Skip to main content

Full text of "Notes on Anarchism"

See other formats

Notes on Anarchism^ 

Noam Chomsky 

A French writer, sympathetic to anarchism, wrote in the 1890s that "anar- 
chism has a broad back, hke paper it endures anything" — including, he noted 
those whose acts are such that "a mortal enemy of anarchism could not have 
done better." ^There have been many styles of thought and action that have 
been referred to as "anarchist." It would be hopeless to try to encompass all of 
these conflicting tendencies in some general theory or ideology. And even if we 
proceed to extract from the history of libertarian thought a living, evolving tra- 
dition, as Daniel Guerin does in Anarchism, it remains difficult to formulate its 
doctrines as a speciflc and determinate theory of society and social change. The 
anarchist historian Rudolph Rocker, who presents a systematic conception of 
the development of anarchist thought towards anarchosyndicalism, along lines 
that bear comparison to Guerins work, puts the matter well when he writes that 
anarchism is not 

a flxed, self-enclosed social system but rather a deflnite trend in the 
historic development of mankind, which, in contrast with the in- 
tellectual guardianship of all clerical and governmental institutions, 
strives for the free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and 
social forces in life. Even freedom is only a relative, not an absolute 
concept, since it tends constantly to become broader and to affect 
wider circles in more manifold ways. For the anarchist, freedom is 
not an abstract philosophical concept, but the vital concrete pos- 
sibility for every human being to bring to full development all the 
powers, capacities, and talents with which nature has endowed him, 
and turn them to social account. The less this natural development 
of man is influenced by ecclesiastical or political guardianship, the 
more efficient and harmonious will human personality become, the 
more will it become the measure of the intellectual culture of the 
society in which it has grown. ^ 

One might ask what value there is in studying a "deflnite trend in the historic 
development of mankind" that does not articulate a speciflc and detailed social 

*This essay is a revised version of tlie introduction to Daniel Guerin's Anarchism: From 
Theory to Practice. In a sligiitly different version, it appeared in tlie New York Review of 
Books, May 21, 1970. Transcribed by raelSll . mit . edu (Bill Lear). Typeset in WI^ by (Ori Livneh). 

theory. Indeed, many commentators dismiss anarchism as Utopian, formless, 
primitive, or otherwise incompatible with the realities of a complex society. 
One might, however, argue rather differently: that at every stage of history 
our concern must be to dismantle those forms of authority and oppression that 
survive from an era when they might have been justified in terms of the need 
for security or survival or economic development, but that now contribute to — 
rather than alleviate — material and cultural deficit. If so, there will be no 
doctrine of social change fixed for the present and future, nor even, necessarily, 
a specific and unchanging concept of the goals towards which social change 
should tend. Surely our understanding of the nature of man or of the range 
of viable social forms is so rudimentary that any far-reaching doctrine must be 
treated with great skepticism, just as skepticism is in order when we hear that 
"human nature" or "the demands of efficiency" or "the complexity of modern 
life" requires this or that form of oppression and autocratic rule. 

Nevertheless, at a particular time there is every reason to develop, insofar 
as our understanding permits, a specific realization of this definite trend in 
the historic development of mankind, appropriate to the tasks of the moment. 
For Rocker, "the problem that is set for our time is that of freeing man from 
the curse of economic exploitation and political and social enslavement" ; and 
the method is not the conquest and exercise of state power, nor stultifying 
parliamentarianism, but rather "to reconstruct the economic life of the peoples 
from the ground up and build it up in the spirit of Socialism." 

But only the producers themselves are fitted for this task, since they 
are the only value-creating element in society out of which a new 
future can arise. Theirs must be the task of freeing labor from all 
the fetters which economic exploitation has fastened on it, of freeing 
society from all the institutions and procedure of political power, and 
of opening the way to an alliance of free groups of men and women 
based on co-operative labor and a planned administration of things 
in the interest of the community. To prepare the toiling masses in 
the city and country for this great goal and to bind them together 
as a militant force is the objective of modern Anarcho-syndicalism, 
and in this its whole purpose is exhausted, [p. 108] 

As a socialist. Rocker would take for granted "that the serious, final, com- 
plete liberation of the workers is possible only upon one condition: that of the 
appropriation of capital, that is, of raw material and all the tools of labor, in- 
cluding land, by the whole body of the workers." As an anarchosyndicalist, he 
insists, further, that the workers' organizations create "not only the ideas, but 
also the facts of the future itself" in the prerevolutionary period, that they em- 
body in themselves the structure of the future society — and he looks forward to 
a social revolution that will dismantle the state apparatus as well as expropri- 
ate the expropriators. "What we put in place of the government is industrial 

