by Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad
(“Delo Truda“ Group)

Translator’s Introduction

Eighty years have passed since the publication in the pages of the Russian anarchist monthly Delo Truda of the Organisational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft), but the question of anarchist organisation remains an open one even today, a question which sparks off ferocious debates with frightening ease.

Yet in reality it is a question which has long been solved: either we accept the need for anarchists to come together in their own specific organisations so as to allow greater unity and strength with which to face the struggles; or we don’t accept it, and are happy to remain part of the world of “chaotic“ anarchism which rejects such a need for one reason or another, considering it pointless or dangerous, or which accepts it, but choose anarchist unity in name, where the various hues of anarchism come together under an umbrella organisation without any serious political unity or strategies.

The Organisational Platform (often known in English-speaking circles as the “Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists“) was the first attempt since the days of Bakunin to formulate a theoretical and practical platform of the positions and tasks of anarchists, which could provide anarchism with the necessary political and organisational unity to increase the influence of anarchist ideas within society in general and the workers’ movements in particular, after the defeat of anarchism in the Russian Revolution made the grave faults of (what had by then become) “traditional“ anarchism all too evident.  The Platform not only deals with organisational questions.  It tackles a whole range of problems: it clearly sets out the class nature of anarchism; it defines the role of anarchists in the pre-revolutionary and revolutionary periods; it establishes the role of syndicalism as an instrument of struggle; it sets out the basic tenets of anarchist theory such as anti-capitalism, the rejection of bourgeois democracy, the State and authority, and more.

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Anarcho-CommieThe Platformist tradition takes its name, in historical terms, from the Organisational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft) (1926) (also known as The Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists). It is also seen as based on the writings of the ‘Friends of Durruti’ grouping of CNT members during the Spanish Revolution, compiled in Towards A Fresh Revolution.

The Organisational Platform itself insisted that its approach drew directly on the views of Bakunin and Kropotkin, and was a restatement of classical anarchist thought. Bakunin and Kropotkin had been partisans of organisational dualism: the view that a specific, anarchist, political organisation was required to supplement popular movements like unions. Some would strongly argue that some of Bakunin’s writings on revolutionary organisation should also be included in any account of Platformism, notably his The Program of the International Brotherhood (1869) and The Rules and Program of the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy (1868)

In the post war period many include documents like the Georges Fontenis pamphlet Manifesto of Libertarian Communism. This is somewhat controversial: different Platformists would have different amount of agreement and disagreement with each of these documents, particularly reservations about including the Manifesto at all. The Federation of Anarchist Communists of Bulgaria’s 1945 manifesto, on the other hand, is not well-known, but has a strong claim to be included in the Platformist tradition. The Especifismo conception of anarchist organisation, coined by the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation or FAU, and important in Latin America, has many similarities with Platformism. Like Bakunin, and the Platform itself, it advocates theoretical and tactical unity, collective responsibility, and federalism.

Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro

by Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro

English translation of “Anarquismo Social e Organização”, by the Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro (Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro – FARJ)

This document, first published in Portuguese under the title Anarquismo Social e Organização and adopted at the first Congress of the Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro in August 2008, seeks to map out the FARJ’s theoretical conception of an organised, class struggle anarchism and, “More than a purely theoretical document, […] reflects the conclusions realised after five years of practical application of anarchism in the social struggles of our people”.

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In Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, I included excerpts from the historic debate between Errico Malatesta and Pierre Monatte on revolutionary syndicalism at the 1907 International Anarchist Congress in Amsterdam. Also debated at the Congress was the relationship between anarchism and organization. Two of the most eloquent speakers were the anarcho-syndicalist, Amédée Dunois (1878-1945), and Malatesta.

At the time of the Congress, Dunois was a member of the French revolutionary syndicalist organization, the CGT, and a contributor to Jean Grave’s anarchist communist paper, Les Temps Nouveaux. A mere five years later, he was to renounce anarchism, joining the French Section of the Workers’ International (SFIO), the French socialist party affiliated with the Second International, which was dominated by the Marxist social democrats Dunois criticizes in his speech (the anarchists had been excluded from the Second International in 1896 because they refused to recognize “participation in legislative and parliamentary activity as a necessary means” for achieving socialism). Unlike the majority of the SFIO and the other political parties affiliated with the Second International, Dunois opposed the First World War. After the war, he helped found the French Communist Party (PCF), which he left in 1927 after it came under the control of Stalinists, rejoining the SFIO in 1930. He remained in France during the Second World War, where he worked in the Resistance. In 1944, he was captured by the Gestapo, eventually being sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where he perished in 1945, a few months before the war ended.

