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(en) US, Atlanta: Discussion Group: What is Anarchist-Communism? You're Invited!

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 21 Mar 2005 20:45:07 +0100 (CET)


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What: A discussion group about what Anarchist-Communism is
When: 6:00 pm Friday, March 25
Where: Javamonkey 205 Ponce de Leon Ave. #5 Decatur, GA 30030 (the store
front is on Church St. facing the Decatur Marta station)
Who: This discussion group is hosted by the Capital Terminus
Anarchist-Communist collective. Everyone is welcome.
We will be using a pamphlet by the Furious Five revolutionary collective
(http://furiousfive.50megs.com) to jumpstart the conversation, the full text follows.
THE "CAPITAL TERMINUS" ANARCHIST-COMMUNIST COLLECTIVE
We are group of revolutionary anarchists in the Atlanta area who have a
class-war perspective of society and who want to raise consciousness
within our class of our ability to win and create a libertarian communist
society by ending all oppression and exploitation. We believe that a
specific anarchist organization is a necessary tool in accomplishing this
task and are uniting revolutionary anarchists from across the
southeast region of the United States to create this organization in our
area.

For a world without masters and with dignity for all people!

If you are in Atlanta or the southeast, get in touch with us by E-mailing:
o-man@riseup.net

=========================================

FULL TEXT (from the Furious Five website, http://furiousfive.50megs.com)
Anarchism evolved as a form of socialism amidst the rise of socialism in
general in Europe during the 19th century. Socialism, in its original
meaning, simply held that everything that was productive in society (in
other words, anything used to make products commodities, i.e. machinery,
tools, etc.) should be held in common, not privately as in capitalism. As
Proudhon stated, “Property is theft” because all resources and productive
elements in a society are the collective creation of past and present
generations, so to speak of individual ownership of what was contributed
to by all is theft.
Socialism soon split into several different currents, the primary split
being between the State socialists and the Stateless socialists (the
anarchists). The State socialists were concerned with “capturing” the
State for the working class, some through the ballot box, some through
revolutionary means, while the Stateless socialists believed it was
ludicrous to speak of “capturing” what is inherently an instrument of
domination, the State, and using it for liberation. This split was made
official at the 1872 congress of the International Workingmen’s
Association, an organization made up of representatives from different
revolutionary organizations and trade unions throughout Europe. At this
congress, Karl Marx expelled Mikhail Bakunin, one of the leading anarchist
organizers of the time, creating a permanent breach between the State
socialists and anarchists. The conflict between Marx and Bakunin was
complex, involving personal as well as ideological dimensions.
The anarchism movement itself was not homogenous, especially as it evolved
over time. The main point of division in anarchism was between
individualist anarchists and social anarchists. Anarchist communism took
form as the culmination of the social anarchist current, and held that not
only should the means of production be held in common, but also the
products themselves as well. Peter Kropotkin, a Russian prince who
renounced his title and dedicated his life to revolution and theory, is
often credited with being the founding father of at least the name of
“anarchist communism”. He himself said that he simply gave a name and
theory to what was actually a product of the struggles of the oppressed,
not the creation of intellectuals. Anarchist communism believed that the
guiding principle of society should be “From each according to his or her
ability, to each according to his or her need.” Anarchist communists did
not (and do not) denigrate the individual by any means, rather they felt
that the division between individuals and the community is a false one,
and that the relationship is instead (or rather should be) a reciprocal
and interlocked one.
Anarchist communists always believed in being a part of working-class
social movements, although the exact dimensions and strategy to be pursued
in doing so were often debated. Anarchist communists played a decisive
role and had a large presence in the social movements of many countries
throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the most well known being the
CNT-FAI in Spain during the Spanish Revolution, and the Makhnovist
movement in the Ukraine during the Russian Revolution. Less well known is
the large role that anarchists played in the struggles and movements of
the oppressed in Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, China, Chile, and many
other countries throughout the world. The Bolshevik seizure of power and
takeover of the Russian Revolution in 1917 dramatically shifted the
balance of power between Marxists and anarchists throughout the world. The
rest of the twentieth century saw the spotlight being shone mainly on the
Marxist parties and movements throughout the world (with the notable
exception of Spain in the 30’s and May ’68 in France). The fall of the
Soviet Union in 1989 discouraged some on the Left, but only confirmed what
anarchists had been saying since the beginning: that the authority
principle must be eliminated for true revolution to occur. How could
socialism be discredited when it never really existed in the Soviet Union,
China, or any other so-called communist country? The fall of systems based
on hierarchy should not be surprising, for anarchists have always held
that freedom is as necessary and natural to human beings as sunlight, no
matter how long they have had to suffer in darkness. In the past few
decades, anarchism and anarchism-communism have had a dramatic resurgence,
with specifically anarchist communist formations surfacing in Ireland,
South Africa, Brazil, several parts of the United States and Canada,
Italy, and various other countries. These movements carry on the fight for
a just and fulfilling world that is free from both exploitation and
tyranny, and that allows for the realization of the potential of every
human being within the framework of vibrant communities.
Anarchist communism differs from other forms of anarchism in its strong
emphasis on community. In concrete terms, this means that anarchist
communists are very focused on structure, organization, and group
dynamics, more so than other anarchists. This is because while anarchist
communists recognize the oppressive and corrupting forms that structures
take in this society, we believe that structures at heart are simply a way
of organizing social relationships, and thus exist even in so-called
structureless groups. It therefore is necessary for anyone working for a
better society to struggle for constructive structures in every aspect of
life that allow for the true realization of liberty, equality, and
community.
Anarchist communists also believe in mass, organized action as the key to
revolution. They hold to the maxim that only the oppressed can free
themselves, and reject the notion of the vanguard party or any band of
outsiders and/or intellectuals coming in to hijack a social movement and
