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(en) South Africa, FIVE WAVES: A BRIEF GLOBAL history of revolutionary Anarchist Communist mass organizational theory & practice

Date Wed, 02 Nov 2005 19:05:53 +0200


By Michael Schmidt (ZACF International Secretary, Southern Africa)
> Introduction
Anarchist communism has evolved over the past 140 years as a
fighting working class tradition of revolutionary warfare against all
forms of exploitation. Its aim is the creation of the freest and most
equal society possible, balancing individual and collective interests in
as fair a way as possible. But our detractors, both of the left and the
right question whether anarchism is strong enough to work in practice.
The examples of the Mexican, Ukrainian, Manchurian, Spanish,
Cuban and Iranian revolutions show that anarchist communism -
true grassroots workers' control and full social, political and
economic equality - is practical, sustainable and defensible, so long
as its core principles of direct democracy are deeply rooted in the
working class.

But, other revolutionaries say, our style of organisation is not strong
enough to either sustain revolutionary gains or to defend them. This
brief history will show how anarchists through the last century have
grappled with the issue. It will show that far from being chaotic or
anti-organisational, true anarchist militants are lovers of equitable
social order and believe in organising their forces to achieve this.

We also believe that it is a method which is not only compatible with
anarchist organisations ranging from small "affinity groups" and
cells to large-scale union and political federations, but that by
requiring a high degree of internal education and direct participation,
it is more anarchist than looser styles of organisation which carry the
un-anarchist danger of allowing an active minority to lead a passive
majority of members.

The rule, as always for anarchists, is that the means determine the
end, so internal democracy in our organisations is the most
important guarantor that our external relations with the working
class will also remain directly democratic and truly free.
Revolutionary anarchist communism (or "anarcho-communism")
sprang from the mass workers' organisations that founded the First
International in 1864.

Since then, anarchism has waxed and waned according, largely, to
the conditions in which the global working class, peasantry and poor
have found themselves, and in their responses to the expansions and
contractions of capital as it continually sought to overcome its
inherent contradictions. Anarchist communism is not an inchoate,
emotionally juvenile, disorganised morass of self-serving, half-baked
libertarian ideas, but a consistently egalitarian, militant,
directly-democratic, organised revolutionary theory and practice.

Anarchism did not suddenly vanish from the theatre of class warfare
with the Conservative Counter-revolution of the 1920s that gave rise
to both fascism, Stalinism and other types of reformism like the
welfare state. Not only that, but it survived well beyond the collapse
of the Spanish Revolution, with significant large-scale efforts in the
depths of the Cold War in countries as diverse as Chile, Korea,
China and Cuba in the 1940s and 1950s, until regenerated by the
neo-liberal contraction in the early 1970s.

Today, it has grabbed headlines around the world as it once did in its
hey-day of the 1890s-1930s, being the heart, brawn and brain of the
anti-capitalist movement, a phoenix rising from the ashes of both
collapsed pseudo-communist ("state-capitalist") and collapsed
private capitalist regimes (ex-USSR and Argentina, for example),
providing a battle-proven, but much neglected alternate model for a
world in crisis.

To take a long-term perspective, one can see the fortunes of
anarchism - like that of the militant, autonomous working class -
rise and fall in waves. The nature of these waves is a complex
textile, embracing the weft of working class culture and
consciousness, with the warp of capital in crisis, the ebb and flow of
the global movements of people, capital and ideas.

This booklet is very far from a total history of the movement - it
merely sketches the broader outlines of these waves - and the texts
quoted from are not some sort of holy canon, but indicate how, at
decisive moments, the movement grappled with the complex
question that lies at the heart of making a social revolution and
which has vexed all leftist revolutionaries: that of the relationship
between the specific revolutionary organisation and the mass of the
exploited and oppressed.

Chapter Index

* FIRST WAVE: THE "INVISIBLE PILOTS" STEER THE
SECRET REVOLUTIONARY ORGANISATION
* SECOND WAVE: THE "GENERAL UNION" BUILDS AN
ORGANISATIONAL PLATFORM
* THIRD WAVE: THE "REVOLUTIONARY JUNTA" PUSHES
FOR A FRESH REVOLUTION
* FOURTH WAVE: THE "VANISHING VANGUARD"
ADVANCES LIBERTARIAN COMMUNISM
* FIFTH WAVE: THE ANARCHO-COMMUNIST "DRIVING
FORCE" FIGHTS FOR A LIBERTARIAN ALTERNATIVE
* CONCLUSION: THE ROLE OF THE ANARCHIST
COMMUNIST ORGANISATION IN A "FRONT OF OPPRESSED
CLASSES"

Download the entire text as a PDF pamphlet to print out and
distribute http://www.zabalaza.net/zabfed/

http://www.zabalaza.net/zabfed/
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