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Notes on the article “Anarchism, Insurrections and Insurrectionalism”

News ArchiveThe objective of this article is to deal with certain issues that I believe to be insufficiently dealt with if at all, in the article of Joe Black, “Anarchism, Insurrections and Insurrectionalism”. I believe those issues to be of importance if we are to debate on insurrectionalism, so as to understand in perspective some of its ideas and the specific place it has in the general anarchist movement. by Jos(c) Antonio Guti(c)rrez D.

The objective of this article is to deal with certain issues that I believe to be insufficiently dealt with if at all, in the article of Joe Black, “Anarchism, Insurrections and Insurrectionalism”. I believe those issues to be of importance if we are to debate on insurrectionalism, so as to understand in perspective some of its ideas and the specific place it has in the general anarchist movement.

Before going any further, I want to say that I find praiseworthy the approach of comrade Black on the subject; at no time, he slipped into easy dismissals, distortions, nor biased interpretations to which, unfortunately, we are so accustomed in the anarchist movement. Above all, his discussion has been respectful and he has clarified some of the misinterpretations on the topic that among the anarchist-communists are a common currency. Through this humble contribution to the debate I hope not to be lead astray from that spirit, and to deal only with real differences instead of creating artificial ones.

I believe the criticism of comrade Black, fundamentally accurate in a number of issues, to be nonetheless a merely formal criticism. It is a criticism of the insurreccionalist “recipe book”, but not of its “catechism”. He directs his criticisms to certain practices that insurrectionalists could well do or not. But he does not deal with the political conceptions lying behind that give shape to their positions and the organisational format they resort to –personally, I’m far from believing as comrade Black suggests, that our differences only emerge in the face of the organisation question. I’m of the opinion that those organisational issues are reflecting some basic political differences. There’s, therefore, needed an internal criticism and not only a formal criticism.

To understand the problem at the root of insurrectionalism’s political conceptions (fundamentally wrong, in my opinion) we have to take into account that they are the offspring of a certain historical moment, something that cannot be regarded as a mere coincidence. Every political idea is a daughter of its times. Secondly, many of these political conceptions are common to a wide section of the left, beyond anarchism. Insurrectionalism is a particular response to some problems that are in no way the sole heritage of anarchism, but that expressed in a wide range of political currents. This I think to be of paramount importance, particularly in the Chilean experience, where there has been a generation that speaks an insurrectionalist language after moving forward from the “lautarismo” towards anarchism. Though there has been a certain change in their political ideas, it is this “insurrectionalist” quintessence that has given continuity to this generation that has changed, to a certain extent, aesthetics but not discourse.

The Political context of the birth of insurrectionalism



First of all, I want to insist on the fact that despite insurrectionalism being portrayed as a new anarchist current for the last couple of decades, on various historical moments (and under various flags –marxist, republican and anarchist alike) there have emerged movements that share some fundamental features with insurrectionalism: rejection in practice of any type of organisation with some projection in time (“formal organisation” according to the insurrectionalists), rejection of systematic and methodical work, despise for the people’s struggle for reforms and mass organisation, what is has as a counterpart voluntarism, maximalism, a primarily emotional approach to politics, a certain sense of urgency, impatience and immediatism . [1]

Conditions for these sorts of tendencies to emerge in the anarchist milieu have taken place under very specific historic moments, in which there has been a combination, on the one hand, of a high level of repression from the system and, on the other, of a low level of popular struggles. This factors combined have been historically a fertile ground for insurrectionalist tendencies in anarchism. The first precedent was “Propaganda by the Deed”, that was born as a result of the repression to the Paris Commune. Then we have terrorism in Russia during the repressive aftermath to the 1905 revolution and illegalism in France, just before the First Great War. In Argentina, these tendencies flourished at the end of the 20s and during the 30s, years of acute repression and of flinching of the once powerful workers movement –this was a desperate, though heroic, of a decadent movement. Then we have Italy and Greece during the early 60s, decades in which the Post War low tide of the popular movement was probably at its lowest and when it was felt with all its weight the political defeat of the anti-fascist left, smashed from the left by Stalinism. In Spain, the experience of the MIL develops during the 70s, when it is clear to everyone that the Franco regime is going to have a “natural death” and when the transition, on the grounds of the strict exclusion of the revolutionary elements, was on its way. Even the very mention of comrade Black of insurrectionalism emerging in the English speaking world in the 80s, is not a minor issue: these are the years of a very low level of class struggle as a whole and years that saw the neocons on the rise, by the hand of Thatcher in England and of the “Reaganomics” in the US.

Even in Chile, the experience of the MJL (Lautaro), what I regard as the direct referent giving a certain sense of tradition to the local movement that has some insurrectionalist features, dates from the late 80s, when the fate of the popular movement that grew in the struggle against the dictatorship was already decided. That very popular movement that had resorted without blushing to “all means of struggle”, and that was at this stage worn out, on its decline and that in the end, found itself blocked by the democratic institutions, unable to fight back in the same way they have done, up to that very minute under Pinochet’s tyranny.

When the popular movement is on a low level of struggle, there’s usually a growing feeling of isolation of the revolutionary movement from the masses; this leads often to a loss in the confidence in the mass organisations of the people and, actually, on the people themselves. This lack of confidence is frequently disguised in a highly abstract jargon about a proletariat that does not materialise but in spontaneous acts of revolt. This lack of confidence is not only expressed as a denunciation of certain bureaucratic, reformist or compromised tendencies that are hegemonic in the popular organisations (such a criticism we would share with them), but they criticise the very nature and the raison d’etre of this organisations.

Also, the moments of a low level of popular struggle generally happen after high levels of class confrontation, so the militants still have lingering memories of the “barricade days”. These moments are frozen in the minds of the militants and it is often that they try to capture them again by trying hard, by an exercise of will alone, by carrying on actions in order to “awaken the masses”... most of the times, these actions have the opposite result to the one expected and end up, against the will of its perpetrators, serving in the hands of repression.

This condemnation of the popular organisations and this sense of urgent action –the one that does not ponder its impact on the popular consciousness and that usually end up, in fact, as extreme forms of vanguard action, though theoretically they might claim a distance from the concept of vanguard as a whole- tends to make even worse the initial isolation, what makes, at the end of the day, even easier the tasks of the repression and annihilation of dissent to the system.

Making general rules out of exceptional circumstances



When the levels of class struggle are high, those are the most relevant moments of it. However, they are exceptional moments on history, moments that work as hinges that open new revolutionary and radical alternatives out of the crisis of the old. The very nature of class struggle is to have moments of an open and brazen confrontation and others of scarce struggle; it is this fact what makes necessary for the revolutionary organisation to have a strategic vision.

Often there had been tendencies in the left that have based their tactics into making general rules out of moments of the class struggle that, by definition, are transitory: thus, the social-democracy consolidated in the moment of low level of struggles after the Paris Commune, renouncing to revolution and putting forward a reform by stages approach as their strategy. For them, the moment of low confrontation was the historical rule –this is the main reason to their opportunism.

