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(en) Anarchist Brazilian Coordination (CAB) -- Libertarian Socialism #2 - Different Theoretical Approaches of Anarchists (pt)[machine translation]

Date Thu, 30 Jan 2014 11:49:17 +0200


The relationship between social spheres ---- Text published in the journal "Libertarian Socialism" num. 2, the Brazilian Anarchist Coordination, which presents a discussion of the different theoretical approaches of anarchists, focusing on the relationship between social spheres. This discussion is intended to strengthen the argument that "Anarchism is [... ] an ideology and have historically used different social theories to understand reality," that is, what defines anarchism are the ideological elements in conjunction with certain theoretical postulates. This argument is supported by showing that anarchists, classical and / or contemporary, defend different proposals for the method of analysis and social theory, and it does not make them more or less anarchist, since what defines anarchism is not the method and / or the theory they use to analyze society, but a set of political and ideological principles, containing the theoretical notions of critical social structure. Thus contends that anarchism is not a theory for analysis of society, but an ideology that developed on a guided political practice these principles.


Leaving the discussion held on "Theory and Ideology", we would like Mikhail Bakunin said, more than "talk around the" start "turning". For this, we prepared a discussion of the different theoretical approaches of anarchists, focusing on the relationship between social spheres. This discussion is intended to strengthen the argument already put that text, that "Anarchism is [... ] an ideology and have historically used different social theories to understand reality," that is, what defines anarchism are the elements ideological together with certain theoretical postulates. We intend to support this argument, showing that anarchists, classical and / or contemporary, defend different proposals for the method of analysis and social theory, and it does not make them more or less anarchist, since what defines anarchism is not the method and / or the theory they use to analyze society, but a set of political and ideological principles, containing the theoretical notions of critical social structure. [ 1 ] we hold, therefore, that anarchism is not a theory to analyze the society, but an ideology that developed on a guided political practice these principles.

Since its inception, anarchism is relying on different theoretical and epistemological matrices, analysis methods and social theories to know the reality. These aspects are considered here as belonging to the realm of theory, historically used by anarchists. Already appointed by the relation between theory and science, we understand it is not possible to dissociate the theory used by the anarchists of the context in which they were entered. From the standpoint of classical anarchists, one can say that Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Reclus Élisée, Rudolf Rocker and Errico Malatesta argued distinct theoretical perspectives, without having left therefore to be anarchists. Given the continuities and continuities that anarchism had from these classics, you might say, in the same way, it is possible to note relevant theoretical differences, without being put into question these anarchists anarchism.

Debates involving materialism and idealism, but mainly the relationship between the three social spheres - economic, political / legal / military, cultural / ideological - clearly show the different theoretical perspectives that have been adopted by anarchists throughout history.

The predominance of the economic sphere in relation to the other was held by some anarchists. Bakunin, accordingly, states that "all intellectual and moral political and social history of humanity is a reflection of its economic history." However, their position is not deterministic, it emphasizes that "political slavery, the State, in turn, reproduces and maintains poverty as a condition of their existence, so to destroy poverty, destroy the state." And again: "temperament and particular character of each race and every people "are" products of a large number of as much as historical ethnographical, climatological and economic causes," however, " once given, exercise [... ] considerable influence over their destinies, and even on the development of its economic strength." ( Bakunin, "God and the State", "Letter to La Liberté Newspaper / Writings Against Marx" )

For Bakunin, although there is a greater relevance of the economic sphere in relation to the other, they also possess the ability to determine the economy. A similar position is held by the Federation of Anarchist Communists of Italy, which holds that history is the "history of antagonisms created by the relations of production," "the economic interests at stake." ( FdCA, "Anarchist- Communists" )

Another way of understanding the relationship between the spheres is through a correlation between the economic sphere and the political sphere / legal / military, which is also advocated by anarchists. Kropotkin, in elaborating his theory of law emphasizes that the law was "taken to ensure the fruits of looting, hoarding and exploitation," and followed "the same phases of capital : Twins brother and sister walked hand in hand, nursing it is both the sufferings and miseries of society." ( Kropotkin, "Law and Authority" ) The relationship between the spheres, in this case, could be understood as the result of the relationship between economics and politics : the political / legal / military sphere would constitute a whole together with the economic sphere, with the two, the ability of mutual influence.

These positions could be more easily placed within the field of materialism, if it is defined as the statement of Bakunin, that "the facts take precedence over those ideas." ( Bakunin, "God and the State" ) these positions - and particularly in that prioritize economic sphere - the sphere cultural / ideological has a secondary role.

