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(en) US, Atlanta, Building A Revolutionary Movement: An Anarchist-Communist Study Group

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(o-man-A-riseup.net)
Date Thu, 17 Feb 2005 12:47:39 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

Where: Oz Pizza (309 East College Ave)
When: 7 P.M. Friday, February 18
What: We will be studying 'Building a Revolutionary Movement: Why
Anarchist-Communist Organization?' by Adam Weaver of the Furious Five
Revolutionary Collective (full text follows)
Who: This study group is being organized by the Capital Terminus
Anarchist-Communist collective. Anybody is invited who is interested in
building a revolutionary movement that can give our class the opportunity
to finally overthrow the oppressors and create freedom worldwide - from
those who already see the neccessity of building a revolutionary movement,
to those who are just curious. (If you cannot come but are still
interested, we encourage you to read the document and get in touch with

For more information/questions etc: e-mail o-man(nospam)riseup.net

Forward Widely!

About the Capital Terminus Anarchist-Communist collective: We are a group
of revolutionaries based around Atlanta who believe that our class has
nothing to lose but its chains. We want to build a future where all
exploitation and oppressions have been erased and corrected by the people.
We are inspired by the anarchist-communist movement globally such as the
Zabalaza Anarchist-Communist Federation in Southern Africa and the Workers
Solidarity Movement in Ireland, as well as NEFAC and FRAC in North
America. We take much influence from the Platformist tradition as well as
the idea of especifismo.

Building a Revolutionary Movement: Why Anarchist-Communist Organization?

Over the past few years anarchist-communist organizations have been
budding across the globe from South Africa South America to North America.
Yet few people, even within anarchist and revolutionary circles, have a
good grasp of the beliefs, motivations and purposes behind this movement.
Often times with an emerging movement it is not until the egg hatches,
producing concrete and visible results, that people begin to give it its
name and tell its story.

This article aims to give a brief outline the lessons to be learned from
our revolutionary histories and show the roots from which the current
movement of Anarchist-Communists in North America and world-wide stems
from and further argue the case for this movements vision of a coherent
Anarchist-Communist organization based on a strategic orientation towards
social movements of the working class and oppressed.

While hard to believe now, the ideas of anarchism once held center stage
in the mass revolutionary movements during the turn of the century on
every continent. Through labor unions, cultural centers, women’s groups
and popular newspapers, the libertarian ideal of a free, horizontal
socialism created by the people inspired millions of people across the
globe. Anarchism and expressed through revolutionary and
anarcho-syndicalism were the dominant revolutionary ideology of mass
movements in most countries, while the vast majority of the Marxist
current was organized into reformist social democratic parties that were
oriented towards electoral change, or, “socialism at the ballot box.”
Marxist writer Eric Hobsbawm notes that:

"It became hard to recall that in 1905-14, the marxist left sic had in
most countries been on the fringe if the revolutionary movement, the main
body of Marxists had been identified with a de facto non-revolutionary
social democracy, while the bulk of the revolutionary left was
anarcho-syndicalist, or at least much closer to the ideas and mood of
anarcho-syndicalism than to that of classical Marxism. Marxism was
henceforth after the Russian Revolution identified with actively
revolutionary movements… Anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism entered upon a
dramatic and uninterrupted decline." 1

But as history has shown in numerous countries, despite the popularity of
anarchist ideas and the high level of involvement and even leadership of
anarchists in the popular struggles of their day, anarchists were not able
to effectively organize themselves during important revolutionary moments.
The loosely knit anarchist movement was not able to develop the strategic
and tactical unity necessary to deal with massive state repression, moves
toward state accommodationism of social movements (such as advent of the
welfare state or government mediation of workplace struggles) or the rise
of Bolshevikism. Together these forces sounded the decline of anarchism
and the role of anarchists in mass movements, along with a number of
anarchist militants who were swayed into the forming Communist Parties of
the early 20’s.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 profoundly swayed the orientation of the
global revolutionary movements towards the statist politics of
Marxist-Leninism. Many began to see Russia, under Lenin, Trotsky and later
Stalin’s leadership, as the leading hope of revolution. The new soviet
state opened up training institutes, offered advisors and contributed
financial resources to emerging Communist Parties throughout the global
south, vastly expanding the once small role that Marxism held throughout
the world.2 This factor of Marxims growth has unfortunately yet to be
sufficiently examined and taken into consideration in looking at the
origins of Marxism globally.

