La FAQ Anarchiste (francophone)

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A.4.1 – Existe-t-il des penseurs proches de l’anarchisme ?

A.4.2 – Existe-il des penseurs libéraux proches de l’anarchisme ?

A.4.3 – Existe-t-il des penseurs socialistes proches de l’anarchisme# ?

A.4.4 – Existe-t-il des penseurs marxistes proches de l’anarchisme ?

A.4 – Qui sont les principaux penseurs anarchistes ?

Bien que Gerrard Winstanley (The New Law of Righteousness, [La nouvelle loi de la Justice], 1649, ) et William Godwin (Enquête concernant la justice politique, 1793) ont commencé à déployer la philosophie de l’anarchisme au 17e et 18e siècles, il a fallu attendre la seconde moitié du 19e siècle pour que l’anarchisme émerge en tant qu’une théorie cohérente avec, un programme développé systématique. Ce travail a été essentiellement commencé par quatre personnes — un Allemand, Max Stirner (1806-1856), un Français, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), et deux Russes, Michel Bakounine (1814-1876) et Pierre Kropotkine (1842 -1921). Ils ont pris les idées courantes en circulation au sein des franges de la population active et les ont exprimé sous une forme écrite.

Né dans l’atmosphère de la philosophie romantique allemande, l’anarchisme de Stirner (exprimé dans L’Unique et sa propriété ) était une forme extrême de l’individualisme, ou de l’égoïsme, qui a placé l’individu unique au dessus de tout — l’État, la propriété, le droit ou le devoir. Ses idées restent la pierre angulaire de l’anarchisme. Max Stirner a attaqué à la fois le capitalisme et le socialisme d’État, jetant les bases de l’anarchisme à la fois communiste et individualiste par sa critique du capitalisme égoïste et de l’Etat qui la soutient. En lieu et place du capitalisme, Max Stirner exhorte à l’« union des égoïstes », associations libres de personnes uniques qui coopèrent comme des égaux afin de maximiser leur liberté et de satisfaire leurs désirs (y compris ceux émotionnels, la solidarité, ou les « relations » comme Stirner l’appelait). De telles associations seraient non-hiérarchiques, puisqu’ainsi que Stirner se le demande, «  is an association, wherein most members allow themselves to be lulled as regards their most natural and most obvious interests, actually an Egoist’s association? Can they really be “Egoists” who have banded together when one is a slave or a serf of the other? 01 »

L’individualisme, par définition, ne comporte pas de programme concret pour l’évolution des conditions sociales. Cela a été tenté par Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, le premier à se décrire ouvertement comme un anarchiste. Ses théories du mutualisme, du fédéralisme, de l’autogestion des travailleurs et de l’association ont eu un effet profond sur la croissance de l’anarchisme comme mouvement de masse et énoncées clairement comment un monde anarchiste pourrait fonctionner et être coordonné. Il n’est pas exagéré de penser que les travaux de Proudhon ont défini la nature fondamentale de l’anarchisme comme un ensemble d’idées anticapitalistes et anti-état. Bakounine, Kropotkine et Tucker ont tous revendiqué leur inspiration des idées de Proudhon et ils sont la source immédiate à la fois pour l’anarchisme social et individualiste, chaque courant soulignant différents aspects du mutualisme. Par exemple, les anarchistes sociaux se focalisent sur l’aspect associatif, tandis que les individualistes se focalisent sur le marché non-capitaliste proposé par le mutualisme. Les œuvres majeures de Proudhon sont

Son exposé le plus détaillé de ce à quoi le mutualisme pourrait ressembler peut être lu dans son Idée générale de la révolution au 19e siècle. Ses idées ont fortement influencé le mouvement ouvrier français et la Commune de Paris de 1871.

Les idées de Proudhon furent la base des travaux de Michel Bakounine, qui déclarait humblement que ses idées n’étaient que les idées de Proudhon « largement développées et poussées à leurs ultimes conséquences02 ». Mais ce serait déservir son propre rôle dans le développement de l’anarchisme que d’approuver sa déclaration puisqu'il est la figure centrale du développement de l’activisme et des idées anarchistes modernes. Il a souligné le rôle du collectivisme, de l’insurrection de masse, la révolution et l’engagement dans le mouvement ouvrier comme les moyens de créer une société libre, sans classes. De plus, il rejeta le sexisme de Proudhon et ajouta le patriarcat à la liste des fléaux sociaux auxquels l’anarchisme s’oppose. Il a également souligné la nature sociale de l’humanité et de l’individualité, et rejeté l’individualisme abstrait du libéralisme comme une négation de la liberté. Ses idées deviennent dominantes dans le 20e siècle parmi les grandes sections du mouvement ouvrier radical. Beaucoup de ses idées sont presque identiques à ce qu’on appellera plus tard le syndicalisme, ou l’anarcho-syndicalisme. Bakounine a influencé beaucoup de mouvements syndicaux — en particulier en Espagne, où une révolution sociale anarchiste majeure a eu lieu en 1936. Ses œuvres comprennent:

Et bien d’autres. Bakunin on Anarchism, édité par Sam Dolgoff est une excellente anthologie de ses œuvres majeures. Bakunin : The Philosophy of Freedom de Brian Morris is une excellente introduction à la vie et aux idées de Bakunine.

Pierre Kropotkine, scientifique de formation, a façonné une analyse anarchiste sophistiquée et détaillée des conditions modernes, liée à une prescription approfondie pour une société future — l’anarcho-communisme, qui continue d’être la théorie la plus largement répandue parmi les anarchistes. Il a identifié l’aide mutuelle comme le meilleur moyen par lequel les individus peuvent se développer et grandir, en soulignant que la concurrence au sein de l’humanité (et d’autres espèces) n’était souvent pas dans les meilleurs intérêts de ceux qui y sont impliqués. Comme Bakounine, Kropotkine insista sur l’importance de la lutte de classe directe, économique, anarchiste, et de la participation anarchiste aux mouvements populaires, tout particulièrement aux syndicats de travailleurs. Partant de Proudhon et Bakounine et de leur idée de la commune, il généralisa leurs idées en une vision du fonctionnement de la vie sociale, économique et personnelle dans une société libre. Il chercha à établir l’anarchisme « sur une base scientifique par l’étude des tendances qui sont aujourd’hui apparentes dans la société et qui pourraient indiquer son évolutionion future » vers l’anarchie, tout en exhortant dans le temps les anarchistes à « promouvoir leurs idées directement dans les organisations de travailleurs et [à] inciter ces dernières à une lutte directe contre le capital, sans qu’elles aient à avoir foi dans l’action législative03 ». Comme Bakounine, Kropotkine fut un révolutionnaire, et tout comme lui, ses idées inspirèrent les luttes pour la liberté dans le monde entier. Ses œuvres majeures comprennent:

Et bien d’autres. Une anthologie de ses pamphlets révolutionnaire est disponible sous le titre Anarchism et constitue une lecture essentielle pour celleux qui pourraient s’intéresser à ses idées. Les ouvrages Evolution and Revolution de Graham Purchase et Kropotkin : The Politics of Community de Brian Morris sont d’excellentes évaluations de ses idées et de leur pertinences toujours actuelles.

Les diverses théories proposées par ces « anarchistes fondateurs » ne sont pas, cependant, mutuellement exclusives: ells sont reliées entre elles à bien des égards, et dans une certaine mesure se réfèrent à différents niveaux de la vie sociale. L’individualisme est étroitement liée à la conduite de notre vie privée: c’est seulement en en reconnaissant le caractère unique et la liberté des autres à former des syndicats que nous pouvons, avec eux, protéger et maximiser notre propre liberté et notre unicité; le mutualisme concerne nos relations générales avec les autres : en travaillant ensemble et en coopérant mutuellement, nous nous assurons que nous ne travaillons pas pour les autres. La production sous l’anarchisme serait collectiviste, avec des gens travaillant ensemble pour eux-mêmes et pour le bien commun; enfin les grandes décisions du monde politique et social seraient prises collectivement.

