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(en) WORKERS' ANARCHISM http://libcom.org/node/7966 by M. Magid* of Russian KRAS

Date Wed, 27 Sep 2006 11:26:31 +0300

Permanent crises of anarcho-syndicalism
Many times, all sections of the IWA-AIT say they are against reformism.
They promise to be against collaboration with the state, against trade
unionism. This is really funny as again and again reformism has taken
power in AIT. There must be an explanation. And we can not say, "Oh,
that's the result of a conspiracy, reformists are everywhere and they want to
destroy us". That is crazy and it would be real Stalinism to say that because
it is a Stalinist method of explaining everything with enemy conspiracies.
We have to say that anarcho-syndicalism is in a permanent crises. If we
look at the past, we see the same situations and problems. The Spanish
CNT had a revolutionary experience before 1936. There were thousands of
revolutionary workers and peasants. Some of them had experience with
insurrections. They had anarcho-communist ideas. CNT members and
other workers took over plants in Barcelona, organised communes in
Aragon and Valencia. But what happened? Why did the CNT join the
government? Why did the CNT collaborate with Leninists and bourgeois
democrats? Why did the CNT participate in the politics of bourgeois
modernisation - the creation of a regular army, state control of industry and
exploitation of workers ? Why did CNT fighters leave the barricades in
Barcelona in May 1937 and give the city into the hands of the Leninist
bureacrasy and Spanish capitalists?

Modern spanish CNT says,"there were mistakes". But it is not an
explanation at all. Or if you want, it is also a Stalinist or post-Stalinist
explanation. The Communist Party of USSR said after 1956 that " Stalin
made some mistakes". But we are not talking about mistakes because both
(Stalin and the CNT) supported (in 1936) the politics of state-capitalism
and bourgeois modernisation. It was a long term policy, not "some

I don't think we have to discuss Stalinism here, so let's go back to the
CNT-E. We see a paradox - this organisation had revolutionary and
counter-revolutionary members at the same time. And what happens if you
mix a cup of honey with a cup of shit? Yeah, you will get 2 cups of shit.
What is the reason for having even 100,000 anarchist militants and
insurrectionists if they can not make a revolution because of a collective
agreement with counter-revolutionary elements? Why give rifles to workers
if they cannot use weapons against the state? Revolutionary anarchists who
must compromise with their counter-revolutionary comrades (!) cannot
make a revolution. Durruti's friends and other revolutionary groups of the
CNT almost destroyed the police in Barcelona in May 1937 but then left the
barricades because they were afraid to cause a split in the CNT with people
who want be friendly to the police and the state!

Part of the explanation is inherent in anarcho-syndicalism itself.
Anarcho-syndicalism is a compromise between anarchist workers'
organisations such as FORA and neutral syndicalism which talks only
about economic struggle and about direct action in the work place but not
about anarchist society.

Neutral syndicalist organisation is open for everybody. Syndicalists do not
ask what ideas you have. They care only about direct action, workers'
assemblies which make economic strikes or even take over plants. Neutral
syndicalists believe that common direct action will change the mind of
people and make them revolutionary in the end. So it is not important what
kind of ideas they have at the moment- workers have to leave all of their
political ideas out of the union. Or anyway, their ideas will be changed
during the struggle, to be sure!

I think neutral syndicalists (or revolutionary syndicalists) were impressed by
the dynamism of the workers' movement at the beginning of the 20th
century. They were right to say that only a rank-and-file proletarian
movement can become the basis of a social revolution. They were right to
say that without rank-and-file proletarian activity, 90% of people cannot
change their mind. Resistence is an important part of the social
transformation if it is going in a rank-and-file way. Where else and how else
ca people get experience in self-organisation? But neutral syndicalists did
not understand two important things.

Number one. People never leave their ideas out of the union. That's what
FORA said - human beings live, love, work, make strikes, have political or
philosophical ideas, dreams.. and who can cut his life into isolated sectors?
That is impossible. Everything influences everything else.

Number two. People who start rank-and-file strikes are open to new ideas,
dialogue and discussions. Whoever has never seen that will never
understand the point. People open collective activity and dialogue for may
be the first time in their lives and they see that life is not totally alieneted
anymore and that life can be changed. But this is only one side of reality.
On the other side, the assemblyist movement is open to different ideas. It
can be anarchism, leninism, reformist socialism or even fascism. And what
happens if people for example agree with trade unionism and leninism?
They will stop the assemblies sooner or later and say it is better to make a
compromise with the state. When will they come back to direct action?
Maybe in 50 years.

From anarcho-syndicalism to FORA
We have to talk with people, help them to make their own leaflets or
newspapers, tell them about other workers' movements and say, "You do
not like this society, do you? But what is a good society? There could be a
place where workers' assemblies (and council which are totally controlled
by the assemblies) control everything - the factory, territory and life itself.
And this is a place without money, the state and property. Because
assemblies create a new life through dialogue and they do not need anybody
else, no institutions like the state or free market. And this is workers'

And we can have a collective of militants who can make this work - both
make strikes or other forms of assembly resistence (with other workers) and
at the same time spread anarchist ideas. This is an integral anarchist union,
this is the model of Argentinian FORA, the model of most revolutionary
groups of Russian workers, of anarchism at the beginning of the 20 century
(like the Federation of Anarcho-communists in Bialystok). The best way
this concept was explained was in the text of French comrades from
Cannes "Anarcho-syndicalism and People's Autonomy". (They use the
word <syndicalism> but they're OK). They support the model of FORA and
they say it must spread anarchist ideas, initiate strikes and and cooperate
with assemblies but not with trade unions and not with beaurocracy.

