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(en) Italy, "What A State To Be In": text of an FdCA pamphlet

Date Mon, 19 Dec 2005 14:52:32 +0200

One of the basics of Anarchism throughout its history is without doubt its anti-Statism.
We do not wish to fall into the excesses of those anarchists who hate the state
even when the word is used to mean condition and who reject the Welfare State
simply because it includes that little word, allowing them to fall victim to
the worst that neo-liberalism has to offer. However, the need for a stateless
society too often produces distortions in Anarchist Communist thinking, the
origin of which lies in a hurried acceptance of the historical baggage of Anarchism.
This baggage needs contextualizing and careful analysis, particularly at a time
when capitalism in its exuberance is advocating the dissolution of the State as
an administrative, bureaucratic apparatus for the collection of taxes and the
provision of services.

1. The birth of the State and what came before it

A little history never hurt anyone! The beast that is the modern State was born
over two centuries ago and was closely connected with the emergence of the
bourgeoisie as the new dominant class. It is not by chance that a large part of
the typical functions of the modern State owe their origins to revolutionary
France in 1789. It is a good idea to examine the reasons behind this profound
transformation of the power structures in society, which social relationships
ceased to exist in order to make way for others, what effects all this had on
class relations and, above all, how the domination of the emerging bourgeoisie
came about.

1.1 Social relations under feudalism

When Anarchists rightly denounce the ill effects that the State as a bourgeois
organization of society has on the underlying classes, they abstract in an
overly superficial way from the situation of those classes before the birth of
the "liberal State". The total absence of rules allowed the holders of power to
behave as they wanted towards the weak, and there is no shortage of evidence
for this, even in literature (the Italian novel "I promessi sposi" is a fine
example). Even a little reflection will confirm that this is the real essence
of absolute power.

Poor countries were not only very poor (and still are), but they also provided
manpower in the extreme form of slavery.

Even the very concept of rights did not exist, and idea which was strictly
reserved for the free citizens of city states, which in the degeneration of
feudalism became limited further still to the aristocracy and the higher
clergy. The vast majority of the populace lived in conditions where human
dignity was totally denied.

1.2 The liberal State and rights

"Liberté, fraternité, égalité". The slogan which founded the modern liberal
State. We know only too well the hypocrisy that lies behind it. What is of
interest, though, is another consideration. The shift from social organization
without rules (except for that of the strongest) to a form of social
organization which claims to be based on certain groundrules which go beyond
the individual. This is anything but irrelevant. The principle exists (even
though generally ignored) and it does have its effects, despite the arrogance
of the powerful.

By way of example, a workers' organization would have been unthinkable in a
feudal society - keeping in mind that a revolt does not count as "workers'
organization". In fact, before the bourgeois revolution there were many bloody
revolutions (even victorious ones). But what was not possible was the gradual
conquest of growing portions of wealth. It is obvious that these conquests are
partial and often temporary due to the fact that they can be re-absorbed by the
power (as we see only too well today) and that the only road that counts is
that of revolution. But this does not deny two things. On the one hand, as
Malatesta used to say, the gymnastics of struggle are a form of preparation for
the revolution. This is especially important for us as we believe in a
revolution which is conscious and aware and thus impossible to re-absorb at the
hands of a new dominant class which considers itslef more knowledgeable. On
theother hand, the fact that everything which serves to improve the quality of
someone's life is by no means to be scorned simply because it is not
libertarian communism.

By cloaking itself with the mantle of rights, necessary for its struggle
against the old dominant classes, liberal society gives its approval for a
principle which is progressive (both in fact and in its results), even with
regard to those clases which remain the weakest.

1.3 Progressive participation

"Kropotkinist solidarity, which was developed in the naturalist and
ethnographical field, confused the biologically necessary harmony of bees with
the discordia concors and concordia discors of social aggregation and had too
many (sic!) present primitive forms of society/association to understand the
ubi societas ibi jus which exists in all non-prehistoric political forms".

