These are two letters and part of a leaflet related to an article in the SWP's Socialist Review by Pat Stack on anarchism. This article (imaginatively entitled "Anarchy in the UK?") was an attempt to rubbish anarchism in the eyes of the "anti-globalisation" movement at the time (around 2000). It had to be the worse article on anarchism I had seen (and there is stiff competition for that honour, usually from the SWP!).
Today*, in an even more meaningless exercise then normal, a minority of the population of Ireland will choose between two almost identical options as to who will implement the ECB / IMF austerity plans for southern Ireland. Outside of this plan the wealthiest 1% will continue to set economic policy tomorrow as they did yesterday and have throughout the last decades. The electoral circus we are now going through provides the rest of us with the illusion of control even though deep down almost everyone acknowledges the ritual as having no real impact on what policies are actually implemented. (written 25 Feb 2011)
Originally published in 1988 a few years before the crisis in Stalinism, Pat Devine’s model of a planned economy has been republished with a new preface during the crisis in neo-liberalism. He comprehensively discusses capitalist planning, central planning and market socialism before sketching his own economic vision.
Chris Gray's review of Bakunin's Statism and Anarchy is, in general, good. It covers the weaknesses of Bakunin's ideas (namely his personal prejudices against Germans and Jews and for Slavs) and indicates its underlying strengths. As part of his review, Gray raises some serious political points which, I feel, need answering. We should thank Chris for allowing us to bring into clear light some of the key differences between anarchism and Marxism.
Or "how not to critique anarchism."
As in any social movement which is just beginning, the current "anti-globalisation" movement is a mixed bag with contradictory ideas. This is to be expected. Only by discussion and activity can those involved clarify and develop their political ideas. Part of this process is, by necessity, a critical evaluation of past social movements and revolutionary ideals. This, again, is natural and positive. Without discussion, without honest and principled debate, any movement with stagnant.
With anarchism back in the news thanks to the student protests in 2010, we can expect the likes of the Socialist Workers Party to have patronising and inaccurate articles on "anarchism" in their publications. This is a reply to a previous article from 10 years ago but which repeats all the usual nonsense typically spouted by Leninists on "anarchism." This article was serialised in Freedom.
Two letters to a Leninist newspaper, Socialist Resistance, refuting their claims about anarchism. It covers the usual Leninist distortions about anarchism. The second letter was turned into a pdf file (included) which was handed out at their subsequent meeting on anarchism. For more discussion of these issues, section H of An Anarchist FAQ is recommended.
Allan Engler is a lifelong trade unionist and social activist. Some may recognise his name from his 1995 book Apostles of Greed when he first presented his critique of capitalism and his alternative. His new booklet Economic Democracy: The Working-Class Alternative to Capitalism expands on this vision, which he terms “Economic Democracy” but which others would call market socialism.
Outside of a few events including the Long March and the Shanghai commune the development of the Chinese revolution is relatively unknown on the western left in comparison with the revolutions in Russia in 1917, Spain in 1936 or even the Paris spring of 1968. Those sections of that left influenced by or proclaiming themselves to be Maoist haven't helped that situation much. Their histories have tended towards simple tales focusing on the role of one man and collapsed a 100-year history of revolution into the events important to him. [Italian translation]
This article is a preliminary sketch of the Chinese revolutions from an anarchist perspective. It does not set out to be a history of Chinese anarchism although it draws on some of the histories of that movement which for twenty key years dominated the formation of the left in China. A real history of that movement in English will depend not only on the translation of vast quantities of texts from the early twentieth century but also on detailed local research to uncover a history that has both been deliberately buried and forgotten.
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