By the early 1930’s the majority of the revolutionary movements, with the
great exception of Spain, were strongly influenced if not in the hands of
the Communist Parties. The Communist Parties affiliated with the Third
International, or Comintern, with Stalin at the helm, directed or created
strong poles in the ideology of the oppressed and working class movements
in numerous countries through the popular front strategy which led to
their historic defeat. Where the CP’s were “successful” in erecting Marx’s
idea and Lenin’s model of dictatorship of the proletariat, the result was
dictatorial state-capitalist regimes that oppressed workers, ethnic
minorities and indigenous peoples.

Now that the dust has settled on the great struggles of the 20th century,
the weight of Marxist and reformist narratives of history have buried most
of the spectacular history and struggles of anarchists worldwide. But now
as a new epoch of 21st century struggle is beginning, signs of resurgence
are surfacing in response to new crises and popular movements are again
bursting forth with new examples of popular rebellion and organization. In
this climate a few dedicated individuals have begun to brush off the dust
and bring these stories of anarchism and popular movements to light again.

The new world in our hearts

We are standing at a moment of historic juncture, a moment that promises
to bring ever more frightening realities. Yet, with this frightening
reality comes the opportunity for new movements to resist imposed social
crises and reshape society in a new image. Following the Cold War and the
collapse of the communist ‘alternative’, the US was left as the sole world
superpower. It has now begun to enact, through treaty or tank, the
globalization of hyper-exploitative capitalism and US hegemony into every
corner of the world. Globally the economy is in shambles. Following Asia’s
economic crises, a typhoon has carried across the pacific, hitting South
America. Now reaching America, millions are jobless or being squeezed into
the low wage service and retail sector, while the economy is floated by
massive military spending and an accompanying national debt. Further, the
extremist leadership of President Bush, has expanded America’s agenda to
one of empire building through neo-colonial militarism abroad and US
protectionism at home, putting the US into potential conflict with other
emerging powers such as the EU and China. Important reforms of previous
struggles such as welfare, social security, accessible public education
and affirmative action are being slashed or nearly eliminated.

The years ahead will likely see a growth in massive social movements
challenging these crises of unemployment, war, public services, economic
restructuring and concurrent repression and serious anarchists will be
challenged to put their beliefs into practice and turn these coming
rebellions into international social revolution. Already we can some of
this in new Anarchist-Communist organizations that have formed and in the
syndicalist unions in Europe and the US that are reviving out of dormancy.

This requires not only a new analysis of our current world and the
realities of the oppressed and working classes, but a strategy of how the
revolutionary forces will act as catalysts towards social revolution,
which inevitably leads to the question of how these forces will organize
themselves as a vehicle to implement and undertake this strategy.

Traditionally the movement of Anarchist-Communism within anarchism has
defined itself by fighting for a positive vision of social revolution.
They have avoided the pitfalls of moving into reformist mutualism and
while involved in the social movements, rejected “pure”
anarcho-syndicalism that denied any necessity for separate anarchist
organization. Within the FAI of Spain, the Makhnovistas of the Ukraine,
the PLM of Mexico and the anarchist federations of South America,
Anarchist-Communism represents the leading ideological force of these
social revolutionaries.

While classic Anarchist-Communist beliefs were built on the simple theorem
of, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their
needs,” the new emerging movement of Anarchist-Communists is expanding
their framework of analysis. While anarchism offers timeless principles,
much of its political, social and organizational theory is outdated and
thus serious anarchists have begun the process of historical revision and
reexamining concepts of race, gender, social oppression, nationalism and

The Basis of Organization

Based on these historical conclusions and assessment of the current
situation emerges the rising Anarchist-Communist movement within anarchism
based around two central themes: 1) the organization of militants into a
coherent federation and 2) the interaction and active participation of
anarchists within the social movements. While these ideas have only
recently come into North American anarchism, they are historically rooted
in the anarchist movement and have formed independently in different
countries. For example the same concept was called “organizational
dualism” in the Italian anarchist movement of the 20’s and a similar
concept has emerged in the South American anarchist movement they call
“especificismo.” 3

Today’s current borrows loosely from the Platformist current in the belief
of rejecting an anarchist catch-all federation combining different
tendencies within anarchism, called a “synthesis federation,” and instead
advocating an organization based on common ideological belief. This type
of federation interacts in ideas with the broader anarchist movement and
may work with similar minded anarchists, but does not seek to speak for,
represent or recruit the whole anarchist movement.

