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(en) Reply To The Platform (Sythesis) - Copied from the "Platformist tendancy"* NEFAC http://nefac.northernhacking.org/

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 19 Aug 2003 10:42:11 +0200 (CEST)

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by Several Russian Anarchists The synthesis response to Dielo Trouda's 'Organizational
Platform of Libertarian Communists'. First published in French (Paris 1927). by 'Several
Russian Anarchists' (Sobol, Schwartz, Steimer, Voline, Lia, Roman, Ervantian, Fleshin)
[first issued in French, Paris 1927]
We do not agree with the position of the Platform 'that the
most important reason for the weakness of the anarchist
movement is the absence of organizational principles'. We
believe that this issue is very important because the Platform
seeks to establish a centralized organization (a party) that
would create 'a political and tactical line for the anarchist
movement'. This over emphasizes the importance and role of

We are not against an anarchist organization; we understand
the harmful consequences of a lack of organization in the
anarchist movement; we consider the creation of an anarchist
organization to be one of the most urgent tasks... But we do
not believe that organization, as such, can be a cure-all. We do
not exaggerate its importance, and we see no benefit or need
to sacrifice anarchist principles and ideas for the sake of

We see the following reasons for the weakness of the
anarchist movement:

(1) The confusion in our ideas about a series of fundamental
issues, such as the conception of the social revolution, of
violence, of the period of transition, of organization.

(2) The difficulty of getting a large part of the population to
accept our ideas. We must take into account existing
prejudices, customs, education, the fact that the great mass of
people will look for accommodation rather than radical change.

(3) Repression.


We also disagree with the idea of a 'synthesis', as stated in
the Platform. The authors proclaim that anarchist-communism
is the only valid theory, and they take a critical, more or less,
negative position toward individualist anarchists and

We repeat what we declared when we organized NABAT
(Organization of Ukrainian anarchists in 1917-1921): 'There is
validity in all anarchist schools of thought. We must consider
all diverse tendencies and accept them'. To unite all militants
we must seek a common base for all, seeing what is just in
each conception. This should be included in a Platform for the
entire movement. There are several examples of such a
Platform, such as the declaration of the Nabat Conference in
Kursk, as well as the resolutions of other anarchist
conferences of that period. Here are some extracts of the
resolution adopted at the First Congress of the Confederation
of Anarchist Organizations in the Ukraine, 'NABAT', that took
place April 2, 1919, in Elizabethgrad, Ukraine:

"[...] our organization does not represent a mechanical alliance
of different tendencies, each holding only to its own point of
view and, therefore, unable to offer ideological guidance to the
working population; it is a union of comrades joined together
on a number of basic positions and with an awareness of the
need for planned, organized collective effort on the basis of


Synthesis is needed in this area also. We cannot affirm that
anarchism is a theory of classes and reject those who try and
give it a human character. And we cannot declare, like some
do that anarchism is a humanitarian ideal for all people and
accuse those who to a class base of Marxist deviation. Nor,
finally, can we maintain that anarchism is solely an
individualist conception having nothing to do with humanity as
a whole or with a 'class'. We must create a synthesis and
state that anarchism contains class elements as well as
humanism and individualist principles.

We must try to determine in a theoretical and practical manner
of the role and importance of each of these elements in the
conception of anarchism. To maintain that anarchism in only a
theory of classes is to limit it to a single viewpoint. Anarchism
is more complex and pluralistic, like life itself. Its class
element is above all its means of fighting for liberation; its
humanitarian character is its ethical aspect, the foundation of
society; its individualism is the goal of mankind.


The thesis of the Platform on this question can be summarized
as follows: the masses must be directed. The contrary
viewpoint was the prevailing one in our movement until now:
individuals and conscious minority, including their ideological
organizations, cannot 'direct the masses'. We must learn from
the masses constantly if we do not want to lead them down a
blind alley.

This is how the problem should be seen. Their solution is very
superficial and false because the central problem is not
resolved: the revolutionary masses and the conscious minority
or their ideological organization.