This quotation provides us with two useful bases for reflection. The first is
that no society is possible without rules. One can discuss (and anarchists do)
how these rules can be formulated, who has the power to establish them, how
they can be equally applied to all, and so on. However, in the absence of rules
there can be no anarchy, only a jungle - and that is something that always
penalizes the weakest and rewards the strongest.

The second is that rules (of whatever sort) have a dual function: coercive,
placing limits on the individual's freedom on the one hand, but a guarantee and
protection for all on the other. And it is exactly this second aspect, even if
considered an undesirable but inevitable side-effect, which led to the
emergence of inalienable rights of the individual becomeing the mechanism for
full participation by all in the structure of bourgeois society, which
otherwise would tend to be exclusivist. It is hard to think that this was not a
factor of the progress that we enjoy today.

2. The 19th-century State and the birth of Anarchist theory

The point of departure for anarchist thinking regarding the role of the State
before, during and after the social revolution is undoubtedly Bakunin. However,
it must be said that for the purposes of understanding the role of the modern
State and possible ways to overcome it, Bakunin's ideas are of little use as
they are too closely linked to the needs of the struggles of his time.
Unfortunately, certain unarguable statements of Bakunin's have been adopted as
cast-iron, untouchable principles of Anarchism, even though they have perhaps
been taken out of context with no attempt to interpret their sense. So, in
order to free ourselves form the chains of a few watchwords which only serve to
distort any political enterprise, it is necessary to clarify a few points.

Bakunin's ideas on the matter developed during the last decade of his life,
during his activities as part of the International Workingman's Association and
the polemics with its Marxist element. Then his main reference points (strictly
linked to the development of the anti-authoritarian group's action) were Italy,
Spain, Russia and Austria, to which must be added the German empire, both for
its role as the emerging power in continental Europe and for the fact that it
was host to the main nucleus of Social Democrats.

Given this situation, Bakunin was immediately concerned with three points:
* definitively establishing that the conquest of the State (by electoral means)
or its transformation (by means of reforms) are not viable means of reaching a
society of equality and solidarity;
* demonstrating that wherever there is power, there is exploitation and that
therefore no forms of social organization is better than any other unless it is
one where property, classes and hierarchies do not exist;
* lastly, as a logical consequence, that the State cannot and must not survive
the Social Revolution.

These points remain unquestionably the most basic and most distinctive features
of any concept of Anarchism.

In his urgency to establish the above points, Bakunin (who was convinced that
the masses' revolutionary uprising was imminent, thanks to the unstoppable rise
f the International) had neither the time nor the opportunity to analyze deeply
enough the role that the State had been assuming over the previous 75 years in
a slow, contradictory arc, at times hard to make out but nonetheless constant
and in some respects irreversible. For him, the State was summed up in Germany
or in the autocratic tsarism of Russia. In fact, he did not even consider
England to be a true State as it did not meet what he believed were the
distinguishing features of the "modern State", that is to say "military police
and bureaucratic centralization". Clearly, from the theoretical point of view,
there is a certain distortion resulting from confusing state organizations (or
better still, centralized organizations) left over from the past with the
modern State, a good example of which would be the United Kingdom or the
rapidly-changing French State, even with its centuries-long heritage of

The bogeyman of the State actually first appeared in Anarchist theory in this
conception of a military, police and bureaucratic centralization and this is
the source of all future deformations and the inability to produce appropriate
analyses. Every evolution of the State was interpreted as a concentration of
this centralization, impeding any understanding of new (and not always
negative) functions. The result today is that many Anarchists are theoretically
unprepared when faced with forms of decentralization and the apparent
dissolution of the apparatus of oppression.

Bakunin realized, however, that the (decentralized) English non-State was no
less dangerous, though his works on the subject (necessary in order to urge on
the revolution which quite rightly needed to occur at the time, and in order to
dispel some pernicious illusions) tended to lump together different forms of
bourgeois domination without studying too closely the differences between them
- even is only to establish the actual conditions of the masses under the
various systems. In fact, at times the illusion of democracy was even
considered more negative for the development of a revolutionary consciousness
among the people.

