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Anarchist Propaganda

category brazil/guyana/suriname/fguiana | anarchist movement | policy statement author Monday February 13, 2012 22:59author by Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro - FARJ Report this post to the editors
The specific anarchist organisation is also dedicated to anarchist propaganda.



The specific anarchist organisation is also dedicated to anarchist propaganda. “Propaganda is not and cannot be but the constant, tireless repetition of the principles that must be our guide in the conduct that we must follow in the various circumstances of life.” [157] Thus, we understand propaganda as the dissemination of the ideas of anarchism, and, therefore, as a fundamental activity of the anarchist organisation. Its objective is to make anarchism known and to attract people to our cause. Propaganda is one of the activities of the anarchist organisation and not the only activity. It should be performed constantly and in an organised manner.

“The organisation’s propaganda must be done uninterruptedly, just as the propaganda of all the other postulates of the anarchist ideal”. [158] To have strength propaganda needs to be performed constantly. Propaganda that is done once in a while is not enough to make anarchism known and, much less, to draw people in. Therefore, the first assertion that we make is that propaganda must be continuous.

Besides this, propaganda should not be done in an isolated way, since, like all uncoordinated activity, it lacks the desired strength. As we have seen organisation – understood as the co-ordination of forces for the realisation of an objective – multiplies the results of individual work, and this also applies to propaganda. When we are organised, the result of our propaganda work – be it theoretical or practical propaganda – is multiplied, and achieves results far superior to the simple sum of individual forces. Therefore, the second assertion that we make is that propaganda must be done in an organised way, because this multiplies its results.

Casual, isolated propaganda which is often done to calm one’s own conscience or simply to alleviate passion through discussion does little or nothing. Under the conditions of inconsistency and misery in which the masses are to be found, with so many forces that oppose them, such propaganda is forgotten before its efforts can accumulate and have fertile results. The terrain is very ungrateful for seeds sown at random to germinate and take root. [159]
We argue that the specific anarchist organisation utilises any means that are at its disposal for the realisation of this constant and organised propaganda. Firstly, with respect to the theoretical, educational and/or cultural sphere with the realisation of courses, talks, debates, conferences, study groups, websites, e-mail, theatre, bulletins, newspapers, magazines, books, videos, music, libraries, public events, radio programmes, television programmes, libertarian schools etc. We truly value all this propaganda and think that it is fundamental in order to attract people and ensure that they know the critiques and also the constructive proposals of anarchism. Thus, it is possible to develop anti-authoritarian values in people, to stimulate their consciousness, to make them see the exploitation and domination in a more critical way such that they look at alternatives of struggle and organisation. These people can be approached, seeking to deepen their knowledge, to involve them in discussions and also to organise them for action.

This type of propaganda, when performed on a large scale is fundamental since it functions as a social “lubricant” that slowly changes the culture in which we live and makes the introduction of anarchist ideas and practices into society easier. This massive propaganda work slowly turns the people’s consciousness and causes the ideology of capitalism, which is already transmitted in the form of culture, to be more questioned and even less reproduced. As we understand consciousness as a capacity that people have to know values and ethical principles and to apply them, we believe this propaganda activity to be highly relevant for the permanent gain of consciousness.

In the first instance is to remove prejudices and capitalist culture, then, to make people come to see authoritarianism critically. Finally, to take some of these people to the struggle against authoritarianism. We understand that any process of social transformation with final objectives like those that we propose will depend on acceptance, or at least on “non-rejection” of large sectors of the population. And propaganda, in this sense theoretical, educational and/or cultural will contribute significantly to this. Thus, “the propaganda carried out by organised anarchists is also a way of manifestation in order to prepare the future society: it is a collaboration in order to construct a way to influence the environment and to modify its conditions” [160] However, we must understand the limits of this propaganda.