The political parties have an advantage in this area: it is not a
problem for them. Their solution is:

- the masses and developments must be directed;
- the conscious, separated from the masses, must take the
- this 'collective' must be organized into a party;
- the party takes the initiative in all areas, including the social

The authors of the Platform take a similar position. However
they choose to begin with some precaution: 'The ideological
direction of revolutionary activities and revolutionary
movements should not be understood as a tendency of the
anarchists to take control of the building of the new society'

The Platform expresses the idea that the need to direct the
masses is linked directly to a party, a well defined political
line, a predetermined program, control of the labor movement,
political direction of the organizations created to fight the
counter-revolution. The Platform states: 'The anarchist union
as an organization of the social revolution rests on the two
main classes of society... the workers and the peasants... all
their energies must be concentrated on the ideological
guidance of the labor organizations'.

The concrete form of organization needed to achieve such
political and social direction of the masses and their actions
will be: at the highest level, the leading party (General Union);
a little below: the higher levels of workers and peasants
organizations led by the Union; still lower: the organizations at
the base set up to fight the counter-revolution, the army, etc.

We do not believe that the anarchists should lead the masses;
we believe that our role is to assist the masses only when
they need such assistance. This is how we see our position:
the anarchists are part of the membership in the economic and
social mass organizations. They act and build as part of the
whole. An immense field of action is opened to them for
ideological, social and creative activity without assuming a
position of superiority over the masses. Above all they must
fulfill their ideological and ethical influence in a free and
natural manner.

The anarchists and specific organizations (groups,
federations, confederations) can only offer ideological
assistance, but not in the role of leaders. The slightest
suggestion of direction, of superiority, of leadership of the
masses and developments inevitably implies that the masses
must accept direction, must submit to it; this, in turn, gives the
leaders a sense of being privileged like dictators, of becoming
separated from the masses.

In other words, the principles of power come into play. This is
a contradiction not only with the central ideas of anarchism,
but also our conception of social revolution. The revolution
must be the free creation of the masses, not controlled by
ideological or political groups.


The Platform denies the principle of the transition period in
words yet accepts it is fact. If the Platform contains an
original idea it is precisely on this point, on the detailed
description of the idea of the transition period. Everything is
only an attempt to justify this idea.

Some Russian anarcho-syndicalists openly defended this idea
a few years ago. The authors of that Platform do not defend
the idea of a transition clearly and openly. This vacillation, this
conditional acceptance and rejection, makes frank and logical
discussion of the issue difficult. For instance, they declare on
the issue of majority and minority in the anarchist movement:
"in principle... (the classic conception follows)... however, at
certain moments it could be that.. (the compromise follows)..."

We know that life does not happen in 'moments'.

Another example: "We believe that decisions of the soviets
will be carried out in society without decree of coercion. But
such decisions must be obligatory for everyone who has
accepted them, and sanctions must applied against those who
reject." This is the start of coercion, violence, sanctions.

The Platform states:

"Because we are convinced that acceptance of a government
will result in the defeat of the revolution and the enslavement
of the masses, we must direct all our efforts to have the
revolution take the anarchist road... But we also recognize that
our organization of labor on the basis of small groups of
artisans cannot help us fulfill our goal. This must be
recognized in advance by the specific organizations."

The Anarchist Union will lead the discussion and will decide
the question in case of disagreement. This is precisely the
issue. We find the same contradiction with regard to the
defense of the revolution:

"Politically, whom will the army obey? Since the workers are
not represented by a single organization, they will probably
organize various economic organizations. Thus, if we accept
the principle of an army, we must also accept the principle of
obedience of the army to the economic organizations of the
workers and peasants..."

This is the transition period!

The Platform states with respect to freedom of press and
freedom of speech: "There can be specific moments when the
press, however well intentioned, will be controlled to an extent
for the good of the revolution." Who will judge these 'specific
moments' when they occur? Who will judge what their 'limits'
should be? There will be authority and power, even though it
may be called by some other names.

The Platform writes regarding the anarchist principle 'From
each according to capacities, to each according to needs':

"This principle is the touchstone of anarchist-communism. But
it is a conception of principle: It's realization will depend on
the practical steps taken during the early days of the
revolution." Here again the 'howevers'. What, then, is the
transition period?

