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Geoffrey Ostergaard RESISTING THE NATION STATE
the pacifist and anarchist tradition
Formely published by the PPU now also available as pdf document.
introduction
1. pacifism, pacificism and anti-militarism
2. sectarian origins of pacifism
3. pacificism and the peace movement
5. conscription and the nation state
6. the co formula
7. anarchism as a social movement
8. anarchism as a tradition of political thought
9. society and the state
10. the anarchist view of the state
11. the anarchist view of the nation and of nationalism
12. anarchism and violence
13. convergence of pacifism and anarchism
 

 

ANARCHISM AS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT
One such was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-65), the first man to use the term 'anarchy' as the defiant, but literal description of his ideal of a society without government. The classical anarchist movement, which he initially inspired and which was further developed by Michael Bakunin (1814-76) and Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921), formed an integral, if contentious part of the wider socialist movement from the 1840s to 1939. Classical anarchism can also be seen as at the centre of one of three broad schools of socialist thought, distinguished by their attitude to the state: Libertarian Socialism, Marxian Communism and Social Democracy. Whereas the control of state power is central, in different ways, to the strategy of the last two, libertarian socialism seeks to achieve its goals by direct voluntary action of the people themselves. Its thrust is either non-statist or anti-statist, and the action may be wholly peaceful or sometimes violent. Historically, in both Britain and France, libertarian socialism was the first to emerge. Thus, the first British socialists, inspired by Robert Owen (1771-1858), sought to establish by peaceful voluntary action a 'new moral world' which would completely replace competitive capitalism. They envisaged a world-wide system - one of Owen's organisations was grandly called The Association of All Classes of All Nations - made up of small scale, self-sufficient communist communities, loosely linked together for purposes of mutual aid and exchange of surpluses. In the process of establishing this system, the 'old immoral world' with its antagonisms, states and wars, would be sloughed off. In France, the followers of Fourier shared a similar vision. This kind of communitarian socialism later found substantial expression in 19th century America and in the Israeli kibbutzim, and has surfaced again in the recent commune movement. From Owenite socialism also developed the modern Co-operative Movement which, throughout the 19th century, sought to build the Cooperative Commonwealth. In the 20th century, lowering its sights and usually in alliance with Social Democracy, it has settled for the voluntary socialisation of a sector of the national economy.
Proudhon's socialism, called mutualism, was essentially co-operative in character, envisaging workers and peasants, either individually or in groups, organising production in their own workshops and fields, financed by free credit from a People's Bank. But, unlike Owen and Fourier, he did not ignore the state. Rather, he insisted that the proletariat could not emancipate itself through the use of state power. Bakunin, who emerged as Marx's main rival in the First International, 1864-72, made the point more forcibly: 'I am not a communist, because communism concentrates and swallows up in itself for the benefit of the State all the forces of society. I want the abolition of the State...I want to see collective or social property organised from below upwards, not from above downwards, by means of any kind of authority whatever...' (16)
In its Bakuninist phase, the anarchist movement favoured a revolutionary strategy in which the oppressed classes, peasants as well as industrial workers, would rise in popular insurrections, expropriate the means of production, and abolish the state. Kropotkin, who developed the theory of anarchist-communism, also favoured this strategy. In place of the state would emerge the autonomous commune, federally linked with other communes at regional, national and international levels.
The uprising of the Paris Commune of 1871 approximated to this anarchist model of revolution. Its crushing strengthened the tendency towards State Socialism, whether of the Marxist or Social Democratic variety. It also led some anarchists to adopt the tactic of 'propaganda by the deed' - acts of assassination of political leaders and terrorism of the bourgeoisie - intended to encourage popular insurrections. 'The dark angels' of anarchism who performed these acts are largely responsible for the popular but misleading stereotype of the anarchist.
The consequent repression of the movement led other anarchists to develop an alternative syndicalist strategy. The idea was to turn trade unions into revolutionary instruments of class struggle and make them, rather than the communes, the basic units of a socialist order. The revolution would take the form of a General Strike in the course of which the unions would take over the means of production and abolish the state. In place of the sovereign, territorial nation states, there would be 'industrial republics' organised on functional lines with sovereignty divided between unions and federations of unions at all levels. It was through syndicalism that anarchism exercised its greatest influence on labour and socialist movements in Europe and the USA in the period 1890-1920. The influence lasted longer in Spain where, during the Civil War, 1936-39, the anarcho-syndicalists attempted, with some short-lived success, to carry through their conception of revolution.

 


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