Anarcho-syndicalists are convinced that a Socialist economic order 
cannot be created by the decrees and statutes of a government, but 

only by the solidaric collaboration of the workers with hand and 
brain in each special branch of production; that is, through the tak- 
ing over of the management of all plants by the producers themselves 
under such form that the separate groups, plants, and branches of 
industry are independent members of the general economic organ- 
ism and systematically carry on production and the distribution of 
the products in the interest of the community on the basis of free 
mutual agreements, [p. 94] 

Rocker was writing at a moment when such ideas had been put into practice 
in a dramatic way in the Spanish Revolution. Just prior to the outbreak of 
the revolution, the anarchosyndicalist economist Diego Abad de Santillan had 

... in facing the problem of social transformation, the Revolution 
cannot consider the state as a medium, but must depend on the 
organization of producers. 

We have followed this norm and we find no need for the hypothesis 
of a superior power to organized labor, in order to establish a new 
order of things. We would thank anyone to point out to us what 
function, if any, the State can have in an economic organization, 
where private property has been abolished and in which parasitism 
and special privilege have no place. The suppression of the State 
cannot be a languid affair; it must be the task of the Revolution to 
finish with the State. Either the Revolution gives social wealth to 
the producers in which case the producers organize themselves for 
due collective distribution and the State has nothing to do; or the 
Revolution does not give social wealth to the producers, in which 
case the Revolution has been a lie and the State would continue. 

Our federal council of economy is not a political power but an eco- 
nomic and administrative regulating power. It receives its orienta- 
tion from below and operates in accordance with the resolutions of 
the regional and national assemblies. It is a liaison corps and nothing 

Engels, in a letter of 1883, expressed his disagreement with this conception 
as follows: 

The anarchists put the thing upside down. They declare that the 
proletarian revolution must begin by doing away with the politi- 
cal organization of the state. . . .But to destroy it at such a moment 
would be to destroy the only organism by means of which the vic- 
torious proletariat can assert its newly-conquered power, hold down 
its capitalist adversaries, and carry out that economic revolution of 
society without which the whole victory must end in a new defeat 
and a mass slaughter of the workers similar to those after the Paris 

In contrast, the anarchists — most eloquently Bakunin — warned of the dan- 
gers of the "red bureaucracy," which would prove to be "the most vile and 
terrible lie that our century has created." ^The anarchosyndicalist Fernand Pell- 
outier asked: "Must even the transitory state to which we have to submit nec- 
essarily and fatally be a collectivist jail? Can't it consist in a free organization 
limited exclusively by the needs of production and consumption, all political 
institutions having disappeared?^! do not pretend to know the answers to this 
question. But it seems clear that unless there is, in some form, a positive answer, 
the chances for a truly democratic revolution that will achieve the humanistic 
ideals of the left are not great. Martin Buber put the problem succinctly when 
he wrote: "One cannot in the nature of things expect a little tree that has been 
turned into a club to put forth leaves." *The question of conquest or destruction 
of state power is what Bakunin regarded as the primary issue dividing him from 
Marx.^In one form or another, the problem has arisen repeatedly in the century 
since, dividing "libertarian" from "authoritarian" socialists. 

Despite Bakunin 's warnings about the red bureaucracy, and their fulfillment 
under Stalin's dictatorship, it would obviously be a gross error in interpreting the 
debates of a century ago to rely on the claims of contemporary social movements 
as to their historical origins. In particular, it is perverse to regard Bolshevism 
as "Marxism in practice." Rather, the left-wing critique of Bolshevism, taking 
account of the historical circumstances surrounding the Russian Revolution, is 
far more to the point. ^"^ 

The anti-Bolshevik, left-wing labor movement opposed the Leninists 
because they did not go far enough in exploiting the Russian up- 
heavals for strictly proletarian ends. They became prisoners of their 
environment and used the international radical movement to satisfy 
specifically Russian needs, which soon became synonymous with the 
needs of the Bolshevik Party-State. The "bourgeois" aspects of the 
Russian Revolution were now discovered in Bolshevism itself: Lenin- 
ism was adjudged a part of international social-democracy, differing 
from the latter only on tactical issues. ^^ 

If one were to seek a single leading idea within the anarchist tradition, it 
should, I believe, be that expressed by Bakunin when, in writing on the Paris 
Commune, he identified himself as follows: 

I am a fanatic lover of liberty, considering it as the unique condition 
under which intelligence, dignity and human happiness can develop 
and grow; not the purely formal liberty conceded, measured out and 
regulated by the State, an eternal lie which in reality represents 
nothing more than the privilege of some founded on the slavery of 
the rest; not the individualistic, egoistic, shabby, and fictitious lib- 
erty extolled by the School of J.- J. Rousseau and other schools of 
bourgeois liberalism, which considers the would-be rights of all men, 
represented by the State which limits the rights of each — an idea that 
leads inevitably to the reduction of the rights of each to zero. No, I 

mean the only kind of liberty that is worthy of the name, liberty that 
consists in the full development of all the material, intellectual and 
moral powers that are latent in each person; liberty that recognizes 
no restrictions other than those determined by the laws of our own 
individual nature, which cannot properly be regarded as restrictions 
since these laws are not imposed by any outside legislator beside or 
above us, but are immanent and inherent, forming the very basis of 
our material, intellectual and moral being — they do not limit us but 
are the real and immediate conditions of our freedom. 