3. The evolution of the State

Although by the mid-19th century, the evolution of the State organism had
already reached a point where its distinguishing features could be perceived
(though Bakunin failed to do so for the above reasons, and Marx too, by the
way), it was extremely difficult to forecast the tasks that the State would
gradually adopt. Two considerations are worth developing here. On the one hand,
the web of responsibilities the State would take on and their effect on the
social organization as a whole. On the other hand, we should examine if the
stage of statism has had only negative effects on human "progress" and,
consequently, if it can be considered a parenthesis in the original human
tendency towards mutual solidarity. Clearly, the answers to these two questions
are anything but irrelevant in dealing with the analysis of today's struggles,
even though it is most unlikely they can have, as we shall see, any effect on
the prospects of reaching a society without classes and, for that very reason,
without States.

3.1 The State as entrepreneur

When speaking of the modern State, three functions that the apparatus of State
performs are often fused together, even though they are profoundly different
and in no way mutually necessary. They are the regulation of the economic
cycle, direct intervention in the economy and the welfare system. These three
characteristics were all added during the course of the 20th century, in
addition to the traditional role of guardian of bourgeois interests, well known
to the revolutionaries of the 19th century.

Theoreticians of the advent of the techno-bureaucracy saw in this
multiplication of prerogatives the confirmation of their expectations of a
total englobing of society into the omnivorous monster of the State. In perfect
continuity with Kropotkinist determinism, for them history is a one-way affair
and the paths of social evolution are already marked out. In this way, the
tendencies which existed between the 1930s and the 1970s are held to
demonstrate unequivocably the future turn of events - their finalistic vision
is simply the other side of the coin with respect to Marxism and both fail to
take into account the functionality of social organization with the contingent
interests of capital and consequently the reversibility of choices which seem
to them to be definitive. Not by chance does the dismantlement of the State
(which has been in course during the last two decades) leave them theoretically
thrown and desperately grasping for proposals, if not decidedly and
irremediably coherent with the moves of the leaders of the world's economy.

3.1.1 Control of the cycle

The impossibility of preventing the ever more devastating cycle of crises,
after the failure of those marginalist theories designed to interpret
scientifically the state of the markets, led capital to drastically modify its
features. In the course of the years from the early 1940s to the late 1970s,
the State changed from being simply the guardian of capitalist interests (tax
drainage, police control, customs policy, etc.) into a motor of the economy, by
taking on responsibility - by means of substantial tax increases - for
revitalizing the economic cycle which was precipitating towards the abyss of

A necessary consequence of this new economic form (Keynesianism) was the
expansion of the market, an indispensable condition for the absorption of an
ever-increasing quantity of goods, which depended on a perennial progressive
cycle. Wages become the flywheel of the economic situation (Fordism) and
increase, though at a level below productivity, driven by the technological
innovations in the organization of work (Taylorism). It was an attempt to
weaken the class struggle, turning it into a normal way of rationalizing the

Clearly, capitalism was inventing a new era of prosperity for itself, but at
the same time, growing masses of the metropolitan proletariat in the
industrialized countries were gaining access to goods which were once out of
their reach. The period of struggle in the late '60s made it clear, though,
that this situation did not translate into a permanent integration of the
weaker classes into the commercial mindset. In fact, it was from the very
sectors which could be said to be representative of the so-called working
masses that the protests against the system emanated and to them that they

3.1.2 The direct management of capital

A further step was taken in the 1930s. This evolution took place almost
naturally, but it was a far from necessary one, so much so that it did not
arise at the centre of the sapitalist system - the USA. Superficially, there is
much in common between the situation that developed in the two antagonistic
areas of totally-planned economies (the Soviet area) and directed-planning
economies (capitalist Europe). But, as we will see, the two cases had certain
characteristics that clearly indicate how different they were.

