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(en) Reply To Anarchism's Confusionists - Dielo Trouda Group's response to 'The Reply' synthesist arguments regarding The Platform.

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 20 Aug 2003 11:33:28 +0200 (CEST)


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Retort to 'The Reply' of Some Russian Anarchists to
'The Platform' - http://www.ainfos.ca/03/aug/ainfos00261.html
FORWARD: THE CRUX OF THE MATTER
The debates provoked by the 'Organizational
Platform' have thus far focused chiefly upon its
various arguments or indeed the draft organization
proposed by it. Most of its critics, as well as
several of its supporters, have at no time been
clear-sighted in their appreciation of the matter of
the Platform's premises: they have never tried to
discover what were factors that prompted its
appearance, the point of departure adopted by it's
authors. And yet these are matters of the greatest
importance to those who seek to understand the
spirit and importance of the Platform.

The recently published 'Reply to the Platform' from
Voline and a few other anarchists, purporting to be
a wholesale rebuttal of the Platform, has -- for all
the effort invested in the undertaking, for all its
claims to be reading "between the lines" -- failed to
rise above the level of banal diatribe against
arguments that are considered in isolation, and it
has shown itself powerless to strike at the very
heart of the matter.

Given that this 'Reply' displays utter
incomprehension of the theses of the Platform,
misrepresenting them and using sophistry to
counter them, the Dielo Trouda Group, having
scrutinized this would-be rebuttal, has once again
identified a series of points that are being queried:
at the same time, the Group has registered the
political and theoretical inadequacies of 'The Reply'.

The commentary below is given over to an
examination of their reply. It is not intended either
as a complement nor as an addendum to the
Platform: it is merely designed to clarify a few of its
theses.

Nevertheless, let us avail of this opportunity to
point out a few things for consideration by
comrades who may take an interest in the Platform
for organization of anarchism. We believe that in so
doing we will be helping to make its meaning and its
spirit better understood.

We have fallen into the habit of ascribing the
anarchist movement's failure in Russia in 1917-1919
to the Bolshevik Party's statist repression. Which is
a serious error. Bolshevik repression hampered the
anarchist movement's spread during the revolution,
but it was only one obstacle. Rather, it was the
anarchist movement's own internal ineffectuality
which was one of the chief causes of that failure, an
ineffectuality emanating from the vagueness and
indecisiveness that characterized its main policy
statements on organization and tactics.

Anarchism had no firm, hard and fast opinion
regarding the main problems facing the social
revolution, an opinion needed to satisfy the masses
who were carrying out the revolution. Anarchists
were calling for a seizure of the factories, but had
no well-defined homogeneous notion of the new
production and its structures. Anarchists
championed the communist device "From each
according to abilities, to each according to needs,"
but they never bothered to apply this precept to the
real world. In this way, they allowed suspect
elements to turn this grand principle into a
caricature of anarchism. (We might just remember
how many swindlers seized upon this principle as a
means of grabbing collective assets during the
revolution for their own personal advantage.)
Anarchists talked alot about the revolutionary
activity of the workers themselves, but they were
unable to direct the masses, even roughly, towards
the forms that such activity might assume: they
proved unable to regulate reciprocal relations
between the masses and their ideological center.
They incited the masses to shrug off the yoke of
authority, but they did not indicate how the gains of
revolution might be consolidated and defended.
They had no clear cut opinion and specific action
policies with regard to lots of other problems.
Which is what alienated them from the activities of
the masses and condemned them to social and
historical impotence.

That is where we have to look for the prime cause
of their failure in the Russian Revolution. We
Russian anarchists who lived through the ordeal of
revolution in 1905 and 1917 have not the slightest
lingering doubt of that.

The obviousness of anarchism's internal
ineffectuality has impelled us to search around for
ways that might afford it success.

