Anarchist Theory and Practice

Guy Yasko guyy at
Thu Apr 27 17:06:37 MDT 1995

Justin Schwartz wrote:

> "chaos." The fundamental left anarchist belief, its defining
> characteristic, is that society should not have an organbized coercive
> apparatus to maintain order, which should rather be done--and it is agreed
> that it should be done--cooperatively and voluntarily. Anarchists differ
> from Marxists largely in the question of whether the establishment of a
> workers' state should be a revolutionary goal. Anarchists don't want to
> establish any state.

As a friend says, like liberals without the police.  Actually, I think the
anarchists  differ from Marxists over the relation between theory and
practice, too.   Anarchists optimistically assume that the transformation
of the working class from a class in itself to a class for itself occurs by
means of struggle.  In other words, according to the anarchists
 all we need to do is struggle.  As things which would restrict and
restrain the autonomous activity of the people, theory and politics hold
little value for anarchists.  Practice is enough.

The problem with this approach to relating theory and practice is that
it becomes very difficult to decide who is and is not part of the struggle.
For  example, I study the Japanese student movement from about 65-73.
I find the more anarchistically inclined students incapable of defining
their movement and themselves.  This became a serious problem when
people like Mishima Yukio (the novelist, but also the leading right
wing ideologue of the time) began to argue that the student movement
ought to fight for the emperor.  The students couldn't answer Mishima,
because they had no means of self-definition, i.e. no theory.  They had
defined themselves as people struggling together against the state and
university administration.  In fact the abbreviated version of their
moniker translates to "All Struggling Together"  (Zenkyoto).  I
could also use a Russian example: One of the criticisms of the
Mensheviks was that anyone could be a Menshevik.

The anarchists do have a point in that the theory and form of struggle
must be open.  Marxists reply that they can't be completely open.


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