Il doit également être noté que les écoles de pensée anarchistes ne sont pas nommées à partir de certains individus anarchistes. De ce fait, les anarchistes ne sont pas « bakouninistes », « proudhoniens » ou « kropotkiniens »… Les anarchistes, pour citer Malatesta, « suivent des idées, et non des hommes, et se rebellent contre cette manie de personnifier un principe en un homme ». Cela ne l’empêcha pas de nommer Bakounine « nôtre grand maître et inspirateur 04 ». De même, tout ce qui a été écrit par un penseur anarchiste célèbre n’est pas nécessairement libertaire / anarchiste. Bakounine, par exemple, devint anarchiste seulement dans les dix dernières années de sa vie (ce qui n’empêcha pas les Marxistes d’utiliser ses textes pré-anarchistes pour attaquer l’anarchisme !). Proudhon se tourna de l’anarchisme dans les années 1950 avant d’y revenir dans une position encore plus anarchiste (ou strictement anarchiste) juste avant sa mort en 1865. De même, les arguments de Kropotkine ou de Tucker en faveur des Alliés durant la Première Guerre mondiale n’ont rien à voir avec l’anarchime. Pour ces raisons, dire, par exemple, que l’anarchisme est dans l’erreur parce que Proudhon était un porc sexiste, ne convainc pas les anarchistes. Personne ne rejetterait l’idée de démocratie, par exemple, parce que les idées de Rousseau sur les femmes étaient tout aussi sexistes que celles de Proudhon. Comme pour tout autre chose, les anarchistes modernes analysent les écrits des anarchistes qui les ont précédé pour en tirer de l’inspiration, et pas un dogme. De ce fait, nous rejettons les idées non-libertaires des anarchistes « célèbres » tout en conservant leurs apports positifs au développement de la théorie anarchiste. Nous sommes désolés d’insister sur ce point, mais l’essentiel de la « critique » marxiste n’utilise que les aspects négatifs des idées des penseurs anarchistes morts, et il vaut mieux indiquer clairement la stupidité d’une telle approche.

Les idées anarchistes, bien sûr, n’ont pas cessé de se développer aprés la mort de Kropotkine. Elles ne sont pas les produits de seulement quatre hommes. L’anarchisme est par sa nature même une théorie en évolution, avec de nombreux penseurs et activistes différents. Quand Bakounine et Kropotkine étaient vivants, par exemple, ils ont tiré certains aspects de leurs idées d’autres activistes libertaires. Bakounine, par exemple, se fonda sur les activisme pratique des partisans de Proudhon dans le mouvement ouvrier français des années 1860. Kropotkine, tout en étant surtout associé au développement de la théorie anarcho-communiste, fut simplement le plus fameux orateur des idées qui s’étaient développées après la mort de Bakounine dans l’aîle libertaire de la Première Internationale, et avant qu’il ne devienne lui-même anarchiste. L’anarchisme est donc le produit de dizaines de milliers de penseurs d’activistes dans le monde, chacun façonnant et développant la théorie anarchiste pour l’accorder à ses besoins en tant que partie du mouvement général pour le changement social. Parmi les nombreux autres anarchistes qui pourraient être mentionnés ici, nous pouvons mentionner quelques-uns.

Stirner n’est pas le seul allemand anarchiste à âtre un anarchiste renommé. L’Allemagne a aussi produit un grand nombre de penseurs anarchistes originaux. Gustav Landauer fut exclu du parti marxiste Social-Democrate pour ses positions radicales et s’identifia vite comme anarchiste. Pour lui, l’anarchie était « l’expression de l’émancipation de l’humanité des idoles de l’État, de l’Église et du Capital » et il combattit le « socialisme d’état, niveleur par le bas, bureaucratique », en faveur de la « libre association et syndication, l’absence d’autorité ». Ses idées étaient une combinaison de celles de Proudhon et de Kropotkine, et il voyait le développement des communautés autogérées et coopératives comme les moyens de changer la société. Il est notamment connu pour avoir affirmé que « l’État est une condition, un mode de relation parmi les humains, un mode de comportement entre eux; nous le détruisons en contractant de nouveaux modes de relation, en nous comportement différemment envers les autres05 ». Il a participé de façon déterminante à la révolution de Munich en 1919, et fut assassiné durant son écrasement par l’État allemand. Son livre, For Socialism est un excellent résumé de ses idées.

Parmi d’autres anarchistes allemands, on peut citer Johann Most : originellement un marxiste et un membre élu du Reichstag ; il comprit la futilité du vote et devint un anarchiste après s’être fait exilé pour avoir écrit contre le clergé et le Kaiser. Il a joué un rôle important dans le mouvement anarchiste américain, travaillant pour un temps pour Emma Goldman. Plus propagandiste que théoricien, son message révolutionnaire a inspiré beaucoup de monde à devenir des anarchistes. Et puis il y a Rudolf Rocker, un relieur qui a joué un rôle important parmi le mouvement ouvrier juif dans l’est londonien (voir son autobiographie, The London Years). Il a également produit une introduction détaillée à l’Anarcho-syndicalisme, en plus d’analyser la Révolution Russe dans des articles comme « Anarchism and Sovietism » [Anarchie et soviétisme], de défendre la Révolution Espagnole dans des pamphlets comme The Tragedy of Spain. Son livre Nationalism and Culture est une analyse de la culture humaine à travers les âge combinant l’analyse des théoriciens politiques et des politiques au pouvoir. Il y dissèque le nationalisme et montre comment la nation n’est pas la cause mais le résultat de l’État, tout en répudiant la « science raciale » pour ce qu’elle est: n’importe quoi.

Aux États-Unis Emma Goldman et Alexandre Berkman ont été deux des grands penseurs et activistes anarchistes. Goldman associait l’égoïsme de Stirner avec le communisme de Kropotkine dans une théorie passionnée et puissante combinant le meilleur des deux. Elle a également mis l’anarchisme au centre de la théorie et de l’activisme féministe (voir Anarchism and Other Essays et Red Emma speaks [Emma la rouge parle]). Alexandre Berkman, compagnon de vie d’ Emma Goldman, a produit une introduction classique aux idées anarchistes appelé Qu’est ce l’anarchisme communiste ? (également connue sous le nom de l’ABC de l’anarchisme). Comme Goldman, il a encouragé l’implication des anarchistes dans le mouvement ouvrier, a été un orateur et un auteur prolifique (le livre Life of An Anarchist propose une excellente sélection de ses meilleurs articles, livres et pamphlets). Ils furent tous les deux engagés dans l’écriture de journaux anarchistes, Goldman étant particulièrement associée à Mother Earth (voir Anarchy ! An Anthology of Emma Goldman's Mother Earth, édité par Peter Glassgold), et Berkman à The Blast (ré-imprimé en intégralité en 2005). Ces deux journaux furent fermés quand les deux anarchistes furent arrêtés en 1917 pour leur activisme anti-guerre.

Berkman et Goldman ont été expulsés par le gouvernement des États-Unis vers la Russie après la révolution de 1917 car ils étaient considérés trop dangereux pour être autorisé à rester dans le pays de la liberté. Exactement deux ans plus tard, leurs passeports leur permirent enfin de quitter la Russie. Le massacre de la révolte de Kronstadt perpétré par les bolchéviques en mars 1921 après la fin de la guerre civile avait fini de les convaincre que la dictature bolchévique signifiait la mort de la révolution en Russie. Les bolchéviques furent plus qu’heureux de voir ces deux révolutionnaires sincères, qui étaient restés fidèles à leurs principes, s’en aller. Une fois hors de Russie, Berkman écrivit beaucoup d’articles sur le destin de la révolution (dont The Russian Tragedy et The Kronstadt Rebellion), tout en publiant son journal, par exemple, dans The Bolshevik Myth. Goldman produisit un de ses ouvrages devenus classiques, My Disillusionment in Russia, et sa fameuse autobiographie Living My Life. Elle trouva aussi le temps de réfuter les mensonges de Trotsky au sujet de la rébellion de Kronstadt, dans Trotsky Protests Too Much.

En dehors de Berkman et Goldman, les États-Unis ont aussi produits d’autres penseurs et activistes notables. Voltairine de Cleyre a joué un rôle important dans le mouvement anarchiste américain, enrichissant la théorie anarchiste à la fois aux États-Unis et à l’international avec ses articles, poèmes et discours. Son travail comprend des classiques tels que L’anarchisme et les traditions américaines, L’action directe, Sex Slavery et The Dominant Idea. Ces derniers sont inclus, avec d’autres articles et quelques uns de ses fameux poèmes, dans The Voltairine de Cleyre Reader. Ces textes, et d’autres importants essais sont inclus dans Exquisite Rebel, une autre anthologie des écrits  Gates of Freedom de Eugenia C. Delamotte offre un excellent aperçu de sa vie et de ses idées ainsi qu’une sélection de ses écrits. On peut ajouter à cela Anarchy ! An Anthology of Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth, qui contient une bonne sélection de ses écrits, en plus d’autres productions d’anarchistes de la même période. La série de discours qu’Emma Goldman fit pour marquer le massacre par l’État des martyrs de Chicago en 1886 est également très intéressante (voir the First Mayday: The Haymarket Speeches 1895–1910). Tous les 11 novembre, à moins que la maladie l’en empêche, elle parla en leur mémoire. Pour celleux que les idées de cette génération précédente d’anarchiste que les Martyrs de Chicago représentent, Anarchism : Its Philosophy and Scientific Basis d’Albert Parsons est une lecture essentielle. Sa compagne, Lucy Parsons fut également une remarquable activiste anarchistes des années 1870 à sa mort en 1942, et une sélection de ses écrits et discours peut être lue dans Freedom, Equality Solidarity, édité par Gale Ahrens.

