επιτελέσει το ατομικό του έργο ως μέρος του αμοιβαίου κεφαλαίου; Αφήστε τον ελεύθερο. Είναι κύριος της εργασίας του, έχει την κατοχή του προϊόντος της εργασίας του και μόνο με την ελεύθερη βούλησή του μπορεί να δωρίσει ή όχι στην κοινωνία. Στην πρώτη περίπτωση θα είναι μια αρκετά ελεύθερη και αυθόρμητη πράξη της ύπαρξής του. Στη δεύτερη περίπτωση θα είναι ένα αναμφισβήτητο δικαίωμα και απεριόριστη κυριαρχία. Η υπέρβαση αυτών των ορίων και η ελευθερία θα καταστραφούν.
Αυτός είναι ο λόγος για τον οποίο επιβεβαιώνουμε την κοινή κατοχή όλων των μέσων παραγωγής και επιβεβαιώνουμε διπλά το δικαίωμα της ιδιοκτησίας και κατοχής ατομικών και συλλογικών προϊόντων για το άτομο και την κοινότητα, το πλήρες, απόλυτο δικαίωμα στο προϊόν της εργασίας.
Τοποθετήστε όλους τους ανθρώπους σε ένα καθεστώς ισότιμων οικονομικών συνθηκών, παρέχοντάς τους όλα τα μέσα παραγωγής και έχετε την αρχή της δικαιοσύνης. Δώστε σε όλους τους ανθρώπους την ελευθερία να διαθέτουν, όπως τους ταιριάζει καλύτερα, τα συναισθήματά τους, τις σκέψεις τους και τα έργα τους και θα έχετε δικαιοσύνη σε όλη την εκπληκτική πληρότητά της. Αυτό λέει ο κολεκτιβισμός, αυτό λέει η αναρχία.
Μη μας ρωτάτε πώς είναι να καθορίσουμε το προϊόν της δουλειάς του καθενός, διότι θα ήταν μια ανόητη ερώτηση. Σε μια κατάσταση ελευθερίας δεν ταιριάζουν a priori φόρμουλες. Η πολυμορφία της εργασίας παράγει ποικίλες λύσεις. Η Ελευθερία τις εγγυάται. Σε ένα έργο [η λύση] θα καθοριστεί από το ίδιο το άτομο. Σε ένα άλλο, θα είναι η ανταλλαγή και οι σχέσεις μεταξυ των ανθρώπωων που θα το καθορίσουν. Σε μια άλλη, θα είναι ένωση, ελεύθερα κυριαρχούμενη και ελεύθερη συμφωνία.
*Το κείμενο αυτό δημοσιεύτηκε το 1891. Αγγλική μετάφραση: Shawn P. Wilbur. Ελληνική μετάφραση: Ούτε Θεός-Ούτε Αφέντης.
In order to understand government politics, it is necessary to have a theory of the state. The essay reviews classical anarchist and Marxist views of the class-based, pro-capitalist, nature of the state. But there are also non-class and non-capitalist influences on the state. These need to be integrated into a class theory of the state.
For anarchists and other radicals to really understand the Trump administration, and what is generally happening in U.S. politics, requires an analysis of the U.S. government. This, in turn, requires a theoretical understanding of the state, the basic framework of government. Yet, as Kristian Williams writes, in Whither Anarchism?
“For a group so fixated on countering…the state, it is surprising how rarely today’s anarchists have bothered to put forward a theory about [it]….The inability or unwillingness to develop a theory of the state (or more modestly, an analysis of states)…has repeatedly steered the anarchist movement into blind alleys
.” (Williams 2018; 26-7)
Of the theories which place the state within the context of the capitalist economy and all other oppressions (patriarchy, racism, ecological destruction, etc.), anarchism and Marxism stand out. Yet few Marxists know anything of the anarchist view of the state, and few anarchists know anything of Marxist state theory. (For that matter, as Williams implies, few anarchists know much of any state theory.) For example, most Marxists believe that anarchism denies that class factors are important for the state—and that it contradicts anarchism to believe that they are. They see anarchism as focused solely on the state, ignoring factors of class and political economy. Meanwhile, many anarchists believe that Marxists see the state as simply a reflex of the wishes of the capitalist ruling class, with no independent interests of its own and no reaction to other class and non-class forces.
I am going to review the classical anarchist and Marxist theories about the nature of the state and its relationship to classes and political economy. By “classical anarchism,” I mean essentially the views of J-P Proudhon, Michael Bakunin, and Peter Kropotkin (and not the views of individualists, Stirnerites, or “post-left”/“post-anarchists”). By “classical Marxism,” I mean the views of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (and not the views of social democratic reformists or Stalinists).