The translation is by Nestor McNab and is taken from Studies for a Libertarian Alternative: The International Anarchist Congress, Amsterdam, 1907, extlink published by the Anarchist Communist Federation in Italy (Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici – FdCA); paperback edition available from AK Press.extlink

Anarchism and Organization

It is not long since our comrades were almost unanimous in their clear hostility towards any idea of organization. The question we are dealing with today would, then, have raised endless protests from them, and its supporters would have been vehemently accused of a hidden agenda and authoritarianism.

They were times when anarchists, isolated from each other and even more so from the working class, seemed to have lost all social feeling; in which anarchists, with their unceasing appeals for the spiritual liberation of the individual, were seen as the supreme manifestation of the old individualism of the great bourgeois theoreticians of the past.

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Some Thoughts on Dual Power

Posted: December 20, 2010 in 7. Recent Writings

We in Beyond Resistance talk a bit about the idea of Dual Power in our strategy paper, but there are various understandings of the term. From our strategy: extlink

“Dual power is the idea that the embryo of the new world must be created while fighting the current one; ‘building the new in the shell of the old’. It means encouraging working class organs of self-management, where we can exercise our autonomy and restrict the power of boss and government until such time as we can confront and abolish both. A dual power strategy is one that directly challenges institutions of power and at the same time, in some way, prefigures the new institutions we envision. Therefore, it not only opposes the state, it also prepares for the difficult confrontations and questions that will arise in a revolutionary situation.”

At the recent anarchist bookfair in Los Angeles, Tom Wetzel of the Workers Solidarity Alliance went on to debunk some of the myths surrounding anarchist positions on power, and sums up nicely how we define Dual Power:

“One of the weaknesses of anarchism historically was there was a lot of confusion about power. People say we’re against power, but actually, the mass of people, the working class people, can’t liberate itself without actually creating new structures of power to run things. To run the society, that’s power. And I think the idea of popular power, power that’s based on ‘we’re all equals,’ self-managed kind of power, I mean, that’s how I think of the replacement for the state and the corporations, and so on. But in terms of developping power now, it might be useful to distinguish between social power that people build through movements that are engaged in confrontations, like shutting down workplaces. That means ordinary people are actually exercising power, some power. But it’s power that comes about through struggle, through confrontation with the people that have power in this system. But if you’re just running a collective, like of food distribution, that’s not really power, that’s collectively managing a resource. But I think that’s different from social power. And the point you said about transition to the new society, we have to have things there that can make that transition, historically, that was part of the whole reason for syndicalism–you develop a working-class movement where we have in all the various workplaces, we have workers organized in revolutionary, self-managed workplace organizations or unions, so that in a transitional situation, they can take over the running of those workplaces and guarantee that we still have food and transportation and public utilities and so on.”

Found at: extlink

The Forum of Organized Anarchism: a Process in the Making. Statement of the Aims and Principles of the Fórum do Anarquismo Organizado (FAO), approved at the 2010 National Meeting, held recently in Porto Alegre. The Fórum do Anarquismo Organizado (Forum of Organized Anarchism – FAO) has existed since 2002 and up to 2010 was a space for networking among individuals, groups and anarchist organizations who agree with two main themes: organization and “social insertion” (work within mass movements). These two bases provided us with theoretical and practical foundations over these past eight years; struggling to organize and organizing to struggle were the slogans used to gather together militants and guide our groups and organizations.

Struggle to Organize!

“We repeat: without organization, free or imposed, there can be no society, no conscious and desired organization, there can be no freedom nor guarantee that the interests of those in society are respected. And whoever is not organized, whoever does not seek the cooperation of others and does not offer his own, in conditions of reciprocity and solidarity, puts themselves necessarily in a state of inferiority and remains an unconscious cog in the social mechanism that others establish in their own way, and to their advantage.”

Errico Malatesta

The question of organization is very old in the anarchist milieu. Over one hundred years ago Malatesta was already addressing the issue. However much it may seem to us to be a simple matter, there is still much confusion about it and many people who sincerely think that anarchism is against any form of organization, that organization would mean bureaucracy, authoritarianism, etc. This is understandable, after all, as the concrete examples of organization that people know (like authoritarian, centralized, electoral parties) do not encourage anyone to think about it. But it is necessary to break with this, to realize that this is just “a” form of organization and not “the” form.

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The present epoch, when, by millions, workers engaged on the battlefield of social struggle, demanded direct and precise responses from the anarchists concerning this struggle and the communist construction which must follow it; it demanded of the same, the collective responsibility of the anarchists regarding these responses and anarchist propaganda in general. If they did not assume this responsibility the anarchists like anyone else in this case, do not have the right to propagandise in an inconsequent manner among the working masses, who struggled in agreeing to heavy sacrifices and lost numberless victims.

At this level, it is not a question of a game or the object of an experiment. That is how, if we do not have a General Union of Anarchists, we cannot furnish common responses on all those vital questions.