Ailleurs dans les Amériques, Ricardo Flores Magón prépara le terrain de la Révolution Mexicaine de 1910 en fondant le (très étrangement nommé) Mexican Liberal Party en 1905, qui organisa deux soulèvement sans succès contre la dictature de Diaz en 1906 et 1908. À travers son journal Tierra y Libertad (Terre et Liberté), il influença le développement du mouvement ouvrier et de l’armée paysanne de Zapata. Il insista continuellement sur la nécessité de transformer la révolution en révolution sociale qui « donnera la terre au peuple », au même titre que « les usines, les mines, etc ». Seule cette transformation pourrait assurer que le peuple « ne soit pas trahi ». Parlant des Agrariens (l’armée zapatiste), le frère de Ricardo Magón, Enrique, note qu’« ils sont plus ou moins inclinés à l’anarchisme » et qu’ils peuvent travailler ensemble parce que tous les deux sont des « partisans de l’action directe » et qu’« ils agissent de manière parfaitement révolutionnaire. Ils s’en prennent aux riches, aux autorités et au clergé » et ont « réduit en cendre les titres de propriété privée et les documents officiels » et « [ont] abattu les barrières qui marquaient les propriétés privées ». Ainsi, les anarchistes « propagent nos principes » pendant que les zapatistes « les mettent en pratique 06 ». Ricardo Flores Magón mourut en tant que prisonnier politique dans une prison américaine, et est, ironiquement, considé comme un héros de la révolution par l’État mexicain. Une anthologie substantielle de ses écrits sont disponibles dans le livre Dreams of Freedom (qui inclut un essai biographique impressionnant qui discute de son influence tout en replaçant son travail dans son contexte historique).

En Italie, un mouvement anarchiste fort et dynamique, a produit certains des meilleurs écrivains. Errico Malatesta a passé plus de 50 ans dans la lutte pour l’anarchisme à travers le monde et ses écrits sont parmi les meilleurs dans la théorie anarchiste (voir L’anarchie ou La révolution anarchiste et Malatesta: vie et idées, tous les deux édités par Vernon Richards). Sa technique d’écriture favorite était l’usage de dialogues, comme dans At the Cafe : Conversations on Anarchism. Ces dialogues, utilisant comme base les conversations que Malatesta avait eu avec des non-anarchistes, expliquent les idées anarchistes de façon claire et terre-à-terre. Un autre dialogue, Fra Contadini : A Dialogue on Anarchy, fut traduit dans de nombreuses langues, avec 100.000 copies imprimées en Italie en 1920, quand la révolution pour laquelle Malatesta s’était battu toute sa vie semblait très proche. À la même période, Malatesta édita Umanita Nova (le premier quotidien anarchiste italien, qui tira bientôt à 50.000 exemplaires), tout en écrivant le programme de l’Unione Anarchica Italiana, une organisation anarchiste nationale d’environ 20.000 personnes. Il fut arrêté avec 80 autres anarchistes pour ses activités durant les occupations d’usines à l’âge de 67 ans. Parmi les autres anarchistes italiens notables, on peut citer un ami de Malatesta, Luigi Fabbri (dont malheureusement peu de choses ont été traduites en anglais mis à part Bourgeois Influences on Anarchism et Anarchy and “Scientific” Communism, et Luigi Galleani, qui a produit un communisme anarchiste anti-organisationnel très puissant qui a proclamé que

le communisme est tout simplement le fondement économique par lequel l’individu a la possibilité de se réglementer et exercer ses fonctions.
The end of anarchism ?

Camillo Berneri, avant d’être assassiné par les communistes pendant la révolution espagnole, a poursuivi la belle tradition de l’anarchisme pratique et critique associée à l’anarchisme italien. Son étude des idées fédéralistes de kropotkine (Peter Kropotkin : His Federalist Ideas) est un classique. Sa fille, Marie-Louise Berneri, contribua à la presse anarchiste britannique avant sa mort tragique et prématurée ( lire à ce sujet Neither East Nor West: Selected Writings 1939–48 and Journey Through Utopia).

Au Japon, Hatta Shuzo développa l’anarcho-communisme de Kropotkine vers de nouvelles directions durant l’entre-deux-guerres. Il créa une théorie anarchiste nommée « anarchisme pur » qui était une alternative concrète dans le pays majoritairement paysan où lui et ses milliers de camarades étaient actifs. Quoique rejettant certains aspects du syndicalisme, ils organisèrent les travailleurs en syndicats tout en travaillant avec la paysannerie puisque les « premières pierres pour construire la nouvelle société que nous désirons ne sont ni plus ni moins que l’éveil [politique] des métayers » qui « constituent la majorité de la population ». Leur nouvelle société était basée sur des communes décentralisées qui combinaient l’industrie et l’agriculture, puisque, comme un des camarades de Hatta l’exprima, « le village cessera d’être un simple village communiste et deviendra une société coopérative qui est une fusion de l’agriculture et de l’industrie ». Hatta rejettait l’idée qu’ils aspiraient à un retour à un passé idéal, arguant que les anarchistes sont « complètement opposés aux médiévalistes. Nous voulons utiliser les machines en tant que moyens de production et, bien sûr, espérons l’invention d’une pléthore de machines toujours plus ingénieuses 07 ».

En ce qui concerne l’anarchisme individualiste, le « roi » incontestable fut Benjamin Tucker. Tucker dans son Instead of Book utilisa son intelligence et son esprit pour attaquer tous ceux qu’il considérait comme ennemis de la liberté, surtout des capitalistes, mais aussi quelques anarchistes sociaux ! Par exemple, Tucker excommunia Kropotkine et les autres anarcho-communistes de l’anarchisme (Kropotkine ne lui retourna pas cette faveur). Tucker construisit ses théories sur les travaux de penseurs notables, tels que Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner, Stephen Pearl Andrews et William B.Greene, adaptant le mutualisme de Proudhon aux conditions des États-Unis pré-capitalistes (voir Pioneers of American Freedom de Rudolf Rocker’s pour plus de détails). Défendant le travailleur, l’artisan et le petit paysan des intentions de l’État de construire le capitalisme via l’intervention étatique, Tucker considérait que l’exploitation capitaliste pouvait être abolie en créant un marché libre non-capitaliste dans lesquels les quatre monopoles d’état employés pour créer le capitalisme seraient écrasés, au moyen de la banque mutuelle et de droits d’« occupation et l’usage » de la terre et des ressources. Se plaçant fermement dans le camp socialiste, Tucker reconnaissait (tout comme Proudhon), que le revenu non-issu du travail était du vol, et s’opposa de ce fait au profit, à la rente et aux intérêts. Il traduisit en anglais « Qu’est-ce que la propriété ? », « Système des contradictions économiques » de Proudhon, ainsi que « Dieu et l’État » de Bakounine. Son compatriote, Joseph Labadie, fut un syndicaliste très actif ainsi qu’un contributeur majeur au journal de Tucker, Liberty. Son fils, Laurent Labadie a porté le flambeau individualiste anarchiste après la mort de Tucker, estimant que « cette liberté dans tous les domaines de la vie est le plus grand des moyens possibles de l’élévation de la race humaine à des conditions plus heureuses ».

Le russe Léon Tolstoï est sans doute le plus célèbre écrivain associé avec l’anarchisme religieux et qui a eu le plus grand impact dans la diffusion des idées spirituelles et pacifistes associés à cette tendance. Influencant des personnes remarquables comme Gandhi et le Groupe Ouvrier catholique autour de Dorothy Day, Tolstoï a présenté une interprétation radicale du christianisme qui a souligné la responsabilité individuelle et la liberté au-dessus de l’autoritarisme aveugle et de la hiérarchie qui marque autant le christianisme traditionnel. Les œuvres de Tolstoï, comme celles de cet autre radical libertaire Christian William Blake, ont inspiré de nombreux chrétiens vers une vision libertaire du message de Jésus qui a été cachée par les églises traditionnelles. Ainsi l’anarchisme chrétien maintient, avec Tolstoï, que « le christianisme dans son vrai sens met fin au gouvernement » (voir, par exemple, Le Royaume de Dieu est en vous de Tolstoï et William Blake : anarchiste visionnaire de Peter Marshall).