These ideas grew out of the Enlightenment; their roots are in Rousseau's 
Discourse on Inequality, Humboldt's Limits of State Action, Kant's insistence, 
in his defense of the French Revolution, that freedom is the precondition for ac- 
quiring the maturity for freedom, not a gift to be granted when such maturity 
is achieved. With the development of industrial capitalism, a new and unan- 
ticipated system of injustice, it is libertarian socialism that has preserved and 
extended the radical humanist message of the Enlightenment and the classical 
liberal ideals that were perverted into an ideology to sustain the emerging so- 
cial order. In fact, on the very same assumptions that led classical liberalism to 
oppose the intervention of the state in social life, capitalist social relations are 
also intolerable. This is clear, for example, from the classic work of Humboldt, 
The Limits of State Action, which anticipated and perhaps inspired Mill. This 
classic of liberal thought, completed in 1792, is in its essence profoundly, though 
prematurely, anticapitalist. Its ideas must be attenuated beyond recognition to 
be transmuted into an ideology of industrial capitalism. Humboldt's vision of a 
society in which social fetters are replaced by social bonds and labor is freely un- 
dertaken suggests the early Marx., with his discussion of the "alienation of labor 
when work is external to the worker. . . not part of his nature. . . [so that] he does 
not fulfill himself in his work but denies himself. . . [and is] physically exhausted 
and mentally debased," alienated labor that "casts some of the workers back 
into a barbarous kind of work and turns others into machines," thus depriving 
man of his "species character" of "free conscious activity" and "productive life." 
Similarly, Marx conceives of "a new type of human being who needs his fellow 
men. . . . [The workers' association becomes] the real constructive effort to create 
the social texture of future human relations." ^^It is true that classical libertar- 
ian thought is opposed to state intervention in social life, as a consequence of 
deeper assumptions about the human need for liberty, diversity, and free as- 
sociation. On the same assumptions, capitalist relations of production, wage 
labor, competitiveness, the ideology of "possessive individualism" — all must be 
regarded as fundamentally antihuman. Libertarian socialism is properly to be 
regarded as the inheritor of the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment. 

Rudolf Rocker describes modern anarchism as "the confluence of the two 
great currents which during and since the French revolution have found such 
characteristic expression in the intellectual life of Europe: Socialism and Lib- 
eralism." The classical liberal ideals, he argues, were wrecked on the realities 
of capitalist economic forms. Anarchism is necessarily anticapitalist in that it 

"opposes the exploitation of man by man." But anarchism also opposes "the 
dominion of man over man." It insists that ^^ socialism will he free or it will not 
he at all. In its recognition of this lies the genuine and profound justification 
for the existence of anarchism." ^^From this point of view, anarchism may be re- 
garded as the libertarian wing of socialism. It is in this spirit that Daniel Guerin 
has approached the study of anarchism in Anarchism and other works. ^^Guerin 
quotes Adolph Fischer, who said that "every anarchist is a socialist but not 
every socialist is necessarily an anarchist." Similarly Bakunin, in his "anarchist 
manifesto" of 1865, the program of his projected international revolutionary 
fraternity, laid down the principle that each member must be, to begin with, a 
socialist. A consistent anarchist must oppose private ownership of the means of 
production and the wage slavery which is a component of this system, as incom- 
patible with the principle that labor must be freely undertaken and under the 
control of the producer. As Marx put it, socialists look forward to a society in 
which labor will "become not only a means of life, but also the highest want in 
life,"^^an impossibility when the worker is driven by external authority or need 
rather than inner impulse: "no form of wage-labor, even though one may be less 
obnoxious that another, can do away with the misery of wage-labor itself." ^^A 
consistent anarchist must oppose not only alienated labor but also the stupe- 
fying specialization of labor that takes place when the means for developing 

mutilate the worker into a fragment of a human being, degrade him 
to become a mere appurtenance of the machine, make his work such 
a torment that its essential meaning is destroyed; estrange from him 
the intellectual potentialities of the labor process in very proportion 
to the extent to which science is incorporated into it as an indepen- 
dent power. . . ^^ 