“give direction to the masses”. Rather, anarchist communists hold that the
true revolutionary potential lies in the mass organizations of the
oppressed, and that the role of revolutionaries should be as organizers
within such movements that give assistance and certainly fight for a
libertarian direction, but do not take over or act in an authoritarian
manner. The goal is a social revolution where the new, libertarian
communist institutions that the oppressed have built “within the shell of
the old” will replace State and capitalist institutions.
Anarchist communists believe that collective responsibility and
accountability is necessary and is not inimical to freedom. Rather, true
freedom can only be achieved in a social sense, with collective
responsibility being a key element. “No rights without duties; no duties
without rights.” The organizational form of the new society will be based
on the concept of free federation with power flowing from the bottom
upward.
While not indulging in conspiracy theories, anarchist communists view the
existence of a ruling elite as a fact based on structural realities. This
elite composed of rich, white, heterosexual males (tokens do exist as
exceptions that prove the rule) will defend its position using any means
necessary as all past elites in history have done. A revolutionary
movement must thus be willing to oppose them by any means necessary as
well in order to gain true liberation. While the privileged elements of
the working class can and must eventually realize their real interests, if
history is any guide no such hope exists for the ruling elite, with the
exception of a handful of individuals.
Anarchist communism is used as a term to accurately describe a vision that
is not only a negative critique of government, but also a positive vision
of a world based on community and a socialistic life. Anarchism is as much
opposed to capitalism as it is to government, for both are based on
hierarchy, injustice, and oppression. Anarchist-communists have often
working in union movements throughout the world, striving to liberate
workers from the exploitative grip of bosses and capitalism in general. A
boss hates anarchism because it is dedicated to the elimination of the
role of “boss” itself.
Anarchists are opposed to all forms of domination and believe that the
root of all oppressions is the authority principle. Anarchists oppose the
State because it is the ultimate embodiment of oppression, domination, and
hierarchy. It is also always the defender of the privilege of a few,
utilizing force and mental persuasion/propaganda to maintain injustice. A
worker’s state is an impossibility because a State necessitates the
existence of hierarchy and authority, and those who control the State
possess an immense privilege by that very fact. A society where
domination, hierarchy, authority, and privilege remains is not socialist
or anarchist, but rather the continuation of the same old injustice with a
new costume on. There is no such thing as a worker’s State, because a
State exists for the defense of the privilege of a few, and those who
control the State become an interest in themselves as well. A free, equal,
and creative society can only exist where hierarchy has been destroyed and
true democracy instituted, and this is impossible to achieve without the
elimination of the State.
Anarchist communists believe that the place for revolutionaries is in the
thick of things. In other words, the oppressed are always engaged in
struggles against the powers that be due to the very nature of the system
itself and the universal yearning, however submerged it might be, for
liberation and a meaningful life. The place for anarchist communists is
thus in the heart of such struggles. While specifically anarchist
formations, meetings, and spaces certainly have a place, the primary role
of anarchist communists should be as revolutionary organizers in
mass-based social movements. Revolutionary organizers work and strive for
the empowerment of people, the transformation of power dynamics, and the
movement of people towards collective action. Anarchist communists believe
that the true revolutionary potential lies in so-called “ordinary people”,
not in vanguard parties or intellectuals. The goal of anarchist communists
is to work with the oppressed in their struggles, contribute whatever
skills they might have (and share those skills), tap and bring out
people’s revolutionary potential, and act as the facilitator, not the
director, of the masses’ drive to action. It must also be stated that
anarchist communists must always remain open to the fact that organizing
is a two-way dialogue, meaning that humility is necessary in order to
learn from those one is struggling with.
Most people’s belief that anarchism is an impossible, utopian dream is
based on a certain conception of human nature, that being that humans are
inherently greedy, competitive, and violent, and that without a strong
government and authority figures to keep people under control, absolute
chaos and destruction would reign. However, anarchists dispute this notion
of human nature. They point out the fact that people base their opinion of
what human nature is based on how people act today, in this society, in
this period in history. A true examination of human nature must be based
on an examination of humanity throughout its history in all areas of the
world. What such an examination shows is that how humans act is
fundamentally shaped by the particular social relations they are
surrounded with and the environment they inhabit. This is not to say that
there is no such thing as human nature, but rather that it is far more
malleable than is commonly believed. “Human nature” is most often used to
defend unjust social relations and institutions. Human societies and
cultures have spanned the gamut from warlike, militaristic empires to
peaceful, cooperative societies. Humans are not inherently evil or brutal,
rather the violence and evil we see in humanity today is a result of the
unhealthy and unjust social relations that shape us all. It thus is
necessary for us to create new social relations based on cooperation,
freedom, community, and equality that will allows us and encourage us to
be caring, creative people. Anarchists believe that any social relations
that are based on hierarchy and authority are unhealthy and will create
the twisted behavior that we attribute to “human nature”.
The other common critique of anarchism is that while it was possible in
the past, when humanity lived in small tribes and bands, it is not
feasible for everyone to be a part of decision-making in the huge, complex
societies we live in today. Anarchists believe that this is a convenient
excuse to justify authoritarianism, and reveals the fact that even
defenders of “representative democracy” must acknowledge its elitism.
There is no reason why delegates can’t be used to coordinate decisions
between democratic councils and bodies that allow everyone to participate.
These bodies at the base can be federated, with power flowing upward.
Also, a society based on cooperation and solidarity and not driven by the
profit motive, competition, and the endless push for robotic efficiency
and “economic growth” will be able to take everyone’s voice into
consideration. No one said true democracy is the most efficient, but since
when is systemic efficiency a value that we should allow to trump the
needs and wants of real human beings?
=======================
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