Anarchism and Fascism: Partners in Crime?

Julio Pino jpino at
Mon Aug 7 12:58:31 MDT 2000

Comrades: On Sat.5, the New York Times ran a piece entitled "Anarchism, the
Creed That Won't Stay Dead." One reason, of course, why anarchism has
survived for so long is because, in Popperian language, it's
unfalsifiable---who could refute the creed of anarchy, which is so
ambiguous and flexible as to mean anything and everything to
everybody---whereas Marxism, to quote Lenin, is "the concrete analysis of
concrete problems." Because many youth today are drawn to Anarchism,
probably for aesthetic as much as political reasons, it's worth taking a
second look at Anarchy in philosophy and practice.
   While the times piece was condescendingly friendly, viz." a nice idea
but it just won't work" there is a dark side to anarchism seldom discussed
by either sympathizers or detractors---the analogies and even common
lineage between anarchism and fascism.
  Most Marxist know anarchism chiefly through Marx's polemic against
Proudhom, "The Poverty of Philosophy", in which Karl dissects and destroys
the idea that a classless society of cooperatives would slowly engulf
capitalism. What few readers realize is that the piece by Proudhon that
enraged Marx, "The Philosophy of Poverty", was the work of the young
Proudhon. His later years were marked by bizarre political twists and
turns. His last published book "La Guerre et la Paix"is a paen to warfare.
I do not know if there exists an English translation, so I shall print this
summary by a contemporary French devotee, A.J. Anglois:

"The Italian war(of unification} led {Proudhom} to write a new work,
                        which he published in 1861, entitled "War and
                        Peace." This work, in which, running counter to a
                        multitude of ideas accepted until then without
                        examination, he pronounced for the first time
                        against the restoration of an aristocratic and
                        Poland, and against the establishment of a unitary
                        government in Italy, created for him a multitude of
                        enemies. Most of his friends, disconcerted by his
                        categorical affirmation of a right of force, notified
                        him that they decidedly disapproved of his new
                        publication. "You see," triumphantly cried those
                        whom he had always combated, "this man is only a

                           Led by his previous studies to test every thing by
                        the question of right, Proudhon asks, in his "War
                        and Peace," whether there is a real right of which
                        war is the vindication, and victory the
demonstration.                         This right, which he roughly
                        calls the right of the strongest or the right of
                        and which is, after all, only the right of the most
                        worthy to the preference in certain definite cases,
                        exists, says Proudhon, independently of war. It
                        cannot be legitimately vindicated except where
                        necessity clearly demands the subordination of one
                        will to another... Among nations,
                        the right of the majority, which is only a
corollary of
                        the right of force, is as unacceptable as universal
                        monarchy. Hence, until equilibrium is established
                        and recognized between States or national forces,
                        there must be war."

   It was this Proudhian declaration of a "right to war" that led Stanley
Payne, the dean of American historians of European fascism, to dub Proudhom
a "harbinger of Fascism." What unites Anarchists with Fascists is the
belief by both that it is possible to will our way out of capitalism and
into a new social system, and that violence is an expression of that will.
Bakunin's famous pronunciamento, "the urge to destroy is a creative urge",
falls into proto-fascism too. No wonder he's a hero to the Red-Brown
coalition in Russia today!Yes, I know, there are eco-anarchists,
pacifists-anarchists, etc, but what have they ever accomplished?

Don't get me wrong; I'm glad the anarchists trashed Starbucks in Seattle,
but youth who are led down that path should take a clear look at
Anarchism's dark heritage.
Julio Cesar

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