The first stimulus developed almost by chance in fascist Italy. Faced with the
crisis in many industrial complexes, the regime set up the Istituto per la
Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI - Institute for Industrial Reconstruction) in
1933. This body took over struggling companies with the stated intention of
re-introducing them into the market once they had been put in order. Instead,
the IRI quickly found itself in possession of notable portions of industrial
production and ended up holding onto them, managing them directly and creating
a new sector - that of State Participation. The IRI survived the fascist era
and following World War II became the most important player in the country's
economic life. Its success in softening the blows of the economic cycle (thanks
partly to the enormous availability of capital even from the State) was so
great that British Labour Party members in the 1950s came to study it to see if
it could be reproduced in the UK, followed by the French and Germans. Thus was
born the State which participates directly in the country's economic life with
its own capital - the State as businessman.

The Soviet economy was entirely a different affair. There, the State management
of the economy was total and did not involve any competition. It was the result
of the coming to power of a class which was not the entrepreneurial
bourgeoisie, but the educated petite bourgeouisie with its own methods of
extracting surplus value. These two systems provided different types of
economic planning which were only nominally similar.

At this stage, we cannot avoid making a quick appraisal of this new role of the
State which developed in continuity with, but not in consequence of, the
previously-examined role as regulator and stimulator of the economic cycle.
Those of us who remember the labour struggles of the Sixties and Seventies will
certainly recall the fact that two different national labour contracts were
signed for workers in a private companies and for workers in State
Participation companies, with the latter often preceeding the former. In this
way, the terms of the latter were often seen as a target, thereby forcing the
bosses of theprivate sector to reluctantly make greater concessions to their
workers. However, in an age of rampant liberalism the State Participation firms
became synonymous with corruption and waste and on a wave of emotional reaction
were dismantled and sold off to the private sector. Thus it became possible for
a model firm like the Nuovo Pignone in Florence (having been acquired by AGIP -
part of the IRI group - and converted to a new type of production, having
developed avant-garde technology, having won itself a good slice of the world
market in its sector and having become an excellent source of profit for the
State) to be sold off to its US competitor, General Electric.

Doubtlessly, certain elements within public sector management got rich through
running the State Participation companies, but there is no doubt either that
wage levels and workers' conditions in this privileged sector served as a
reference point for other workers in their demands. It is therefore perfectly
legitimate to think that perhaps the desperate drive to destroy this sector
came about principally as a result of the needs of the bosses in the private
sector to eliminate an uncomfortable competitor rather than from some vague and
barely credible mmoral drive to eliminate corruption. Furthermore, the physical
elimination of Enrico Mattei (president of AGIP and promoter of an autonomous
supply of crude oil by-passing the international oil cartel, the Seven Sisters)
on the orders of the oil companies is certainly food for thought.

3.1.3 Welfare

In the course of the 20th century, the State gradually took on the role of
provider of social services (education, healthcare, social insurance,
transport, etc.). The advantage for the bosses was obvious. Taxes (to which
they contributed to a much lower degree than workers) paid for a whole series
of services, giving the bosses a better-educated, healthier and (it was hoped)
less restive workforce. But it is also true that for the workers there was an
undeniable advantage, too. The alternative would not have been lower taxation
(something we will come back to) but the abandoning of all forms of social
protection to the jungle of profit - something which we are now witnessing in
all clarity.

Welfare, in fact, was once known as "social salary" and was considered by
workers' organizations as another form of pay for their work. Public education
may have concentrated on the acquisition of the skills required for work, but
it also enabled the weaker classes to gain access to general educational
standards which had hitherto been impossible. If healthcare was designed to
"repair" the damaged workforce, from another point of view it also guaranteed
treatment of illnesses which had once cut swathes through the proletariat.
While pensions often tended to transfer the costs of an obsolete or redundant
workforce onto the whole of society, they can also be said to provide an
alternative to the poorhouse and to the total degradation of old age which
members of the weakest classes were once subjected to. The public transport
system may have made it possible for huge numbers of the proletariat to be
abandoned amid the marginalization of the outlying districts of cities, but it
has to be said that it also allowed greater enjoyment of leisure time by large
sections of the population which once had no access to mobility.