Marx saw this not as an inevitable concomitant of industrialization, but rather 
as a feature of capitalist relations of production. The society of the future must 
be concerned to "replace the detail- worker of today. . . reduced to a mere frag- 
ment of a man, by the fully developed individual, fit for a variety of labours. . . to 
whom the different social functions. . . are but so many modes of giving free 
scope to his own natural powers." ^^The prerequisite is the abolition of capital 
and wage labor as social categories (not to speak of the industrial armies of the 
"labor state" or the various modern forms of totalitarianism since capitalism). 
The reduction of man to an appurtenance of the machine, a specialized tool 
of production, might in principle be overcome, rather than enhanced, with the 
proper development and use of technology, but not under the conditions of au- 
tocratic control of production by those who make man an instrument to serve 
their ends, overlooking his individual purposes, in Humboldt's phrase. 

Anarchosyndicalists sought, even under capitalism, to create "free associa- 
tions of free producers" that would engage in militant struggle and prepare to 
take over the organization of production on a democratic basis. These associa- 
tions would serve as "a practical school of anarchism." ^"^If private ownership of 
the means of production is, in Proudhon's often quoted phrase, merely a form of 

"theft" — "the exploitation of the weak by the strong" ^^ — control of production 
by a state bureaucracy, no matter how benevolent its intentions, also does not 
create the conditions under which labor, manual and intellectual, can become 
the highest want in life. Both, then, must be overcome. 

In his attack on the right of private or bureaucratic control over the means 
of production,, the anarchist takes his stand with those who struggle to bring 
about "the third and last emancipatory phase of history," the first having made 
serfs out of slaves, the second having made wage earners out of serfs, and the 
third which abolishes the proletariat in a final act of liberation that places 
control over the economy in the hands of free and voluntary associations of 
producers (Fourier, 1848). ^^The imminent danger to "civilization" was noted 
by de Tocqueville, also in 1848: 

As long as the right of property was the origin and groundwork of 
many other rights, it was easily defended — or rather it was not at- 
tacked; it was then the citadel of society while all the other rights 
were its outworks; it did not bear the brunt of attack and, indeed, 
there was no serious attempt to assail it. but today, when the right 
of property is regarded as the last undestroyed remnant of the aris- 
tocratic world, when it alone is left standing, the sole privilege in an 
equalized society, it is a different matter. Consider what is happen- 
ing in the hearts of the working-classes, although I admit they are 
quiet as yet. It is true that they are less inflamed than formerly by 
political passions properly speaking; but do you not see that their 
passions, far from being political, have become social? Do you not 
see that, little by little, ideas and opinions are spreading amongst 
them which aim not merely at removing such and such laws, such a 
ministry or such a government, but at breaking up the very founda- 
tions of society itself?^^ 

The workers of Paris, in 1871, broke the silence, and proceeded 

to abolish property, the basis of all civilization! Yes, gentlemen, the 
Commune intended to abolish that class property which makes the 
labor of the many the wealth of the few. It aimed at the expropri- 
ation of the expropriators. It wanted to make individual property 
a truth by transforming the means of production, land and capital, 
now chiefly the means of enslaving and exploiting labor, into mere 
instruments of free and associated labor. ^^ 

The Commune, of course, was drowned in blood. The nature of the "civiliza- 
tion" that the workers of Paris sought to overcome in their attack on "the very 
foundations of society itself" was revealed, once again, when the troops of the 
Versailles government reconquered Paris from its population. As Marx wrote, 
bitterly but accurately: 

The civilization and justice of bourgeois order comes out in its lurid 
light whenever the slaves and drudges of that order rise against their 

masters. Then this civihzation and justice stand forth as undisguised 
savagery and lawless revenge. . . the infernal deeds of the soldiery 
reflect the innate spirit of that civilization of which they are the 
mercenary vindicators. . . .The bourgeoisie of the whole world, which 
looks complacently upon the wholesale massacre after the battle, is 
convulsed by horror at the destruction of brick and mortar. [Ibid., 
pp. 74, 77] 

Despite the violent destruction of the Commune, Bakunin wrote that Paris 
opens a new era, "that of the definitive and complete emancipation of the pop- 
ular masses and their future true solidarity, across and despite state bound- 
aries. . . the next revolution of man, international in solidarity, will be the resur- 
rection of Paris" — a revolution that the world still awaits. 

The consistent anarchist, then, should be a socialist, but a socialist of a 
particular sort. He will not only oppose alienated and specialized labor and 
look forward to the appropriation of capital by the whole body of workers, but 
he will also insist that this appropriation be direct, not exercised by some elite 
force acting in the name of the proletariat. He will, in short, oppose 

the organization of production by the Government. It means State- 
socialism, the command of the State officials over production and the 
command of managers, scientists, shop-officials in the shop. . . .The 
goal of the working class is liberation from exploitation. This goal is 
not reached and cannot be reached by a new directing and governing 
class substituting itself for the bourgeoisie. It is only realized by the 
workers themselves being master over production. 