When writing of “the state,” I do not include any and every means of social coordination, collective decision-making, settling of differences, or protection from anti-social agression. Humans lived for tens of thousands of years in hunter-gatherer societies (also called “primitive communism”) and early agricultural villages. They provided themselves with social coordination, etc., through communal self-management. What they did not have were states. The state is a bureaucratic-military institution, dominating a territory through specialized armed forces (police and military) and bureaucratic layers of people who make decisions, ruling over—and separate from—the rest of the population.
“The State…not only includes the existence of a power situated above society, but also of a territorial concentration as well as the concentration in the hands of a few of many functions in the life of societies….A whole mechanism of legislation and of policing has to be developed…
(Kropotkin 2014; 254) The state is a “public force [which] consists not merely of armed men but also of material appendages, prisons, and coercive institutions of all kinds…organs of society standing above society…representatives of a power which estranges them from society…
.” (Engels 1972; 230-1) This is the view of both Kropotkin and Engels. When speaking of the end of the state under socialism/communism, they did not mean the end of all collective decision-making, etc., but the end of this bureaucratic-military, socially-alienated, elite institution.
The Views of the Classical Anarchists
The first person to call himself an “anarchist,” Proudhon, wrote, “In a society based on inequality of conditions, government, whatever it is, feudal, theocratic, bourgeois, imperial, is reduced, in last analysis, to a system of insurance for the class which exploits and owns against that which is exploited and owns nothing.
” The state “finds itself inevitably enchained to capital and directed against the proletariat.
” (Proudhon 2011; 18)
Bakunin, who as much as anyone initiated anarchism as a movement, wrote, “The State has always been the patrimony of some privileged class: the sacerdotal class, the nobility, the bourgeoisie—and finally…the class of bureaucracy…
.” And “Modern capitalist production and banking speculations demand for their full development a vast centralized State apparatus which alone is capable of subjecting the millions of toilers to their exploitation.
” (quoted in Morris 1993; 99)
Kropotkin elaborated anarchist theory: “All legislation made within the State…always has been made with regard to the interests of the privileged classes….The State is an institution which was developed for the very purpose of establishing monopolies in favor of the slave and serf owners, the landed proprietors,…the merchant guilds and the moneylenders, the kings, the military commanders, the ‘noblemen,’ and finally, in the nineteenth century, the industrial capitalists, whom the State supplied with ‘hands’ driven from the land. Consequently, the State would be…a useless institution, once these [class] monopolies ceased to exist.
” (2014; 186-8)
In brief, the classical anarchists saw a direct connection between the state and exploitative class society, serving the various upper classes as they lived off the lower, working, classes. This is the “class theory” of the state, also called the “materialist” or “historical materialist” state theory.
The class theory of the state is frequently criticized as a “reductionist,” “instrumentalist,” theory, which crudely reduces all government activity to the desires of the capitalist class. It is criticized for allegedly ignoring conflicts within that class, the pressures of other classes (such as lobbying by unions), and non-class forces. Non-class forces include all subsystems of oppression: sexism, racism, sexual orientation, national oppression, etc.—each, in its own way, maintained by the state. There are other pressures on the state, such as by the churches. As an institution, with its personnel, the state has its own interests. Supposedly, the materialist or class state theory ignores all this. In my opinion, it is this criticism which is itself oversimplified, as I will try to show.
The Views of the Classical Marxists
As with the anarchists, the Marxist form of the class theory of the state has been accused of being class reductionist, oversimplified, and mechanical.
In the Communist Manifesto
, Marx and Engels wrote, “The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.
” (in Draper 1998; 111) Draper calls this sentence, “the most succinctly aphoristic statement by Marx of his theory of the state
.” (same; 207)
This is often taken to mean that the state is merely a passive reflex of the capitalist class, with all the influence going from the bourgeoisie to the state. In fact, the sentence says that the state—or rather its executive branch—actively manages the interests of the bourgeoisie, as opposed to merely reflecting them. In any case, it is a brief and condensed (“succinctly aphoristic
”) statement, by no means a whole exposition of a theory.
Over the years, Marx and Engels developed their analysis of the state (an excellent overview is in Draper 1977). Marx’s major work on the state appears in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.
It was written in 1852 and covered French politics leading up to the elected president, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of the Emperor Napoleon), seizing power and establishing his dictatorship (Marx 2002). Here and in other works he goes into the details of French politics. It become clear that Marx regards the state as full of conflicts among classes, fractions of classes, and agents of fractions of classes.