Upwards of twenty years of experience,
revolutionary activity, twenty years of efforts in
anarchist ranks, and of effort that met with nothing
but failures by anarchism as an organizing
movement: all of this has convinced us of the
necessity of a new comprehensive anarchist party
organization rooted in one homogenous theory,
policy and tactic.

These are the premises of the 'Organizational
Platform'. Should anarchist militants of other
countries, with no first hand experience of the
Russian Revolution, but with any knowledge of it,
however meager, be willing to examine carefully the
climate within the anarchist movement in their own
country, they cannot fail to notice that the internal
ineffectuality that caused anarchism to fail in the
Russian Revolution is equally prevalent in their own
ranks and represents a deadly threat to the
movement, especially in time of revolution. They
will then understand the significance of the step
forward that the 'Organizational Platform'
represents for anarchism, from the point of view of
ideas as well as that of organization and
construction.


RESPONDING TO 'THE REPLY' OF SOME
RUSSIAN ANARCHISTS

The 'Reply' (of April 1927) from some Russian
anarchists to the Platform is an attempt to criticize
and utterly refute the 'Organizational Platform'
published by the Dielo Trouda Group.

The Reply's authors claim to be in disagreement, not
with certain ideas set out in the Platform, but rather
with the whole thing. It is precisely "the Platform as
such... its underlying principles, its essence, its
very mentality" that are not, in our estimation,
acceptable, they say. They reckon it is not
anarchism, but Bolshevism which is set out therein.
The ideological essence of the Bolsheviks and the
"platformists" is identical. Unquestionably, they
say, "the Platform's authors look upon these as
indispensable: the creation of a directing policy
center, the organization of an army and police force
at the disposal of that center, which, in essence
means, the introduction of a transitional political
authority statist in character." And the 'Reply' is
peppered with lots of other similar and similarly
stunning assertions.

It is our belief that such assertions make it
obligatory upon their authors that they adduce
adequate evidence before they make them. Indeed,
this practice of making unfounded allegations may
lead the anarchist to questionable conduct. Every
anarchist, in a true sense of the word, ought thus to
make a determined stand against this approach.

In the course of our exposition, we shall see in what
measure the authors of the 'Reply' have
authenticated their claims and this may enlighten us
as to the meaning and worth of their arguments.

Its authors open with the declaration that they are
"wholly in disagreement with the group regarding
several fundamental or important theses in the
Platform." But in reality, the dissension relates to
every one of the Platform's theses on organization
and principle. To explain their difference of opinion,
they go to alot of bother, resort to lots of sophistry
and come up with unlikely arguments of their own.
Since they are a priori hostile to the entirety of the
Platform, but have no explicit view of their own on
any of the issues broached therein, this necessarily
had to be the case. We can appreciate this if we
examine their main objections. But there is more:
we shall see too that the authors of the 'Reply',
while rebutting certain arguments of the Platform,
very often wind up reiterating those arguments,
claiming them as their own and using them to
counter the Platform.

One point: the best retort to their objections to the
Platform itself and the reader will find a specific and
definite opinion there on all of the issues broached.
We shall, in order to clarify the spirit and the
current by which they are motivated, by dwelling
only upon certain points from the Platform which the
authors of the 'Reply' have sought to rebut.


(1) THE CAUSES OF THE ANARCHIST
MOVEMENT'S WEAKNESS

The Platform locates the main cause of the
anarchist movement's weakness in the absence of
organizing factors and organized relations within
the movement, which plunges it into a state of
"chronic disorganization". At the same time, the
Platform adds that this disorganization itself
nestles in a few shortcomings of an ideological
nature. We can see these shortcomings in a whole
range of petit-bourgeois principles which have
nothing to do with anarchism. The disorganization
prevailing in our ranks draws succor from
ideological confusion. And in order to overcome
such practical and ideological confusion, the
Platform floats the idea of establishing a general
organization founded upon a homogeneous program.
In this way, the Platform lays the foundations for a
general organization of anarchists and creates
ideological homogeneity. The organization thus
collectively created will be strong enough to free
anarchism from its ideological contradictions and
organizational inadequacies and to pave the way for
a mighty anarchist organization banded around
homogeneous principles. We see no other way of
developing and fortifying anarchism among the
masses. The Platform has pointed out that the
approach of bringing the various strands of
anarchism together into one "tenderly united family"
will not restore the health of the anarchist
movement, but will instead weaken and befuddle it.

