Anarchist Theory and Practice

Rebecca Hill hillx018 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
Sat Apr 29 10:23:33 MDT 1995


   Steve Wright's comments on Anarchism seem to me to get at the central
difference between Anarchism and Communism: Leninism/Vanguardism. .
A crucial aspect of Anarchist philosophy since the Bolsheviks has been the
critique of Leninism, Democratic Centralism, etc. as *political*
philosophies. Organizational Anarchists would like to create decentralized
structures of governance and participatory democracy instead of
representative democracy or party systems.
    While Communists have had really great economic analysis, it seems to
me that their practical political program has been limited by a reliance on
the existing forms of state structure, and nation state structure in
particular. Hence, the need for a revolutionary government, a revolutionary
party etc.
    I see Anarchism as a theory which addresses the role of
authority and hierarchy in society in general. That's why it's possible to
be many different kinds of Anarchist: Communist Anarchist (like Malatesta),
Libretarian Anarchist, etc. However, most Communist Anarchists would tell
the libretarians that true democracy will never be possible while
capitalism (and therefore the ruling class)_ remains intact. The problem
with Anarchism, as one poster rightly points out, is a "purist"
strain that either makes us as "authoritarian" as any Leninist group, and
a resistance to politics of any kind which just keeps folks
from getting organized. However, There's lots of varieties of Anarchists,
just like there's lots of varieties of Marxists. Not all Anarchists believe
in spontaneous revolt of the workers/people etc, although some do. Others
feel the need to build organizations and have a more thorough analysis of
social relations.
   Also, sorry to be long-winded, but, a nice thing about Anarchism is its
flexibility in strategy for addressing power relations. Because Anarchists
do not rely only on a class theory or on the "exploitation" model, (again,
part of the critique of vanguardism), we have been historically more open
to feminists etc.

Rebecca H.



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