These remarks are taken from "Five Theses on the Class Struggle" by the 
left-wing Marxist Anton Pannekoek, one of the outstanding left theorists of 
the council communist movement. And in fact, radical Marxism merges with 
anarchist currents. 

As a further illustration, consider the following characterization of "revolu- 
tionary Socialism" : 

The revolutionary Socialist denies that State ownership can end in 
anything other than a bureaucratic despotism. We have seen why the 
State cannot democratically control industry. Industry can only be 
democratically owned and controlled by the workers electing directly 
from their own ranks industrial administrative committees. Social- 
ism will be fundamentally an industrial system; its constituencies 
will be of an industrial character. Thus those carrying on the social 
activities and industries of society will be directly represented in the 
local and central councils of social administration. In this way the 
powers of such delegates will flow upwards from those carrying on 
the work and conversant with the needs of the community. When 
the central administrative industrial committee meets it will repre- 
sent every phase of social activity. Hence the capitalist political or 

geographical state will be replaced by the industrial administrative 
committee of Socialism. The transition from the one social system to 
the other will be the social revolution. The political State through- 
out history has meant the government of men by ruling classes; the 
Republic of Socialism will be the government of industry admin- 
istered on behalf of the whole community. The former meant the 
economic and political subjection of the many; the latter will mean 
the economic freedom of all — it will be, therefore, a true democracy. 

This programmatic statement appears in William Paul's The State, its Origins 
and Functions, written in early 1917 — shortly before Lenin's State and Rev- 
olution, perhaps his most libertarian work (see note 9). Paul was a member 
of the Marxist-De Leonist Socialist Labor Party and later one of the founders 
of the British Communist Party. ^^ His critique of state socialism resembles the 
libertarian doctrine of the anarchists in its principle that since state ownership 
and management will lead to bureaucratic despotism, the social revolution must 
replace it by the industrial organization of society with direct workers' control. 
Many similar statements can be cited. 

What is far more important is that these ideas have been realized in sponta- 
neous revolutionary action, for example in Germany and Italy after World War 
I and in Spain (not only in the agricultural countryside, but also in industrial 
Barcelona) in 1936. One might argue that some form of council communism is 
the natural form of revolutionary socialism in an industrial society. It reflects 
the intuitive understanding that democracy is severely limited when the indus- 
trial system is controlled by any form of autocratic elite, whether of owners, 
managers and technocrats, a "vanguard" party, or a state bureaucracy. Under 
these conditions of authoritarian domination the classical libertarian ideals de- 
veloped further by Marx and Bakunin and all true revolutionaries cannot be 
realized; man will not be free to develop his own potentialities to their fullest, 
and the producer will remain "a fragment of a human being," degraded, a tool 
in the productive process directed from above. 

The phrase "spontaneous revolutionary action" can be misleading. The anar- 
chosyndicalists, at least, took very seriously Bakunin 's remark that the workers' 
organizations must create "not only the ideas but also the facts of the future 
itself" in the prerevolutionary period. The accomplishments of the popular rev- 
olution in Spain, in particular, were based on the patient work of many years of 
organization and education, one component of a long tradition of commitment 
and militancy. The resolutions of the Madrid Congress of June 1931 and the 
Saragossa Congress in May 1936 foreshadowed in many ways the acts of the 
revolution, as did the somewhat different ideas sketched by Santillan (see note 
4) in his fairly specific account of the social and economic organization to be in- 
stituted by the revolution. Guerin writes "The Spanish revolution was relatively 
mature in the minds of libertarian thinkers, as in the popular consciousness." 
And workers' organizations existed with the structure, the experience, and the 
understanding to undertake the task of social reconstruction when, with the 
Franco coup, the turmoil of early 1936 exploded into social revolution. In his 

introduction to a collection of documents on collectivization in Spain, the anar- 
chist Augustin Souchy writes: 

For many years, the anarchists and the syndicalists of Spain con- 
sidered their supreme task to be the social transformation of the 
society. In their assemblies of Syndicates and groups, in their jour- 
nals, their brochures and books, the problem of the social revolution 
was discussed incessantly and in a systematic fashion. ^^ 

All of this lies behind the spontaneous achievements, the constructive work 
of the Spanish Revolution. 