The criticisms from the 'Reply' utterly repudiate the
picture of the causes of the anarchist movement's
weaknesses that the Platform has outlined. They
see the causes located in "the vagueness of several
ideas basic to our outlook, such as: the notion of
social revolution, that of violence, that of collective
creativity, that of the transitional period, that of
organization, and still others." Also, the authors of
the 'Reply' enumerate other matters on which not all
anarchists see eye to eye. If they are to be believed,
you would think that anarchists have no common
view on any matter, and that we would first have to
theorize about everything before going on to tackle
the organization issue. We have heard these ideas
and promises often by now. And, instead of
threatening for the hundredth and first time to come
up with a probing theoretical work, would the
authors of the 'Reply' not be better employed getting
on with that task, bringing it to fruition and offering
it as a counter to the Platform? Our conception of
the principles of anarchism is quite different. We
are well aware that there is agreement among
anarchists on the major issues like the idea of
social revolution, that of violence, collective
creativity, dictatorship, organization, etc. Those
who have thus far remained adversaries of social
revolution, of revolutionary violence and of
organization, will always be such, and it really
would be too naive to begin the history of anarchism
all over again just for them. As soon as somebody
would come along and tell us that they do not
accept the idea of social revolution, someone else
would announce that they are against revolutionary
violence, and a third would express unhappiness
with the very idea of communist anarchism, and a
fourth would speak up against the class struggle.
Shouting in every instance that "anarchism's
principles" are not precise enough is tantamount in
fact to the failure to devise an overall theory. Didn't
we have Bakunin, Kropotkin and Malatesta who
were precise enough about anarchism's principles?
There were anarchist movements in a variety of
countries based on those principles. How can we
claim that they were not clear enough?

True, there are many obscure points in anarchism.
But those are of quite another character. The fact is
that alongside unquestionably anarchist personnel,
the movement contains a number of liberal
tendencies and individualist deviations that prevent
it from having a stable base. To restore the
movement to health, it must be freed of those
tendencies and deviations; but this purge is, to a
very large extent, prevented by just those
individualists, open or disguised (and the authors of
the 'Reply' are undoubtably to be numbered among
the latter), who are apart of the movement.


(2) THE CLASS STRUGGLE IN THE
ANARCHIST SYSTEM

The Platform declares quite plainly that the "class
struggle between labor and capital was at all times
in the history of human societies the chief factor
determining the form and structure of those
societies," that anarchism emerged and developed
on the terrain of that struggle, in the bosom of
oppressed, laboring humanity; that anarchism is a
social movement of the oppressed masses. The
attempt to represent it as a general humanitarian
problem amounts to a social and historical
falsehood. In the struggle between capital and labor,
anarchism fights wholeheartedly and inseparably
alongside the latter.

The authors of the 'Reply' counter that clear and
precise message with "anarchism is a synthesis of
elements: class, humanitarian, individual." That is
the view held in common with liberals fearful of
relying upon the truths of labor, who are forever
dithering ideologically between the bourgeoisie and
the proletariat looking for common humanitarian
values to use as connections between the
contending classes. But we know well that there is
no mankind, one and indivisible, that the demands of
anarchist communism will be met only through the
determination of the working class and that the
activity of mankind as a whole, including the
bourgeoisie, will not come into that at all;
consequently the viewpoint peddled by the liberals
who do not know how to pick a side in the
worldwide social tragedy cannot have anything to
do with the class struggle, and thus with anarchism.


