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(en) History - Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft)

Date Thu, 06 Jul 2006 10:40:34 +0300

Translator's introduction: Organizational Platform of the General Union of
Anarchists (Draft) by Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad - ("Delo Truda"
Group) We now present a new English translation of the Platform.
Eighty years have passed since the publication in the pages of the
Russian anarchist monthly Delo Truda of the Organizational
Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft), but the
question of anarchist organization remains an open one even today,
a question which sparks off ferocious debates with frightening ease.
Yet in reality it is a question which has long been solved: either we
accept the need for anarchists to come together in their own specific
organizations so as to allow greater unity and strength with which to
face the struggles; or we don't accept it, and are happy to remain part
of the world of "chaotic" anarchism which rejects such a need for
one reason or another, considering it pointless or dangerous, or
which accepts it, but choose anarchist unity in name, where the
various hues of anarchism come together under an umbrella
organization without any serious political unity or strategies.

The Organizational Platform (often known in English-speaking
circles as the "Organizational Platform of the Libertarian
Communists") was the first attempt since the days of Bakunin to
formulate a theoretical and practical platform of the positions and
tasks of anarchists, which could provide anarchism with the
necessary political and organizational unity to increase the influence
of anarchist ideas within society in general and the workers'
movements in particular, after the defeat of anarchism in the
Russian Revolution made the grave faults of (what had by then
become) "traditional" anarchism all too evident. The Platform not
only deals with organizational questions. It tackles a whole range of
problems: it clearly sets out the class nature of anarchism; it defines
the role of anarchists in the pre-revolutionary and revolutionary
periods; it establishes the role of syndicalism as an instrument of
struggle; it sets out the basic tenets of anarchist theory such as
anti-capitalism, the rejection of bourgeois democracy, the State and
authority, and more.

For all these reasons, the Organizational Platform, though not
exhaustive in its treatment of various questions, and requiring
further development in some areas, is a document of great value, not
only historical but also practical. It merits the serious consideration
of all those who fight, or who want to fight, for a new world, a new
society, a new humanity.

Previous English translations of the Platform have suffered from
the fact that they were translated, not directly from the Russian, but
via French. So, in order to commemorate the 80th anniversary of its
publication, we set about preparing a new translation directly from
Russian. However, in order to save time, this new translation is
based on the existing translations, but we have made a detailed
comparison with the Russian original in order to bring it as close as
possible to the original. We have also observed the original
paragraphs and replaced emphatic italics with bold type, for clarity.

As translations of the Platform into other languages (such as
Dutch, Greek and Spanish) have generally been made from the
existing English translations, we take this opportunity to suggest
that translators revise their work on the basis of this new translation
or, if possible, of the Russian original, available on the Archive.

Finally we wish to thank Will Firth and Mikhail Tsovma for their
invaluable assistance (and patience!) with this new translation.

Nestor McNab
The Nestor Makhno Archive


20 June1926


Despite the force and unquestionably positive character of anarchist
ideas, despite the clarity and completeness of anarchist positions
with regard to the social revolution, and despite the heroism and
countless sacrifices of anarchists in the struggle for Anarchist
Communism, it is very telling that in spite of all this, the anarchist
movement has always remained weak and has most often featured in
the history of working-class struggles, not as a determining factor,
but rather as a fringe phenomenon.

This contrast between the positive substance and incontestable
validity of anarchist ideas and the miserable state of the anarchist
movement can be explained by a number of factors, the chief one
being the absence in the anarchist world of organizational principles
and organizational relations.

In every country the anarchist movement is represented by local
organizations with contradictory theory and tactics with no forward
planning or continuity in their work. They usually fold after a time,
leaving little or no trace.

Such a condition in revolutionary anarchism, if we take it as a whole,
can only be described as chronic general disorganization. This
disease of disorganization has invaded the organism of the anarchist
movement like yellow fever and has plagued it for decades.

There can be no doubt, however, that this disorganization has its
roots in a number of defects of theory, notably in the distorted
interpretation of the principle of individuality in anarchism, that
principle being too often mistaken for the absence of all
accountability. Those enamoured of self-expression with an eye to
personal pleasure cling stubbornly to the chaotic condition of the
anarchist movement and, in defence thereof, invoke the immutable
principles of anarchism and its teachers.

However, the immutable principles and teachers show the very

Dispersion spells ruination; cohesion guarantees life and
development. This law of social struggle is equally applicable to
classes and parties.

Anarchism is no beautiful fantasy, no abstract notion of philosophy,
but a social movement of the working masses; for that reason alone
it must gather its forces into one organization, constantly agitating,
as demanded by the reality and strategy of the social class struggle.