It is clear and logical to us: the idea of the necessity to lead
the masses to guide developments, therefore the need for
elements of power and transition period. We, on the other
hand, regard the essential core of the social revolution to be
the role of the mass of the workers who, thrust into the
colossal process of social destruction by their historical
experience, can achieve the free society in freedom, conscious
of what they are doing.


How will production be organized? Will it be centralized and
planned the way the Bolsheviks are doing? Will it be too
decentralized on a federalist basis?

This is the most important question. The authors of the
Platform writes: "The organization of production will be carried
out by organizations created by the workers - soviets, factory
committees - which will direct and organize production in the
cities, the regions and the nations. They will be linked closely
with the masses who elect and control them, and have the
power of recall at anytime."

The Platform accepts a centralized, mechanical system, giving
it simple corrective of election.

This is not enough. We think that changing names of an
administration body by means of an election is no great
change. A mechanical, inanimate process can never come
alive. So far as we are concerned, the participation of the
masses cannot be limited only to 'electing'. There must be an
immediate participation in the organization of production. As a
matter of principle we are not against committees (factory
committees, workshop committees), nor against the need for a
relationship and coordination between them. But these
organizations can have a negative aspect: immobility,
bureaucracy, a tendency to authoritarianism that will not be
changed automatically by the principle of voting. It seems to
us that there will be a better guarantee in the creation of a
series of other, more mobile, even provisional organs which
arise and multiply according to needs that arise in the course
of daily living and activities. Thus, in addition to organizations
for distribution, for consumers, for housing, etc. All of these
together offer a richer, more faithful reflection of the
complexity of social life.


This is the way the Platform sees the problem:

"In the first days of the social revolution, the armed forces are
formed by all the armed workers and peasants, by the people
in arms. But this is only in the first days when the combatants
have not yet coordinated their military organization. After
these early days, the armed forces of the revolution with its
general command and general plan of operation. This
organization of struggle against the counter-revolution on
battlefields in civil war is under the direction of the workers
and peasants producers' organizations."

We see two errors here, one technical, one political. The
technical error: only a centralized army can defend the
revolution. To avoid total confusion, we point out that the
opposite is also incorrect, namely, that only isolated, local
units can guarantee the success of the revolution. A highly
centralized command developing a general plan of action can
lead to catastrophe. Actions without coordination are also
inefficient. The defects of the first, which do not take local
conditions into consideration, are self-evident. The
discouragement of local and individual initiative, the weight of
the apparatus, the tendency to regard the center as infallible,
the priorities of the specialists are all the weaknesses of
centralized command. The defects of the second system are

How can these problems and defects be resolved? We believe,
especially in view of the Russian experience, that the armed
participation of the working masses is essential, not only in
the first days of revolutionary action, but during the entire
period of struggle. Local formations of workers and peasants
must be maintained with the understanding that their action is
not isolated, but rather coordinated in a common campaign.
And even when the situation requires larger armed formations,
the command should not be centralized. There should be joint
combat effectiveness when necessary, but they must be able
to adapt easily in changing situations and take advantage of
unforeseen conditions.

It must not be forgotten that the partisan units won the
victories in the Russian Revolution against the forces of
reaction, Denikin, Kolchak, Wrangel. The central army, with
their central command and pre-established strategic planning
was always taken by surprise and was unable to adapt to the
unexpected. Most of the time, the centralized Red Army
arrived late, almost always in time to receive the laurels and
glory of victory which belonged to the real victors, the
partisans. One day history will report the truth about the
bureaucracy of military centralization.

We can be asked how it is possible to defend the social
revolution against foreign intervention without a solid
centralized army. We respond, first, that this danger should
not be exaggerated. Most of the time such an expedition
comes from far away with all the difficulties this entails;
second, the Russian Revolution had a series of such
interventions, and they were all defeated by partisan units, not
by the centralized army, by the active resistance of the
masses, by the intense revolutionary propaganda addressed to
the soldiers and sailors of the invading forces.