(3) ON THE PROBLEM OF DIRECTION OF THE
MASSES AND EVENTS FROM THE IDEAL
POINT OF VIEW

The 'Reply' rather takes issue more with the idea of
an authoritarian leadership in its own devising than
with the idea set out in the Platform. And, broadly
speaking, throughout the 'Reply' it's authors strive
to divine some hidden meaning to the enigmatic
Platform and go on to paint a picture that might
strike terror not just into anarchists but even into
certain overly sentimental statists. Thus, the
influence wielded in the realm of ideas by the
anarchists over the revolutionary trade unions is
turned by them into subordination of those unions to
the anarchist organization. The method of the
common revolutionary military strategy applied in
defense of the revolution "becomes" (in their
interpretation) the idea of a centralized State's
army. The notion of an executive committee of an
anarchist organization "becomes" (in their
representation of it) that of a dictatorial Central
Committee demanding unquestioning obedience.
One might think that the authors of the 'Reply' are
too ignorant to be capable of grasping the essence
of all these problems. Not a bit of it! All of the
misrepresentations and alterations made by the
latter are made to the same end. We shall
demonstrate anon to what end our adversaries
pretend to be alarmed by the expression "direction
of the masses and events from the ideas point of
view." But are they not then like those odd sorts
who, being terrified by the idea of influence, are
afraid of influencing themselves? Direction of the
masses from the "ideas" point of view simply
means the existence of a guiding idea in their
movement. In the world of socialist struggle and
socialist demands, such ideas are not numerous.
But it is natural that we anarchists wanted the
toilers' guiding idea to be the anarchist idea and not
that of the social democrats for example, of those
who have only recently betrayed the Viennese
workers' revolutionary movement.

But, in order that the anarchist idea should become
the lodestone of the masses, we have to develop
well organized ideological activity which in turn
necessitates an anarchist organization whose
members spread very clear and coherent notions
among the masses. All of which is so elementary
and self-evident that it is embarrassing to have to
spell it out again in this day and age to folk who
claim to be conversant with anarchism. The authors
of the 'Reply' are, moreover well aware of that,
since, after having misrepresented our point of view
and peddled a mountain of absurdities regarding the
General Union of Anarchists, they close by saying
that the anarchists' role in economic organization is
to influence the masses morally and in terms of
ideas, while that of specifically anarchist
organizations would be to help them indeed from
this "ideas" point of view. But is not saying that
tantamount to borrowing the positions of the
Platform after having blackened the name? What is
the meaning of "influence and assist the masses
from the idea point of view"? Are anarchists going
to render ideological assistance to a mob in the
process of mounting a pogrom or of carrying out a
lynch law? All assistance afforded to the masses in
the realm of ideas must be consonant with the
ideology of anarchism, otherwise it will not be
anarchist assistance. "Ideologically assist" simply
means: influence from the ideas point of view, direct
from the ideas point of view [a leadership of ideas].
Bakunin, Kropotkin, Reclus, Malatesta -- those are
men who were, incontestably, ideological directors
of the masses. But we aim to see that such
direction, exercised occasionally, becomes a
permanent factor. That is only going to be possible
when there is an organization possessed with a
common ideology and whose membership engages
in ideologically coordinated activity, without being
sidetracked or dispersed as has been the case
hitherto. Those are the terms in which the question
is posed. And it is in vain that the authors of the
'Reply' will dream up sophisms in order to show that
direction in the realm of ideas mean authoritarian
direction.

It is the masses of people that will make the
revolution themselves, say our adversaries.
Understood. But they ought to know that the
revolutionary mass is forever nurturing in its bosom
a minority of initiators who precipitate and direct
events. And we are entitled to assert that in a true
social revolution the supporters of worker
anarchism alone will account for that minority.