Contrary to this, there were those who made a general rule out of the peak moments of class struggle: council communism is an example of that. Their strategy of forming council bodies based in the experience of the European revolutions of the 1920s, without any room for the struggle for reform and only with an all or nothing programme. This leads to the opposite pole of opportunism, that is maximalism, what is not a problem in revolutionary times, but in moments of low intensity of class struggle leads to isolation and confines the revolutionary movement to be nothing but a sect, probably full of devotion, but with no decisive role in the popular organisation. The most dogmatic versions of this current are incapable of appreciating revolutionary potential of those experiences not adjusting to their scheme.

In regard to insurrectionalism, as we already expressed, there seems to be as well a tendency to make a general rule out of certain hot moments in the class struggle. The exclusive practice out of context of forms of action more proper of those moments of open confrontation, at the expense of other forms of struggle, seems to demonstrate this trend of freezing historical moments as stated. This can have nefarious consequences.

Revolutionary movements have to learn how to be flexible, how to accommodate to new circumstances without losing from sight their principles and their fundamental politics. We have to reject dogmatism not only theoretically, but also tactically .[2]

Tactical dogmatism



One of the biggest problems of anarchism today is dogmatism, as this replaces concrete analysis for a number of eternal slogans, which are absolute, inaccurate and aprioristic. In reality, dogmatism is only the other face of our theoretical insufficiencies. The theoretical documents of contemporary anarchism are often full of inaccuracies and are impregnated by a rigid spirit, unaltered by encounter with reality. Contrary to what many believe, it is not only in the ideological aspect where this dogmatism can be felt. Dogmatism is far stronger when it comes to tactics. We, unfortunately, often see tactics turned into principles.

A way in which this tactical dogmatism is expressed is in the tendency among many anarchists to enounce a tactic or a political position –generally, nothing more than predictable phrases, identical to what has been said by other anarchists in places and times totally different- and only after that, to try to look for ways to justify it. That’s doing the thing the other way round: analytical efforts happen after the positions are already taken!

Another way for this tactical dogmatism to be expressed, as we were reminded by comrade Black, is in the tendency to construct a whole ideology or current around a single tactic: we find traces of this in certain forms of anarcho-syndicalism as well as in insurrectionalism. This is a particularly weak line of thought that reduces the complexity of the political landscape and of the libertarian struggle to unique and sacred formulas.

What is worth noting is that often revolutionary struggle demands a variety of tactics that are imposed by the very necessities of practice: pacific and armed forms of struggle, legal mechanisms and transgression of law, public and clandestine organisation, all of these has been used, not infrequently, simultaneously by the anarchist movement, and there’s no other parameter to measure the effectiveness of these tactics than the objectives of the movement, or the progress made in the construction of popular power and the weakening of the bourgeois power. There are no intrinsic qualities for tactics: what can be valid today mightn’t be so tomorrow. And at the end of the day, tactics can only be chosen and discarded in relation to a global strategic programme; so, any judgement around them should not be based on the tactics as such, but on the way they served to the long term objectives.

The parameter to measure the effectiveness of the actions of the anarchists should be nothing short of their programme –what becomes a major problem when most of the anarchist groups lack even the most basic of the programmes. How is it possible then to hold a coherent vision between the immediate action –that can be even elevated to a fetish- and the long term objectives that are not envisaged as nothing but vague slogans? Does this mean to suggest for the comrades to sit and wait eternally so as to have a brand new programme with the one we can go out and fight? Certainly not. Simply it means to develop our tasks as organisations and gain our space in the popular struggles while we develop on parallel and give specific shape to the general view on things provided by anarchist theory. It means to take the general principles of anarchism to a concrete alternative for a place and space given.

Comrade Black reminds us of the importance as a parameter to measure our solidarity action that the group of people we are practicing solidarity with approve our tactics (ie., workers on strike). This being valid, only represents a minor proportion of the possible actions in which anarchists are regularly involved. This type of action is only useful for the struggles in which anarchists are a group of external support (to be honest, this situation is more likely to happen in places like Ireland –country where the original author of the article is from- where the level of social struggles is extremely low and with a political level of militancy as low). Most of the times our action are not merely intending to support some external group of people, but would have ourselves as the primary actors of struggle (ie, we are the workers striking, etc.) or would respond to political motives of the very organisation.

Defence, attack and victory



To assume this tactical flexibility means to assume together with our action, the need to politically evaluate and analyse. It is a well known motto that there is no revolutionary practice without revolutionary theory, and vice versa. Political theory on its own is of no good, as practice on its own is of no good as well. But both concepts are irrelevant in the absence of political analysis to make theory and practice go hand in hand and to make them relevant for the here and now. It is necessary for making our practice effective as well.

Theory gives us tools to interpret reality, but they have to be applied, understanding the objective and subjective factors, as well as the huge range of factors combining of them both. In taking those factors into account, we are giving a direction to our practice. This is what will lead our way. I clarify that our focus is always in moving forward and in no case we privilege a mere waiting: there’s always something to be done today. What is the most recommendable for the present, that varies enormously according to the context and we cannot have a pre determined alternative nor easy answers.

In moments when the class conflict is at a low level or on retreat, it is not that difficult to lose patience, thus falling into the hands of voluntarism and in the fetish of action. We know that social processes are long and we do not intend to make them any longer by putting lead shoes on our feet; but we know as well that history do not have shortcuts, that the processes of building an alternative take long and that the “final clash” is nothing but a myth that in reality happens in diverse struggles and confrontations throughout history. We have to be prepared for the moments when we can take a frontal offensive but, all too conscious of the complexity of social processes and of the fluctuations of class struggle, we have to be equally prepared to confront those moments when it is the State and the capitalist that will be sharpening their knives, so as to confront those moments of low struggle when indifference will probably beat us stronger than repression. Revolutionaries, above all, have to learn the art of perseverance. Impatience is not a good adviser as taught by revolutionary experience. This does not mean to wait, but to know how to choose the type of actions to perpetrate in certain moments.

All I want to say with this is that “attack”, a central concept of insurrectionalism, is not all; in revolutionary struggle there is attack, as there is defence. There are moments to move forward, as there are moments to hold positions. Sometimes the moment for the offensive has to be carefully chosen and nothing of this can be predicted in none of the revolutionary doctrines. This can only be learnt through experience, political clarity and, above the rest, by a healthy environment for criticism that is mature and serious. At the end of the day, what we are interested in is not in doing actions as to calm the consciousness of our comrades, but our real interest is victory and, unfortunately, the number of attacks does not necessarily add up to that goal.

Discussion and revolutionary praxis



Many of the weak aspects of anarchism are taken to paroxysm with insurrectionalism. Many of the things we actually consider to be basically wrong with them are not only to be found among insurrectionalists but rather they are to be found in one way or another present in the broader anarchist movement. We have talked of this tendency to freeze certain historical moments, of making general rules out of extraordinary experiences, of tactical dogmatism; but we recognise as another weakness of the anarchist movement the almost absolute lack of a tradition of constructive criticism. Discussions among anarchists are seldom directed towards clarifying situations or searching for solutions to the difficulties that the revolutionaries find into their practice. Most of the times discussions are motivated by a double effort of condemnation of the deviates and to demonstrate who’s the legitimate representative of ideological purity.

Another huge problem in discussion among anarchists is the use of blanket concepts, as demonstrated by comrade Black, that in fact help more to obscure than to clarify debate. For instance, it is too often that “unions” are criticised as if all of them were exactly the same thing... ignoring the world of difference between, let’s say, the IWW, the maquilas unions or the AFL-CIO in the US. To group them all under the same category not only doesn’t help the debate, but it is also a gross mistake that reveals an appalling political and conceptual weakness.