Plus récemment, Noam Chomsky (dans Deterring Democracy [Décourager la démocratie], Necessary Illusions : : Thought Control in Democratic Societies [Les Illusions nécessaires], World Orders, Old and New [Ordres mondiaux, anciens et nouveaux], Rogue States, Hegemony or Survival et beaucoup d’autres) et Murray Bookchin (Post-Scarcity Anarchism [Anarchisme post-rareté], The Ecology of Freedom [L’écologie de la liberté], Towards an Ecological Society [Vers une société écologique], et Remaking Society [Refaire la Société], entre autres) ont gardé le mouvement anarchiste social à l’avant de la théorie et de l’analyse politique. Le travail de Bookchin a placé l’anarchisme au centre de la pensée verte et a été une menace constante pour ceux qui souhaitent mystifier ou corrompre le mouvement pour créer une société écologique. Le Murray Bookchin Reader présente une anthologie assez représentative de ses écrits. Malheureusement, quelques années avant sa mort, Bookchin prit quelques distances avec l’anarchisme qu’il avait défendu durant 40 ans (bien qu’il demeura un libertaire jusqu’à la fin). Les critiques fort bien documentées de Chomsky de l’impérialisme étasunien et ses écrits sur le fonctionnement des médias sont ses travaux les plus connus, mais Chomsky a également beaucoup écrit sur la tradition anarchiste; les plus connus de ses essais étant “Notes on Anarchism” (dans For Reasons of State) et sa défense de la révolution sociale anarchiste contre les historiens bourgeois dans “Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship” (dans American Power and the New Mandarins). Ces travaux, et bien d’autres, sont disponibles dans la collection Chomsky on Anarchism. D’autres bonnes sources quant à ses idées anarchistes sont Radical Priorities, Language and Politics ainsi que le pamphlet Government in the Future. Aussi bien Understanding Power que The Chomsky Reader sont d’excellentes introductions à sa pensée.

Britain has also seen an important series of anarchist thinkers. Hebert Read (probably the only anarchist to ever accept a knighthood!) wrote several works on anarchist philosophy and theory (see his Anarchy and Order compilation of essays). His anarchism flowered directly from his aesthetic concerns and he was a committed pacifist. As well as giving fresh insight and expression to the tradition themes of anarchism, he contributed regularly to the anarchist press (see the collection of articles A One-Man Manifesto and other writings from Freedom Press). Another pacifist anarchist was Alex Comfort. As well as writing the Joy of Sex, Comfort was an active pacifist and anarchist. He wrote particularly on pacifism, psychiatry and sexual politics from a libertarian perspective. His most famous anarchist book was Authority and Delinquency and a collection of his anarchist pamphlets and articles was published under the title Writings against Power and Death.

However, the most famous and influential British anarchist must be Colin Ward. He became an anarchist when stationed in Glasgow during the Second World War and came across the local anarchist group there. Once an anarchist, he has contributed to the anarchist press extensively. As well as being an editor of Freedom, he also edited the influential monthly magazine Anarchy during the 1960s (a selection of articles picked by Ward can be found in the book A Decade of Anarchy). Dans son unique livre L’anarchie en action, Colin Ward a mis à jour l’Entraide de Kropotkine en découvrant et en documentant la nature anarchique de la vie quotidienne, même au sein du capitalisme. Son travail sur le logement a souligné l’importance de l’entraide collective et de la gestion sociale du logement contre les fléaux de la privatisation et de la nationalisation (see, for example, his books Talking Houses and Housing: An Anarchist Approach). He has cast an anarchist eye on numerous other issues, including water use (Reflected in Water: A Crisis of Social Responsibility), transport (Freedom to go: after the motor age) and the welfare state (Social Policy: an anarchist response). His Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction is a good starting point for discovering anarchism and his particular perspective on it while Talking Anarchy provides an excellent overview of both his ideas and life. Lastly we must mention both Albert Meltzer and Nicolas Walter, both of whom contributed extensively to the anarchist press as well as writing two well known short introductions to anarchism (Anarchism: Arguments for and against and About Anarchism, respectively).

Nous pourrions continuer; il y a beaucoup plus d’auteurs que nous pourrions mentionner. Mais à côté de cela, il y a les milliers de militants anarchistes « ordinaires » qui n’ont jamais écrit de livres, mais dont le sens commun et l’activisme ont encouragé l’esprit de révolte au sein de la société et contribué à bâtir le nouveau monde dans la coquille de l’ancien. Comme Kropotkine l’a dit,

L’anarchisme est né parmi les gens, et il continuera d’être plein de vie et la puissance créatrice que tant qu’il reste une chose du peuple.
Brochures révolutionnaires de Kropotkine, p. 146

So we hope that this concentration on anarchist thinkers should not be taken to mean that there is some sort of division between activists and intellectuals in the movement. Far from it. Few anarchists are purely thinkers or activists. They are usually both. Kropotkin, for example, was jailed for his activism, as was Malatesta and Goldman. Makhno, most famous as an active participate in the Russian Revolution, also contributed theoretical articles to the anarchist press during and after it. The same can be said of Louise Michel, whose militant activities during the Paris Commune and in building the anarchist movement in France after it did not preclude her writing articles for the libertarian press. We are simply indicating key anarchists thinkers so that those interested can read about their ideas directly.

A.4.1 – Existe-t-il des penseurs proches de l’anarchisme ?

Yes. There are numerous thinkers who are close to anarchism. They come from both the liberal and socialist traditions. While this may be considered surprising, it is not. Anarchism has links with both ideologies. Obviously the individualist anarchists are closest to the liberal tradition while social anarchists are closest to the socialist.

Indeed, as Nicholas Walter put it, « Anarchism can be seen as a development from either liberalism or socialism, or from both liberalism and socialism. Like liberals, anarchists want freedom; like socialists, anarchists want equality ». However, « anarchism is not just a mixture of liberalism and socialism ... we differ fundamentally from them ». [About Anarchism, p. 29 and p. 31] In this he echoes Rocker’s comments in Anarcho-Syndicalism. And this can be a useful tool for seeing the links between anarchism and other theories however it must be stressed that anarchism offers an anarchist critique of both liberalism and socialism and we should not submerge the uniqueness of anarchism into other philosophies.

Section A.4.2 discusses liberal thinkers who are close to anarchism, while section A.4.3 highlights those socialists who are close to anarchism. There are even Marxists who inject libertarian ideas into their politics and these are discussed in section A.4.4. And, of course, there are thinkers who cannot be so easily categorised and will be discussed here.

Economist David Ellerman has produced an impressive body of work arguing for workplace democracy. Explicitly linking his ideas the early British Ricardian socialists and Proudhon, in such works as The Democratic Worker-Owned Firm and Property and Contract in Economics he has presented both a rights based and labour-property based defence of self-management against capitalism. He argues that « [t]oday’s economic democrats are the new abolitionists trying to abolish the whole institution of renting people in favour of democratic self-management in the workplace » for his « critique is not new; it was developed in the Enlightenment doctrine of inalienable rights. It was applied by abolitionists against the voluntary self-enslavement contract and by political democrats against the voluntary contraction defence of non-democratic government ». [The Democratic Worker-Owned Firm, p. 210] Anyone, like anarchists, interested in producer co-operatives as alternatives to wage slavery will find his work of immense interest.

Ellerman is not the only person to stress the benefits of co-operation. Alfie Kohn’s important work on the benefits of co-operation builds upon Kropotkin’s studies of mutual aid and is, consequently, of interest to social anarchists. In No Contest: the case against competition and Punished by Rewards, Kohn discusses (with extensive empirical evidence) the failings and negative impact of competition on those subject to it. He addresses both economic and social issues in his works and shows that competition is not what it is cracked up to be.

Within feminist theory, Carole Pateman is the most obvious libertarian influenced thinker. Independently of Ellerman, Pateman has produced a powerful argument for self-managed association in both the workplace and society as a whole. Building upon a libertarian analysis of Rousseau’s arguments, her analysis of contract theory is ground breaking. If a theme has to be ascribed to Pateman’s work it could be freedom and what it means to be free. For her, freedom can only be viewed as self-determination and, consequently, the absence of subordination. Consequently, she has advocated a participatory form of democracy from her first major work, Participation and Democratic Theory onwards. In that book, a pioneering study of in participatory democracy, she exposed the limitations of liberal democratic theory, analysed the works of Rousseau, Mill and Cole and presented empirical evidence on the benefits of participation on the individuals involved.

In the Problem of Political Obligation, Pateman discusses the “liberal” arguments on freedom and finds them wanting. For the liberal, a person must consent to be ruled by another but this opens up the “problem” that they might not consent and, indeed, may never have consented. Thus the liberal state would lack a justification. She deepens her analysis to question why freedom should be equated to consenting to be ruled and proposed a participatory democratic theory in which people collectively make their own decisions (a self-assumed obligation to your fellow citizens rather to a state). In discussing Kropotkin, she showed her awareness of the social anarchist tradition to which her own theory is obviously related.