(4) THE IDEA OF THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD

The Platform notes that the social political parties
understand the term "transitional period" to mean a
specific stage in the life of a people, the essential
features of which period are: a breach with the old
order of things and the installation of a new
economic and political system, a system which as
yet does not represent the complete emancipation
of the toilers. Communist anarchism, however,
repudiates transitional arrangements of that sort. It
advocates social revolution of the toilers that will
lay the foundations for their free and egalitarian
society.

It strikes us that the problem could not be posed
any more clearly. But the authors of the 'Reply' have
contrived to discover the precise opposite in the
Platform. In their estimation, the Platform is, all in
all, merely "an attempt to peddle this idea (of the
transitional period) and to graft it on to anarchism."
And here comes the proof: the Platform looks
forward to certain points when the press (or rather
the abuse thereof) of the class hostile to the toilers
will have been shut down by struggling labor. And
the authors of the 'Reply' insist: why, doesn't that
amount to a "transitional period really"? Then again
the Platform declares the anarchist communist
principle "from each according to abilities, to each
according to needs" in no way makes it incumbent
upon labor in rebellion to feed everyone, including
its avowed enemies who, for counter-revolutionary
motives, would refuse to play a part in the
production and would dream of nothing other than
decapitating the revolution. That principle merely
means equality in distribution within the parameters
of the egalitarian society; it does not at all apply to
those who have placed themselves outside that
society for counter-revolutionary purposes.
Furthermore, that principle means that every
member of laboring society who profits from its
services should serve it in accordance with their
strengths and capabilities and not at all in
accordance with their whims or indeed not at all.
The authors of the 'Reply' again raise the hue and
cry: what about that, is that not a transitional
period? They proclaim "the application of the
principle of equal enjoyment of all available and
freshly manufactured products, regardless of their
quantity, by all the members of the collectivity,
without exception, restriction or privilege of any
sort." True, it is none too clear from this formula
whether the rebel workers must feed the
bourgeoisie that plays no part in the production and
uses its ingenuity to oppose them. But, since that
formula is opposed to the labor principle of the
Platform, we have to conclude that the toilers do
have a duty to maintain the bourgeoisie, even if they
have not the slightest desire to do so.

We shall not enter into discussion of such a
viewpoint. The working class itself will resolve it
practically, come the social revolution. However we
do believe that it will not shower the authors of the
'Reply' with praise for the tender care with which
they surrounded a bourgeois that refuses to work.
Would the authors of the 'Reply' not be better
advised to devise some way of turning bourgeois
into honest members of laboring society instead of
watching out for them with such solicitude?

But the most impressive sleight of hand by the
authors of the 'Reply' comes only later. After having
seen them rebut all of the positions of the Platform,
after having seen them dismiss its authors as
shameful Bolsheviks, and their constructive system
as a transitional political and economic State
system -- one would expect to find them presenting
a bold outline of the post-revolutionary anarchist
society, of the society in which everybody would
find their every need met and which would have
nothing in common with the one sketched in the
Platform. Not a bit of it, though. All one finds there
is an admission that the creative endeavor of the
social revolution "will be a natural start to the
formation of an anarchist society." Now that
declaration is borrowed, word for word, from the
Platform, which states "the victory of the toilers...
will be the start of the construction of the anarchist
society which, once outlined, will then, without
interruption, follow its line of development, growing
stronger and more rounded." In truth, with our
adversaries, the right side of their minds has no idea
what the left side is thinking and doing.


(5) THE PROBLEM OF PRODUCTION

Nor do the authors of the 'Reply' fail to raise
categorical objections to us in relation to the
problem of production as well. It is very hard to get
an idea of what prompts their objections, as well as
what they are advocating in their exposition. The
idea of unified and coordinated production set out by
the Platform leaves them cold, as does the idea of
agencies directing production and elected by the
workers. In the idea of coordinated production they
divine the specter of centralization and statism and
they offer instead the idea of decentralized
production.