All these have caused, among other things, a serious lack of debate among libertarian circles. It is not our intention now to look for the roots of this problem, the one is caused by numerous reasons (isolation, idealism, absence of real practice, dogmatism, sectarianism, etc...), but we only intend to call the attention on the link existing between this lack of a tradition of constructive debate and the problem noted by comrade Black about the terms in which debate is usually posed: whether you are with us or against us.

Comrade Black correctly disagrees with the blackmail inherent to the claim made by insurrectionalists that any criticism to their actions means to side with the State and repression. No one is free from revolutionary criticism, least the revolutionary themselves. It is neither legitimate nor honest to say that he who criticises a stupid action is “adjusting the straight jacket” or is validating repression, or is siding with the State, or is a coward.

But I find it important to state that the line dividing left-wing criticism from right-wing criticism has to be unequivocally marked and cannot be left as a nebulous zone. For being true that we don’t have to accept everything other organisations do, nor remain silent in the face of actions we might consider stupid and wrong, we always have to be conscious that our criticism can be used by the class enemy if it is not clearly posed and if we don’t distinguish, above anything else, who is it the one with whom we have an antagonistic difference (State-Capital) from the comrades with whom we might have political differences, no matter how big, but which do not turn us into warring opposites. The problem here is not criticism, but how this criticism is posed. We do not want to see our criticism to be turned into an argument into repression’s and our enemy’s favour. Let us remember that this system is always looking for the seeds of division and for the slightest chance to attack dissent.

But not only criticism against insurrectionalism could be used by the State and its repressive forces; in fact, the very criticism made by insurrectionalists can work as a godsend for State to justify repression. A pathetic example of this is the declaration issued by the Informal Anarchist Coordination of Mexico in the face of the events in Oaxaca (“Solidaridad directa con los oprimidos y explotados de Oaxaca” November 16th). In this public declaration, the bulk of it is directed against the APPO, the CIPO-RFM and other popular organisations that were in direct fight against State and Capital. Not much for theory there, that was quintessential class struggle. But they preferred to spend their saliva and ink criticising in a dishonest way, and worse, resorting to some of the same arguments used by the State media that questioned the movement in Oaxaca. This criticism could not only be labelled as reactionary, but also as untimely, appearing at the very minute that the comrades there were needing the most of our solidarity and when repression was at its highest.

This attitude was in a remarkable contrast with the attitude assumed by the Magonist Liberation Commando (Democratic Revolutionary Tendency –Army of the People), which knew when to keep a low profile, which knew how to respect the different alternatives of struggle tactically assumed by protesters in Oaxaca and who were notably conscious that not only our criticism can be useful to the system, but also our own irresponsible action. They say so in a public statement on November 27th “Up to now, we remained expectant and on alert in order to avoid repression to be unleashed over the popular movement gathered around the APPO under the excuse of the armed revolutionary struggle, but the brutality of the federal and national neoliberal government forces us to raise our voice and to make use of our weapons so as to contain and dissuade the neoliberal offensive that should not and cannot be tolerated by any revolutionary organisation”

At the end of the day, the danger for our actions to be used into the system’s favour (just like our differences can be) has to be considered seriously, but seems to be something absolutely underestimated, or worse, ignored by insurrectionalists. This is a serious omission, for we know thanks to historical experience how important it has been for the system the role of the agent provocateur and of stupid actions to look for ways to justify an excessive repression and to isolate the revolutionary movement from the masses. History is full examples, as those illustrated by Victor Serge in “What everyone should know about repression” (1925) about the provocateurs at the Czar’s services in post 1905 Russia (remarkable as this document is, it was only possible thanks to documents seized after the 1917’s revolution from the files of the okhrana, the political police of the Czar); Alexander Skirda in his book “Facing the Enemy” also gives us ample documentation from the French police files of the role of the provocateurs among the anarchist terrorist groups from 1880 until the end of that century. Stories of provocateurs and of senseless actions plague the records of the left and anarchism. But even more dangerous than the actions of the provocateurs themselves is the irresponsible or untimely action of sincere comrades, but too wrong in action or lacking any sense of direction to aim.

We, therefore, cannot silence our criticism in the same way as those who are disagreement with us have the same duty to criticise. I say a duty, for the fraternal and constructive criticism, though not for this less energetic, is a need in order to develop a healthy movement and to look for ways to improve our praxis in the search for the road towards freedom. All it is needed to know is when, how and where criticism will be formulated, so it becomes a factor of strength of the movement instead of a factor of weakness. The same holds truth for action itself.

To conclude...



I think insurrectionalism is useful for debate today not as much as for the criticism it directs towards authoritarian organisations or to the left, and not even to the anarchist movement. It is so, because it brings to our attention a number of the greatest weaknesses of the libertarian movement. It is the mirror image of our historical flaws and of our insufficiencies. Many of our comrades who would take a prudent distance from insurrectionalism would be surprised that, no matter they might disagree in the end results with it, they might be nonetheless sharing a number of its political foundations as well as some its weaknesses. It seems to me that insurrectionalism is not, as many comrades would want us to believe, a bizarre product of the ideological confusion of recent decades. It has been, instead, the expression of tendencies emerging at different times in history, in the face of certain circumstances of a very particular nature, and its expression has been possible due to the existence of serious fault lines in our politics and, what we believe to be, misconceptions. These misconceptions are nothing new and are not limited to insurrectionalism –they are far more widespread in the ranks of our movement than what we would believe.

To sum it up, I hold that insurrectionalism has been incubated, nurtured, bred and developed under the shade of the very mistakes of the anarchist movement (something equally valid for other leftist versions of a certain “insurrectionalism”) and their conscious expression, as a tendency in its own right over the last while, gives us the opportunity to deal with its politics and thus move forward.

Jos(c) Antonio Guti(c)rrez D.
10th of December, 2006



--------------------------------------------------------------


[1] Neither enthusiastical participation in insurrections, nor armed struggle are distinctive elements of insurrectionalism regarding other political currents, included anarchist ones.
[2] Recently, an article by Wayne Price, from NEFAC, called “Firmness in Principles, Flexibility in Tactics” was shedding some light on this issue http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=4281
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Notes on the article “Anarchism, Insurrections and Insurrectionalism” | 42 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Notes on the article
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 06:11 PM CST
Kinda sounds like the other article that NEFAC dude wrote a while ago. No development in understand. Nothing new. And this guy makes the same misstake of putting "anarcho-communist" against "insurrectionalists" as tho you cant be both (or "just" a communist) at the same time. Annoying.
Discussing Insurrectionism
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 07:04 PM CST
This Comment makes three points: (1) The article sounds like my article on flexibility in tactics. This is not surprising since Jose Antonio specifically cites my article in his notes (the article is also on Infoshop). He is in the WSM which is the Irish sister organization to NEFAC. But my article had not mentioned the anarchist trend called Insurrectionism, which this article discusses at length.

(2) There is supposedly nothing new here. This is a strange thing to say. The article greatly expands on the topic of the need for tactical flexibility and the subject of Insurrectionism. The poster dismisses the arguments and makes no effort at all to deal with them or to counter them.