Pateman builds on this analysis in her The Sexual Contract, where she dissects the sexism of classical liberal and democratic theory. She analyses the weakness of what calls ‘contractarian’ theory (classical liberalism and right-wing “libertarianism”) and shows how it leads not to free associations of self-governing individuals but rather social relationships based on authority, hierarchy and power in which a few rule the many. Her analysis of the state, marriage and wage labour are profoundly libertarian, showing that freedom must mean more than consenting to be ruled. This is the paradox of capitalist liberal, for a person is assumed to be free in order to consent to a contract but once within it they face the reality subordination to another’s decisions (see section A.4.2 for further discussion).

Her ideas challenge some of Western culture’s core beliefs about individual freedom and her critiques of the major Enlightenment political philosophers are powerful and convincing. Implicit is a critique not just of the conservative and liberal tradition, but of the patriarchy and hierarchy contained within the Left as well. As well as these works, a collection of her essays is available called The Disorder of Women.

Within the so-called “anti-globalisation” movement Naomi Klein shows an awareness of libertarian ideas and her own work has a libertarian thrust to it (we call it “so-called” as its members are internationalists, seeking a globalisation from below not one imposed from above by and for a few). She first came to attention as the author of No Logo, which charts the growth of consumer capitalism, exposing the dark reality behind the glossy brands of capitalism and, more importantly, highlighting the resistance to it. No distant academic, she is an active participant in the movement she reports on in Fences and Windows, a collection of essays on globalisation, its consequences and the wave of protests against it.

Klein’s articles are well written and engaging, covering the reality of modern capitalism, the gap, as she puts it, « between rich and power but also between rhetoric and reality, between what is said and what is done. Between the promise of globalisation and its real effects ». She shows how we live in a world where the market (i.e. capital) is made « freer » while people suffer increased state power and repression. How an unelected Argentine President labels that country’s popular assemblies « antidemocratic ». How rhetoric about liberty is used as a tool to defend and increase private power (as she reminds us, « always missing from [the globalisation] discussion is the issue of power. So many of the debates that we have about globalisation theory are actually about power: who holds it, who is exercising it and who is disguising it, pretending it no longer matters »). [Fences and Windows, pp 83–4 and p. 83]

And how people across the world are resisting. As she puts it, « many [in the movement] are tired of being spoken for and about. They are demanding a more direct form of political participation ». She reports on a movement which she is part of, one which aims for a globalisation from below, one « founded on principles of transparency, accountability and self-determination, one that frees people instead of liberating capital ». This means being against a « corporate-driven globalisation ... that is centralising power and wealth into fewer and fewer hands » while presenting an alternative which is about « decentralising power and building community-based decision-making potential — whether through unions, neighbourhoods, farms, villages, anarchist collectives or aboriginal self-government ». All strong anarchist principles and, like anarchists, she wants people to manage their own affairs and chronicles attempts around the world to do just that (many of which, as Klein notes, are anarchists or influenced by anarchist ideas, sometimes knowing, sometimes not). [op. cit., p. 77, p. 79 and p. 16]

While not an anarchist, she is aware that real change comes from below, by the self-activity of working class people fighting for a better world. Decentralisation of power is a key idea in the book. As she puts it, the « goal » of the social movements she describes is « not to take power for themselves but to challenge power centralisation on principle » and so creating « a new culture of vibrant direct democracy ... one that is fuelled and strengthened by direct participation. » She does not urge the movement to invest itself with new leaders and neither does she (like the Left) think that electing a few leaders to make decisions for us equals “democracy” (« the goal is not better faraway rules and rulers but close-up democracy on the ground »). Klein, therefore, gets to the heart of the matter. Real social change is based on empowering the grassroots, « the desire for self-determination, economic sustainability and participatory democracy. » Given this, Klein has presented libertarian ideas to a wide audience. [op. cit., p. xxvi, p. xxvi-xxvii, p. 245 and p. 233]

Other notable libertarian thinkers include Henry D. Thoreau, Albert Camus, Aldous Huxley, Lewis Mumford, Lewis Mumford and Oscar Wilde. Thus there are numerous thinkers who approach anarchist conclusions and who discuss subjects of interest to libertarians. As Kropotkin noted a hundred years ago, these kinds of writers « are full of ideas which show how closely anarchism is interwoven with the work that is going on in modern thought in the same direction of enfranchisement of man from the bonds of the state as well as from those of capitalism. » [Anarchism, p. 300] The only change since then is that more names can be added to the list.

Peter Marshall discusses the ideas of most, but not all, of the non-anarchist libertarians we mention in this and subsequent sections in his book history of anarchism, Demanding the Impossible. Clifford Harper’s Anarchy: A Graphic Guide is also a useful guide for finding out more.

A.4.2 – Existe-il des penseurs libéraux proches de l’anarchisme ?

As noted in the last section, there are thinkers in both the liberal and socialist traditions who approach anarchist theory and ideals. This understandable as anarchism shares certain ideas and ideals with both.

However, as will become clear in sections A.4.3 and A.4.4, anarchism shares most common ground with the socialist tradition it is a part of. This is because classical liberalism is a profoundly elitist tradition. The works of Locke and the tradition he inspired aimed to justify hierarchy, state and private property. As Carole Pateman notes, « Locke’s state of nature, with its father-rulers and capitalist economy, would certainly not find favour with anarchists » any more than his vision of the social contract and the liberal state it creates. A state, which as Pateman recounts, in which « only males who own substantial amounts of material property are [the] politically relevant members of society » and exists « precisely to preserve the property relationships of the developing capitalist market economy, not to disturb them. » For the majority, the non-propertied, they expressed « tacit consent » to be ruled by the few by « choosing to remain within the one’s country of birth when reaching adulthood. » [The Problem of Political Obligation, p. 141, p. 71, p. 78 and p. 73]

Thus anarchism is at odds with what can be called the pro-capitalist liberal tradition which, flowing from Locke, builds upon his rationales for hierarchy. As David Ellerman notes, « there is a whole liberal tradition of apologising for non-democratic government based on consent — on a voluntary social contract alienating governing rights to a sovereign. » In economics, this is reflected in their support for wage labour and the capitalist autocracy it creates for the « employment contract is the modern limited workplace version » of such contracts. [The Democratic Worker-Owned Firm, p. 210] This pro-capitalist liberalism essentially boils down to the liberty to pick a master or, if you are among the lucky few, to become a master yourself. The idea that freedom means self-determination for all at all times is alien to it. Rather it is based on the idea of “self-ownership,” that you “own” yourself and your rights. Consequently, you can sell (alienate) your rights and liberty on the market. As we discuss in section B.4, in practice this means that most people are subject to autocratic rule for most of their waking hours (whether in work or in marriage).

The modern equivalent of classical liberalism is the right-wing “libertarian” tradition associated with Milton Friedman, Robert Nozick, von Hayek and so forth. As they aim to reduce the state to simply the defender to private property and enforcer of the hierarchies that social institution creates, they can by no stretch of the imagination be considered near anarchism. What is called “liberalism” in, say, the United States is a more democratic liberal tradition and has, like anarchism, little in common with the shrill pro-capitalist defenders of the minimum state. While they may (sometimes) be happy to denounce the state’s attacks on individual liberty, they are more than happy to defend the “freedom” of the property owner to impose exactly the same restrictions on those who use their land or capital.

Given that feudalism combined ownership and rulership, that the governance of people living on land was an attribute of the ownership of that land, it would be no exaggeration to say that the right-wing “libertarian” tradition is simply its modern (voluntary) form. It is no more libertarian than the feudal lords who combated the powers of the King in order to protect their power over their own land and serfs. As Chomsky notes, « the ‘libertarian’ doctrines that are fashionable in the US and UK particularly ... seem to me to reduce to advocacy of one or another form of illegitimate authority, quite often real tyranny. » [Marxism, Anarchism, and Alternative Futures, p. 777] Moreover, as Benjamin Tucker noted with regards their predecessors, while they are happy to attack any state regulation which benefits the many or limits their power, they are silent on the laws (and regulations and “rights”) which benefit the few.

