Anarchism: More Popular than Marxism?

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Thu Dec 9 10:36:09 MST 1999

    Anarchism is always (as one might expect) a large bundle of perspectives
which often bear little relationship to each other beyond the name -- a
name which is highly appealing to people (*not* just young people) who
are newly radicalized. For this last group anarchism may be only a
temporary label on the road to socialism (*or*, as Jim warns us and
as the famous figure of Mussolini also reminds us, to fascism). The
"movement" is a jumbled one in part because no one, *actually*,
rejects authority -- they merely exchange authorities. (One can't buy
a pair of socks without believing some authority re the location of
a store.) When the initial impulse to radical politics as a vaguely
conceived anarchism begins to pale (nothing gets done), those who
have become fixed in the position (and looked to the anarchist
tradition for theorizing it) move towards centralized modes of
organization that make m-l parties look like high school social
groupings. I think possibly the Eugenians (without yet admitting
it to themselves, perhaps) have reached that stage.

In any case, anarchism is not, never has been, never will be more
"popular" than either marxism or social democracy as an enduring
tendency. It can only explode and subside, explode and subside.

Ron Jacobs book on the Weatherman (of which I have only read
excerpts posted on some list) probably would be a good introduction
to the enduring nature of anarchism as a recurrent phenomenon.


Jamal Hannah wrote:

> Now that the WTO Conference is over, it appears that the events were a
> clear victory for the anarchist movement, which is being talked about in
> the current issues of TIME and Newsweek.
> What do people think of this?
> Louis said that Marxists had been involved in all the leftist movements of
> the last 50 years.. but, what types of Marxists?  the kind who believe in
> Marxism-leninism, or the more libertarian marxists who are more like
> anarchists?
> Anyway, I'm wondering what people think of the prospects for anarchism
> now, as an anti-capitalist movement.
>  - Jamal Hannah

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