Many were anarchists who claimed materialism. The Chinese Ba Jin said : "We are materialists ( anarchists like Kropotkin and Bakunin featured were all materialists ). We believe that the arrival of the social revolution can not be determined by our good intentions." ( Ba Jin, "Anarchism El y la de la Cuestión Practice" ) Fontenis George French and Argentine anarchist organization Libertarian Resistance also claimed materialism. ( Fontenis, "Libertarian Communist Manifesto " ; Resistencia Libertaria "El Libertarian Party " )

However, we must consider, for anarchists of the nineteenth century, which meant that defense of materialism, although this notion has shown distinct peculiarities between different references of classical anarchism. That historic moment, the emergence of socialism and anarchism itself, was strongly influenced by context, the field of knowledge, sought to overcome the social explanations of metaphysical and theological bases, significantly effect until that moment, and understand reality from the facts in order to meet her in the best possible way. This context relates historically to the very development of the social sciences and positivism. To become reality, it was considered necessary to meet her and at least in the social field, the science seemed the most appropriate tool to provide this knowledge. The defense of materialism holds that Bakunin must be understood, at least in part, to that effect. He, like Marx and other socialists, sought to distance themselves from metaphysical and theological foundations, called idealists, in their attempts to understand the real.

Still, the discussions between materialism and idealism began to involve other elements, and their discussion applied to the relationship between social spheres became more complex. The twentieth century was marked by several studies in the field of social theory showed that reality, even when observed from a rational perspective, has subjective elements, and that the ideas, or the elements present cultural / ideological sphere, are capable of determination of facts, policy / legal / military and economic spheres - studies that are due largely to both the development of psychology and certain fields of Social Sciences and History.

Some anarchists, noting that development in the field of theory, started to claim the relevance of cultural / ideological sphere, based on the concept that ideas, subjective aspects could influence the facts, the objective aspects. Malatesta reflects on this and emphasizes :

"A few years ago, everyone was ' materialistic '. In the name of 'science' that definitively erected dogmas in the general principles extracted from very incomplete positive knowledge - 'd pretend to explain all of human psychology and the whole history of mankind plagued by simple basic material needs. " ( Malatesta, "' idealism ' and ' materialism ' " )

Your review at that time emphasized that, having gone to the other opposite, most people were adopting a completely idealistic stance : "Today, everyone is ' idealistic ' : all [... ] treat man as if he were a pure spirit, for whom eating, dressing, their physiological needs were negligible things. " He says at the end, a compromise, which is reflected in their project of emancipation : it should be deemed to have "moral empowerment, political empowerment and economic empowerment are inseparable." ( Malatesta, "' idealism ' and ' materialism ' " )

Positions that defend this interdependence between the three spheres have been developed by organizations such as the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation ( FAU ) and Gaucha Anarchist Federation ( FAG ), who claim that the company is an "overall structure without predominance established a priori, without determination [ between beads ] unless interdependence. The ' decisive ' if you want to use the term, would be the mother that has set global. " ( FAU - FAG, "Wellington Gallarza Tavares and Malvina " )

Other anarchists have incorporated this relationship of mutual influence between the spheres, as Rocker, who believes that "the fact that economic conditions are influencing and special forms of production in the history of the development of human societies is not news to anyone."However, "never were the economic forces that served mobile all others. Social events are held through the work of a number of different reasons, mostly that intertwine :. So closely that it is impossible to delimit them after each other" ( Rocker, "The failure of historical materialism " )

Rocker investigated cultural aspects of society and found its relevance in influence between the spheres. He even maintained that "all politics emanates ultimately from religious conception of man" and that "all economic is cultural in nature." A statement that highlights the fundamental importance of his point of view, the cultural / ideological sphere. Taking the centrality of the sphere to the limit, as anarchist Reclus even affirmed that "the great intellectual developments that emancipates the spirit, is the logical consequence of emancipation, in fact, all of the individuals in their relations with others." ( Reclus, "Evolution, Revolution and the Anarchist Ideal " )

These elements allow us to state that there are fundamental differences between theoretical models, which concern the relationship between the spheres, adopted by anarchists over time. There are some who give centrality to the economy, others are also basing more on facts than on ideas, consider that economics and politics are interrelated, which determine the real. There are also those who believe that the three spheres are interdependent ; still others that give centrality to cultural / ideological sphere.

We can undoubtedly say that some of these positions are more materialistic than others, if we take into account the definition of Bakunin. However, all these approaches, regardless of their theoretical basis, outperformed the idealist paradigm of the nineteenth century, based on the philosophical analysis of metaphysical and theological basis. Anarchists have never sought to explain reality without the use of rationality, methods and theories.