The idea of unified production is clear: the Platform
looks upon the whole of modern history as one
single, giant workshop of producers, created by the
efforts of several generations of toilers and
altogether the property of everybody and no one in
particular.

Particular branches of production are inseparably
interconnected and they can neither produce nor
exist as separate entities. The unity of that
workshop is determined by technical factors. But
there is only one unified and coordinated production
capable of existence in this mammoth factory.
Production carried out in accordance with an overall
scheme prescribed by the workers' and peasants'
production organizations, a plan drafted in the light
of the needs of society as a whole. The products of
that factory belong to the whole of laboring society.
Such production is truly socialist.

It is very much to be regretted that the authors of
the 'Reply' omitted to explain how the envisage
decentralized production. But we may suppose that
they are talking about several independent
productions, isolated industries, separate trusts and
maybe even separate factories producing and
disposing of their products as they see fit. The
authors of the 'Reply' declare that decentralized
production will operate according to federalist
principles. But, since the federated units will be
nothing more than small private entrepreneurs (to
wit, the united workforce of a single plant, trust or
industry), production will not be at all socialist; it
will be capitalist, in that it is based on the
parcelization of ownership, which will not take long
to provoke competition and antagonisms.

Unified production is not centralized production
directed from authoritarian "center". Unified
production is merely authentically communist
production.


(6) DEFENSE OF THE REVOLUTION

Examining the problem of the defense of the
revolution, the Platform remarks first the most
effective means of defending the revolution would
be to find a radical solution to the problems of
production, supply and the land. But the Platform
also foresaw that the solution to these problems
will necessarily spark a bitter civil war in which the
exploiter class will strive to retain or regain its
privileges. That is quite inescapable. The Platform
indicates also that the class currently in power will
in that war resort to "the methodology of all military
action: unity of operational planning and unity of
overall command." It goes on to say that the toilers
will also have to have recourse to these methods of
struggle, and all the armed units that will spring up
voluntarily will have to amalgamate into a single
army. This necessity does not make it impossible
for local detachments to wage an independent fight
against the counter-revolution. It does, though,
require that a revolutionary worker and peasant
army confront the broad front of the
counter-revolutionary onslaught.

In order to combat the counter-revolution, the
workers must possess their common operational
plan and overall command. Otherwise, the enemy
will attack them where they are weakest and least
expecting it.

History is the best proof of this:

a) All popular revolutions were especially
successful when the army ceased blindly to serve
the ruling classes and threw in its lot with the
rebels.

b) During the Russian Revolution, it was those
popular movements that managed to unite their
armed forces, units of importance, to which military
operations affecting an entire region were
entrusted, that met with appreciable success. This
was the case with the insurgent movement headed
by Makhno. Insurgent groups that failed to
understand this necessity perished in the face of a
well organized enemy. There were hundreds of
instances of that in the Russian Revolution.

c) The Russian counter-revolution led by Koltchak,
Denikin, Yudenich and others owes its military
defeat chiefly to the fact that it failed to establish a
single operational plan and united command for the
counter-revolutionary armies. Thus while Koltchak
was (in 1918) near Kazan and making for Moscow,
Denikin stayed in the Caucasus; but it was only
when Koltchak was "liquidated" (in 1919) that
Denikin rounded on Moscow. (Note: We are not
speaking here of the partisan warfare waged by the
partisans against Koltchak and Denikin and which
brought the latter to military and social defeat)

