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Anarchist FAQ - section H

Anarchist FAQ - section H

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Published by 18462
The Anarchist FAQ was written by anarchists across the world in an attempt to present anarchist ideas and theory to those interested in it. It is a co-operative effort, produced by a (virtual) working group and it exists to present a useful organising tool for anarchists on-line and, hopefully, in the real world. It desires to present arguments on why you should be an anarchist as well as refuting common arguments against anarchism and other proposed solutions to the social problems we face.

See: http://www.anarchistfaq.org
The Anarchist FAQ was written by anarchists across the world in an attempt to present anarchist ideas and theory to those interested in it. It is a co-operative effort, produced by a (virtual) working group and it exists to present a useful organising tool for anarchists on-line and, hopefully, in the real world. It desires to present arguments on why you should be an anarchist as well as refuting common arguments against anarchism and other proposed solutions to the social problems we face.

See: http://www.anarchistfaq.org

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Published by: 18462 on Oct 18, 2008
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An Anarchist FAQ: Section H - Why do Anarchists oppose State Socialism?
1
Section H - Why do anarchists oppose state
socialism?
SECTION H - WHY DO ANARCHISTS OPPOSE STATE SOCIALISM?......................................................................................... 3
H.1 HAVE ANARCHISTS ALWAYS OPPOSED STATE SOCIALISM?......................................................................................... 10

H.1.1 What was Bakunin's critique of Marxism?..........................................................................................................15 H.1.2 What are the key differences between Anarchists and Marxists?....................................................................26 H.1.3 Why do anarchists wish to abolish the state "overnight"?...............................................................................32 H.1.4 Do anarchists have "absolutely no idea" of what the proletariat will put in place of the state?...............35 H.1.5 Why do anarchists reject "utilising the present state"?....................................................................................38 H.1.6 Why do anarchists try to "build the new world in the shell of the old"?........................................................40 H.1.7 Haven't you read Lenin's "State and Revolution"?............................................................................................43

H.2 WHAT PARTS OF ANARCHISM DO MARXISTS PARTICULARLY MISREPRESENT ?....................................................... 45
H.2.1 Do anarchists reject defending a revolution?.....................................................................................................51
H.2.2 Do anarchists reject "class conflict" as "the motor of change" and "collective struggle" as the "means"?

................................................................................................................................................................................................56 H.2.3 Does anarchism "yearn for what has gone before"?.........................................................................................61 H.2.4 Do anarchists think "the state is the main enemy" rather than just "one aspect" of class society?..........67 H.2.5 Do anarchists think "full blown" socialism will be created overnight?.........................................................71 H.2.6 How do Marxists misrepresent Anarchist ideas on mutual aid?.....................................................................75 H.2.7 Who do anarchists see as their "agents of social change"?.............................................................................79 H.2.8 What is the relationship of anarchism to syndicalism?.....................................................................................84 H.2.9 Do anarchists have "liberal" politics?.................................................................................................................89 H.2.10 Are anarchists against leadership?....................................................................................................................91 H.2.11 Are anarchists "anti-democratic"?.....................................................................................................................97 H.2.12 Does anarchism survive only in the absence of a strong workers' movement?....................................... 105 H.2.13 Do anarchists reject "political" struggles and action?................................................................................ 112 H.2.14 Are anarchist organisations either "ineffective," "elitist" or the "downright bizarre"?........................ 115 H.2.15 Do anarchists reject discipline?....................................................................................................................... 120 H.2.16 Does the Spanish Revolution show the failure of anarchism?.................................................................... 123

H.3 WHAT ARE THE MYTHS OF STATE SOCIALISM?...........................................................................................................128

H.3.1 Do Anarchists and Marxists want the same thing?......................................................................................... 132 H.3.2 Is Marxism "socialism from below"?................................................................................................................ 141 H.3.3 Is Leninism "socialism from below"?................................................................................................................ 147 H.3.4 Don't anarchists just quote Marxists selectively?........................................................................................... 152 H.3.5 Has Marxist appropriation of anarchist ideas changed it?........................................................................... 156 H.3.6 Is Marxism the only revolutionary politics which have worked?................................................................. 162 H.3.7 What is wrong with the Marxist theory of the state?...................................................................................... 163 H.3.8 What is wrong with the Leninist theory of the state?...................................................................................... 173 H.3.9 Is the state simply an agent of economic power?............................................................................................ 182 H.3.10 Has Marxism always supported the idea of workers' councils?................................................................. 187 H.3.11 Does Marxism aim to place power into the hands of workers organisations?........................................ 194 H.3.12 Is big business the precondition for socialism?............................................................................................. 200 H.3.13 Why is state socialism just state capitalism?................................................................................................. 208