However there is another liberal tradition, one which is essentially pre-capitalist which has more in common with the aspirations of anarchism. As Chomsky put it:

These ideas [of anarchism] grow out the Enlightenment; their roots are in Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality, Humbolt’s The Limits of State Action, Kant’s insistence, in his defence of the French Revolution, that freedom is the precondition for acquiring the maturity for freedom, not a gift to be granted when such maturity is achieved ... With the development of industrial capitalism, a new and unanticipated system of injustice, it is libertarian socialism that has preserved and extended the radical humanist message of the Enlightenment and the classical liberal ideals that were perverted into an ideology to sustain the emerging social order. In fact, on the very same assumptions that led classical liberalism to oppose the intervention of the state in social life, capitalist social relations are also intolerable. This is clear, for example, from the classic work of [Wilhelm von] Humboldt, The Limits of State Action, which anticipated and perhaps inspired [John Stuart] Mill ... This classic of liberal thought, completed in 1792, is in its essence profoundly, though prematurely, anticapitalist. Its ideas must be attenuated beyond recognition to be transmuted into an ideology of industrial capitalism.
Notes on Anarchism, For Reasons of State, p. 156

Chomsky discusses this in more detail in his essay « Language and Freedom » (contained in both Reason of State and The Chomsky Reader). As well as Humbolt and Mill, such “pre-capitalist” liberals would include such radicals as Thomas Paine, who envisioned a society based on artisan and small farmers (i.e. a pre-capitalist economy) with a rough level of social equality and, of course, a minimal government. His ideas inspired working class radicals across the world and, as E.P. Thompson reminds us, Paine’s Rights of Man was « a foundation-text of the English [and Scottish] working-class movement. » While his ideas on government are « close to a theory of anarchism, » his reform proposals « set a source towards the social legislation of the twentieth century. » [The Making of the English Working Class, p. 99, p. 101 and p. 102] His combination of concern for liberty and social justice places him close to anarchism.

Then there is Adam Smith. While the right (particularly elements of the “libertarian” right) claim him as a classic liberal, his ideas are more complex than that. For example, as Noam Chomsky points out, Smith advocated the free market because « it would lead to perfect equality, equality of condition, not just equality of opportunity. » [Class Warfare, p. 124] As Smith himself put it, « in a society where things were left to follow their natural course, where there is perfect liberty » it would mean that « advantages would soon return to the level of other employments » and so « the different employments of labour and stock must ... be either perfectly equal or continually tending to equality. » Nor did he oppose state intervention or state aid for the working classes. For example, he advocated public education to counter the negative effects of the division of labour. Moreover, he was against state intervention because whenever « a legislature attempts to regulate differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is otherwise when in favour of the masters. » He notes how « the law » would « punish » workers’ combinations « very severely » while ignoring the masters’ combinations (« if it dealt impartially, it would treat the masters in the same manner »). [The Wealth of Nations, p. 88 and p. 129] Thus state intervention was to be opposed in general because the state was run by the few for the few, which would make state intervention benefit the few, not the many. It is doubtful Smith would have left his ideas on laissez-faire unchanged if he had lived to see the development of corporate capitalism. It is this critical edge of Smith’s work are conveniently ignored by those claiming him for the classical liberal tradition.

Smith, argues Chomsky, was « a pre-capitalist and anti-capitalist person with roots in the Enlightenment. » Yes, he argues, « the classical liberals, the [Thomas] Jeffersons and the Smiths, were opposing the concentrations of power that they saw around them ... They didn’t see other forms of concentration of power which only developed later. When they did see them, they didn’t like them. Jefferson was a good example. He was strongly opposed to the concentrations of power that he saw developing, and warned that the banking institutions and the industrial corporations which were barely coming into existence in his day would destroy the achievements of the Revolution. » [op. cit., p. 125]

As Murray Bookchin notes, Jefferson « is most clearly identified in the early history of the United States with the political demands and interests of the independent farmer-proprietor. » [The Third Revolution, vol. 1, pp. 188–9] In other words, with pre-capitalist economic forms. We also find Jefferson contrasting the « aristocrats » and the « democrats. » The former are « those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. » The democrats « identify with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the honest & safe ... depository of the public interest, » if not always « the most wise. » [quoted by Chomsky, Powers and Prospects, p. 88] As Chomsky notes, the « aristocrats » were « the advocates of the rising capitalist state, which Jefferson regarded with dismay, recognising the obvious contradiction between democracy and the capitalism. » [op. cit., p. 88] Claudio J. Katz’s essay on « Thomas Jefferson’s Liberal Anticapitalism » usefully explores these issues. [American Journal of Political Science, vol. 47, No. 1 (Jan, 2003), pp. 1–17]

Jefferson even went so far as to argue that « a little rebellion now and then is a good thing ... It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government ... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. » [quoted by Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p. 94] However, his libertarian credentials are damaged by him being both a President of the United States and a slave owner but compared to the other “founding fathers” of the American state, his liberalism is of a democratic form. As Chomsky reminds us, « all the Founding Fathers hated democracy — Thomas Jefferson was a partial exception, but only partial. » The American state, as a classical liberal state, was designed (to quote James Madison) « to protect the minority of the opulent from the majority. » Or, to repeat John Jay’s principle, the « people who own the country ought to govern it. » [Understanding Power, p. 315] If American is a (formally) democracy rather than an oligarchy, it is in spite of rather than because of classical liberalism.

Then there is John Stuart Mill who recognised the fundamental contradiction in classical liberalism. How can an ideology which proclaims itself for individual liberty support institutions which systematically nullify that liberty in practice? For this reason Mill attacked patriarchal marriage, arguing that marriage must be a voluntary association between equals, with « sympathy in equality ... living together in love, without power on one side or obedience on the other. » Rejecting the idea that there had to be « an absolute master » in any association, he pointed out that in « partnership in business ... it is not found or thought necessary to enact that in every partnership, one partner shall have entire control over the concern, and the others shall be bound to obey his rule. » [« The Subjection of Women, » quoted by Susan L. Brown, The Politics of Individualism, pp. 45–6]

Yet his own example showed the flaw in liberal support for capitalism, for the employee is subject to a relationship in which power accrues to one party and obedience to another. Unsurprisingly, therefore, he argued that the « form of association ... which is mankind continue to improve, must be expected in the end to predominate, is not that which can exist between a capitalist as chief, and workpeople without a voice in management, but the association of the labourers themselves on terms of equality, collectively owning the capital ... and working under managers elected and removable by themselves. » [The Principles of Political Economy, p. 147] Autocratic management during working hours is hardly compatible with Mill’s maxim that « [o]ver himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. » Mill’s opposition to centralised government and wage slavery brought his ideas closer to anarchism than most liberals, as did his comment that the « social principle of the future » was « how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action with a common ownership in the raw materials of the globe, and equal participation of all in the benefits of combined labour. » [quoted by Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible, p. 164] His defence of individuality, On Liberty, is a classic, if flawed, work and his analysis of socialist tendencies (« Chapters on Socialism ») is worth reading for its evaluation of their pros and cons from a (democratic) liberal perspective.

Like Proudhon, Mill was a forerunner of modern-day market socialism and a firm supporter of decentralisation and social participation. This, argues Chomsky, is unsurprising for pre-capitalist classical liberal thought « is opposed to state intervention in social life, as a consequence of deeper assumptions about the human need for liberty, diversity, and free association. On the same assumptions, capitalist relations of production, wage labour, competitiveness, the ideology of ‘possessive individualism’ — all must be regarded as fundamentally antihuman. Libertarian socialism is properly to be regarded as the inheritor of the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment. » [« Notes on Anarchism », op. cit., p. 157]

Thus anarchism shares commonality with pre-capitalist and democratic liberal forms. The hopes of these liberals were shattered with the development of capitalism. To quote Rudolf Rocker’s analysis:

Liberalism and Democracy were pre-eminently political concepts, and since the great majority of the original adherents of both maintained the right of ownership in the old sense, these had to renounce them both when economic development took a course which could not be practically reconciled with the original principles of Democracy, and still less with those of Liberalism. Democracy, with its motto of ‘all citizens equal before the law,’ and Liberalism with its ‘right of man over his own person,’ both shipwrecked on the realities of the capitalist economic form. So long as millions of human beings in every country had to sell their labour-power to a small minority of owners, and to sink into the most wretched misery if they could find no buyers, the so-called ‘equality before the law’ remains merely a pious fraud, since the laws are made by those who find themselves in possession of the social wealth. But in the same way there can also be no talk of a ‘right over one’s own person,’ for that right ends when one is compelled to submit to the economic dictation of another if he does not want to starve.
Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 10

A.4.3 – Existe-t-il des penseurs socialistes proches de l’anarchisme# ?

Anarchism developed in response to the development of capitalism and it is in the non-anarchist socialist tradition which anarchism finds most fellow travellers.

The earliest British socialists (the so-called Ricardian Socialists) following in the wake of Robert Owen held ideas which were similar to those of anarchists. For example, Thomas Hodgskin expounded ideas similar to Proudhon’s mutualism while William Thompson developed a non-state, communal form of socialism based on « communities of mutual co-operative » which had similarities to anarcho-communism (Thompson had been a mutualist before becoming a communist in light of the problems even a non-capitalist market would have). John Francis Bray is also of interest, as is the radical agrarianist Thomas Spence who developed a communal form of land-based socialism which expounded many ideas usually associated with anarchism (see « The Agrarian Socialism of Thomas Spence » by Brian Morris in his book Ecology and Anarchism). Moreover, the early British trade union movement « developed, stage by stage, a theory of syndicalism » 40 years before Bakunin and the libertarian wing of the First International did. [E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, p. 912] Noel Thompson’s The Real Rights of Man is a good summary of all these thinkers and movements, as is E.P. Thompson’s classic social history of working class life (and politics) of this period, The Making of the English Working Class.