Propaganda with respect to this theoretical, educational and/or cultural sphere has as its principal objective to increase the level of consciousness. Therefore, it aims to transform people’s ideas. And this is the reason why we see serious limits in this model of propaganda. This gain in consciousness does not mean in any way that the exploitation and domination of capitalist society will tend to decrease. It also does not mean, necessarily, that people will go on to organise themselves in order to struggle. Today, the mainstream media and even the growth of the cities, community fragmentation, among other factors, make propaganda on a massive scale very difficult and we must remember that, even when there were no such difficulties, and when anarchist propaganda was very strong – with permanently functioning cultural centres, newspapers with very high daily runs – social transformation was not guaranteed. Ultimately, we can consider that even with all the difficulties that exist for us to realise “mass” propaganda, the gain in consciousness does not necessarily mean organisation and struggle and neither the end, or even a decrease, of exploitation and domination. We could say that, in a hypothetical situation in which everyone is conscious, nevertheless, we would continue to be exploited and dominated. Therefore,

[...] neither the writers, nor the philosophers, nor their works, not even the socialist newspapers constitute socialism alive and well. The latter can only find real existence in clarified revolutionary instinct, in collective will and in organisation [...] – and when this instinct, this will and this organisation are lacking, the best books in the world are nothing but empty theories and impotent dreams. [161]
For this reason we hold that, besides the propaganda that takes place in the theoretical, educational and/or cultural sphere we must also maintain, principally, propaganda that takes place in struggle and organisation, that is, propaganda in social work, aimed at social insertion.

By taking place in the ambit of the class struggle and of social movements, the work of anarchist propaganda aims to mobilise, organise and influence social movements with anarchist practice. We remember, insistently, that the influence of movements by anarchism means seeking for them to have the characteristics that we stand for: force, class struggle perspective, combativeness, autonomy, direct action, direct democracy and revolutionary perspective. To achieve this influence the specific anarchist organisation carries out its propaganda, emphatically, through words and, primarily, by example [162].

We understand the entire process of social work and insertion that we dealt with earlier as the main propaganda work that the anarchist organisation should develop. In struggle, while active minority, the anarchists create social movements, join already existing movements and seek to influence them as much as possible – always by example – to function in the most libertarian and egalitarian way possible. This work is, therefore,

to educate for freedom, to elevate the consciousness of their [the workers’] own strength and capacity as men habituated to obedience and passivity. It is therefore necessary to proceed in a way in which the people act for themselves, or at least believe to be doing so out of instinct and self-inspiration, even though, in reality, the thing has been suggested to them. [163]
In this way anarchist propaganda serves the whole work process of the anarchists while active minority within social movements, and in the actual creation of the popular organisation.

When we perform anarchist propaganda we must think, necessarily, about the camp most conducive to it. We understand that the best propaganda is that which we realise among the social movements that give shape to the class struggle. Thus, seeking short-term gains, working among the people organised by need, we understand it to be possible to plant the seeds of our anarchism by means of propaganda, and carry society to a revolutionary process that opens the way to libertarian socialism. It is not that other alternatives do not serve us, but this reflection on “where and for whom to perform propaganda” must always be made.


157. Errico Malatesta. "Programa Anarquista". In: Escritos Revolucionários, p. 7.

158. Luigi Fabbri. "A Organização Anarquista". In: Anarco-Comunismo Italiano, p. 97.

159. Errico Malatesta. "La Propaganda Anarquista". Excerpt from L’Agitazione, 22 de setembro de 1901. In: Vernon Richards. Op. Cit. p. 172.

160. Luigi Fabbri. "A Organização Anarquista". In: Anarco-Comunismo Italiano, pp. 115-116.

161. Mikhail Bakunin. "Algumas Condições da Revolução". In: Conceito de Liberdade, p. 130.

162. In the Regulations of the Geneva Section of the Alliance of Socialist Democracy, written by Bakunin, he recommends: “You cannot become a member without having accepted, sincerely and completely, all of its principles. The older members are obliged and the recent members have to promise to do around them, when possible, the msot active propaganda, both by their example, as well as by words” [our emphasis]. See Conception of Freedom, p. 201.

163. Errico Malatesta. "La Propaganda Anarquista". Excerpt from L’Adunata dei Refrattari, 26 de dezembro de 1931. In: Vernon Richards. Op. Cit. p. 170.

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