He uncovered the political-economic conflicts among the financial aristocracy (who supported one claimant to the monarchy), the large landowners (who supported another), the manufacturing bourgeoisie, the “republican” bourgeoisie (an ideological current within the bourgeoisie), the “democratic-republican” petty-bourgeoisie, and, below them all, the proletariat (mostly passive due to a recent major defeat), and the peasantry (who gave their support to the conman Louis-Napoleon, partially due to his name). There were splits within each of these forces. Marx also included the government officials and the army officers (all seeking money). He was clear that there were personal hostilities, ideological commitments, prejudices, and ambitions through which these conflicts worked themselves out.
Applying this approach to the current U.S. government would analyze the differing fractions of the capitalist class and its ideological and political agents and hangers-on, in their conflicting relations with each other and with sections of the middle and working classes.
The other main theme of Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire
is the increasing independence of the state from all classes, including all sections of the bourgeoisie. Balancing between conflicting class forces, the executive branch of the state tends to rise above them all. Marx called this “Bonapartism,” and it has been discussed as the “relative autonomy” of the state. With the dictator’s abolition of the legislature and its political parties, as well as censorship over political discussion, the bourgeoisie lost direct control over the government. The capitalists were made to focus on running their businesses and making money, while Louis Bonaparte ran the state (declaring himself the new “Emperor”). This he did through the state bureaucracy, the army, and a quasi-fascist-like mass movement, as well as with popular support from the peasants.
In Defense of the Class Theory of the State
So, there are many fractions of the capitalist class, other classes, and non-class forces all competing for state influence. And the state itself has its own interests and a degree of autonomy from even the bourgeoisie. Does this mean that the class theory of the state is wrong?
I do not think so. In itself, that there may be multiple determinants of something does not decide the relative weights or importance of each determinant. There are many influences on the state, all of which may have some effect. Still, the overall need of a capitalist society is to maintain the capitalist economy, the growth and accumulation of capital, the continued rule of the capitalist class. Without the surplus wealth pumped out of the working population, the state and the rest of the system cannot last. This is the primary need of the society and the primary task of the state. Even if the bourgeoisie has little or no direct control of the government (as under Bonapartism or fascist totalitarianism), the state must keep the capitalist system going, the capitalists driving the proletariat to work, and profits being produced. The extreme example of this was under Stalinist state capitalism (in the USSR, Maoist China, etc.). The stock-owning bourgeoisie was abolished, yet the collective state bureaucracy continued to manage the accumulation of capital through state exploitation of the working class. (That is, until it fell back into traditional capitalism.)
This has been elaborated by Wetherly (2002; 2005). The class theory “involves a claim that the capitalist class is able to wield more potent power resources over against pressure from below and the capacity for independent action on the part of the state itself….The political sway of the capitalist class [is] not exclusive but predominant.
” (Wetherly 2002; 197) “It does not claim that the economic structure exclusively explains the character of the state, but it assigns these other influences a minor role….Economic causation plays a primary role in explaining state action to sustain accumulation as a general feature of capitalist society. The state normally sustains accumulation and this is largely explained by the nature of the economic structure.
” (same; 204-5)
Others have theorized the interactions and overlapping of oppressions with each other and with class exploitation as “social reproductive theor
y” (Bhattacharya 2017). The different oppressions are not simply separate while occasionally intersecting; rather, they co-produce each other, within the overall drive of the whole system to reproduce and accumulate capital. For example, the oppression of women is directly related to the need for the system to reproduce the labor power of all workers (a necessity for capitalist production), which is done through the family. Similarly, Africans were enslaved to create a source of cheap labor. African-Americans remain racially oppressed in order to maintain a pool of cheap (super-exploited) labor, as well as to split and weaken the working class as a whole through white racism. (These factors are not the whole of sexism or racism, but are their essential overlap with capitalist exploitation.)
The state is not something added onto the capitalist economy, but a necessity if the capital/labor process is to go (relatively) smoothly—just as (reciprocally) the efficient functioning of the capitalist production process is necessary for the state to exist.