Finally, we point out that a centralized army with it's central
command and 'political direction', has too much opportunity to
stop being a revolutionary army; consciously or not it becomes
an instrument to hold back, a tool of reaction, of suffocation of
the true revolution. We know because history has taught us
these lessons in the past. The latest example is the Russian
Revolution with its Red Army.

The position of the Platform on the role of the army as a
'political defender', and 'arm against reaction', surprises us.
We believe that such an apparatus can have only a negative
role for the social revolution. Only the people in arms, with
their enthusiasm, their positive solutions to the essential
problems of the revolution (particularly in production) can
offer sufficient defense against the plots of the bourgeoisie.
And if the people fail, no 'apparatus', no 'army', no 'Cheka' can
save the revolution. To disagree with this viewpoint means
that the problems of the revolution do not interest the masses
except as a political cloak. This is the typically Bolshevik

This leads to the following conclusion: a leading organization
(the Union) that orients the mass organizations (workers and
peasants) in their political direction and is supported as
needed by a centralized army is nothing more than a new
political power.


We return to the problem of organization which is of concern
to us. We believe that the disorganization of the anarchist
movement around the world does us great harm. We are
convinced that forces and movements must be organized. The
questions arise when we consider the creation of an
organization: the method of establishing an organization, the
aim and essence of an organization, and its form.


Why and how should an anarchist organization be created?
We must start by trying to understand the most important
causes of disorganization among anarchists. It is clear and
simple for the authors of the Platform: some anarchists have a
'disturbed' character, a sense of 'irresponsibility', a 'lack of
discipline'. We believe that among a number of causes of
disorganization in anarchist movements, the most important is
the vague and imprecise character of some of our basic ideas.

The authors of the Platform agree with this. They speak of
'contradiction in theory and practice'. There are two ways to
resolve this question: Take one idea among 'contradictory
ideas' as the basis, accept it as the common program. If
necessary, organize with a certain discipline. At the same
time, all who disagree with the program should be excluded
and even driven out of the movement. The organization thus
created -- the only organization -- will further clarify its ideas
(there are comrades who believe that the anarchist ideas on
this issue are sufficiently clear).

As a serious organization is created, we will have to devote
our best energies to clarify, deepen and develop our ideas.

Above all we must try to reduce the 'contradictions' in the field
of theory. Our efforts to create an organization will help us is
our ideological work. To put it another way, we will organize
our forces as we develop and systematize our ideas.

The authors of the Platform forget they are following an old
road in seeking to create an organizational based on a single
ideological and tactical conception. They are creating an
organization that will have more or less hostile relations with
other organizations that do not have exactly the same
conceptions. They do not understand that this old road will
lead inevitably to the same old results; the existence not of a
single organization but of many organizations. They will not be
in a cooperative, harmonious relationship, but rather in conflict
of each other even though they are all anarchist: each
organization will claim the sole, the profound truth. These
organizations will be concerned with polemics against each
other rather than developing propaganda and activities to help
the anarchist movement in general.

The authors of the Platform speak of the need for 'ideological
and tactical unity'. But how is this unity to be achieved? This
is the problem, and there is no satisfactory answer. The
method outlined does not lead to unity. On the contrary, it will
make the differences, the discussion, among us more acute
leading even to hatred.

This approach could be treated as follows: the 'only' or 'true'
theory and tactic of the authors of the Platform must be
rejected without further discussion.

However this is not the anarchist way to act. We suggest
another course of procedure. We believe that the first step
toward achieving unity in the anarchist movement which can
lead to serious organization is collective ideological work on a
series of important problems that seek the clearest possible
collective solution.

For those comrades who are afraid of philosophical and
intellectual digressions and wanderings, we make it clear that
we are not concerned with philosophical problems or abstract
dissertations, but with concrete questions for which,
unfortunately, we do not have clear answers. For example, the
questions, among others, of the constructive task of
anarchism, of the role of the masses and conscious minority,
of violence, the analysis of the process of social revolution
and the problem of the period of transition, the way to the
libertarian society, the role of the workers and peasants
organizations, of the armed groups, the relations with unions,
the relationship between communism and the individual, the
problem of the organization of our forces.