In the ‘Organizational Platform of the Libertarian Communists,’ document
written by Nestor Makhno and the Dielo Trouda (Workers Cause) group after
the Russian Revolution, the term they coined to describe their proposal
for anarchist federation is one based on “theoretical and tactical unity.”
This does not mean having a rigid, all encompassing ideological hegemony
within the organization (as many Marxist-Leninist and especially Maoist
parties do), but rather the organization brings its members together to
develop a common strategy towards building a revolutionary movement. This
important strategizing work can only occur in an organization with a high
degree of trust, commitment and political unity. Theoretical and tactical
unity is not something imposed, but is an ideal that is always strived
towards and developed out of a process of critical thinking, strategizing,
action and evaluation. It is a concept born out of necessity as
revolutionaries realize that a successful revolution requires a strategy
along with dedicated work. Of course the way particular groups implement a
strategy may be different because of local circumstances and different

This process of developing a revolutionary strategy and ideological
discussion within the organization allows the members and groups who make
up the federation to constantly be engaging themselves in the process of
revolutionary theory and practice. Then by taking their discussions,
reflections and conclusions into media forms, such as the federation
publication, it creates more discussion and influence within the larger
revolutionary and social movements. Further, the federation can act as a
historical well of experience for new militants brought into the movement
and allow the members to hold themselves accountable to the mistakes they

Based on the analysis and strategy of the organization, day-to-day work is
focused around working within broader social movements. While social
movements are broadly defined as movements of affected groups of people
brought together for social change, the social movements that
Anarchist-Communists specifically refer to are movements of oppressed
people that seek not only social change, but a breaking down of existing
structures and oppression. They must have the potential to counter pose
oppressed people’s own collective power and vision (also called dual
power). The movements should be horizontal, participant led and democratic
in structure as much as possible. They should be oriented towards direct
action and more importantly create the type of conditions that transform
the participants into self-conscious thinkers and organizers amongst their
peers. The classic example of social movements is radical labor
organizing, but contemporary examples could also be working class student
and community organizing.

The Brazilian FAG (Federação Anarquista Gaúcha or Gaucha Anarchist
Federation) describes their view on anarchists involvement in social

"On the political-ideological level (political groups, including the FAG)
should enhance the social and popular movements, but without trying to
make it “anarchist”, more militant. The social movements should not have a
political ideology, the role should be to unite and not belong to a
political party. In social movements it is possible to unite militants and
build a unified base, which is not possible in an ideological level." 4

This is counter posed to the work that most of the US left is engaged in
of cyclical activist work which lacks strategy and is divorced from
everyday experience and relevance to oppressed and working class people.
Most of this work amounts to issue based advocacy by small groups of
political activists that orient themselves to other political activists.
The Anarchist-Communist vision of social movements is also counter-posed
to those movements that while seemingly popular and seemingly based on
struggles of oppressed and working class people, are leadership
orchestrated, top-down movements where participants are passive actors of
their own fate or where a movements true function is acting as a conveyor
belt of electoral or party politics. Unfortunately too many anarchists
find themselves plowing every garden but their own and doing this very
type of work.

The role of the Anarchist-Communists is not to wrestle the leadership of
movements into their hands, which assumes a presumptuous leadership of the
masses or vanguardist role, but to work as a catalyst of ideas and action
within. Like baking soda to vinegar, a catalyst works to create a reaction
when it interacts with something else. Anarchist-Communists would play key
roles as active participants, helping push the social movements forward in
organization, strength and militancy. They would also work to maintain the
popular character by arguing against electoral politics, their
accompanying party organizations and vanguardist elements.

In Conclusion

Just as history is putting everyday people into the line of fire, it is
forcing them to step up to the plate to resist the attacks of capitalism,
white supremacy and patriarchy. But these attacks and the growing
resistance are neither isolated events, but are all elements of historical
forces at work. These forces are also calling forth the ideals inspired by
anarchism and Anarchist-Communism: that of a society reshaped in the image
of a popular, horizontal socialism created by the people. As
revolutionaries our moment is now and we cannot afford, nor can all of our
people and communities, to abdicate our responsibility and ignore the
lessons of our histories. We must accept this challenge by coherently
organizing ourselves and putting our ideal into practice of mass, popular
and militant social movements that will have the power to bring about the
social revolution.

by Adam Weaver of the Furious Five Revolutionary Collective.

Footnotes: 1. As quoted by Arif Dirlik, Anarchism and the Chinese
Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 2

2. Citing just a few examples of China, Vietnam and Cuba: John King
Fairbank, The Great Chinese Revoltuion (San Francisco: Harper Perenial,
1987), 208, 212 William J. Duiker, Ho Chi Minh, A Life (NY, Hyperion:
2000), 89 Frank Fernandez Cuban Anarchism (Tuscon, AZ: See Sharp Press,
2001), 55

3. The Global Influence of Platformism Today (Johannesburg, South Africa:
Zabalaza Books, 2003), 24 (Interview with Italian Federaione dei Comunisti
Anarchici for Organizational Dualism), 50 (Interview with Brazilian
Federação Anarquista Gaúcha for especificismo) www.nefac.net or

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