The ideas of libertarian socialism, in the sense described, have been sub- 
merged in the industrial societies of the past half-century. The dominant ide- 
ologies have been those of state socialism or state capitalism (of increasingly mil- 
itarized character in the United States, for reasons that are not obscure). ^^But 
there has been a rekindling of interest in the past few years. The theses I 
quoted by Anton Pannekoek were taken from a recent pamphlet of a radical 
French workers' group (Informations Correspondance Ouvriere). The remarks 
by William Paul on revolutionary socialism are cited in a paper by Walter 
Kendall given at the National Conference on Workers' Control in Sheffield, Eng- 
land, in March 1969. The workers' control movement has become a significant 
force in England in the past few years. It has organized several conferences and 
has produced a substantial pamphlet literature, and counts among its active ad- 
herents representatives of some of the most important trade unions. The Amal- 
gamated Engineering and Foundry workers' Union, for example, has adopted, as 
official policy, the program of nationalization of basic industries under "work- 
ers' control at all levels." ^*0n the Continent, there are similar developments. 
May 1968 of course accelerated the growing interest in council communism and 
related ideas in France and Germany, as it did in England. 

Given the highly conservative cast of our highly ideological society, it is not 
too surprising that the United States has been relatively untouched by these 
developments. But that too may change. The erosion of cold-war mythology 
at least makes it possible to raise these questions in fairly broad circles. If 
the present wave of repression can be beaten back, if the left can overcome its 
more suicidal tendencies and build upon what has been accomplished in the 
past decade, then the problem of how to organize industrial society on truly 
democratic lines, with democratic control in the workplace and in the commu- 
nity, should become a dominant intellectual issue for those who are alive to 
the problems of contemporary society, and, as a mass movement for libertarian 
socialism develops, speculation should proceed to action. 

In his manifesto of 1865, Bakunin predicted that one element in the social 
revolution will be "that intelligent and truly noble part of youth which, though 
belonging by birth to the privileged classes, in its generous convictions and 
ardent aspirations, adopts the cause of the people." Perhaps in the rise of 
the student movement of the 1960s one sees steps towards a fulfillment of this 


Daniel Guerin has undertaken what he has described as a "process of reha- 
bihtation" of anarchism. He argues, convincingly I believe, that "the construc- 
tive ideas of anarchism retain their vitality, that they may, when re-examined 
and sifted, assist contemporary socialist thought to undertake a new depar- 
ture. . . [and] contribute to enriching Marxism." ^^ 

From the "broad back" of anarchism he has selected for more intensive 
scrutiny those ideas and actions that can be described as libertarian social- 
ist. This is natural and proper. This framework accommodates the major 
anarchist spokesmen as well as the mass actions that have been animated by 
anarchist sentiments and ideals. Guerin is concerned not only with anarchist 
thought but also with the spontaneous actions of popular revolutionary strug- 
gle. He is concerned with social as well as intellectual creativity. Furthermore, 
he attempts to draw from the constructive achievements of the past lessons 
that will enrich the theory of social liberation. For those who wish not only 
to understand the world, but also to change it, this is the proper way to study 
the history of anarchism. Guerin describes the anarchism of the nineteenth 
century as essentially doctrinal, while the twentieth century, for the anarchists, 
has been a time of "revolutionary practice." ^"^^narc/i/sm reflects that judgment. 
His interpretation of anarchism consciously points toward the future. Arthur 
Rosenberg once pointed out that popular revolutions characteristically seek to 
replace "a feudal or centralized authority ruling by force" with some form of 
communal system which "implies the destruction and disappearance of the old 
form of State." Such a system will be either socialist or an "extreme form of 
democracy. . . [which is] the preliminary condition for Socialism inasmuch as So- 
cialism can only be realized in a world enjoying the highest possible measure 
of individual freedom." This ideal, he notes, was common to Marx and the 
anarchists. ^^This natural struggle for liberation runs counter to the prevailing 
tendency towards centralization in economic and political life. A century ago 
Marx wrote that the workers of Paris "felt there was but one alternative — the 
Commune, or the empire — under whatever name it might reappear." 

The empire had ruined them economically by the havoc it made 
of public wealth, by the wholesale financial swindling it fostered, 
by the props it lent to the artificially accelerated centralization of 
capital, and the concomitant expropriation of their own ranks. It 
had suppressed them politically, it had shocked them morally by 
its orgies, it had insulted their Voltairianism by handing over the 
education of their children to the freres Ignorantins, it had revolted 
their national feeling as Frenchmen by precipitating them headlong 
into a war which left only one equivalent for the ruins it made — the 
disappearance of the empire. ^^ 

The miserable Second Empire "was the only form of government possible at 
a time when the bourgeoisie had already lost, and the working class had not yet 
acquired, the faculty of ruling the nation." 

It is not very difficult to rephrase these remarks so that they become appro- 
priate to the imperial systems of 1970. The problem of "freeing man from the 


curse of economic exploitation and political and social enslavement" remains the 
problem of our time. As long as this is so, the doctrines and the revolutionary 
practice of libertarian socialism will serve as an inspiration and guide. 