An Anarchist FAQ: Section H - Why do Anarchists oppose State Socialism?
2

H.3.14 Don't Marxists believe in workers' control?.................................................................................................. 215 H.3.15 Can objective factors explain the failure of the Russian Revolution?....................................................... 222 H.3.16 Did Bolshevik ideology influence the outcome of the Russian Revolution?............................................. 226

H.4 DIDN'T ENGELS REFUTE ANARCHISM IN HIS ESSAY "ON AUTHORITY"?.................................................................232

H.4.1 Does organisation imply the end of liberty?.................................................................................................... 235 H.4.2 How does free love versus marriage indicate the weakness of Engels' argument?.................................. 237 H.4.3 How do anarchists propose to run a factory?.................................................................................................. 238 H.4.4 How does the class struggle refute Engels' arguments that industry required leaving "all autonomy

behind"?............................................................................................................................................................................ 240 H.4.5 Is the way industry operates "independent of all social organisation"?..................................................... 243 H.4.6 Why does Engels' "On Authority" harm Marxism?......................................................................................... 247 H.4.7 Why does Engels' argument that revolution is "the most authoritarian thing there is" totally miss the

point?................................................................................................................................................................................. 249
H.5 WHAT IS VANGUARDISM AND WHY DO ANARCHISTS REJECT IT?.............................................................................251

H.5.1 Why are vanguard parties anti-socialist?......................................................................................................... 254 H.5.2 Have vanguardist assumptions been validated?............................................................................................. 258 H.5.3 Why does vanguardism imply party power?.................................................................................................... 261 H.5.4 Did Lenin abandon vanguardism?..................................................................................................................... 265 H.5.5 What is "democratic centralism"?..................................................................................................................... 271 H.5.6 Why do anarchists oppose "democratic centralism"?.................................................................................... 274 H.5.7 Is the way revolutionaries organise important?.............................................................................................. 277 H.5.8 Are vanguard parties effective?.......................................................................................................................... 279 H.5.9 What are vanguard parties effective at?........................................................................................................... 282 H.5.10 Why does "democratic centralism" produce "bureaucratic centralism"?................................................ 283 H.5.11 Can you provide an example of the negative nature of vanguard parties?.............................................. 288

An Anarchist FAQ: Section H - Why do Anarchists oppose State Socialism?
3
Section H - Why do anarchists oppose state
socialism?

The socialist movement has been continually divided, with various different tendencies and
movements. Two of the main tendencies of socialism are state socialism (Marxism, Leninism,
Maoism and so on) and libertarian socialism (anarchism in all its many forms). The conflict and
disagreement between anarchists and Marxists is legendary. As Benjamin Tucker noted:

"[I]t is a curious fact that the two extremes of the [socialist movement] . . . though united
. . . by the common claim that labour should be put in possession of its own, are more
diametrically opposed to each other in their fundamental principles of social action and
their methods of reaching the ends aimed at than either is to their common enemy,
existing society. They are based on two principles the history of whose conflict is almost
equivalent to the history of the world since man came into it . . .

"The two principles referred to are AUTHORITY and LIBERTY, and the names of the two
schools of Socialistic thought which fully and unreservedly represent one or the other
are, respectively, State Socialism and Anarchism. Whoso knows that these two schools
want and how they propose to get it understands the Socialistic movement. For, just as it
has been said that there is no half-way house between Rome and Reason, so it may be
said that there is no half-way house between State Socialism and Anarchism."[The

Individualist Anarchists, pp. 78-9]
In addition to this divide between libertarian and authoritarian forms of socialism, there is
another divide between reformist and revolutionary wings of these two tendencies. "The term

'anarchist,'" Murray Bookchin writes, "is a generic word like the term 'socialist,' and there are
probably as many different kinds of anarchists are there are socialists. In both cases, the
spectrum ranges from individuals whose views derive from an extension of liberalism (the
'individualist anarchists', the social-democrats) to revolutionary communists (the anarcho-
communists, the revolutionary Marxists, Leninists and Trotskyites)."[Post-Scarcity Anarchism,

p. 214f]

In this section of the FAQ we concentrate on the conflict between the revolutionary wings of
both movements. Here we discuss why communist-anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists and other
revolutionary anarchists reject Marxist theories, particularly the revolutionary ideas of Leninists
and Trotskyites. We will concentrate almost entirely on the works of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky as
well as the Russian Revolution. This is because many Marxists reject the Chinese, Cuban and
other revolutions as being infected by Stalinism. In contrast, there is a general agreement in
Marxist circles that the Russian Revolution was a true socialist revolution and the ideas of Lenin
(and usually Trotsky) follow in Marx's footsteps. What we say against Marx and Lenin is also
applicable to their more controversial followers, therefore we ignore them. We also dismiss out
of hand any suggestion that the Stalinist regime was remotely socialist. Unfortunately many
serious revolutionaries consider Lenin's regime to be a valid example of a valid socialist

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