(3) The article counterposes Anarchist-Communism to Insurrectionism. This comment has some point to it. We pro-organizationalist anarchists (platformists, especifistas, etc.) identify with the mainstream of anarchist- communist history, but most Insurrectionists also regard themselves as anarchist-communists. He is counterposing anarchist-communist to Insurrectionism only in the way that anarchist-communism is often counterposed to anarchist-syndicalism, even though the anarchist- syndicalists had the goal of communist anarchism. I am sure Jose Antonio meant no disrespect.

In any case, this is a minor issue. The writer raises this, but says nothing whatever about the points raised in the lengthy article about tactics, program, and Insurrectionism.

Wayne Price
Discussing Insurrectionism
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 07:38 PM CST
Well, i was hoping that this article would reflect some sort of development in understanding as a result of the discussion that followed the other article. But it does not. Instead it just repeats the same missunderstandings and red herrings the other article did. I was dissapointed. Oh well.

Discussing Insurrectionism
Authored by: Admin on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 08:05 PM CST
"We pro-organizationalist anarchists..."

Oh brother, not more of this nonsense. Let's talk about redundant phrases. This is a good example. Almost every anarchist I know is "pro-organization" so I'm at a loss as to why Wayne feels a compulsion to qualify his anarchism like this. It makes it sound like a few anarchist strains are for organizations while the rest are not. This is just silly and obfuscates what most anarchists really believe.

In fact, most anarchists don't feel the need to wear a "pro-organizationalist" button on their lapel. Most anarchists see organizations as a means to some end and they don't fetishize organizations. I run a few anarchist organizations, including the prominent one that runs this website. Am I anti-organization because I don't wear the fact that I build and organize anarchist organizations on my sleeve? No, of course not.

What we really need to get rid of is this obfuscatory language which creates sectarian strawmen in the movement. If you are for platformism, for example, just explain what it is, why it's important to you and how it informs your practice. But please don't offend people's intelligence by saying that platformism and anarcho-communism are "pro-organizationalist" unless you want the rest of us to pin that phrase to a type of anarchism that talks and talks and talks about organization. And this phrase doesn't even really describe accurately what platformists and the others are for, which is not organization but a more unified form of anarcho-communism or whatever.

Chuck0
Discussing Insurrectionism
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 08:39 PM CST
Right on, Chuck.

"Anarchy" is a kind of organization: the non-hierarchical kind. Within
anarchism--i.e., the study of and establishment of that kind of organizing--
there are many different camps, many different preferences, regarding
which approaches are best for abolishing and avoiding hierarchy. That's a
strength, not a weakness, as a divserse range of non-hierarchical
approaches will appeal to a diverse range of people.
Discussing Insurrectionism
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 08:58 PM CST
This exchange is confusing me somewhat. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I have the decided impression that authors such as Bob Black, John Zerzan, and Wolfi Landstreicher, and publications such as Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed and Green Anarchy, and what is called post-left anarchy in general, are all in favor of structurelessness, and that left anarchists, such as anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndicalists, especially of the platformist persuasion, are opposed to structurelessness and in favor of formal structures, with such things as organized meetings, voting by either majority or consensus, committees, and so forth.

This certainly seems to me to be a pretty definite difference. If you're a post-left anarchist, you won't have any formal elections, won't follow Robert's Rules of Order or keep minute books. If you're a left anarchist, you might do any or all of this things. Left anarchists also talk about "the tyranny of structurelessness" whereas post-left anarchists deny that informal organization has greater dangers of hierarchy than formal organization.

Am I mistaken? Is this difference only apparent?
Discussing Insurrectionism
Authored by: Admin on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 10:35 PM CST
You are very mistaken, because you are mixing together a bunch of stuff that looks related, mostly because some anarchists mix these things together to create a strawman.

First of all, Anarchy: AJODA is a general interest anarchist magazine that publishes a variety of views from different anarchists. The magazine is now being published by a new collective, which has different and similar to the viewpoints expressed in the magazine when it was being edited in Columbia. The magazine does have a consistent position on some issues, but a common mistaken assumption about the magazine is not seeing that it publishes a variety of political viewpoints.

The positions that John Zerzan and Wolfi Landstriecher take on these issues would require a lengthy tangential discussion with citations.

It's a mistake to say that post-left anarchism is against structurelessness. I'm a post-leftist anarchists and I'm certainly for structure. In fact, several of the prominent post-left anarchists run very structured and formal organizations.

You are really confusing issues here and counterposing two strawmen against each other. It's like posing primitivists against post-structuralists on issues of organization.

My point, which I think is an accurate one, is that Wayne is obfuscating political positions when he talkes about "pro-organization anarchists like..." This is mostly a redundant phrase, as most anarchists are in favor of organization. The real issue has to do with which types of organizations anarchists should organize and how we should structure them. It's also important to talk about what kind of organizations are effective to achieve different goals. This misuse of the phrase "pro-organization" also implies that all other anarchists are against organization or that we are disorganized. It would be like me saying that "anti-state anarchists such as social anarchists, blah, blach blah." Anarchists are against the state, so this phrase doesn't make much sense.

Chuck
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 08:43 PM CST
(1) I find this article to be a significant expansion on the brief comments about Insurrectionism which appeared on Anarkismo after a previous article by me. I learned things from it. If Anonymous did not find it interesting, too bad. Certainly his or her dismissal of the article is not a refutation!

(2) ChuckO has a problem with my use of the term pro-organizational anarchism. Everytime I or anyone else uses it, he writes a complaint. Look, it is simple. This is short-hand for a certain perspecitive: one which advocates that anarchists form their own anarchist federation, with a more-or-less agreed-upon program, theory, and set of actions. By working together we believe we can be more effective overall. This organization is not the same as broader, popular ("mass") organizations, such as unions, community asssociations, workers' councils, antiwar groupings, or whatever, which have a lower level of agreement (e.g., a union is open to all workers i the company or the industry). Some anarchists are in favor of forming such organizations, some are against them (but not necessarily against every possible form of organization, since then they would be completely isolated). It is too bad that this upsets ChuckO, but I find the terms pro- and anti- organizationalist anarchism to be useful shorthand for complex issues (especially since many ofl those who fit the above definition of pro-organizationalists are not Platformists--that is, followers of the Platform of Makhno and Ashinov).

Wayne
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Admin on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 08:55 PM CST
It does upset me and it should upset other anarchists. This misuse of the word organization is a kind of weasel word more than it is a shorthand for what you are really talking about. You just explained what you mean by referring to a strategy which involves creating and building anarchist federations. Now this is a more precise explanation of what you are really talking about. Why would you misuse the word organization when you can do yourself a favor and explain what you are really taking about? When you use the word organization in this manner, it is highly divisive in that it implies that anarchists who don't agree with your approach are "anti-organization" or simply disorganized.

There are those of us anarchists out here who support an anarchist practice of creating federations. I support the goal of creating more anarchist federations. I also support the creation of more explicitly anarchist organizations. I don't feel the need to label this position with a hyphenated anarchist label, but I have no problem with anarchists who prefer a label and who can live with other approaches.

I do have big issues with anarchists who misuse words such as "organization" with the intention of fomenting sectarianism in the movement and using this word to create strawmen of other anarchist positions. Perhaps I'm wrong about this and people have gotten lazy and are resorting to this shorthand. But I think that it's very clear that using "pro-organization" in this manner alienates other anarchists and over-simplifies your actual politics.