Primitive Accumulation and the State
The classical bourgeois economists, such as Adam Smith and David Riccardo, had speculated that capitalism began by artisans and small merchants gradually building up their capital, until they had enough to hire employees. This was called “primitive (or primary) accumulation
.” Marx rejected this fairy tale, showing how the state and other non-market forces played major roles in the early accumulation of wealth. There was state-supported dispossession of European peasants; slavery of Africans and Native Americans; looting of Ireland, India, and South America; piracy; and plunder of the natural environment. In Capital
, Marx wrote of “the power of the state, the concentrated and organized force of society, to hasten, hothouse fashion, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode….Force is…itself an economic power
.” (Marx 1906; 823-4)
Kropotkin criticized Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation—not because he disagreed that state coercion played a major role in the development of capitalism! He completely agreed with Marx on that point. Rather, Kropotkin insisted that state support for capitalism had never stopped; there was no distinct period of early accumulation, followed by a period of state non-intervention in the economy.
“What, then, is the use of talking, with Marx, about the ‘primitive accumulation’—as if this ‘push’ given to capitalists were a thing of the past?….The State has always interfered in the economic life in favor of the capitalist exploiter. It has always granted him protection in robbery, given aid and support for further enrichment. And it could not be otherwise. To do so was one of the functions—the chief mission—of the State.
” (Kropotkin 2014; 193)
Similarly, the Marxist feminist Silvia Federici writes, “The need of a gendered perspective on the history of capitalism…led me, among others, to rethink Marx’s account of primitive accumulation….Contrary to Marx’s anticipation, primitive accumulation has become a permanent process
….” (2017; 93)
However, Marx had expected that once capitalism had reached its final development, its epoch of decline, it would once again rely heavily on non-market and state forces. In his Grundrisse
, he wrote, “As soon as [capital] begins to sense itself as a barrier to development, it seeks refuge in forms which, by restricting free competition…are…the heralds of its dissolution …
.” (quoted in Price 2013; 69)
In any case, no one could deny today that government intervention is an essential part of the economy—from massive armaments expenditures to central banks to regulation of the stock exchange, etc. The key point is that the state is not an institution truly distinct from the capitalist economy. On the contrary, it is a central instrument in the creation, development, accumulation, and eventual decay of capitalism. “Force is itself an economic power.”
Disagreement between Anarchists and Marxists on the State
Revolutionary anarchists and Marxists agree that the working class and the rest of the exploited and oppressed should overturn the power of the capitalist class. The workers and their allies should dismantle the capitalist state, capitalist businesses, and other forms of oppression, and organize a new society based on freedom, equality, and cooperation.
But they draw different conclusions from the class theory of the state. Marxists say that since the state is the instrument for a class to carry out its interests, then the workers and their allies need their own state. They need it in order to overthrow the capitalists and create a new socialist society of freedom and solidarity. The new state will either be created by taking over the old state (perhaps by elections) and modifying it, or by overthrowing the old state (through revolution) and building a new one. Over time, Marxists say, the task of holding down the capitalists and their agents will become less important, as the new society is solidified. Then the state will gradually decline. There may still be a centralized public power for social coordination, but it will become benevolent and no longer have coercive powers.
However, anarchists have a different conclusion. Since the state is a bureaucratic-military elite machine for class domination, it cannot be used for liberation. Such a supposed “workers’ state,” however it comes into existence, would only result in a new ruling class of bureaucrats, exploiting the workers as if the state was a capitalist corporation or set of corporations. This was predicted by Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin, way back in the beginning of the socialist movement. History has more than justified the prediction.
Instead, the anarchists propose that the workers and oppressed organize themselves through federations and networks of workplace assemblies, neighborhood councils, and voluntary associations. They should replace the police and military with a democratically-coordinated armed population (a militia), so long as this is still necessary. Such associations would provide all the coordination, decision-making, dispute-settling, economic planning, and self-defense necessary—without a state. It would not be a state, because it would not be a bureaucratic-military socially-alienated machine such as had served ruling minorities throughout history. Instead it would be the self-organization of the working people and formerly oppressed.
The class theory of the state claims that the bureaucratic-military social machine of the state exists primarily to develop and maintain capitalism, the capitalist upper class, and capital’s drive to accumulate. There are also other influences on the state. These include factional conflicts within the capitalist class, demands by the working and middle classes, pressures to maintain other oppressions (race, gender, etc.) and resistance by these oppressed, other non-class forces, ideologies, and also the self-interest of the state itself and its personnel. Yet these myriad forces work out within the context of the need for capitalism to maintain itself and to expand. Therefore the political sway of the capitalist class is not exclusive but it is predominant. The fight against the state, against capitalism, and against all oppressions is one fight. It is a struggle for a society of freedom, individual self-development, the end of the state and of classes, self-determination and self-management in every area of living.
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*written for www.Anarchism.net
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