Libertarian ideas did not die out in Britain in the 1840s. There was also the quasi-syndicalists of the Guild Socialists of the 1910s and 1920s who advocated a decentralised communal system with workers’ control of industry. G.D.H. Cole’s Guild Socialism Restated is the most famous work of this school, which also included author’s S.G. Hobson and A.R. Orage (Geoffrey Osteregaard’s The Tradition of Workers’ Control provides an good summary of the ideas of Guild Socialism). Bertrand Russell, another supporter of Guild Socialism, was attracted to anarchist ideas and wrote an extremely informed and thoughtful discussion of anarchism, syndicalism and Marxism in his classic book Roads to Freedom.

While Russell was pessimistic about the possibility of anarchism in the near future, he felt it was « the ultimate idea to which society should approximate. » As a Guild Socialist, he took it for granted that there could « be no real freedom or democracy until the men who do the work in a business also control its management. » His vision of a good society is one any anarchist would support: « a world in which the creative spirit is alive, in which life is an adventure full of joy and hope, based upon the impulse to construct than upon the desire to retain what we possess or to seize what is possessed by others. It must be a world in which affection has free play, in which love is purged of the instinct for domination, in which cruelty and envy have been dispelled by happiness and the unfettered development of all the instincts that build up life and fill it with mental delights. » [quoted by Noam Chomsky, Problems of Knowledge and Freedom, pp. 59–60, p. 61 and p. x] An informed and interesting writer on many subjects, his thought and social activism has influenced many other thinkers, including Noam Chomsky (whose Problems of Knowledge and Freedom is a wide ranging discussion on some of the topics Russell addressed).

Another important British libertarian socialist thinker and activist was William Morris. Morris, a friend of Kropotkin, was active in the Socialist League and led its anti-parliamentarian wing. While stressing he was not an anarchist, there is little real difference between the ideas of Morris and most anarcho-communists (Morris said he was a communist and saw no need to append “anarchist” to it as, for him, communism was democratic and liberatory). A prominent member of the “Arts and Crafts” movement, Morris argued for humanising work and it was, to quoted the title of one of his most famous essays, as case of Useful Work vrs Useless Toil. His utopia novel News from Nowhere paints a compelling vision of a libertarian communist society where industrialisation has been replaced with a communal craft-based economy. It is a utopia which has long appealed to most social anarchists. For a discussion of Morris’ ideas, placed in the context of his famous utopia, see William Morris and News from Nowhere: A Vision for Our Time (Stephen Coleman and Paddy O’Sullivan (eds.))

Also of note is the Greek thinker Cornelius Castoriadis. Originally a Trotskyist, Castoriadis evaluation of Trotsky’s deeply flawed analysis of Stalinist Russia as a degenerated workers’ state lead him to reject first Leninism and then Marxism itself. This led him to libertarian conclusions, seeing the key issue not who owns the means of production but rather hierarchy. Thus the class struggle was between those with power and those subject to it. This led him to reject Marxist economics as its value analysis abstracted from (i.e. ignored!) the class struggle at the heart of production (Autonomist Marxism rejects this interpretation of Marx, but they are the only Marxists who do). Castoriadis, like social anarchists, saw the future society as one based on radical autonomy, generalised self-management and workers’ councils organised from the bottom up. His three volume collected works (Political and Social Writings) are essential reading for anyone interested in libertarian socialist politics and a radical critique of Marxism.

Special mention should also be made of Maurice Brinton, who, as well as translating many works by Castoriadis, was a significant libertarian socialist thinker and activist as well. An ex-Trotskyist like Castoriadis, Brinton carved out a political space for a revolutionary libertarian socialism, opposed to the bureaucratic reformism of Labour as well as the police-state “socialism” of Stalinism and the authoritarianism of the Leninism which produced it. He produced numerous key pamphlets which shaped the thinking of a generation of anarchists and other libertarian socialists. These included Paris: May 1968, his brilliant eyewitness account of the near-revolution in France, the essential The Bolsheviks and Workers’ Control in which he exposed Lenin’s hostility to workers’ self-management, and The Irrational in Politics, a restatement and development of the early work of Wilhelm Reich. These and many more articles have been collected in the book For Workers’ Power: The Selected Writings of Maurice Brinton, edited by David Goodway.

The American radical historian Howard Zinn has sometimes called himself an anarchist and is well informed about the anarchist tradition (he wrote an excellent introductory essay on « Anarchism » for a US edition of a Herbert Read book) . As well as his classic A People’s History of the United States, his writings of civil disobedience and non-violent direct action are essential. An excellent collection of essays by this libertarian socialist scholar has been produced under the title The Zinn Reader. Another notable libertarian socialists close to anarchism are Edward Carpenter (see, for example, Sheila Rowbotham’s Edward Carpenter: Prophet of the New Life) and Simone Weil (Oppression and Liberty)

It would also be worthwhile to mention those market socialists who, like anarchists, base their socialism on workers’ self-management. Rejecting central planning, they have turned back to the ideas of industrial democracy and market socialism advocated by the likes of Proudhon (although, coming from a Marxist background, they generally fail to mention the link which their central-planning foes stress). Allan Engler (in Apostles of Greed) and David Schweickart (in Against Capitalism and After Capitalism) have provided useful critiques of capitalism and presented a vision of socialism rooted in co-operatively organised workplaces. While retaining an element of government and state in their political ideas, these socialists have placed economic self-management at the heart of their economic vision and, consequently, are closer to anarchism than most socialists.

A.4.4 – Existe-t-il des penseurs marxistes proches de l’anarchisme ?

None of the libertarian socialists we highlighted in the last section were Marxists. This is unsurprising as most forms of Marxism are authoritarian. However, this is not the case for all schools of Marxism. There are important sub-branches of Marxism which shares the anarchist vision of a self-managed society. These include Council Communism, Situationism and Autonomism. Perhaps significantly, these few Marxist tendencies which are closest to anarchism are, like the branches of anarchism itself, not named after individuals. We will discuss each in turn.

Council Communism was born in the German Revolution of 1919 when Marxists inspired by the example of the Russian soviets and disgusted by the centralism, opportunism and betrayal of the mainstream Marxist social-democrats, drew similar anti-parliamentarian, direct actionist and decentralised conclusions to those held by anarchists since Bakunin. Like Marx’s libertarian opponent in the First International, they argued that a federation of workers’ councils would form the basis of a socialist society and, consequently, saw the need to build militant workplace organisations to promote their formation. Lenin attacked these movements and their advocates in his diatribe Left-wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder, which council communist Herman Gorter demolished in his An Open Letter to Comrade Lenin. By 1921, the council communists broke with the Bolshevism that had already effectively expelled them from both the national Communist Parties and the Communist International.

Like the anarchists, they argued that Russia was a state-capitalist party dictatorship and had nothing to be with socialism. And, again like anarchists, the council communists argue that the process of building a new society, like the revolution itself, is either the work of the people themselves or doomed from the start. As with the anarchists, they too saw the Bolshevik take-over of the soviets (like that of the trade unions) as subverting the revolution and beginning the restoration of oppression and exploitation.

To discover more about council communism, the works of Paul Mattick are essential reading. While best known as a writer on Marxist economic theory in such works as Marx and Keynes, Economic Crisis and Crisis Theory and Economics, Politics and the Age of Inflation, Mattick had been a council communist since the German revolution of 1919/1920. His books Anti-Bolshevik Communism and Marxism: The Last Refuge of the Bourgeoisie? are excellent introductions to his political ideas. Also essential reading is Anton Pannekeok’s works. His classic Workers’ Councils explains council communism from first principles while his Lenin as Philosopher dissects Lenin’s claims to being a Marxist (Serge Bricianer, Pannekoek and the Workers’ Councils is the best study of the development of Panekoek’s ideas). In the UK, the militant suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst became a council communist under the impact of the Russian Revolution and, along with anarchists like Guy Aldred, led the opposition to the importation of Leninism into the communist movement there (see Mark Shipway’s Anti-Parliamentary Communism: The Movement for Workers Councils in Britain, 1917–45 for more details of libertarian communism in the UK). Otto Ruhle and Karl Korsch are also important thinkers in this tradition.