Refusing to examine the State in all its various guises is simply

As a result, there are those who think that if the State is the enemy, then
everything that comes from the State must be rejected. But this type of
reasoning does not take into account the other enemy - capitalism - which is
today aiming at the destruction of the State. And there is yet another
misconception, even more insidious but nonetheless erroneous: as the
proletariat and capital have opposing interests, everything that goes to the
advantage of the latter can only be to the disadvantage of the former.

But if this were the case, seeing that wages are undeniably at the lowest level
that the bosses are prepared to cede in order to exploit the workforce fully
and are thus an advantage to employers, then employees should refuse them. In
effect, while we fight (or rather, should do) to increase wages at the cost of
profit, we should at the same time be fighting to ensure that services are
increasingly directed towards the exploited classes and increasingly away from
the wealthier classes.

But this should never mean, obviously, that we renounce the revolutionary
subverting of the system in order to obtain a just, free and egalitarian

3.2 From the primitive state to the modern State

As has been made clear from what we have said thus far, over the last 150
years, the State has substantially changed its role, its functions and its

But, on the other hand, while Marxism separates the role of government (a
bourgeois entrepreneurial committee, as it has been called) from that of the
State as an apparatus, and therefore developed the concept of using the State
machine for revolutionary ends, Anarchism, on the other hand, unites both
functions and has ended up over time losing the ability to distinguish and,
consequently, the capacity for political orientation.

We therefore need to think again about the whole question if we are to avoid
the risk of accepting the apparatus of state as it is or avoid rejection a
priori of anything that comes from the State, both of which would serve only to
deliver us into the hands of aggressive neo-liberalism.

4. Ambiguities in the role of the State

Much has been said about the absolutist or theocratic State, the pure
expression of the power of a privileged caste (and against which Bakunin's
criticisms were directed), which still existed in many countries in the
mid-18th century, though not for much longer. Our attention, however, is best
concentrated on the liberal State which by now is firmly established throughout
the world with a high level of capitalist development (and that it is the
lesser of two evils is only too clear to those "third-world" countries which
are still living under oppressive dictatorships).

It is true that bourgeois rights are fictitious - the State is never impartial.
In a society divided by class, even the consequences of illegality are divided
by class. But it does no harm to keep in mind the old saying about throwing the
baby out with the bathwater - even if the water is very dirty and the baby very
small. And for two good reasons. The first is simply that it would be stupid to
sacrifice the baby. The second is that we would be helping our class enemy, who
is trying to hold on to the bathwater but wants to throw out the baby.

4.1 The State in the revolution

One point on which Anarchists have always been in disagreement with Marxists is
regarding the need for the survival of the State during the transitional
period. The use of the State's functions in order to spread and defend the
revolution, according to the followers of so-called scientific socialism;
decentralization and direct management of society by the proletariat, in order
to ensure that the proletariat immediately takes control of the revolution as
the solution for the problems generated by class society, for Anarchist

Marxists have accused Anarchist positions of being cooperativist, sustaining
that if our methods were followed the result would be conflict and inequality,
not to mention an inability to defeat the inevitable bourgeois reaction. For
their part, Anarchists have maintained that the survival of a centralized power
(the State) would generate a new expropriator class and would distance the
masses from the revolution. Experience has provided unequivocal evidence of the
truth of this. Moreover, there have been notable examples of solidarity between
the dispossessed whenever the revolutionary self-management of the proletariat
has had even the slightest possibility to exist freely.