Insurgent revolutionary work during the civil war
must know how to use the methodology of unity of
operational planning and overall command of the
revolutionary armed forces. Without that, the
workers and peasants will be beaten by
counter-revolutionary forces highly conversant with
the military arts. The Platform pointed out how
necessary it was that workers utilize that
methodology as well as create a single army
embracing all of the armed forces at the revolution's
disposal. It goes without saying that the Platform
insists upon this organization only for the duration
of the civil war in the fight against the
counter-revolution. Once that war ends, the
revolutionary army has no further raison d'etre and
will fade away. To tell the truth, the whole chapter
in the Platform that deals with defense of the
revolution stressed only the need that workers will
have to utilize the methodology of a common
operational plan and common command. The
Platform also labors the point that these methods as
well as the idea of the revolutionary army are to be
regarded only as a stratagem necessitated by civil
war and as no way as anarchist principles. It strikes
us that no sane and honest mind could find grounds
there of accusing the Platform with pushing the idea
of a standing, centralized army. But the authors of
the 'Reply' manage it nonetheless. They charge us
with nothing more nor less than aspiring to create a
centralized army placed at the disposal of the
overall productive organizations directed, in their
turn, by the Union/Party. We believe that anarchist
circles are clear-sighted enough to grasp for
themselves that this view is absurd and incoherent.
The 'Reply' proposes no hard and fast solution to the
problem of defense of the revolution. After having
proffered the most motley shower of insults against
the Platform, the authors of the 'Reply' start to
mumble something about union of the armed forces
in the revolution, thereby aping the idea of the
Platform, albeit misrepresenting it as usual.

But it is by examining the necessity, announced by
the Platform, of the revolutionary army's being
subordinated to the toilers' higher productive
organizations that the authors of the 'Reply' display
a true penetrating mind, a real masterpiece of
farsightedness. How dare you, they exclaim, argue
that is not a transitional period? Precisely how
subordination of the revolutionary army to the
workers' and peasants' productive organizations
constitutes a transitional period -- that is the
inscrutable enigma. The toilers' military forces will
not in any way become an end in themselves; they
will have only one way of implementing the
formalities of the worker and peasant revolution. As
a result, it is to the workers and peasants that the
army should be answerable and by them alone that
it should be directed politically. According to the
authors of the 'Reply' the revolutionary army, or
indeed the armed groupings, should not be
answerable to those organizations; they will lead an
independent existence and fight as they deem fit.
Thus are folk who have the effrontery to speak of
things upon which they have never reflected hoist
on their own petard!


(7) ANARCHIST ORGANIZATION

On this score too, the authors of the 'Reply' are
primarily concerned with misrepresenting the
meaning of the Platform. First of all they turn the
idea of an Executive Committee into that of a Party
Central Committee, a committee that issues orders,
makes laws and commands. Anybody in the least
degree slightest conversant with politics knows
well that an executive committee and a central
committee are two quite different ideas. The
executive committee may very well be an anarchist
agency; indeed, such an organ exists in many
anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist organizations.

While rejecting the idea of a broad anarchist
organization based on a homogeneous ideology, the
authors of the 'Reply' peddle the idea of a
synthesizing organization wherein all stands of
anarchism are gathered together into "one single
family". To pave the way for the establishment of
that organization, they propose to set up a
newspaper in every country which would discuss
and examine all controversial issues, from every
angle, and thus bring about an entente between
anarchists.

We have already spelled out our position regarding
this notion of synthesis and we shall not rehearse
our reasoning here. We shall confine ourselves
simply to adding that the existence of discrepancies
between the opinions of anarchists is due more to
the lack of a periodical to act as a forum for
discussion (there were some once). A forum for
discussion will never manage to bring the divergent
currents together, but it will assuredly clutter up the
minds of the laboring masses. Furthermore, a whole
swathe of individuals claiming to be anarchists has
nothing in common with anarchism. Gathering these
people (on the basis of what?) into "one family" and
describing that gathering as "anarchist
organization" would not only be nonsense, it would
be positively harmful. If that were to happen by
some mischance, all prospects for anarchism's
developing into a revolutionary social movement of
toilers would be banished.

It is not an undiscriminating mix, but rather a
selection from the wholesome anarchist forces and
the organization thereof into an
anarchist-communist party that is vital to the
movement; not a hotchpotch synthesis, but
differentiation and exploration of the anarchist idea
so as to bring them to a homogeneous movement
program. That is the only way to rebuild and
strengthen the movement in the laboring masses.

