Marxism and the Anarchist Movement (fwd)

Jamal Hannah jah at
Mon Dec 6 23:09:30 MST 1999

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 23:49:33 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Singer <ricinger at>
To: iww-list at
Cc: aac at
Subject: Re: Marxism and the Anarchist Movement (fwd)
Resent-From: iww-list at

At 07:02 PM 12/6/99 -0800, Jamal Hannah wrote:

>(The Marxism mailing list:
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 18:29:11 -0800 (PST)
>From: Jamal Hannah <jah at>
>To: marxism at
>Subject: Marxism and the Anarchist Movement
>Louis Proyect, and others, I would like to clear up some of the
>misconceptions of the anarchist movement expressed by you on this list.


        It seems that you have some misconceptions about Marxism, the
writings of Marx and "Marxism versus anarchism."  In fact, most of your
arguments against "Marxism" have been used passionately by people who
beleived themselves to be true Marxists *against* people who they believed
distorted the writings of Marx.  For example:

>I realize that for a country calling itself socialist, which nationalizes
>the means of production, there is the problem of being under attack from
>all sides, overtly and covertly, and thus the government must be
>repressive in order to preserve national security. However, this
>is not really a valid way of proving to workers worldwide
>that a Marxist system is an improvement over a capitalist one.

        The "war communism" argument has been used most by Stalinists to
defend Stalinism.  There have, however, always been Marxists who soundly
criticized both Lenin and Stalin for their repressive regimes and strongly
opposed Lenin's conversion of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" into a
"dictatorship of the party."  In 1918, Rosa Luxemburg wrote a scathing
criticism of Lenin for these reasons, and she was considered by many to be a
far more orthodox Marxist than Lenin.

>Installing "state-capitalism", in which the means of production are
>owned and controlled by the state, takes power and enthusiasm for the
>revolution away from workers and peasents in any country this happends
>in. What is needed is a heavy dose of libertarian and grass-roots
>democratic measures that keep power in the hands of workers councils,
>collectives, co-ops, and unions.

        This is exactly what Rosa Luxemburg argued for.  It is also what
many other Marxists have argued for.  In fact, you have just about defined
the main principle behind council communism, a form of Marxism.  If I'm not
mistaken, the term "state capitalism" was used most by council communists
like Korsch and Pannekoek.  It is also a criticism leveled at Stalinists by
a huge international Trotskyist group, the ISO.

>I also believe that you cannot have "socialism in one country"... you

        And most Marxists, Leninists and Trotskyists would agree with you.

>[Snipped a whole bunch of definitions of anarchism which present their own
>parties could deal with this problem if they wanted to, by having open
>dialogues with anarchists, and incorporating a libertarian set of
>principles in their platforms.

        ...And many have incorportaed a libertarian set of principles into
their platforms.  Even more so, many Marxist (non-party) groups have done
this. Only, it's not necessarily because of a dialogue with anarchists...
It's more likely because they read these principles in Marx's writings.

>There are even some "libertarian marxists".  You can read about
>libertarian marxism at:

        You can read a lot more about them at Collective Action Notes and a
variety of other pages.  (Don't have URL handy at the moment -- do a search.
Many libertarian Marxist pages can be found through the CAN page.)

>Note that many anarchists see marxism as a useful critique of the
>capitalist system, but they do not like Marx's conclusions about how
>to have a revolution: a dedicated cadre of party members who are
>the "vangaurd" of the revolution.

        I think this is a debatable contention.  Anyway, vanguardism can
also easily be found in the writings of Bakunin, with his "secret societies."

>The reality of a revolution would probably consist of 1) a left-wing
>government that does basic custodial tasks, and 2) anarchist workers
>organizations which would be completely in control of issues such
>as production of needed goods, the media, and the defense of individual
>liberties of all workers. The government would be offered an ultimatum:
>stay out of the workers hair and take care of only basic things, or we
>will kick you out of power.

        It sounds to me as though you are describing some basic elements of
DeLeonism.  DeLeon, one of the founders of the IWW, was considered to be a
very orthodox Marxist.

>Marxists could learn a lot by reading anarchist writings and opinions.
>It is possible that anarchists could learn from marxists too, but dont
>be surprised if anarchists simply are too weary of marxism to bother
>reading their materials because of the way anarchists have been treated
>by marxists in the past,

        Is that an autobiographical reference?


Richard Singer

P.S.  BTW, in case you didn't know ;), I'm an anarchist.

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