How can this be realized?

We suggest that there be a publication for discussion in every
country where the problems in our ideology and tactics can be
fully discussed, regardless of how 'acute' or even 'taboo' it may
be. The need for such a printed organ, as well as oral
discussion, seems to us to be a 'must' because it is the
practical way, to try to achieve 'ideological unity', 'tactical
unity', and possibly organization.

There are, however, comrades who refuse to use an organ of
discussion. They prefer a series of publications, each
defending a particular position. We prefer a single organ with
the condition that representatives of all opinions and all
tendencies in anarchism be permitted to express themselves
and become accustomed to living together. A full and tolerant
discussion of our problems in one organ will create a basis for
understanding, not only among anarchists, but among the
different conceptions of anarchism. This type of agreement to
discuss our ideas together in an organized fashion can
advance along parallel lines.


The role and aim of an organization are fundamental. There
cannot be a serious organization without a clear definition of
this question. The aims of an organization are determined in a
large part by its form. The authors of the Platform attribute the
role of leading the masses, the unions and all other
organizations, as well as all activities and developments to the
anarchist organization. We declare that juxtaposing the words
'to lead' with the adverb 'ideologically' does not change the
position of the Platform's authors significantly because they
conceive the organization as a disciplined party. We reject any
idea that the anarchists should lead the masses. We hope that
their role will only be that of ideological collaboration, as
participants and helpers fulfilling our social role in a modest
manner. We have pointed out the nature of our work: the
written and spoken word, revolutionary propaganda, cultural
work, concrete living example, etc.


The contradictions, the semi-confessions, the vacillations in
language of the Platform are characteristic on this point.
However, in spite of many precautions, their conception
appears to be that of any political party: the Executive
Committee of the Universal Anarchist Union must, among
other things, assume the ideological and organizational
direction of every organization according to the general
ideological and tactical line of the Union. At the same time,
the Platform affirms its faith in the federalist principle which is
in absolute contradiction with the ideas cited above.
Federalism means autonomy at the base, federation of local
groups, regions, etc., and finally a union of federations and

A certain ideological and tactical unity among organizations is
clearly necessary. But how? In what sense? We cite again the
resolution adopted by the Ukrainian anarchist organization,
NABAT, at the Kursk conference: "A harmonious anarchist
organization in which the union does not have a formal
character but its members are joined together by common
ideas and ends".

The authors of the Platform begin by affirming: "Anarchism
has always been the negation of centralized organization." Yet
they then go on to outline a perfectly centralized organization
with an Executive Committee that has the responsibility to
give ideological and organizational direction to the different
anarchist organizations, which in turn will direct the
professional organizations of the workers.

What has happened to federalism? They are only one step
away from Bolshevism, a step that the authors of the Platform
do not dare to take. The similarity between the Bolsheviks and
the 'Platform anarchists' is frightening to the Russian
comrades. It makes no difference whether the supreme organ
of the anarchist party is called Executive Committee, or if we
call it Confederal Secretariat. The proper spirit of an anarchist
organization is that of technical organ of relations, help and
information among the different local groups and federations.

In conclusion, the only original points in the Platform are its
revisionism toward Bolshevism hidden by the authors, and
acceptance of the transition period. There is nothing original in
the rest of the Platform. This cannot be clear to the comrades
of other countries because not enough has been published yet
in other languages on the Russian Revolution and anarchism in
Russia. The comrades therefore do not know much about
developments there. Some of them are therefore able to accept
the Platform's interpretation.

However, we think that the 'acceptance' will not last long. We
are convinced that discussion of the Platform will help clear up
some of the misunderstandings.

[Editor note:
There are lately few anarcho-communist federations claiming they are
influenced by the "Organizational Platform of The Libertarian communists".
The Main inspiration taken from the "Platform" by these federations is the
urgent need for cohesive application of the principles of direct democracy
to the organization of anarchist activists - meaning unity in development
of theory and strategies and unity in the application of strategy and
No one of these federations regard the Platform draft composed about 80
years ago as a dogma or even a blue print applicable to the 21st century.]

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