To conclude, a few words on the ethical features of
the 'Reply'. In reality, it is not to the Platform that
this 'Reply' is addressed, but to a whole series of
positions duly misrepresented in advance by the
authors of the 'Reply'. There is not a single
paragraph to which they reply without preamble.
They always start off ferreting out the Jesuitical
recesses of the position and, after having concocted
those, they put their objections to them. In their
hands, the Platform has been turned into a fiendish
conspiracy against the anarchist movement and
against the working class. This is how they
represent the thinking of the Platform: "On top, the
leading party (the General Union of Anarchists);
down below, the higher peasant and worker
organizations directed by the Union; lower still, the
inferior organizations, the organs of struggle against
the counter-revolution, the army, etc." Elsewhere,
they talk about "investigatory and political violence"
institutions. A whole picture is painted there, a
portrait of a police state, directed by the General
Union of Anarchists.

One might well ask: why this recourse to all these
lies? The authors of the 'Reply' have read the
Platform. So they ought to know that the thinking
behind the Platform boils down to the organization
of the anarchist forces for the period of struggle
against the capitalist class society; its object is
simply to spread anarchism among the masses and
ideological direction of their struggle. The moment
that the toilers have defeated the capitalist society,
a new era in their history will be ushered in, an era
when all social and political functions are
transferred to the hands of the workers and
peasants who will set about the creation of the new
life. At that point, the anarchist organizations and,
with them, the General Union, will lose all their
significance and they should, in our view, gradually
melt away into the productive organizations of the
workers and peasants. The Platform contains a
whole constructive section dealing with the role of
the workers and peasants in the wake of the
revolution. By contrast, it says nothing about the
specific role at that juncture of the World Union of
Anarchists. And this is no accident, but rather a
deliberate omission. Because all political and
economic activity will then be concentrated, as we
see it, in the toilers' organs of self-administration: in
the trade unions, the factory committees, the
councils, etc.

But, to credit the authors of the 'Reply', it is only
then that the Anarchist Communist Party comes
into its own; positioned somewhere up above, it is
to direct the "higher" and "lower" toilers'
organizations, the army, etc. That is their way of
dealing with a document of which they propose to
offer a critique, their way of treating the reader to
whom they promised truth. The irresponsibility of
these methods will surely startle any reader capable
of reflection on matters political.

In scrutinizing the other reasons for the anarchist
movement's weakness, the authors of the 'Reply'
point to this one: "The current state of mind of the
masses who have neither the wherewithal nor the
desire to investigate, analyze and make
comparisons and who, consequently still and
always plump for the easiest option, the course of
the least resistance according to the 'ready-made'
recipes on offer from demagogues of every hue."

Let us conclude our examination of the 'Reply' by
these remarkable utterances from its authors.
Remarkable words in that they demonstrate the
futility and hypocrisy of their speechifying about the
creative potential "of the masses, their autonomous
activity, the dire threat that ideological direction
poses to that potential, etc. If the Platform is to be
believed, one gets the impression that the masses
are not only incapable of finding the paths to their
liberation, but also have not the slightest desire to
do so, and prefer to follow the line of least
resistance."

If that is how things really stand, things are going
badly for anarchism, since it is by force that it has
to draw the masses to its side. In setting
themselves the target of rebutting the Platform,
regardless of cost, even should they have to fly in
the face of reason, the facts of life itself, in order to
achieve that, the authors of the 'Reply' have been
reduced to declarations like those.

We hope that we have proved, in the foregoing
exposition, that the program of the authors of the
'Reply' was quite without foundation and that they
are typical specimens of the political incoherence in
our movement. As for the ethical side of the 'Reply',
that cannot be described as anything other than an
object lesson in calumny.

See also:
http://nefac.northernhacking.org/newswire/display/572/index.php


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