■"■Octave Mirbeau, quoted in James JoU, The Anarchists, pp. 145—6. 

■^Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho syndicalism, p. 31. 

^Cited by Rocker, ibid., p. 77. This quotation and that in the next sentence are from 
Michael Bakunin, "The Program of the Alliance," in Sam Dolgoff, ed. and trans., Bakunin 
on Anarchy, p. 255. 

"*Diego Abad de Santillan, After the Revolution, p. 86. In the last chapter, written sev- 
eral months after the revolution had begun, he expresses his dissatisfaction with what had 
so far been achieved along these lines. On the accomplishments of the social revolution 
in Spain, see my American Power and the New Mandarins, chap. 1, and references cited 
there; the important study by Brouend Teme has since been translated into English. Several 
other important studies have appeared since, in particular: Frank Mintz, L'Autogestion dans 
I'Espagne relutionaire (Paris: Editions Bebaste, 1971); Cesar M. Lorenzo, Les Anarchistes 
espagnols et le pouvoir, 1868-1969 (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1969); Gaston Leval, Espagne 
libertaire, 1936-1939: L'Oeuvre constructive de la Relution espagnole (Paris: Editions du 
Cercle, 1971). See also Vernon Richards, Lessons of the Spanish Revolution, enlarged 1972 

^Cited by Robert C. Tucker, The Marxian Revolutionary Idea, in his discussion of Marxism 
and anarchism. 

^Bakunin, in a letter to Herzen and Ogareff, 1866. Cited by Daniel Guerin, Jeunesse du 
socialisme libertaire, p. 119. 

"^Fernand Pelloutier, cited in Joll, Anarchists. The source is "L'Anarchisme et les syndicats 
ouvriers," Les Temps nouveaux, 1895. The full text appears in Daniel Guerin, ed., Ni Dieu, 
ni Maitre, an excellent historical anthology of anarchism. 

^Martin Buber, Paths in Utopia, p. 127. 

^ "No state, however democratic," Bakunin wrote, "not even the reddest republic — can ever 
give the people what they really want, i.e., the free self-organization and administration of 
their own affairs from the bottom upward, without any interference or violence from above, 
because every state, even the pseudo-People's State concocted by Mr. Marx, is in essence only 
a machine ruling the masses from above, from a privileged minority of conceited intellectuals, 
who imagine that they know what the people need and want better than do the people 
themselves...." "But the people will feel no better if the stick with which they are being 
beaten is labeled 'the people's stick' " (Statism and Anarchy [1873], in Dolgoff, Bakunin on 
Anarchy, p. 338) — "the people's stick" being the democratic Republic. Marx, of course, saw 
the matter differently. For discussion of the impact of the Paris Commune on this dispute, 
see Daniel Guerin's comments in Ni Dieu, ni Maitre; these also appear, slightly extended, in 
his Pour un marxisme libertaire. See also note 24. 

■'■°On Lenin's "intellectual deviation" to the left during 1917, see Robert Vincent Daniels, 
"The State and Revolution: a Case Study in the Genesis and Transformation of Communist 
Ideology," American Slavic and East European Review^ vol. 12, no. 1 (1953). 
■'■■'■Paul Mattick, Marx and Keynes, p. 295. 

■'■■^Michael Bakunin, "La Commune de Paris et la notion de I'etat," reprinted in Guerin, Ni 
Dieu, ni Maitre. Bakunin's final remark on the laws of individual nature as the condition of 
freedom can be compared to the creative thought developed in the rationalist and romantic 
traditions. See my Cartesian Linguistics and Language and Mind. 

■'■^Shlomo Avineri, The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx, p. 142, referring to 
comments in The Holy Family. Avineri states that within the socialist movement only the 
Israeli kibbutzim "have perceived that the modes and forms of present social organization will 
determine the structure of future society." This, however, was a characteristic position of 
anarchosyndicalism, as noted earlier. 


■'■■^Rocker, Anarcho syndicalism, p. 28. 

■'■^See Guerin's works cited earlier. 

^^Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme. 

■'■'^Karl Marx, Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Okonomie, cited by Mattick, Marx and 
Keynes, p. 306. In this connection, see also Mattick's essay "Workers' Control," in Priscilla 
Long, ed.. The New Left; and Avineri, Social and Political Thought of Marx. 

^^Karl Marx, Capital, quoted by Robert Tucker, who rightly emphasizes that Marx sees the 
revolutionary more as a "frustrated producer" than a "dissatisfied consumer" {The Marxian 
Revolutionary Idea). This more radical critique of capitalist relations of production is a direct 
outgrowth of the libertarian thought of the Enlightenment. 