As shown René Berthier, the debate surrounding the relationship between materialism and spheres also developed quite different understandings in other socialist currents, especially in Marxism. Marx, the famous "Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy " states that the relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, a "real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond certain social forms of consciousness " and second claims, "the transformation that occurred in the economic base becomes more or less slowly or rapidly all the colossal superstructure ". Berthier submits that, despite this statement, Marx can not be considered as an absolute advocate of economic determinism, as later was understood by some interpreters. In Capital, for example, Marx to analyze the moments of primitive accumulation, says they "are based in part on the most brutal violence " of "state power", the "concentrated and organized violence of society "to drive the transformation of feudalism into capitalism. Although he claims that violence is an "economic power," he recognizes in it a political element, perpetrated in this case by the State, which would have provided a fundamental guarantee for the development of the capitalist economy. Berthier also states that, in his historical works, particularly in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte and The Class Struggles in France, Marx explains the historical development not only as a result of the economy and politics, and takes into account cultural aspects and who had fundamental ideological determination in historical events. ( Berthier, "Political Philosophy of Anarchism " ) Friedrich Engels, in 1890, seems to approach his position from Bakunin :

"According to the materialist conception of history, the final determining factor in history is the production and reproduction of real life. More than this neither Marx nor I and never affirm. So if someone stating that it distorts the economic factor is the only determinant, he transforms that proposition into something abstract, meaningless and an empty phrase. Economic conditions are the infrastructure, the base, but several other vectors of the superstructure (political forms of the class struggle and its results, namely constitutions established by the victorious class after the battle, etc.., Legal forms and even the reflexes these struggles in the heads of the participants, such as political theory, legal or philosophical, religious views and their further development into systems of dogmas ) also exercise their influence on the course of the historical struggles and in many cases preponderate in determining their form. There is an interaction between all these vectors among which there are any number of accidents ( ie, things and events so remote connection, or even impossible, to prove that we can take them as non-existent or neglect them in our analysis ), but that the economic movement finally rests as needed. Otherwise, the application of theory to any period of history to be selected would be easier than a simple equation of the first degree. " ( Engels, "Letter to Bloch " )

It seems clear that the debate and the different positions demonstrate a very clear fact : the difficulty of explaining social reality, which is trying to be accomplished by means of different methods of analysis and social theories, not only in anarchism and socialism, but in the Humanities in general. These positions, far from demonstrating a theoretical inconsistency of anarchism, or other socialist currents, demonstrate their search for more adequate explanations of reality. The evidence presented to support the notion put earlier, that discussions on theory and method, and passing by the relationship between the spheres, involving different positions between the socialists and anarchists in general, in particular, do not put in check, however, his socialism or his anarchism.

The issues involved in this debate, however, according to the concepts placed here relate to the field of the theory. Anarchists authors share the political and ideological principles of anarchism ; are therefore anarchists, although they disagree on matters of theory. The different possibilities to understand materialism, idealism, the relationships between facts and ideas, spheres and its possible determinations, do more or less of anarchism anarchist. What can be said is that, since the nineteenth century, the philosophical positions of metaphysical or theological basis were discarded ; therefore takes place in the field of theory, independent of the positions taken, analyzes and explanations that rely on rationality in in certain theories and methods.

This distinction between ideology and theory subsidizes the position adopted here, while discussing anarchism, is not taken into account, in general, with respect to the constituent aspects of anarchist ideology, the theoretical elements that have been historically used by anarchists as tools understanding of reality.

The establishment of these foundations implies differ from approaches such as Jorge Solomonoff ( "Liberalism Avanzada " ), believe materialism an anarchist principle, the criterion used by the author to delete Rocker Anarchist field is precisely the fact that he, according to the author have abandoned materialism, prioritizing ideas in relation to the facts. It also implies differ from approaches that consider the positions of anarchist Paul Feyerabend ( "Against Method " ), which are supported by purely theoretical - epistemological reflections ; "methodological anarchism " Feyerabend, although put in different grounds of Sheikh science, can not be considered anarchist, as it relates only to the field of theory and does not share all the political- ideological anarchist principles.

Likewise, in our view, the fact that a researcher using the dialectical and / or materialism historical materialism for the analysis of reality does not make it necessarily a Marxist. As seen, there are anarchists, as the FdCA, Fontenis, Libertarian Resistance that use of historical materialism without, however, abandoning anarchist principles. This position also is not to say that theoretical reflections Solomonoff and Feyerabend are not interesting, and they can not be incorporated into debates about the proper understanding of reality.

Finally, we should clarify that state that the theoretical elements do not form the foundations of anarchist ideology is not to say that they have not been relevant and that have not been submitted for the constitution and the whole historical development of anarchism. There also means making tabula rasa of the methods and theories of social and affirm that all the theoretical tools for understanding reality are similarly effective. We must recognize that some methods of analysis and certain social theories are more suitable than others for understanding reality. It is, as already put in advance in the construction of appropriate theoretical tools for our time and our place.


Note :

1. It is not our focus in this paper deal with a detailed definition of anarchism, but we can say that the political and ideological principles that define anarchism involve : a particular ethical conception grounded in values, the critique of class domination and other types of domination ; the search for a revolutionary and internationalist social transformation that modifies the system of domination, creating a new power model, founded on equality, freedom, self-management and federalism, the focus in the oppressed classes as the fundamental forces that are popular star in this processing, a strategic coherence between these ends sought and the means that are used for its implementation, which involves the notions of combativeness, direct action, independence / autonomy class, direct democracy and leadership of grassroots.

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