Chuck
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 10:41 PM CST
Ok, let me refute something easy; the article talks about the "propaganda by deed" as the first time the tendecy of insurrectionalism surfaced. This is dead wrong and show a great lack of understanding about the insurrectionalist tendency. Instead insurrectionalists, as i understand that tendency (within the anarchist movement, that is. The insurrectionalist tendency exists outside of the anarchists movement and is a tendency that crosses secterian ideological lines within the broader communist movement. Read Gilles Dauve or Delueze and Guattari, for example.), trace its roots back to Bakunin and Malatesta, both who were very critical of the "propaganda by deed" tactics of killing individuals in the rulingclass. And the modern father of [anarchist] insurrectionalism, Alfredo Bonanno, took part in the struggle in the 60ies-70ies and was also very critical of the vanguard tactics of the leftwing terrorists that operated at that time in Italy. Insurrectionalism is the OPPOSITE of those kinds of tactics.

So, the author gets those fundamental facts wrong and therefore the whole article is useless. Sorry, try again.
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 29 2006 @ 12:02 PM CST
Wombat here, no Malatesta wasn't against propaganda by deed until later in his life. Wayne and his buddies like the later Malatesta, I like the former (I also like the early Kropotkin and Most when he first became an anarchist). Bakunin died before the stategy turned from armed bands to assassins and bombings, so he didn't have an official position, though in his refutation of Nechayev he touches on this subject. I don't feel that Bakunin understood Nechayev as well as he claimed or his purposely misunderstood Nechayev to put distance between their ideas..I dunno.

I haven't finished yet and I'm in a rush, but from what I read it seems that it is well written and wants to present a critical position on Propaganda by Deed. It is worthy of responding to.

Yeah, Chuck0 is right Wayne. Sometimes you want to lump quickly and you enjoy establishing polemics in discussion, which isn't necessarily bad, but it is not completely honest and forces people to choose sides even when its not necessary. It also encourages logical fallacies like character assassination, hyperbole, strawmen. All of these are tools to defeat people in debate and don't encourage open and honest discussion, where people are allowed to make mistakes, change positions, announces premises to check for consistency etc.
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 29 2006 @ 12:13 PM CST
Can you point me to texts where Malatesta argues for "propaganda by deed"? I havent seen any. I have seen texts where he argues against it tho. Yes, Bakunin died before the offical "propaganda by deed" started, but he was against those types of individualist actions.

Either way, none of the examples that the article takes up as "insurrectionalist" has infact anything to do with it and therefore misses the target completely in its critique.
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 29 2006 @ 12:34 PM CST
Look in Malatesta
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 29 2006 @ 01:13 PM CST
Yes, but being for "insurrection" doesnt mean being for "propaganda by deed". You shouldnt confuse the two with eachother because it is NOT the same thing.
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 30 2006 @ 05:07 AM CST
Wombat again. Propaganda by Deed is "propaganda" not by words, but by deeds. As some from Anarchismo.net are willing to point out, Malatesta's version of propaganda by deed was a roaming band of armed people that attempted to free the peasantry through direct action. Propaganda by Deed shouldn't imply assassination, it should imply that we see action as a thousand times more convincing than mere words and this propaganda can stir people to action. What this article doesn't point out is the growth anarchists enjoyed in the early stages before high profile assassination became the goal of some anarchists. This also wasn't the discouraging feature, these people were oppressors of the worst breed, they enforced the miseries that brought about their own end. What was discouraging was repression by the state caused by blending of propaganda by deed with actions of retribution. Agent procacateurs also didn't help.

In the "Revolutionary Catechism" a program was created to aid the revolutionary arbitrate their actions against the enemy. Only one of these points suggests assassination and that is only when this particular enemy is so horrible that no other option exists to handle them. The point after this one suggests that a horrible enemy should be agitated against, pointing to protests, riots and insurrections as a response to what this enemy is responsible for.

To continue, Stepniak, the nihilist assassin that killed the head of Tzarist secret police, had a different conception of this kind of violence...revolutionist terror, a response to white terror (i.e. state terror). The terrorist, according to Stepniak, has a role to play and it isn't a role of propaganda and it isn't soley the role of retribution, but rather it is a form of asymmetric warfare against a more power enemy and the purpose of this weaker enemy is to make the stronger enemy's position untenable. If you slaughter us in the tens and thousands, if you make us suffer, our will is not to break, it is to grow stronger and to break the will of the enemy.

It is my opinion that given Stepniak's definition of terror that most assassins were terrorists and they were terrorists because they were responding to a society filled with uncountable miseries, where people starved, were overworked, died in the workplace and when they complained through protest and strike, they were beaten and sometimes killed...over and over again, a seemingly endless cycle of misery. This position was not one that Stepniak kept public during exile and after he helped aquire and store weapons for Malatesta and others, Stepniak retired to the same solons of England that Kropotkin found himself in, along with the haughty stagnation that drained them of their radical passions.

Does this mean it wasn't propaganda by deed? No, it means that these labels confuse the activities of these individuals and their intentions. State repression isn't brought by deedists, the state justifies its repression by using the deedists as an example. I was protesting in Cincinnati against the TABD in 2000 and we broke with the planned protest and attacked the store windows of some buildings and tossed some debris in the street. We blocked the road a couple of times only be be beaten by the police. The following day the police made an example of the Black Bloc and shot tear gas into the front of the peaceful protest then surrounded and dispersed the crowd, using the Black Bloc to justify this action. Global institutions aid in the misery of billions of people and the most we do is break a few windows. And we deserve to be beaten and sprayed with chemical weapons? Repression is used to divide, like the many fallouts over a "diversity of tactics", even the relatively minor repression turned much of the left against anarchist militancy.

Because of this, I will not accept the excuses of state repression to hold back our activities, they are cruel and they don't want us to suceed because we want to destroy everything they stand for.
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 30 2006 @ 01:39 PM CST
Yes, but thats not the meaning that the article is talking about. It is clearly talking about the bombing and assassin campaign.
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: HPWombat on Sunday, December 31 2006 @ 12:56 AM CST
And? Propaganda by Deed is what I said it was. If you don't like bombings and assassinations or are critical of them, just say that. I don't agree with how propaganda by deed is painted. Kropotkin's "Spirit of Revolt" defines why propaganda by deed better than this article, that wants to act like propaganda by deed didn't do anything but harm people until the great labor movements came around and gave us pride in our losses, pride in the concessions that were painted as somehow fixing the system...reforms. This is a hush money.

---
http://cbusimc.org http://midwest.azone.org
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Admin on Sunday, December 31 2006 @ 01:15 AM CST
Propaganda by the deed has several meanings. It describes a specific phase in anarchist history in the late 19th century and early 20th century which had a small movement of anarchists and radicals who used violence against political leaders.

It's also meant--for some time--what we call "practical anarchy" or the anarchist version of the Marxist concept of "praxis." It's related to direct action, in other words, putting our ideas into actions.

I think that anarchists should revive the phrase and use it to mean not just practical anarchy, but the idea that practice of our ideas sets an example. This could be used to describe what anarchists do when we build counter-institutions. It also describes hwo anarchists organize unions, in hopes that our radical unions will inspire other workers to organize similar unions.