Having established that, let us now look at the matter a little more carefully.
First of all, Anarchists' legitimate criticism has led them towards a slippery
slope which could be fatal unless it is adequately dealt with. Solidarity is a
blueprint for civilization which humans must be educated into and it is not by
chance that the examples we have already mentioned all occurred in places where
revolutionary militants had already been exerting their influence for some
time, in other words where the masses were better prepared for revolution. Put
another way, it would be dangerous to confuse anarchy, which is the final
condition of human evolution (the result of a growth of civilization and the
awareness of our role in society), with the primordial conduct of man the
animal - violent, crude and aggressive.

In the second place, we need to avoid confusion in our goals. It is power which
must not be concentrated, in other words government and the State in the sense
of the administration from above to below (legislative power) of the res
publica. Instead, it is important to maintain a centralized role (on the basis
of free agreement from below, obviously) for public services in order to
guarantee the same rights for everyone. The Spanish anarchists in 1936 had no
doubts. Knowing full well that the revolution can succeed only if everything
works from day one (as far as possible) with regard to supplies and to
services, they ensured that the workers organized public services (for example
transport in Barcelona) in order to keep them operational.

It follows from this that though it is right for the bourgeois State apparatus
to be demolished and not transformed (as some have said in the past), the same
cannot be said where public services are concerned - children's education, care
of the elderly and the sick, public transport and so on. It can also be deduced
that where such services already exist and are provided to citizens on the
basis of equality, then the transition to collectivized management by the
workers of those sectors will be so much easier than would be the case if these
services were to be sold off piecemeal to the private sector and forced to
operate in order to create profit.

4.2 The Number One Enemy

Marxists have always maintained the entire evolution of history to be
determined by structure (the production system with its related social
relations), while other aspects such as politics, culture and war are merely
more or less direct consequences of the structure, even though they bring their
own effects (superstructure).

Anarchists, on the other hand, agree that the structure is the primary source
of the social system (history is the history of the class struggle), but that
the superstructure is not so closely dependent on it, that it has a life of its
own and that at times it can even interact with the structure, contributing to
its development. [A brief aside: strangely enough, Marxists developed a notable
taste for political involvement and electoral activity, whereas Anarchists
developed a fanatical lack of interest in these areas.]

As for the State, Marxists drew the conclusion that, once the production
relationships (ownership) had changed as a result of the revolution, the
superstructure of the State should continue to exist until such times as its
functions became unnecessary (on the basis of this, Trotskyists speak about the
USSR as a degenerated workers' State, ignoring the complete failure of the
revolutionary ideals as a result of the new Soviet bureaucratic apparatus).
Anarchists maintain that it is essential to abolish the State apparatus
immediately, substituting it with alternative forms of cooperative
associationism, as we are convinced that power can regenerate exploitation even
if the exploitation is initially abolished as a result of the revolution -
something which clearly came true in the case of the USSR.

Once again, the principle was good but the course of time and bad propaganda
caused a corruption of the principle in an extremely dangerous way. By
forgetting that our prime enemy is the exploitation by one man of another (as
Bakunin well knew) and that the State was one of the historic manifestations of
exploitation and was neither the only one nor a necessary one, Anarchists have
confused the theory of the transitional phase with the theory of history and
have ended up proclaiming the State as the proletariat's number one enemy (and
even, for some, its only enemy!). Marxist "statophilia" has been conterbalanced
by an equally obtuse Anarchist "statophobia". In other words, they have
concentrated their criticism on capital's instreument of domination developed
during one particular historical phase, only to forget the domination itself
and the various other forms it can take. And all because of the fear that the
State might once again reproduce the exploitation should it survive during the
revolutionary phase.

This is the reason why much Anarchist writing talks of the State being the main
enemy and why anyone who claims instead that our main enemy is the bourgeoisie
is accused of being a crypto-Marxist. So why, then, is the boss class now
aiming at the dissolution of the State? And why do some extremist fringe
elements of US neo-liberalism (like Friedmann) even recommend privatizing
police forces? Let us not forget that in Italy, the Mafia and the various other
"societies of honour" were born as a form of social and police control in those
parts of the country where, the exploitative production relationships not
having been abolished, the unified State was not present, not even for the
purposes of enforcing the law. A society can be created without State and
without economic equality, a society which would be dear to those American
anarcho-capitalists. Unfortunately, the subtle poison of this idea can be
abosorbed in homeopathic doses by anarchists without them even noticing it.