■'■^Marx, Capital, cited by Avineri, Social and Political Thought of Marx, p. 83. 

^^Pelloutier, "L'Anarchisme." 

'^^ "Qu'est-ce que la propriete?" The phrase "property is theft" displeased Marx, who saw in 
its use a logical problem, theft presupposing the legitimate existence of property. See Avineri, 
Social and Political Thought of Marx. 

^^ Cited in Ruber's Paths in Utopia., p. 19. 

^^Cited in J. Hampden Jackson, Marx, Proudhon and European Socialism, p. 60. 

^"^Karl Marx, The Civil War in France, p. 24. Avineri observes that this and other com- 
ments of Marx about the Commune refer pointedly to intentions and plans. As Marx made 
plain elsewhere, his considered assessment was more critical than in this address. 

^^For some background, see Walter Kendall, The Revolutionary Movement in Britain. 

'^^Collectivisations: L'Oeuvre constructive de la Revolution espagnole, p. 8. 

^"^For discussion, see Mattick, Marx and Keynes, and Michael Kidron, Western Capitalism 
Since the War. See also discussion and references cited in my At War With Asia, chap. 1, 
pp. 23-6. 

^^See Hugh Scanlon, The Way Forward for Workers^ Control. Scanlon is the president of 
the AEF, one of Rritain's largest trade unions. The institute was established as a result of the 
sixth Conference on Workers' Control, March 1968, and serves as a center for disseminating 
information and encouraging research. 

^^Guerin, Ni Dieu, ni Maitre, introduction. 

■^■"■Arthur Rosenberg, A History of Bolshevism, p. 88. 
^■^Marx, Civil War in France, pp. 62—3. 


Avineri, Shlonio. The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx. London: 
Cambridge University Press, 1968. 

Bakunin, Michael. Bakunin on Anarchy. Edited and translated by Sam Dolgoff. 
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972. 

Buber, Martin. Paths in Utopia. Boston: Beacon Press, 1958. 

Chomsky, Noam. Cartesian Linguistics. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. 

. American Power and the New Mandarins. New York: Pantheon Books, 


. At War with Asia. New York: Pantheon Books, 1970. 

Collectivisations: L'Oeuvre constructive de la Revolution espagnole. 2nd ed. 
Toulouse: Editions C.N.T., 1965. First edition, Barcelona, 1937. 

Daniels, Robert Vincent. "The State and Revolution: a Case Study in the 
Genesis and Transformation of Communist Ideology." American Slavic and 


East European Review, vol. 12, no. 1 (1953). 

Guerin, Daniel. Jeunesse du socialisme libertaire. Paris: Librairie Marcel 
Riviere, 1959. 

. Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, translated by Mary Klopper. New 

York: Monthly Review Press, 1970. 

. Pour un marxisme libertaire. Paris: Robert Laffont, 1969. 

, ed. Ni Dieu, ni Maitre. Lausanne: La Cite Editeur, n.d. 

Jackson, J. Hampden. Marx, Proudhon and European Socialism. New York: 
Collier Books, 1962. 

JoU, James. The Anarchists. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1964. 

Kendall, Walter. The Revolutionary Movement in Britain 1900-1921. London: 
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969. 

Kidron, Michael Western Capitalism, Since the War. London: Weidenfeld & 
Nicolson, 1968. 

Mattick, Paul. Marx and Keynes: The Limits of Mixed Economy. Extending 
Horizons Series. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1969. 

. "Workers' Control." In The New Left: A Collection of Essays, edited by 

Priscilla Long. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1969. 

Marx, Karl. The Civil War in France, 1871. New York: International Publish- 
ers, 1941. 

Pelloutier, Fernand. "L'Anarchisme et les syndicats ouvriers." Les Temps nou- 
veaux, 1895. Reprinted in Ni Dieu, ni Maitre, edited by Daniel Guerin. 
Lausanne: La Cite Editeur, n.d. 

Richards, Vernon. Lessons of the Spanish Revolution (1936-1939). Enlarged 
ed. London: Freedom Press, 1972. 

Rocker, Rudolf. Anarchosyndicalism. London: Seeker & Warburg, 1938. 

Rosenberg, Arthur. A History of Bolshevism from Marx to the First Five Years' 
Plan. Translated by Ian F. Morrow. New York: Russell & Russell, 1965. 

Santillan, Diego Abad de. After the Revolution. New York: Greenberg Publish- 
ers, 1937. 

Scanlon, Hugh. The Way Forward for Workers' Control. Institute for Workers' 
Control Pamphlet Series, no. 1, Nottingham, England, 1968. 

Tucker, Robert C. The Marxian Revolutionary Idea. New York: W. W. Norton 
& Co., 1969.