Chuck
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 31 2006 @ 02:43 AM CST
I'm posting again because I really don't want to make it sounds like anyone is weak for their decision to abandon this strategy, that would be a macho position. I feel that there were good intentions and their continues to be good intentions from those within the labor movement. These people want to help others and make the quality of life better. But even if we accept the argument of making life better through reform (which I don't), its argument only makes sense for radical activity if it is done to create circumstances for revolt.
Malatesta's actual opinions...
Authored by: anarcho on Tuesday, January 02 2007 @ 04:55 AM CST
"As some from Anarchismo.net are willing to point out, Malatesta's version of propaganda by deed was a roaming band of armed people that attempted to free the peasantry through direct action."

Please, he did that, what, once? In 1877, I think. After slogging around Italy for a bit, they gave up. The peasants were not impressed at all, pointing out that soldiers would come and reverse any changes. Unsurprisingly, Malatesta did not do it again -- and he later argued that this was done more for propaganda (i.e. raising awareness that anarchism existed) than any notion that it would work.

So, bar a few years of youthful infatuation with "propaganda of the deed," Malatesta rejected the tactic. He remained a firm supporter of insurrection, of course, but that is not the same thing as "insurrectionism." He was aware that any insurrection had to be popular in nature in order to win. His own experiences convinced him that anarchists launching insurrections in the name of the people were doomed to failure. Hence these comments:

"to bring about a revolution, and specially the Anarchist revolution[, it] is necessary that the people be conscious of their rights and their strength; it is necessary that they be ready to fight and ready to take the conduct of their affairs into their own hands. It must be the constant preoccupation of the revolutionists, the point towards which all their activity must aim, to bring about this state of mind among the masses . . . Who expects the emancipation of mankind to come, not from the persistent and harmonious co-operation of all men [and women] of progress, but from the accidental or providential happening of some acts of heroism, is not better advised that one who expected it from the intervention of an ingenious legislator or of a victorious general . . . our ideas oblige us to put all our hopes in the masses, because we do not believe in the possibility of imposing good by force and we do not want to be commanded . . . Today, that which . . . was the logical outcome of our ideas, the condition which our conception of the revolution and reorganisation of society imposes on us . . . [is] to live among the people and to win them over to our ideas by actively taking part in their struggles and sufferings." [Errico Malatesta, "The Duties of the Present Hour", pp. 181-3, Anarchism, Robert Graham (ed.), pp. 180-1]
Malatesta's actual opinions...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 02 2007 @ 06:41 AM CST
Well, insurrectionalism isnt about launcing insurrection in hte name of the people either. Come on, now.
Malatesta's actual opinions...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 02 2007 @ 09:33 AM CST
Here is another text that is central for understanding the insurrectionalist perspective. Please do yourselves a favor and read these links.

Anti-mass: methods of organizing for a collective
http://www.batko.se/en_issue2_ch11.php
Malatesta's actual opinions...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 02 2007 @ 10:13 AM CST
Malatesta may of attempted this once, but it required quite a bit of time to accomplish this failure. This doesn't change the larger Italian underground's organization into "groups of action", which still aimed towards propaganda by deed. It also wasn't a "few years" that is a misconception. Malatesta supported the propaganda by deed in 1874 when the Italian peasantry rose up in response to famine. He continued to support it, according to my notes, after the London congress of 1881. I can't find when he broke with the assassination campaign. I am also unaware of the timeline of your quotation, which probably came after the actions of Ravachol.
The tyranny of experience?
Authored by: anarcho on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 04:32 AM CST
"It also wasn't a 'few years' that is a misconception. Malatesta supported the propaganda by deed in 1874 when the Italian peasantry rose up in response to famine."

Malatesta was always in favour of mass insurrection, which is different from "insurrectionism" -- namely attacks by anarchists on the state. The difference is important. No revolutionary anarchist rejects the need for insurrection as part of a mass revolution. Many do, however, reject the notion of "insurrectionism" as counter-productive and doomed to failure.

"He continued to support it, according to my notes, after the London congress of 1881. I can't find when he broke with the assassination campaign."

Propaganda by the deed is not the same as assassination. And I'm not aware of Malatesta supporting assassination attempts.

"I am also unaware of the timeline of your quotation, which probably came after the actions of Ravachol."

What matters is that this is Malatesta's conclusions based on years of activism. That he rejected the "insurrectionist" tactic is deeply significant -- why should we repeat the mistakes of the past?

Or are anarchists against the tyranny of experience?
Pro-Organizational Anarchism?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 29 2006 @ 06:36 PM CST
Maybe this can bring some light on where the insurrectionalist perspective comes from. Its abit slow in the beginning, but it gets very intressting at the end.
http://www.batko.se/en_issue2_ch9.php
Discussing Insurrectionism
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 09:03 PM CST
*from a thrid party*

I think "poory organized" anarchist as opposed to "organized" anarchist is a good seperation
Discussing Insurrectionism
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 09:24 PM CST
And who are you to decide what is "poorly organised", or not? Obviously the insurrectionalists organise in ways that they find the best and most effective. You got a very dogmatic view about what it means to be organised.

And i dont need to refute anything from this article because it doesnt say anything that wasnt already said in the last one.

Notes on the article
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 30 2006 @ 07:51 AM CST
Sorry for any misunderstanding on the use of terms "anarchist-communist" and "insurrectionalist"... I come from South America, Chile, and there we use the term "anarco-comunista" as a synonym of Platformists (a word we don't use actually much). Anarchist communists of other types use "comunista libertario" or "anarquista comunista" more often. So that's really what I mean. Sorry if the translation could be a bit misleading from that point of view and in order to avoid that becoming a hindrance to proper understanding of what I'm trying to say, I clarify that.
Names and Issues
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 30 2006 @ 11:03 AM CST
(1) It is unclear to me whether ChuckO is just against the labels of organizationalist/ anti-organizationalist anarchism or whether he is denying that there is an issue in dispute among anarchists. If the first, I do not see why he has so much emotion invested in this matter of labels. If the second, then he is virtually alone in denying that there is a real debate among anarchists on this topic.

(2) Personally I dislike the use of the label Insurrectionist, since it implies that other anarchists are not for insurrections (that is, revolutions). Actually we are for eventual mass uprisings. I dislike the use of the term Individualist anarchist, because it implies that collectivist anarchists are not for individual freedom. I dislike the term Green anarchist ( by primitivists) or Social ecologists (by Bookchinians), because they imply that other anarchists do not care about the ecological crisis. I even dislike the use of term anarchist-communist (and have said so to my comrades) because, to most U.S. workers, communism signifies totalitarian state-Communism (as opposed to the vaguer term socialist).

But I have to accept that these are the generally used labels, whether I like them or not. I live with it. There are more important things to get excited about. If ChuckO thinks that he can change the internationally accepted term, organizational anarchism, by his complaints, then good luck to him.

(3) BTW, neither I nor anyone I know has called ChuckO an anti-organizationalist anarchist. He has neither worked to build specifically anarchist federations nor worked to prevent them from being built. Therefore it would be wrong to label him as either pro- or anti- organizationalist (in the sense of being for or against specific anarchist federations within the broader movement).