At the start of his article, comrade Malatesta appears to salute the idea of the creation of a vast anarchist organisation, however, in categorically repudiating collective responsibility, he renders impossible the realisation of such an organisation. For that will not only not be possible if there exists no theoretical and organisational agreement, constituting a common platform where numerous militants can meet. In the measure to which they accept this platform, that must be obligatory for all. Those who do not recognise these basic principles, cannot become, and besides would themselves not want to, become a member of the organisation.

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by Ian Martin
(Furious Five Revolutionary Collective)

‘Reformist!’  What a dreaded word for any self-professed revolutionary to be attached to.  It is one of those accusatory labels that ends intelligent debate and is designed to intimidate one into silence.  Much like the labels of communist! or, more recently, terrorist! used by those in power and their propagandists.  These labels serve as ideological whips to force someone into the proper mindset; god forbid someone does not spout the proper theories or rhetoric.  It is amazing how much activity is considered reformist by some, leaving one to wonder exactly what can be done that is considered revolutionary besides running around with gun and bomb in hand, attending meetings with the necessary scowl, or dancing around a campfire.  Reformist vs. revolutionary.  The eternal debate.  And while we stand around fighting over which actions are which, we accomplish no action, and the world goes to hell.

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by Ian Martin

What’s the difference between an activist and an organizer? The distinction is quite important. An activist is committed and responsible to an issue; they are what I call ‘issue-centered’. The issue can be anything from war to globalization to anarchism itself. Activists then attempt to rally people around this issue based on individuals’ moral commitments and beliefs. For activists, an organization is simply a means to effect change and win some victories regarding the given issue.

What needs to be done to create a successful, truly liberatory, revolutionary movement? What should an anarchist be doing to help in the creation and construction of such a movement? These are, or at least should be, central questions that anarchists need to be addressing. While they are by no means the only relevant issues, the fact that some anarchists spend so much time on intellectual masturbation instead of tackling these concrete problems of liberation is symptomatic of their distance from real grassroots struggle. For some, anarchism may be an intellectual game, a lifestyle, or simply something to do to pass the time. But for anyone who is truly interested in liberation, in building a free, equal and just society made up of vibrant communities, its time to get our hands dirty. There s no substitute or quick easy fix for organizing and movement building. Behind every spontaneous uprising or revolution, there was years of organizing work that paved the way and laid the foundations. Such work has been ignored for far too long by those calling themselves anarchists. This distance from grassroots struggle must be eliminated, and anarchists must assume their proper role as revolutionary organizers if they wish to be at all successful in seeing their dreams realized. The reason why anarchists are so cut off and isolated from the people and find themselves sharing in so many of the other flaws of the Left, is because like the Left, anarchists have mostly (in modern times) been activists.

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Active Revolution

Posted: June 28, 2010 in 7. Recent Writings

by James Mumm

Part I: Anarchist, Grassroots Dual Power

Dual Power Defined

The term “Dual Power” has been used in several ways since it was first coined. The following definition builds on the previous meanings of Dual Power, most importantly by articulating the equal and necessary relationship between counter-power and counter-institutions. In the original definition, dual power referred to the creation of an alternative, liberatory power to exist alongside and eventually overcome state/capitalist power.

Dual power theorizes a distinct and oppositional relationship between the forces of the state/capitalism and the revolutionary forces of oppressed people. The two can never be peacefully reconciled.

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by the Workers Solidarity Movement

The ‘Friends of Durruti’ appear in just about every book on the Spanish Civil War, especially in relation to the 1937 May Days in Barcelona. They get mentioned but we are told very little about their politics or activities. Some organisations, like the Workers Solidarity Movement, see their political stance as important to the tradition of revolutionary anarchism. Other anarchists, most notably sections of the syndicalist movement, condemn them for ‘flirting with Bolshevism/Leninism/Trotskyism’ or for ‘advocating an anarchist dictatorship’. So who were they, where did they come from, what did they say, and what did they do?

This book is probably the most detailed work about them in the English language. Unfortunately, it takes as its starting point that readers will be extremely knowledgeable about both anarchist ideas and the role of the anarchist movement in Spain. Without such knowledge the reader will find it impossible to understand what the author is writing about. Guillamón’s book reads as if it is a specialised academic paper, or a chapter which has been extracted from a much bigger work about Spain.

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Engaging with the Class

Posted: June 28, 2010 in 7. Recent Writings

by Jacobian (WSM)

One of the deep insights of anarchist theory is that means and ends are inseparable. The method of struggle will have important repercussions on the realisable ends. The development of Anarchist theory and practice has been a search for liberatory methods that are likely to create the society that we hope to see. The role of the organisation then has to fall in line with those tactics and strategies that are liable to bring about a libertarian society.

The Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists” [1] (Abbreviated: The Platform) was first written after the failure of the revolution in Russia and the Ukraine. An attempt was made to give solutions to those factors in the struggle which had lead to failure.

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