So what is the anarcho-syndicalism of the IWA-AIT? It was a compromise
between the models of FORA and neutral syndicalism. And it is not
working. It can't. The CNT say they are an anarchist union but not a union
of anarchists. What does that mean in practice? They have a lot of people
who are not anarchists but trade unionists. What happened with USI? The
same - they have leninists in their organisation. There is no revolution but
we see 1936 again and again. Anarchists 'protect their social rights' in the
RSU, cooperate with trade unionists and political party members, and
even.. fight for trademarks in the state court with another reformists! What
else do we need to say - we need to have a finalist movement,
<International FORA> or else we are nowhere.

Integral organisation
Anarchist workers' organisation must be finalist, antiautoritarian and
integral. Relationships between man and women, struggle against
nationalism are important points. But I would like to add something. If we
look at the proletarian insurrections like the european and Russian
revolutions of 1917-1923, Spain 1936, Budapest 1956, Kvandju 1980,
Suleimania 1991, Albania 1996, Argentina and Algeria 2002, what do we
see are their causes?

1. People struggle against conditions of their lives
2. People struggle against war.
3. People struggle against police or army violence.

Well, we also can remember the ecological movement in Germany and
Japan in 1970-1990.

Of course revolution stem from many reasons and we can not explain them
totally by such simple things. But I can not imagine a feminist revolution or
antifascist revolution.

Anti-fascism was the main slogan in Spain in 1936 and we remember it was
a counter-revolutionary slogan because it was connected (first of all) with
an agreement between all anti-fascist groups like anarchists, leninists and
democrats. I am sure that the anarchist workers' movement must destroy
fascists. But not together with a state coup or red fascists (leninists) or
anybody who are not better then fascists. When we destroy roots of
capitalism we will smash fascists.

Feminism, if it is the main point of the movement, will bring us to women's
separatism. That is why the Spanish women's anarchist movement Mujeres
Libres did not call themselves feminists in 1936. Thay said they were
against feminism because feminism separates people, isolate women from
men and makes the collective anti-capitalist fight impossible. That's exactly
what we can see today. As for Russian feminists, they are more or less

I do not want to discuss words like 'feminism' or 'anti-fascism'. They can
be good or bad -it depends how you use them. I know Czech comrades
have revolutionary experience with feminism and anti-fascism. I just wanna
say if we want revolution, we need communication between different
proletarian groups in the zones of permanent social conflicts like factory,
poor proletarian area and university. If we forget the class struggle we
become a simple anarchist federation. They don't have roots in community,
no groops who permanently work in the zones of social tension. And they
never have influence like the old class struggle anarchists.

International synthesis
People are strongly separated and isolated in modern society. Men and
women, immigrants and others, black and white etc. And what you do with
all of that? I see only one basis - solidarity in the common struggle of
proletarian people. That's not enough but we can't change life without it. I
understand it sounds banal but it is forgotten by anarchists.

Look at the problem of fascism. We can not destoy fascism until we have
no cooperation between people of different nationalities. Anarchist
federations can invent only antifa activity. But antifa are struggling
(sometimes it's really important) against the results of national division, not
against its roots. On the other hand we can not change things without
fusion of different cultures, without a new cultural synthesis. And this
culture must not be result of state violence like in the USSR but a result of
spontaneous self activity.

I am not talking about multiculturalism. If we look at the modern society
we will find a lot of ethnic communities with their charches, newspapers,
children's organisations, schools etc. All of those organisations are
controlled by capitalists and bureaucrats. They compete in the free market
and in the state, they spread only hate. (States sometimes make ethnic
cleansing which are terrible but free competition between ethnic
communities is the preparation for that cleansing).

The majority of workers' organisations are also nationalists. Even the CNT
in 1936 were nationalists. (For example it rejected the idea to help Jews
who escaped from nazi Germany. The General Secretary of the CNT
Mariano Vaskes said that if Jews came to Spain, they would increase the
power of capitalism).

I think we have to research the experience of FORA also because it was an
organisation of immigrants which united Itallians, Spanish people, Serbs,
Germans, Jews and Arabs. It opened the space not for ethnic 'peace
negotiations' (we know that peace negotiations between national bourgoise
communities or states are just preparations for the next war) but a place for
common struggle, equality and self-organisation. This whole space was
permeated with the idea of a golden age - anarcho-communism.
* Author note in the discussion:
This is my article.
Sorry for my english. I work with this text long time and do it only with real
help of my friends.
I am member of Russian section od IWA.
I can answer to some qwestions.

1) Yes, in general it is possition of all russian section of IWA.
2) We are talking about model of integral organisation. It is for lebertarian
communism from one side (no members of any politikal partis or politikaly
nutral people) and for evreday strugle and direct action at the workers plase
from another side. FORA model and olso some tradishions of japanis and
russian anrhism is close to that. For example the briliant experiense of
workers anarhists in Belostok sity (1903-1907). Olso we intresting in some
over revolutionary tradishins like s.-r maksimalism and counsilism. But in
generaly we close to FORA model (FORA-5). This is model. But FORA
EXISTED long time as organisation with 40.000-120.000 members in a
long period of time.
Moden FORA are the friends of us. It is groing after argentinian uprising in
2001 but it is still not big.
3) We far from Platforma. Platforma is based on sentralist prinsip. And also
platformists are working sometimes in tred-unions. We think- tred-unions
are the part of capitalism (as state and corporations) and they must be
But if some platformists not for unions and not aftoritarian we are not
against them and think they can be friends.
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