Wayne
Names and Issues
Authored by: Admin on Saturday, December 30 2006 @ 11:33 AM CST
Hi Wayne,

I think you've given a hint as to why many anarchists don't like labels or reluctantly identify with hyphenated versions. This is one reason I just call myself an "anarchist" or "anarchist without adjectives." I identify myself this way because I think it minimizes the baggage associated with the different terms. My actual politics, if you talk to me about them over a period of time, is far more complex than any label.

I'm actually in favor of workplace organizing, federations, class struggle and so on. I prefer to support those ideas in the ways that work for me. I'm uncomfortable with pinning a label on myself that reads "class war anarchist" and I don't like anarchists who reify class struggle anarchism or the label. I also don't like anarchists who play games with who is and isn't a working class anarchist. I'm a working person who has worked numerous wage slave jobs. I have to pay the bills and deal with a system that penalizes working people without capital. I hate bosses. All of this motivates me as an anarchist. I don't go around calling myself a "class struggle anarchist," but I think my daily activism, networking and organizing help build the foundation for the bigger class struggle.

I'm also sympathetic to anarchists who are "on the other side", such as Zerzan, the primmies, the individualists, the nihilists and so on. I think that these people have interesting things to say and they are involved in sueful struggle and activism. I've also learned from really talking to anarchists that we have much more in common than we have differences. Labels are a problem because they oversimplify and create divisions that look bigger than they actually are. I know class struggle anarchists who are concerned about the environment. I know primmies who are working class people who get pretty fired up about bosses. There are probably a few primmie Wobs out there.

I've used the "anti-organizationalist" label to describe myself several times in the past, although I use it less often these days. I feel an affinity for that tendency because they are asking some tough questions about organization and strategy. I'm always interested in being self-critical about my own pariticipation in groups and organizations. I also want to be critical of big strategies. I can understand why people push a label that describes a big strategy to create something like a revolution, but I would hope that even these folks are critical and have doubts. There haven't really been any successful anarchist revolutions, so our level of experiential knowledge is quite low. We do know what works in terms of workplace organizing and dissent, but we know far less about taking these tactics and strategy to new levels.

I'm in favor of federations and I'll do what I can to support ones that exist.

Is there a real debate among anarchists about the topic of organization. Sure there is and it goes back for over a century. "Anti-organizationalist" was a word that was even being used in the U.S. anarchist movement as far back as 1899. Of course, the word has meant different things. I think that the current debate over that topic involves a bunch of talking past each other and not enough reflection on what people are actually arguing. Much of this debate is pure politics--people have set positions that are critical of the other side. My beef with the labels "anti-organizationalist" and "pro-organization" is that the obscure some deeper discussions about strategy and tactics. I think that the positions held by the "pro-organization" side have been oversimplified by critics. It's really unfair to them to describe their positions as being "quasi Leninist" or whatever. I also think that it's been unfair to those in the "anti-organizationalist" camp to describe them as being toally against organizations, or favoring "structurelessness" and so on. There is a spectrum of opinions among this tendency, ranging from the nihilists who want to tear everythign down first, to people who just don't like mass or leftist organizations, to people who are critical of reified forms of social relationships that produce alienation and mediation between people. The latter is the more interesting critique of organizational fetishism, because anarchists really want people to interact with each other directly and organically. Formal organizations are usually highly artificial constructs with sets of processes and rules that govern how people interact with each other.

Anyay, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Chuck
Notes on the article
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 30 2006 @ 04:42 PM CST
Thats it? Nothing about how the basis of your argument is false?
Notes on the article
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 31 2006 @ 12:02 AM CST
Ted: "Hey Bill, wanna go burn down the bank?"
Bill: "Uh, won't we need an organization for that?"
Ted: "Nah, not really."
Bill: "O.k."
Notes on the article
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 31 2006 @ 05:42 AM CST
1. Ok, let me refute something easy now

"Ok, let me refute something easy; the article talks about the "propaganda by deed" as the first time the tendecy of insurrectionalism surfaced. This is dead wrong and show a great lack of understanding about the insurrectionalist tendency. Instead insurrectionalists, as i understand that tendency (within the anarchist movement, that is. The insurrectionalist tendency exists outside of the anarchists movement and is a tendency that crosses secterian ideological lines within the broader communist movement. Read Gilles Dauve or Delueze and Guattari, for example.), trace its roots back to Bakunin and Malatesta, both who were very critical of the "propaganda by deed" tactics of killing individuals in the rulingclass."

You are confusing the "insurrectionary tendencies" I criticise (that I detail in the article, so no need to describe them again here) with the participation in insurrections of anarchists as a revolutionary movement. Indeed, Bakunin participates in insurrections, anarcho-communists of all types have participated in insurrections and in the revolutionary movement. That's not the point and we clarify that. Read footnote one. But there's a great difference in the tactics exposed by a Bakunin, always too concerned about the organisational tasks, big time organiser of the First International and giving always thought to the constructive post-revolutionary tasks, with, let's say, the "Science of Revolutionary Warfare" of the early Most. "Insurrectionary Tendencies" that basically dismiss the need of organisation beyond conspirative cells. It is precisely for those reasons that propaganda by the deed is actually the first referent since the emergence of a clearly defined anarchist movement.

"And the modern father of [anarchist] insurrectionalism, Alfredo Bonanno, took part in the struggle in the 60ies-70ies and was also very critical of the vanguard tactics of the leftwing terrorists that operated at that time in Italy. Insurrectionalism is the OPPOSITE of those kinds of tactics."

The opposition of Bonnano was actually an ideological one, for in terms of the tactics he was obviously very impressed with them. Too impressed to leave them have a mark on the movement up to these very days. The criticism and opposition displayed theoretically and ideologically, did not affect in any substantial way the tactical outcome of them two (apparently) opposite political lines. That's another point I try to make in the article (that from different political quarters, people arrived to the same practical conclusions).

2. Chuck0 claims that most anarchist he knows claim to be pro-organisation... actually we all could say the same. But in fairness, beyond the claims, not everyone who says to be pro-organisational is actually for it in practice. We have to judge people not only for what they claim, but also for what they do. Otherwise, we could accept, as well, the claims of Stalinism of being the most advanced revolutionary current of all times (while in practice they prepared the ground for the world-wide reaction we are suffering from today) and many other claims that are common currency in the left. In fairness, in the English speaking world, many people, while claiming to be for organisation, have such an abstract concept of it, that makes any possible organisation too loose to be functional. And in practice, most anarchist in the English speaking world are quite hostile to organisation (beyond what they might claim) and indeed as soon as an organisation emerges, start all sorts of unfair criticisms. You only have to contrast the number of unorganised anarchists with the number of organised anarchists and you would have a notion of what I'm saying. Practice speak louder than words.

3. Someone post a comment that I find quite amusing, but very telling of the bottom line of all the debate around insurrectionalism:

"Ted: "Hey Bill, wanna go burn down the bank?"
Bill: "Uh, won't we need an organization for that?"
Ted: "Nah, not really."
Bill: "O.k.""

Organisation is not needed to burn a bank. But burning banks you will not change the capitalist relationships that are expressed in banks. You might give a headache to a local capitalist and you might be happy with that. I'm not. Anarchism is not about burning banks. anarchism is not about giving headaches to the capitalists. Anarchism is about changing a social system that exploits and oppresses the majority of the people for another that guarantees freedom and equality. Organisation is there to make our point and argument heard and popular among the bulk of the people, to prepare for the social upheaval, to organise the unorganised so we can all pitch in to help bring about a new society.