Building upon the ideas of council communism, the Situationists developed their ideas in important new directions. Working in the late 1950s and 1960s, they combined council communist ideas with surrealism and other forms of radical art to produce an impressive critique of post-war capitalism. Unlike Castoriadis, whose ideas influenced them, the Situationists continued to view themselves as Marxists, developing Marx’s critique of capitalist economy into a critique of capitalist society as alienation had shifted from being located in capitalist production into everyday life. They coined the expression The Spectacle to describe a social system in which people become alienated from their own lives and played the role of an audience, of spectators. Thus capitalism had turned being into having and now, with the spectacle, it turned having into appearing. They argued that we could not wait for a distant revolution, but rather should liberate ourselves in the here and now, creating events (« situations ») which would disrupt the ordinary and normal to jolt people out of their allotted roles within society. A social revolution based on sovereign rank and file assemblies and self-managed councils would be the ultimate “situation” and the aim of all Situationists.

While critical of anarchism, the differences between the two theories are relatively minor and the impact of the Situationists on anarchism cannot be underestimated. Many anarchists embraced their critique of modern capitalist society, their subversion of modern art and culture for revolutionary purposes and call for revolutionising everyday life. Ironically, while Situationism viewed itself as an attempt to transcend tradition forms of Marxism and anarchism, it essentially became subsumed by anarchism. The classic works of situationism are Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle and Raoul Veneigem’s The Revolution of Everyday Life. The Situationist International Anthology (edited by Ken Knabb) is essential reading for any budding Situationists, as is Knabb’s own Public Secrets.

Lastly there is Autonomist Marxism. Drawing on the works of the council communism, Castoriadis, situationism and others, it places the class struggle at the heart of its analysis of capitalism. It initially developed in Italy during the 1960s and has many currents, some closer to anarchism than others. While the most famous thinker in the Autonomist tradition is probably Antonio Negri (who coined the wonderful phrase « money has only one face, that of the boss » in Marx Beyond Marx) his ideas are more within traditional Marxist. For an Autonomist whose ideas are closer to anarchism, we need to turn to the US thinker and activist who has written the one of the best summaries of Kropotkin’s ideas in which he usefully indicates the similarities between anarcho-communism and Autonomist Marxism (« Kropotkin, Self-valorisation and the Crisis of Marxism, » Anarchist Studies, vol. 2, no. 3). His book Reading Capital Politically is an essential text for understanding Autonomism and its history.

For Cleaver, « autonomist Marxism » as generic name for a variety of movements, politics and thinkers who have emphasised the autonomous power of workers — autonomous from capital, obviously, but also from their official organisations (e.g. the trade unions, the political parties) and, moreover, the power of particular groups of working class people to act autonomously from other groups (e.g. women from men). By « autonomy » it is meant the ability of working class people to define their own interests and to struggle for them and, critically, to go beyond mere reaction to exploitation and to take the offensive in ways that shape the class struggle and define the future. Thus they place working class power at the centre of their thinking about capitalism, how it develops and its dynamics as well as in the class conflicts within it. This is not limited to just the workplace and just as workers resist the imposition of work inside the factory or office, via slowdowns, strikes and sabotage, so too do the non-waged resist the reduction of their lives to work. For Autonomists, the creation of communism is not something that comes later but is something which is repeatedly created by current developments of new forms of working class self-activity.

The similarities with social anarchism are obvious. Which probably explains why Autonomists spend so much time analysing and quoting Marx to justify their ideas for otherwise other Marxists will follow Lenin’s lead on the council communists and label them anarchists and ignore them! For anarchists, all this Marx quoting seems amusing. Ultimately, if Marx really was an Autonomist Marxist then why do Autonomists have to spend so much time re-constructing what Marx “really” meant? Why did he not just say it clearly to begin with? Similarly, why root out (sometimes obscure) quotes and (sometimes passing) comments from Marx to justify your insights? Does something stop being true if Marx did not mention it first? Whatever the insights of Autonomism its Marxism will drag it backwards by rooting its politics in the texts of two long dead Germans. Like the surreal debate between Trotsky and Stalin in the 1920s over « Socialism in One Country » conducted by means of Lenin quotes, all that will be proved is not whether a given idea is right but simply that the mutually agreed authority figure (Lenin or Marx) may have held it. Thus anarchists suggest that Autonomists practice some autonomy when it comes to Marx and Engels.

Other libertarian Marxists close to anarchism include Erich Fromm and Wilhelm Reich. Both tried to combine Marx with Freud to produce a radical analysis of capitalism and the personality disorders it causes. Erich Fromm, in such books as The Fear of Freedom, Man for Himself, The Sane Society and To Have or To Be? developed a powerful and insightful analysis of capitalism which discussed how it shaped the individual and built psychological barriers to freedom and authentic living. His works discuss many important topics, including ethics, the authoritarian personality (what causes it and how to change it), alienation, freedom, individualism and what a good society would be like.

Fromm’s analysis of capitalism and the « having » mode of life are incredibly insightful, especially in context with today’s consumerism. For Fromm, the way we live, work and organise together influence how we develop, our health (mental and physical), our happiness more than we suspect. He questions the sanity of a society which covets property over humanity and adheres to theories of submission and domination rather than self-determination and self-actualisation. His scathing indictment of modern capitalism shows that it is the main source of the isolation and alienation prevalent in today. Alienation, for Fromm, is at the heart of the system (whether private or state capitalism). We are happy to the extent that we realise ourselves and for this to occur our society must value the human over the inanimate (property).

Fromm rooted his ideas in a humanistic interpretation of Marx, rejecting Leninism and Stalinism as an authoritarian corruption of his ideas (« the destruction of socialism ... began with Lenin. »). Moreover, he stressed the need for a decentralised and libertarian form of socialism, arguing that the anarchists had been right to question Marx’s preferences for states and centralisation. As he put it, the « errors of Marx and Engels ... [and] their centralistic orientation, were due to the fact they were much more rooted in the middle-class tradition of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, both psychologically and intellectually, than men like Fourier, Owen, Proudhon and Kropotkin. » As the « contradiction » in Marx between « the principles of centralisation and decentralisation, » for Fromm « Marx and Engels were much more ‘bourgeois’ thinkers than were men like Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin and Landauer. Paradoxical as it sounds, the Leninist development of Socialism represented a regression to the bourgeois concepts of the state and of political power, rather than the new socialist concept as it was expressed so much clearer by Owen, Proudhon and others. » [The Sane Society, p. 265, p. 267 and p. 259] Fromm’s Marxism, therefore, was fundamentally of a libertarian and humanist type and his insights of profound importance for anyone interested in changing society for the better.

Wilheim Reich, like Fromm, set out to elaborate a social psychology based on both Marxism and psychoanalysis. For Reich, sexual repression led to people amenable to authoritarianism and happy to subject themselves to authoritarian regimes. While he famously analysed Nazism in this way (in The Mass Psychology of Fascism, his insights also apply to other societies and movements (it is no co-incidence, for example, that the religious right in America oppose pre-martial sex and use scare tactics to get teenagers to associate it with disease, dirt and guilt).

His argument is that due to sexual repression we develop what he called « character armour » which internalises our oppressions and ensures that we can function in a hierarchical society. This social conditioning is produced by the patriarchal family and its net results is a powerful reinforcement and perpetuation of the dominant ideology and the mass production of individuals with obedience built into them, individuals ready to accept the authority of teacher, priest, employer and politician as well as to endorse the prevailing social structure. This explains how individuals and groups can support movements and institutions which exploit or oppress them. In other words, act think, feel and act against themselves and, moreover, can internalise their own oppression to such a degree that they may even seek to defend their subordinate position.

Thus, for Reich, sexual repression produces an individual who is adjusted to the authoritarian order and who will submit to it in spite of all misery and degradation it causes them. The net result is fear of freedom, and a conservative, reactionary mentality. Sexual repression aids political power, not only through the process which makes the mass individual passive and unpolitical, but also by creating in their character structure an interest in actively supporting the authoritarian order.

While his uni-dimensional focus on sex is misplaced, his analysis of how we internalise our oppression in order to survive under hierarchy is important for understanding why so many of the most oppressed people seem to love their social position and those who rule over them. By understanding this collective character structure and how it forms also provides humanity with new means of transcending such obstacles to social change. Only an awareness of how people’s character structure prevents them from becoming aware of their real interests can it be combated and social self-emancipation assured.

Maurice Brinton’s The Irrational in Politics is an excellent short introduction to Reich’s ideas which links their insights to libertarian socialism.

Notes

  1. Daniel Guérin, No Gods, No Masters, vol. 1, p. 24.
  2. Michael Bakunin : Selected Writings, p. 198.
  3. Anarchism, p. 298 287.
  4. Errico Malatesta : Life and Ideas, p. 199 209.
  5. Cité par Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible, p.410-1.
  6. Cité par David Poole, Land and Liberty, p. 17 25.
  7. Cité par John Crump, Hatta Shuzo and Pure Anarchism in Interwar Japan, p. 122–3 144.

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