As Kropotkin said:
"We are convinced that the formation of an anarchist party in
Russia, far from being prejudicial to the general revolutionary
endeavour, is instead desirable and useful in the highest degree."
(Foreword to Bakunin's Paris Commune, [Russian edition], 1892)

Nor did Bakunin ever oppose the idea of a general anarchist
organization. On the contrary, his aspirations with regard to
organization, as well as his activities within the first workingmen's
International, give us every right to view him as an active advocate of
precisely such a mode of organization.

Broadly speaking, nearly all of the active militants of anarchism were
against dissipated action and dreamed of an anarchist movement
united by a common purpose and common tactics.

It was during the Russian revolution of 1917 that the need for a
general organization was felt most acutely, since it was during the
course of that revolution that the anarchist movement displayed the
greatest degree of fragmentation and confusion. The absence of a
general organization induced many anarchist militants to defect to
the ranks of the Bolsheviks. It is also the reason why many other
militants find themselves today in a condition of passivity that
thwarts any utilization of their often immense capacities.

We have vital need of an organization which, having attracted most
of the participants in the anarchist movement, would establish a
common tactical and political line for anarchism and thereby serve
as a guide for the whole movement.

It is high time that anarchism emerged from the swamp of
disorganization, to put an end to the interminable vacillations on the
most important questions of theory and tactics, and resolutely move
towards its clearly understood purpose and an organized collective

It is not enough, though, to simply state the vital need for such an
organization. It is also necessary to establish a means for creating it.

We reject as theoretically and practically unfounded the idea of
creating an organization using the recipe of the "synthesis”, that
is to say, bringing together the supporters of the various strands of
anarchism. Such an organization embracing a pot-pourri of elements
(in terms of their theory and practice) would be nothing more than a
mechanical assemblage of persons with varying views on all issues
affecting the anarchist movement, and would inevitably break up on
encountering reality.

The anarcho-syndicalist approach does not solve anarchism's
organizational difficulty, since anarcho-syndicalism fails to give it
priority and is mostly interested in the idea of penetrating and
making headway into the world of labour. However, even with a
foothold there, there is nothing much to be accomplished in the
world of labour if we do not have a general anarchist organization.

The only approach which can lead to a solution of the general
organizational problem is, as we see it, the recruitment of
anarchism's active militants on the basis of specific theoretic, tactical
and organizational positions, which is to say on the basis of a more
or less perfected, homogeneous programme .

Drawing up such a programme is one of the primary tasks which the
social struggle of recent decades demands of anarchists. And it is to
this task that the Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad has dedicated
a substantial part of its efforts.

The “Organizational Platform” published below represents
the outline, the skeleton of such a programme and must serve as the
first step towards gathering anarchist forces into a single active,
revolutionary anarchist collective capable of struggle: the General
Union of Anarchists.

We have no illusions about the various deficiencies in the platform.
As in any new, practical and, at the same time, critical departure,
there are undoubtedly gaps in the platform. It may be that certain
essential positions have been left out of the platform, or that certain
others have not been developed adequately, or that still others may
be too detailed or repetitive. All of this is possible, but that is not the
issue. What is important is that the groundwork be laid for a general
organization, and that aim is achieved, to the necessary extent, by
this platform. It is the task of the general collective - the General
Anarchist Union - to further elaborate and improve the platform so
as to turn it into a complete programme for the whole anarchist

We also have no illusions on another score.

We anticipate that a great many representatives of so-called
individualism and "chaotic" anarchism will attack us, foaming at the
mouth and accusing us of infringing anarchist principles. Yet we
know that these individualist and chaotic elements take
“anarchist principles" to mean the cavalier attitude,
disorderliness and irresponsibility that have inflicted all but incurable
injuries upon our movement and against which we struggle with all
our energy and passion. That is why we can calmly parry any attacks
from that quarter.

Our hopes are vested in others - in those who have remained true to
anarchism, the workers, who have lived out the tragedy of the
anarchist movement and who are painfully searching for a way out.

And we have high hopes of the anarchist youth, those young
comrades born on the winds of the Russian revolution and absorbed
from the outset by the whole gamut of constructive problems, who
will undoubtedly insist on the implementation of positive
organizational principles in anarchism.

We invite all Russian anarchist organizations, scattered throughout
the various countries of the world, as well as individual anarchist
militants, to come together into a single revolutionary collective, on
the basis of a general organizational platform.

May this platform be a revolutionary watchword and rallying point
for all the militants of the Russian anarchist movement and may it
mark the birth of the General Union of Anarchists!

Long live the organized anarchist movement!
Long live the General Anarchist Union!
Long live the Social Revolution of the world's workers!

The Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad
Petr Arshinov, Group Secretary
20 June1926

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