This is when it comes to preparing. But what serious insurrectionalists fail to see is that the difficult task is never the insurrection itself, as proved in many historical examples, but the constructive tasks. And that's what you mainly need organisation for. In Argentina there was a massive upheaval back in 2001 and what did it lead to? Nothing, absolutely nothing 6 years later. The ruling class after the barricades could easily re organise and re build a discredited State and capitalist ruling class in the absence of a serious revolutionary project, that by necessity, is the product of organisations. Revolutionary programmes have never emerged spontaneously and they never will.

So, what type of anarchism do you want? An anarchism to change society or an anarchism to go down and burn the banl, and indulge in attacks against your own petty-hates? That's the bottom line.

J.A. Gutierrez
Notes on the article
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 31 2006 @ 09:59 AM CST
Well, its pretty obvious that you have no idea what insurrectionalist anarchism even is and you are arguing against your own strawmen.
You remind me of rightwing idiots who tries to argue, with anarchists, that anarchism is the opposite of socialism/communism. Have you even read any insurrectionist texts at all?
Notes on the article
Authored by: Admin on Sunday, December 31 2006 @ 11:08 AM CST
I fail to see how anarchists who aren't making organizations qualify them as being "hostile towards organization." These people are not hostile towards organization, they just face the challenges that all of us radicals face in a capitalist society. We are scattered, we have little experience with organization, we have other demands on our time, and so on. Just because you aren't in an anarchist organization at any given time doesn't mean that you aren't an anarchist or are against organization. Anarchists tend to join anarchist organizations and projects whenever they gain some critical mass after somebody does some organizing.

Chuck
Notes on the article
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 31 2006 @ 04:39 PM CST
"In Argentina there was a massive upheaval back in 2001 and what did it lead to? Nothing, absolutely nothing 6 years later. The ruling class after the barricades could easily re organise and re build a discredited State and capitalist ruling class in the absence of a serious revolutionary project"

Nothin happened in Argentina after 2001 that is relevant 6 years later? I supposed nothing happened after 1994 when the Zapatistas launched their struggle? After all, in both of these struggles the capitalist state remains largely structurally intact. Yet to make such comments is to not understand what it is those people wanted and are organizing for. They do have programs, but perhaphs their programs don't fit into the textbook version of the "Great Revolution," that single historical moment when society changes and a new system is ushered in to replace the current one. They belive they are creating a diffrent world, an ongoing process that will continue to develope autonomous of the state. I personally don't belive we are going to have many opportunities to see any "Great Revolutions" happen in our lifetime, but the revolution of everyday life is happening and the struggle of the Zapatistas or of the social movements in Argentina are representative of this. If our goal as anarchist is to simply overthrow the capitalist state in one revolutionary sweep, or if that will continue to be our measure for success, then we will continue to be dissapointed by the diffrent levels of progress of autonomous or anti-authoritarian struggles
To Overthrow the Capitalist State
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 02 2007 @ 03:19 PM CST
"They belive they are creating ...an ongoing process that will continue to develope autonomous of the state. I personally don't belive we are going to have many opportunities to see any "Great Revolutions" ...but the revolution of everyday life is happening... If our goal as anarchist is to simply overthrow the capitalist state in one revolutionary sweep..."

Superficially this statement seems to be the opposite of the Insurrectionist school of anarchism. It expresses a view which is, I think, much more widespread than Insurrectionism: the belief in gradual change, building up alternative institutions, to peacefully overcome capitalism and the state (the anarchist version of reformism). What this fantasy has in common with Insurrectionism is its disbelief in popular, mass, revolution. Yet the events in Latin America and elsewhere in the world indicate that real revolutions could actually happen in our lifetimes. We class-struggle revolutionary anarchists have not given up on revolution by the working class and all oppressed.

Instead the writer and his/her co-thinkers accept the domination of the state, hoping to work their way around the state without directly challenging it, let alone aiming to overthrow it. While Jose Antonio's statement may have gone too far (I would not say that nothing has been achieved in Argentina), he is basically right: the capitalist class still rules and its state is still firmly in place. "The revolution of everday life" is what our rulers want us to believe in.

Wayne



To Overthrow the Capitalist State
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 02 2007 @ 06:38 PM CST
Seriously, what the hell are you talking about?

"The strength of a collective lies in its social organization, not its numbers. Once you think in terms of recruiting, you might as well join the Army. The difference between expansion and reproduction is the difference between adding and multiplying. The first based its strength on numbers and the second on relationships between people."

"The choice is between joining the mass or creating the class. The revolutionary project is to do it yourself."

"The mass is an aggregate of couples who are separate, detached and anonymous. They live in cities physically close yet socially apart. Their lives are privatised and depraved. Coca-Cola and loneliness. The social existence of the mass
To Overthrow the Capitalist State
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 02 2007 @ 07:50 PM CST
By the way, to return to this false opposite of "planned" vs. "spontaneus" uprisings and so on. If you follow your own logic all the way through you might wanna ask yourself what the point of the spanish civil war was? What did they accomplish? Nothing. A fascist state. What was the point of the russian revolution, what did they achieve? Nothing but another form of capitalism. So then all action is meaningless, by your own logic.

I think the diffrence is in how we see classwar and indeed capitalism. You see it as something political, where as i, and marx by the way, see it as something beyond politics (and economics too, by the way), i see it as social relations. So the point of the classwar is to attack, challenge, confront those social relations that keeps you in chains (while at the same time create new communist ones with your comrades), now and allways, big and small. And so then i see that they achived quite alot in Argentina because they attacked the social relations on a mass scale. And they managed to create some new relations, communist ones even, in the meantime. That is very good. Did the state survive and in the end manage to repress and recuperate the uprising. Yes. So what? It has done so in all revolutions and uprisings so far. Why did the uprising in Argentina fail? Well, lots of reason, one of them is prolly because they werent concious enough, whatever that means (i doubt it means that they have the right "revolutionary program" anyway). In the spanish civil war they spent decades trying to educate the workingclass in revolutionary theory ("conciousness") and the anarcho-syndicalist revolutioinary program, and they still ended up joining the fucking state in the end!

Conciousness is something that you achieve in praxis, in the actual struggle (you might even call it by the propaganda by deed), and im pretty sure that many of the people in Argentina got alot of conciousness from taking part in that uprising. So i wouldnt say that they achieved nothing, but quite alot actually. So the point of [revolutionary] class struggle is to "attack and withdraw" (http://www.riff-raff.se/en/7/attack_rough.pdf) social relations that oppresses us and create a space to building new communist ones, ideally atleast.

But now its late and im babbeling. Sorry about that.
To Overthrow the Capitalist State
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 03 2007 @ 12:45 PM CST
""The revolution of everday life" is what our rulers want us to believe in."

Really? So digging where you stand, connecting the abstract notion of something called capitalism, into real social relations that affects your own personal life, is what the rulers wants us to do?Intressting...
Notes on the article
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 03 2007 @ 12:53 PM CST
Well, you are trying to make fun, but its true; an organisation doesnt have to be anything more than a couple of people getting together and deciding to do something. And if they know eachother well, if they have a real affinity for eachother, they dont need no program or set of rules or even meetings.
Notes on the article
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 03 2007 @ 08:00 PM CST