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(en) Dyelo Truda #10, March 1926 - The Problem Of Organization - Platformist critique of synthesist theory and practice

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 26 Aug 2003 11:28:47 +0200 (CEST)

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The Problem of Organization and the Notion of Synthesis
Several comrades have had their say in the columns of 'Dyelo Truda' (Workers'
Cause) regarding the question of anarchist principles and organizational format.
Not that they all approached the problem from the same angle.
The essence of this matter, as spelled out by the editorial staff
of 'Dyelo Truda', consists of the following:
We anarchists who agitate and fight for the emancipation of the
proletariat, must, at all costs, have an end of the dissipation and
disorganization prevailing in our ranks, for these are destroying
our strength and our libertarian endeavors.

The way to go about this is to create an organization that might
not perhaps enfold all of anarchism's active militants, but
assuredly the majority of them, on the basis of specific
theoretical and tactical positions and would bring us to a firm
understanding as to how these might be applied to practice.

It goes without saying that the tackling of this issue should go
hand in hand with the elaboration of theoretical and tactical
positions that would furnish the basis, the platform for this
organization. For we should be wasting our time talking about
the need to organize our forces and nothing would come of it,
were we not to associate the idea of such organization with
well-defined theoretical and tactical positions.

The 'Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad' has never lost site of
this latter question. In a series of articles carried in 'Dyelo
Truda' its viewpoint has been spelled out in part on the
important particulars of the program: anarchism's relationship to
the toilers' class struggle, revolutionary syndicalism, the
transitional period, etc.

Our next task will be to arrive at a clear formulation of all these
positions of principle, then to set them all out in some more or
less rounded organizational platform which will serve as the
basis for uniting a fair number of militants and groups into one
and the same organization. The latter will in turn serve as a
springboard to a more complete fusion of the anarchist
movement's forces.

That then is the route we have chosen to a resolution of the
organizational problem. It is not our intention to proceed on this
occasion with a total re-examination of values or elaboration of
any new positions. Our view is that everything necessary for
the construction of an organization founded upon a given
platform can be found in Libertarian Communism, which
espouses the class struggle, the equality and liberty of every
worker, and is realized in the anarchist Commune.

Those comrades who champion the notion of a theoretical
synthesis of anarchism's various currents have quite another
approach to the organizational question. It is a pity that their
view is so feebly spelled out and elaborated and that it is thus
hard to devise a thorough-going critique of it. Essentially, their
notion is as follows: Anarchism is divided into three strands --
communist anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism and individualist
anarchism. Although each of these strands has features
particular to itself, all three are so akin and so close to one
another that it is only thanks to an artificial misconception that
they enjoy separate existences.

In order to give rise to a strong, powerful anarchist movement, it
is necessary that they should fuse completely. That fusion, in
turn, implies a theoretical and philosophical synthesis of these
teachings that we can tackle the structure and format of an
organization representing all three tendencies. Such then is the
content of the synthesis thus conceived, as set out in the
"Declaration on Anarchists' Working Together," and a few other
articles by comrade Voline carried by 'The Anarchist
Messenger' and 'Dyelo Truda'. We are in total disagreement
with this idea. Its inadequacy is glaringly obvious. For a start,
why this arbitrary division of anarchism into three strands?
There are others as well. We might mention, say, Christian
anarchism, associationism, which, be it said in passing, is
closer to communist anarchism than to individualist anarchism.
Then again, what precisely is the consistency of the "theoretical
and philosophical" discrepancies between the aforementioned
three tendencies, if a synthesis between them is to be devised?

For one thing, before we talk about a theoretical synthesis of
communism, syndicalism and individualism, we would need to
analyze these currents. Theoretical analysis would quickly
show the extent to which the wish to synthesize these currents
is harebrained and absurd. Indeed, does not the talk of a
"synthesis between communism and syndicalism" signify some
sort of contrast between them? Many anarchists have always
regarded syndicalism as one of the forms of the proletarian
revolutionary moment, as one of the fighting methods espoused
by the working class in fighting for its emancipation.

We regard communism as the goal of the laboring classes'
liberation movement.

So, can the end be in contradiction with the means? Only the
wobbly reasoning of some dilettante intellectual ignorant of the
history of libertarian communist thought could place them side
by side and seek to arrive at a synthesis of them. For our own
part, we are well aware that libertarian communism has always
been syndicalist in that it regards the existence and expansion
of independent professional organizations as a necessity for the
social victory of the toilers.