4.3 Collective functions and coercive functions

As we near the end of this study, it must be repeated that a generic approach
to the subject of the State cannot move us forward (and can actually set us
back). We therefore need to distinguish between the various functions of the
modern State (or at least what they were until the recent neo-liberal attack),
between the functions of social order both in one single area and
internationally (the Warfare State, as some have called it), and the functions
of assuring minimum standards of security to citizens (the Welfare State, in
other words). The various functions are often linked and support each other but
this does not take away from the fact that they are based on different
principles. The former are purely coercive and have no place within an
egalitarian society, whereas the latter are designed to ease social integration
and have a role to play that any society worthy of the name would wish to
cover, albeit with necessary changes in their form.

However, the way things are going at present, it seems that the direction we
are going in is not the one we would like. It is a road which capitalism has
taken with great willingness. The elimination of the Welfare State and the
maintaining, and indeed strengthening, of the Warfare State. EU treaties, the
growth of NATO, the development of professional armies in Italy and other
countries - all these point in the same direction, a direction which, among
other things, excludes any consistent diminution in the tax burden, at least as
far as employees are concerned.

In fact, we could add that anything other than a development of the Welfare
State only plays into the hands of the class enemy. It is the struggle for the
Welfare State that can prepare us for (and not move us further away from) the
collective and solid self-management of relationships. Instead, it seems that
for some so-called anarchists, the evil lies in public healthcare, education
and social security because they are provided by State bodies, and not the
exploitation of illness, knowledge and old age for profit.

But let us not forget that while the State is an obstacle to any revolutionary
success and that it must disappear from the very start of any future revolution
in the relationships between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, its
appearance in history was a step forward from the barbarism that preceded it
and that its disappearance, if not accompanied by a revolutionary change in the
relationships of ownership, will end up pushing us further from and not
bringing us closer to our goal.

5. A few groundrules

Anarchist anti-Statism has, without doubt, been useful in drawing attention to
several aspects that Marxism failed to deal with: the role of political power,
the role of the institutions during and following the revolution, the role of
the intellectual classes, the inner nature of the administration and its
ability to reproduce itself, the evolutive autonomy of the superstructure under
certain conditions and its influence on the general evolution. In all these
areas there have been irreversible theoretical advances which have been proved
in the field during the various attempts to install socialism using the
parameters of different varieties of Marxism.

However, we need to clean up anti-Statism and remove the detritus which has
gathered around it as a result of the accumulation of often overly-superficial
interpretations based on simple analogies. In particular, the pernicious
confusion between state and public, between bureaucracy and services, between
hierarchic and collective. It is, of course, true that public services are
affected by bureacratization and a lack of attention to the needs of the
individuals who use them. But it is also true that the daily scandal created in
the media (controlled by the powers-that-be) regarding disservices and
inefficiency serves only to pave the way for private profit. The road which
leads from today's justly-criticizable public services to an egalitarian,
classless society does not run through the impervious jungle of capitalism in
its wildest form and of the so-called interests of each citizen. It is a
different road, one which runs in the opposite direction:

* recognition of services as indirect, equally-distributed wages;

* the demand for more services which are more efficient and free to all;

* more efficient and continuous controls on collectivity, but not in the form
of "political representation", and on the quality of distribution of services.

This is the way to prepare for an efficient future self-management of society
and of the services which are designed to remove any inequalities created among
humans by nature. This is the true and most profound meaning of a "public


This text is no.4 in the "Studies for a Libertarian Alternative" series of
political pamphlets issued by the Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici. This
text is currently being examined by the Federation with a view to its possible
adoption as a document of Basic Strategy. For more information on our
theoretical documents and more downloadable pamphlets, please visit our website

This pamphlet is also available for download in PDF format from our website:


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