So it could only be, and was in reality only a matter, not of
theoretical synthesis of communism and syndicalism, but rather
of the role that syndicalism should be assigned in communist
anarchism's tactics and in the social revolution of the toilers.

The theoretical inadequacies of the supporters of the synthesis
is eve more striking when they seek to arrive at a synthesis
between communism and individualism.

In fact, what does the anarchism of individualists consist of?
The notion of the freedom of the individual?

But what is this "individuality"? Is it the individuality in general
or the oppressed "individuality" of the toiler?

There is no such thing as "individuality in general" because, one
way or another, every individual finds themselves objectively or
subjectively in the realm of labor or else in the realm of capital.
But isn't the idea implicit in libertarian communism? We might
even say that the freedom of the individual toiler is realizable
only in the context of a libertarian communist society that will
take a scrupulous interest in social solidarity as well as in
respect for the rights of the individual.

The anarchist commune is the model of social and economic
relations best suited to fostering the development of the
freedom of the individual. Anarchist communism is not some
rigid, unbending social framework which, once achieved, is set
and sets a term to the development of the individual. On the
contrary: its supple, elastic social organization will develop by
growing in complexity and constantly seeking improvements, so
that the freedom of the individual may expand without

Similarly, anti-Statism seems to be one of the fundamental
principles of communist anarchism. In addition, it has a real
content and real expression.

Communist anarchism rejects statism in the name of social
independence and the self-management of the laboring classes.
As for individualism, on what basis does it refute the State?
Assuming that it does! Certain individualist theoreticians
champion the right to private ownership in personal relations
and in economic relations alike. But wheresoever the principles
of private property and personal fortunes exist, a struggle of
economic interests inevitably comes into being, a statist
structure created by the economically more powerful.

So what remains of individualist anarchism? Negation of the
class struggle, of the principle of anarchist organization having
as its object the free society of equal workers; and, moreover,
empty babble encouraging workers unhappy with their lot to look
to their defenses by means of recourse to the personal solutions
allegedly open to them as liberated individuals.

But what is there in all this that can be described as anarchist?
Where are we to find the features in need of synthesis with
communism? That whole philosophy [of individualism] has
nothing to do with anarchist theory and or anarchist practice,
and it is unlikely that an anarchist worker would be inclined to
conform to this "philosophy".

So, as we have seen, an analysis of the theoretical tasks of the
synthesis leads into a dead end street. And we find the same
again when we examine the practical aspects of the issue. We
have to choose between two options:

Either the tendencies named remain independent tendencies, in
which case, how are the going to prosecute their activities in
some common organization, the very purpose of which is
precisely to attune anarchists' activities to a specific

Or these tendencies should lose their distinguishing features
and, by amalgamating, give rise to a new tendency that will be
neither communist, syndicalist nor individualist... But in that
case, what are the fundamental positions and features to be?

By our reckoning the notion of synthesis is founded on a total
aberration, a shoddy grasp of the basics of the three tendencies,
which the supporters of synthesis seek to amalgamate into one.

The central tendency, the spinal column of anarchism is
represented by communist anarchism. Anarcho-individualism is
a best a philosophical and literary phenomenon and not a social
movement. It often happens that the latter is drawn into politics
and ends up as a bourgeois fad (like Benjamin Tucker and other

The above does not at all mean that we are against concerted
endeavor by anarchists of varying persuasions. Quite the
opposite: we can only salute anything that brings revolutionary
anarchists closer together in practice.

However, that can be achieved practically, concretely, by
means of the establishment of liaison between ready made,
strengthened organizations. In which case, we would be dealing
only with specific practical tasks, requiring no synthesis and
indeed precluding one. But we think that the more that
anarchists clarify the basics -- the essence of libertarian
communism -- the more they will come to agreement on these
principles and erect upon that basis a broad organization that
will provide a lead in socio-political matters as well as in the
realm of trade union/professional matters.

As a result, we do not in any way see a link between the
organizational problem and the notion of synthesis. If it is to be
resolved, there is no need to get carried away by vague
theorizations and expect results from that. The baggage that
anarchism has amassed over the years of its life process and
social struggle is more than sufficient. We need only take
proper account of it, applying it to the conditions and exigencies
of life, in order to build an accountable organization.

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